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Open mike 14/04/2011

Written By: - Date published: 6:00 am, April 14th, 2011 - 63 comments
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63 comments on “Open mike 14/04/2011”

  1. Three quick thoughts on the announced legal aid changes:

    1.  The claimed $400m blowout is bogus.  Total spend last financial year was $173m.  Increases in costs were because of more cases as well as an increase in entitlement and a long overdue increase in the rates of pay for lawyers.  These factors do not occur every year but the increase has been extrapolated as if it will occur every year.
    2.  Giving more cases to the public defender will not reduce charges.  The cost of a case handled by the PD is significantly higher than that of a private provider.
    3.  Without any analysis or justification Power is using the smoke screen to attack the Counsel for the child scheme, whereby experienced lawyers are appointed by the court to represent children’s interests in Family Court cases.  They overwhelmingly do a very good job and help to resolve what can be otherwise intractable cases.  But Power is having a chop with them even though there is no justification to do so.  And this will NOT SAVE 1c of legal aid because they are paid from Vote Justice.

    • Bored 1.1

      There is a lot of fertile ground here for a bigger article or number thereof. Power has also pushed through the committee stages the Criminal Procedures bill, which goes far further towards injustices than ripping away the legal aid system. As I understand it we will lose our right to silence, have to give the defense case to the prosecution prior to trial etc etc.
      There are a lot of big questions about why we are headed in such a draconian direction, I dont buy that it is about efficiency. Is there a lawyer out there who can run a few columns on all the changes Power and Nact have brought in?

      • mickysavage 1.1.1

        Agreed Bored and the really interesting bit of news was Power’s announcement yesterday that he was giving up his role as SOE.  Am I being cynical or is he kicking up dust to blur everything?  There were a lot of announcements yesterday and the use of urgency was pretty strange.
        What are they trying to cover?
        Is there a link between this and NZ Rail’s reopening of tenders for the provision of rolling stock so that companies associated with Sammy Wong could put in a bid?  Why did two of the tenderers, including one that wanted to build some of the stock in New Zealand, pull out after complaining about the process?

        • Bunji

          Is there a lawyer out there who can run a few columns on all the changes Power and Nact have brought in?
          Now, ms, aren’t you a lawyer?

          • mickysavage

            In another life …
            I have done lots of criminal legal aid in the past but changed my practice to get out of it.  Essentially pay became worse and worse as the job became more and more complex and the choice was either to do it exclusively and operate a really cheap office or have a more normal office in which case it did not pay overheads.  Because of these factors Criminal Legal Aid is dominated by barristers who do it pretty well exclusively but who are now being bashed around because of their choice.
            A couple of interesting statistics:
            1.  PDS enter 10% more guilty pleas than defence counsel.
            2.  PDS charge on average $250 more per file than private defence lawyers.
            Like everything else this Government does the decision seems to be based on prejudice rather than reality.

            • prism

              On radionz this morning they discussed the legal aid debacle coming.  And they have interviewed many including the top banana of the service who came out with the news that numbers of judiciary and others have praised it.  Can’t argue with such compelling evidence m’lud.

              Kathryn Ryan talked to the mother of an autistic young man sentenced to 8 years prison on rape charges.  The victim picked him out from a montage but with reservations.  Alibi evidence was withheld.  Dna evidence was inconclusive etc.  The police decided they could hang the case on him and being autistic he wasn’t able to make a good case for himself.  He went to prison and retreated inside himself not speaking for two years, not even to his mother. She does a workout with a punching bag regularly now and says the anger and distrust of the system will never leave her.  Her son didn’t speak because he said what’s the use nobody believes me but he did write notes and did write to the Appeal Court on his own behalf.  

              His last lawyer said that the son would still be in prison if his mother hadn’t campaigned strongly for him. The lawyer used to do legal aid but doesn’t any more for the usual reasons, among them poor pay. (And that your work can be damned by some middle class woman with a well-paying career on the grounds that a lawyer somewhere is rorting the system.)  This wrongful and destructive sentence happened under the present legal system.   What will happen when all the lawyers are being employed by someone akin to a hanging judge?   Perhaps under the neo liberal public system the young lawyers will be paid bonuses based on the number of their successful cases receiving convictions!

              • M

                prism that is shocking, which proves that parents of differently wired kids must always be on their guard but what if the young man’s mother was too dispirited to fight or worse had died?

                Recently I had to face down a lawyer at BOT meeting for my eldest because or some vicious rumour spread about my kid who has ADHD and said I’d make a complaint to the police about a false statement being made and then read out an excoriating statement because there is no way my kid is going to become a figment of circumstance because someone is at a loose end and needs to make shit up to get their kicks. He’s still in school but now trusts virtually no one. So much for neurotypicals

                Your comment about bonuses being paid for successful convictions does not seem far fetched considering the crap that goes on now.

                Anti-spam: fight, yes to get justice these days is a fight to the death.

                • RedLogix

                  Unless you are very rich or very poor, most people cannot afford equitable access to the justice system.
                  This is pretty much a direct quote from a retiring UK Privy Council judge whom Kim Hill interviewed some years back. A truly emminent jurist whose family had been in the legal system at the highest level for generations.  This interview as I recall was at least a decade ago and he predicted that matters would only become worse.

                • prism

                  M- I distrust the way that many local controlled schools operate despite the high expectations of Tomorrows Schools program.  I think BOT can be more interested in the smooth running of the school with the least fuss and bother than they are in the actual education and the pupils.  But also I have family in teaching and have heard how hard it can be when children are unsettled.
                  If you could have a heart to heart with the Principal or form teacher and work out a plan to improve things it might help.  It’s hard on a parent to feel they have to constantly battle for their child.  If you and the teaching staff could work together without BOT involvement you might get better understanding and success.  All the best anyway.

                  • Oleolebiscuitbarrell

                    So you guys are against the public defender system because there is too much state involvement?  This also seems to come with an assumption that a state-provided service is inferior.

                    Good one .

                    • Colonial Viper

                      Hey buddy the state service is being set up so it is inferior. Done to do it on the cheap, and to disadvantage the underclass who rely on legal aid for their defence.

        • Jim Nald

          The flurry of activity yesterday was interesting to observe. That is translating into the volume of news heard this morning.
          With question marks hanging over the flurry of past business activities of Pansy Wong’s husband and Simon Power’s potential post-Parliamentary business, people should be asking the question about the ethics and, indeed, legal propriety of Cabinet Ministers (including family members) engaging in commercial activities, especially when related to their portfolio responsibilities, while they are in office or after leaving office for a specified period – i.e. conflicts of interest rules.
          Are there any such rules relating to this in the Cabinet Manual currently?
          If not, it is timely to have public discussions about formulating such conflict of interest rules and giving them legal force or setting them out in the Cabinet Manual.
          Would any Parliamentarians on the opposition benches look into this? Winston might be interested to raise this?

      • Armchair Critic 1.1.2

        …I dont buy that it is about efficiency.
        The justice system should be fair before it is efficient.  This step away from fairness, in the name of efficiency, is a retrograde step.
        My cynical side says that this is just another way of ensuring the profitability of private prisons.

    • marsman 1.2

      Bazely’s inquiry was a a total sham. She found what she was told to find. This whole NAct Administration is based on lies.

  2. Carol 2

    Protest against another NZ government dictatorial legislation that is the copyright, guilty-upon-acusation law that was passed last night. They have ignored many of the submissions made against this, and rushed the law through parliament in a very sly manner.
    The Blackout of Twitter avatars & websites started last night, with advice from sites such as this.

    • MrSmith 2.1

      Cheers Carol.

      The faceless, conscienceless, evil cooperations pulling the strings again, we need to resist then every chance we get. People please don’t support there products or services, the only way to kill them off is cut of there money supply.

  3. logie97 3

    Get used to the world of Douglas and Hide people.
    When a severely disabled person, confined to a mobility chair,
    has to pay to use public transport, we seriously need to 
    rethink where we are heading.

    • Bunji 3.1

      North Shore Times is having lots of fun with the locals’ vitriolic response to Rodney’s suggestion that Gold Card entitlements are unaffordable and old folk should pay for their own public transport.  I don’t think Act will be getting many votes on the Shore from over-60s…

    • felix 3.2

      Do you have a link for that, logie97?
      I’m surprised Jekyll & Hide don’t want disabled people to pay more for taking up extra aisle space.

      • M 3.2.1

        It can’t be far off felix.

        Hide gets to ride in air-conditioned comfort whilst a senior citizen struggles to get anywhere. Next to these people Hide could almost be superman as he doesn’t appear that frail to me and doesn’t look like he’s ever missed a meal either.

        Is that why the new limos were needed? To encase the extra space of Hide’s waist?

        • felix

          There’s also a horrible irony in Hide opposing publicly funded transport for people who aren’t him or his girlfriend.

          • lprent

            Thank you – that was the missing barb in my delayed post on the subject.

            • logie97

              Sorry felix – no link – just saw it being practised.
              Veolia transport appears to be a French based multinational company and runs Auckland’s train service.  As with most transport systems there are concession fares but the passenger still coughs up in “user pays”.

              Subsidies to Hide and his lot are anathema.

              • Jum

                Veolia is also tipped to be the new owner of our water, if my sources are correct, if it can get its hands on the 35 year contract this government is mooting.  i.e. ownership and profit take.  Apparently, they got thrown out of their own country’s water contract because they ran the water infrastructure into the ground.  Complaints flowed in while the water supply quality did not.
                It’s all about the money, honey.

                • logie97

                  A quick Veolia Google reveals they are into just about everything and anything – rubbish and waste disposal across USA for starters. 
                  Not the small, personal touch there at all really. Just a rather large multinational by all accounts… 

                  Call me naive, but, just imagine you worked up a bit of credit overseas (you know, on your O.E) and perhaps left some of that money in trusts and those trusts invested in these large conglomerates, and then you came back home and got yourself into positions of influence where you could shape public policy … like councils for example, and changing control of water, transport et cetera.  Just thinking.

                  • Jum

                    You mean like the one million dollar loan to America Bank by a Mr John Key and when interest over that amount as shown in his list of assets as required by Parliament, was shown the detail suddenly disappeared and became just ‘doing business with the bank’.  Truly fascinating.
                    I think a genie has been let out of the bottle and a lot of sleight of hand is going on.

  4. Olwyn 4

    Gordon Campbell on the changes to legal aid, etc: “The common denominator to these changes is that they are all occurring on one side of the scales of justice – they increase the powers of the state, and/or reduce the rights of the accused”
    Furthermore, once the independent lawyers have been sufficiently knee-capped, what’s to stop them from selling off the public defence outfit as a going concern, with a private prison company as the major share-holder?That way we could have a mac-legal system that reliably reflects the same biases as our mac-media.
    What is shocking is the seemingly bland indifference of most of the population as this country gets converted into an overpriced, underpaid tyranny.

    • RedLogix 4.1

      what’s to stop them from selling off the public defence outfit as a going concern

      Actually they have already contracted a hell of a lot of our defense logistics out to a big US corporate…. Lockheed Martin. That’s the main portion that the private sector is interested in, because that’s where the big dollars are.

      What is shocking is the seemingly bland indifference of most of the population as this country gets converted into an overpriced, underpaid tyranny.
      Actually we are grateful for a strong, visionary National leader and those fine upstanding businessmen who allow us ordinary people some share of the wealth they work so hard to produce. Who are we to complain? We’re lucky to be paid at all.
      Now STFU and get back to work you idle buggers.

  5. Lanthanide 5

    Question for the Prime Minister: If the government advocates that private companies are more efficient and competitive when it comes to providing services such as power, as this is used as a reason to privatise public assets; why then is the government going to nationalise the legal aid system? Surely private lawyers are more efficient and effective.

    • prism 5.1

      Now answer that Mr John Key.  Twist that key and open your mind to some real analysis not just fictional right wing bullshit.

      • Janice 5.1.1

        I thought that Blinglish wanted to cut down on government departments, why are then creating a new one for Public Defence?

  6. G8 6

    Mike Hoskings really is a knob; this morning he states Len Brown will be a one term Mayor because he supported negotiating the Maori Stat Board funding in private. What would Mikes reaction be if his owners shareholders demanded that his contract was negotiated in a public forum…no wonder Hoskings got booed as MC at the William Shatner gig last week.

    • Jum 6.1

      I once had a lot of time for Mike Hosking as an objective interviewer, but it seems when you want to keep in with the money your ethics take a tumble.

    • Vicky32 6.2

      no wonder Hoskings got booed as MC at the William Shatner gig last week.

      He did? How cool is that! 🙂

  7. Pascal's bookie 7

    14th day of April eh?

    “And the great boat sank, and the Okies fled
    And the great emancipator took a bullet in his head”

    Titanic. “God moves on the water, and the people had to run and pray.”

    Black Sunday.
    The Dust Bowl got its name after Black Sunday, April 14, 1935. More and more dust storms had been blowing up in the years leading up to that day. In 1932, 14 dust storms were recorded on the Plains. In 1933, there were 38 storms. By 1934, it was estimated that 100 million acres of farmland had lost all or most of the topsoil to the winds. By April 1935, there had been weeks of dust storms, but the cloud that appeared on the horizon that Sunday was the worst. Winds were clocked at 60 mph. Then it hit.
    “The impact is like a shovelful of fine sand flung against the face,” Avis D. Carlson wrote in a New Republic article. “People caught in their own yards grope for the doorstep. Cars come to a standstill, for no light in the world can penetrate that swirling murk… We live with the dust, eat it, sleep with it, watch it strip us of possessions and the hope of possessions. It is becoming Real.”


    Lincoln.  “The ballot is stronger than the bullet”

    ref: Gillian Welch

    [lprent: Different machine? I corrected your e-mail after I did my identity theft check. ]

  8. Carol 8

    Today Sue Bradford has posted a blog, entitiled The charge of the right brigade, on the announcement yesterday that Paula Rebstock has been appointed to the Board of ACC. Bradford quotes from an NZ Herald article of 2006, in which Rebstock laid out her philosophy:

    ‘I never lose sight that all the benefits of our society derive from the activities of the business community….the free market economy is a great way to allocate the country’s resource, but to make sure the benefits flow through to everyone, you have to have competition.’

    To me that’s a contradiction, because a comeptition means there are winners and losers.  It’s not a problem if the game is tiddleywinks, but it’s a major problem when they play a game with people’s lives.  And we have ample evidence now that the trickledown theory doesn’t work in practice, it just makes the rich richer.
    Another National Party person, Jill Spooner, has also been appointed to the ACC Board.

    • millsy 8.1

      Moral of the story: Dont have an accident until Labour gets back in.

      ACC arent going to be around for much longer. And Len Brown had better hurry up with that public transport, because a lot of people are going to be priced off the road when the ACC motor vehicle account is opened to competition.

    • Draco T Bastard 8.2

      Ah, right, that psychopath that thinks punishing people for not being able to find work when there’s no work to be found is a viable form of welfare reform.

  9. Tiger Mountain 9

    The sadistic Rebstock is not on the ACC board to make sure you get your entitlements. She detests everything to do with public ownership and the ‘no fault’ model which obviously makes her a good choice for the natz.

  10. todd 10

    WE HAVE NO AMBITION FOR NZ – Don McBrashen And The NACT Party Chorus

    Dunne’s Bouffant… Classic!

  11. M 11

    Lynn, still having the same belly laugh as yesterday at the clever lyrics, shame it’s all too true.

    Reckon this should head up all Open Mikes until the election.

  12. Samuel Hill 12
    New Zealand becoming the new Argentina?


    I don’t have a Ph.D in Economics but there are some very interesting similarities.

  13. The Economic Illiteracy Support Group 13

    And on the subject of myths, I liked the one from the Nats about cutting the back office (inference: bloated and wasting resources) so they could redirect the money to the front office. Here’s the facts:

    The 33 agencies measured in the report spend an annual $1.85 billion on back-office functions, or about 9.8% of their total operational costs

    Taken from the recently-released report into ICT efficiencies from the Department of Internal Affairs and Treasury. So 90.2% of expenditure in the 33 largest agencies is already in the front office …. doesn’t leave much room for cuts.

    • Pascal's bookie 13.1

      Be interesting to compare that with the private sector.

    • Draco T Bastard 13.2

      The whole point of NACTs cuts to government are to make it so that government can’t work. This simplifies taking the wealth of NZ away from NZers.

    • Bored 13.3

      Crombie and crew are wannabe corporate big boys working for the state sector but wanting to do everything with the corporate sector because “it will all be more cost effective and efficient”. Years back Telecom went down the same path and outsourced their IT to EDS…cost them a fortune and now it is being  brought back inhouse. The lesson for Crombie and crew is that one size does not fit all, and that playing with the corporate IT providers such as IBM costs a lot more. The reality is you get a bigger bang for your buck if you shop around the trusted smaller players, who in turn have a far higher interest in delivery because they live or die accordingly. A corporate has enough size to not really care.

  14. Tigger 14

    Did a UMR survey last night – online – about politics.
    Most interesting feature was the non-cycling of options.  When asked a preference question National was always top/first choice, Labour always second.  When asked to prefer between Key and Goff, Key was top.
    It’s all in the asking…what you ask, how you ask…rather than the results…

    • jimmy 14.1

      On that note, is there a pollsters bible or other important reference material?
      I know there’s a few pollsters lurking around here.

  15. NickS 15
    So, anyone got any questions over SAFE in relation to the Kakapo? I can’t get a hold of the paper in question (since I’m not a student at present), but I do know enough of the science behind it to answer anything but post-grad level questions 😛

    • grumpy 15.1

      Yeah, I have.

      I heard someone some time ago claim that the best way to save a species is to commercialise it,  what’s your opinion on that?

      • NickS 15.1.1

        Personally, I’m all for ecotourism and selling culling rights. The problem though with hunting reserves for threatened species is that often the gene pool isn’t in the best shape and given trophy hunters habits of going for trophy specimens it can cause long term issues with genetic variation and thus all sorts of fun with long term population viability. However, that’s all going to depend on the habitat size, population size, reproductive rate and genetic variation, as for some non-endangered herbivores like deer, or African savannah grazers etc it’s relatively non-problematic. 

        As for forestry rights, the main species that are worth big dollars are hardwoods, and even in rain forests they take up to 50 years to mature and are often keystone species. On top of all that lovely carbon fixed inside them. In this case, I’d rather see forests preserved and the locals paid to protect them and the carbon stored there, above and below ground, of course with decent compensation + rights to exploit the forest for fruit, wood and meat etc in sustainable ways 

        It does have potential, but it can also clash with conservation goals, particularly if ownership clashes occur, or you’re dealing with non-photogenic species and/or degraded ecosystems which require major, long term capital and research investments to fix. Or in the case of the developed world, serious habitat fragmentation require co-operation from multiple land owners to establish habitat corridors. So I wouldn’t call it the “best way” by a long shot. 

    • wtl 15.2

      Although hardly an expert in the field, it seems to me that the SAFE index it just another way of quantifying how threatened each species is, which the authors argue is a better predictor than things such as the IUCN Red List. As far as I can tell, the paper itself makes no mention about an appropriate ‘SAFE index threshold’ for which conservation effors should be stopped – I suspect such a decision cannot be made on such a simple basis, as many factors are clearly important in such a decision. I suspect the paper co-author who brought the kakapo issue up was trying to raise the profile of their paper and is a proponent of the ‘conservation triage’ idea.

      • NickS 15.2.1

        Any chance you could please email a copy to me at ignorance.maims[at]gmail.com then? 😛 (gmail’s spam filters are strong) 

        But yeah, I was assuming it’s an evolutionary offshoot of the Population Viability Assessment system, looking less at local populations and more at the metapopulation level, with what I’ve picked up off the Conservation Bytes blog, that it’s primarily a much more precise tool for working out which species are at a high risk of extinction in comparison to the current system. 

        <blockquote>I suspect such a decision cannot be made on such a simple basis, as many factors are clearly important in such a decision.</blockquote> 
        Actually it can be boiled down to population size, structure, genetic variation and growth rate. If all of those are stuffed, a species is probably doomed to extinction without extensive, intensive and expensive intervention. Although from invasive species we know that they aren’t always a limiting factor and in fact  high reproductive rates can quite easily save some species/genera after bottlenecks. 

        <blockquote>I suspect the paper co-author who brought the kakapo issue up was trying to raise the profile of their paper and is a proponent of the ‘conservation triage’ idea.</blockquote> 
        Yeah, personally I would have framed it more as that more money is needed for conservation efforts, but he does have a point. Kakapo are extinct on the mainland and the niche and ecological roles they used to occupy is taken up by other native birds. In particular, the kereru is key to dispersal of our native trees that have large fruit and has suffered major population declines across NZ over the decades, which has the potential to retard native regeneration and stuff up forest assemblages. However, it’s not in such a precarious position as the kakapo, and with a bit of effort could be easily saved. So given the choice, I’d probably invest in preserving the kereru over the kakapo if the money was really tight. 

        The triage concept does however make good sense especially when dealing with the limited funds developing countries often have available for conservation. And it also highlights the major trouble with keeping endangered species only at one or two sites in terms of vulnerability to natural disasters.

  16. William Joyce 16

    Check out Photostream
    Feel free to copy, use and distribute.

  17. Jum 17

    Just finished The Grapes of Wrath.  I was keen to know what New Zealand’s future under this government will be if they get in again this year.

    There were some excellent lines, but one that interested me was the conversation between two petrol jocks seeing the poverty stricken Joad family off into the desert – they had been kicked off their land by tractors and ‘no one’ seemed to be to blame. One jock in his neat white outfit was shaking his head and wondering aloud how all those types could be travelling around the country looking for work “No human being could stand to be so miserable.” Therein lies the truth; those with money do not see those without as people; that’s why they can stab them in the back and take those last cents off little children to put on the latest hat or the latest car.  

    There have been various movements throughout history who managed to divorce themselves from other people by labelling them in damaging ways.  It’s now happening in New Zealand.  And it disgusts me.

  18. Draco T Bastard 18

    SCF Breached the terms of it’s guarantee

    So, SCF was guaranteed, then asset-stripped under our noses. And yet the National government repeatedly renewed the guarantee. That decision already looked foolish, now it looks simply insane.

    It’s not looking so much as insane as corrupt.

  19. Draco T Bastard 19

    The poor RWNJs are being disproved by reality again.

    According to the study, produced by economist Jim Stanford, the Conservatives’ plans for a three-percentage-point reduction in corporate tax rates from 2010 levels would cost the public $6 billion a year, yet only stimulate about $600 million of new business investment annually.
    Conversely, “if the federal government spent $6 billion on public infrastructure instead of corporate tax cuts, the total increase in investment would be more than 10 times as great as the increase in private investment from tax cuts alone,” Stanford wrote.

    Yep, government spending produces better economic results than cutting taxes.

    • joe90 19.1

      Frum on how Ryan set up Obama’s comeback.

      “Whatever you do, don’t serve to his backhand.”

      “Don’t be nervous. I have the new Ryan serve. It’s bold!”
      “Trust me on this. Don’t serve to his backhand.”
      Thomp. Wham.
      Here’s a basic fact of American politics. The American people like Medicare. They are not so enthusiastic about tax cuts for the rich.

  20. joe90 20

    Scientific American: Anecdotes from the archives.

  21. MrSmith 21

    Here is a little gem I found today .

    “The most difficult subjects can be explained to the most slow-witted man if he has not formed any idea of them already; but the simplest thing cannot be made clear to the most intelligent man if he is firmly persuaded that he knows already,without a shadow of a doubt, what is laid before him.”

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