Air New Zealand calls Jetstar out


I love attack ads in politics, and I equally love seeing them in the commercial sector.

Jetstar’s new regional services are due to start today but the airline is flying into flak from rival Air New Zealand, which has placed a pointed advertisement in today’s New Zealand Herald.

Jetstar’s 50-seat Bombardier Q300 is due to take off from Napier around 9am and get a water arch welcome from fire trucks on the runway at Auckland Airport an hour later.

The Napier-Auckland-Nelson service will be followed next February with flights to Palmerston North and New Plymouth as the Australian-owned airline challenges Air New Zealand on regional routes that have been very lucrative, depending on the number of full-fare passengers aboard. Read more »

John Key turns climate conference into a trade barrier negotiation

Most recent available OECD figures on fuel subsidies

Most recent available OECD figures on fuel subsidies

Prime Minister John Key has led a call at the Paris climate change conference for an end to inefficient fossil fuel subsidies, but Australia has baulked at backing it.

Mr Key is one of about 150 world leaders at the United Nations conference, which began on Monday with most of them making opening addresses.

Mr Key said Paris must produce a meaningful agreement.

“New Zealand wants a deal that puts the world on a pathway towards limiting global temperature rise to no more than 2C,” he said. Read more »

Photo Of The Day

Photo: HBO. Robert Durst (above, in a still from an HBO documentary) has been under scrutiny since his wife Kathleen (inset) disappeared in '82.

Photo: HBO.
Robert Durst (above, in a still from an HBO documentary) has been under scrutiny since his wife Kathleen (inset) disappeared in ’82.

Family of Robert Durst’s First Wife

Sues Him for $100 Million in Her Disappearance

Stranger Than Fiction? Try Fact. The life of Robert A. Durst could be the stuff of legend. The shrewd, enigmatic scion of a prominent New York family, Mr. Durst has come to be known not for his deal-making prowess, but for the cloud of suspicion he has lived under for more than 30 years.

Durst, the scion of a New York real estate empire, has long been a suspect in the notorious 1982 disappearance of his wife, Kathie. Further suspicion was raised with the unsolved killing of his confidante, Susan Berman, thought to be a key witness in the investigation into Kathie’s disappearance in 2000, as well as the subsequent killing and dismemberment of a neighbour in Galveston, Texas. Durst has consistently maintained his innocence.

Since his first wife vanished more than three decades ago, Robert A. Durst, the eccentric and estranged son of one of New York’s most prominent real estate dynasties, has lived under the suspicious gaze of law enforcement officials in three states.

He was investigated, but never charged, in the mysterious disappearance of his young, beautiful first wife and the mob-like execution of a close friend in Los Angeles. He beheaded a cantankerous neighbour in Texas in what he described as an act of self-defence, cross-dressed to conceal his identity and then escaped the police, whose nationwide manhunt took them to Northern California, then New Orleans and, finally, Bethlehem, Pa., where Mr. Durst had gone to college.

Read more »

The House Today #nzqt

Question time/Questions for oral answer starts at 2 pm today.

You can follow proceedings starting at 2 pm on TV (Freeview 22, Sky 86), streaming audio via Radio New Zealand and streaming Parliament TV via the internet.  After the sitting day, on-demand replays can be found at In The House.

Questions to Ministers

  1. MARK MITCHELL to the Minister of Finance: What reports has he received showing a recent lift in business confidence supports an outlook for continuing moderate growth and a more diversified economy?
  2. ANDREW LITTLE to the Prime Minister: Does he stand by his statement that New Zealand “shouldn’t be a leader in climate change”, given that New Zealand was awarded the “Fossil of the Day award” following his speech on the first day of the Paris climate talks?
  3. Dr SHANE RETI to the Minister of Health: Can he confirm that as at September 2015 99.31 percent of patients waiting for elective surgery received their treatment within four months?
  4. GRANT ROBERTSON to the Minister of Finance: Does he agree with the Minister for Canterbury Earthquake Recovery that Treasury has an “arrogant bureaucratic attitude” to Christchurch and that the report he released yesterday is “utter tripe”; if not, why not?
  5. METIRIA TUREI to the Minister of Revenue: What has been the overall impact of tax deductions for petroleum and mining expenditures on the level of oil and gas exploration and prospecting in New Zealand since 2012/13, and how much revenue has the Government forgone as a result of these tax deductions in this period? Read more »

Why is this a problem?

I’m really struggling to see why this is a problem?

ISIS fighters taken with the help of U.S. Special Forces are allegedly being tortured by America’s Kurdish allies. But don’t expect the U.S. to look too hard into the allegations.

On October 22, a team of Kurdish soldiers, backed up by elite commandos from the U.S. Army’s Delta Force, raided an ISIS prison compound in the Iraqi town of Hawija, where Kurdish intelligence indicated dozens of their own peshmergafighters were being held. It turned out there were no Kurds in the prison, but 69 hostages were freed, and more than 20 ISIS fighters were killed.

The Kurds also took six ISIS fighters as their prisoners. And now, U.S. officials and humanitarian aid workers in the region tell The Daily Beast, it appears those prisoners are being tortured in Kurdish custody, in violation of international law.

“I am sure they are being tortured, no question,” said a U.S. defense official in Iraq who is familiar with raid and spoke on condition of anonymity. He noted that Americans do not have access to them, but added, “You have to remember where we are. Torture is pervasive.”

The brutality of the Kurdish campaign against ISIS is well established inreporting by The Daily Beast and other media. But the treatment of these prisoners, taken with the assistance of U.S. government forces who then deny any responsibility for what happens to them, is reminiscent of the “rendition” program under Presidents Clinton and George W. Bush, which transferred suspected terrorists to the custody of governments that used methods of torture flatly prohibited by American and international law.

A human rights worker in the region, who asked not to be identified, said Kurdish authorities haven’t disclosed where the prisoners are being held and that he, too, thinks that is because the prisoners are being tortured.

Various nongovernmental organizations in Iraq and Syria have documented, over the course of the U.S.-led war against ISIS, systematic abuses by Kurdish military forces against the militants and their perceived sympathizers, including the forced removal of civilians from their homes in what one human rights group said amounted to “war crimes.”

Read more »


Cartoon of the Day

Credit:  SonovaMin

Credit: SonovaMin

Poll of polls shows worrying trend for the left: they are steadily losing ground

Re-shuffling tired old dog-eared cards in a dodgy deck isn’t going to produce a winning hand unfortunately.

Colin James at RadioNZ explains:

Closing in on the end of the year, the RNZ Poll of Polls is close to where it was shortly after the beginning: Labour up a bit and National down a bit, but National still with a handy lead over Labour and the Greens combined.

There was a brief time midyear when, amidst bad news on the economy which temporarily softened consumer confidence, Labour-plus-Greens headed National. But that was quickly reversed, and the readings of economic confidence and whether the country was on the right or wrong track, firmed up again through the spring.

Labour optimists might argue that there has been a 15-month downward trend in National’s lead but, if so, it is not the sort of trend that by this time next year will be heralding a looming victory with the Greens in 2017.

Read more »

Ex-Labour MP, now mayor of Christchurch pushes ahead with asset sales

I always find it amazing then when a socialist is freed from the constraints of dogma and their party whip they find reality stalking them…

Christchurch City Council has started its controversial programme of asset sales, announcing plans to sell 100 percent of City Care.

The construction, roading and parks maintenance business – valued at $136 million – is just one of many the council wants to sell to meet a shortfall in its budget for repairs to earthquake-damaged infrastructure.

City Care employs just over 1500 workers around the country and is the largest council-owned company of its type in the country.

Canterbury Chamber of Commerce chief executive Peter Townsend said it would be an attractive asset for some buyers.

“A company that is involved in facilities management, civil construction, building construction and so on has got to be an attractive proposition,” he said. “Probably buyers will be already involved in that area in some form or another, and this would be a good opportunity for them to scale up.”

City Care is not classed as a core asset and can therefore be sold without any public consultation.

Mr Townsend said those that were considered core assets, including the port, the airport and lines company Orion, would also be sold off – but only partially and not before next year’s local government elections.

“As the council gets further into other asset sales, there are some that are particularly sensitive, particularly their core assets which they have determined they want to retain control of.

“If they want to sell down part of those to raise capital, then we might see a bit of fun, and that will probably happen post-election.”

Read more »

Chris Cairns wins and still loses



The former New Zealand cricketer was cleared of perjury and perverting the course of justice on Monday after jury deliberations that lasted for just over 10 hours.

Cairns was charged in relation to a 2012 libel trial against former Indian cricket boss Modi.

In that case, Cairns stated that he “never, ever cheated at cricket”, and Modi’s Twitter post that claimed he was a match fixer had damaged his reputation.

Cairns won the libel action. Read more »

Trotter on Cunliffe’s destruction


Chris Trotter writes:

As a number of right-wing commentators have already pointed out, the treatment of Cunliffe is as wasteful of the man’s talent as it is self-indulgently vindictive. They contrast Little’s demotion of Cunliffe with National’s treatment of Bill English. In spite of leading his party to the worst defeat in its history, English’s colleagues did not consider it appropriate to signal his imminent political demise. On the contrary, his talent was retained and directed, very successfully, against the political enemy.

But that’s Labour’s problem, isn’t it? For far too many Labour politicians, the political enemy is seated on their own side of the parliamentary aisle. The Government benches contain only their opponents.

Heh, true. But David Cunliffe is no Bill English.

It is interesting to speculate about how Cunliffe’s supporters in the broader Labour Party will respond to Little’s brutal treatment of him. Some will recall the statespersonship of Helen Clark, who judiciously divided up the top jobs between her friends – and foes. The result – a “ministry of all the talents” – proved crucial to ending the serious factional strife that had long plagued Labour’s caucus. Others will recall with some bitterness the assurances given to them by the Labour hierarchy at the party’s recent conference.   Read more »