Cunning Winston

Winston Peters knows how to get people talking about him, and there is no better way than to challenge the PM to a $100,000 bet.

Winston Peters has offered to pay $100,000 to the Prime Minister’s favourite charity if John Key can find evidence that the New Zealand First leader has been fishing in his Northland electorate.

The challenge was issued after Mr Key ribbed Mr Peters in Parliament over the amount of time the Northland MP spent in his electorate, describing him as the “member of fishing”.

Mr Peters was questioning Mr Key about the Northland Economic Development report and the PM responded: “I dare say that Minister [Steven] Joyce now knows more about Northland than the member does. In actually having been there once this year, he has probably been there more than the member has.”   Read more »

Time for a fat-bastard tax

Fat-Cat-Meme2

Forget sugar taxes, fat taxes or anything else based on ingredients. We should be taxing the fatty not the food the fatty scoffs.

Kiwis are porky and dangerously deluded about it, a new study has found.

While we might tout ourselves as a sports-mad nation, the reality is most of us are hopelessly inactive.

According to a study comparing 11 countries, Kiwis were not only the chubbiest, but were “wildly off the mark” in estimating how fat they were.

While six in 10 were overweight or obese, most thought only 45 per cent of us fitted that description, independent research for the annual Cigna 360° Wellbeing Score found.

Health and nutrition experts are not surprised. “I think it’s normal to be overweight now,” New Zealand Nutrition Foundation dietitian Sarah Hanrahan said.   Read more »

Mental Health Break

Hillary Clinton’s honesty problem

Hillary Clinton got severely spanked in New Hampshire and delivered a bitter concession speech.

But now the knives are out and her claims of being bullet-proof now ring hollow.

The Washington Post talks about her “honesty problem”:

Hillary Clinton has an honesty problem.

That point is driven home hard in the exit poll following Clinton’s 22-point drubbing at the hands of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. More than one in three (34 percent) of all New Hampshire Democratic primary voters said that honesty was the most important trait in their decision on which candidate to support. Of that bloc, Sanders won 92 percent of their votes as compared to just 6 percent for Clinton.

Ninety-two to six. That is absolutely unbelievable — even given the size of Sanders’s overall victory in the state. And it should be deeply concerning to a Clinton campaign that has been resistant to acknowledging the idea that the ongoing controversy over Clinton’s private email server while at the State Department is a problem for her.

 Clinton’s standard response on questions about her honesty — or about her long-running polling problems on questions of whether she is honest and trustworthy — is that it has zero to do with her and how she has acted in and out of office but rather is the result of sustained decades of attack on her by Republicans.”Read behavioral science, read psychology,” Clinton told MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow this week. “Even when all the attacks prove to be unfounded, untrue, it leaves a residue.”  She added: “There is a concerted effort to try to make partisan advantage by really trying to throw so much at me that even if little splotches of it stick, it will cloud peoples’s judgment of me. That is a burden I carry.”    Read more »

Map of the Day

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The only retrospective legislation I’d support

It has been recommended the government overhaul extradition law to simplify the process of getting rid of ratbags who are wanted in overseas jurisdictions.

Imagine a high-profile extradition case of a foreigner accused of a crime that didn’t involve millions of taxpayers’ dollars and years of wrangling in the courts.

The Law Commission, which has been wrestling with this under the shadow of the Kim Dotcom case, has arrived at its recommendations, which were tabled in Parliament yesterday.

The commission was coy about the cost savings, but it promised extradition battles could be shorter and more clear-cut, in line with a worldwide trend.

The numbers were not huge – 70 extradition requests from other countries in four years, and about 40 from New Zealand to other countries.

However, the sums and delays could be large – for example, tens of thousands of Crown Law hours on the Dotcom extradition case, multi-millions of dollars all round, and the appeal against extradition yet to be heard, and due in August.   Read more »

Trotter on Hooton and why he wants better dinner guests

Chris Trotter sums up Matthew Hooton nicely.

[Simon] Wilson has a newshound’s nose for a shift in the political winds. As a Metro writer, he’d correctly predicted John Key’s comprehensive electoral victory in 2008, and two years later used his new position as Metro’s Editor to deftly reposition the magazine as the voice of the socially liberal, economically conservative and aggressively acquisitive Auckland middle-class. Nowhere was this repositioning more in evidence than in his choice forMetro’s political columnist. Where the magazine’s founder, Warwick Roger, had turned to New Zealand’s best left-wing journalist, Bruce Jesson, for political commentary, Wilson’s choice was the National Party’s leading ideological skirmisher, Matthew Hooton.

Those skirmishing skills were displayed to considerable effect from the get-go on Tuesday night (9/2/16) when Hooton accused the writer of seeing the 4 February anti-TPPA demonstrations as “the beginning of a revolution”. It is precisely this acidic mixture of smile and sneer that makes Hooton such a formidable opponent. That, and his ability to master a complex political brief very quickly and then fashion it into a political argument that is at once simple and subtle. Hooton, when he’s in control of himself, is both a superb manipulator of the truth and a master at identifying his opponents’ weak spots.

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Soper gets sticky knickers over Annie

Barry Soper has shifted his glad eye from the younger set and has a real love-in about 68-year-old Annette King.

Listening to the Labour veteran Annette King banging on in Parliament’s bear pit the comparison floated through my mind.

They’re female and were born within a month of each other, both turning the ripe old age of 70 next year. They’re certainly forceful women, even though King is seen to be in the twilight of her long political life.

Hillary Rodham Clinton is in full flight with her bid to to slide into the Oval Office’s leather chair, despite the memories that office must hold for her from the time it was occupied by her hubby Bill twenty years ago. At least the decor’s changed since then.

King, who’s affectionately referred to around Parliament as Auntie, was herself in full flight, making her opponents even more grizzly now that they’re back at work after their summer holiday break. It was good, old school, tub thumping stuff reminding us of Austin Mitchell’s view of God’s Own as the half gallon, quarter acre, Pavlova Paradise.

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Photo Of The Day

Buffalo Bill in tent. Photo courtesy of the Buffalo Bill Center of the West.

Buffalo Bill in tent. Photo courtesy of the Buffalo Bill Center of the West.

The Pony Express

Buffalo Bill Cody, who later became famous for his Wild West Show, was a rider for the Pony Express and wrote of his experiences. We join Bill’s story as he is hired – at the age of 15 – to ride a section of the trail that lies in modern-day Wyoming:

. . .The next day he [Mr Slade, the manger of Cody’s Pony Express station] assigned me to duty on the road from Red Buttes on the North Platte, to the Three Crossings of the Sweetwater – a distance of seventy-six miles – and I began riding at once.

One day when I galloped into Three Crossings, my home station, I found that the rider who was expected to take the trip out on my arrival had got into a drunken row the night before and had been killed; and that there was no one to fill his place. I did not hesitate for a moment to undertake an extra ride of eighty-five miles to Rocky Ridge, and I arrived at the latter place on time. I then turned back and rode to Red Buttes, my starting place, accomplishing on the round trip a distance of 322 miles.

Slade heard of this feat of mine, and one day as he was passing on a coach he sang out to me, ‘My boy, you’re a brick, and no mistake. That was a good run you made when you rode your own and Miller’s routes, and I’ll see that you get extra pay for it.’

Slade, although rough at times and always a dangerous character – having killed many a man – was always kind to me. During the two years that I worked for him as pony-express-rider and stage-driver, he never spoke an angry word to me.

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The House Today #nzqt

Parliament is sitting 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. Hon ANNETTE KING to the Minister of Health: Does he stand by his statement that “we’ve slowed the growth of public spending” given growth in health spending has slowed from over 9 percent under Labour to just 2.6 percent over the last five years, and what impact has this had on district health boards?
  2. Dr PARMJEET PARMAR to the Minister of Finance: What is the outlook for the New Zealand economy, and how does this compare with other developed countries?
  3. MARAMA FOX to the Minister responsible for HNZC: What assurances can he give that the remediation work needed on the estimated 57,500 non-compliant houses, as identified in the 2014 Trial of Rental Housing Warrant of Fitness Scheme report, will be carried out as a matter of priority?
  4. JAMI-LEE ROSS to the Minister of Transport: What announcements has the Government made recently on the East-West Connection roading project in Auckland?
  5. GRANT ROBERTSON to the Minister of Finance: When the Prime Minister said in his Statement to Parliament this week that there is now a $17 billion shortfall from Budget 2015, leading to “slightly higher debt”, exactly how much higher net and gross debt is now forecast, and when will that debt peak? Read more »