Damien Grant

A dodgy liquidator discusses StuffMe merger

Damien Grant discusses the proposed StuffMe merger:

It is deeply satisfying to see the heads of Fairfax and NZME grovel before the inquisitors of the Commerce Commission in a forlorn attempt to stave off the day they will need to all get real jobs. For the past two decades we have had to watch as journalism has been debased from an ancient and noble craft to a festering swamp of leftists who confuse advocacy with reporting.

On the mezzanine floor of the insolvency firm where I work sits a century’s worth of the Truth, once a proud and respected newspaper, which chased the modern equivalent of clickbait by dropping real reporting for page three girls and pandering to whims of the sex industry.

Its liquidation is a harbinger of the demise of the newspaper as we know it and in an attempt to stave off their own oblivion and searching for a business model that can sustain some semblance of news Fairfax and NZME want to do a deal.

Read more »

McCarten thinks John Key cares that a Maori Cult dislike him

Matt McCarten has turned his brain off and written a silly, snarky piece for Herald on Sunday about how unpopular John Key apparently is with the Exclusive Bro-thren’s.

I have called them a cult church and I will repeat it again, they are the Exclusive Bro-thren. Who cares if a bunch of sect Maori like you or not?  They even changed the rules banning women speaking on a Marae when it suited them.  When rules are changed for Metiria Turei to speak you know those extending the pleasure are an extremist bunch of nutters belonging on a list with Destiny Church.

McCarten has gone all whiny again about the sacking of Kate Wilkinson and a guy I have already forgotten. Phil? The guy who John Key  stuck his neck out for before.

Given they only got told about it hours before their dear leader gratuitously humiliated them revealed something ugly in Key’s psychological makeup.  Read more »

Damien Grant on ACC compo for breach

NZ Herald

Damien Grant actually talks sense on the issue of compensation for the pathethic media beatup of Bronwyn Pullar’s lapse of ethics. She is no whistle blower. ACC should deduct the cost of the compo from her payouts over time…I think she should get the bill.

The ACC is getting some additional free publicity over its offer of $250 compensation to weeping invalids who are meant to have had their privacy breached when Bronwyn Pullar was inadvertently emailed their names.

Sure, that was a blooper, but in a world where people post pictures of their genitals on Facebook, the idea you are entitled to compensation because your name is in a spreadsheet, that no one you know saw, is pathetic.

Good moves in Education

NZ Herald

Damien Grant explains som upcoming changes in Education:

Hekia Parata, the new Minister of Education, has an agenda. She appears to want to tackle the problem of poor teachers.

It is time, she announced to principals, for them to sort the wheat from the chaff.

Teachers are important. Last month, Treasury Secretary Gabriel Makhlouf referenced an OECD report that confirmed class size matters less than teacher quality and improved education has an impact on GDP.

He also made the point that in New Zealand, social-economic background has more of an impact on education results than in most other OECD countries, which is a polite way of saying our education regime favours white and Asian students at the expense of the brown and poor.

Parata is talking about performance pay for teachers and publishing league tables for schools based on National Standards. This is, as Sir Humphrey would say, courageous.

It is courageous but necessary. In Finland all teachers must have a masters degree for example.

Teacher unions are opposed to both policies. To bolster their argument the NZEI recently brought Australian academic Professor Margaret Wu to our shores. Wu was quoted in the Otago Daily Times as saying that “we need to look at education more broadly than just students’ academic results”.

It is hard to imagine a more incredulously stupid comment. We pay teachers to teach – not to eat their lunch. We can and should assess success by comparing what the class knows at the end of the process from what they knew at the start. A competent principal will know which teachers are effective and which are not.

A system that does not reward success encourages failure. Poor performers stay, talent leaves, children remain uneducated. Our education industry has become a sheltered workshop for useless teachers and a frustrating workplace for good educators.

The NZEI and PPTA will always oppose National, no matter what National does they want a war, so I reckon we should just have the war.

The problem with the NZEI and the PPTA is that they are unions masquerading as education think-tanks. Unions exist to advance the cause of their members. This is honest work in a free society and teacher unions have been remarkably successful at shielding their members from any form of performance scrutiny. They are so good I suspect they have convinced even themselves that it is not possible to tell a good teacher from a bad one and that students learn by osmosis rather than by anything a teacher actually does or does not do.

Regular readers of this blog will know that about 30 seconds after I post this along will come Kosh telling us all how only the teachers are allowed to speak on education matters because only they care about the kids.

Thirty per cent of students leave school without passing Year 12, or NCEA 2. This is a shocking result and it is worse for Pacific Island and Maori students. We are condemning a third of our students to low-paid, unskilled futures to shield lazy teachers.

Rumour has it Parata harbours grander ambitions. If she can tackle and defeat the teacher unions she should invest in a set of pearls and a black leather handbag.

The teacher unions will go to war, Annet Tolley fought some skirmishes successfully, but it was always a read guard action. Hekia Parata needs to be bold and agressive in going after the NZEI and PPTA. She needs to emulate George Patton…Old Blood and Guts.

Hanover prosecution a waste of money

NZ Herald

Damien Grant has some balls, he has said what many are now whispering.

It is deeply frustrating to see public funds being wasted to defend those who lost money in the Hanover debacle.

What is often forgotten in this long-running saga is that any of the 16,000 investors who lost money in Hanover have been entitled to avail themselves of the same sections of the Securities Act that the FMA has elected to use.

They have not. Not one of the 16,000. Yet taxpayers are funding this expensive legal fishing trip on their behalf.

He is dead right. The FMA have shown they don;t have the gonads to pursue criminal charges and instead have gone all limp-dicked and decided after many, many months that they will focus on but a few paragraphs and some misplaces semicolons and commas and proceed with a civil action.

Their reasoning is that the threshold for proof is lower and so they have more chance of success…in other words they are not entirely sure of their case so are going for a slap on the hand with an extremely wet bus ticket. Sean Hughes has proven to be all mouth and no trousers.

The FMA seeks to restore confidence in the securities market and they are entitled and perhaps even obligated to pursue this matter. Yet I find something disquieting about seeing Hotchin’s assets frozen for more than a year, not charged with any crime and having a civil case against him funded by taxpayers rather than those who suffered losses. If only he were as charming as Kim Dotcom.

This is a very good point. A man who still is not charged with any crime has had his assets frozen indefinitely. This is an outrage, both constitutionally and legally.

If the FMA wins, the aggrieved Hanoverians will get paltry compensation and taxpayers will get some, but not all, of their legal costs back. If the FMA loses, as it very well may, taxpayers will get what we always get. The bill.

Still at least the taxpayer hasn’t had to bail out Hanoever like it did with South Canterbury Finance.

The FMA’s case is this: Hotchin, Watson, Sir Tipene and others agreed to the release of a prospectus, and possibly some advertising, to the public. That prospectus and or said advertising contained untrue statements. If these two things are correct then those named face civil liability for the losses suffered.

They could face a pecuniary penalty as well but the FMA must bring this case within two years of finding the dishonesty so it may be too late. Seeking a pecuniary penalty is an action limited to the FMA.

However, before any compensation is awarded it must be shown that money was invested “on the faith of an advertisement or registered prospectus”.

It seems unlikely that those who invested in Hanover were reading the prospectuses being issued, even more unlikely to have been influenced by their contents. They recognised the brand, liked Richard Long, and would not know an Ebit from an elf.

I bet that “investors” simply looked at the headline rate advertised. Never read a single line fo the prospectus and simply wrote cheques to their broker.

However, the 16,000 have an even bigger problem winning any compensation because, back in 2009, they elected to swap their impaired debt for shares in Allied Farmers.

Now, that deal looks to have been about as smart as kissing a scorpion but that is what these “investors” did.

Guardian Trust, at the time, told them they needed to weigh up what they were giving up for “… an investment in Allied, which may be traded on the stock market at the prevailing market price” before pointing out that the prevailing market price would be lower than Allied’s current price.

They walked away from their rights as bond holders when they voted for that deal.

If they want to sue someone for their past mistakes let them do so on their own dime.

It is very hard to disagree with Damien Grant isn’t it?

POAL should do a Qantas

Damien Grant writes in the Herald:

Last month, its CEO, Tony Gibson, wrote an embarrassing article in which he admitted that his primary competitor, the Port of Tauranga, was more efficient, more profitable and that despite paying unskilled dock workers $91,000 a year, he was unable to make them do more than 26 hours of work.

Can you imagine the CEO of Westpac writing in the New Zealand Herald that his staff were less productive than those of BNZ, that they were paid too much and he could not get some of them to put in 40 hours?

Gibson needs to look no further than the example set by Alan Joyce, the CEO of Qantas. When his unions threw a wobbly, he grounded the fleet. Joyce showed courage, stared down the union, took some short-term heat but saved his airline.

It is a very competitive market, both for port business and for labour, something the union fails to recognise.

The Ports of Auckland is owned by Auckland Council, where councillors voted 12 to nine to back the port’s management, with left-wing troglodytes such as Sandra Coney and eight others voting to support the union.

I’m not meaning to be disrespectful (okay, maybe I am) but working on the docks is not skilled employment. Knowing how to remove an appendix is skilled. Moving a container is something someone with basic literacy and functioning limbs can learn over the course of a few weeks.

They are earning $91,000 a year because Parsloe knows a council-owned company does not need to make money and that management will back down from a fight.

A LGOIMA request of emails to and from Sandra Coney and Mike Lee should be very illuminating.

Gibson should sack the entire workforce and start again. At $91,000, there will be no shortage of applicants, even if he has to fly them in.

He will not because his political masters will not let him.

Down in Tauranga, the local council floated 45 per cent of its port’s shares to the public. The business is therefore run along standard commercial lines. Its CEO is winning clients such as Maersk and exploiting the underlying competitive advantage it has over the hapless Jafas.

Government ownership places constraints on a business that produce the sort of nonsense we are seeing at the wharves.

Unions sense weakness and seek advantage, commercial discipline is lost and there is no consequence for failure, no risk of insolvency and no reward for profit.

The state-owned enterprise model is an improvement, but there is no discipline like the discipline of the market.

Gibson should sack the entire workforce and tender out the work. Let’s see how the union fares then.