29 June, 2007

I told you so

Remember when I expressed the opinion that in Another Bollard game that his trick to lower the exchange rate was going to work as well as catching water in a leaky bucket.
It seems that I was slightly wrong.
The exchange rate is now up to USA$0.77 so Bollard's tinkering wasn't like catching water in a leaky bucket. More like catching water in a sieve.

While I am on a roll remember signs of the times-more water under the bridge in which I stated that Auckland City Council's greatly increased water charges were not going to be popular? After reading this I am anticipating a backpedal any day now with or without a push from central government.

Last night TV3 had a great deal of fun at expense of various MPs by showing them asleep in their seats. Wish I could find that clip to share, it was a hoot.
My normally lowish opinion of the greens has just risen a notch. They voted against the new rules and Nandor Tanczos explains why in this radio interview. He even mentioned the problem of enforcing the satire rule in blogs.

The White Cat Rulz!!!
I suppose I better shut up for now before my swelled head gets stuck in the cat flap.

27 June, 2007

Parliamentry press rules

Changes are afoot it seems.

Reports are a bit garbled and I can't find the original press release but it appears that our current government wishes the change the rules on what the media can report on in regards to the happenings in the house.

The pictures to be precise. They are objecting to pictures of MPs behaving like poorly behaved Pre-schoolers.

Even a ban a satire is proposed!

Is this the end of political cartoons?
An end to pictures of MPs doing rude gestures in the house while others are speaking?

Surely better behaviour by the MPs themselves while in the house would more effective than media control.

In other words - GROW UP

One wonders if even blogs like this will eventually fall foul of the new rules if they contain pictures or caricatures.

25 June, 2007

Death by Privacy Act - Powerless in Auckland part 3

We gasped in shock when Folole Muliaga died after Mercury cut the power supply to the family home over an overdue debt of $168.40. Most fingers, including our Prime Minister's, were pointed at Mercury. Some of us thought there was another cause like poor handling by the public health system or poor access to welfare benefits. Even the church the family belonged to were blamed.

Who would have thought that an act of Parliament giving people the right to privacy would have played any part?
If TVNZ's Sunday progaram is correct that is what played a large part in this family's tragic loss.

All along the finger has been pointed in part at the Muliaga family for not trying to arrange a payment plan with Mercury to prevent the electricity being cut off.

Now is seems they did try to do just that. The problem? Mr Muliaga rang Mercury to try and sort it out in early May but Mercury did nothing. (Put your pointing finger on hold for a moment)


Mr Muliaga wasn't the account holder!
Mrs Muliaga was!
So despite that fact that she was in hospital at the time and unable to handle sorting out the power bill herself Mercury, under the privacy act, was unable to act on any instructions or offers from her husband.

It is only because the Muliaga family waved their right to privacy that we have even heard about this.

Of course there are other factors involved as well, like our lax credit control laws (with the accompanying explosion of loan sharks), the obesity "epidemic", the ridiculous student allowance rules based on parents income with no reference to how many children those parents are feeding and our creaking health system, not forgetting our privatised electricity supply of course.

Every law potentially is a double edged sword. This sad case just proves that the privacy law is sharper than most. As many a family of a dementia sufferer or mental health patient has pointed out before, often in their grief, cuts from the privacy act can be fatal.

Powerless in Auckland
Mercury's response

21 June, 2007

Solstice Madness?

It can't be Wacky Wednesday, today is Thursday but after seeing this lot I have to wonder

First Sue Bradford announces that she wants to give 16 year olds the right to vote and has drafted a bill and an wishes to add civics education to the syllabus.
Why didn't she title it "I want to get more votes for the green party" while she was at it?

National has just announced that a National led government will change the smacking law if it is not working.

They voted for it!

More flip-flops than a jandel factory.

Okay this next bit isn't political - yet - but it seems one set of new parents is in the process of picking a fight with Births, Deaths and Marriages.
That is what they wish to name their son.
Which, when you think about it would be a better name.

And here from the "they didn't think this one through" files is the Tauranga Art Gallery and its new glass floor.
Ladies, please wear sensible clean knickers in good repair or trousers.

19 June, 2007

Mercury's response

14 June 2007 Mercury Energy

Xxx Sweetpea
X xxxxxxx xx
Auckland xxxx

A message from Carole Durbin, Chair, Mighty River Power

I am writing to tell you about the steps Mercury Energy is taking to follow up on the issues highlighted by the recent tragic events affecting the Muliaga family of Mangere Bridge in Auckland.

First let me say how much I and everyone at Mercury Energy and Mighty River Power deeply regret what occurred. We are determined to learn from this experience for the benefit of all our customers and in particular those in vulnerable situations.

We have already taken a number of steps to help us identify and work better with those customers at risk of disconnection because of financial difficulties. We do ask that you contact us if you are having this problem. The number to call is 0800 10 18 10.

Information is also available on our website for people who are dependent on electrical medical equipment. We also have a dedicated phone line 0800 63 00 01 if customers with medical conditions require more assurance.

These are interim steps and you may expect further improvements will be made over coming weeks. Future improvements will also include the results from an independent evaluation of our disconnection procedures, and full consideration of the strengthened guidelines announced by Government.

Doug Heffernan, Chief Executive of Mercury Energy's parent company, Mighty River Power, will be keeping you informed of the improvements we will be making to protect customers better from unnecessary or avoidable disconnection.

I wish to thank the many customers who have supported Mercury Energy through this difficult time. We look forward to your continued support as we strive to serve you better.

Yours sincerely

Carole Durbin
Mighty River Power

Another Bollard game - part 2

That move to adjust the exchange rate didn't quite work did it.

Others have agreed with my opinion.

Still God loves a trier, at least that is what Alan Bollard seems to think because yesterday he did it again and made exactly the same move.

Did it work this time?

What do you reckon?

This cartoon says it all.

I guess that proves I am not a completely dumb blond.

Now how about dropping that official cash rate so that my secretary spends less time looking at her budget and more time paying attention to me.

15 June, 2007

Signs of the times. More water under the Bridge?

Auckland City Council passed their bill board banning bylaw yesterday.

Got to wonder why they bothered. If has been ammended out of all recognition and now doesn't ban bill boards and other overlarge signs at all. Instead it contains an undertaking to negotiate the removal of bill boards from heritage building over the next 5 years and a ban on illegal bill boards.

A ban on illegal bill boards. Duh!

Typical over watered down response to a bold new outrage sparking plan.

No wonder Auckland has such bad inferstucture problems.

Take water for example.

No, not the drinking stuff that comes through pipes although that is indirectly involved. I am talking about what the council refers to as waste water.

That isn't just the smelly stuff that one should bury neatly in the garden after doing one's business. It is the stuff that falls from the sky as well in large quantities. South of the coat hanger it all goes into the same old pipes.

Very old pipes.

In some cases over 100 year old pipes.

This, of course has been causing a problem for years, decades. Every time it rains and our rainfall isn't exactly low.
Every elected council since the days of Sir Dove Myer Robinson has been putting the problem in the too hard/too expensive basket. Now the shit isn't just flowing down Motions Creek in heavy rain. Yes, that is a real stream with a real sewage overflow problem and that is its real name. Okay that may be a slight exaggeration but the fact remains. The system running at over capacity and it is leaking badly.

The present council has decided to do something about it in the next 10 years and not before time. North Shore put a plan in place to fix their own aging undersides sewer problem many years ago. Not many overflows here anymore. Auckland City council has even come up with a plan to pay for it.

Greatly increased water charges.

I can hear the howls of indignation from here.

It will be interesting to see if this council backs down or starts installing the Dick Hubbard memorial sewage and storm water system.

Just as long as they don't wind up following that earlier plan of their's and pipe it over the coat hanger to North Shore's Lake Rosedale.

Notice of Public Meeting Cancellation

I have decided to discontinue my evening public meetings for now.

The plum tree is just too darn cold and the only attendee, apart from the rabbits that is, in the last week has been that tabby tom cat with the white bib.

I don't like him.

13 June, 2007

I am not amused

How about this little piece of idiocy from Whangarei.

Only 2 cats per household.

I protest!

Mind you it could be a good opportunity to get rid of that cowardly bully of a Minnie cat or that senile old bag of bones called Smudge..........and as for that ginger next door.........

The Food Police

Pies and chips for tea last night.
I am one happy cat. Youngest kid didn't finish his pastry. Choice!

I like pies.
Meat ones in particular, but custard ones are nice as well. I'll even eat fruit ones if I can leave the fruit.

It seems the government has decided that school children shouldn't be eating pies, chips and fizzy drink along with a few other things. It seems that there are too many fat kids.

School principals are less than happy about that.

It seems that school rely on the income raised by sell the banned foods to hungry students with cash regardless of what size their waists are.

Of course the menu at Bellamy's, parliament's own cafe, is unaffected and still contains sausage rolls and sugary drinks. All suitable fuel for extra wide MPs I am sure.

It has been pointed out that said students, be they lard butts or not, will just take their lunch dollars to the nearest dairy, bakery or take away instead of school tuck shops but to no avail.

Got to wonder about how keen Labour is to be reelected next year.

Another Bollard game

Oh dear.

It seems that the exchange rate against the American dollar is hitting "record" highs again. US76.4oc this time.

In steps Alan Bollard and lowers the exchange rate by one whole cent.
To be fair, that will work if the American dollar was about to rise again on its own.

That was 3 days ago.
Yesterday the exchange rate was still above US75c

About as effective as catching water in a leaky bucket really.

08 June, 2007

Why cats need secretaries

Bollard's game

The official cash rate has been raised again. For the third time this year and the 12th time since 2004.

Blame for this is being leveled at government spending, as in Labour buying votes, or at Fonterra and the large payout because the rest of the world wants our milk and that old chestnut of the property boom.

Isn't interesting that the blame is never leveled at the weak US dollar and the affect of that on all those currencies fixed to the US dollar.

This increased government spending is the interesting one. The finger is firmly pointed at the increase to the family tax credit and kiwi saver.

The family tax credit was raised by up to $10/week/child. In reality that looks very much like the rate of inflation so it is unlikely to be that.

Kiwi saver, now there is a political hot potato. The government, obviously scared that the average worker was intending to give the scheme the thumbs down, increased the tax incentives on that and fiddled with the business tax rate on one hand and made it compulsory for employees to stump up so of the dosh on the other. Cost to the government $1000 for everyone who signs up and up to $20 tax break on the contributions. The average worker is now looking at the scheme and may sign up in unexpected numbers.

But hang on.
This money cannot be spent until the contributor is 65 years old.
It is savings.
The contributions are effectively out of circulation until then.
Isn't that exactly what Bollard and co want? People having less money to spend? Shouldn't that lower the OCR instead of raising it?

Since the whole thing kicks in in July I guess we will wait and see.

Then there is the property boom the has so far refused to bust.

Bollard ups the rate to make borrowing more expensive. Foreign money rushes in because foreign investors can make so much more money lending it out here than elsewhere. Credit is easy to come by. So people continue to buy houses and the price keeps going up.

There is another factor in play here as well. Houses in Auckland anyway are selling fast. Very fast, some in as little as a few days. This one sold in minutes. Very little is on the market for over a month.

Easily affordable credit or shortage of housing in the area?
Interest rates won't have any affect on the later.

Meanwhile those who have had mortgages for awhile are wincing in pain as their fixed mortgages roll over at interest rates beyond what they budgeted and exporters look at their bottom lines and shut up shop or shift off shore.

Time for a new game plan?

Even this blond cat can see the current moves aren't working.

05 June, 2007

3rd Party Insurance Waltz

Harry Duynhoven has done it again.

He has got in very quickly on the heels of yet another motoring tragedy, which is pretty much expected when you're the Transport Safety Minister (or should that be Mini stir).

This time he was on TV3 News in response to a 4WD full of 15 year olds too cool to wear seat belts that over turned with the resulting death and injury.

The problem is that he has come up with the same answer as before

Compulsory Third Party Insurance.

Just how that is supposed to stop 15 year olds on restricted licences carrying passengers and get them to use seat belts when other older more direct laws haven't is beyond me.

I think his theory is that the insurance will be so expensive that they will have to be good careful drivers to be able to afford to own a car.

The fact that Mummy and Daddy may help teen aged offspring into vehicle ownership by paying either the insurance or part if not all of the purchase of the car in question hasn't seemed to have occurred to Harry.

How else does a 15 year old manage to own a car and afford to put fuel in it?

As any under 25 year old knows it is far cheaper, insurance wise, to talk your parents into owning the car and just to be the main driver than it is to own the car in your own name.

Laws only work when people obey them. As this group of 15 year olds has already proved, even the seat belt wearing law has fallen of deaf teen aged ears. No law change will save teenagers like them while they still think they are bullet proof.

How about playing a new tune Harry because no matter which way you look at it compulsory third party insurance will to nothing to improve transport safety.

01 June, 2007

Powerless in Auckland

Mercury Energy, not so proud sponsors of the 1998 "Queen Street" Blackout, have done it again.

This time it wasn't most of the Auckland C.B.D. that Mercury pulled the plug on. Just a single customer with an unpaid bill.

As in 1998 the news has spread all around the world and not in a good way.

The stories abound from the evocative She relied on an oxygen machine. The electricity firm cut off the power. Hours later she was dead to Power company in spotlight over death to this NZ Herald feature simply titled Power cut death.

While nearly every man and his dog, including Helen Clarke, our Prime Minister, is pointing the finger at Mercury, their sub-contractor and their poor dumb schmuck of an employee who may yet be up on manslaughter charges, this little item has appeared. Give us the facts on woman's death - oxygen patient.

So was Mercury really to blame or will the cannon of public opinion shift its aim to our much maligned health system or to the family who ultimately could have prevented it by ringing an ambulance sooner, running over to the neighbours with an extension lead or paying their overdue power bill?

No doubt one of the many inquires into Mrs Muliaga's death will come up with a scape goat or a large carpet to sweep it all under. Already the words "more legislation" have been mentioned.

One thing for sure. This will go on long after the funeral and long after we are all sick of it.

A bit like that six week power cut in 1998 so I am told.

Meanwhile all sorts of things will be snuck under the radar in the hope that the media and the public will still be looking the other way.

Thanks Mercury. Not.