Friday, December 31, 2010

Frank Newman: Do councils do what they say they will do?

The Local Government Amendment Act 2002 brought sweeping changes to local authorities. Most significantly councils were given the powers of “general competency” and their mandate widened to encompass environmental, economic, cultural and social “well-beings”.

But it also prescribed the manner in which councils would engage with the public, including the need to prepare a 10 year plan (called a Long Term Council Community Plan or LTCCP). Presumably the purpose of the LTCCP was to enable the community to see with some degree of certainly what their council was planning to do over the next decade as guardians of their community assets and what it was likely to cost them as ratepayers.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Frank Newman: News flash! Foreshore and seabed protest march

TVNZ reports; “Anger over Maori claims on the seabed and foreshore has brought hundreds of people onto the streets of Nelson. The march was organised by the government's political ally United Future party which believes the issue could divide the country. Those involved said they fear becoming second class citizens if claims to the foreshore are successful.

“If we create rights for some New Zealanders and not others, then we start down a very sure and slippery slope to anarchy,"
says leader Peter Dunne.

That story was dated July 28, 2003,

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Karl du Fresne: Thanks for setting it out so clearly, Tuku

In Friday’s Dominion Post, Tainui iwi chairman Tukoiroirangi "Underpants" Morgan obligingly provides all the reason anyone needs to be deeply suspicious of the foreshore and seabed legislation.

Commenting on the announcement that Labour had withdrawn its support for the government’s Marine and Coastal Area Bill, Morgan reiterated that the legislation still had Tainui’s backing.

The Viscount Monckton of Brenchley: The Abdication of the West

From Cancun, Mexico, Dec 10, 2010: I usually add some gentle humor to these reports. Not today. Read this and weep. Notwithstanding the carefully-orchestrated propaganda to the effect that nothing much will be decided at the UN climate conference here in Cancun, the decisions to be made here this week signal nothing less than the abdication of the West. The governing class in what was once proudly known as the Free World is silently, casually letting go of liberty, prosperity, and even democracy itself. No one in the mainstream media will tell you this, not so much because they do not see as because they do not bl**dy care.

Frank Newman: Foreshore and seabed hearings a farce - outcome predetermined

Saturday’s Dominion Post reports, “While some changes would be recommended to the [Coastal Area Bill] the bill reported back from the committee would be fundamentally the same, he [Te Ururoa Flavell] said.”

This is outrageous comment from the Maori Party Whip and member of the Maori Affairs Select Committee. How is it that Mr Flavell is able to state that outcome when the committee is still hearing submissions? It’s because Mr Flavell and the other voting members of the Select Committee have already made up their minds. It’s probably more accurate to say he has never changed his mind, despite the almost total opposition for the Bill.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Ron Smith: Korea: the war that never left

Seoul is a bustling modern city of 12 million people, with a veritable forest of sky scrapers and a sleek modern transportation system. It is also the capital and undoubted hub of the 12th largest economy in the world, with a GDP per capita of nearly $30,000 (which is slightly larger than that of New Zealand – though, of course, the size of the South Korean economy is much larger).

Monday, December 6, 2010

Allan Peachey: You be the judge!

I am going to do something a little bit different for this edition of “Breaking Views”. I am going to report on two things I came across while overseas recently, one from the United States and the other from the United Kingdom. I shall report on them without comment and allow readers to draw their own conclusions or make up their own minds.

Owen McShane: Retro Rail Alert

The New Zealand Government recently decided to follow the example of Montreal and Toronto by amalgamating the six City councils and the single Regional Council of the Auckland Region to create a united “Super City” of 1.4 million people.
Like similar amalgamated bodies, the new Auckland Council, which came into being on the 1st November, 2010, has fallen for the notion of regionally determined smart growth built around a huge investment in heavy rail.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Mike Butler: How can the troubled coastal area bill bring lasting peace on the foreshore?

Some Maori Party supporters claim the customary title criteria in the Marine and Coastal Area (Takutai Moana) Bill are too tough, the Human Rights Commission says the bill is discriminatory, and the Coastal Coalition claims customary title criteria are too easy. Why? A closer look reveals that the bill is worded in such a way that it can be interpreted as both tough and easy. The word “exclusive”, for instance, has been redefined to allow a wide range of other users, and “uninterrupted” allows interruptions. Even the word “tikanga”, or the Maori way of doing things, allows for evolution, so that tikanga in 2010 includes things unimagined in 1840.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Ron Smith: More on academic ranking

I cannot resist a footnote to my last posting. It has now come to my notice that the latest world university rankings, which placed Harvard first, Oxford and Cambridge Universities joint sixth, and the University of Auckland 143rd (the only New Zealand placing), placed Alexandria University of Egypt, just behind at 147th. Alexandria University was also fourth-ranked in the world in the category of ‘citations’, which probably skewed the overall assessment, very substantially.

The explanation for this rather surprising outcome turns on the presence in Alexandria of a particularly enterprising academic, Mohamed El Naschie, who apparently published, during the review period no less than 320 of his own articles in a scientific journal of which he was also the editor.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Owen McShane: National Policy Statements Need Close Watching

A common complaint has been that the RMA was let loose on the Public without Government providing sufficient National Policy Statements to keep council on the straight and narrow. There is an old saying "Be careful what you wish for."

The Quality Planning web site announces that the New Zealand Coastal Policy Statement 2010 (NZCPS) will replace the NZCPS 1994 on the 3rd December, 2010. The NZCPS 2010 sets out policies on coastal issues including protection of outstanding natural features and landscapes, planning for subdivision, use, and development, protection of biodiversity and water quality, and management of coastal hazard risks.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Tim Ball: There Is No Water Shortage

There is no shortage of water. Amounts available vary regionally and change over time as precipitation amounts vary. Demand also changes with increases in population and economic development. Crude estimates indicate water use per person per day is 15 liters in undeveloped countries and approximately 900 liters in developed countries. Throughout history humans have developed remarkable techniques and technologies to deal with these issues. Few of these attempted to reduce demand, most worked to increase supply.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Ron Smith: Of Politics and Scholarship

In August of 2008, the New Zealand Centre for Political Research published a review of mine on the subject of the New Zealand system of academic assessment: Performance-Based Research Funding (PBRF), and its manifest defects and absurdities*. I was reminded of this a few nights ago when I was present in the Great Hall of Parliament to see the launch of a new book, Palmer: The Parliamentary Years, by a colleague, Raymond Richards. The Palmer biography is the product of more than ten years’ work and is a substantial piece of scholarship, which has received very positive reviews and has already been nominated for a New Zealand Post Book Award. At 470 pages it is also substantial in a more literal sense. For those interested in the history of the 1984-90 Labour Government, this account of the crucial role of Sir Geoffrey Palmer, firstly, as Deputy Prime Minister and then, as Prime Minister in his own right, is absolutely essential reading.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Lindsay Mitchell: The Spirit Level comes to NZ

The New Zealand Herald reports NZ academics and analysts broadly supported the Spirit Level thesis that,

"The greater the gap between rich and poor, the more likely people will grow up a drug user, a criminal, less educated, obese, pregnant while a teenager, even less trusting of others."

Allan Peachey: Great Principals Must Be Great Teachers

I found what I thought was a particularly insightful description of leadership in a book that I have been reading recently. The book, incidentally, is ‘Spinning Wheels: the Politics of Urban School Reform” by Frederick M. Hess. The description is from Tom Kean, a former governor of the State of New Jersey in the United States:
"True leadership takes time. A desert thunderstorm strikes with a flash and a roar, releasing all its water and energy at once. But the flashes quickly fade, and the water is mostly lost in runoff. Effective leadership takes the time to allow efforts and skills the chance to sink in, as opposed to the flash-flood phenomenon of high-visibility attempts at quick fixes."

President Vaclav Klaus: The Climate Change Doctrine is Part of Environmentalism, Not of Science

It is a great honor for me to be here tonight, getting a chance to deliver the inaugural lecture of the Global Warming Policy Foundation to such a distinguished audience. Even though it may seem that there is a whole range of institutions both here and overseas which bring together and support those who openly express doubts about the currently prevailing dogma of man-made global warming and who dare to criticize it, it apparently is still not enough. We are subject to a heavily biased and carefully organized propaganda and a serious and highly qualified forum here, on this side of the Atlantic, that would stand for rationality, objectivity and fairness in public policy discussion is more than needed. That is why I consider the launching of the foundation an important step in the right direction.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Mike Butler: Tribunal’s twisted history

Research into the life of the first New Zealand Company colonist to step ashore at Petone on January 22, 1840, made me read a lot of 19th century New Zealand history -- both that written close to the period, and the substantial re-writing done by the Waitangi Tribunal from the late 20th century on. The First Colonist - Samuel Deighton 1821-1900, which is advertised on this website, draws upon his letters and other primary sources, early settler histories, biographies, more recent histories, and Waitangi Tribunal reports. I expected tribunal reports to deal with history, but I did not expect them to be finely crafted arguments in support of the claims they purport to investigate. Taxpayers should be outraged that a government-funded body is writing a new history in which the Crown is depicted as deceitful, settlers rapacious, and Maori as helpless victims in need of compensation.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Ron Smith: Sheep and Nuclear Waste

Greenpeace and other activists recently spent almost a week chaining themselves to railway lines, dressing up as sheep and blocking roads in a determined, but ultimately fruitless effort to block a shipment of nuclear waste from France to Germany. It would have been much more in the interests of German tax payers and energy consumers (not to mention the German police) if they had spent only a fraction of the time they devoted to the imaginative planning of fresh stunts, to attempting to understand the nature of the material whose transportation they condemn and the extensive arrangements that are made for its safe storage and ultimate disposal. Here are the basic facts for those interested in nuclear power and the use of civil disobedience by those who oppose it (and I speak as one who has actually been to the plant in France, where the material originated, and to the Gorleben facility, where it now is). And if any reader has a friend in Germany, it might be a kindness to pass this on.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Mike Butler: Disingenuous or dim?

Pressure from the Coastal Coalition seems to be having an effect on Tukituki MP Craig Foss, who, in his latest Backing the Bay newsletter, calls us to look at the “true facts” about the Marine and Coastal Area (Takutai Moana) Bill. Anyone who uses the phrase “true facts” is probably in the habit of dealing with “false facts”, so his little bit of finger wagging about “misinformation being put about by people who should really know better” could well be applied to the National Party, the source of most misinformation on this issue.

Allan Peachey: Quality Principals the Key to Quality Education

In my last column I wrote about Michelle Rhee and her attempts to rescue the Washington DC public school system from endemic failure, and her focus on the view that effective teaching can overcome all types of disadvantage and poverty. And she wanted a situation in which a school principal would have to assess the effectiveness of a teacher without tenure to determine their ongoing employment. Of course, one of the most frequently raised arguments against performance pay for teachers is that principals are not competent enough or cannot be trusted to assess the effectiveness of teachers. That is a contention that I encountered often during my career but one I never accepted as having validity.

Owen McShane: Large Scale Cities require Small Scale Advisors

Large multinational consulting and engineering firms have been taking over much of the work that was traditionally done "in house" by public bodies and by local government in particular.

While privatisation was a great idea when first proposed – and still is in many cases – in recent years the privatisation process has been largely taken over by these large consulting firms who have no interest in increasing efficiency and every interest in milking the system.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Ron Smith: Ends and Means: The defence review of 2010

The recently published Defence White Paper is an extraordinary document. On the one hand, many of the threats and challenges that are likely to confront New Zealand over the coming twenty-five years (the stated review period) are well-identified. On the other, it is clear that the progressive cuts in capability that took place over the last twenty-five years will not be reversed and, indeed, further cuts are envisaged. How can this be? At least Prime Minister Clark claimed to see a ‘benign security environment’, in which formal defence reviews were not required and, in which requests for further expensive ‘toys for the boys’ were to be resisted but, in the present case, there is an apparent recognition of need, which is seemingly matched by a marked reluctance to do anything about it.

Michael Coote: A Phoney War over the Foreshore and Seabed

The phoney war between the National Government and the racist Maori Party over the foreshore and seabed hotted up recently. A bogus screaming match erupted over whether the Marine and Coastal Area (Takutai Moana) Bill (MCA) should state explicitly that Joe and Jane Public were entitled to free access to the foreshore and seabed.

This was a mere smokescreen calculated to distract New Zealanders from what really should be worrying them about MCA.

Allan Peachey: Revolutionising Public Schooling

The other day I came across the name Michelle Rhee. I knew it was a name I had come across sometime in the past. A bit of a memory search and I recalled where it was. It was a “Time” magazine article back in 2008. Rhee had been appointed Chancellor of the Washington DC School District, one of the poorest performing school districts in the entire American public school system, with falling rolls and achievement levels year on year.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Frank Newman: How much are the Super-City Councillors really worth?

It didn’t take long… the new Auckland supercity councillors wanting to be paid more, despite being paid a base salary of about $80,000.

When I was first elected to the Whangarei District Council in 1995 we were paid $16,000 a year. I can’t recall any councillor moaning about their salary. Most accepted the role was essentially one of community service.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Mike Butler: The Ngati Kuia settlement -- healing old wounds or making new mistakes?

Another South Island tribe, Ngati Kuia, has resolved historical grievances with the Crown over an area in which overlapping tribal interests have led to an earlier settlement creating a further grievance and a recommendation for compensation. The settlement, signed at Canvastown on the Saturday afternoon of Labour weekend, consists of $24-million in commercial redress, an apology for historical breaches of the Treaty of Waitangi, and the return of culturally significant sites and other crown properties. Since the Ngati Kuia settlement has had no scrutiny by politicians or commentators, and since it was released in a news dead zone, here are the facts and some comment.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Hugh Barr: National is appeasing Maori separatists on the foreshore and seabed

A recent article in the Sunday Star Times “Coastal legislation walks all over Maori” (17 October) promoted the Maori separatist view that the whole of the foreshore and seabed should be privatised to iwi customary title, together with full trespass rights, immediately without further proof. This would give iwi immediate effective ownership, including the right to charge for public access.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Owen McShane: Can the Auckland Council Survive

Len Brown, of the ‘Centre Left’, will soon be the first Mayor of the Auckland Council. Mega-amalgamations inevitably generate tension between the conflicting interests of the central urban area and the outer municipalities. Mayoral candidates from the business-focused central area will be seen to be more “right” than politicians from the surrounding communities. Consequently, the outer electorates favour their candidates over those from the central area. This geographic preference leads to the election of Mayors from the Centre Left rather than the Centre Right. London’s "Red Ken" was a famous example.

Tim Ball: Biodiversity Replaces Climate Change As The Weapon For Political Control

The reality that global warming and climate change are natural and current patterns are within historic patterns is taking hold. Fundamental common sense embedded in the majority of people joined with truth pursuers and the healing perspective of time to bring reason. As always, those who profit politically, financially, or both, fight a rearguard action. Partly to defend the misdirection, but often to move the focus, while maintaining the target. Some of these different foci hover around the edge of the main battleground, but most are unaware how they’re interconnected.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Ron Smith: Learning from History

It has been said that the only thing to be learned from History is that nobody ever learns anything from History. The hypothesis may be again under test in the United Kingdom with the recently-published (19 October) Strategic Defence and Security Review. Not surprisingly in view of the difficult financial situation faced by the new coalition government, there are substantial cuts to be made across all three services. To a degree, the Army is ‘ring-fenced’ because of its on-going commitment in Afghanistan but the cuts for the other two services are substantial and, as they come into effect, will have a major impact on the defence capabilities available to the British Government in the years ahead. This is particularly the case for the Royal Navy and this where the matter of learning from history comes acutely to the fore.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Owen McShane: How High Speed Broadband gets People out of their Cars

Urban economies are now driven by their network connectivity more than by their size.

The combination of the internet, cellular computing-telephony, underpinned by High Speed Broadband, will drive the economic performance of cities through the 21st century mainly by hugely increasing the integration of urban enterprises with skilled labor markets throughout the region, and elsewhere in the world.

Ronald Kitching: Dangerous Termites Eat Out The Foundations of Western Society

Facts about Termites and Carbon Dioxide (CO2):

• Termites produce more Carbon Dioxide (CO2) each year than all living things combined.

• Termites alone produce ten times as much carbon dioxide as all the fossil fuels burned in the whole world in a year.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Ron Smith: Pensions and Revolutionary Justice

Isn’t it interesting how the political left can so easily set aside the democratic process? Legislation to raise the age of retirement in France from 60 to 62, has already been accepted by the popularly-elected National Assembly. It will shortly be passed by the Senate, having been initially proposed by the now embattled President. But the left are taking to the streets.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Lindsay Mitchell: Labour promises built on false premises

Addressing the Labour Party Conference, Deputy Leader and Welfare Spokesperson, Annette King, singled out the domestic purposes benefit as a policy that would change under their new 'putting children first' philosophy. Unfortunately Ms King doesn't properly understand the dimensions of existing DPB dependence and its effect on children. Ms King claimed that, 'Around 70% of people on the DPB move off the benefit in 4 years, it's used as a family transition.'

Sunday, October 17, 2010

David Round: "Free" Beach Access - the Truth!

Just a brief note this week about public access under the government’s Marine and Coastal Area (Takutai Moana) Bill. The Attorney-General and Minister of Treaty Settlements, Mr Christopher Finlayson, has said on various occasions that it is ‘clear’ that public access will be allowed as of right, and free of charge, over any foreshore and seabed to which Maori might be granted ‘customary marine title’ under the bill. Now this is simply not the case, and if Mr Finlayson thinks that it is the case, then he is either dishonest or not as good a lawyer as he thinks he is. There are two issues here. One concerns wahi tapu areas ~ I shall deal with them in a second, but it is pretty clear that there, there will not be public access as of right. The second is a more general issue, dealing with all foreshore and seabed which becomes subject to ‘customary marine title’. Here it is certainly possible to interpret the bill so that there may be public access as of right, but (as the bill is drafted at present) it is by no means ‘clear’ that there is that public access. I shall explain. I should warn non-lawyers that this explanation may become ever so slightly technical. But don’t be nervous, it is all really perfectly simple, and I shall be with you holding your hand every step of the way.

Allan Peachey: Speaking the Truth

The recent articles that I have written about the importance of science and history to the successful functioning of a democracy have drawn an interesting response; not just in the ‘Comments’ section to Breaking Views but also from a number of people who have made direct contact with me. One of the issues is the question as to the extent to which facts are facts. And that in itself is really important. Because something is either a fact or it is not. One of the things that young people need to learn is how to distinguish fact from opinion, interpretation, self-interest or straight out propaganda. Let me use history to illustrate my point. I could equally do the same with science, but I am more confident in dealing with history material.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Mike Butler: English, banks, and property

The Government deficit has shrunk, according to financial statements released this week, but policy sacred cows remain untouched and Finance Minister Bill English remains oblivious as to what his comments and his tax changes have done to the property sector. A $2.5-billion gain in the value of the New Zealand Superannuation Fund and ACC investment portfolios helped narrow the deficit to $4.5 billion in the year ended June 30, from a $6-billion deficit a year earlier. (1)

Friday, October 15, 2010

Roger Kerr: The case for speeding up the MMP Referendum

The select committee considering the bill to set up the referendum on the electoral system is due to report back to parliament next month. It is important that parliament provides voters with the best possible process for deciding on this important issue. As things stand, next year’s referendum, to be held at the same time as the general election, will ask voters whether they want to keep MMP or change to a different system. If they favour a change, they will be asked in a second question to choose their most preferred alternative from four options.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Mike Butler: Ngai Tahu, charity, and the land

Owen McShane’s report last week that included details of Ngai Tahu businesses registered as charities prompted a closer look at that tribe’s deals with successive governments. In his blog "Who Really Governs”, McShane noted that the Ngai Tahu Charities Group covers more than 30 separate registered charities including companies such as Ngai Tahu Capital Ltd, Ngai Tahu Finance Ltd, Ngai Tahu Fisheries Ltd, Ngai Tahu Property Investments Ltd, Ngai Tahu Joint Ventures Ltd, Wigram Aerodrome Ltd, South Island Landbase Ltgd, Ngai Tahu Forest Estates Ltd, Helijet Ltd, Shotover Jet Ltd (which was once listed on the stock exchange), Huka Falls Jet Ltd, Rainbow Springs Ltd, Westland Tourism Ltd, and Dart River Safaris Ltd.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Ron Smith: Protest and Peace

There is a right to public protest in a democracy but there isn’t a right to damage property, public or private, in order to dramatise that protest. The 2008 decision by the Wellington District Court to acquit the ‘Waihopai Three’ on charges of burglary and intentional damage (on grounds of justification) was an absurdity and the Government is quite right to attempt to make that point by bringing a civil action for damages. The fact that some of those concerned appear to have limited means is not a reason for not proceeding with this action, although it may be a reason not to expect a financial return appropriate to the likely costs. There is an important point of principle here. It is simply obnoxious to public policy that this kind of deliberate damage can be seen as acceptable, provided that there is a claim, however vague, of moral right.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Karl du Fresne: De Bres and Henry

If anyone was to compile a list of the enemies of free speech in New Zealand, the name of Joris de Bres would have to be on it. The Race Relations Commissioner was in full cry again today, demanding that TVNZ do something about Paul Henry for his silly comments about the Governor-General, Sir Anand Satyanand.

Lindsay Mitchell: Treasury finds greatest opportunity for reform with DPB

A Treasury report prepared for the Welfare Working Group has correctly identified that the greatest opportunity for welfare reform lies with the Domestic Purposes Benefit. Treasury identified six ways in which welfare reform could improve outcomes for both beneficiaries and the economy. They are improved labour force participation; reduced poverty risk; fiscal savings; improved intergenerational outcomes; greater individual and social well-being and increased economic growth.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Dr Tim Ball: Two Lies Make A Truth In Green and Liberal Views on Climate Science

In the world of green and liberal politics, where they practice extreme environmentalism, nothing bears examination: two lies make a truth. We now learn that Bjorn Lomborg, who was never a climate skeptic, has magically disavowed that status. As the entire mockery of human induced global warming collapses, it is a convenient conversion.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Owen McShane: Who Really Governs?

We like to think that Parliament governs, and presumably Parliamentarians would like to think so too.

However, if a particular party, or coalition, governs for a few terms it can stack a host of government agencies with "right minded" or at least "like minded" people and these are the people who actually implement all those Acts and Regulations that grind through the Parliamentary mill.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Frank Newman: Turkish dancing

It’s so bizarre it’s almost humorous. I am referring to the “we were doing a Turkish dance” defence used by a Hawera kebab shop owner against charges that he assaulted his wife. Fortunately the judge saved the judiciary from humiliation by rejecting the defence as "nonsense and a lie".

According to a media report appearing in the Taranaki Daily News the man claimed he and his wife were engaging in a Turkish dance known as Kolbasti. If he is to be believed, and if eye witness reports are correct, then Kolbasti involves kicking and beating ones dance partner.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Mike Butler: Hone and race

Is Hone Harawira a racist? A feature on him aired on the Sunday television programme last night gave him the opportunity to define racism, and by his definition he is not a racist.

The feature, titled “Home Truths”, was made as a follow-up to the Te Tai Tokerau MP’s outburst that he wouldn’t feel comfortable if one of his children came home with a Pakeha partner.

Michael Coote: Coastal Maori Tribes Big Winners Under New Bill

The National-led government is fortunate that the South Canterbury Finance payout and the Christchurch earthquake disaster happened when they did.

These events served to distract attention from the Marine and Coastal Area (Takutai Moana) Bill it introduced into Parliament on September 7.

The bill is intended to replace the Foreshore and Seabed Act 2004 and will open up the marine environment to privatization by coastal Maori tribes.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Owen McShane: Fourteen Tips for New Mayors

As we go into the local body elections many of our friends and colleagues are standing as candidates, or are working to assist those who are. These good people hope to make a difference.
 I wrote the following "Tips for Mayors and Councillors" just before the election of 2003, and repeated it for the election of 2007. I now find that sitting councillors are asking me to send it to them once again. They have found these tips were worth while. You might like to pass them on to anyone you know who might benefit from them.

You are a new Mayor, or a new Councillor. You want “to make a difference”.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Bryan Leyland: Earthquakes, snowfalls and road tunnels

Recent events in the South Island highlight what engineers can–and cannot–do.

My favorite definition of an engineer is "someone who can do for five bob was any fool can do for a quid”. Engineers strive to do the best job they can in the light of the knowledge available at the time without wasting huge amounts of money. As a result we have progressed from early steam engines with, perhaps, 5% efficiency to modern power stations at 60% efficiency. Bridges have got longer, stronger lighter and cheaper and so on. But advances in technology has always been punctuated by periodic failures. Detailed analyses of these failures has been a major factor in designing machines and structures that are stronger and safer. The process is continuous and, every now and then, there will be failures. Nevertheless, in the long run everyone will benefit from the lessons that have been learned. In engineering, as in most–or all–aspects of modern life, risk can be minimized but it cannot be eliminated.

Frank Newman: Open letter to the Prime Minister

23 September 2010
The Prime Minister

Dear John

You have on a number of occasions ruled out having Sir Roger Douglas as a member of a National led cabinet, the most recent being this morning on Radio New Zealand (RNZ).

You stated on RNZ that the reason for excluding Sir Roger was his “far right agenda” is at odds with the policies of the National Party .

You are of course free to choose who you include or exclude from your executive and I have no issue whatsoever with you exercising that choice.

Could you please advise if there are sufficient differences between Mr Hone Harawira’s political views and the policies of the National Party for you to make a similar statement ruling him out of any future National led cabinet over which you preside.

Yours faithfully
Frank Newman

[NOTE: The Prime Minister’s reply will be posted on this blog.]