Morgan/TOP touring the south

Gareth Morgan has begun his second tour of the country in his campaign for The Opportunities Party, starting in the south.

I saw him in Dunedin last night – he comes across as very well informed, passionate,  and determined to make a difference.

This is in contrast to my impression of Winston Peters (last year) and Andrew Little (earlier this year) who played to their faithful with slogan laden speeches. Morgan sounded original and was interesting right through his presentation.

On Monday: Southlanders voice their concerns at public meeting with Gareth Morgan

Mental health, the economy, environmental issues and poverty were among the concerns raised by Southlanders at an Opportunities Party meeting on Monday night.

About 100 people were at the meeting, led by party leader Gareth Morgan, and held at CentreStage in Invercargill.

Morgan said the newly founded party aimed to turn around concerns with its radical policies, and make the best of the people, economy and resources in New Zealand.

It was the second trip to Invercargill for Morgan and his team, who have been touring the country.

With New Zealand having one of the highest rates of teenage suicide, the Unconditional Basic Income (UBI) and thriving families policy would be the first step to smoothing the path to adulthood, Morgan said.

“That’s [rates of youth suicide] pretty bad. It’s just one indicator that things aren’t great,” he said.

The aim of the party was to “persuade the government to make all boats lift” and make progress as a nation, he said.

Tuesday night in Queenstown Morgan targets inequality:

Speaking at a public meeting in Queenstown last night, The Opportunities Party (Top) founder outlined sweeping economic and social reforms for tackling what he said were growing income disparities among New Zealanders.

The audience of about 50 people, ranging in age from pensioners to a toddler, were told the economy appeared to be doing ”reasonably well” on the surface.

But New Zealand had become a low-wage, ”treadmill economy” in which most people were working harder and producing more, but were not getting wealthier.

A widening gap between the asset-owning class and everyone else was causing social stress reflected in rates of youth suicide, workplace and school bullying and imprisonment that were among the highest in developed countries, Mr Morgan said.

Both of those reports sound similar content to last night.

ODT reports: Morgan impresses Dunedin audience

Mainstream political parties who underestimate Gareth Morgan’s influence in the September 23 election will do so at their peril.

Mr Morgan, the leader and founder of The Opportunities Party (Top) attracted about 200 people to hear him in South Dunedin’s Mayfair Theatre last night

That’s a good number for a new party. Morgan asked how many had been to his previous Dunedin meeting. He estimated about 1/3 of the audience had.

For 40 minutes, Mr Morgan enthralled the audience, fielding applause and laughter as he outlined only one policy – although it was a very wide-ranging and quite detailed policy -before taking questions.

”I promised I would only talk about one policy tonight, otherwise I would have you all in a coma,” he said to much laughter. When the economist-turned-investor and now politician formed his party, much was made about his style of delivery, which was described as dry and casual.

Although he was dressed casually, often with his hands in his pockets, those attending last night paid close attention to what he was saying.

It was different to normal polispeak, he is very much a non-politician politician.

Mr Morgan’s delivery was slick, peppered with colourful language. He said his job was to offend everyone and often mentioning his party’s policies would go down like a ”cup of cold sick”.

His job is to battle against the same old, against the status quo in politics.

The audience ranged from those in their 20’s through to retirees. Those spoken to by the Otago Daily Times said Mr Morgan had good ideas and was talking sense, something other political parties might be wise to take note of, three months out from the election.

Given the main parties are coming across poorly and could do with a good boot up the political bum, there are votes in Morgan’s approach, but it’s a big challenge to look like getting close to the 5% needed.

I went to an Internet Party meeting in the 2014 campaign and that was very different – more showy but much less substance.

I also went to an ACT conference and David Seymour impressed, Jamie Whyte didn’t. The election result suggested that was a common impression.

The provincial media seems to be warming to Morgan, but the political media establishment in Wellington and Auckland still seem unexcited.

If anyone can shake up the political establishment this year it’s Morgan. Time will tell whether he just shakes up the campaign, or gets to also shake up Parliament.

Morgan says his intention if successful is to not take sides but to sit on the cross benches pushing for any policy gains they can get. Some of their policies are radical considering how bland National and Labour are in the main, but they are well researched and could make a good contribution to the mix.

But he has a long way to get there. The TOP van moves to Timaru today, the campaign for a party that can’t use free MP travel is a long haul.

 

Highlanders beat Lions

I went to watch the Highlanders play the British and Irish Lions last night. It was bitterly cold and intermittently wet (there had been light sleet and snow earlier in the day) outside but as usual perfect conditions under the roof.

It was a very good game to watch, quite open at times. The Lions scored three tries to the Highlanders two but failed to convert a couple of late penalties and lost 22-23.

That’s the second midweek loss to the Lions. They will be hoping their weekend team manages to overcome the NZ Maori team this Saturday.

The Highlanders played very well for most of the game but made some costly mistakes. One botched kick set the Lions up on attack after which they scored a good backline try. The Highlanders replied with a try to leave the score at 10-10 at half time.

In the second half the Lions scored from an awful long pass from the Highlanders to put them in front, but the Highlanders made most of the play and scored again. They also nailed important penalties to nudge ahead 23-22.

The Lions missed two penalties, one relatively easy, the other very long range, and that cost them the game.

I had expected the Lions to put pressure on up front and try to out-tough the Highlanders in the forwards but that never really happened.

A nearly full stadium with a temporary stand in the usually empty east end created a great atmosphere, the best in New Zealand under cover.

Aurora last night

The Aurora Australis put on a great show last night. I had the best view of one  have ever seen, nothing like photos but impressive all the same.

I saw online that something big was brewing so kept a regular look out for it. For maybe an hour all I saw was what looked like a wide arched cloud or arch of fog on the southern horizon. Pictures on Twitter and Facebook showed more (photography can enhance the colours) so I persevered and then suddenly it sparked into life.

The result was a modest but nevertheless grand show for about half an hour.

I then went driving to try to get away from the city lights – I live to the east of the worst of Dunedin’s light pollution – and there were aurora seekers everywhere. I eventually found a vantage point on a beach near Brighton, but by then it was back to being just an arch on the horizon with little fluctuation.

This looks like it was taken at St Clair beach:

From Lee Stream – well away from city lights and at a bit ofd altitude:

I didn’t see as much colour but the vertical streaks were clearly visible.

Ian Griffin is always good for night pictures:

And a video:

Another from Lee Stream:

Lee Stream is still technically in Dunedin City but a long way out in the country, 36 km inland from the centre of the city (even further away than the airport.

 

Questionable sentence and suppression after criminal harassment

A case in Dunedin details over two years of sustained harassment and threats against a man and his family started by a parking ticket dispute. Concerns have been raised about the community sentence and continued suppression of the offender’s occupation.

Suppression on the case changed overnight.

Yesterday morning the ODT reported in Stalked man sure death was coming:

A Dunedin businessman who was stalked for more than two and a-half years by a government employee was convinced the man would kill him.

The 39-year-old defendant was yesterday found guilty of criminal harassment, threatening to do grievous bodily harm and intentional damage, following a week-long, judge-alone trial last month.

His name and occupation will remain suppressed at least until this morning’s sentencing in the Dunedin District Court.

The victim and his wife — whose identities are permanently suppressed…

But later yesterday in Dunedin stalker named:

Today, before the Dunedin District Court, the judge sentenced Buis to 200 hours’ community work and ordered to pay Mr Pryde $15,000.

The public servant who spent two and a-half years stalking a Dunedin businessman can now be named.

Jeremy Buis (39), of Dunedin, was yesterday found guilty of criminal harassment, threatening to do grievous bodily harm and intentional damage.

Buis has had name suppression since the charges were laid some two years ago but today defence counsel Anne Stevens said there was no application to have that extended.

While Judge Paul Kellar let the suppression order lapse, he continued the suppression of the defendant’s occupation at Mrs Stevens’ request.

She said it would unfairly cast aspersions on others doing the same job as her client.

This has raised a lot of discussion and criticism. It seems to be well known around town what Buis’ occupation was, and it is quite pertinent to the case.

NOTE: no hints about the man’s occupation can be allowed here as it is suppressed under order of the Court.

Given the length and nature of the harassment – and the occupation of the offender – the sentence has been questioned too.

And despite permanent suppression of the victim’s identity being initially reported:

The businessman can also be named as Danny Pryde, owner of Pryde Engineering.

Outside court Mr Pryde said he was disappointed Buis’ occupation was suppressed and that the judge had declined an application to photograph him in court.

He described the $15,000 reparation awarded as “dirty money” and said he was tempted to give it away to charity.

“He tried to destroy my business and my marriage. [Money] doesn’t fix those things,” Mr Pryde said.

‘‘Mentally, he has really hurt us.’’

On December 2, 2014, the harassment reached its peak when the defendant’s messages took a violent turn.

He told the victim to ‘‘get your affairs in order’’ and advised him to ‘‘buy something bullet-proof’’.

‘‘I honestly thought that afternoon was my last day on Earth. I felt sick,’’ the victim said.

‘‘I thought ‘he’s lost the plot and he’s going to do it’.’’

This sounded shocking enough, but I was more surprised when his identity was revealed because I know Danny, he used to be a neighbour and he and his wife were very nice people. It’s awful to hear what they have been subjected to. I don’t see them often now and didn’t know anything about this case apart from what has been reported.

The sustained campaign of harassment started over a trivial matter – a parking dispute.

The saga began on June 14, 2012, when the defendant parked his car blocking the rear driveway to the victim’s business.

The company owner called the council, who promptly ticketed the vehicle, which led to a confrontation between the men.

‘‘He deliberately parked across the entranceway to [the business] the next day to make a point,’’ Judge Kellar said.

Despite the defendant claiming he had no animosity towards the victim, the judge highlighted the fact he subsequently made a complaint to police over alleged damage to his car.

‘‘From what should have been an innocuous incident about parking I am sure that [he] has engaged in a sustained period of harassment of [the victim] for . . . over two years,’’ Judge Kellar said.

It began with anonymous text messages from a range of unknown numbers.

But in February 2014, things escalated when the public servant set up a fake homosexual online dating profile using the businessman’s name and contact details from his work website.

When police raided the defendant’s house nearly two years later, forensic electronic evidence from his laptop identified him as the culprit.

He noted much of the abuse had a distinctly homosexual theme. The victim’s contact details were written in marker pen at a gay hangout and graffiti featuring the man’s name alongside gay slurs began popping up around the city.

When police analysed the defendant’s phone, they found he had communicated with colleagues over an app during which he voiced his hatred for the victim.

A hatred that became a very nasty obsession that resulted in a sustained campaign to not only ruin the victim’s life but also his family and his business. And it is claimed it didn’t end with the arrest or trial.

Despite the recent trial, the victim revealed he was still receiving anonymous text messages and was informed a couple of weeks ago someone had created a fake profile on the dating app Tinder using his photo.

There are suggestions (rumours) of others being involved, making the continued suppression of the man’s occupation more of a concern. Anyone who wants to know is likely to have found out anyway, and the attempt at secrecy feeds the rumour rather than gags it.

But we must comply with the Court and not mention Buis’ occupation (it is known and able to be published that he also runs a surf board business) so please, don’t attempt to breach suppression in any way here.

Stuff also has detailed coverage: ‘I was in a dark place’ – victim of Dunedin government staffer’s prolonged harassment campaign

The victim of a prolonged harassment campaign by a Dunedin government employee has spoken of the fear that almost drove him to take his own life.

Dunedin businessman Daniel Pryde waived his right to name suppression after Jeremy Buis was sentenced in the Dunedin District Court on Friday.

Buis was found guilty of criminal harassment, threatening to do grievous bodily harm and intentional damage in the judge’s reserved decision delivered on Thursday.

But…

On January 19, 2017, just weeks out from the trial, he received the text “Happy new year limpdick”.

Another said he was a wife beater, while another text referenced his vehicle as he went shopping with his family.

So did Buis continue the harassment even though a trial was pending? Or is someone else, or others, also involved.

See follow up: Stalker case – surprise over job ‘secrecy’

Disagreement over Dunedin sea level predictions

Professor Jim Flynn has provoked some discussion after making some radical predictions about potential rapid sea level rises in South Dunedin and the rest of the low lying parts of the city.

These predictions have been disputed by other academics.

ODT: Flynn’s sea level figures disputed

Associate Prof Nicolas Cullen and senior lecturer Daniel Kingston have described the predictions by Jim Flynn as “very unlikely”.

On Monday, Prof Flynn told a Dunedin City Council public forum huge erosion of polar ice that had begun in 2014 meant predictions on the rate of climate change had changed.

He said there were 1932 homes in Dunedin, mainly in South Dunedin, built below 25cm, and a 25cm sea-level rise could occur before 2034.

He said by 2090, South Dunedin would be under 5m of water, along with Forsyth Barr Stadium, the Otago Polytechnic and other low-lying areas.

That’s fairly extreme. Many would claim bonkers, with some justification.

…approached for comment on the predictions, Prof Cullen and Dr Kingston disagreed.

Prof Cullen, whose expertise includes glaciology and climate change, said Prof Flynn’s figures were “questionable”.

He said the observed sea-level rise was 3.4mm a year, which was “quite high compared to historical estimates”.

If that rate continued for the next 20 years, there would be a total 68mm sea-level rise – “quite different”from Prof Flynn’s estimate.

“I agree that there is evidence that the two large ice sheets [Greenland and the Antarctic] may contribute more to sea-level rise in the future than previously thought, but I would think it is very unlikely that South Dunedin will be under 5m of water in 2090.”

Dr Kingston, whose expertise includes atmospheric circulation patterns and climate change, said he agreed with Prof Cullen.

“The numbers in that article, like 5m by 2090, are at the very, very extreme end of what’s likely.”

To Prof Flynn’s suggestion the more recent erosion of polar ice had changed what could be expected in terms of sea-level rise, Dr Kingston said, “I don’t think the matter is settled by any means.”

A rise of 5m would mean the entire West Antarctic ice sheet disappearing, or the entire Greenland ice sheet disappearing.

“The likelihood of that happening by the end of the century is low – not impossible – but the real extreme end of the situation.”

Flynn’s claims may cause some concern. Things like insurance cover and resale values of low lying properties won’t be helped by worst case scenarios being portrayed as likely.

I’m at 100, so way out of the danger zone but even a half metre rise would cause significant problems in the drained wetlands of South Dunedin where flooding cause major problems in 2015.

Jim Flynn can be a very interesting dude but he isn’t helping anyone with worst case claims that amount to scaremongering, but perhaps his aim was to attract attention to a real potential problem with a bit of exaggeration.

The problem is that claims like this are easy to dismiss as nuts.

Dunedin’s non-student problem

Dunedin students have copped a lot of flak over the years for couch burning, rioting and general mayhem and alcohol abuse.

There’s no doubt that a minority of students cause trouble – I think first year students in their first year away from home and old enough to buy alcohol will always be a bit of a problem.

But some of the problems are not students. Non students from Dunedin and also from provincial towns are known to be attracted to scarfyville to stir up mischief, burgle, and assault, and confront authorities.

There is another example of this in the court news this week.

Stuff: Police arrest two teens after Dunedin student quarter assaults

A pair of Dunedin men have been arrested for the alleged assault of two students in Dunedin’s student quarter.

The men, aged 19, were arrested last week, following two assaults on Hyde St on February 18.

The notorious Hyde Street.

Both men were non-students, with one remanded in custody and the other on strict bail conditions, Detective Sergeant Chris Henderson said.

Police were continuing to investigate two other assaults from the same night, which happened on Castle St and Dundas St.

Students come to Dunedin to further their education, and most also try to have some fun while they are here. A few do stupid and sometimes illegal things.

Local low-lifes take advantage of the concentration of young people and the social events that take place.

Most people in Dunedin courts are not students.

 

Cadbury closing in Dunedin next year

If Cadbury is being closed down in Dunedin it will rock the city. It is a local icon (despitebeing international owned now) and a significant employer.

ODT: Cadbury closure threat

Hundreds of worried staff are gathering at the Cadbury factory in Dunedin ahead of an expected announcement about the closure of the plant.

The Otago Daily Times understands owner Mondelez International has decided to close the factory, effective next year.

It is not yet known what the announcement will mean for the popular tourism attraction Cadbury World.

It is understood night shift staff were sent home early and among those asked to attend this morning’s meeting.

A few years ago Cadbury moved a lot of finished product manufacturing offshore (Tasmania and elsewhere), changed chocolate recipes, lost market share to Whittakers (I think) and now may have to close.

Dunedin continues to lose businesses and employers and car parks (including along both sides of the Cadbury block), but gains cycleways.

UPDATE: closure next year has been confirmed, with 350 jobs going.

State of the natzzzzz

Andrew Little spoke in Dunedin last night so I went along to see whether he looked and sounded better live than in brief media coverage. Unfortunately, no, he was much the same, earnest enough but repeating a well worn speech. it was uninspiring and often downright boring.

The venue was chosen well, it was packed out, standing room only, a few hundred people turned out. A number were obviously party faithful, clapping far too often. Others were less demonstrative, perhaps observing like me.

A really weird thing at the start, something I have seen similar before but not as odd as this. Someone got up at the front and asked that if there were any young people seated could they please stand and let older people have a seat.

I was there early enough to get a seat and didn’t want to give it up (ok, I’m not young either). Maybe 30-odd  young people left their seats and were clapped for doing that. A few oldies then took a seat. After a while some young people then took seats back, and some were left empty.

The evening introduction was done by one of the local MPs, Clare Curran (the other, David Clark, closed off).

To Little.

He started off mucking around with a microphone and asking about sound levels – audio was to be a problem off and on through his speech. A basic thing that should have been sorted.

He started off his speech with sort of lectern thumping gusto without the thumping. He ended with a bit of gusto again. But in a lengthy in between he was often quiet, sometimes hard to here, and mostly very boring. That may sound harsh but that’s how it was. My thoughts kept drifting off elsewhere.

littledunedin

It didn’t help that I felt that I had heard most of it before. It seemed to be based largely on his Sunday ‘state of the nation’ speech. I wasn’t interested in his personal stories about biking and his past health problems.

But there was a lot of waffle without any maple syrup, bananas or ice cream, so it was dry and uninteresting.

Little gave a lot of examples of what needs fixing – the usual stuff, housing, the health system, education. But he gave scant idea on how “we’ve got to do better”. And less idea on how much all the increased spending would cost.

He spoke specifically about three policies.

One was Kiwibuild, 10,000 houses in ten years, I’ve heard it all before. Even on this he was uninspiring. He said that it could be done because it’s been done before, and then mentioned then 1930s. That’s a long time ago and much has changed, especially local bodies and their use of the RMA, and the lack of available land.

The second was a local carrot, one million dollars offered to Dunedin for setting up some computer gaming incentives. There’s a bit of programming going on here but it’s not going to employ a lot of people.

And the other was free tertiary education which he claimed would inject $200 million into the Dunedin economy each year. He seemed to claim this would be due to increased participation in tertiary education – that sounds like a very optimistic increase.

Someone suggested that it would be more appropriately called zero-fees rather then free education.

Otherwise there was a lot of dissing the government and Bill English and saying they could do better. Uninspiringly.

There were two notable omissions from Little’s speech.

There was no Te Reo, no mention of Maori associations with Labour, no mention of Maori issues or the Treaty of Waitangi, which despite claims at Ratana seems to be a normal omission – see Maori 0f Little importance?

And there was no mention of the Greens, of the Memorandum of Understanding and of joint campaigning that Sunday’s  joint speech with Metiria Turei was aimed at portraying.

Labour wants Maori and the Greens, needs them, but Little doesn’t even pay lip service to them. I don’t know if this is ignorance or arrogance.

Little says he is going to speak all around the country leading into the election on September 23. If he carries non like this Labour will have to wake everyone up to get them to vote.

Little seems to be a decent person who you could have a decent one-to-one conversation with, but he is not a good orator. He just doesn’t have a speaking x-factor. I’ve heard John key and Helen Clark speaking live and they were interesting and commanded attention. They were very good. Sadly, Little is not.

Another area he struggles, and I’ve seen this in media interviews as well as when he was questioned last night, is speaking about things he hasn’t practiced speaking about. He doesn’t seem quick on his feet, and he seems to lack the broad and deep policy knowledge both Clark and Key had.

Training Little up is unlikely to help, because that is more likely to come across as well practised palaver, of which there is already too much.

Little and his Labour trainers may just have to accept that he is not going to be an exciting, inspirational speaker. One plus here, perhaps, is that his main opponent Bill English is generally quite bland too.

So what Little and Labour need to do is have a total rethink of their content. Good political speeches excite and inspire, if the drone can’t do it then it should at least be a drone that hits a chord with voters.

Same old doesn’t cut it. What the hell can Labour really do differently, how will they pay for it, and how will they manage that in coalition with the Greens and possible NZ First?

It’s pointless going on and on saying they can do better without giving any real idea of how. That’s what voters need to know.

And they have to believe what they are being told.

Little doesn’t really look like he has belief. He’s going through motions without any sign of confidence that he can become Prime Minister and make a real and positive difference.

I don’t know if they are capable of that, so Labour could be in for a dreary campaign. That doesn’t mean they won’t succeed in forming the next government, but if they do it won’t be due to Little’s speaking.

Labour can call Little ‘the next Prime Minister’ as often as they like, but he has to start looking like it. Otherwise he will keep looking like someone saying ‘after the next meal I’ll lose weight’ as they scoff.

I would really like Labour to sort themselves out and start to look like a major party again, but last night I wasn’t enthused nor encouraged.

It’s worth mentioning that someone else who went, someone who hasn’t seen Little anywhere as much as me, considers themselves a Labour inclined voter, and agrees with many of the things that Little says needs to be improved, who was pretty much bored out of their tree and quite disappointed.

People need to believe that Little is a potential Prime Minister, so he will have to find a way of delivering more than boring fairy tales.

I had hoped that somehow Little would be different speaking live, that there would be some sort of spark, even some flames of inspiration. Instead he came across like yesterday’s ashes – which is an apt description given he often looks backwards to when things were supposedly better. He could be leading Labour to a cremation in the election.

Little’s Dunedin speech is here (video).

Carbon credit costs bump up rubbish charges

I presume this will affect everywhere in the country and not just Dunedin – rubbish dump charges may go up 11.5% due to a big jump in carbon credit prices.

Our Emissions Trading Scheme has mostly operated under the radar.

ODT: Dump price rise of more than 11.5% proposed

Charges at Dunedin’s rubbish dumps are set to rise more than 11.5% as the Dunedin City Council recovers spiralling emission trading scheme (ETS) costs.

In two years the council will have to double the number of carbon credits it needs to buy as a landfill operator to offset methane emissions.

That comes as the cost of the credits has risen from $7 in 2015 to $13.40 last year, and $18.50 recently.

A report on the council’s solid waste budget said the cost of the ETS increases to the department was $1.2 million.

Is out ETS actually achieving anything apart from increasing costs?

Dumping of rubbish on roadsides has become common.

The cost for a small car load of vegetation had dropped from $10 to $9.

A boot full? That’s not a lot of hedge cuttings.

Other vegetation only charges in Dunedin:

  • Car – large load $23.00
  • Station wagon – small load $21.00
  • Station wagon – large load $35.00
  • Cars and single axle trailers, vans and utes – small load $21.00
  • Cars and single axle trailers, vans and utes – large load $44.00

There are big jumps between small loads and large loads, I bet that annoys some people wo are judged to have large loads.

A station wagon load with mixed rubbish is $51.00, a large trailer, van or ute load with mixed rubbish is $64.00!

These charges really surprise me, but I haven’t been to the dump for years. I have a lot of vegetation waste but deal with it myself through composting and chipping.

Is our ETS doing any good?

Why is the cost of carbon credits going up so much?

 

City quality of life good

Despite the doom and gloom picture painted by some in politics in a new survey most city dwellers in New Zealand say that the overall quality of life is either very good or good (from 78% to 88%, total 81%), with only a few percent thinking it is poor or in the case of a couple of cities, very poor (from 2% to 4%).

Dunedin topped the rankings but only by a negligible margin over Wellington.

It’s not surprising that Christchurch has the lowest extremely good+good ranking, but only Hamilton and Porirua register (just) on ‘extremely poor’.

Results by city council:

cityqualityoflife2016

 

The cities surveyed cover 65% of the new Zealand population. Margins of error range from 1.9%-4.4%, overall 1.3%. Tauranga is not included.

The Quality of Life Project

…was initiated in 1999 in response to growing pressures on urban communities, concern about the impacts of urbanisation and the effects of this on the wellbeing of residents.

The project was a collaboration between councils represented in Local Government New Zealand’s Local Government Metro Sector forum.

The key purpose of the project was to provide information to decision-makers to improve the quality of life in major New Zealand urban areas.

Overall nine council report