Friday night Rock Star of Comedy

This is kinda weird for me.

Hardly anyone has exclusive use of their given name, but it’s strange when you encounter someone with your own name. That’s how it is for me anyway.

Here’s a dude I’ve seen mentioned online quite a bit but finally got around to checking him out.

Warning: bits of guitar and some un-PC content.

Statement on Politicheck

I have been appointed as editor to a team establishing Politicheck, a political fact checking website for New Zealand. Those of us involved have a variety of political connections from across the spectrum, from libertarian to green. We are all disclosing our affiliations.

It’s well known I’ve been involved with UnitedFuture after they asked me to stand for them in 2011. My level of involvement has often been overstated, especially over the past few months when it has significantly diminished. I am no longer a party member.  I will continue blogging my personal views but apart from that I am dedicating my interests to Politicheck.

Our individual politics should be irrelevant. We are setting up a fact checking process that will be as transparent as possible, and each fact checked will be re-checked involving at least three of us in an editorial and research role.

Our findings will be open to public scrutiny and will be reviewable should we get additional information. Some decisions we make may be contentious but most will simply be a judgement of fact.

We expect to build a good relationship with blogs. As well as encouraging submissions of issues to check we will monitor MSM and social media to look for issues worth investigating.

We are aware we will have critics, both personal and of Politicheck. That’s the nature of politics. We will be up front and will address any reasonable criticisms openly. Mistakes will inevitably be made, we will do whatever it takes to rectify them.

Please give us a fair go and give Politicheck a fair go. This should be a valuable service for improving politics in New Zealand. The more support we get the better we will be.

I am happy to engage on this, either on this blog, on or by email –

Pete George

Politicheck header

Political Compass

I’ve retested myself on the Political Compass – I’m in similar position to last time.

My Political Views
I am a center-left moderate social libertarian
Left: 2.17, Libertarian: 1.17

Political Spectrum Quiz

This similar to where I was last time, and very close to the world and the New Zealand averages which doesn’t surprise me.

I’ve tried to give honest and accurate responses but it’s not perfect. It’s more of a theoretical measure that doesn’t take into account local conditions and whether you support pragmatic politics (I do) or are more of a stickler for ideology.

My Foreign Policy Views
Score: -1.53

Political Spectrum Quiz

On the left side are pacifists and anti-war activists. On the right side are those who want a strong military that intervenes around the world. I scored: -1.53

My Culture War Stance
Score: -4.6

Political Spectrum Quiz

Where are you in the culture war? On the liberal side, or the conservative side? This scale may apply more to the US than other countries. I scored: -4.6

Compared to the New Zealand and world averages:

Political compass

My Views
 All Quiz-Takers (1,415,713)
 New Zealand (7,115)

New Zealand Political Parties 2011

Political compass parties 2011I definitely don’t share NZ Green Party political ideals despite being closest to them on the compass. I share some environmental ideals but not their socialist interventionist proposals.

Perhaps I have similar ideals but different ideas on how to achieve those ideals.

The Bryce Edwards Effect?

Dunedin based national political commentator Bryce Edwards wrote a very disparaging column about the dismal turnout in local body elections in the NZ Herald – Dr Bryce Edwards: Cancel the elections and start again?

Authorities keep telling us of our duty to vote in the local government elections. They haven’t made a very compelling case, and so far the public have responded to this hectoring with an electoral shrug of the shoulders. Voter turnout across the country looks to be the lowest in living memory. Perhaps that’s a good thing. It sends a very strong message that the system is broken.

Why should voters take the election seriously when the authorities themselves don’t?

Edwards suggested that boycotts and a non-vote of no confidence might be appropriate.

In other countries there would be calls for boycotts. In fact there’s probably a case for cancelling this election and starting again.

We’re always being patronised with the cliché that “if you don’t vote you can’t complain”. That’s never made sense, but for this current dysfunctional election, it’s perhaps more the case that “if you do choose to vote, then you’re complicit in propping up this broken system”.

That was on Sunday. Here is a chart of voter returns for Dunedin.

Note the timing of a dramatic upsurge in votes – about the time the weekend’s voting will have made it’s way through the post to the vote counters.

Voting returns Oct 10Sunday was 6-Oct.

Could that be called The Bryce Edwards Effect?

Edwards favours political party involvement in local body elections, he prefers presidential style national politics to strong local political action. I’m much more in favour of localism and have been promoting local involvement and engagement.

At the same time Edwards was suggesting voting boycotts I posted Why vote? (5-Oct) and Dunedin needs growth and positive change – vote for it! (6-Oct) and Time to vote for Your Dunedin (7-Oct) and Effective Dunedin protest vote (8-Oct).

Note when the voting surge happened.

Did either of us affect the voter surge? I doubt it, but I’m an opportunist for making points.

I’m going to have to prove my case for far better local democracy and doing democracy better in Dunedin during the coming local body term. I’m up for it.

Effective protest vote

A protest vote will be more effective than not voting. If enough of you vote for me for mayor it will send the Dunedin council and media establishment a strong message.

I’ve been dismissed and ignored by some media despite putting at least as much into my campaign as any other candidate. And despite the fact that I have offered practical solutions compared to the vague waffle of other candidates – notably the incumbent mayor, apart from one party rule (his party) and cycleways it’s hard to know what he actually stands for.

So a vote for me will not only stick it to the establishment, it will promote better ideas, better communication, better engagement – a better way to be mayor.

Low voter turnout is an indication of dissatisfaction with the current mayor and council – in this year’s DCC survey two thirds of people indicated they were not satisfied with the mayor and council.

It won’t be clear whether low voting numbers is due to dissatisfaction, disinterest or just not getting around to it (a problem with an extended postal voting period).

Three quarters of non voters have a lot of power, if enough of them choose to make a difference and vote for someone different.

A protest vote for me will be an effective way of expressing dissatisfaction with the same old, and it could make a real difference. Vote for me, Pete George, and I will help you protest, strongly.

Dunedin needs growth and positive change – vote for it!

It is critical that Dunedin votes for a mayor and council best able to promote business and job growth – if you haven’t voted yet you can help lift the city out of the economic doldrums by voting for positive change.

We’re stuck with high debt so fiscal prudence and keeping discretionary spending to a minimum are critical for the council finances, but it’s still critical that economic growth and jobs are high priorities.

The current mayor seems to be conflicted with his Green leaning ideology at odds with what the city requires. Cull’s lukewarm and vague comments on seeking jobs and business is damning of his actual priorities.

Voting for a mayor and councillors who believe business performance is crucial and who know how to lobby Government effectively is of critical importance. There is still time to select a council that wants to grow Dunedin, and a business savvy dedicated mayor is essential.

Vote Pete George 1 for mayor and 1 for council, and look for other business savvy candidates.

See (and ‘Like’) my Facebook page.

Dunedin People’s Advocate

I propose setting up a People’s Advocate service in Dunedin. This will substantially improve the relationship between the people of Dunedin and the City Council, and will also provide a better link between people and social services and local MPs.

It should have an office base in the city (outside the council) plus have a substantial presence online and in social media.

It’s late in the election to come up with a significant policy but it has been inspired by contact I have had with people through the campaign, building on what I have been proposing publicly. It is based on aims and wishes of myself and others that have been discussed over the past months.

I see five key areas the Dunedin People’s Advocate could work in:

  • Council – assist people dealing with the council, with queries and with problems
  • Social – assist people getting help and advice on social issues
  • Political – act as a liaison between people and the mayor and council, and also with local MPs
  • Issues – promote discussion on issues of public interest online and via public meetings
  • Lobbying – following on from discussion of issues determine public opinion (as accurately as possible) and lobby on behalf of the people of Dunedin in council and with central government.

There may be more that people want covered. This idea is open to public input and discussion. Some of these functions are already done in party by people and organisations, but I see a major benefit in having an umbrella advocacy service.

Dunedin People’s Advocate would work closely with:

  • Dunedin City Council
  • Mayor’s office and councillors
  • Dunedin based MPs
  • Social service groups
  • Organisations that do some of these things already, like the Department of Theology and Public Issues
  • Current online forums and social media


I think this should be part funded by DCC. It needn’t cost ratepayers any more, it could be funded from a reallocation of budgets. This would assist council Public Services so could come from that budget, plus a slight shift of priority from strategic planning to actually doing things that matter right now.

It would be a far more effective use of ratepayer money than other expenditure.

There could be benefits in this not being totally owned (and potentially controlled) by council, so there could be benefits in it being substantially but not totally funded by DCC. Public funds and private and business sponsorship could sought.


This would depend on the budget but it would need at least two permanent part or full time staff. It would also work with substantial voluntary input.

It would need an office outside of council, plus mobile office facilities plus a significant online presence.

Management and Oversight

Day to day management would be by staff.

Oversight, appointments and overall management would be by a publicly elected management board.

I would like to see the mayor or a representative councillor be an honorary member of the board – contributing and liaising but without voting rights to maintain people’s power.

Bottom Line

This would provide a substantial benefit to the people of Dunedin and improve the relationship and engagement between people of the city and their council.

If elected mayor the establishment of this would be a top priority for me. If elected councillor I would also strongly promote it but it would be more difficult to achieve unless the elected mayor gave it a similar priority.

Thanks to those who have contributed their ideas to this. I welcome further input.

Pete George

Dunedin candidate – Mayor & Council
Mobile: 027 327 3468
Home: 03 471 2122
Twitter: @petedgeorge

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Lies and the Dunedin mayoralty

In a televised mayoral forum current mayor Dave Cull accused me or councillors of lying about claims of Greater Dunedin councillors working together.

I believe the evidence shows that Cull is trying to blatantly mislead the public about his Greater Dunedin ‘group’, about their motives and what they have done during the current term – in other words, he appears to be the one who is lying.

Dave Gooselink asked the forum:

To Dave Cull firstly, you’re leading the Greater Dunedin team in council and also standing in this election, do you think it would be good for council to be under the majority control of one political grouping?

Dave Cull:

I need to make it clear that Greater Dunedin’s only purpose is to get good people on to council, we don’t have a role the rest of the time, we don’t exercise a role the rest of the time, this term I’ve run a united collegial council inclusive of everyone, and the ticket we run on is for the election and not for the term.

This term, after one term as councillor, Cull was elected mayor standing for Greater Dunedin. That’s democracy. But it’s worth noting that his Greater Dunedin colleague Chris Staynes was appointed deputy mayor after one term as councillor, ahead of councillors with far more experience.

The Greater Dunedin website home page contradicts itself and Cull.

Greater Dunedin is not a political party and our elected councillors are not bound to vote together.  They are free to vote according to their own best judgement on each Council issue.  They do, however, work cooperatively to make the best decisions for the future of the city.

That clearly states they work cooperatively.

Our candidates see six key priorities for the city as we head into the next trienniun.

And that spells out common policies. Ironically their first priority is contradicted by their

We’re focused on engaging with residents proactively, openly and transparent.

Dave Cull has blogged on the ODT election page: Dave Cull: Only the best is good enough

In the 2007 elections I came onto Council with fellow Greater Dunedin candidates Kate Wilson and Chris Staynes.

We three were the only new Councillors elected. In the 2010 elections, when I became Mayor, Jinty MacTavish and Richard Thomson, again Greater Dunedin candidates, were the only new faces.

During this term, all five of us have delivered on the promises we made in 2010: financial prudence, more transparency, constrained rate rises, controlled debt, accountability, a vision of a sustainable city: the list goes on.

We have led the Council in turning around the way it operates.

The collective ‘we’ being prominent. ‘If it quacks like a party it’s a party.’

Back to the Dunedin Television forum. Hilary Calvert said:

I think it’s sort of an oxymoron to say that we’re standing on a ticket but once we get we will no longer have a ticket connecting is.

Either you’re a group, or you’re not a group, and if you support independent good people, who ever’s standing you want good people, they don’t support any of the rest of the people that are standing, they only support their ticket.


They weren’t good enough.

Cull doesn’t think the rest of the candidates were good enough to be considered for his group. His blog post again:

It’s imperative that the current Greater Dunedin Councillors are all re-elected to maintain continuity of positive effort.

It is also critically important for the city, that the new faces around the table are the very best quality candidates available.

For the sake of Dunedin, please support Greater Dunedin candidates and our belief that only the best Councillors and candidates are good enough to guide our city forward.

If he is returned as mayor does that mean he will think no other councillors but his Greater Dunedin Councillors are good enough to be considered for the top jobs and most important committees?

Greater Dunedin’s sole purpose is to identify, promote and support good candidates onto Council.Greater Dunedin is promoting four new candidates for Council at this election: Mike Lord in the Mosgiel-Taieri Ward, and Irene Mosley, Letisha Nicholas and Ali Copeman in the Central Ward.

Each of them has carefully and thoughtfully signed up to Greater Dunedin’s principles of transparency, respect and a future-focused vision.

Each of them supports the progress made in this past term and the need to maintain the positive momentum.

Signed up to Greater Dunedin’s principles. Cull’s claim that ‘They are free to vote according to their own best judgement on each Council issue’ is totally at odds with published joint principles.

More from Cull at the forum:

I endorse these people because they’re good, it’s very difficult , It’s Greater Dunedin’s ambition to promote good people. It’s very difficult for people to get onto council. It is Greater Dunedin’s ambition to promote good people, to give them some profile, to give them a leg up into council.

After that, they’re independent.

Of course we consult with each other around the council table, decisions have to be made by a majority and you want to do it on the right grounds…

According to Greater Dunedin principles and policies?

…but that’s the end of it.

This all sounds duplicitous to me. They’re supposedly independent but they have common principles and they work together, and they owe their place in council to the ‘group’ that selected them and promoted them.

Why can’t they just be honest about what looks obvious? Why do they try claim something in one breath and deny it in the next?

I said next:

An outgoing councillor told me he’d seen Greater Dunedin caucusing in the current council..

Cull interjected:

That’s a lie in that case, because we don’t and never have.

Someone else closely involved with council confirmed with me that “confirm on number cases GD members  appear to frequent locations together that look like caucusing/meeting”. And yesterday yet another person said the same thing.

At the second of the televised forums candidate Andrew Whiley:

It was interesting at Opoho Church the other night [a council candidate forum] where one of the Greater Dunedin councillors turned around and said he looks forward to working with like minded people.

Cr Lee Vandervis:

They claim independence. They operate basically how the mayor wants them to, mostly in terms of voting.

They do vote individually on some items, especially some of them. There are several councillors, the deputy mayor would be a classic example, who I can’t ever remember voting against whatever the mayor said even if he was arguing the opposite the minute before.

Who is lying?

Should Dunedin have a mayor that accuses councillors of lying but is the one who seems to be deliberately misleading the public?

It’s worth repeating…

In the 2007 elections I came onto Council with fellow Greater Dunedin candidates Kate Wilson and Chris Staynes.

We three were the only new Councillors elected. In the 2010 elections, when I became Mayor, Jinty MacTavish and Richard Thomson, again Greater Dunedin candidates, were the only new faces.

This election Greater Dunedin is standing nine candidates. A majority in council is eight, with the mayor having the casting vote.

It should be noted that next term new rules take effect that give the mayor greater power:

(APNZ) Mayors throughout the country will become more powerful under new law changes set to come into action after October’s local elections. The changes will allow mayors to appoint their own deputies, set the structure of committees and appoint committee chairpeople.

I have asked on Dave Cull’s Facebook page:

Dave, can you pledge that if re-elected mayor that you will select a deputy mayor and committee chairs purely on merit without favour for your own group of councillors?

And please explain how this would work considering you have said:
“For the sake of Dunedin, please support Greater Dunedin candidates and our belief that only the best Councillors and candidates are good enough to guide our city forward.”

I await his openness and transparency.

Jaded encumbents need pushed

One of the most disappointing things about the campaign for me has been the negativity and defeatism of some incumbents. Current mayor Dave Cull is guilty – in forums he has said that pushing politicians is pointless and has also said there was no point in pursuing business related to oil/gas.

His political reluctance may be due to being overawed by Government ministers or not knowing how to go about it, but on oil/gas he seems conflicted, he opposes drilling so we can’t expect him to be enthusiastic about chasing business related to the industry.

There was more incumbent defeatism at a health forum on Thursday.

Health boards have little influence over the health of the population, and representatives who think they will change things fail to realise the Minister of Health is in charge, Southern District Health Board candidate Richard Thomson told a forum in Dunedin yesterday.

Those thinking that in Don Quixote fashion they would shake up the system soon discover if they do not do as they are told, the minister will simply do it anyway, the veteran health board member and former chairman said.

I commented on this at ODT online:

Bollocks. That is not the attitude that kept Neurology in Dunedin. People stood up and demanded. It worked. It doesn’t always work, but it will never work if you give up without trying.

It’s not easy, but people don’t vote for easy, they vote for people to do the hard stuff.

Council and the DHB need people who are prepared to do the hard work. That’s how you can succeed.

A Southern District Health Board candidate, John Chambers, also commented.

Like Pete George I was somewhat surprised by the cynicism and negativity in the comments made by Richard Thomson, a long standing board member. Around New Zealand and internationally there is ample evidence  that the members of health and hospital boards are very influential in steering the direction of health expenditure. That is why I am standing and, if elected, I intend to make a difference.

The DHB and council needs fresh enthusiastic determined people to push out or inspire and push jaded incumbents.

Dunedin Mayoral Profile – Pete George

A profile done by the Otago Daily Times.

What do you know about the 2013 mayoral candidates? Council reporter Debbie Porteous puts the questions to Pete George.

Software consultant Pete George says he will give every person in Dunedin a much better opportunity to be effectively heard in council, with substantially improved communications and methods of engagement, online and via public meetings.

Why are you standing?

Because I believe I can be a better mayor than what we have got. The DCC survey that just came out showed satisfaction with mayor and council was down eight [points] to 33%. The public are saying something and I decided I’d put myself up to offer them an alternative.

What is your vision for the city?

My key vision goes back to my main policy plank – to be a much better engaged city, between the council and the people of the city.

What are the major issues facing Dunedin?

Everyone’s talking about economic development, I’m certainly strong on that, but one thing I’m also talking about that’s different from everyone else is increasing transparency, increasing communication, increasing engagement with the public. The council has to deliver information far better than it does. They’ve made some moves towards it, but there’s a lot of things that aren’t being put out there yet. There’s a lot of things the mayor and councillors are doing that aren’t published, they are doing it on their own, without it being in the public domain.

Like what?

The cat committee, the warrant of fitness rental housing. On both of those, I’ve talked to councillors who knew nothing about them. Another good example from last year was the fracking political statement. The first I heard about it was in the ODT, and it is still not on the website. Whether you are for or against it, it’s very, very poor transparency.

There’s plenty of examples. The more I look, the more I see. Information needs to get out to the public far more quickly and transparently. From the people’s side, the people’s panel, which I’ve been a part of since it was set up, is a good step, but it’s very council-centric, with the council asking people what it wants to know about its questions. What we should have is a people’s panel where the people actually can control the questions and put them to the council, so people can communicate back to the council far better. The idea is to use social media extensively, but also public meetings.

For example, the [University of Otago] Centre for Theology and Social Issues has been having some really good public discussions. Those things should feed back to the council. Where it’s justified, there should be polling of the public on issues, too. The problem we have now is things are often driven by small-interest groups that speak the loudest, that put the most submissions in, that know how to use the system. The council portrays that as public opinion, but it’s actually minority opinion that might not represent what the wider public opinion is.

How would you get more people to become part of council processes?

Council should put everything on its website. There’s a lot of things they don’t put on their website. There’s things I look for that I can’t find and would expect to be able to. I don’t think a lot of money would need to be spent. It’s just a chance of attitude and change in the way they deliver information. It’s very easy to put everything online – businesses are doing it all over the place. There’s a lot of tools readily available.

Unless you give people the opportunity to engage more, you won’t know how it will work. There is no use saying: ‘They’re apathetic; we won’t bother trying’. They need to have a means of feeling like they are being listened to. If the information is available and they choose not to do anything, no excuses. A lot of the information will be boring, and not all of it will blow up into a big issue.

The sooner you get all the balanced information out there, the more effective it can be. The longer it takes to get that information out there, the longer it takes to effect what has already been put in motion.

So, as quick as possible and with modern social media, and working with other media.

What are the other issues for the council?

On economic development, council should be vigilant for opportunities and be quick off the mark, as I was recently when I proposed a consortium approach to getting as much of the IRD IT upgrade business for Dunedin as possible. The Economic Development Unit say they are now working on this.

Council blocking of initiatives also needs to be addressed, like the Caversham-Chain Hills rail tunnel trail that has been interfered with for eight years. If opened, this would be great for commuters and recreational cyclists, and it could be huge for tourism, effectively extending the [Otago] Central Rail Trail to Aramoana and Portobello.

An issue coming out is the Greater Dunedin versus the rest thing. What we are potentially faced with a group that don’t like to call themselves a party, but they look and act like a party. We could get situation where we have one group with the mayor and potentially eight councillors on council.

And, if the voters want that, that’s fine, but they should be aware of what they are voting for, and what the possibilities are there. And what I’ve noticed more and more, is there is a strong green leaning in that group. There are several things the mayor is working on that are basically green policies, for example the warrant of fitness for homes and the living wage.

What are your politics then?

I’m a member of the United Future party. I ran unsuccessfully at the last general election.

How will that influence you on council?

I joined them and they asked me to stand because of the work I was doing in 2011 on promoting local representation and they saw that and said: ‘That fits with us; will you stand?’, so that’s why I joined them.

Since then, I have been able to meet a lot of people in politics. I’ve got good connections in different parties, I think that will very valuable to council’s lobbying.

Are people voting for you, voting for United Future’s policies then?

No, that’s got nothing to do with it.

I hope we can get what we can get working here with public engagement and push that through to the party, to all parties.

What would be your strengths as a leader?

As mayor I will be a stronger voice for Dunedin, and provide a stronger voice in council for the people of Dunedin. Stronger voice. People’s choice. I will be an impartial mayor without council baggage and without favour for any special interest or activist groups. I’ve also got very well developed financial skills, as well as people and problem-solving skills through my work.

How much will spend on your campaign?

Several thousand dollars. My campaign spending has been smart, innovative and frugal, an approach I will taken into council.

How are you funding it?

My wife and I are funding it.

What community involvement have you had?

I’ve been involved in trying to find ways to get the ratepayers’ association back in action. There is something in place that is on hold until after the election. I’ve been involved in anti-violence and anti-child abuse campaigning in Dunedin and nationally.

How many council and committee meetings have you sat in on in past few years?

None. I’ve been following it in the media. The timing of that is not suitable for someone who works during the day. There has to be more engagement at different times, evenings.

Who are your supporters?

People that want to see more public voice, who want to see council held to account more. I have support from several councillors, but it’s more ordinary-people support and online support. I’m getting thousands of views a day on some of the things I’m doing at the moment.