Tuesday, May 24, 2011

ABC report on Peak OIl

Have you got your head around this yet?
ABC Catalyst Peak Oil Report 28-04-2011

Monday, May 16, 2011

Why is public service TV important?

Brain Edwards tells Broadcasting Minister, Jonathan Coleman, why public service broadcasting is important.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Not ready to change, thanks. I like MMP.

Over on "Dark Brightness", Chris Gales says it's "time to change from MMP....to anything".

I read it through and left a comment which I'll post here, too:


MMP gave me a vote that actually lets me elect people I want. Under FPP I managed to reach the age of 30 without *ever* electing someone I had voted for. I always seemed to end up living in a safe seat for the OTHER party. I have no wish to return to any of that.

Interesting you see MMP as dominated by the small parties. This must be a “Princess and the pea” sort of thing. I know the Greens ONLY have Metiria Turai on the South Island – based in Dunedin. How you think one MP can “dominate” the South Island is an interesting perspective. I’d say she was there to represent the people of the South who vote for the Green Party. I’m sure they are happy she’s there for them.

One of the interesting things I notice in discussions about MMP is how concerned some people are about MPs for parties they don’t even vote for. For me, I’m most concerned with the MPs from the party I voted for…and any other MPs can be the “problem” of whoever voted for that party. It’s their business. But there does seem to be this tendency to denigrate MPs from parties people don’t agree with any anyway. I don’t get that.

Then there is the accountability meme you raise….about people not elected locally getting on the list. I don’t see that as a problem either. In my local electorate, pretty much any of the candidates standing from a significant party would be good MPs. Unfortunately FPP only lets one person win…and that’s a shame and a loss to the districts concerned. MMP often allows more than one person from an electorate be elected via the party vote – which is, in effect, used to elect multiple members from a single national electorate. But the benefit to places like Dunedin or Horowhenua or Nelson is that MMP lets these places have Mps from more than one party. I love that. It means if the local MP is a complete drongo who I KNOW won’t listen to a word I have to say, I can go to someone else locally based. First Past the Post *never* let me do that.

On the acountability front, MMP beats FPP by miles. Back in the old days, my one little vote only had any effect at all in just ONE electorate. It had no effect at all in any of the others. The *best* I could hope for – and only once *ever* achieved – was to elect the person I wanted locally. If the MP in the neighbouring electorate was a complete twat….there was nothing at all I could do about it. But with MMP, my party vote has *national* effect. It can help to elect multiple MPs from all over New Zealand. Plus I also get my local vote….just like I always did.

Two ticks is definitely better than one. Especially when the MMP tick is the one that lets me vote nationally…..and not just in my one little electorate.

The funniest thing I can think of is a National Party voter in a safe Labour seat in Dunedin, or a Labour Party voter on Auckland’s North Shore, voting to get rid of MMP ….and thus ensuring their local vote never again is in any way relevant to the future fortunes of the party they support as their local seat will always go the other way.

That’s just silly…yet there appear to be people that muddled. Life is strange.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Hone Harawera's by-election has nothing to do with MMP

This letter was sent to the NZ Herald on  May 5th:

Dear Editor

Can someone please tell letter writer "J Kent of Onerahi" that Hone Harawera was elected by First Past the Post in a local electorate and his election has nothing do with MMP? He wasn't elected as a list MP or by the party vote. Under First Past the Post he would still be right where he is. After 15 years of MMP the apparent ignorance and muddled thinking shown by some MMP critics in your letter columns to date is fascinating to behold.

Steve Withers

Party leader selection has nothing to do with MMP.

The full text of a letter sent to the NZ Herald on May 2nd. They published a truncated version the following day. 

Dear Editor

Letter writer, Ian Gerwin of Orewa (2/5/11) incorrectly blames MMP for Don Brash being made leader of the ACT Party. The ACT Party did that all by themselves and could have done it just as easily, under First Past the Post. In Canada in 1983, Brian Mulroney went straight from being CEO of Iron Ore Corp to being the leader the Conservative Party. He wasn't an MP at the time either. His party arranged for a by-election and got him into the House of Commons. At least under MMP, Dr. Brash has to wait until November, assuming ACT don't entirely disappear. How parties pick their leaders has nothing to do with MMP. Exactly the same thing can happen under First Past the Post and there is no shortage of examples. 

Steve Withers

Monday, May 2, 2011

The Manifest Evil of First Past the Post

A last minute, pre-election EKOS poll in Canada shows that 65.6% of Canadians intend to vote for parties OTHER than the governing Conservative Party of Canada (CPC).

The CPC had been leading a minority government. An election was triggered by the CPC losing a non-confidence vote after the government was found to have been in contempt of Parliament.

Yet the CPC may actually end up winning a majority of all 308 seats with an even smaller share of the vote than they got last time - thanks to the First Past the Post voting system. This is because the two major opposition parties - who together have more than 50% support - may split the anti-CPC vote and allow the CPC to win an outright majority of all seats with as little as 34.5% of the total vote.....less than they got last time. The latest poll shows the usual 3rd-place NDP are running a close second to the CPC and ahead of the Liberal party. In Canadian terms this is a huge shift in voter preference at the federal level. But what hasn't changed is the monster-majority (65%) voter distaste for the Conservatives.....yet FPP has allowed them to win elections due to a split opposition vote.

That could never happen under MMP. In November, I'll be voting to keep MMP.

(Canadians are voting on their May 2nd. So the polls will open in eastern Canada around 11pm NZ time tonight and the last polls will close in the Yokon Territory around 2:30pm tomorrow, NZ time. Canada has seven time  time zones.)