Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Kiwi inventor of "planking" accused of Aussie death...

A Kiwi credited with inventing the game of planking is now being blamed for death of an Australian who performed the stunt drunk on a balcony railing.

Acton Beale, 20, fell to his death after falling from a seventh-floor railing in Brisbane on Sunday morning.

A message left on Dunedin man Paul Carran's internet site claims his game is fatally irresponsibe.

The message posted on Carran’s YouTube planking clip from 2009 reads: “Your video killed a friend of mine. You seriously should take this down”.

Planking is an internet fad which involves being photographed lying face down, with your body as straight as possible, in a random place.

The game became popular in the UK in 2006 but has recently enjoyed resurgence in Australia after NRL player David Williams attempted the stunt after scoring a try.

Photos have also emerged this week of a former Australian AFL player and TV show star Sam Newman "planking" on the railing of a 40-storey balcony, taken hours before the Queensland man fell to his death.

But Carran told 3news he is not to blame for any deaths.

"It’s not like anybody, or me personally, made him (Beale) do it,” he said.

More than 7000 people like the Planking New Zealand Facebook page.


Friday, May 27, 2011

Anti government group to highlight economic policies during RWC...

Anti-government group to highlight to the world about NZ Governments economic policies during RWC...

A protest group could try and disrupt the Rugby World Cup to highlight to the world the Government's economic policies. Photo / Brett Phibbs

A protest group could try and disrupt the Rugby World Cup to highlight to the world the Government's economic policies. Photo / Brett Phibbs

A protest group has said they will disrupt the Rugby World Cup (RWC) to highlight to the world the Government's economic policies.

Groups opposed to the Government's planned changes to KiwiSaver, family tax credits and public services and state asset sales, announced in last week's Budget, will march along Auckland's Queen Street tomorrow.

Spokesman Meredydd Barrar, of the Coalition for Social Justice, said the groups also "intend to take action during the RWC to alert the world that New Zealand is not as squeaky clean as people might perceive".

Earlier this year Maori activists Titewhai Harawira and Ngaire Te Hira said they planned to use the tournament to "expose" New Zealand's treatment of Maori, and Unite Union has said hotel workers whose collective agreements expire during the cup will seek a 10 per cent share of room rentals.

Former Green MP Sue Bradford, who will speak at tomorrow's march on behalf of Auckland Action Against Poverty, said budget cuts for public services were in stark contrast to tax breaks for rugby.

Another speaker, Meg Moss, head teacher of the MiniMarc childcare centre at the Mt Albert Research Centre, said early childhood centres were still reeling from cuts in last year's budget and would not stop protesting just because of the rugby games.

"It would be unpopular but it would make an impact," she said.


Acknowledgements:  - NZPA

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Looters have no conscience or empathy - looting in Christchurch...

A warning to watch out for goods sold by looters has been issued after recent reports of repeated looting from Christchurch homes and businesses.

People looking to pick up a bargain should be wary of encouraging looters in quake-hit Christchurch, according to the anonymous tip-off organisation Crimestoppers.

The warning comes after recent reports of repeated looting from Christchurch homes and businesses.

Crimestoppers chief executive Lou Gardiner said looters had "no conscience or empathy" and would invariably sell stolen goods on the cheap to get rid of them.

Potential buyers should ask questions of the seller to determine where the goods had come from, he said.

"These looters and thieves can only exist because of willingness of others to purchase cheap goods without asking themselves some obvious questions."

Mr Gardiner said residents had the chance to make a real contribution by helping to identify criminals and recover stolen goods.

"If you have real suspicions about the origin of the items then ring your local police, or if you have some reluctance to do that for whatever reason, contact Crimestoppers and provide the information anonymously."

Acknowledgements: - NZPA

Sunday, May 15, 2011

What are Housing NZ and the government up to in the Taita North suburb of Lower hutt...


    • Housing NZ keeps state homes vacant (Source: ONE News)
      Evicted Farmers Crescent residents in the Pomare community of Taita North in Lower Hutt...

      • Evicted Farmers Crescent residents (Source: ONE News)Housing NZ keeps state homes vacant, why? Good question! 
    The Minister of Housing has admitted to ONE News that dozens of state houses are being kept empty in a Lower Hutt neighbourhood because of three gang-related women who will not leave.

    Residents of Farmer Crescent say keeping the properties empty is punishing the community and the school and local businesses are feeling the sting.

    Minister Phil Heatley said Housing New Zealand has been planning redevelop the neighbourhood, but has put plans on hold due to the women who refuse to obey eviction orders.

    "They've (HNZ) never had a problem with cash, they've set aside money for that area and they've had that set aside for some time& it's taken longer because of the constant court challenges against the Crown," Heatley said.

    Court battles over the very public eviction have dragged on for more than two years and in the meantime 60 houses stand empty.

    The houses the women live in aren't among those marked for immediate redevelopment, but the minister said he doesn't want any new properties vandalised.

    Housing New Zealand claims people don't want to live in 16 available units; another three are uninhabitable because of disrepair and another 41 are vacant and awaiting redevelopment.
    A spokesperson for the community, 'Fats', told ONE News it's taking its toll on residents.
    "The place is a mess, it's starting to look like a shanty town."

    Vacant homes are boarded up, the local shops say business is quieter and Pomare Primary has fewer pupils. Principal Chris Worsley says they may have to cut a third of teachers in two years.

    "Such a dramatic drop in the roll has been caused primarily by Housing New Zealand and their policy on the rehousing and redevelopment of Farmers Crescent," Worsley said.

    Before the eviction battles, Pomare Primary had 171 children enrolled but that number has plummeted to 116 this year, costing the school $75, 000 in funding.

    "We need some movement on this as a matter of urgency," said Worsley.

    Patched Mongrel Mob member 'Fats' said Pomare is being punished for the lengthy eviction battle.
    "They're taking it out on the whole neighbourhood and it's starting to look pathetic."

    The Housing Minister said redevelopment is soon to start, with several houses scheduled to be bulldozed.

    KR says: But why is there over sixty empty housing units in the general area not connected with those controversial  housing units  of would-be evicted tenants?

    The problem is affecting everybody in the area, and Housing NZ and the government are obviously not interested in the families and their children. Are they going to use the controversy in their election campaign? Actually I hope they do, because it will backfire in their faces!

    Wednesday, May 11, 2011

    Cunliffe addresses Key's lies

    Cunliffe addresses Key's lies...

    David Cunliffe has addressed Key’s truly uninspiring pre-budget speech this morning.
    National have no economic plan, and it shows. Key’s tinkering to fix the massive economic gaps, and his only suggestions are a vague warning that National would reduce the member tax credit, and reverse its own earlier move to reduce the default contribution rate.
    Yes: they plan to encourage savings by cutting savings.
    But the speech was much more about blame-shifting on to the weather, the earthquakes, the GFC and the previous Government. After 2.5 years, we apparently still shouldn’t blame them.
    Cunliffe addresses what he politely calls Key’s ‘misleading’ claims:
    Rebutting false claims on Labour’s economic record in Key’s pre-Budget speech
    1. Key says: “Government spending increased markedly in the mid-2000s”
    Fact: Government spending was 31.0% of GDP in 2000 and 31.2% in 2008. Under National, spending as a percentage of GDP has exploded

    Source: Parliamentary Library
    2. Key says: “Government spending rose 50 per cent in just five years”
    Fact: Between 2003 and 2008, core Crown spending grew 42.9% but this was before inflation and population growth. In real terms per person terms, spending grew by less than 20%, which was in line with economic growth. This money went into programmes like Kiwisaver, Working for Families, and increased infrastructure spending, which National hasn’t scrapped.
    Source: Parliamentary Library

    3. Key says: “Since 2004 almost 60 per cent of new jobs have been in heavily government-dominated sectors”
    Fact: Key is counting the extra teachers, doctors, and nurses Labour funded as if they are ‘bureaucrats’. Core public servants remained roughly 2% of the workforce under Labour.

    Source: State Services Commission, Human Resource Capability Survey of Public Service Departments; Statistics New Zealand Household Labour Force Survey. Compiled by the Parliamentary Library.
    4. Key says: “export volumes grew only one per cent in total between 2004 and 2008”
    Fact: Key is using selective dates and the impact of the global recession to mislead. In reality export volumes grew 42.2% in Labour’s first 8 years in office before shrinking 11 per cent during the recession. Under National, export volumes have just now regained the level they were at under Labour four years ago.

    Source: Statistics New Zealand, Infoshare
    5. Key says: “since the end of 2004, GDP per person have fallen by an average of 0.1 per cent a year – the weakest period since the late 1980s and early 1990s
    Fact: Again, Key is using the recession and his own poor economic record and trying to attribute the blame to Labour. In reality, GDP per person grew 16.8% in the first 8 years under Labour. Since the recession, GDP per person has fallen 5%. National has made no progress on growth, with GDP per capita falling for 6 of its 8 quarters in government so far.

    Source: Statistics New Zealand, Infoshare
    [Update: now with graphs!]

    Acknowledgements:  The Standard

    Thursday, May 5, 2011

    Pipfruit NZ pleased with new apple standards for resumption of exports to Australia...

    Pipfruiit NZ pleased with new apple standards for resumption of exports to Australia...

    Pipfruit NZ pleased with new apple standards for resumption of exports to Australia...

    Pipfruit New Zealand says new draft import standards for sending apples to Australia are a vast improvement on previous versions.The first since 1921.

    Chief executive Peter Beaven says Biosecurity Australia's new set of conditions are much more workable and do not include uneconomic restrictions, such as orchard inspections and putting the fruit through chlorine baths before export.

    Australia was forced to review its import risk analysis for New Zealand apples and negotiate a new set of conditions after the World Trade Organisation upheld a decision it made in 2010 that Australia broke international trade rules with its restrictions on importing apples from New Zealand.

    It ended a dispute between the two countries dating since 1921, when Australia banned apple imports from New Zealand after the bacterial disease fireblight was found on apples trees in the Auckland region.

    Mr Beaven says the revised standards will make access for New Zealand apples much easier and believes the process will be completed later this year with exports beginning in 2012.

    The draft import standards are open to public comment for 60 days before a final report is confirmed, he says.

    Acknowledgements: © 2011, Radio New Zealand


    Wednesday, May 4, 2011

    90 Day no rights trials hit Parliament - will not affect Labour Party staff...

    90 Day No Rights Trials Hit Parliament - will not affect Labour Party staff. What does that tell you?

    Staff for Members of Parliament will now face the 90 day no rights trial period, unless they are employed to work for Labour, says Darien Fenton, Labour's spokesperson for Labour Issues.

    "Labour does not believe that 90 day trial period is fair, justified or needed and our caucus has unanimously resolved that no Labour MP or manager will accept a 90 day trial period as part of the employment of any new staff member," Darien Fenton said.

    Parliamentary Services is the official employer of staff who work in parliament for political parties and Members of Parliament in their out of parliament offices.

    "The guidelines state that 90 day trial periods will be effectively compulsory for all employees employed as 'core staff' or by political parties, unless MPs or managers determine otherwise.

    "Staff employed by political parties in Parliament or by MPs are already employed on three year fixed term agreements, which means that no parliamentary staff member has job security outside of the three year election term.

    "If an MP leaves for whatever reason during the term of parliament, the job of their staff member is terminated at the same time.

    "Parliamentary Service staff employed to work for MPs or political parties are already employed on fixed term contracts. To add a 90 day trial period to this is over the top,"

    Darien Fenton said.

    "Other political parties and MPs need to come forward and say what their intentions are in relation to the trial periods.

    "I am sure the staff of political parties will appreciate transparency on this issue," Darien Fenton said.

    Acknowledgemenys:  http://voxy.co.nz/

    'Chopper key' and the Vela Brothers helicopter ride...

     'Chopper Key' and the Vela brothers helicopter ride...

    The Vela brothers are best known for controversially funding Winston Peters election helicopter

    Prime Minister John Key apparently  likes his helicopter rides.

    But the latest ride revealed on 3 News tonight is different to all the rest.

    Key usually commandeers the Air Force Iroquois like last month when he needed to get back to a Golf Club dinner from the V8s in Hamilton.

    He also used the Air Force in January when he went to the Parachute Music Festival and sang a song.

    But the ride in my story tonight was a private "charter" in a privately-owned helicopter - the only one on public record that Key has used taxpayer money to pay for.

    I say "chartered" because it was initially a free ride courtesy of fishing and horse-racing magnates the Vela Brothers.

    Then he changed his mind and decided to pay - and got the taxpayer to cover the $2081.25 cost.

    The helicopter took Key into the Waikato bush to open the Te Araroa walkway on Friday December 11, 2009

    Key could have been flown back from Mt Pirongia to Hamilton and been driven home to Auckland in his Crown Limo.

    But the pilot of the Vela's helicopter offered to take him to Auckland - and Key accepted.

    He says he had "meetings" that were "security related". His office won't say any more, even what "security" means. I asked them if that meant "national security" and they wrote back saying "we don't comment on security".

    Key says he initially didn't know the Vela Brothers owned the helicopter.

    But in the days or weeks after Key got off the helicopter at Mechanics Bay below his Parnell home back in Auckland he found out and decided he didn't want the free ride any more.

    "When we got back to Auckland we later on decided ‘well look there was just the risk it could infer some sort of benefit or favour’ and so my office paid for it."

    He's effectively saying it wouldn't be a good look if it got out.

    So at some stage afterwards, Key's office got back to the Velas and asked to pay - the date on the invoice in December 31, 2009.

    It turns out the Velas don't actually make the helicopter available for charter - a call to their office last week confirmed that.

    Peter and Philip Vela might be publicity shy but they need no introduction.

    Vela Fishing is one of New Zealand's biggest privately owned companies. The brothers have turned their interest in horse breeding into an empire - Pencarrow Stud and NZ Bloodstock, which runs the Karaka yearling sales.

    But they really hit the headlines before the last election as controversial financial backers of Winston Pet

    One of the Vela helicopters was even part of the coverage. The Dominion-Post reported that Peters demanded the free use of a helicopter during the 1999 campaign from his wealthy backers in the Vela family.

    "Tell those bastards I want a helicopter. Don't give me this crap about the machine needing repairs," he said.

    So Key probably didn't want to be linked to the Vela helicopter if news of the ride got out.

    And it would have - Key was required to declare the helicopter ride as a "gift" in the MPs' register of pecuniary interests.

    All MPs are required to put gifts of $500 or more in there. For instance, in the same year Key declared "Bottled Water from Spring Fresh Limited", and tickets to four All Blacks games.

    These are in the Register of Pecuniary Interests 2010 - which requires the declaration of all assets and gifts reecieved in the year to January 31, 2010.

    The Vela helicopter ride was on Friday December 11, 2009.

    The Velas issued an invoice on December 31.

    The invoice was not stamped as recieved by Key's office but his staff have told me "it would have been recieved shortly after, given the public holidays around the time".

    Key's office stamped "approved" on March 1 2010.

    Key's office asked Ministerial Services for "retrospective approval" on March 3. Invoice stamped "recieved" by Ministerial Services on March 3.

    It then went on to Ministerial Services "revenue and expenditure" section on March 8.

    Key's office told me: "Clearly, this office had recieved the invoice before the register of pecuniary interests was published, so the use of the helicopter was not treated as a gift."

    So using the taxpayer to pay for it meant Key avoided, in his words, "the risk it could infer some sort of benefit or favour and so my office paid for it".

    The ride did not go in the register but it has been noted by Ministerial Services.

    I was able to obtain it under the Official Information Act although the initial release did not include the receipt showing it was from the Vela Brothers. I had to ask for that separately.

    Key was opening the Mt Pirongia leg of the Te Araroa walkway. There are some details here.

    The Velas are listed under "funding and help in kind".

    Key told me the pilot offered to take him to Auckland, rather than Hamilton - "the pilot said to me it was about equal distance either way".

    Mt Pirongia is actually to the South-West of Hamilton - about 30 kilometres as the helicopter flies.

    Mt Pirongia is about 130km from Auckland. You would fly past Hamilton.

    And then it's likely the pilot would have had to get the helicopter back down to the Vela's base at Pencarrow Stud near Cambridge.

    And for the record, the helicopter is a blue Eurocopter EC 130 B4. It's got a personalised registration IPV painted in large letters on the side – it’s probably no coincidence that PV is Peter and Philip Vela's initials

    Labour and the Greens have been attacking Key over the helicopter issue. Labour's been calling him "Chopper Key".

    The reality is Key is not the first politician to enjoy a helicopter ride and he won't be the last.

    So I can't help but wonder what the "urgent meetings" about "security" were that Key needed to get back to Auckland that Friday evening on December 11 for.

    I don't think most taxpayers have a problem with Key using the Air Force choppers if he needs to get somewhere quickly - like Pike River.

    But other than that, the brand new Beamers can't be too bad for a ride - especially the one with the $990 seat warmer.

    Does all this amount to corruption?  Thats up to the reader.

    The Vela brothers. and Prime Minister, John Key...

    Acknowledgements: TV3 News - Patrick Gower - Campbell Live