Primaries for Australia (or NZ)?

An interesting article yesterday on the ABC website by Robert Simms, Robert has a background with the Greens here in Australia, but this article is pretty balanced.

Robert talks about the idea often bantered around about having American styled primaries, I recommend reading his full article, you can find it here

Adopting US-style primaries for candidate preselection would certainly smash the business-model of the ‘faceless men’. But it would also accelerate the trend towards populism in Australian politics, writes Robert Simms.

As the ALP battles to wrest control from the ‘faceless men’ of its party machine, Labor leaders from Steve Bracks to Mark Latham have argued for the co-option of US-style primaries.

While US elections may appear to be the ultimate festivals of democracy, all that glitters is not gold and we must be wary of embracing an alternative political system that is far from perfect.

In fact, primary-style pre-selections would radically change our democracy.

I have often thought having primaries would help increase interest in politics and get the feeling of excitement back in politics

The political parties themselves reflect this culture and the Democrats and Republicans are practically independents who freelance on policy issues but share a party banner. Rather than being preselected by their respective party machines, candidates are selected directly by the people via primaries. The result swings the pendulum away from the parties in favour of the electors.

Giving the people the power to select their own party candidates would certainly smash the business-model of the ‘faceless men’, but what would it mean for our democracy?

In the US primary system a candidate doesn’t just need to convince the men and women of their party to vote for them, they need to mobilise party supporters across their state or district. This requires money and lots of it.

A successful candidate therefore has to curry favour from a variety of corporations and special interest groups – the NRA is a case in point. Such a system reorients the politician away from ordinary voters towards those who shout the loudest. While Clive Palmer and Gina Rinehart would no doubt salivate at the prospect of choosing their own ‘Manchurian candidates’ most Australians would baulk at this kind of corporate influence.

I am a big fan of the old series ‘The West Wing’, in fact I have it on series link of Foxtel and watch it religiously. One thing I would hate to see is big companies ‘owning candidates. Robert is right, the whole world sees the power the NRA has over the US and it is pretty hard to digest.

A very good article, like I said before, I recommend reading it all




I love a good meat pie…. but?

I am not some greenie, soy milk loving, gluten intolerant health nut but seriously what heck is Jim Russell thinking? A deep fried pie….. yuck! Check out the article here

Jim Russell is laying down the ultimate challenge to the culinary world, and all its bill-paying consumers, by asking: are you ready for a deep-fried Jimmy’s pie?

Mine host at Amy’s Cafe and Bar, formerly the Bridge Tavern in Millers Flat, Jim unleashed his innovative variation of one of Otago’s most-loved pies on some of his customers recently.

The verdict? ”They like them,” he says, having tried them out initially on some admittedly sceptical regulars recently and getting the thumbs up.

Pies are a lot of things, but healthy is not one of them! Now deep frying a pie…. mmmm, anyone want a heart attack for lunch?


He reasoned that donuts and jam rolls worked perfectly well in a deep frier, so why not a flaky pastry-wrapped pie (yes, without batter)?

Jim takes the pie out of the deep fryer.

Jim takes the pie out of the deep fryer.

The result, he says, after about a minute in the hot canola oil, is a crispy treat that tasted a lot better than he’d imagined.

A small ‘needs to be hung over and feeling sorry for myself’ part of me would like to try it, but really at the moment it is only a very small part of me.



Winston Peters more racist than Pauline Hanson?

The big bonus of being a nothing opposition MP with a soft media keeping you to account is you can say what you want and get away with it.

Winston Peters, for those of you lucky enough to have never heard of him, is New Zealand’s closest rival to Pauline Hanson. Targeting a specific group of people, he manages to get into Parliament by making specific claims that scare people into voting for him. With the joys of MMP and Helen Clark’s unlikely want to bed him in a coalition agreement this guy was even Foreign Minister! You don’t expect a foreign minister to say stuff like this….

An unapologetic New Zealand First leader Winston Peters has stepped up his attack on Chinese migration claiming it is going to cost an extra $1 billion in superannuation payments due to a policy of allowing elderly parental reunion.

“Cut out the crap and face the facts, we are in trouble here and have to pay for it,” he told about 130 people at a Grey Power meeting.

Peters’ latest attack followed last week’s description at another Grey Power meeting of Auckland as a “super-city of sin”, mostly as a result of Chinese migration.

He was criticised for being racist in the earlier speech but waving a newspaper today he said former Fonterra chairman Sir Henry van der Heyden had yesterday said the Chinese could not be trusted – and he wasn’t called a racist.

Peters said part of the problem was China’s One Child policy and New Zealand’s liberal immigration policy allowing parental reunions.

“When a couple come from China to New Zealand, as they have in the last 15 years, or just one person comes, and brings a wife and child, they can also apply to bring both parents,” he said.

In the last year 50 per cent of all the family reunifications had been Chinese.

The consequence was that “tens of thousands” of Chinese who have been here for barely five to 10 years will all qualify for national super.

“You can qualify at the end of 10 years having never paid one cent of tax or never worked one day,” he said.

They are not required to contribute anything.

“When all of these people receive super, their bill alone will be $1 billion and all the while this audience… is being told we’ve got to put up the retirement age.”

As DPF at Kiwiblog has already blogged about, Winston has a long and Xenophobic history of saying whatever he wants.

Now there is no doubt that the policy of allowing parents to come to New Zealand comes at a large cost. They can literally arrive and claim super for their time in NZ. But a billion dollars? I am 95% confident that this is a number that Winston has plucked out of thin air and that angers me. If John Key, or even David Shearer said something like this they would be held to account, but not Winston!


English: This image was taken at the Europa Le...

English: This image was taken at the Europa Lecture 2008, University of Aukland, and is owned by the European Union Centres Network. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Looks like a job for the pothole team!

Dear DART team and Fix My Street I think the St Clair Esplanade needs a little bit of work!

Some crazy pictures coming out of Dunedin today with the absolute hammering the Esplanade is getting from mother nature, high tides are proving too much for the esplanade and she has given in!

I recommend you click on the link to watch the video of the chasm opening up, amazing to see one of the prettiest places in Dunedin giving way.

Dunedin may be cold, but either way we completely undervalue our waterfront, when we were home for a visit a few months ago we had lunch on the waterfront and we commented that this would be our ideal spot if we were to move back that way. I hope the council manages to finally repair the area, it has been a long and painful death for the landwork that really needs some TLC.

UPDATE: The repairs are not going to be cheap!

WA to secede?

It is interesting that in my 18months in Australia I have heard quite a few times about WA thinking it gives more than it gets and wanting to become its own country.

I will be honest and say I thought it was banter rather than loosely based on fact, so I found this article today on the abc website very interesting, I found this quote, from the disgruntled retiring MP most humorous and shortsighted

“Increasingly, the states are becoming simply service deliverers of Commonwealth government policies because the Commonwealth has the money,” he said.

“And, the money will be provided to the states provided they carry out the policy direction of the Commonwealth.”

He said WA should be prepared to break away if it cannot mitigate Canberra’s growing power.

“The only way that the state can control its future if it wants to, is to secede,” he said.

There is an apparent belief that WA and the mining boom make it a great powerful player on the world market, as surmised

He has been a long time advocate of secession, previously saying WA would be one of the most successful countries in the world if it was a separate nation.

I find this so incredibly hard to believe. Yes WA brings in a fair bit of dollars into the Governments coffers and yes it has helped Australia through the GFC. But what happens when you dig shit out of the ground? Eventually it runs out! So one day WA will be in a far poorer economic situation than it already is.

I have mentioned before I do not fully understand why more powers are not dissolved from a state to federal level, the cost savings alone could be phenomenal. I have heard anecdotally in the public service that many country-wide initiatives have been held back by WA wanting to maintain solidarity and resistance to nationalisation. In the days of the EU, the ASEAN network etc why would you not want the power of truly working as one powerful nation?

Universities in Western Australia

Universities in Western Australia (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Was I wrong? The skywhale saga ptII

Did I get my tits in a tangle over nothing? did I boob up? Did I make a giant whale of a mistake? Am I full of hot air? Or am I simply ignorant of ‘art’?

Okay, so if you didn’t get it yet I am referring to the skywhale. If you believe the media defendants and Robyn Archer the Skywhale is a huge success. Firstly it is apparently a beautiful piece of art, I am yet to see how a whale with tits would ever be a piece of  art, let alone the massive stretch that is trying to link up with Canberra.

But the second part I am really starting to believe is that all news is good news! The amount of international media

is undeniable, and apparently not even totally measurable. I read one article saying that it could bring millions into the area with the soft marketing! I thought I would link just some of the huge amount of articles if you felt like a read.




So is the skywhale a success? In my very humble opinion I would give it a half mark! Half points for bring some media to Canberra, because all media is good media apparently. But end of the day… still ugly 😉




Car Seats, Aus vs Sweden

Our little 10 month old is exactly that, little!

I could not imagine having her front facing yet, luckily she is very happy rear facing and pretty good all round in the car. I understand that some kids start hating not being involved in whats going on and pretty much demand to forward face. Now all the advice out there is that young children should rear face for as long as possible, they do not have the ability to control their movement well enough in a car crash and are at risk when/if you crash.

The hard thing is most children grow out of capsules at between 6-12 months, our daughter is likely to make it to the at least 12 months at this stage, being prem sure makes her a midget! After the capsule stage the rear facing options are very limited, which is kind of average when statistics show that rear facing your kids reduces injuries by a whopping 90percent! In fact I find this kind of sad

– International Standards Organisation Fixation child seats, which allow children up to four years old to face the rear of a vehicle, are not available in Australia.

Well why the hell not! In Sweden it is all but law that children are rear facing till 4years. ‘All but law’ as in it is not actually law but very much frowned upon not to, nothing like public flogging!

How does Sweden keep young children so safe in cars?  How come fatalities and serious injuries are close to zero for young children? This is a common question among foreigners. Ask a Swedish parent and the answer will be a shrug, parents feel like they are doing nothing special. The answer to our safety record is a very simple and affordable approach which is very effective in keeping the little ones safe in cars.

Sweden started focusing on car seat safety in 1960’s, decades before other countries.  We realized early on that many children were dying in traffic and that almost all of these fatalities could easily be prevented by simple and affordable mesures regardless of country.  In the 1960’s we also discovered how amazingly safe rear facing was, something which has saved the lives of a large amount of children since then.

Child fatalities in traffic has decreased but is even in 2010 a common reason for children dying in modern countries.  Traffic accidents in USA are for example the number one cause of death among young children.  Thing about that for a minute.  Traffic is the largest killer of children in the country, far more common than any desease, drowning, etc.  Almost all of these fatalities are easily preventable with simple and affordable measures.

Is it not time for Australia to stand up for those that do not have a choice? Mandate rear facing child seats and put them on the market. If you need more convincing maybe this graphic below will help? Another good article from