Month: November 2014

And the Banks saga rolls on…

It’s just been reported that John Banks has been successful in his appeal, with the Court of Appeal overturning his conviction and ordering a new trial.

The appeal hinged on the evidence of two US-based businessmen, David Schaeffer and Jeffery Karnes, who were at the lunch with Dotcom, Banks and their respective wives, when Dotcom claimed the donations were discussed. The Court has stated that:

“Although it was not fresh evidence, the Court was satisfied that if the evidence has been before Justice Wylie the outcome may have been different.”

The new trial will certainly be interesting, given the hit Dotcom’s credibility has taken over the Moment of Truth, and the forged email. However, the key piece of evidence for Justice Wylie wasn’t the lunchtime conversation. Instead, it was Mr Banks’ phone conversation on 8 February 2012 with Dotcom’s lawyer, Gregory Towers, in which Mr Towers called Banks to try and get Dotcom a better mattress in prison. Justice Wylie wrote at para 128 of his judgment:

“He [Mr Towers] said that Mr Banks told him that as much as he wished to publically [sic] support Mr Dotcom, it might backfire on Mr Dotcom if “it b/comes known about election support etc”. Mr Towers recorded this comment in a contemporaneous file note. He was confident that he had recorded the words that were spoken to him as best as he could. There was no evidence of Mr Dotcom having provided any other “election support” for Mr Banks. … I was satisfied that the discussion recorded in the file note could only have been a reference to the $50,000 donation by Mr Dotcom to Mr Banks’ 2010 mayoral campaign. In my view, Mr Towers’ evidence, and the file note, was compelling evidence, from a witness whose testimony was unimpeachable, that Mr Banks knew that the donations had, in fact, been made by Mr Dotcom.”

Will the new evidence lessen the impact of Gregory Towers’ evidence? Can Banks point to what other “election support” was provided by Dotcom? We shall see…

The saga rolls on…

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Collins cleared; Slater lied

On the same day as the Cheryl Gwynn report was released, we also got the release Justice Chisholm’s report into Judith Collins and the allegations that she undermined former-SFO head Adam Feeley.

The report was ordered after the release of an email from Cameron Slater, detailing Judith Collins’ apparent involvement in a plot to undermine Mr Feeley. The email stated:

“I also spoke at length with the Minister responsible today (Judith Collins). She is gunning for Feeley. Any information that we can provide her on his background is appreciated. I have outlined for her a coming blog post about the massive staff turnover and she has added that to the review of the State Services Commissioner. She is using his review of these events to go on a trawl looking for anything else. It is my opinion that Feeley’s position is untenable.”

Cameron Slater’s explanation was that he had “embellished” his email:

“Embellished is a good word. It’s better than a lie, isn’t it?”

At the time, I wrote that if Slater had merely embellished, rather than lied, there were still grounds for Collins’ resignation, given the following statements of fact contained in Slater’s email:

  • Slater spoke to Collins, and the conversation was at least partly about Feeley.
  • Slater discussed with Collins his Whaleoil campaign against Feeley.
  • Collins stated that she intended to pass on Slater’s blog material to the State Services Commissioner.

Essentially, for the Chisholm report to clear Collins’ name, Justice Chisholm had to find that Slater was a liar. Well, that’s pretty much what happened. Here’s the report at para 272:

“The final point concerns Mr Slater’s evidence. When he was interviewed by the inquiry he was in the unenviable position of trying to justify the contents of some of the emails while at the same time doing what he could to protect Ms Collins. On top of that he was trying to remember conversations that took place about three years ago. While I believe that Mr Slater was genuinely trying to assist the inquiry, I decided that his evidence should be approached with great caution, especially where it conflicted with other evidence or the documentary record. However, having said that, there was little in Mr Slater’s evidence that directly supported the proposition that Ms Collins had undermined or attempted to undermine Mr Feeley.”

The report sets out pieces of the transcript of Slater’s evidence to Justice Chisholm, and on several occasions Slater openly admits that he lied in his email correspondence to make himself look big.

I had assumed that it would be almost impossible for Collins to be cleared, as finding definitively that she had had no involvement in the anti-Feeley conspiracy would undoubtedly be difficult. Nonetheless, the report finds no evidence whatsoever to implicate her. The documentary record supports her evidence, and indeed supports the evidence of all those spoken to as part of the inquiry (Cameron Slater’s evidence aside).

The report has certainly received its share of criticism. Several people weren’t interviewed, who perhaps should have been, including Cathy Odgers. Nonetheless, in Ms Odgers’ case, she had provided a lengthy affidavit, which was accepted by Justice Chisholm. Frankly, I find it hard to see how additional interviews with Odgers or Mark Hotchin could have helped implicate Collins. Cameron Slater was the alleged conduit of information to and from her, and Collins essentially lived or died by his evidence.

And so, Collins has been cleared. Can she make it back as a Minister? You’d have to assume not. The multitude of negative headlines she’s generated since the Oravida scandal must surely have resulted in severe concerns from her colleagues as to her professional judgment and personal character. Stranger things have happened though. If a few currently-serving Ministers suffer meltdowns in their portfolios (a la Corrections), she might just find a pathway back to redemption. In politics, nothing’s impossible…

John Key implodes over the Gwyn report

The Cheryl Gwyn report into the release of SIS information relating to whether Phil Goff was or wasn’t briefed about the Israeli spy saga  was released on Tuesday. It makes for compelling reading as it investigates whether Goff lied, whether then-head of the SIS Warren Tucker behaved inappropriately, and what role the Prime Minister’s Office had in releasing the information to Cameron Slater.

The conclusions were, on occasion, somewhat unexpected. Had Phil Goff lied? Apparently not. It seems that although Mr Tucker briefly provided Mr Goff with a “preliminary document” relating to the Israeli spies, Goff did not read the document, and the matter was brushed over by Tucker. Essentially, both men were right: in Tucker’s mind, he’d briefed Goff on the issue, while in Goff’s mind, he hadn’t received a briefing at all.

The problem that then arose was that Mr Tucker seems to have taken personal affront at having his honesty and professionalism called into question by Mr Goff. To put Goff in his place, Tucker therefore released only selective documentation, which (when read in isolation) appeared to prove Goff a liar. The report drags Tucker over the coals for this, and the SIS has apologised to Goff.

So what then of Mr Slater and his OIA request? Slater’s explanation was that he received a tip-off from someone purporting to be from the SIS. He denied being tipped off by Jason Ede.

There are a few problems with that explanation though. For instance, the report finds that Slater was on the phone to Ede at the same time as his OIA request was made. Slater’s explanation to the media? Ede was in fact trying to persuade Slater not to make the OIA request. Yet, the report states at para 214:

Mr Slater also later provided a series of emails to and from Mr Ede, in which Mr Ede expressed his concern that he “might be in the shit” over his use of the NZSIS information. Mr de Joux explained to the inquiry he was not happy Mr Ede had chosen to work through Mr Slater rather than mainstream media because it would create an unhelpful perception. Mr Slater’s email reply to Mr Ede was that he would simply state that he had an NZSIS source. In the context of Mr Ede’s evidence, I interpreted that email to mean that Mr Slater would claim to have an NZSIS source in order to protect Mr Ede.

Why would Ede be “in the shit” over using SIS information if the tip-off to Slater came from the SIS? And why would Slater assure Ede that he would state he had an SIS source, if Ede actually had nothing to do with tipping of Slater?

So could Jason Ede’s phone and email records provide salvation for him? Well, as it turns out, Ms Gwyn suspects that Ede was using personal phones and email to conduct Prime Minster’s Office work. It’s a pretty blatant ploy by Ede to avoid OIA requirements.

But it gets worse. When asked by Ms Gwyn to disclose his personal emails and phone records, it turned out that he’d already deleted them prior to the commencement of the inquiry. It’s the high-tech version of spending the night in the archives room with the paper shredder…

There’s no provable connection between John Key and any of this, but it’s almost impossible to deny that his office didn’t play a role. Nonetheless, Key has gone on the offensive, attempting to argue that the report shows that his staff did absolutely nothing wrong. Of course, the report says nothing of the sort. In fact, it concludes that Jason Ede tipped off Cameron Slater, and it rejects Slater’s explanation that someone in the SIS tipped him off.

The email trail makes a mockery of Slater’s attempt to get Ede off the hook, and John Key’s attempt to argue otherwise has made him a laughing stock. Just check out his disastrous interview with Mary Wilson on Radio NZ’s Checkpoint programme on Tuesday evening. Likewise, his performance yesterday afternoon in the House was farcical, with Andrew Little memorably skewering him with the line:

“Why doesn’t he just cut the crap and apologise to New Zealand for running a smear campaign out of his office?”

“Cut the crap” now seems to have taken on a life of its own, propelling Little to cult hero status amongst the Left, not quite what Key would have intended.

Then it got worse for Key, having to return to Parliament to correct one of his question time answers, to admit that the day before the report was released, he’d had text message communication with Cameron Slater. He’d “misinterpreted” the initial question, and apparently hadn’t understood that communication with Slater in the past week would include text messages…

Key is evidently hoping that, just like the initial pre-election Dirty Politics furore, this second round will simply pass the public by. To a certain extent, he’s probably right. Almost no one will read the Gwyn report, and the non-partisan centre-ground of voters will continue to assume that what happens in John Key’s office probably also happens in the Labour leader’s office.

Nonetheless, Key’s facade of being an honest, everyman, non-politician takes another big hit. With every Mary Wilson interview and every attack by Patrick Gower at 6pm, Key becomes Just Another Politician.

The odds on National winning a fourth term in Government just lengthened.

Charging petrol station workers for drive-offs

So workers at Masterton’s Night ‘n Day store have had their pay docked when criminals drive off without paying. From the flood of complaints coming from around the country, it’s not a practice that is confined only to Masterton, nor is it confined to Night ‘n Day or Gull service stations.

Now I’m not an employment lawyer. My experience with petrol station drive-offs instead comes from the criminal law side of things, when the petrol station staff have CCTV footage or a staff ID of a numberplate and driver, and the information results in an arrest. BP stations seem to have a system where staff won’t activate the pump until they’ve ensured that their CCTV cameras have picked up the numberplate. Presumably it’s not a system that is widely used, as a spokesman for Z Energy has said that drive-offs cost Z about $1 million per year.

At any rate, the Night ‘n Day manager at the centre of the whole furore, Nick Lucas, seldom reported thefts to Police, even when a positive ID was made, because (according to his former staff members) he’d already got the money back by docking his staff’s wages.

As I’ve said, I’m not an employment lawyer, but the employment lawyers I’ve spoken to seem to think that it’s likely an illegal practice. Anyway, here’s some thoughts:

  • If service station employees are expected to prevent drive-offs by physically preventing vehicles from exiting the forecourt, surely that raises some significant health and safety issues? If the first clue to a drive-off is the customer getting back into their vehicle and starting their engine, is the staff member supposed to put their body on the line and be driven over by a departing criminal?
  • Service stations can mitigate the cost of drive-offs by having their pumps on pre-pay. They often choose not to, presumably because it’s more lucrative to have customers pay afterwards, when they’re more inclined to buy a sandwich and a soft drink.
  • If service stations put up decent cameras and record the licence plates and faces of all customers, most offenders can therefore be prosecuted by Police. If the prosecution is successful, the cost of petrol taken can generally be recouped by way of a reparation order at sentence.
  • If a service station fail to put in place systems to reduce the likelihood of drive-offs (by way of pre-pay pumps or cameras that might deter potential offenders) or to mitigate the costs of drive-offs (using evidence from said cameras to file Police complaints, resulting in reparation orders), then the service station has only itself to blame.
  • When I worked at Waste Management during my student years, staff could be fined if damage occurred to machinery due to employee negligence. That’s very different from docking a staff member’s pay due to events over which the staff member essentially has no control.

Idiot/Savant at No Right Turn suggests a boycott of the service station chains that allow the practice to continue at their franchises. As of right now, that seems to be Night ‘n Day, Gull, Mobil and Caltex…

The Sutton debacle

Sexual Harassment in the Workplace: it’s not a good thing, except when you’re playing Frank Zappa’s 1988 instrumental album Guitar, in which case ‘Sexual Harassment in the Workplace’ is the opening track, and it’s a stonker. However, setting aside the brilliance of Frank Zappa, when one hears that someone is about to resign due to sexual harassment claims that have been upheld and substantiated, all sorts of icky things come to mind.

Roger Sutton’s press conference of a few days ago undoubtedly therefore seemed like a great idea at the time to him. He talked of hugs, off-colour jokes and calling women “honey” and “sweetie”. It was calculated to minimise the damage, instilling in people’s minds the image of a harmless, ever-so-slightly flawed, olde world boss, struck down by the forces of modern feminism.

I for one initially heard the soundbites from the press conference and thought that the whole thing sounded like a storm in a teacup. I considered all of the female colleagues over the years who’ve called me “darling”, “hon”, “sweet” and the like (and indeed the female colleagues who do indeed still call me such terms of endearment!): it never worried me. I thought, “I too am a hugger! What’s wrong with a hug?” In short, I sympathised with Mr Sutton’s position.

But of course the worm very quickly began to turn. Other senior female CERA staff made anonymous statements, asking whether anyone was really so stupid as to believe that hugs, jokes, “honey” and “sweetie” were the beginning and end of the matter. Details of Mr Sutton’s misconduct began to leak: asking female staff to engage in visible g-string Fridays (which reminds me of the secretary who resigned from a well-respected Central Auckland law firm after one of the partners began pondering the efficacy of upgrading Casual Friday to No Pants Friday…) and asking who they’d want to have sex with.

And of course there’s the issue of Mr Sutton breaching confidentiality with his press conference, while the victim remained gagged.

Now, former National Party MP and current Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner Jackie Blue has waded into the debate. She’s sent a strong letter to State Services Commissioner Iain Rennie, querying his handling of the complaint against Sutton, and expressing concern about “the chilling effect on future complaints arising from the current situation”.

The Sutton press conference has now resulted in Sutton’s exit from CERA being brought forward by two months, and his actions are now being analysed in far greater detail than they would have had he simply gone quietly.

Whether Iain Rennie survives remains to be seen. The SSC is under attack from all sides, with allegations that the initial inquiry into Sutton was mishandled and that other allegations against Sutton had been swept under the carpet. That’s in addition to the outrage over the SSC providing a platform for Sutton to breach confidentiality, by organising the resignation press conference.

The Sutton debacle has provided an immediate platform for new Labour leader Andrew Little, who was grabbing the opportunity with both hands, providing suitably pithy soundbites yesterday afternoon. With Sutton remaining in his CERA job until 1 December, and with Rennie thus far refusing to fall on his sword, Sutton’s downfall seems likely to provide ammunition to the opposition for some time to come.

 

The awkward question of New Plymouth

It’s rather common knowledge that Andrew Little wasn’t exactly a star in New Plymouth. He stood in the former Labour Party seat in 2011 and 2014, losing ground in both the electorate and party vote on each occasion. Overall, the party vote in New Plymouth dropped from 31.4% in 2008 to 21.2% in 2014, while the electorate vote dropped from 47.9% in 2008 to 31.9% in 2014.

Essentially, Little has ended up as leader of the opposition despite twice failing to win an electorate seat (that was once safe Labour), and, in the leadership race, failing to win the votes of his fellow caucus members and the party membership. Little appears to be a relatively unelectable fellow, except in the minds of New Zealand’s union leaders.

Which makes New Plymouth a bit of a problem for Labour. Little can’t stand there again, because he’ll lose. And there’d be nothing worse for Labour than the continual comparisons throughout an election campaign of John Key’s majority in Helensville versus Little’s inability to win a former safe Labour seat.

That means that come 2017, Little will either go list-only (to concentrate on New Zealand, don’t ya know…) or have lined himself up with a safe seat. The obvious safe seat would have to be Rongotai: it’s the electorate in which Little lives, and Annette King could presumably be pressured into giving her long-held seat up for the leader. If King doesn’t retire in 2017, she’s surely only got one more term left in her. It would make sense for her to be shunted into a list-only spot.

Of course, when Labour’s candidate selection takes place, and Andrew Little is inevitably to be found nowhere near New Plymouth, there will undoubtedly be a series of stories about Little’s lacklustre history there. Labour should begin the process of finding a replacement New Plymouth candidate sooner rather than later, so that the issue is dealt with well before the 2017 campaign proper begins.

Terrible Labour leadership numbers

Labour now has a new leader – Andrew Little. I’d expected him to win, purely due to union support. Which is basically what ended up happening.

Here’s a round-by-round break-down:

Caucus:

  • Round 1: Robertson – 14, Parker – 7, Mahuta – 6, Little – 5
  • Round 2: Robertson – 14, Little – 11, Parker – 7
  • Round 3: Robertson – 18, Little – 14

Members:

  • Round 1: Robertson – 38%, Little – 26%, Parker – 22%, Mahuta – 14%
  • Round 2: Robertson – 41%, Little – 34%, Parker – 25%
  • Round 3: Robertson – 55%, Little – 45%

Affiliates:

  • Round 1: Little – 64%, Robertson – 19%, Mahuta – 10%, Parker – 7%
  • Round 2: Little – 71%, Robertson 20%, Parker – 9%
  • Round 3: Little – 76%, Robertson – 24%

That means that in the final round, Little beat Grant Roberston by just 1%: 50.5% to 49.5%.

But just look at those round-by-round numbers – they make for terrible reading. For a start, Little comprehensively lost to Robertson in both the caucus and membership votes. Robertson was the most popular candidate in all three rounds for both the caucus and member voters. Andrew Little is now the party leader simply because he’s the former head of the EPMU, and the unions therefore overwhelmingly sided with him.

Little came dead last in the caucus vote in the first round. Just four other MPs (assuming Little voted for himself) thought that Little was the best choice. (It’s certainly a win for the Maori caucus though – all of Nanaia Mahuta’s caucus supporters second-preferenced Little. If just one had gone with Robertson instead, Robertson would have been leader. Andrew Little owes the Maori caucus big-time.)

Robertson maintained a consistent lead of about 10% over Little among the members in each of the three rounds.

Last leadership contest, the members got their way in the face of caucus opposition. That didn’t end well. This time round, neither the caucus nor the members got their way. Instead, the new leader is beholden to the unions.

Can the Labour caucus pull in behind Little? Or will we be in for yet another round of ‘White Ant the Leader’? How long will Labour be allowed to poll in the 20s before the whispering begins?

Time will tell.

In the meantime, National will have a field day, happily painting Little as a union apparatchik, unwanted by the members, unwanted by his own caucus.

Brownlee unfairly fined

When Gerry Brownlee and two of his staff attempted to bypass security at Christchurch Airport in July, there was much frothing at the mouth from commentators such as John Armstrong as to whether John Key should have accepted Mr Brownlee’s resigned as Transport Minister. Central to the frothing was the assertion that Mr Brownlee had committed an offence that carries a maximum sentence of imprisonment.

I argued at the time that no offence had been committed, as none of the offences set out in the Civil Aviation Act fitted the facts of the case. Well, this morning it’s been revealed that Mr Brownlee has been fined $2,000, while his two staff members have received warnings. The fine and warnings have been issued under Civil Aviation Rule 19.357(b), which reads:

(b) Subject to paragraphs (c) and (g), no person shall enter or remain in any security area or security enhanced area of any designated aerodrome or designated installation, unless that person—

(1)  wears an airport identity card on the front of his or her outer garment; or

(2)  has in his or her possession another identity document or other identity documents for the time being authorised under paragraph (a).

Yes, Gerry Brownlee was in a security area without an ID that had been authorised by the Director pursuant to Rule 19.357(a), but para (g)(3) gives Mr Brownlee an out clause. It reads:

Nothing in paragraph (b) shall apply to any passenger who enters or leaves a security area or security enhanced area for the purpose of joining or leaving a flight, if he or she is in possession of a valid boarding pass for that flight or is being escorted by a crew member or a representative of the operator.

Now, in this particular case, Mr Brownlee was attempting to board a flight that he and his staff had been running late for. They approached an airport security officer, and that security officer allowed them to duck through a side door, bypassing the security gate in order to to get to the plane in double-quick time. Mr Brownlee and his staff were in possession of valid boarding passes. Furthermore, they had the consent of the airport security officer to be where they were.

What does this mean? Well, it means that Gerry Brownlee is entirely innocent of the infringement that he’s been fined for. Nonetheless, it’s not a criminal conviction, and Mr Brownlee is no longer Minister for Transport (the role having gone to Simon Bridges, post-election). For political purposes, Brownlee will take the fine on the chin. He’s been seen to be punished; our authority figures are seen to not be above the law, even if the law has been incorrectly applied.

 

The Glenn Inquiry blows whatever credibility it had left

When Sir Owen Glenn announced in 2012 that he was pouring $2 million into an independent inquiry in child abuse and domestic violence, there was a mixed reaction. Negative reaction focussed largely on whether the inquiry would be truly independent, with concerns that Sir Owen, as wielder of the purse strings, would have too large an influence over the inquiry’s methodology and conclusions. When the inquiry’s executive director Ruth Herbert and operations director Jessica Trask resigned in May 2013, citing a “breakdown in the relationship” with Sir Owen, those concerns seemed well-founded. Now, the latest debacle involves the inquiry’s figures regarding the cost of domestic violence. The NZ Herald reports:

A report by economist Suzanne Snively and Wellington theatre student Sherilee Kahui, published by the inquiry yesterday, said family violence cost New Zealand between $4.1 billion and $7 billion a year – up from Ms Snively’s last estimate in 1994 of just $1 billion. But the higher figure of $7 billion was based on a claim that 23.6 per cent of women born in Christchurch in 1977 suffered intimate partner violence in the year leading up to interviews when they were 25 in about 2002. That figure in the original paper published in 2005 by the Christchurch Health and Development Study actually refers to the number of men as well as women who scored 3 or 4 points on a violence victimisation scale for intimate partner violence. Two-thirds of people in the study scored below 3 points and 9.4 per cent scored above 4 points. Those scoring 3 or 4 points were described in the original paper as “predominantly a group of individuals reporting frequent minor psychological aggression and occasionally severe psychological aggression”, but “none reported any of the signs of severe domestic violence [injury or fearfulness]”.

The $7 billion figure was a late addition to the study, which initially contained only a “low-end” estimate of $4.1 billion and a “moderate scenario” of $4.5 billion. So what was the justification given for suddenly messing with the numbers? Well, according to the Herald:

The high-end estimate was added after experts in Auckland and Wellington said they believed the true domestic violence victimisation rates were higher than the “moderate scenario” rates of 18.2 per cent for women and 1.9 per cent for men. “We were struggling to find empirical evidence of an estimate that would be higher than 18.2 per cent,” Ms Kahui said. “So it was about finding something higher.”

Really? The experts didn’t like the data they had, so they went looking for anything that would better suit the conclusion they wanted to reach? And when they found a different study, they misinterpreted it, but didn’t notice they’d made a mistake, because their mistake matched their gut feeling prejudices?

Which is a great pity, because the “low-end” and “moderate scenario” figures of $4.1 and $4.5 billion were already large numbers, which should surely be of concern to any public policy-maker.

Unfortunately though, when researchers have already admitted essentially massaging the data to fit what their in-built biases consider the numbers should have looked like, it certainly raises questions about any subsequent conclusions they might draw.

Are you not entertained?

So life’s been rather frantically busy since my last post. A week and a half managed to flash by, filled with full Court days, interesting experiences with chainsaws, and visitations from Perth-based relatives. Sitting down at a keyboard to blog came a very distant second, third or possibly fourth in the ‘interesting things to do’ stakes.

Nonetheless, here’s a brief recap for those who were also avoiding the political world:

  • Much humour was derived from Green MP Steffan Browning and his advocacy on behalf of homeopathy as a cure for Ebola. For quite some time, the Greens had managed to project a face of relative sanity (setting aside Russel Norman’s flirtation with quantitive easing), only to end up the butt of innumerable homeopathy-inspired jokes on Twitter. On the plus side, the party leadership shut Browning down swiftly. And Middle New Zealand doesn’t give a damn about political jokes on Twitter, so no harm done… Or something. Regardless, it further interrupted Danyl McLauchlan’s blogging hiatus, placing it in the realm of Events of Great Significance.
  • Much less humour was derived from National’s Paula Bennett declaring that selling off state houses was “sexy”. Who knew? Personally, my definition of ‘sexy’ is a little different, but I accept that we all have our own unique peccadilloes…
  • And National decided that there should be flexibility in workers’ tea breaks. This bemused people like myself, who had always been fairly flexible already about when tea breaks were taken, even before I joined the ranks of the self-employed (at which point the issue became moot, and I discovered that four weeks’ holiday pay was a luxury that no longer existed). Frankly, I’ve never been part of a union, had always been happy to defer my tea break by half an hour if a job needed completing, and had always figured that workplace flexibility already existed if employers and employees had a half-decent relationship. Nonetheless, various unionists were obviously insisting on taking their tea breaks at contractually agreed times, and the power of the unions had to be broken… Productivity is key, don’t you know? That’s why we have (or was that had?) a Rock Star Economy. (It’s just a pity that the category Rock Star includes specimens such as Bono. Are we the Bono Economy, telling everyone what’s good for them?)
  • Oh, and the Labour leadership continues. Excitement has failed to abound, and charisma has been noticeably lacking. Perhaps Bono needs to become a New Zealand citizen and join the race…