Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Think about it

An open letter to New Zealand’s people and their Parliament.

We write as a group of concerned citizens with academic expertise in the area of constitutional law and politics.

We share New Zealand’s deep concern about the physical damage to Canterbury and the personal trauma this has caused the region’s residents. All levels of government have an obligation to help the people of Canterbury rebuild their homes, businesses and lives as quickly as possible.

However, while we are united in wishing to help Canterbury recover, there is a risk that the desire to do “everything we can” in the short term will blind us to the long-term harms of our actions. In particular, abandoning established constitutional values and principles in order to remove any inconvenient legal roadblock is a dangerous and misguided step.

Yet this is what our Parliament has done, in just a single day, by unanimously passing the Canterbury Earthquake Response and Recovery Act 2010. It represents an extraordinarily broad transfer of lawmaking power away from Parliament and to the executive branch, with minimal constraints on how that power may be used. In particular:

•Individual government ministers, through “Orders in Council”, may change virtually every part of NZ’s statute book in order to achieve very broadly defined ends, thereby effectively handing to the executive branch Parliament’s power to make law;

•The legislation forbids courts from examining the reasons a minister has for thinking an Order in Council is needed, as well as the process followed in reaching that decision;

•Orders in Council are deemed to have full legislative force, such that they prevail over any inconsistent parliamentary enactment;

•Persons acting under the authority of an Order in Council have protection from legal liability, with no right to compensation should their actions cause harm to another person.

These matters are not simply “academic” or “theoretical” in nature. Over and over again history demonstrates that unconstrained power is subject to misuse, and that even well-intentioned measures can result in unintended consequences if there are not clear, formal measures of oversight applied to them.

We do acknowledge that the powers granted by the Act have some restrictions on their use. They only can be used to achieve the objective of the legislation (although this is very broadly defined). Five key constitutional statutes are exempted from their ambit. Orders in Council inconsistent with the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990 may not be made. Parliament can review and reject Orders in Council, albeit through a rather slow and protracted process.

Nevertheless, the vast amount of lawmaking power given to ministers renders these limits insufficient. In particular, there need to be tight restrictions on the enactments a minister may change through an Order in Council and clear and precise grounds that justify any such change. These grounds also need to be open to review by the judiciary, to ensure that they really are met in any particular case.

Any claim that such safeguards are unnecessary because the Act’s powers will be wisely and sparingly applied, and that informal “consultation” and “public pressure” will ensure that this happens, must be resisted. Only formal, legal means of accountability, ultimately enforceable through the courts, are constitutionally acceptable.

Furthermore, the Act now stands as a dangerous precedent for future “emergency” situations. This earthquake, devastating though it has been, will not be the last natural disaster to strike New Zealand. When the next event does occur, inevitably there will be calls for a similar legislative response, which will be very difficult to resist given this example.

Finally, we emphasise that we have no partisan agenda to pursue here. The fact is that all MPs of every party joined in this action. They did so with the best of intentions, driven by an understandable desire to display their solidarity with Canterbury’s people.

But we feel their action was a mistake, and they too quickly and readily abandoned basic constitutional principles in the name of expediency. We hope that with a period to reflect on their action and the consequences this might have that they now will revisit this issue in a more appropriate manner.


Professor Stuart Anderson, Faculty of Law, University of Otago.

Mark Bennett, Faculty of Law, Victoria University of Wellington.

Malcom Birdling, Keble College, University of Oxford.

Joel Colon-Rios, Faculty of Law, Victoria University of Wellington.

Richard Cornes, School of Law, University of Essex.

Trevor Daya-Winterbottom, Faculty of Law, University of Waikato.

Professor John Dawson, Faculty of Law, University of Otago.

Richard Ekins, Faculty of Law, University of Auckland.

Associate Prof. Andrew Geddis, Faculty of Law, University of Otago.

Claudia Geiringer, Faculty of Law, Victoria University of Wellington.

Kris Gledhill, Faculty of Law, University of Auckland.

Professor Bruce Harris, Faculty of Law, University of Auckland.

Professor Mark Henaghan, Faculty of Law, University of Otago.

Dr John Hopkins, Law School, University of Canterbury.

John Ip, Faculty of Law, University of Auckland.

Carwyn Jones, Faculty of Law, Victoria University of Wellington.

Dean Knight, Faculty of Law, Victoria University of Wellington.

Prof. Elizabeth McLeay, Faculty of Law, Victoria University of Wellington.

Steven Price, Faculty of Law, Victoria University of Wellington.

Vernon Rive, Law School, Auckland University of Technology.

Mary-Rose Russell, Law School, Auckland University of Technology.

Katherine Sanders, Faculty of Law, University of Auckland.

Dr Rayner Thwaites, Faculty of Law, Victoria University of Wellington.

Professor Jeremy Waldron, New York University School of Law.

Ceri Warnock, Faculty of Law, University of Otago.

Nicola Wheen, Faculty of Law, Univerity of Otago.

Hanna Wilberg, Faculty of Law, University of Auckland

Reproduced from Pundit.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

I'm on a boat sailing...

sometimes my patience wears thin

twiddles thumbs and stares at paint drying

its been too long already

oh well gabs stick and whittles some

Monday, September 27, 2010

Happy Birthday Mum

Nothing like a dead Lenin cake... possibly in very bad taste, but what ca ya do

Boys will be boys

Saturday, September 25, 2010


Monorail wins $1.3m from Google

A New Zealand company has won a seven-figure sum from internet giant Google to turn its pioneering pedal-powered monorail into the future of city transport.

Is it wrong I covet Micks boat?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Stuck in a loop

and I wanna get off... well not really.

and round we go again

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Rainy season auckland styles

As ever in spring Auckland is well rinsed by the weather and for the first year since moving here it isn't doing my head in.

It would be nice to have some long cool sunny days however...

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Be warned rubbish inside

"A lot can be said for MP3′s.

They’re free! Easy and instant to obtain.

But there’s one thing that has to be said for vinyl. That is, it’s the most sociable way to play and listen to music with a bunch of mates.

On Sunday 12 September, Bob, Scott and myself sat around skyped Benny, drank beer and played records! Possibly unbeknown to the other two i was recording the set and here’s the result. It’s actually only Bob playing (the MD only recorded the first 80 minutes) but I hope Bob’s going to be happy to have these records digitilised for his ipod, and we get them too!!

In true fashion, there’s a few gaps between records where Bob rushed to chuck on the next record. Enjoy, we did." (culled from Mick's rant on stink-finger)

Hvae a listen its really not that good - well the music is but the playmanship is shocking... merely the sounds of records being played with no thought to mixing or blending nor anything one would normally associate with a set downloaded - well there are plenty of zeros and ones...

It really is time I did a proper 'mix'.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Sunday, September 12, 2010

From The Wire - Cheeky buggers

New Zealanders appeal unintelligibly for help after urthquike

World governments admitted they were ‘baffled’ last night after the New Zealand government issued a ‘fully incomprehensible’ message about an ‘urthquike’.

‘We just don’t know what they are on about,’ said Foreign Secretary William Hague. ‘There’s something in there about ‘unternetional ide’, but we’re not sure if that’s some kind of soft drink or maybe a chemical or something.’

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton ordered State Department translators to work round-the-clock on deciphering the garbled message. ‘Our best guess is that their second city, which we understand is called ‘Chroistchairch’, has suffered an infestation of rodents called ‘eftershucks’, so we’re sending fifty tons of mousetraps to see if that’s what they’re after.’

Julia Gillard, the newly-reelected prime minister of New Zealand’s English-speaking neighbour Australia, welcomed the US response. ‘She said it was ‘terliddle terlate yabladdy drongos’, Mrs Clinton said. ‘My translators tell me that means ‘God bless America.’

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Early Morning Spring Sounds

hell of a lot worse things to wake to

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Lazy post

Go here

download music... put on player

turn up volume


Monday, September 06, 2010

It doesn't take long

Crikey those that contribute to wikipedia didn't muck around post Saturday's earthquake in Christchuch...

Family and friends are all ok with minor damage to their homes.

So not been a good couple of weeks for news from down south.

Now for the cleanup

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Telling it like it is

Vomiting Perfidy

By Layla Anwar

Since yesterday I have been vomiting my insides out...

My first bout of vomit came after I read a transcript of your President's speech, his speech to the "nation". Because you consider yourselves a nation ?!

It started off with an uneasiness felt in the pit of my stomach, then quickly transformed itself into a queasiness, then into a foul nausea, only to erupt like a dammed out volcano into violent throes of pure vomit...

I have over the past 20 years or so, developed a high intolerance to perfidy and you throughout your history have excelled in perfecting what I am most allergic to...

You literally make me sick.

Change - you clamored like a herd of sheep, while munching, ruminating like cattle every word that is fed to you...Black and White, even those retards who call themselves American Arabs and Muslims rejoiced at Uncle Tom's arrival to the White House.

Oh the "principled", "moralistic" prudish puritanical perverts called Americans, always showing up late for change...always jumping on the bandwagon, when the train has already passed...

The peace loving war mongers of the new world order is what you are. Fake and ignorant to the bone.

So you pride yourselves on being "a good people", a "compassionate" "sharing caring hugging" people -- nothing but Perfidy.

For 20 years, I witnessed my country, the land of my father, my mother, my ancestors, disintegrate before my very eyes...20 fucking years. 20 fucking years.

Twenty years of people -- first withering, wilting away, like flowers never allowed to see the light, never allowed to turn their faces to the sun, then from fading into shadows, faltering into a colorless background...bombed, massacred, slaughtered into a nothingness...the same nothingness that inhabits you daily...the same nothingness that makes you rush to your shrink, the same nothingness that you feed with your junk, the same nothingness that you fill with your consumer products...the same nothingness of your void, of the pit, the deep pit that you all live in, and I throw up some more, from the pits of my belly....

So you "sacrificed" for us, so you liberated us from "tyranny", so you "lived up to your responsibilities" --- like you did in Falluja, Haditha, Mahmoudiya, Baghdad, Basra, Mosul, Ramadi...¨"kill the motherfuckers" you shouted...and your wives masturbated to your love letters, or shed a few tears while waving that infamous flag...the flag of a degenerate, decaying country that has offered nothing but murder, carnage and mayhem...

You liberated us from "dictatorship" with 5 times the size of a Hiroshima and a liberated us until there was no space left in our morgues, and 7 and half years later, we still search for the liberated us until our streets turned into pools of blood, and mosques became torture dungeons where those hajjis were having their eyes plucked out and their flesh drilled, you liberated us so we can be abducted, raped and murdered for a 1000$ or for wearing liberated us so our bodies can float on the Tigris and Euphrates, mutilated liberated us alright...stuffing us in prisons cells, covering us with your piss and excrements, or handing us to your mercenaries and your pimps and whores in turbans, while you fucked the prostitutes specially brought to you in your Green Fortress... and while the rest of us lived in walled ghettos that you constructed for us...

You liberated us alright...and you lived up to your principles, your ideals and your responsibilities...

But I do grant you one thing, you computerized, digitalized death for see, thanks to you our morgue is now equipped with the latest technology, so 7 years down the line, we can finally go and find the corpse of a loved one, maybe. We even got numbers, serial numbers, you are serial killers and we get serial numbers...

We carry numbers wherever we go, number on our passports, on our ID cards, on our prison bracelets, and even on our dead bodies...the numbers follow us to the cemeteries, we got plenty of them today...all this reconstruction money, we built cemeteries with...well not quite, you stole the money...billions of dollars, so we turned gardens and parks into graveyards...our children play there, amidst the wailing of mothers in perpetual grief...

You are indeed a brave people...a noble, brave people. See, all what you've done for us! Your generosity will be recorded in history annals...and you will be used as a historical example, a model of a country and a people of great integrity -- just like the New Iraq model.

Those of us who could not handle this overflowing compassion from you (as your stinking alternative press likes us to believe - Americans are compassionate people), flew away...escaped the milk of human kindness, carrying a few documents and memories, wounds and scars stacked in suitcases...with no destination...

A permanent exile has become our abode...a new geographical location not found on any map...carrying our selves like some overburdening, heavy bundle, struggling to make ends meet, struggling to survive, struggling not to become insane, struggling not be engulfed by that nothingness of yours...

Scratching humanity with our nails...trying to find it, digging with our bare hands, sometimes wishing that we were buried there, alongside our loved ones...sometimes wishing we were never born, sometimes crying in our solitude, sometimes screaming in our nightmares, sometimes numbing ourselves so we can match your nothingness...

Most of the time, confused, lost and bewildered...still unable to grasp what has befallen us, in the name of Freedom...other times engrossed with story after story of endless suffering and misery inflicted by you...with stories of relatives and friends lost in dungeons of Democracy, with stories of monsters being born in the land of Freedom, with stories of disease and illnesses nesting into our DNA and becoming part of our make up, of our being...infiltrating the very essence of us, of our soil, our air, our water...

Story after story...image after image -- wheelchairs, amputations, limbs lost, eyes lost, fingers lost, a child dying, a woman raped and killed, a man tortured to death...story after story of -- poverty, disease, need, neglect, abandonment...story after story of an eternal fatigue that has settled upon us like a blanket...

I watch in my head, in my imagination, in my memory, the river Tigris flowing on a summer eve right at sunset...when the air is cooler (and when there was electricity and drinking water), I watch the river flow, calmly, silently, peacefully...nothing obstructs it, it just flows and I close my eyes and imagine myself flowing with it, in an unknown destination...only in these moments do I find real tranquility...during those seconds, when I am transported there, by that river where everything grew and took shape...from the dawn of Time...

I go back in time thousands of years, when you were non existent, when you had no name, no shape and no color...and I find myself...I find myself and I find Iraq.

This is the only consolation I can give to myself - that even in the buckets of vomit wrought out from my guts, I can still find Her and me.

But you can't.

Layla Anwar, Who am I ? The eternal Question . Have not figured it out fully yet . All you need to know about me is that I am a Middle Easterner, an Arab Woman - into my 40's and old enough to know better.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

It ain't over yet....

A Trillion-Dollar Catastrophe.
Yes, Iraq Was a Headline War

By Simon Jenkins

September 01, 2010 "The Guardian"

Today the Iraq war was declared over by Barack Obama. As his troops return home, Iraqis are marginally freer than in 2003, and considerably less secure. Two million remain abroad as refugees from seven years of anarchy, with another 2 million internally displaced. Ironically, almost all Iraqi Christians have had to flee. Under western rule, production of oil – Iraq's staple product – is still below its pre-invasion level, and homes enjoy fewer hours of electricity. This is dreadful.
Some 100,000 civilians are estimated to have lost their lives from occupation-related violence. The country has no stable government, minimal reconstruction, and daily deaths and kidnappings. Endemic corruption is fuelled by unaudited aid. Increasing Islamist rule leaves most women less, not more, liberated. All this is the result of a mind-boggling $751bn of US expenditure, surely the worst value for money in the history of modern diplomacy.

Most failed "liberal" interventions since the second world war at least started with good intentions. Vietnam was to defend a non-communist nation against Chinese expansionism. Lebanon was to protect a pluralist country from a grasping neighbour. Somalia was to repair a failed state.

In Iraq the casus belli was a lie, perpetrated by George Bush and his meek amanuensis, Tony Blair. Saddam Hussein was accused of association with 9/11, and of plotting further attacks with long-range weapons of "mass destruction". Since this was revealed as untrue, the fallback deployed by apologists for Bush and Blair is that Saddam was a bad man and so toppling him was good.

The proper way to assess any war is not some crude "before and after" statistic, but to conjecture the consequence of it not taking place. Anti-Iraq hysteria began in 1998 with Bill Clinton's Operation Desert Fox, a three-day bombing of Iraq's military and civilian infrastructure, to punish Saddam for inhibiting UN weapons inspectors. To most of the world, it was to deflect attention from Clinton's Lewinsky affair.

Most independent analysis believed that Iraq had ceased any serious nuclear ambitions at the end of the first Iraq war in 1991, a view confirmed by investigators since 2003. Even so, Desert Fox was claimed to have "successfully degraded Iraq's ability to manufacture and use weapons of mass destruction". Whether or not this was true, there was no evidence that such an ability had recovered by 2003. Among other things, the Iraq affair was an intelligence debacle.

Meanwhile, the west's sanctions made Iraq a siege economy, eradicating its middle class and elevating Saddam to sixth richest ruler in the world, though he faced regular plots against his person. Western hostility may have shored him up, but opposition would have eventually delivered a coup, from the army or Shia militants backed by Iran.

Even had that not happened soon, Iraq was a nasty but stable secular state that no longer posed a serious threat even to its neighbours. It was contained by a no-fly zone that had rendered the oppressed Kurds de facto autonomy. It was not appreciably worse than Assad's Ba'athist Syria, and its oil production and energy supplies were improving, not deteriorating as now.

The Chilcot inquiry has been swamped with stories of the American-British occupation on a par with William the Conqueror's "harrying of the north". That any 21st-century bureaucracy could behave with such cruel and bloodthirsty incompetence beggars belief. The truth is it was blinded by a conviction in its neo-imperial omnipotence. However much we delude ourselves, the west is still run by leaders, especially generals, drenched in the glory of past triumphs: leaders who refuse to believe that other nations have a right to order their own affairs. The awfulness of Iraq in 2003 was not so grotesque as to be our business – even had we been able to build the pro-western, pro-Israeli, secular, capitalist utopia of neocon fantasy.

Germany, France, Russia and Japan did not go near this war. They did not believe the lies about Saddam's armoury and did not see any duty to liberate the Iraqi people from oppression. In his other-worldly performance before Chilcot, Blair offered only a glazed belief that he was revelling as a latter-day Richard the Lionheart.

All wars wander from their plan, since all armies are good at landings but bad at breakouts, and dreadful at occupations – known to every military manual long before Iraq. The truth is that this was always to be a headline war, fuelled by a desire to see what Bush celebrated as "mission accomplished" just when a nervous Pentagon was murmuring: "We don't do nation-building." It was a political invasion, not to win a battle or occupy territory but to score a point against Islamist militancy. That it meant toppling one of Asia's few secular regimes was another of its hypocrisies.

The overriding lesson of Iraq comes from that dejected goddess, humility. The dropping of thousands of bombs, the loss of 4,000 western troops and the spending of almost a trillion dollars still cannot overcome the AK-47, the roadside explosive device, the suicide bomber, and an aversion to occupation. Nations with different cultures cannot be ruled by seven years of soldiering. Bush and Blair thought otherwise.

The Iraq war will be seen by history as a catastrophe that did more than anything else to alienate Atlantic powers from the rest of the world and disqualify them as global policemen. It was a wild overreaction by a paranoid, overmilitarised American state to a single spectacular, but inconsequential, act of terrorism on 9/11. As such it illustrated how little international relations have advanced since the shooting of Archduke Ferdinand in Sarajevo. Its exponents are still blinded by incident.

All the UN's pomp cannot stop such incidents running amok. The UN is powerless in the face of glory-seeking statesmen, goaded by military-industrial interests of unprecedented potency. We might think that after history's mightiest lesson book – the 20th century – the west would be proof against repeating such idiocy. Yet when challenged to show prudence and maturity in response to terror, it plays the terrorist's game. It exploits the politics of fear.

The west is leaving Iraq in a pool of blood, dust and dollars. It remains wedded to Iraq's twin sister in folly, Afghanistan.

Simon Jenkins is a journalist and author. He writes for the Guardian and the Sunday Times, as well as broadcasting for the BBC. He has edited the Times and the London Evening Standard

Wednesday, September 01, 2010