Starting-out wage increases opportunities for young people

On the first of this month, a new minimum wage law came into effect. Sixteen and 17-year-olds can now work for as low as 80 per cent of the adult minimum wage. It's in many ways a reversal of Labour's 2008 abolition of youth rates.

Unsurprisingly, it's a controversial policy, with unions staging protests around the country, using the slogan 'equal work, equal pay' to accuse the Government of discrimination against young people. Yet such assertions can only be believed if we are to accept over-simplifications of what is in reality a fairly complex economic issue. So let's take a look at the true nature of minimum wage laws in New Zealand.

While opponents of youth rates protest the notion of paying 16-year-olds $11 per hour, they ignore what should be a much more shocking idea - currently people under the age of 16 are entitled no minimum wage at all.

When I was 10 or 11 I got a job delivering pamphlets around my neighbourhood. Anyone who's ever done this will know that the pay is pretty poor by adult standards - in my experience it worked out as less than $5 an hour. But looking back on things, that was okay for the time. I wasn't paying for rent, food, or anything, really.

The pamphlet run simply gave me a small lump of pocket money each week combined with a sense of pride and independence, as well as my first real work experience. Was I a victim of cruel, profit-driven discrimination? Surely not. My limited skills meant that the labour I provided was simply not worth the same as an adult's, which relegated me to a low-paying job.

If some politician managed to pass a universal minimum wage forcing employers to pay me the same as an adult, it would have harmed, not helped me. In all likelihood the company organising the pamphlet runs would have ceased to be profitable, it would have cut my job and likely shut down entirely.

At the age of 13 I got my first wage-paid position, earning $8 an hour at a fish and chip shop. I remember being bloody excited. Sure enough, I ended up hating the job, but I kept the position for more than two years, and it meant that compared to my mates, I was practically rolling in cash.

Again, the wage wouldn't have been enough to support a family, but it suited my needs at the time, and more importantly gave me valuable customer service skills and positive references which eventually managed to land me higher-paying jobs as a student. I was too young to be affected by minimum wage laws, which was a good thing. If my employers, struggling to make a profit as it was, were forced to pay me $13 an hour they would likely have cut my job, or at the very least truncated my hours.

Unionists wilfully ignore the current laws surrounding child labour because they know that offering an equal minimum wage to people younger than 16 would be rightly seen as economic insanity, and would reveal the inconsistency of the anti-youth rate argument.

The truth is, it's a bad idea for the Government to set a high minimum wage for 16 to 17-year-olds largely for the same reasons that apply to younger people. In general terms, the less experience someone has, the less valuable they will be to an employer. If the minimum wage exceeds the value that someone can offer to an employer, then that person will not be employed. Full stop. Expecting young people to work for the same price as more experienced people is a denial of basic economics.

Most young people receive parental and/or governmental assistance so it is not a 'living wage' that they need so much as experience to add to their CV and increase their opportunities in the future. Enforcing higher wages will only serve to deny such opportunities to inexperienced workers, leading to long-term unemployment.

Australian politicians seem to have a greater understanding of these ideas than their New Zealand counterparts. While Australians are famed for their high wages and low unemployment rate, proponents of equal wage laws choose to forget that their youth wage is actually significantly lower than New Zealand's - in Australia, 16-year-olds earn a minimum of $7.55 per hour, and 17-year-olds $9.22, with the rate continuing to scale up all the way to $15.59 for 20-year-olds.

In acknowledging the natural difference in value between inexperienced and experienced workers, Australia has historically achieved a markedly low rate of youth unemployment - currently about 20 per cent compared to New Zealand's 30 per cent.

The link between youth rates and youth employment has been made clear by studies such as Canterbury University economist Eric Crampton's analyses of employment rates, which indicate a major spike in youth unemployment directly following Labour's abolition of separate youth rates in 2008, a policy which directly resulted in the loss of an estimated 12,350 youth jobs.

Meanwhile young people across the country, desperate for employment, are forced to seek 'cash-in-hand' jobs, in which they are forced to work illegally simply because they are willing to accept $10 or $11 per hour.

I say that it is time us young people got more bargaining power, more opportunities, and more rights to work for whatever price we agree to. Let's take the chance to compete with the rest of the workforce and learn the skills that will secure us high-paying careers in the future.


So, Who Is In Charge of Auckland?

Auckland is New Zealand's fastest-growing city, it is by far our largest city now, and set to get even bigger.
"Auckland is projected to grow by a million people over the next 30 years. That equates to more than 600 people a week who are either born here, move here or return to Auckland for the opportunities and quality of life it offers." - Auckland Council

The enormous pressure to grow means Auckland has some tough decisions to make, which invites the politics of planning to creep in - who gets to decide how Auckland develops?

Now is the time Auckland must start to make these decisions. Under the Resource Management Act 1991, the council is required to produce a long-term planning guide, called 'The Auckland Plan,' which outlines the way development can take place.

Notice how the debate over Auckland's growth is characterized by two styles of argument - the first being appeals to emotion and ideology, the other being the polarization of every aspect of the debate with no room for compromise.

Housing is apparently a choice between building overcrowded apartment blocks all over the region, or a sprawl of cookie-cutter suburban houses stretching from Hamilton to Whangarei.

Transport is presented as a choice between trains/buses/trams/light rail/bicycles/unicycles or highways/lowways, and all the traffic jams in between.

Both are pretty awful dichotomies, but that's just how they're presented. Hongkong is a super-dense city with impeccable public transport, whilst Houston is a very sprawling city with plenty of highways. Both are economic powerhouses and both offer a great quality of living.

The conditions for an emotive and divisive style of debate are perfect. We have a large number of people with a stake in the matter (all 1.5 million Aucklanders, and a future 1 million soon-to-be Aucklanders), and a political environment dominated by two camps.

The two camps are the left-of-centre, and the right-of-centre - and they are fiercely uncompromising.

In the left camp, the plan is to promote Auckland as a 'compact city,' based on the urban design principles of New Urbanist theory made popular in the 1990s by American planners such as Peter Calthorpe. Their guiding principles are to create a more 'sustainable' city by encouraging 'walkable' neighbourhoods served by public transport, and discouraging urban sprawl and automobile dependence. The left camp's tactic is to entrench these principles in the Auckland Plan, claiming that it has a democratic mandate based on the elected mayor and public engagement in the consultation process - in other words, this is the plan Aucklanders want.

In the right camp, the housing shortage and congested transport systems are at the front of their mind, with New Zealand's public sector debt and rising rates not far behind. Growth needs to be accommodated as efficiently as possible, and they've comprehensively identified barriers to development, which include bureaucracy, housing construction inflexibilities, and planning restrictions. The right's tactic is to remove as much red tape as possible by amending statutes to change the regulatory environment and the process of council business.

While urban development may be centre stage, it is only the facade of the real debate. The real debate is the head of an age-old battle over the balance between local government and central government power.

The left camp has always been in favour of granting local governments more power, a concept called 'general competence.' Whereas the right camp have been reluctant to give councils too much power, and would rather see they stick to their core competencies - the three 'Rs' of roads, rubbish, and rates.

Auckland is now caught between a left-leaning local government and a right-leaning central government, right at the time when the amalgamated 'super city' council embarks on writing its monumental long-term plan.

On busy Manukau Road in Epsom (one block away from my house), Labour put up this billboard asking Aucklanders
"Did you elect this man [Dr Nick Smith] to run our city? Why is the Government undermining the Council you elected?" A bold statement for sure - one they probably wouldn't have made if Labour's darling mayoral candidate, Len Brown, had not been elected. Especially bold in Epsom where residents voted in favour of National at the last general election and were unlikely to vote for Len Brown in the last mayoral election.

National's tactics are to use the levers of power in central government to rewrite the rules Auckland Council operates within, stalling the unitary plan until National can have more influence on the plan itself.

The reality is that Auckland has some huge decisions to make, but those decisions should be decided by a battle between local and central government. The third way is to reduce both their powers over how Auckland develops.

There is too much red tape and planning regulation because such restrictions are coming from both camps and both governments. Rather than arguing over whether a local or central government mandate is needed to control development, development should be left to the people of Auckland. The market is the best tool for deciding how we want our houses to be built and where we want to build them, as well as providing the transport choices that work best for us.

What works for Houston or Hong Kong won't necessarily work for Auckland, and development that's appropriate for Parnell may be different to what is appropriate in Papakura.

The people of Auckland should be free to decide for themselves where to buy and build. It should be up to you to decide what's best for you.

Equal freedom, for equal people.

Today, history has been created. With a large majority in Parliament, and support from kiwis across New Zealand, marriage equality passed with thunderous applause.

In forty years, our children will look back to the day this bill was passed, and will be both proud of the New Zealanders who fought for the equal treatment of equal people, and confused by the concept of the world beforehand. This bill has pulled together an unlikely gaggle of parliamentarians from both the left and right. Both the evil Communists and greedy capitalists have agreed. This bill, and the sentiment behind it, would not be denied.

As Victor Hugo put it, “One cannot resist an idea whose time has come”.

ACT on Campus, and I, are proud of John Banks, who has voted his conscience. John Banks, despite the acerbic lashings of the media, has voted for the freedom of individuals. All individuals. John Banks and ACT understand that equal people deserve equal treatment. Everyone deserves a fair go.
ACT on Campus, and I, are ecstatic that this freedom has been extended to a brutally marginalised minority. Marriage equality is about love, dignity and freedom.

I disagree with Winston Peters, and his assertion that the tyranny of the majority should dictate the freedoms of equal people. Parliament is here to protect individual liberties from the majority, not to subject these rights to their whim. Although Winston’s only citation was a Campbell Live poll, he was right on one point. A day of reckoning is coming, and Winston is once again caught on the wrong side of history.

At the risk of being accused of over-quoting, I feel it necessary to recall the words of Nelson Mandela; “For to be free is not merely to cast off one's chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.”

Today a beautiful thing has happened. No volcano has erupted, and there are no lakes of fire. Today a group of people, all over New Zealand, have been given the right to marry the person they love.

Young People and Housing Affordability

Day in, day out - there seems to be some sort of article about housing affordability. One day there's an article on interest rates and what it means for mortgage holders, the next day there's a report from a real estate agency on the current trends in the residential housing market, and the day after that is an editorial by someone who sounds like they vaguely know what they're talking about.

There's no doubt that housing affordability is a big issue, and the people who should be most concerned are young people. We haven't even begun to think about getting a house, and yet we're being told they're already unaffordable. To get a foot in the door, it seems almost impossible.

So, what is the problem?

The issue of housing affordability comes down to two halves - the price of the house, and the money people can access to buy a house. Both sides of the equation have problems that together, create the messy and complex issue that is housing affordability.ᅠ

On the market; house prices in New Zealand have increased tremendously in the last 15 or so years, because the supply of houses is fairly static. We don't build houses fast enough to meet demand, leaving a shortfall that is expected to reach a deficit of 90575 fewer houses than we need. Main factors include difficulty obtaining resource consents, the soaring costs of building materials, inefficiencies in the construction sector, and especially in Auckland - acute scarcity of land available for building on.ᅠ

With too few houses and too many prospective homeowners, speculation on housing is immense.

But to buy a house, you need money - but in more ways than you'd think. Kiwis are offered some impressive finance opportunities for houses, with lending criteria for mortgages allowing people to put down minimal deposits and take out big mortgages with low interest rates. Retail banks like Kiwibank allow customers to borrow 95% of the cost of a house at 5.5% interest per year. A 30 year mortgage for a half million dollar house (median price from in Auckland May 2012) would mean weekly repayments of just $621 with this criteria - which is considered affordable for the average Auckland household with an income of $1423 per week.

Young people are at an extreme disadvantage because we are not the average or median, in fact we are well below them. We are starting out with low wages and very low savings (not to mention student loans, overdrafts, and credit card debts), which means we have to start from the bottom somehow.ᅠ

Good economics and population dynamics would suggest we buy the cheapest property we can find, and trade up to better houses when our first house appreciates and our incomes rise.ᅠThe challenge to get a foot on the property ladder, and then to climb it, seems impossible in today's housing market - which is why so many of us are preferring to rent.ᅠ

With house prices so high and continuing to rise, the deposit required to get on board is becoming dauntingly large, even with government subsidies and schemes like Kiwisaver and Welcome Home loans.
Young people who are lucky enough to already own their first house are no better off either; income mobility is becoming difficult, wage increases are low, and yet house prices are rising faster and faster - so we'll be lucky to get any higher on the property ladder.ᅠ

While we could complain that this is just an Auckland issue (with the Auckland-based New Zealand Herald reporting most often about it), other parts of the country are beginning to feel it too. Even with the Canterbury earthquakes, the Christchurch property market is seeing steep price hikes. Auckland is experiencing the issue most acutely, because housing supply is particularly inflexible to the huge growth in population. With even more people expected to move to Auckland in the next 20 years the issue of housing affordability is set to get worse even faster.

Being the complex and sensitive issue that it is, housing affordability can't be solved by blunt tools or token gestures. Proposals to tackle the issue include speeding up the resource consent process, pressuring local councils to free up more land for development, introducing a capital gains tax (CGT) for residential property, and a state housing construction scheme. All have their merits, but all have their shortcomings.ᅠ

Resource consents need to be sped up, but they also need to be approved in much greater numbers. Resource consents for new houses have fallen over the last two years, at a time when they need to be increased significantly. Pressuring councils to free up land will be meaningless unless changes in legislation allow developers not only to develop on more land, but to redevelopᅠexistingᅠhouses to meet today's needs.

A CGT has often been promoted for closing a tax loophole for property speculation, but where the majority of capital gains-seekers are home owner-occupiers, this will do very little except to pass on costs to renters - a more vulnerable group than homeowners. A state house building project is very ambitious without legislative changes that allow major development to occur in the first place, such as changes to the building code which will allow houses to be built far more cheaply.

Kiwis see home ownership as one of the hallmarks of the Kiwi lifestyle, indeed an aspiration of the 'Kiwi dream.' Nowadays, it's more of an aspiration and dream than a realistic lifestyle, in fact home ownership is more of an exclusive club than anything else. Without being able to afford to live in the country we call home, it's little wonder so many of us are driven to living overseas.ᅠ

Home ownership is not just about having a roof over our heads, when renting is a comparatively attractive option. Home ownership is important for Kiwis because it serves as an investment;ᅠa dignified nest egg of hard-earned wealth. With our love-affair with houses becoming ever more wild, New Zealand needs to keep the relationship stable to give young people the chance they deserve to live here.ᅠ


High Time for reform

The hard working Police men and women of New Zealand have both a trying and dangerous job. They are a valuable and finite workforce from which New Zealand benefits. When a law establishing victimless crimes mandates the chasing of small time users of cannabis, they end up with less time to protect the things you value most. When the Police are tasked with a job as a result of poor law-making, it is the most vulnerable that end up hurt and disadvantaged.

Studies have shown that the health effects on marijuana use pale in comparison to alcohol and tobacco, and that the largest marijuana related cost to society lies in law-enforcement, rather than healthcare. Science cautiously gives marijuana a green light, yet the law and Parliament is slow to catch up.

All things come with their costs, and like other recreational drugs, marijuana has its downsides. It is time to consider an approach to those problems in a way similar to those of alcohol, tobacco, and even food. The worst thing to do to those made vulnerable by abuse to throw them in a small cold cell, or worse yet, give them a criminal record.

I confess to not smoking marijuana, and it doesn't take a marijuana smoker to see that an educational, supportive position would not only benefit those in society who are most harmed by it, but would free up the Policemen and women of New Zealand to fight the real crime outside our front door.


Zombie Apocalypse

Looking back at 2012, let’s pretend that the Mayan apocalypse really did happen.

And let’s pretend that the delight that the Gods chose for humanity was the famous “Zombie Apocalypse”.

In the past, there has been some debate around whether zombies would have a right to life, the same right that humans supposedly have.

Natural law dictates that each human has an inalienable right to life. If we want to look at it from the libertarian point of view, each individual has full bodily autonomy therefore only that individual has a right to harm themselves.

However, we have to decide whether or not zombies also have the same natural right.

In my view, a zombie does not have the same natural rights as a human, as a zombie is not a self-owner.

Think of it like this:

Zombies do not animate themselves, they have to be animated by another. In most situations, they are controlled by their animater.

A zombie lacks self-control, and is essentially a slave to the animater. In this case, a zombie does not have full bodily autonomy. In fact, he/she has no autonomy.

A corpse did not consent to becoming a zombie. If asked, the corpse would likely not respond favourably.

In light of these facts, it becomes clear that the animater did not have a right to animate the corpse, so the animater is not the rightful owner of the zombie.

The zombie is not a self-owner, as it is a slave to the animater.

This means that zombies have no explicit right to life. If you kill a zombie, noone is being deprived of their right to the zombie’s life.

I would, however, make a caveat. In cases where the corpse consents to being animated, the corpse does have bodily autonomy, and/or the zombie is in control of itself and is peaceful, then there is no justification in killing a zombie. In cases such as these, there could be an argument for that zombie having a right to life.

However, these are mild exceptions, and are unlikely to be epidemic. Nor are these likely to feature in a zombie apocalypse.

So when the next zombie apocalypse is around the corner, make sure you and your family are prepared with a full arsenal of weaponry, and ensure you have a zombie apocalypse survival kit!

Please note: This blog post does not represent the views of ACT or ACT on Campus.

MMP Review Submission

The MMP Review Submission deadline is today.

I'm not sure if ACT on Campus are making a submission, but here is my personal one:

1) Should the 5% threshold be kept or changed? Why? If you recommend change, what should it be and why?

I believe that the 5% threshold is fundamentally undemocratic and should be abolished entirely.

The main excuses given to justify a threshold (at whatever level) are that a lower/no threshold would allow extremist parties to enter Parliament and that it would allow a large number of smaller parties to enter Parliament leading to fragmentation making it more difficult to form a majority in Parliament.

However, neither excuse justifies completely ignoring the vote of a section of society.

Without an official threshold there would be a natural threshold of whatever percentage required to gain one seat.

If a party is able to gain the support of enough voters to be eligible to one seat, they should receive that seat.

Just because you (or I) believe a party to be extreme, should not give us the right to exclude them from the democratic process as is essentially done now.

Similarly, fragmentation is a straw-man argument. Many Parliaments overseas operate minority governments (not just minority-led with partners) and in reality, the National and Labour Parties are the two parties closes to each other philosophically and if neither of them can form a government they can figure out for themselves if they would prefer a new election or wish to work together (as we saw with a Grand Coalition in Germany recently).

2) Should the one electorate seat threshold be kept or changed? Why? If you recommend change, what should it be and why?

My response to this question should be read in conjunction to my response to Question 1.

I view the one seat threshold as a necessary evil given the 5% threshold.

If the 5% threshold were removed entirely, the one seat threshold would be irrelevant.

This would be my preferred outcome.

If the 5% threshold is not removed entirely, my preference on what happens to the one seat threshold depends on what level the threshold changed to (or left at 5%).

If the threshold were reduced to 3% or lower, I believe the "evil" of the one seat threshold outweighs the "evil" of the 3% threshold, and so the one seat threshold should be removed.

However, if the threshold were to be set at more than 3% (3.1%, 3.5%, 4%, remain at 5%, etc), then unfortunately the "evil" of the % threshold still outweighs the "evil" of the one seat threshold and so the one seat threshold should be retained.

The argument that a party requires at least a minimum number of MPs to function in Parliament is a ridiculous argument.

I imagine many voters are better represented by Peter Dunne, John Banks or Hone Harawira than if their preferred party had received no seats and their vote had been completely wasted.

3) Should list MPs continue to be able to stand as candidates in by-elections? If so, why?

Yes. Of course.

4) Should dual candidacy be kept? If so, why?

My preferred outcome is outlined in the following question, but if this is not adopted, then yes, dual candidacy should be kept.

The only argument against dual candidacy is that people who lose electorates are able to enter Parliament via the list.

If the ability to stand for both were removed, this would not affect who entered Parliament, it would simply change how parties structured their candidate selection.

Candidates that the party wished to get in to Parliament but who lived in marginal seats would simply not stand as an electorate candidate and stand only on the list to avoid any "risk" of not getting in.

5) If you recommend change, what should it be and why?

I believe that New Zealand should abolish electorates entirely and elect MPs based solely on their list position.

Electorates are a hangover from First Past the Post and even earlier when politics was a community affair, people wanted a "local" MP and MPs were an important source of help for people to go to.

I believe the advisory role played by local MPs should be left to local councils and that members of the public should approach Ministers/Departments for government related issues and approach an MP from their preferred party for help on policy issue.

I also believe that parties would assign MPs to cover specific areas of the country anyway - they don't need the electoral commission to work out these arbitrary lines for them - in fact the minor parties in Parliament are forced to do this anyway as they don't have enough MPs to assign one to each electorate anyway.

6) In an election, should voters be able to alter the order of candidates from the list order decided by political parties? If so, why?

No. Absolutely not. If members of the public want a say in the matters of political parties, they should join that political party.

Members and volunteers of a party, who work hard for their party for years and volunteer for MPs and candidates during election campaigns, should not have their views overridden by voters.

While I personally believe that a party should hold a vote of their party membership to determine their list ranking, I don’t believe this should be required of all parties by law.

7) What should happen when a party wins more electorate seats than it would be entitled to under its share of the party vote?

The party should receive the number of seats which its party vote entitles it to (this includes receiving no seats if the party only gets say 0.1% of the vote).

These seats should be allocated to the MPs who won electorate seats in that party, in the order they were placed on the list.

So if a party wins 5 electorates and is only eligible to have 4 seats, the lowest ranked candidate of the 5 who won electorates should not receive a seat.

8) [Population growth leads to more electorate seats and fewer list seats which could affect proportionality over time.] Is this a problem, and what should be done to fix it?

Yes this is a problem.

My preferred solution is to abolish electorate seats completely.

If this is not adopted, I believe that the number of electorates should be fixed and the population of each electorate should simply grow.

If this is not adopted, I would prefer to see the size of Parliament grow than to reduce proportionality.

The requirement of a minimum number of seats in the South Island should also be removed.

I’d also note that I support a larger Parliament overall – say 200 MPs.

New Zealand’s Parliament is small by most international standards.

A greater number of back benchers would also help to limit the power of parties and of cabinet over the ruling party.

9) Other issues.

I believe that an MP that leaves their party should be free to continue to operate as an independent MP, or join a new or different party.

Many argue that an MP that leaves their party is not being loyal to the voters of that party and has therefore affected the proportionality of Parliament.

However voters vote for a party list, not just for a party.

It is equally possible that a party has changed position on an issue, forcing an MP to leave their party as they disagree.

An MP in this situation could legitimately argue that they are more accurately reflecting the views of the people who voted for that party, or at least a portion of them.

Whether the leaving MP or the remaining party more correctly represent the will of the party’s voters is an issue that cannot be determined by legislation or by Parliament.

Whether they remain in Parliament should therefore be decided by the voters at the following election.

Greens Are Nasty Not Nice

The so called "nice" party have once again proven that just under the services they're actually nasty and dangerous:

"On Sunday night, about 700 National Party billboards across the country were altered by activists who fixed new slogans over the billboards."

"The Greens had previously denied involvement, however, Dr Norman told media this morning Green Party member Jolyon White, the partner of Dr Norman's executive assistant, was the person who coordinated the defacing."

Russel Norman has already changed his story from "the Greens had no involvement" to "the actions are those of individuals, not the Green Party" and is claiming he had no idea about it, despite it being the partner of his EA who organised the crime.

My first thought about this story was the similarity to the Exclusive Brethren in 2005, when the Exclusive Brethren told Don Brash they would be making some leaflets to distribute to warm people about the Green's policies.

The Greens later claimed that Don Brash was behind the entire thing and that he lied when he said he didn't recognise the leaflets (what, they thought he designed them for the Exclusive Brethren too?).

But then I realised - the Exclusive Brethren paid for their own leaflets, distributed them all themselves, and broke no rules or laws while expressing their own political opinion.

By contrast, the Green Party have been plotting this crime since at least October, secretly defaced private property under cover of darkness and blatantly ignored electoral law.

I wonder whether the media will hound the Green Party about their nasty behaviour for the last two weeks of the campaign - or does that only happen to right wing politicians?

UPDATE: Russel Normal has admitted that his EA (not just the EA's partner) has known about this planned crime for months, but still claims he had no idea about it.

UPDATE II: The Greens are down 2% on iPredict today already - that's 3 MPs gone for them.

File Attachments: 

NZ First Break Electoral Act Again

Last week Winston Peters announced he wasn't standing in an electorate, to focus on winning party votes.

Unfortunately, the New Zealand First constitution requires every candidate to stand in an electorate.

In fact, Rule 46b of their constitution specifically states: A List candidate must first be selected as an Electorate candidate.

Kiwiblog and Whale Oil picked up on this problem and when a journalist asked Winston Peters about their constitution he claimed it had been changed in 2008.

Everyone else seemed happy to leave it there, but I wasn't.

I checked the Electoral Commission's website, and guess what, the old constitution was still listed there.

So I wrote to the Electoral Commission, on behalf of ACT on Campus, and asked the following questions:

1) Are you aware of a change to the New Zealand First constitution?

2) Has any updated version of the NZF constitution been submitted to the electoral commission?

3) If no change has been made to the NZF constitution, what is the punishment for NZF breaching its own constitution at this election?

4) If a change has been made to the NZF constitution, but if this change has not been submitted to the electoral commission, what is the punishment for NZF for failing to provide the new constitution to the electoral commission?

I received a reply stating that an updated copy of the New Zealand First constitution was provided to the Electoral Commission on the 2nd of November 2011 and that:

"Section 71B of the Electoral Act 1993 provides that a copy of the party and candidate selection rules are to be supplied to the Electoral Commission within one month of the date on which the rules are adopted by the party. However, Part 4 of the Electoral Act does not provide any penalty for a party that does not provide the rules within this timeframe."

It seems Winston Peters just can't help himself from breaking the Electoral Act.

The State Of Journalism At TVNZ

Today was the release of the PREFU - the public presentation of the government's books before the election.

Today was also the first day of TVNZ's daily election liveblog:

So how did they go?

Number of updates about each party:

National - 7
Labour - 12
Greens - 5
ACT - 0
Maori - 1
Mana - 1
Alliance - 1

Yep, they even managed to discuss the announcement of a few Alliance Party candidates who have no hope of getting elected!

Good to see TVNZ's journalists continuing on in their fair and balanced way.