Surprise: tots tend to hit trouble on farm bikes

June 26, 2009

Looks like some farm parents should buck up their ideas.

Alf is perturbed to learn that children as young as two are being injured while driving all-terrain vehicles.

No, not simply sitting on them. Driving the bloody things.

Kate Anson, a former New Zealand researcher now working in Australia, has studied deaths and injuries caused by all-terrain vehicles (ATVs), which can have three or four wheels and are also known as farm bikes or quad bikes.
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Another apology, this time for the Tongans

June 26, 2009

Sure enough, and just as Alf foretold, Act MP David Garrett has apologised to the Tongan community “for suggesting lewd comments he made to a woman were acceptable in the Pacific nation but not in New Zealand.”

Obviously the Tongan Law Society is as thin-skinned as all the others involved in this silly affair, and was considering taking disciplinary action against Garrett, who operates a law firm in Tonga.

The society has accepted a written apology.

Act leader Rodney Hide has condemned Garrett’s behaviour. He says the matter has now been dealt with and no further action will be taken.

The rookie MP had already been reprimanded by Hide for making the remarks and apologised to an Act staff member.

But as NZPA reports, and as Alf observed at the time, he invited more trouble when explaining himself on TV One’s Q&A programme on Sunday.

“I now understand very clearly that the kind of thing that might have been okay in a law firm in Tonga is not okay in Parliament,” he said.

The Tongan Law Society, with not much else to get excited about, presumably, was incensed by the remark.

Hence the latest apology.

That silly bugger Worth is a lawyer, too, come to think of it. Does a proneness to crass behaviour come with the law degree?


So who’s been slipping sledgehammers into our jails?

June 26, 2009

Alf is heartened to see Prisons boss Barry Matthews earning his keep. Matthews has been pulling out all the stops to persuade the sceptics that shipping containers are a great idea to overcome the problem of burgeoning prisoner numbers.

There’s a picture of him in the Dom-Post today, showing what conditions in one of these cells would be.

It’s a Chinese-made prototype housing four cells and it was shown off to the media at Rimutaka Prison yesterday.

Shuttered and barred windows have been cut into corrugated sides, metal bunks installed and a partition separates the toilet and basin from the rest of the cell.

Actually, it looks a bit too comfortable for Alf’s liking. Maybe we could cut down on the fancy stuff like windows.

But here’s the thing that’s a bigger worry.

Corrections boss Barry Matthews has defended shipping container prison cells, saying they are warm, roomy and prisoners “couldn’t get out of them with a sledgehammer”.

Sledgehammers?

Alf will be demanding an assurance that you couldn’t break out of any of our prison cells with a sledgehammer, because great care is taken to ensure they are not smuggled into them in the first place.


Parliament’s very silly Pinocchio rule

June 25, 2009

The American journalist and satirist H.L.Mencken didn’t think much of politicians. Among his observations:

“If a politician found he had cannibals among his constituents, he would promise them missionaries for dinner.”

Most of all, he questioned the honesty of politicians.

“Looking for an honest politician is like looking for an ethical burglar.”

And –

“All politicians are liars and blowhards and if you think otherwise, you’re part of the problem.”

Alf – naturally – insists he is the exception that proves this rule. He also knows there’s a remarkably high proportion of people prone to fibbing, when it suits their agendas, in the ranks of our politicains.

This makes it all the more amusing that – among the prohibitions in the debating chamber – there’s a rule that says you can’t call another MP a liar.

It’s a bit like being denied the right to say a banker’s interest rates are too high.
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Burgeoning burger business good for jobs

June 25, 2009

A deal struck between Work and Income and McDonalds sounds great to Alf, which means we can count on it being dumped on by Greenie grouch Sue Kedgley. He’s surprised she hasn’t issued her condemnatory press release already.

Under the deal, thousands of beneficiaries could soon be flipping burgers, to provide customers with food they want regardless of Kedgley’s daft dietary demands.

The urge to munch burgers is so great – it seems – that McDonald’s is aiming to open 30 new restaurants over the next five years.

Social Development Minister Paula Bennett revealed the agreement during a select committee meeting at Parliament yesterday. The agreement will provide up to 7000 unemployed for the fast-food chain’s restaurant expansion plans over the next five years.
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Local authorities are given a water break

June 24, 2009

A great move from the Government today will take the heat off hard-pressed local authorities struggling to bring their water supplies up to standards demanded by the Clark Cabal.

The announcement came jointly from Health Minister Tony Ryall and Local Government Minister Rodney Hide; they announced the Government has delayed requirements for communities to meet new drinking water legislation by three years.

This will be welcome in Eketahuna, where we’ve had problems trying to meet absurdly high quality standards.

Mr Ryall says “The government will also be reviewing the cost, benefits and administrative burden of the legislation. We know local communities have been wanting such a review for some time.”
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Good grief – see who’s on the “most trusted” list

June 24, 2009

Alf is seriously sulking over a survey that ranks Blue Chip’s Mark Bryers among the 85 most trusted people in the country.

Mark Bloody Bryers is the bloke who co-founded the company in which many Kiwis lost their savings, and who is facing a raft of charges laid by the Companies Office.

Another bout of litigation has been brought by 240 or so investors who claim their apartment sale and purchase agreements are void and they should not be forced to honour them, and that Blue Chip was deceptive and misled the investors.

And so on.

Sure, Bryers just sneaks in at No 85 on the most trusted list.

But Alf Grumble, hard-working and much-admired member for Eketahuna North, is not there at all.
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This ain’t the way to get a girl to take a bath

June 24, 2009

Here’s hoping the anti-smacking brigade doesn’t cite an NZPA court report from South Canterbury in support of their cause. The bloke in the dock obviously went far beyond a simple smack to try to discipline a girl who wouldn’t take a bath when obviously she needed one.

The bloke has been convicted of ill treating a child after he “strung up” the 11-year-old girl when she refused to have a bath.

Stringing up the girl would have been ill treatment under the law before it was changed to discourage smacking.

Mind you, Alf wonders how the no-smackers would have handled the situation when the kid refused to take a bath after spending a day shovelling pig shit.
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The scandal of teachers’ jobs being threatened

June 23, 2009

Some welcome observations are made by the NZ Herald today on the matter of teacher qualifications, teacher training and the huge demand for preschool education.

The newspaper’s editorial reminds us that Education Minister Anne Tolley says increased participation is her highest priority for the sector. But if the Education Ministry’s qualification target is not modified, there will be a shortfall of between 1500 and 2600 teachers next year.

Some centres likely will have to close, some will turn children away because they do not have enough teachers, others will face financial problems because “unqualified” staff will not be funded.

Trouble is, some experienced teachers – despite their degrees – will be biffed out because they don’t have the qualifications being demanded by the ministry mandarins. Just to meet a bloody target they have set.

Hence the Herald advises –

Given the staffing shortages, it would be rash to dispense with experienced and capable teachers in pursuit of a contrived target. They should be given an incentive to retrain, including working while studying, and more students should be encouraged to enter the sector. If so, the ministry’s target and a higher standard of preschool education will eventually be realised far more easily.

Couldn’t agree more.

But it’s worth adding that – for kids of the age we are talking about – teachers skilled at changing dirty nappies are probably a helluva lot more useful than teachers full of fancy ideas drummed into them at university.


Taking offence has become much too easy

June 23, 2009

Act’s David Garrett would be advised to brace to make another apology. To the Tongans.

The poor bugger seems to have a gift for putting his foot in it, in this mamby-pamby era when blokes are expected to refrain from using language or making remarks that some delicate souls might regard as lewd.

Actually, Alf is astonished at the fuss being made about Garrett, and is perplexed that he has been given a bollocking by Rodney Hide for whatever inappropriate comments he made about a female Act staff member to another staffer. Can’t imagine a few raunchy remarks ever hurting anybody; they merely expose the affably challenged and/or those prone to being snitches.

But Garrett has been publicly humiliated.
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