Dead heat – or how we could become grateful to the dear departed for powering our TV sets

July 30, 2012

When the lights go out for you, they can be kept on for others.

Dunno much about our electricity-generating needs at the moment – it’s something that’s not much bothered Alf, although the Grumbles are wincing somewhat at the size of their power bills this winter.

But Phil Heatley, our splendid Energy and Resources Minister, last month was banging on (here) about energy challenges over the next three years.

He said

…with renewables making up 77% of our total electricity generation in 2011, and given our target of reaching 90% of electricity generation from renewable sources by 2025, we must maintain the shift in balance between developing the non-renewables and the renewables sectors.

It’s this bit of his speech that is of interest, because the good people of Durham, in England, are showing us some new generating possibilities.

The blog post which alerted Alf to the possibilities can be found here but it simply steers readers to a report here.

In Durham, England, corpses will soon be used to generate electricity.

A crematorium is installing turbines in its burners that will convert waste heat from the combustion of each corpse into as much as 150 kilowatt-hours of juice — enough to power 1,500 televisions for an hour. The facility plans to sell the electricity to local power companies.

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With all the fuss about fracking and housing, Phil can be forgiven if he has become scratchy

April 19, 2012

Alf’s good mate Phil Heatley, back in Opposition days, enjoyed watching Chris Carter wriggle at Question Time in Parliament. Alf enjoyed watching him wriggle, too.

Carter, you might recall, was Housing Minister before he came unglued within the Labour Party hierarchy.

And on more than one occasion our Phil had the bugger on the back foot – for example, when he asked how come a person could be allocated a State house in Māngere while owning a holiday home in Russell.

If you are going to dish it out in Opposition, you have to be able to take it in government, of course.

And when he became Minister of Housing, it looked like Phil was a feller who did not mind hard questioning.

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Complaint from a sore Tau – he wants more time for consultations on Northland mineral exploration

March 9, 2012

Betcha there's lots more metal under the Ninety Mile Beach, but it's off limits to mineral explorers.

Alf is by no means surprised to hear the latest grouching from Sonny Tau.

The Ngapuhi leader is insisting the Ministry of Economic Development needs to adequately consult Maori before it seeks bids from companies wanting to explore for minerals in Northland.

The ministry is consulting, of course, after announcing that, from May this year, New Zealand Petroleum and Minerals intends inviting companies to take part in a competitive tender process for mineral exploration permits.

But is the consultation period sufficient?

It’s ample, actually.

But it’s not long enough for Tau.

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A $2.7m bribe should bring warmth to Ratana – but will Nats get their votes in return?

January 24, 2011

If you bat for us we'll give your people a couple of schools and a hospital, we'll have a word with Peter Jackson about having The Hobbit filmed here - and how about some of the Rugby World Cup matches being played at Ratana?

A handout of public money was announced without much fuss on 20 December, a gift from the Government to a seemingly small and insignificant community near Wanganui.

This gift – or should we call it a bribe? – was actually paid for by taxpayers who had no say in the matter (as Alf’s mates sternly pointed out to him when they demanded why Eketahuna had not been the beneficiary).

It was a Christmas present for Ratana “to receive essential repairs and upgrades”.


Actually, it looks more like an exercise in pork-barrel politicking and Alf was reminded of it as party leaders prepare for their annual trek to Ratana – the media call it a pilgrimage – to address Ratana followers at the religious movement’s annual celebrations near Wanganui today.

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Perks and piss-ups – the trick is to find an acceptable way of making the public pay

March 31, 2010

Another bucket of bollocks is published in the Dom-Post today, this time on the matter of MPs’ miserable spending allowances.

Vernon Small, one of the rag’s parliamentary press gallery hacks, makes it seem like he has been talking with a whistle-blower:

MPs are secretly negotiating to award themselves more generous perks.

If they were secret – you can be sure – a bugger like Small would not get to hear of them.

But there is no whistle-blower. Rather –

The behind-closed-doors talks were revealed by Auditor-General Lyn Provost in a report that found former housing and fisheries minister Phil Heatley unlawfully spent $1402 of taxpayers’ money.

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Surprise, surprise – they didn’t know who he was when Phil wined and dined in Marlborough

March 1, 2010

The forgettable face of a former Cabinet Minister.

Dunno if Phil Heatley will be too fussed about it – he has other things on his mind. But it seems he is able to slip through Marlborough unnoticed.

Alf reckons Phil could slip through much of the country unnoticed, come to think of it. Let’s face it, he doesn’t have the same high profile as the likes of John Key, Rodney Hide, Pita Sharples, or Winston Peters.

Or rather, he didn’t until last week, although even now he probably could pass through Marlborough unrecognised. He has one of those instantly forgettable faces.

But most cabinet ministers would go unnoticed by most of the taxpayers who sustain them and their lifestyles – wouldn’t they?

Anyone know what the Minister of Broadcasting looks like?
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Nothing here to make up for those bloody fuel taxes

March 18, 2009

Alf has been eagerly awaiting news from the Beehive to help mollify his Eketahuna North constituents, who remain riled about being stung with higher fuel taxes to make life easier for Aucklanders on the transport front.

No salve was dispensed today.

That’s not to say the Beehive has buggered off to the West Coast for a get-together, as Labour MPs did – to a region that should have been as scarlet red as The People’s Flag, but which fell to the Nats at the last election.

National’s Ministers are beavering away and earning their keep.
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Streamlining the apartment business

March 5, 2009

The big-wigs among Eketahuna’s apartment developers, builders and dwellers will be toasting Housing Minister Phil Heatley down at the club tonight.

Legislation he introduced to modernise the way apartment blocks are built and managed received its first reading in Parliament today.

The Unit Titles Bill will make it easier to set up unit title developments and more flexible as well as streamline and simplify the way multi-unit developments are managed.

It was referred to the Social Services Select Committee and the public will soon have the opportunity to make submissions on the proposed changes.

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Rental housing reforms revisited

February 19, 2009

Too bad for tenants and landlords who are keenly awaiting reform to tenancy laws.

It looks like some Labour plans to protect tenants will be scrapped, such as a bothercome cap on tenants’ liablity for damage.

An e-mail from Housing Minister Phil Heatley advised Alf today he is reviewing aspects of Labour’s Residential Tenancies Amendment Bill (No 2).

But he is determined to return legislation “in a timely manner.”

He wouldn’t have to move too fast to outpace Labour’s reform efforts.
The Bill was introduced to Parliament in May last year after Labour (slow buggers) began consultation on it in 2004. It was intended to better clarify the rights and responsibilities of tenants and landlords.

The official statement hadn’t been posted on the Beehive website, when Alf wrote this. But Voxy had an account of it.

Mr Heatley says: “This Bill is well-intentioned in that it aims to encourage stable tenancies in homes which are well-looked after while enabling landlords to better manage them.”

However, concerns have been raised about some specific provisions of the Bill and matters for which provision was not made…

Examples are set out in the media statement.

Among the issues, the proposed bill was going to stop real estate agents charging letting fees. This will be reconsidered.

Heatley says –

“As Housing Minister, I have to be satisfied that what has been drafted appropriately balances the rights and obligations of both tenants and landlords.”

He is comfortable with many aspects of the Bill, but is troubled that some specific provisions may deter future provision of private rental housing.

That’s of particular concern given predicted growth in housing demand.

He has asked that the specific aspects of the Bill he has identified be considered with swift and targeted consultation.