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The Sludge Report #4 - Poll Shocker For Alliance

The Sludge Report #4

IN THIS ISSUE: Poll Shocker For Alliance - Bring On Harre And Robson - Clear and Telecom Kiss And Make Up - But It Won't Save Telecom - Sludge Supports NBR On Naming Issue - Timberlands Resolution Expected This Arvo - Sort Of

Poll Shocker For Alliance - Bring On Harre And Robson

The Greens - according to last night's TV1 Colmar Brunton Poll now have twice as much support as The Alliance. Meanwhile the Nats are up five points and Labour down four. The honeymoon is definitely over.

Alliance strategists would have expected to see loss in their vote, but nowhere near so much and so quickly. With the Greens now having the high ground both on the environment and genetic engineering - and with Labour's ERB giving them the Union constituency - the Alliance is left with a fairly narrow band of subjects on which to brand itself. The Kiwi Bank is the obvious candidate and seems to be the only ball Jim Anderton has his eyes on at present. Commerce and Laila Harre are another area where the Alliance could make an impact (see next item). Less well acknowledged for its potential to garner votes is the issue of disarmament and Matt Robson.

Clear and Telecom Kiss And Make Up - But It Won't Save Telecom

Telecom and Clear have agreed to a truce. And on the radio Sludge hears that the Telecommunications Users Group - whoever they are - reckons this means Clear and Telecom have proved they can work together. And pigs will fly!

Submissions to the Telecommunications Inquiry have now closed. Once hearings begin Sludge is picking it will be Telstra/Saturn's future relationship with Telecom that the money will be watching. Further - given Trevor Mallard's strongly voiced views launching the inquiry - and Jim Anderton's statement this morning warning Telecom it is next on target list following a court decision relating to Carter Holt Harvey - it is difficult to see Telecom's latest play for sympathy making much headway.

Sludge Supports NBR On Naming Issue

Sludge reckons NBR was right to name Police Constable Keith Abbott, the officer who shot Stephen Wallace.

At the moment the media can name officers who shoot members of the public. It is a right given to the fourth estate for very good reason. In some, not so nice, countries the police really can shoot people without facing accountability and if the media fails to exercise that right it will lose it.

In this case we hear that the family of the victim have said they do not want the officer named. This may be so. But what if the family did want the officer named and couldn't, because it was against the law?

The National Opposition last week suggested passing a bill protecting the names of police officers involved in shooting incidents. If the media decide to follow acquiescently - either because of public opinion or as a result of police requests - a "voluntary" form of self-censorship then this will be used as a justification for just such a piece of legislation. In addition the very fact that the NZ Herald had to go to such great effort to assure itself that it had the right to do so indicates New Zealand is already on the way down that slippery slope.

Timberlands Resolution Expected This Arvo - Sort Of

Lets assume that the Government decides to allow Rimu logging through to the end of 2001 this afternoon, as all the commentators and protagonists in the debate expect. If so Timberlands will be sent back to crunch the numbers. The overcut - unsustainable logging the Buller - is scheduled to finish this year. Under the contracts which are expected to be cancelled today sustainable logging was then supposed to kick in and run for eight years. Sludge reckons that any business plan designed to make it economic to sustainably log rimu over eight years will not translate into an 18-month business life. As a result what Rimu that will be taken out under the new agreement will end out coming out possibly uneconomically.

Meanwhile the political wisdom is that an end of logging at the end of 2001 will give the government a year to look "green" before the next election, allow it fulfil its election pledge and prevent the continuation of the debate through election year. This seems to Sludge to be yet another case of wishful thinking on the part of the government the Coasters have already made it clear that they intend to make it a 2002 election issue anyway.

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