And one more from Qantas

A 747 was damaged while being towed along the tarmac at Avalon Airport in Melbourne yesterday. That’s not such a big concern – at least it wasn’t in the air and full of passengers.

Today though a Qantas Dash 8 aircraft was forced back to Brisbane Airport after smoke filled the cabin.

Are Qantas management looking into possible sabotage by ground-crew? The number of instances of malfunction or near disaster are too many to be a coincidence or just bad luck. Either that or the maintenance contract is missing something obvious, like trained personnel.

I’ll never fly Qantas again. Nor will many others.

Here’s a timeline courtesy of the Sydney Morning Herald on Qantas mishaps.

Qantas malfunctions again

I wrote sometime back about the woes of flying Qantas – can you ever be guaranteed to arrive at your destination?

A Qantas flight on route to Shanghai had to return to Sydney after a radar malfunction. This is on the back of a similar problem that forced “QF12 to “piggyback” behind an Air New Zealand aircraft for virtually its entire journey from Los Angeles to Sydney on October 29“.

That’s a total of eight incidents in the last five months that we know about.

This has to be a public relations disaster for the airline. Travel is down along with the economy, so it follows if you are going to travel you’re going to want to travel with an airline that will actually get you there – on time and safely.

There’s no reference to this incident on the Qantas site. I guess that’s their strategy – keep mum on these problems.

Helen Clark and me

Helen Clark on the David Letterman Show

A colleague told me to look at this photo tribute to Helen Clark on Stuff.

We were all laughing at an unlikely Prime Minister being introduced on The David Letterman show – a woman bearing absolutely no resemblance to helen Clark – at about 0:56 seconds.

But even more surprising (unspotted by my colleague) was the photo of Helen Clark at the Smokefree RockQuest 20th Anniversary (0:28 secs).

Who is that man lurking top left?

Rodney Hide and a National Government

Rodney Hide - Leader of ACTIs anyone worried about Rodney Hide?

I watched him on Sunday tonight – what an arrogant and demanding man. No grace, no poise – this is what we want and this is what we’ll get. John Key stared blankly back. I’d live to know what was going on in his mind…

Compare Rodney’s performance to Pita Sharples of the Maori Party. Pita did not make one request of John Key. He said they had a ‘portfolio’ that they would present to Key on Tuesday, but other than that they would wait and see where the negotiations headed. He even avoided the question of whether they would accept a seat at the cabinet table.

Contrast that with Rodney Hide who sat there bulldozing John Key with demands he implement the ‘three strikes and you’re out’ policy as well as cutting government spending and scrapping the Emissions Trading Scheme.

  • Key has already announced he’s making a big spending promise with the April 2009 tax-cuts
  • National opposed the ETS but has expressed interest in reforming the current scheme, so there will still be one
  • And it remains to be seen how staunch National will be on law and order, but likely not to be as staunch as ACT would like.

So, can National and ACT work together? If National invites the Maori Party in (and the Maori Party accept) then they don’t need ACT.

Close of business Tuesday will reveal all.

New Zealand Election Results 2008

The election result is panning out as the media has been predicting – a victory for National.

Winston Peters is delivering his concession speech – beaten resoundingly by the young Simon Bridges (majority of 10,862 to national with 89.5% of the vote counted). Winston delivered a gracious speech congratulating Tauranga for voting in a young and vibrant politician. It seems that Winston and NZ First are now out of politics. It remains to be seen if they can maintain momentum as a party without any representation in Parliament. Peters has been there for 30 years – he left the stage saying that was his last word.

Darren Hughes (Labour) has lost Otaki to National’s Nathan Guy by a margin of 1422. Josie Pagani of Jim Anderton’s Progressive polled 206 votes. Keep an eye out for her in 2011.

Wellington Central is proving to be a closer fight – Grant Robertson is winning by a margin of 1,384 over National’s Stephen Franks.

John Campbell is interviewing Roger Douglas who finds himself back in Parliament. What sort of influence is he likely to have in John Key’s government? He’ll likely be hard to keep in line, and poor old Rodney is going to have a hard job keeping control over the man who started the party.

Grant Robertson wins Wellington Central with majority of 1,511.

Praise the lord – Peter Dunne has only himself for company – and he thinks that he is going to make a difference. Except that if National has the majority it currently has then it can afford to ignore Dunne entirely. Dunne’s majority reduced from 7,500 to 1,171.

John Key is currently on a 17,666 majority in Helensville.

National win Auckland Central meaning that Judith Tizard is likely to be tossed out of Parliament because she’s a long way down on the party list.

Jeanette Fitzsimons is delivering her speech at the Hopetoun Alpha in Auckland. With 6.5% of the party vote the Greens have added two extra MP’s into the house. While they were expecting to get 8% or more this is a good outcome. Jeanette says this gives the Greens a stronger voice in Parliament, but will John Key need to listen to them?

West Coast Tasman has been won by National with a majority of 975.

Parekura Horomia wins Ikaroa Rรคwhiti against Derek Fox, who the Maori Party was convinced had a good chance of winning. Horomia’s majority is 1,609.

Annette King wins Rongotai with majority of 7,845.

Helen Clark’s parents leave her house. It is expected that Clark will give her concession speech to Key in five minutes or so. The swing to National is 5.7%, to ACT 2.2%, away from Labour 6.9%. Overall a swing to the right.

10,666 people voted for the Bill and Ben Party – firm proof that there are 10,666 very stupid people.

99% of the vote is counted and projected seats are:

  • National 59 seats
  • Labour 43 seats
  • Green 8 seats
  • ACT 5 seats
  • Maori 5 seats
  • Jim Anderton Progressive 1 seat
  • United Future 1 seat

John Key has the current biggest majority of any candidate leading Helensville by 18,404.

Helen Clark leaves her house to go to Labour Party HQ. No doubt she has already called Key.

Helen Clark arrives at Labour HQ. The party faithful whistel and cheer as she walks into the building. A sea of red on the stage. There’s only one man on stage – Helen Clark’s father.

She knows her people – she greets them all in their native tongue.

She congratulates John Key. There are tears in the audience as she declares that Labour will not be going away. She takes responsibility for the loss. She acknowledges the Labour Party achievements over the last nine years.

This is a time for re-building. There will be around 12 new Labour members of parliament. She thanks departing members and hopes that all Labour’s achievemnts don’t go up in smoke under a right-wing government.

Helen Clark declares her intention to stand down as leader and hopes that Labour can appoint a new leader before Christmas (please please let it not be David Cunliffe). She leaves the building.

A gracious speech, she looked like a weight had been lifted from her shoulders. And to stand down shows great maturity in politics.

John Key leaves his $6.8 million mansion in Parnell to drive to Sky City as the newly elected Prime Minister of New Zealand. The man who always wanted to be Prime Minister has realised his boyhood ambition.

Matthew Hooton on TV3 made a good point in that Helen Clark has chnaged the face of the National Party. Helen Clark reveals it was always her intention to step down if National won. She reveals the polling was different to their own internal polls and that they had expected a different result (but perhaps still not a win). She wouldn’t reveal what Key had said to her.

John Key arrives at Sky City. He looks as pleased as punch – like a grinning school boy. He is completely surrounded by security detail who lock arms to escort him into the auditorium.

John Key is on stage. He hugs his children.

“Today NZ has spoken…they have voted for change…and I can tell you there will be a new National led government in NZ…thankyou for your support and thankyou for your trust…they voted for hope, they voted for action, they voted for results…this is not as good as it gets…yes, we face challenges and we will rise to them…we must make the most of our advantages…the road ahead may well be a rocky one…what will determine success will be a unity of purpose…and the success of individuals…now is the time for working together…if we work hard…we will make NZ prosperous as we all know NZ can be…tonight you have my pledge…it will be a government that values individual achievement…a government we can all be part of…tonight I want to thank Helen Clark…she was most gracious with her comments…we share a love of this country…as PM of NZ she has always ensured our small voice was loudly heard…for that I say thankyou…I sopke to ACT leader Rodney Hide…and Peter Dunne…and while future details are yet to be resolved they will lend their support to establishing a new government in NZ…”

Seems to be this is the speech of the campaign…if he had done speeches like this for the last 5 weeks more might have voted for him.

So we have a new government. We shouldn’t expect any miracles. Roger Douglas will be a problem. Rodney is going to have his hands full managing that problem, and so will John Key by association.

John Campbell interviews John Key. “We’re going to deliver on all our promises…”

“There’ll be a rocky road ahead…we can get through this together…moderate pragmatic government…that’s exactly what we’re going to do…it’s a close run thing…there’s a majority there but it’s not huge…great feeling but a nerve wracking night as well…”

Given the mood of the nation and the mood of the National supporters in the Sky City hotel it’s quite obvious that the pundits who believed John Key would be rolled by Bill English in his first term are wrong. This is John Key’s night – it’s John Key’s party – it’s John Key’s success that got National the win. Having Bill English take the leadership just can’t and shouldn’t happen.

As I prepare to finish this the NY Times sends me an update with news that unemployment is at a 14 year high in the US.

John Key has become Prime Minister at a terrible time, or a great time if he really, really likes a challenge.

Good luck.

Jenni McManus wins the Leaders Debate

Bloody hell – what a bore watching John Key and Helen Clark talk about nothing.

But, how fantastic listening to the commentators afterwards discuss the debate. Jenni McManus in particular stood out. Here are a few choice quotes from her.

On Trust:

I think particularly after last Friday night with his redundancy package I don’t think there’s a single policy or principle that he wouldn’t trade to become Prime Minister.

On the Economy:

I think what we do need is change. We don’t need the safe pair of hands that Helen Clark is talking about – we need a change agent. Now I’m not sure that John Key is that change agent. Their policies are so similar in the only area that matters, which is the economy.

On Leadership:

Well, we’re not getting any particularly (leadership). I mean, we’ve got a woman there haranguing everybody in sight and we’ve got a very timid leader of the National Party who’s afraid to open his trap – so I mean, you know – spot the difference.

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