Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Why we thought what we thought

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  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to Alfie,

    If necessary, mute or at least dip the other mics when someone has the floor.

    I think it was actually Key who suggested Tracy Watkins step back a bit, and talk at the microphone - most of the time she talked away from it which didn't help...

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7889 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Alfie,

    Give me controlled, intelligent debate any time.

    Let them eat Internet.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10633 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Stowell, in reply to Alfie,

    The cacophony of noise experienced last night

    There were times when Key’s mic was almost as distorted as his ‘arguments’.
    Anyone know who produced it?

    Whakaraupo • Since Nov 2006 • 2091 posts Report Reply

  • CJM,

    Interesting to see that the Herald had 'comments' for the 2nd debate open but shut them this morning and have only put up 3 comments. After the overwhelming number of pro-Cunliffe comments last time clearly they feel the need to shut up the rabble at their keyboards confusing things with contrary views and opinions about shouty John, the graceless berk.

    Auckland • Since Aug 2014 • 107 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to CJM,

    Shouty John, the Graceless Berk.

    Hmmmm... Could be a kids book in this...

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7889 posts Report Reply

  • Moz, in reply to Alfie,

    I've worked with soundies who can mix six radio mics ... I think part of the problem with the current debates is the candidates being encouraged to shout over each other.... mute or at least dip the other mics when someone has the floor.

    This! No offense to anyone honestly trying to do a good job, but I am a numpty with this gear and I have done a better job, albeit with only 3 speakers at a time. It seemed at times that pulling a few random people out of the audience and saying "manage the level on this mic" would have worked better.

    Either that or give the moderator some kind of weapon. A taser, maybe. "sir, I have already asked you to let the other gentleman answer" "sir, I remind you again", bzzzzzt. Not that it would make Key twitch any more, I suspect.

    I didn't watch the whole thing, it was unendurable.

    Sydney, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 1198 posts Report Reply

  • Alfie, in reply to Moz,

    Tonight's Campbell Show was a good example... 8 radio mics and a nicely balanced sound mix. It's not brain surgery.

    And I reckon your taser idea is brilliant. Let the audience have one each and you'd see a drastic change in behaviour from our pollies. ;-)

    Dunedin • Since May 2014 • 1386 posts Report Reply

  • Rich Lock, in reply to BenWilson,

    For instance, my distance from Winston Peters is not really a function of the two dimensions we see there. He’s miles away from me in some racist homophobic dimension you can’t see there. Similarly Peter Dunne is a long way from me on account of his main contribution to politics, drug policy, on which I despise his stance, even though his position is quite moderate on the plotted dimensions. And Colin Craig might look close to National on that graph, but if you emphasized aspects of his religiousity and belief in science, I think the gap would be a lot bigger.

    The trouble with all of those examples you’ve given is that they are effectively one-man bands, so if you’re including them in your potential personal list of candidates, you have to consider the whole person – there’s nothing to temper any elements you may not like. They don’t need to compromise or find consensus within a group.

    Once your party gets to a certain size, then it effectively becomes more of a consensus-oriented vehicle. I have a considerable antipathy to the Greens more ‘woo’ elements, for example, but they’ve managed to minimise and distance the centre of the party from that faction to a considerable degree over the last decade or so. Similarly, I’m fairly strongly opposed to the more centre-right elements of the current Labour party – it’s enough for me to be able to see they they’re there, and that they have a lot more say in things than I’d prefer.

    In a pragmatic sense, it's good enough (well, probably - see below).

    Of course, using a 3-D plot, you’d be able to see the individuals in a group as clusters. You could even add in a spectral analysis over time – red shift/blue shift :)

    Of course, this only really works when you have a multiple-party system and a voting system where the votes aren’t skewed and gameable by local demographics (i.e. not Westminster FPP). We are currently living 50 metres the wrong side of an electorate boundary line. 90% of the goods/services etc that I use are on the other side, but in voting terms I have zero influence on the MP or local councillors.

    You’re right about the questions and analysis though. I was mildly surprised by the fact that 20-30 questions were considered sufficient, and also by the lack of a ‘neither agree nor disagree’ option. Their methodology is also somewhat opaque. Rather like polling companies, the spin, weight and emphasis you give to various facotrs is going to skew your output, and it isn’t clear how they compensate for that.

    back in the mother countr… • Since Feb 2007 • 2728 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Parks, in reply to Michael Meyers,

    I don’t see why the CGT gaffe has become the most important thing in the news today. We have had a two hour debate and the most important thing was that DC didn’t have a rehearsed answer for a question about family trusts and CGT?

    It shouldn’t have to have been ‘rehearsed’ though. I agree with Craig on that part – Cunliffe should have been able to answer that question. CGT is a principal policy for Labour . How could he not know how it would operate?

    It’s especially unfortunate because he could have had a rhetorical victory by portraying it in a “dumb question” light. An answer along the lines: “Of course it would be exempt. Why wouldn’t it be exempt, John?” would have completely deflated Key’s attack.

    Wellington • Since May 2007 • 1164 posts Report Reply

  • mark taslov,

    “Of course it would be exempt. Why wouldn’t it be exempt, John?”

    Except that would not be an entirely honest answer to the question Key asked. It wouldn’t necessarily be exempt, that depends on the use of the property.

    As a seasoned debater in a hostile media environment Cunliffe would have been well aware of the risks and could very well have prioritised point scoring ahead of awaiting confirmation as to what exactly John was getting at, hindsight is a wonderful thing. Before launching into his spiel Cunliffe began “If your family…”. a heckler interrupted him, he stopped. Not a good look in a debate.

    But anyone with any serious interest in this election should have known the answer. As a mildly disinterested and distant observer of New Zealand politics I knew the answer.

    People have been discussing that very answer on the net for quite some time, in the comments under NBR’s article ’Lunacy’ that property speculators get tax-free capital gain – Cunliffe from April 13th, Telder Paper answered the PM’s question:

    My understanding is the Labour CGT will include Trusts but will exclude a family home that is held by a Trust which would otherwise be subject to the tax as the owner does not use it as a family residence.

    This is nothing new, the same answer has been available since the first iteration of this policy was introduced under Phil Goff, here it is clarified by Macnicol in 2011:

    There will be various exemptions available to taxpayers in the CGT regime including:

    the family home (“where you live most of the time”) including a family home that is owned by a trust and the primary dwelling and curtilage on a farm,

    The Answer has been “Out there” for all and sundry to consider and discuss for over three years. So the issue for me, and excuse the spin, is not so much why Cunliffe didn’t respond this way or that. I myself have been stopped in my tracks by questions so elementary as if to almost seem rhetorical.

    Initially I thought Key was attempting to put Cunliffe off his game; the shift in body language, the glimmer in the eye, the zinger:

    "I’ve got this one simple question for you David, if I own a house in a trust do I pay a capital gains tax on it?"

    Viewable here.

    How could The National leader debating Labour policies not know that? Labour’s policy is his schtick. Such a question shows no grasp of the policy at all. It’s positively Bushesque. There are numerous sensible questions one could ask about the policy as touched upon in David Snell’s recent CGT series on Stuff, e.g. how does Labour propose to minimise “flipping” and other methods of rorting the system? So I took it to be some sort of ruse.

    So John Key actually believed in his heart of hearts(?) that this was an actual thing, as he stated after debate:

    "My read of the [Labour policy] is that if you own a family home and it’s in a trust, under Labour you will be subject to a capital gains tax because that policy says that you don’t pay a capital gains tax on a family home… if you are the owner/occupier.”
    “But, of course under a family trust the trust is the owner."

    So he has actually had a glance at the policy:

    Labour will introduce a capital gains tax, excluding the family home

    And that’s his reading. So that’s one thing, Cunliffe, thoughtful man that he is sacrifices debate points in order to confirm the party’s position. John Key, with the most limited understanding, used his platform to host an inane policy quiz, kicking things off with a toughy.

    But coming back to Mike, and in fairness to him,those headlines graced the Herald homepage for a good few hours last night after the debate. As Sofie said:

    Sound bites and suckers

    Rings true. And then as Cecelia said:

    That Herald folks opined that way

    Which is one way of putting it. Toby Manhire not only provided the most comprehensive and balanced rundown of the debate but also devoted the least amount of space to this issue:

    "when John Key challenged David Cunliffe on homes, family trusts and capital gains, he knocked him off his stride."

    Fran O’Sullivan, spun the Prime Minister’s misrepresentation as

    "catching David Cunliffe out when it came to the detail on Labour’s capital gains tax.

    Both John Armstrong’s and Audrey Young’s entire pieces centred around this one exchange. The difference being that Audrey Young, so challenged by the policy, it would seem, qualified this as the answer:

    "OK so the reason, let me explain this, the reason David Babbled on for a few minutes there [laughter] and wouldn’t actually tell you, wouldn’t actually tell you,whether if(sic) your family home, your principle family home is in a trust whether you’ll pay a capital gains tax or not, the answer you will, you will because you are not the owner occupier, and this is gonna be interesting news for New Zealanders, there are 300,000 New Zealanders who have their family, their home in their family trust."

    And these are quote/unquote "The Herald’s top political correspondents". The topper most of the popper most. Fair enough John Key won the debate, and fair enough the he won despite being unable to answers Cunliffe’s question regarding the content of the TPP. But based specifically on that one exchange which culminated in the Prime Minister misrepresenting the opposition’s policy to the New Zealand public with a big old fib, if you’re going to award Mr Key the win without exposing his error, or for that matter, all the errors and misrepresentations these leaders try to slip past us, due to either your own political bias or more simply absolute confounding ignorance, then you are failing, quite marvelously, at upholding the role of the fourth estate. As journalists we rely on to bring the facts, you are absolutely failing New Zealanders, and so as political correspondents and commentators you are doing little more than warming seats.

    I don’t care if a Prime Minister takes a holiday weekend to answer the question, I don’t care if a Prime Minister isn’t the best debater this side of Ohakune, what I care about, and this is my bottom line, is whether or not the Prime Minister, our Prime Minister, is telling the truth. In every instance. Penetrating the bullshit, Sirs and Madams, is your fracking job.

    Sound bites and suckers

    Te Ika-a-Māui • Since Mar 2008 • 2281 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Alfie,

    I think part of the problem with the current debates is the candidates being encouraged to shout over each other.

    Reflects media framing the election as a one-on-one testosterone fest rather than a nuanced MMP conversation. Compare with the tone of the Campbell Live multi-party dinner or any of Native Affairs' frequent multi-party debates.

    I'd rather see one show of all the likely right-leaning coalition partners and another with the left-leaning ones - showing us how they get on and rehearsing policy trade-offs.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19686 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to Sacha,

    Lord of the Files...

    I’d rather see one show of all the likely ... coalition partners

    Drop all of them (Key & Cunliffe included) on White Island and see who works with who, and who survives ... fully televised!
    Has this idea been used Electorally yet?
    ;- )

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7889 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming, in reply to Ian Dalziel,

    Drop all of them (Key & Cunliffe included) on White Island and see who works with who, and who survives … fully televised!
    Has this idea been used Electorally yet?

    Love to put in the OIA request on that one!

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2930 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Rich Lock,

    The trouble with all of those examples you’ve given is that they are effectively one-man bands

    Yes, I'm treating both individuals and parties as points. The point would be some kind of point estimate based on the individuals in it. The mean location is a good choice as it marks the center of gravity. But it's not the only choice, of course. You could weight it more highly toward the most powerful individuals. Treating them as points is how most analysis does it, including the Political Compass, but you're right, it could be improved upon. The point takes no account of the uncertainty. Even an individual's beliefs are really more of a cluster or cloud than a point. A party should really have a bigger cluster, which would explain better why the bigger parties reach more people, despite there being other individuals as parties nearer to their own location. Peter Dunne is not this isolated spot hoovering up all the voters between Labour and National. He's in there, but he's surrounded by Labour and National spots which cuts down how many spots are closer to him than to those parties.

    Of course, using a 3-D plot, you’d be able to see the individuals in a group as clusters. You could even add in a spectral analysis over time – red shift/blue shift :)

    3D plots look cool, but they are actually not so good at conveying a lot of the information we want to see. They're good for illustrating an idea, but when you want to make comparisons, it's usually better to find a one or 2 dimensional plot. We're really not good at judging length, area or volume in 3D, and the viewing angle is quite important. Fortunately there are a lot of good plots that can show higher dimensional (multivariate) information in 2D.

    Rather like polling companies, the spin, weight and emphasis you give to various facotrs is going to skew your output, and it isn’t clear how they compensate for that.

    That's pretty much the main thing I'm warning about. It's not at all clear how they aggregate the questions along the dimensions they pick, or how much change could occur by using different questions, or a different number of questions, or even just deciding which direction the question contributes to.

    For instance, Randroids would consider supporting the free market to be a form of social liberality (you are free to spend how you like, making moral choices with your money), and thus object to being placed at the authoritarian end of the graph. They could consider themselves to be in that untapped purple quadrant at the bottom right. I'm not guessing this - this is exactly what ACToids used to say in the 90s when I first saw these kinds of graphs.

    It's a comparatively easy fix to remove the bias from aggregating by not aggregating. There's still always going to be the bias about which questions to include, but so long as people can home in on the differences in the cluster of questions they're interested in, it's a huge improvement. That would also mean that you could remove the requirement that every question gets answered, so the number of questions could be increased. Then you'd start getting a much better idea of the candidates area of decisive difference, and indeed their general beef and competence.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10633 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Parks, in reply to mark taslov,

    Except that would not be an entirely honest answer to the question Key asked. It wouldn’t necessarily be exempt, that depends on the use of the property.

    I didn’t know the exact wording wording of Key’s question (hence, my ‘along the lines of’), but now I’ve seen it I still say that was an awful answer from Cunliffe and it’s a shame as he could have dealt with it so easily. Okay, he first would have needed to ask a question in reply, “is the home your family home?” To which Key would have had to answer yes. Then Cunliffe gives the dismissive answer I suggested above. Key would have had nowhere to go.

    That said, now that I have watched (most of) the debate, my first concern is how part of my soul died watching that shit.

    [Edited to try and clarify the pluperfect storm in my first paragraph.]

    Wellington • Since May 2007 • 1164 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic, in reply to BenWilson,

    For instance, Randroids would consider supporting the free market to be a form of social liberality (you are free to spend how you like, making moral choices with your money), and thus object to being placed at the authoritarian end of the graph. They could consider themselves to be in that untapped purple quadrant at the bottom right. I'm not guessing this - this is exactly what ACToids used to say in the 90s when I first saw these kinds of graphs.

    Another funny thing is that Pete George took the test and ended up near the Greens, despite being an avowed non-supporter of them.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5418 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Kumara Republic,

    I'm not surprised. His explanation makes sense - he shares the ideals but differs in the practical implementation. Differs so much that it's quite important to him, but doesn't show up on the graph. I think that's quite common on the Left - there are, after all, many kinds of interventionism, but only one kind of Laissez Faire.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10633 posts Report Reply

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