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October 11, 2010 | by  | in Opinion |
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The Final Round Up

Rather than focusing on one particular story, the final Politics With Paul this year will revisit four stories, both foreign and domestic, that have found their way back onto the news agenda.

Years of ministerial credit card statements were thrown into the limelight in July and August, resulting in the demotion of a number of ministers, and a saga around one in particular.

Please step forward… Mr Chris Carter.

Carter was expelled from the Labour caucus for his embarrassing actions following a botched reaction to the credit card scandal, which culminated in an attempt to initiate a leadership coup within the party. After taking a lengthy break, he has returned to Parliament to continue to serve his Te Atatu electorate. Interestingly enough, despite being expelled by the party, Carter remains Labour’s sole candidate for Te
Atatu at this point, although Labour leader Phil Goff has assured party supporters that Carter won’t hold the official Labour nomination. Carter has revealed plans that reach beyond a career in Parliament though. Last week, the MP announced he would author a book about the last Labour government, which is expected to be released around the time of next year’s election campaign.

Speaking of post-politics plans, it is also interesting to note that former Act identity thief David Garrett has applied to the Law Society for a barrister’s practising certificate. The audacity of this man who 1) stole a dead baby’s identity, 2) kept an assault conviction secret from a judge who consequently granted him name suppression, and 3) lied to police, is palpable. Three strikes indeed.

There is yet to be any announcement on a decision from the Law Society, although in their weekly newsletter, they have announced his application will be processed “as soon as possible”.

Elsewhere in the world, following former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s resignation in the wake of Labour’s defeat at the polls earlier this year, the Labour party has finally elected a new leader. Ed Miliband won the position in somewhat of an upset, taking the position out from under his older brother—shadow foreign secretary David Miliband. The older Miliband had long been the favourite for the top job within
Labour, and despite a showing of public support for his younger brother, he has since made the
decision to step away from frontline politics, refusing to serve in his brother’s shadow cabinet.

From the other side of the house, the Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition partners have remained true to their pledge to put the electoral system to a vote, despite the lack of any real change the Alternative Vote system is likely to offer. However, there have been recent concerns surrounding the wording of the referendum question. The original draft asked: “Do you want the United Kingdom to adopt the ‘alternative vote’ system instead of the current ‘first past the post’ system for electing Members of Parliament to the House of Commons?”, but the UK Electoral Commission has asserted that tests have revealed that the question is “too hard…particularly for those with lower levels of education or literacy.”

They have instead proposed the wording: “At present, the UK uses the ‘first past the post’ system to elect MPs to the House of Commons. Should the ‘alternative vote’ system be used instead?” Unfortunately there has been little corresponding discussion on the scope of the referendum. Regardless, it will be interesting for voters in New Zealand to see which way British voters swing, with the referendum on our own electoral system coming up at the end of next year.

Another column earlier this year discussed the strategic reason behind the alleged North Korean attack on the South Korean naval vessel, Cheonan. There was speculation that the attack was designed to shore up hard-line support for current leader Kim Jong-il’s youngest son, Kim Jong-un. Over the past two weeks, it has become apparent that Kim Jong-un is indeed being prepped for leadership. In his late 20s, he has rocketed from a political nobody to one of the most significant figures in North Korea. Appointed as a four-star military general, a party conference then legitimised his standing as Kim Jong-il’s successor. He has also been made Vice Chairman of the Workers’ Party Central Military Commission and a member of the party’s Central Committee. The real importance of this is that academics have speculated that the sudden promotion reflects that the current leader may be in worse health than previously thought. As a result, the world could see the ascension of a new leader in the rogue state within the next year, bringing with him numerous new opportunities and challenges alike.

Next year is also going to be a huge year at home. Whether Chris Carter will continue to serve in Te Atatu or not, New Zealanders have the opportunity to review the current National government’s first term at the end of next year. 2011’s election is especially important due to the referendum reviewing MMP, which will be tagged along with the election. Salient will obviously be providing a thorough account of the whats, whens, whys and whos, so keep an eye on the magazine next year, and make an informed choice on who you want to lead the country, and the way in which those leaders will be elected in the future.

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