Meet a charming left wing local body politician

July 31st, 2014 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Christopher Dempsey is a City Vision (Labour/Greens) board member on the Auckland Council Waitemata Local Board.

Matthew Beveridge details a Facebook exchange between Dempsey and Councillor Dick Quax. In a discussion over Jamie Whyte’s speech, Demosey says”

and in the afternoon I saw you picking up children from Vick Ave Primary – I should have pushed you into the gutter

It then gets even more charming as you’ll see over the link.

Residents of Waitemata should feel proud they have such a classy elected representative.

 

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Beyer says 90 day law got her sacked – a year before it came into force!

July 31st, 2014 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

NewstalkZB reports:

Mana candidate Georgina Beyer is claiming to have fallen foul of the Government’s 90-day trial period laws before they were officially in place.

She’s told reporters it happened in 2010 when she worked at Michael Hill Jewellers in Masterton when she expressed an interest in running for local government.

“The manager in the shops that have said, ‘oh, well OK, if you’re not going to be hanging round by the end of the year because you might be the mayor of Masterton, you’d better give me your resignation now, citing the 90 day trial’.”

However legislation enabling that specific employment law for adult employees did not take effect until April 2011 – well after the time she says she lost her job.

Caught out big time.

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Mana claims they have a secret deal with Labour in Te Tai Tokerau

July 31st, 2014 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

3 News reports:

Internet Mana candidate Annette Sykes says Labour’s done a secret Epsom-style electorate deal with Hone Harawira.

She’s also calling on Labour to do a deal for her – in the Maori seat of Waiariki.

 

Labour is denying the claim however, saying all seat deals are off.

 

Internet Mana is an unusual political beast, but whether you think it’s a roadshow or sideshow – it’s Parliament-bound on Mr Harawira’s coattails.

 

His lieutenant, Ms Sykes, says Labour’s done a deal which will help ensure he wins Te Tai Tokerau.

 

“I think it’s already happening there,” says Ms Sykes.”It’s been informally signalled.”

Labour of course are denying it, but maybe someone who lives in Northland could comment on whether there are any or many billboards up for Kelvin Davis?

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Other Valedictories

July 31st, 2014 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

There were five other valedictories yesterday. Some extracts from each starting with Paul Hutchison:

As science * spokesperson in 2005 and 2008, I was alarmed that New Zealand was well below international benchmarks for research and development both from public and especially private industry investment. The only snag was that by the 2008 election, and the sense of the * global financial crisis, Bill English had said that there was no extra money for science. I cunningly introduced John Key to * Peter Gluckman at his home on several occasions and lobbied hard for science to have greater recognition. The 2008 science policy had some modest but profoundly important changes. There would be greater funding for basic discovery research. A chief scientist would be appointed. Sir Peter Gluckman has been outstanding. Not only has his massive talent and experience informed the shape of our science system since, but he has introduced the idea of having a scientist in each government department in order to achieve evidence-based policy.

I’m all for more evidence-based policy.

In terms of the ** Inquiry into how to improve completion rates of childhood immunisation, I was a bit alarmed when the * Dominion Post captioned an article I had written on this subject “A prick in the right direction.” I did not take it personally. It is hardly conceivable that here in New Zealand, as recently as 2007, our completion rates for 2-year-olds were third world at less than 70 percent. Today, rates are over 90 percent and for 12 out of 20 district health boards, * Māori rates are higher than non-Māori. 

A great achievement.

 I thank all colleagues across the political spectrum where our committee achieved a cross-party consensus over a range of contentious issues, from reproductive health and education, to optimal maternity care, from the socio-economic determinants of health and poverty, to an all-of-Government approach to improve nutrition and prevent the impending burden of long-term chronic diseases such as diabetes. Every member of the committee made great contributions. I really appreciated the collaboration of Kevin Hague and Annette King, who, although we are miles apart on many political issues, see improving all children’s start in life as a national priority for New Zealand, and I thank that always thoughtful journalist Colin James for his positive commentary. We recommended a proactive investment approach from the work of Nobel Laureate* economist James Heckman. The rate of return for the dollar spent on a child is far higher the earlier the investment is made, from preconception on. 

The first few years are important.

Phil Heatley:

My favourite question time was actually as Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture. Colleagues might recall the death of * Happy Feet the * emperor penguin. Gareth Hughes tried to pin the murder of Happy Feet on me and the fishing industry. What Mr Hughes did not know was that the Ministry and I had been GPS*- -tracking Happy Feet since the day he was released into the * Southern Ocean. We compared his GPS position to that of the fishing fleet in order to keep it well away. Happily, on the day when he accused me of the murder, I was able to declare to the House that the fishing industry was innocent and that, in fact, Happy Feet had quite simply become a * Happy Meal.

And there was a happy shark somewhere!

As * Minister of Housing I updated the rental rules of the * Residential Tenancies Act, I began the insulation of every State house in the country, and I got rid of the decades-long notion of a State house for life. 

State houses should and must go to those with the greatest need, not just to those who got in first.

I recall Lockwood Smith, when we were out at dinner once, talking about his waistline. Lockwood was very body conscious. You are not like that at all, Mr Speaker. I remember Lockwood saying “Colleagues, it’s interesting. My chest and my waist are the same as they were when I was 25.” Quick as a flash, Gerry piped up and said “Same with me.”

Heh.

Eric Roy:

One night I could not eat my tea and later that evening I was walking up Glenmore Street and I collapsed. Sometime later, and I am not sure when, a car picked me up and took me to my flat. That was Thursday night. It was Monday before I could get to the doctor. He pushed and prodded and then got me scanned forthwith, and they found that I had lumps inside me as big as footballs, as my entire lymph system had been taken over by an aggressive lymphoma. The oncologist informed me that I had a 20 percent chance of getting through it, which is a kind of code for “Are your insurance premiums up to date?”. They opened me up, then closed me up, and said that there was nothing they could do. So I went home and I was sitting there—this was Wednesday. So the award for the most surreal telephone conversation I have ever had in my life went something like this. Here I am, sitting at home internalising some reasonably significant issues. The phone goes—ring, ring. “Hello, this is Eric.” “This is Murray McCully.” I think, goodness me. The all-knowing black knight has heard about my predicament and he cares. “What’s on your mind, Murray?”. “Um, I have to give a speech in Invercargill on Friday. It’s July and I’ve got a very bad cold. I don’t think I should be going to Invercargill on Friday. Can you do it for me?”. “Murray—um, do you think I really should be doing this? I’m sorry to hear about your cold, but I’m dying of cancer.” There was a long pause, then “Ha, ha! I’ll send you the notes.”

No one was quite sure if Eric was joking or not.

I believe there is, and I have for some time, and I have an increasing feeling that we should do this and that is, make all third reading votes a personal vote. Note well that I am saying personal vote not free vote. I think increasingly there is some isolation and dislocation by members in this House from the actual meaning of voting and we see when a vote comes along, sometimes the groupings left and right advise the minor parties what they are doing. We are seeing increasing times when there is redress sought to either amend the vote or to record in the record of the House what actually was the intention. Even more recently we are seeing the veracity of proxies challenged by points of order or by interjection. I do not think that looks too credible in the eyes of the public. It is not what they expect from their representatives in the highest court of the land. I do realise that there would be a time factor involved in actually doing this. I think the Business Committee could think about how that might be done. One suggestion would be to have any third reading votes immediately after question time the following day, or even one more extended hour in a session of a Parliament would cover for any of that time that had been taken up in that personal vote situation. 

An idea worthy of consideration.

Shane Ardern:

My biggest regret is not being able to see the same structural change in the meat and wool industry. The question is: was I wrong? If Fonterra had not been formed, could members of this House guarantee that our economy would be growing as well as it is today? The answer is no, they could not. So stop criticising the primary industries, and, instead of looking for alternatives that do not exist, celebrate that we are world leaders in agriculture. Why is it that we unite and support our international sporting teams, but when it comes to primary industries, we think that any small provincial structure will succeed?

A good point.

I want to say to this Parliament that Fonterra earns the money that gives us the ability to have a first-class* social system. It allows us the luxury of enormous investment in environmental sustainability and conservation. Internationally, our farmers are known as one of the lowest carbon producers with the highest food safety standards and the most sustainable farming practices. If members are honestly concerned with the environment, then work with the farmers and approach this with an open mind. If you really care about the future of New Zealand, I beg you to spend time on farms speaking with farmers and observing what they do. Look at the money that Fonterra spends on research and investment in environmental issues, despite Fonterra remaining, by international standards, a small farmer cooperative. For example, in the last 5 years 23,000 kilometres of riparian margin planting and fencing of waterways have been completed. That is further than New Zealand to London. It is a long fence. 

The anti-dairying agenda pushed by some,would see us as a country unable to pay for our education and health systems.

Ross Robertson:

The commentators would have you believe that success in politics is charisma. Well, I was standing in another queue the day they handed out charisma. Rather, I have built my career on the principle famously expounded by US Democrat Speaker * Tip O’Neill, that “All politics is local.” Every Saturday for 27 years I have got up at 6.30 and gone to the * Ōtara market, the meeting place of my electorate, where my team of volunteers sell quick-fire raffles and I meet the people. Then I travel to the sports grounds in my electorate and support the local teams. If parents, players, coaches, and referees can be there every Saturday, so can their MP. Around 4 p.m. I go and visit one of the bowling clubs in my electorate, have a cup of tea and a chat. Members should try it. You will be amazed at what you learn, and your constituents become your friends. On Saturday nights for 27 years I have been privileged to have an electorate engagement, and sometimes two or three—perhaps as a guest of honour at a dinner, a * prize-giving, a wedding, a birthday—and 50,000 constituents soon become 50,000 friends. Sunday is God’s day, and I give it to my family and my church. On Mondays and Fridays I see constituents. Rather than always having constituents come to my office, I visit people in their homes because it tells me so much more. I have a programme of electorate visits, so every year I visit every church, temple, and mosque, and every business. I also see each of the more than 40 educational institutions in my electorate at least once a year.

Very good advice on how to be a good local MP.

 I can say that because I have been an Assistant Speaker under four Speakers—two who were Labour and two who were National. I would like to see the day come when the Speaker is nominated by the backbench, as happens in the United Kingdom. 

I think we’d need a bigger backbench for that to happen.

There will be some new faces in the next Parliament. Retiring at this election are 13 National MPs, three Labour MPs and one Green MP.

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Quin on inept Labour

July 31st, 2014 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Phil Quin writes in the Herald:

To paraphrase US comedian Lily Tomlin, who was talking about cynicism at the time, no matter how dire Labour’s political management reveals itself to be, it’s impossible to keep up.

Last week, I broke a cardinal rule and spent some time wading through left-wing blogs, as well as comment sections on more mainstream sites.

Oh dear.

It is clear the small number of Labour, Green and Internet-Mana Party activists who populate these dusty corners of cyberspace have convinced themselves the media are systematically rallying behind John Key’s re-election and conspiring against the left.

The paranoia is hilarious.

Supporters and activists find it much easier to blame straw-men, presumably along with a mandatory 50 per cent of straw-women, than confront the painful truth that the political operation surrounding David Cunliffe is strategically misguided and tactically inept.

Heh, nice dig at quotas. But an important blunt assessment by a former Labour staffer.

To my mind, the Cunliffe apology for being a man was by far the most damaging of these. According to a Herald poll, only 9 per cent of respondents thought the manpology was a smart move, and yet the overwhelming preponderance of leftist commentary insisted either that Cunliffe was right to say sorry for possessing external genitalia, or that the apology wasn’t a big deal.

My mantra during this pre-election period has been that Labour’s strategists are misguided in their conviction that fewer than 30 per cent of the vote is sufficient to form a viable government.

With others, like Shane Jones and Josie Pagani, I have urged the party to lift its sights to become a 40 per cent party, capable of winning a broad spectrum of voters from all parts of the country.

The sad thing is that many on the left celebrated Jones leaving the Labour caucus, and they revile Pagani and want her gone also.

In particular, we make the case that Labour has all but surrendered in provincial New Zealand, and that this is a strategic bungle of epic proportions.

Labour holds just one seat in provincial NZ, and they may lose that one in this election.

If Labour fails to break well into the 30s, the party president and general secretary should resign and party council members should convene urgently to consider their own positions.

It is not shocking in the context of New Zealand electoral history for John Key to win a third term; what is untenable is that he looks set to do so with a higher vote than either of the past two outings.

As for David Cunliffe, he should resign with grace and alacrity as soon as it becomes apparent he is unable to form a government, which might be far earlier on the evening of September 20 than any Labour voter would wish to contemplate.

I’m told David Cunliffe has made it very clear he has no intention to resign in the event of a loss.

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Ryall’s style

July 31st, 2014 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

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Photo by Mark Mitchell, NZ Herald.

It was very amusing to see almost every male National MP yesterday, from the PM down, wearing a bright shirt and tie combination mimicking the trademark style of Tony Ryall who gave his valedictory speech yesterday. A fair few of the female MPs also wore a garish tie.

Some extracts from Tony’s speech:

 I want to acknowledge Dame Jenny Shipley who, as Prime Minister, promoted me to Cabinet in 1997. It was my great privilege to play a part in delivering New Zealand’s first woman Prime Minister, and it was a great privilege. We were a group, as we were planning that, called the “Te Puke Bypass Committee”, as some will remember, and it is a great pleasure to me that we are now spending $400 million on the proper * Te Puke bypass, and that will be opening shortly. 

The hilarious thing about the coup committee calling themselves the Te Puke Bypass Committee is that when a meeting was scheduled in Jenny Shipley’s diary (she was the Transport Minister) her ever efficient SPS proactively asked the Ministry for background papers for the meeting on the Te Puke bypass. A puzzled Ministry informed him that there was no bypass planned, and should they start work on one! :-)

The Prime Minister also gave me the job as Minister of Health. I have got to say this has been the best job in the Government. You work with quality people every day who are dedicated to the welfare of New Zealanders. I wake up most mornings and I turn to my wife and say: “Ugh, imagine being Minister of Education.” 

Heh. The laughter of Hekia was noticeable at this point!

I think over the last 6 years our doctors and nurses in the team have delivered exceptional results for New Zealanders across quality, productivity, and the financial domains within constrained funding—those six national health targets. You know, doctors and nurses are very competitive people, and no one likes being at the bottom of those national health targets. That has really driven much better performance—40,000 extra elective surgeries, quicker emergency departments, and much faster cancer treatment. Immunisation—I noted Dr Hutchison talked about the fact that in 10 of our 20 district health boards, the 2-year-old Māori immunisation rate is now higher than the Pākehā immunisation rate. No one would ever have thought that that was possible in New Zealand. 

That is a huge turn-around.

Tobacco smoking—fantastic work that we have done there. I went to the * World Health Assembly in Geneva—I have got to say, I have taken only two overseas trips, Prime Minister, as Minister of Health. I was there talking about this work that we are doing in smoke-free New Zealand by 2025, a programme that we have systematised across the whole country called ABC—ask if you are a smoker; if you are, it is a “b” for a brief conversation, because that is quite effective in getting people to quit; and, “c”, offer you cessation medicine—ABC. So I went to the World Health Assembly and I was giving a talk about this. I do not know how many people in this House have ever given a speech where you lose your audience—it had never happened to me before that time. Everyone from Africa started talking amongst themselves, and I thought “Oh my goodness, I have caused an international incident.” So I completed my contribution and I sat down next to a lady from Jamaica, and I said “Why was everyone from Africa sort of quite dislocated by my speech?”. She said “Well, in Africa, they have ABC for HIV Aids—“a” for abstinence, “b” for being faithful, and “c”, if you cannot be faithful, use a condom.”, and they could not work out how that stopped smoking.

:-)

It always pays to be very careful. Jo Goodhew, as the Associate Minister, is doing this hand hygiene thing. I was visiting an endoscopy suite a couple of years ago and I thought, well here is a great photo opportunity with the hand gel, which I did, and proceeded to rub my hands, to which every person in the endoscopy suite theatre gasped in horror. I thought “What is all the worry here?”. Of course, it was lubricating gel.

This was my favourite joke.

I think there are five big mega trends and it is just the interaction between all of them is going to change health care completely. The first of the five is care closer to home. All this care is coming out of hospitals into communities, into people’s homes, pharmacists, general practitioners, home care workers, nutrition advisers—all these people are playing a greater role, and there is going to be this much greater responsibility that we are all going to have to take for our health care in something that they call self-care. It is a bit like Air New Zealand—it is getting us to do all the work and we like it. This is where we are going to have to take responsibility. Sir Ron Avery is developing a piece of technology the size of your wrist watch, with a beam that comes on your wrist and measures your temperature, your blood pressure, and your pulse, and that information is then transmitted to a device that can be monitored by your general practice.

So you can imagine this technology thing is going to change everything. That is my second point—that this anywhere, anytime use of innovative technology is going to change our health care. It is this device it is just going to help change everything over the next 5 years to 10 years. You are going to be able to plug your own personal ultrasound device into your cellphone. You can imagine beaming that message to your local general practitioner. These advances are incredible. Thirdly, intelligence and insight from big data—this work that we are doing, collecting information across Government departments, across patients, across people with all the privacy protections, is going to allow us to build a picture on how health care interventions change people’s lives, and the best place to do it. Fourth is personalised medicine. All this knowledge about your genome and your biomarkers is going to allow clinicians to develop very personalised therapies solely to you. They are going to be able to provide you with information about your risk factors into the future. These have huge ethical issues about whether we actually want to know these risks, but this personalised medicine is going to be amazing. I think the fifth big trend that is going to affect health care is that we are going to have this expanding role of non-physicians and payment that actually rewards the quality of care and the outcome that people provide.

It was fascinating to hear Tony talk of the big picture in health and where he sees the future.

But I cannot finish off without acknowledging my three comrades, Bill, Nick, and Roger. You know, Parliament can be a very lonely place. It can be full of self-doubt and frustrated ambition. I think it is pretty unusual for any member of Parliament to have had three very close friends throughout their whole career. The relationship with those guys has been enduring and sustaining. They are extremely capable people who have continued to be friends over the last 25 years. Contrary to public opinion, we have never worked as a group. Frankly, we can never agree on anything. On any issue, it is always 2:2, and the two always varies. So it has been wonderful to have that association with them. It has just been the most fantastic association anyone could have in Parliament, and I have just really appreciated the support that those guys have given. 

MPs may often have lots of friendly colleagues, but quite rare to have them become life-long friends. It was quite cool to see not just the Ryall family in Parliament for the valedictory, but the wives and kids of his friends also.

Tony’s departure does leave a big gap in National’s ranks. His successor as Minister of Health will have a very challenging time.

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Labour’s Hobbit Haters are back

July 31st, 2014 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

The Labour Party wants to repeal the law changes that were ceded to Warner Bros over The Hobbit films, a move which the Government says would cripple the $3 billion screen industry.

The Greens policies will kill off the oil industry while Labour’s would kill off the film industry. Combine the two of them together, and you shudder.

A $2 boost in the minimum wage to $16.25 an hour by early 2015 would mean an extra $4000 a year for those workers – but the Government was quick to dismiss this as costing up to 6000 jobs.

Why stop at $16.25? Why not $25 an hour?

Mr Bridges said the minimum wage in New Zealand was the highest in the world, relative to the average wage.

It is. The way to grow wages is to increase productivity, not by legislation.

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Will Mark succeed Peters?

July 31st, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Carterton mayor Ron Mark is not ruling out a return to Parliament.

The former New Zealand First MP said he had been approached by several parties including National.

“I have been asked by a number of parties. NZ First asked me last time and I said no and they have asked me this time and I am thinking about it,” Mark said.

Mark, 60, was a NZ First MP for 12 years before exiting Parliament, along with the Party, at the end of the 2008 election.

He said National have made it very clear that he would be “welcome in their tent”, with the Maori Party and Act also eager to talk.

“It’s all very flattering but you’ve got to think about what it is you really want to achieve and how best to achieve that, more importantly what the Wairarapa needs,” Mark says.

The horse may have bolted when it comes to National, however, with the Party announcing its list at the weekend.

Mark said he believed NZ First was well placed to return to Parliament at the September 20 Election.

“People have said to me you have to come back because we are going to be in Parliament and I said to Winston [Peters] that if that is the only reason for joining then that is the wrong reason.

“I am sure they will be back there, the question is will I be with them . . . I know that they are anxious to have me.”

If Ron Mark does return to Parliament as a NZ First MP, it will be to be Winston’s successor. That is not a bad thing.

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General Debate 31 July 2014

July 31st, 2014 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel
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Another billion dollar Green ban

July 31st, 2014 at 6:07 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

A Green Party policy to protect Maui’s dolphins could cost Taranaki thousands of jobs and billions of dollars, Conservation Minister Nick Smith says.

Yesterday the Green Party announced a new policy to ban set-net fishing, trawling and gas and oil exploration within reserve areas that are home to the 55 Maui’s dolphins.

The move could have a significant impact on both Taranaki’s fishing and oil and gas industries, Smith said.

“There has not been a single incident involving Maui’s dolphin and Taranaki’s $3 billion oil and gas industry in over 40 years,” Smith said.

It is fishing that kill dolphins, not drilling. The Greens hate oil and gas because it upsets Gaia, so they are using the dolphins as a pretext to eventually wipe out Taranaki’s oil industry.

“The prohibition on any new oil and gas exploration in this large area will come at a huge economic cost long term not just to Taranaki, but more widely to New Zealand.

“This extreme Green policy will cost Taranaki thousands of jobs and billions of dollars.”

If you ban any new exploration, that means you will eventually kill the industry off. The Greens think this means everyone will abandon their cars, but instead it will just mean that we become more dependent on imports.

However, New Plymouth’s Labour candidate Andrew Little said the party did not support a ban of offshore drilling. “The biggest risk is set-nets,” he said.

“There’s no evidence that offshore drilling has an impact on Maui’s dolphins, so we can’t support that.

Good to have some sense from Labour, but we have to remember that on current polling the Greens would probably expect to get around a third of their policies implemented if they are in Government, as they are polling at around half Labour’s level.

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www.govt.nz

July 30th, 2014 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Attended the launch of the revamped Government portal, www.govt.nz, last night. With a goal of having 70% of transactions with the Government done online, it is important to be able to easily find out where to do them.

The site is clean and simple. Sensible categories, and information. I tried searching on various terms such as “pay tax” and “Milford Track and it came up with the page I wanted. The only term it didn’t cover was “tenders”.

So overall seems to be a successful revamp, that will be a good gateway for residents and organisations to use to find out where most Government information is online.

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CAA must take some responsibility for deaths

July 30th, 2014 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

When the Wairarapa ballooning tragedy which killed 11 first occurred, I thought it was just incredibly bad luck.

It then emerged the pilot was probably under the influence of cannabis, and I basically blamed the pilot – but thought there was not much you can do if a pilot who is also the owner is stupid enough to do such a thing – that it was a one off.

But it turns out the CAA had complaints in the past and did nothing. That is appalling. The Dom Post reports:

The Civil Aviation Authority took no action when told a balloon pilot had been too “pissed and/or high” to fly, an inquest has been told.

It had also been told Lance Hopping, 53, had cheated on pilot exams and impersonated a CAA official.

And he was still licensed!

Sherriff suggested that if the complaints had been revealed that would have prevented the tragedy.

They included an allegation Hopping had on more than one occasion been too “pissed and/or too high” to fly, causing flights to be suspended.

And nothing happened!

Earlier, a CAA manager said further safety restrictions on commercial balloonists could put some out of business.

Tough. 11 people would still be alive though.

The Herald reported:

During questioning in the inquest, Chris Ford from the CAA confirmed there had been a number of Aviation Related Concerns (ARC) about Mr Hopping in the years before the crash.

Those concerns included an ARC on February 4, 2010 about a balloon flight that was cancelled because Mr Hopping appeared “too pissed and/or too high to perform piloting duties”, the report said.

That incident was not isolated, the report said.

“In one incident within the previous two years, an on board crew person had to take over the controls of the balloon because Mr Hopping was incapable of landing it on his own due to impairment.”

Another related to an unauthorised notebook being found on the pilot as he was sitting a flying exam.

“A layman would call that cheating, wouldn’t they?” Mr Sherriff asked Mr Ford, who agreed.

So twice before they knew he had been too pissed or stoned to pilot, and again did nothing. And they knew he cheated on his exams.

The two CAA investigators tasked with looking into the ARCs decided the information they had was “insufficiently reliable” to justify an interview with Mr Hopping, the report said.

“This was because the information provided was of a hearsay nature, from persons who may have had their own agenda in making the assertions.

But they didn’t even talk to him!!!!

A medical certificate in 2004 pointed to Mr Hopping’s “binge drinking” and a note that he should drink more moderately was made.

So the warning bells were not subtle!

Hopping is the person most to blame for what happened. But the CAA are complicit in the 11 deaths in my view.

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What’s the actual rail growth?

July 30th, 2014 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Hefty patronage growth on Auckland trains is making the city’s transport authority bullish about meeting the Government’s conditions for an early start on the $2.86 billion underground rail project.

“We think it’s highly realistic,” Auckland Transport chairman Lester Levy said yesterday of the organisation’s prospects of persuading the Government to let it start digging twin rail tunnels between Britomart and Mt Eden before 2020.

He was commenting on a report to his board of a 13.9 per cent increase in rail patronage for the year to June 30, to 11.4 million passenger trips.

That sounds like a big increase.

That was 1.4 million trips more than last year, when patronage fell in the wake of the 2011 Rugby World Cup, interrupting a steady upward trajectory since Britomart opened in 2003 handling 2.5 million passengers.

So 2011 and 2012 figures are skewed by the World Cup. So let’s go back to 2010. That was 10 million trips a year. This year it is 11.5 million trips a year. But how many is that in terms of annual commuters? Let’s assume 250 working days and two trips a day.

In 2010 that was 20,000 Aucklanders using rail daily and and in 2014 it is 23,000 Aucklanders using rail daily. That is growth of 750 Aucklanders a year. It is 15% growth over four years which is just under 4% a year.

To make the target of 20 million trips to bring the CRL forward, you need over 12% growth a year.

Personally I think it will be a good thing if they do achieve ongoing 12% growth, and the CRL does happen earlier rather than later. But I’m somewhat doubtful that you assume growth based on the change over one year only. Let’s see what happens in the next 12 months.

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Jamie Whyte on race based law

July 30th, 2014 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Jamie Whyte has done a speech on the place of race in the law. Some people will react kneejerk against it and say it is Maori bashing, but I actually think he makes his points by avoiding inflammatory rhetoric, and focusing on principles and outcomes.  Some extracts:

David Cunliffe recently apologised to a Women’s Refuge symposium:

“I don’t often say it – I’m sorry for being a man … because family and sexual violence is overwhelmingly perpetrated by men.”

The Prime Minister accused Cunliffe of being insincere. Maybe he was.

Or maybe not. The apology conforms to Labour party thinking. Whereas we in ACT believe in personal responsibility, the Labour party believes in collective responsibility.

Those who believe in collective responsibility see people not so much as individuals but as members of groups: men and women, gays and heterosexuals, the rich and the poor, Maori and Pakeha.

For example, the Labour Party has a rule that half the people on their list must be women. This is intended to ensure equal parliamentary representation for women.

Labour believes that a man cannot represent a woman in parliament, even if she votes for him. And that a woman automatically represents other women, even if they did not vote for her or disagree with her. All that matters is group membership.

Similarly, Cunliffe believes he is responsible for sexual violence, even though has never perpetrated any, simply because he is a man.

This “identity politics” comes easily to many people. It is a way of thinking with ancient roots in mankind’s tribal history.

Nevertheless, it is ugly. It is the mindset that lies behind such obscenities as collective punishment and clan feuding.

Identity politics is one reason I could never vote left. I am socially liberal on a fair few issues, but I firmly believe in treating people as individuals, not just as members of a gender, race or other identity.

Alas, the principle that the law should be impartial has never been fully embraced in New Zealand. Even today, after any number of equal rights movements, New Zealand law makes a citizen’s rights depend on her race.

The reparations made to iwi by the Waitangi Tribunal are NOT an example of this. The Treaty of Waitangi gave Maori property rights over the land they occupied. Many violations of these rights followed. The remedies provided by the Waitangi Tribunal are not a case of race-based favouritism. They are recognition of property rights and, therefore, something that we in ACT wholeheartedly support.

Good to have that stated. I strongly support them also.

Many people have opinions about what other people should do with their property. Under the Resource Management Act, how much weight your opinion carries depends on your race. If you are Maori, you have a say on these matters that others lack.

Some state run or state directed organisations openly practice race-based favouritism. I know a woman who has raised children by two fathers, one Pakeha and the other Maori. If her Pakeha son wants to attend law school at Auckland University, he will have to get much higher grades than her Maori son.

That’s a good example. They are raised by the same mother in the same household, with the same access to opportunities. But the blood line of their fathers gives one of them a privilege the other does not have.

The question is why race-based laws are tolerated, not just by the Maori and Internet-Mana Parties, but by National, Labour and the Greens.

I suspect the reason is confusion about privilege.

Maori are legally privileged in New Zealand today, just as the Aristocracy were legally privileged in pre-revolutionary France.

But, of course, in our ordinary use of the word, it is absurd to say that Maori are privileged. The average life expectancy of Maori is significantly lower than Pakeha and Asian. Average incomes are lower. Average educational achievement is lower.

Again it is good he stated this. Overall Maori are not privileged. They do worse in most areas we deem important. But just because they are under-privileged in many areas, does not mean it is incorrect to say they have some special legal privileges.

Legal privilege offends people less when the beneficiaries are not materially privileged, when they are generally poorer than those at a legal disadvantage.

Absolutely. The argument is you use legal privilege to try and compensate for the lack of privilege in other areas. But is that a good idea?

Apparently, many people do need to be reminded why the principle of legal equality is important.

It is important because, without it, society becomes a racket.

When people are equal before the law, they can get ahead only by offering other people goods or services that they value. We are all playing to the same rules, and we do well only if we “deliver the goods”. This promotes not only economic growth and prosperity but civility. It forces people to attend to the preferences of others.

Where people enjoy legal privilege, by contrast, they can get ahead without doing anything of value for other people. Because the system is rigged in their favour, they don’t need to “deliver the goods”.

Suppose, for example, that the government decided that Japanese women deserved a legal privilege. They should be allowed to erect barriers across the roads they live on. Anyone wanting to proceed down the road must negotiate with these women to get the barriers lifted.

This would provide Japanese women with an opportunity to make easy money by charging people a fee to lift their barriers. It would thereby divert them from productive occupations. It would drive up the cost of travelling around the city, as people either took longer routes or paid the fees. And it would create feelings of resentment towards Japanese women.

This may sound fanciful. But it is precisely the situation that the Resource Management Act (RMA) has created with regard to resource consents and iwi. If you want to proceed with developing land near iwi, you may well have to pay iwi for permission to proceed. That easy money diverts Maori from more productive activity, drives up the cost of developing land and creates resentment towards Maori.

This is sadly true. It incentivises some Iwi to make money from opposing developments, rather than encouraging them to be involved in their own. Of course not true in all cases, such as Ngai Tahu.

Nor does legal privilege do Maori any good over the long-run.

Allow me another analogy. Imagine that SANZAR, the body that administers the Super 15, decided that the Blues deserved a legal privilege. Whereas all the other teams will continue to earn 5 points for a try, the Blues will earn 10.

This would benefit Blues players over the short-term. They would win many more games than they now do. But giving the Blues this advantage in the rules would reduce their incentive to work hard on their skills and fitness. After a while, standards of play at the Blues would decline. Fewer Blues players would be selected for the All Blacks.

Return to those half-brothers I mentioned earlier: one Pakeha who will need an “A” to get into law school, one Maori who will need only a “C”. Which one is more likely to work hard at school? Which one is more likely to make the most of his potential?

Such scheme are very well intended, but I share the concern that they do more harm than good in the long run.

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Talent2 sacked/exits Novopay

July 30th, 2014 at 11:48 am by David Farrar

3 News reports:

The Government will take complete control of Novopay, with its owners Talent2 exiting as the provider of the education payroll system.

3 News has learned Talent2 will pay a cash settlement worth millions of dollars to the Government.

The control of Novopay will be transferred to a Government-owned entity, and is likely to be renamed.

It follows disagreements between the Government and Talent2 over the Novopay contract.

Talent2 is the Australian company behind the flawed payroll system.

It is also understood all Novopay staff will transfer to the new government entity and there will be no job losses.

The Government will also take control of the software as part of the negotiated settlement.

The overall settlement package is thought to be worth somewhere between $18-22 million.

I think that is a very good outcome, and very pleasing to see a significant settlement in favour of taxpayers.

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NZ Taxis against Uber

July 30th, 2014 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Controversial car travel app Uber is eyeing the Wellington market but the taxi federation says it is illegal under New Zealand law and warns that it is “sugar-coated poison” that will lead to higher fares.

Uber has denied claims it was operating illegally since it started in May in Auckland, where people can book a ride from motorists who are not cabbies.

The New Zealand Transport Agency said Uber was effectively acting as a booking agent for a network of private hire service providers – not as a taxi firm – and those private hire services were a long-established form of passenger service in New Zealand.

The Taxi Federation doesn’t like the idea of competition. I do. Can’t wait for Uber to get here.

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Peters (sort of) rules out Mana and Maori

July 30th, 2014 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Winston Peters says NZ First will sit in Opposition rather than go into coalition with any “race based” party.

On his way into Parliament today, Peters repeated earlier comments that NZ First might sit on the cross benches rather than go into a coalition that undermined its principles, including its opposition to what it calls “Maori separatism”.

“We are not going to be in any combination that is race-based,” Peters said.

As usual Peters has left wriggle room. What does go into coalition with mean? For example National has no coalition partners at the moment – only supply and confidence partners. Secondly National is the party in a relationship with both ACT and Maori Party but ACT does not have a relationship with the Maori Party directly.

And what does sit on the cross benches mean? Does that mean still vote for the Government, vote against the Government or abstain on supply and confidence?

I imagine that any journalist that ask Peters those questions will get abused, called a moron, and told their position is absolutely clear.

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Transmission Gully is go this year – if the Government does not change

July 30th, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Construction of the Transmission Gully motorway north of Wellington has finally been given the green light, and its true cost has finally been revealed.

The Government today inked a public-private partnership deal that will see the first sod turned later this year, almost a century after the project was first mooted.

While resource consent was granted back in 2012, the motorway’s fate was not assured until a contract had been hashed out with the Australian-led consortium that will build it.

Today’s deal means taxpayers finally know how much the 27-kilometre four-lane link between Linden, south of Porirua, and McKays Crossing, north of Paekakariki, will cost them.

Construction works out to be $850 million in today’s dollars, which is $25m less than it would have cost if the transport agency built the motorway.

Excellent.

The New Zealand Transport Agency says Transmission Gully will save motorists 7.3 minutes heading south and 6.3 minutes heading north during periods of heavy congestion.

The road is also a key component of the Government’s $2.6 billion project to build a 110km four-lane expressway between Levin and Wellington Airport, which will slash about 40 minutes off that journey during the morning peak.

That is huge.

But they have not said when the first sod is turned. If actual construction has not started by 20 September, my fear is that the Greens will demand the road be scrapped as price for coalition with Labour, if there is a change of Government.

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General Debate 30 July 2014

July 30th, 2014 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel
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A 21% chance he would die in office

July 30th, 2014 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Speaking to a full house of mostly middle-aged or elderly people in Nelson, Conservative Party leader Colin Craig introduced the man he wants to be their MP – 81-year-old John Green.

Good to see he is active at that age and wanting to engage. I couldn’t resist morbidly working out the chance that, if elected, he would not survive the three year term. He has a 93.3% chance of getting through the first year, 92.4% the second and 91.5% the third which combined is a 78.9% chance, or a 21% chance of not making it.

That got me thinking about other elderly politicians. Winston will be 70 next April and according to Stats NZ has a 10.8% chance of dying in office in the next three year term - if he is elected.

For the John Key haters out there, he only has a 1.1% chance of dying in the next three years, and if he gets a 4th term, only a 1.4% chance of dying during that Parliament!

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Family Court reforms working

July 29th, 2014 at 5:09 pm by David Farrar

Judith Collins announced:

More parents are resolving their disputes outside of court only months after the Government’s family justice reforms came into effect, Justice Minister Judith Collins announced today.

“Progress to date confirms our reforms are empowering people to resolve their parenting disputes outside of court, minimising the stress children often face when their parents separate,” Ms Collins says.

Since the Government’s reforms came into effect on 31 March this year, 562 assessments for the New Family Disputes Resolution (FDR) mediation service have been completed and another 530 are in progress.

Of the 122 mediations completed, 87 (71 per cent) have resolved all matters in dispute between parties, without going to court. Urgent matters, such as those involving family violence, still go straight to court.

The number of Guardianship applications to the Family Court has also dropped from 481 per week to 231 per week.

That’s great. Going to court should be the last resort for family disputes, but it was basically the first resort for any couples with parenting disputes.

“It’s fantastic to see parents making a real effort to work their problems out themselves. As a result, they avoid the unnecessary conflict, delays and expense the court process may involve, and the Family Court remains free to focus on the most serious and urgent matters.”

Mediation is much preferable to court action, except of course for cases of violence etc. This is a really encouraging trend.

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Gower on what Peters will do

July 29th, 2014 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Patrick Gower writes:

Kim Dotcom has done John Key a big favour.

He has pushed Winston Peters into Key’s arms and made it highly unlikely that the NZ First leader would choose the Labour-Greens over of National if he held the balance of power.

Key’s dalliance with Conservative Party leader Colin Craig was all about having some insurance against a Labour-Green-NZ First Government.

One of Key’s big worries was that that Peters would go with the Labour/Green side in some form. But the arrival and ongoing rise of the Internet-Mana party has changed all that.

On current polling numbers, a Labour-led Government would need the Greens, NZ First and Internet-Mana to get anywhere close.

And David Cunliffe has repeatedly and pointedly refused to rule out working with Internet-Mana to form a Government.

Despite his previous antipathy towards the Greens, I think Peters is now close enough to them on central economic issues to work with them in Government.

But Internet-Mana is a different story – Peters won’t want a bar of them.

Peters thinks Dotcom is a criminal and Mana Party leader Hone Harawira is a separatist.

This is what he told me when I interviewed him on The Nation two weeks ago, and asked if he would work with Internet-Mana: “We don’t back race-based politics, we’re in this for everybody in this country as equals and the second thing is the idea of somebody coming here with a criminal record and setting up after five months a political party to run New Zealand is simply an outrage”.

That’s pretty much a “No” to Internent-Mana right there.

So looking at the current political landscape, a Labour-led Government might need the Internet-Mana actually in a formal coalition itself, or use it’s votes to get a majority.

Any way Internet-Mana is involved would be anathema to Peters.

Let’s get a few things straight here:

  • Peters is not going to form a Government that involves Dotcom.
  • Peters is not going to form a Government that involves Harawira.
  • Peters is not going to form a Government that involves Annette Sykes (she would be in on current 3 News-Reid Research polling).
  • Peters is not going to form a Government that involves John Minto (close to getting in on current polling).

Peters is looking for a legacy.

He does not want that legacy to be the fourth player propping up an untested Labour-Green-Internet-Mana combo, cutting out a popular Government out on the other side.

I think Gower is right that Winston is not keen to put a Labour-Green-Mana-Dotcom alliance into Government. However he may support Labour on condition that Cunliffe doesn’t give Greens or Mana any ministerial roles. But the problem will be they’d be able to block any legislation he agrees with Labour.

However Peters, if he holds the balance, may over-reach and demand too much of National. I don’t think Key will agree to a deal at any price, and if so then Peters might still go with the left.

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Internet Party and social media

July 29th, 2014 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Matthew Beveridge blogs on two social media gaffes by the Internet Party.

  1. Dotcom posting a joke about Batman killing a hooker
  2. The Internet Party a modified version of Picasso’s Guernica, which was about the bombing of the Spanish village by German and Italian planes, killing many civilians

Matthew has a collection of tweets in response, which are interesting.

This is not the first time by Dotcom. He actually tweeted some rape jokes a while back. Yet Laila Harre has no compunction about being his mouthpiece, while also condemning the “rape culture” in New Zealand.

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Fish and Game

July 29th, 2014 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reported:

Conservation Minister Nick Smith is considering legal action after he was accused of trying to stop advocacy group Fish and Game from lobbying for cleaner rivers.

Dr Smith attended a meeting with Fish and Game Council, an independent advocacy group, on July 18.

Association of Freshwater Anglers president David Haynes said Dr Smith bullied councillors at the meeting and appeared to be trying to get them to pull back on their lobbying on water quality. …

Dr Smith rejected these claims, saying a Department of Conservation official had taken a record of the meeting which did not match the accusations of political interference.

He told Radio New Zealand he wanted Fish and Game to engage more with agriculture and irrigation in order to get the best outcomes for freshwater quality.

“While it is absolutely right for them to advocate for freshwater, I do think they sometimes got into the space of being anti New Zealand’s most important industry, that being the dairy industry.”

The minister released the DOC official’s notes this morning. One of the bullet points in the notes said: “F&G need to work out what they want to be: a statutory body [with] legislation and a relationship with Government, or an NGO?”

I agree 1000% with the bullet point. Fish and Game can be a body with statutory forcible funding from hunters and fishers or it can be a lobby group where people who share its views voluntarily decide to join it and fund it.  But it can not be both. Lobby groups should be funded by those who share their views, not funded by taxpayers or though a legislative levy.  That is not to say such organisations can not express a view on issues, but there is a line between expressing a view and using your statutory funding to run partisan campaigns.

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Parliament Today 29 July 2014

July 29th, 2014 at 12:41 pm by Jordan.M

Questions for Oral Answer

Questions to Ministers 2.00PM-3.ooPM.

  1. METIRIA TUREI to the Prime Minister: Does he have confidence in all his Ministers?
  2. DAVID BENNETT to the Minister of Finance: What progress has the Government made in delivering on its economic objectives for this term of Parliament?
  3. Hon DAVID CUNLIFFE to the Prime Minister: Does he stand by his statement that there are “plenty of jobs out there”; if so, why are there 42,000 more people unemployed now than when he took office?
  4. JOANNE HAYES to the Minister of Justice: What recent reports has she received on the Family Dispute Resolution services in the reformed Family Justice system?
  5. Hon DAVID PARKER to the Minister of Finance: Will the forecasts in the Treasury PREFU include the effects of the recent fall in the overall value of exports, including log and dairy price drops?
  6. TIM MACINDOE to the Minister of Education: What recent announcements has she made on schools addressing difficult behaviours of students?
  7. JACINDA ARDERN to the Minister for Social Development: Does she agree with the Prime Minister’s statement that “the fastest way to get children and grown up New Zealanders out of poverty is through work”, when the latest report on household incomes states that two out of five children living in poverty are in households where at least one adult is in full time work or self-employed?
  8. Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS to the Prime Minister: Is he satisfied that the current Minister of Immigration is working for all New Zealanders?
  9. EUGENIE SAGE to the Minister of Conservation: Does he stand by his statement that “the Government needs to take a broader perspective than just Fish and Game’s advocacy for their recreational fishing”?
  10. PHIL TWYFORD to the Minister of Transport: Does he stand by all his statements?
  11. Dr PAUL HUTCHISON to the Minister of Health: What investment has the Government made to increase the number of live kidney donor transplantations in New Zealand?
  12. Hon RUTH DYSON to the Minister of Conservation: Does he stand by all his recent statements?

Today Labour are asking about unemployment, exports, child poverty, and whether the Minister of Transport, and the Minister of Conservation stand by their statements. The Greens are asking about whether the Prime Minister has confidence in all his Ministers, and the Fish and Game council. New Zealand First is asking about immigration.

Patsy of the day goes to Dr Paul Hutchison for Question 11: What investment has the Government made to increase the number of live kidney donor transplantations in New Zealand?

Government Bills 3.00PM-6.ooPM and 7.30PM-10.00PM.

1. Appropriation (2014/15 Estimates) Bill – Third Reading

2. Local Government Act 2002 Amendment Bill (No 3) - Third Reading (Interrupted)

3. Veterans’ Support Bill – Third Reading

The Appropriation (2014/2015 Estimates) Bill is being guided through the house by the Minister of Finance, Bill English. This bill seeks parliamentary authorisation of the individual appropriations contained in The Estimates of Appropriations for the Government of New Zealand for the year ending 30 June 2015 .

The Local Government Act 2002 Amendment Bill (No 3) is being guided through the house by the Associate Minister for Local Government, Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga. This bill would implement the Government’s second phase of legislative reform relating to the operation of local government.

The Veterans’ Support Bill is being guided through the house by the Minister for Veteran’s Affairs, Michael Woodhouse. This bill proposes a new support scheme for veterans of military service that would replace the current scheme prescribed in the War Pensions Act 1954.

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