Abel Tasman Coastal Track Day 5

February 13th, 2016 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

AT0100

Only a two hour tramp to the end today so we left at 9.30 am – a much more sociable time. Will must the hut – such a good idea to use an old homestead for it.

AT0101

One of the local weka having a drink.

AT0102

The track starts at the back of the hut.

AT0103

A nice green path at first.

AT0104

Today is the biggest climb, but still only 200 metres. You can see the hut we left behind.

AT0105

More traditional tramping path higher up.

AT0106

And a weka crossing the path.

AT0107

Then we get our first glimpse of Wainui Bay from the top.

AT0108

The final 45 minutes is heading down the cliffside track.

AT0109

The Wainui Inlet.

AT0110

And finally the track out to the Wainui car park where we got picked up by Trek Express and back to the airport.

Previously my favourite Great Walk has been the Heaphy. But it is now the Abel Tasman. The sheer beauty of the bays, beaches and bush is stunning. Can’t wait to return there.

Law Commission recommends speedier extradition processes

February 13th, 2016 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

A central authority should be set up to deal with extradition requests and tailor-made rules should be followed to avoid the kind of uncertainty and delay that has characterised the Kim Dotcom case, the Law Commission says.

The growing problem of cross-border crime means the law should be changed to ensure New Zealand does its part, a review by the commission has concluded.

The report, released today, contains three key recommendations:

•Requests from the vast majority of countries should be processed in the same way. Currently, the formal extradition steps vary considerably depending on which country is making the request, and treaties in place that are mostly over 100 years old.

The commission recommends that only Australia and probably the United Kingdom should be entitled to have requests dealt with through a “simplified” process, meaning the District Court would not examine the strength of the prosecution case against the person sought.

•Tailor-made rules should guide extradition proceedings. There should be a single appeal route, rather than the current regime that enables multiple and separate appeals and judicial reviews.

The commission said the litigation surrounding the Kim Dotcom extradition case — Dotcom and his three co-accused were arrested in January 2012 — highlighted that procedural uncertainty can cause considerable delay.

•A new central authority should be created to manage all extradition requests. It would consider whether to commence an extradition proceeding, a call that would involve assessing the likelihood of success.

These proposals sound excellent. It is farcical that the DotCom case will end up taking the best part of five years and several dozen court hearings.

Progress on a new cable

February 13th, 2016 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

New Zealand and Pacific Island governments have agreed to work to ensure a new submarine cable is laid across the Pacific, after meeting in Auckland.

The intervention makes it more likely that one of the two existing plans to lay a new cable to and from New Zealand will succeed, according to a Cook Islands minister.

Internet access in the Pacific is expensive and limited. For example, the Cook Islands relies entirely on expensive satellite communications to carry phone calls and internet traffic, Cook Islands finance minister Mark Brown said.

A “standard” broadband plan in the Cook Islands costing $49 a month comes with a meagre 6 gigabyte data cap – and with 100 millisecond lag, business is stifled and video-gaming has yet to take off.

Representatives from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) met with delegations from the Cook Islands, Niue, Tokelau and French Polynesia on Thursday to discuss improving internet connectivity in the region.

The ministry has since issued a communique saying officials would present leaders with “solutions for a submarine cable and satellite infrastructure” to improve communications for the islands by August.

New Zealand would “facilitate the planning and development phases of the project”, it said.

Auckland-based Hawaiki hopes to build a $500 million cable linking Australia and New Zealand to the United States via several Pacific Islands, but has had a series of disappointments securing the last remaining $150m it requires.

Another firm, Spain’s Bluesky, aims to build a cable from New Zealand as far as Hawaii, also connecting other islands en route – including American Samoa where it has a subsidiary business.

Brown said representatives from private companies Hawaiki Cable and Bluesky attended the Auckland meeting and it seemed they had the most viable options to improve internet access in the region.

This is good for such a cable will not just link up some Pacific countries, but provide a second cable between NZ and the US.

Auditor-General Lyn Provost

February 13th, 2016 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

An interesting profile in Stuff of Auditor-General Lyn Provost. An interesting extract:

Police Association president Greg O’Connor initially supported Provost’s appointment, until she was given operational command of three police districts. That, he said, was “like an army contingent in East Timor being run by a bureaucrat”. On reflection, though, he thinks she did “a remarkable job”.

Having a civilian in charge of three districts was controversial at the time, but for O’Connor to say she did a remarkable job is high praise.

General Debate 13 February 2016

February 13th, 2016 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel

I hope we do this here

February 13th, 2016 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald Sun reports:

WESTERN suburbs welfare cheats have been busted for rorting more than $4.5 million from Centrelink.

The Federal Government confirmed that investigators from the Department of Human Services had uncovered widespread fraud in the suburb of Werribee.

Of 3072 cases audited from last October to last month, 1888 were found to involve overpayments or fraud.

Seven people have since been charged; five were later arrested for failing to face court.

Werribee is the second local government area to be investigated after Rockdale, Sydney.

The Federal Government confirmed that DHS investigators were monitoring social media sites to catch people incriminating themselves over false spousal or financial arrangements with Centrelink

What a good idea. I hope WINZ do this in NZ. It seems they do to at least some degree which is good.

Now there are six

February 12th, 2016 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Chris Christie and Carly Fiorina are out. That leaves Trump, Cruz, Rubio, Kasich, Bush and Carson.

Kasich will drop out at some stage. He has little support so that will have little impact.

When Bush drops out, I suspect most of his support will go to Rubio.

The interesting one will be Carson. Who will his support go to? Trump or Cruz or possibly Rubio?

The exit polls for New Hampshire are interesting. By age on the Democratic side the margins are:

  • Under 30s: Sanders +67%
  • 30 – 39: Sanders +45%
  • 40 – 49: Sanders +22%
  • 50 – 64: Sanders +3%
  • 65+: Clinton +9%

The WP also has their winners and losers:

Winners

  • Donald Trump
  • Bernie Sanders
  • John Kasich
  • Michael Bloomberg

Losers

  • Hillary Clinton
  • Chris Christie
  • Marco Rubio
  • Ben Carson
  • Carly Fiorina

Bad decisions have consequences

February 12th, 2016 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Tara Nettleton, the widow of Australian Islamic State terrorist Khaled Sharrouf, has died in Syria from complications associated with appendicitis.

The former Sydney woman is believed to have died some time ago after she was unable to access life-saving health services.

It is believed that the mother of five was living in Raqqa with four of her children and one grandchild after the death of her husband as recently as last year.

Tara’s husband Khaled Sharrouf slipped out of Australia in December 2013 using his brother’s passport and joined Islamic State, meeting up with his friend and fellow terrorist, Mohamed Elomar.

Tara and their children followed via Turkey soon afterwards.

So she willingly chose to go t Syria from Australia. She was not forced or coerced.

Sad that she is dead, but bad decisons often have consequences. She chose to leave a country with excellent health care to go live in the Islamic State.

Mr Van Alst told Fairfax Media that Karen said the second worst day of her life was knowing her grandchildren and great grandchild didn’t have her there to look after them.

He and Karen are now most concerned about Tara’s children, who are just “innocent Australian kids”, he said.

They were once.Are they today?

Sharrouf achieved global notoriety when he tweeted a picture of his son holding the severed head of a Syrian solider captioned “that’s my boy”.

The photo, posted by a Twitter account then believed to belong to Elomar, spruiks him as the “young cub of the Islamic State”.

In June last year, Karen Nettleton told Fairfax Media how she was watching television at home when she received a text message from Tara’s eldest daughter Zaynab. The teenager had just become the widow of her husband Elomar.

“Hello Nana, how are you? My husband got hit by a drone yesterday and got killed. When I found out I was happy for him to get what he wanted and go to paradise but at the same time I was devastated because I loved him so much and I knew I was never gonna see him again in this life.”

There may be hope for the kids, but they may now be fully radicalised.

Nettleton said last June her daughter and grandchildren were in need of help more than ever.

“[They] more than ever need the love and care of their family to help them recover from the trauma, abuse and terrors of war they have experienced,” she said.

Their family haven’t done a great job to date.

Tobacco control measures

February 12th, 2016 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Increasing tobacco taxes by as much as 50 per cent a year could form the “backbone” of efforts to make New Zealand smoke-free, politicians have been told.

Tobacco taxes increased by 10 per cent at the start of the year, and academics and anti-smoking groups have encouraged Parliament’s finance and expenditure select committee to support a bigger price hike.

Otago University public health professor Nick Wilson, who has studied the best-value methods for reducing the impact of smoking, said politicians were “on extremely strong scientific ground” when raising taxes on tobacco.

“It’s one of the most powerful things that can be done to improve the health of the population … tax can be the backbone of the strategy.”

My personal view is that increasing the excise tax is a sensible measure to reduce smoking. However this should not be done to increase the overall level of taxation, so any increase in excise taxes should be compensated by reducing income tax rates or increasing thresholds.

There is a point at which increasing the price will lead to significant growth in the black market, as has been seen in many countries. I’m not sure at what point this becomes a bigger issue, but policy makers need to be aware of this.

Wilson said the issue of e-cigarettes, which are not currently approved for smoking cessation in New Zealand, was “a very complex area” due to the amount of new studies coming out every week.

It would be best to control their use through pharmacies until their benefits and dangers were fully known, he said.

So you can buy tobacco from the dairy but e-cigarettes only from a pharmacy? Not sensible.

National Maori Tobacco Control Leadership Service kaiwhakahaere Zoe Hawke said tax increases were a “foundation policy” that anti-tobacco organisations could use to improve quitting rates. …

“We need to remove nicotine from the products out there and do some transitional moves to help people move away from it, and e-cigarettes could potentially be something that will help with that too.”

Good to see an open mind there.

T&T Consulting director Sue Taylor said the smoking health programmes already in place were not doing enough to help people quit, and a significant price increase would make a big difference.

Taylor said tobacco taxes should be increased by 50 per cent this year, followed by 25 per cent each year until 2020.

I suspect that level of increase would see more move to the black market. The 10% increase per year has worked well to date.

She did not support e-cigarettes as they “normalised” smoking, and was also concerned that the majority of e-cigarettes were produced by tobacco manufacturers.

“They’re still trying to double-dip everywhere, they’re still trying to introduce other ways of continuing to have the population addicted to nicotine, so we seriously need to think about how we’re going to tax those as well.”

This statement is a tell-tale sign that the motivation of the person is to damage companies they don’t like, rather than just focus on harm reduction. It’s like the anti alcohol crusaders who attack “Big Alcohol” but say craft beers are fine.

Health New Zealand smoking policy researcher Murray Laugesen supported a tax increase, and said the Government should look at legalising the use of e-cigarettes.

“They’ve killed nobody so far, against 4000 deaths [a year] from ordinary cigarettes.”

A startling statistic.

UK to ban taxpayer funded lobbying

February 12th, 2016 at 12:53 pm by David Farrar

The Telegraph reports:

Charities in receipt of Government grants will be banned from using these taxpayer funds to engage in political lobbying, The Telegraph can disclose.

A new clause to be inserted into all new and renewed grant agreements will make sure that taxpayer funds are spent on improving people’s lives and good causes, rather than covering lobbying for new regulation or using taxpayers’ money to lobby for more government funding.

We  need to do this in NZ also. In theory NGOs are not allowed to use taxpayer funds to lobby, but the rules are so loose, they get easily avoided by just calling their lobbying campaigns “information campaigns”.

The Institute of Economic Affairs, a right of centre thinkank, has undertaken extensive research on so-called “sock puppets”, exposing how taxpayers’ money given to pressure groups is paid to fund lobbying campaigns on policies such as a sugar tax and the environment.

Officials are hoping that the clause will ensure that freedom of speech is protected, while stopping taxpayers’ money being diverted away from good causes.

Matt Hancock, the Cabinet Office minister, told The Telegraph: “Taxpayers’ money must be spent on improving people’s lives and spreading opportunities, not wasted on the farce of government lobbying government.

It is constitutionally repugnant for the Government to spend money funding campaigns to tell Parliament and the Government what the law should be.

The exact phrase that will be inserted into all new and renewed grant agreements reads: “The following costs are not Eligible Expenditure:- Payments that support activity intended to influence or attempt to influence Parliament, Government or political parties, or attempting to influence the awarding or renewal of contracts and grants, or attempting to influence legislative or regulatory action”.

At a minimum this should go into all contracts here.

I’d go further and deem any NGO that is 90% or more taxpayer funded as a de facto public organisation that the OIA applies to.

Abel Tasman Coastal Track Day 4

February 12th, 2016 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

AT0070

So we managed to get up at 4 am to start the inlet crossing at 4.30 am. We had to be across by 5.15 am or wait until 2.15 pm.

AT0071

A small crescent moon in the sky.

AT0072

Just after 6 am light on the horizon.

AT0073

And then through the trees.  We spent around 90 minutes tramping in darkness with head lamps, and it was very cool to see the stars so clearly. Also saw a possum on the track which was a bit startling as suddenly there are red eyes gleaming at you.

AT0074

Then a hill climb.

AT0075

Then Totaranui Beach ahead of us.

AT0076

Now around 6.30 am.

AT0077

A nice trail down to the beach.

AT0078

And a walk through the camping grounds there. As there is vehicle access, this is the largest campsite – up to 1,000 people camping there.

AT0079

We stopped here for breakfast and cooked ourselves some porridge.

AT0080

Then headed off on the high tide track.

AT0081

A historic house now used as an education centre.

AT0082

And up another hill of course.

AT0083

Lots of trees like this.

AT0084

Anapai Bay.

AT0085

A wood pigeon in a tree.

AT0086

This little beach was stuck between two rock formations – very isolated and private.

AT0087

Looking down to Mutton Cove.

AT0088

We had a stop at Mutton Cove. If I was tenting I’d camp here. A very small but beautiful area with trees, grass and beach access.

AT0089

A great view of Whariwharangi Bay.

AT0090

A grass track heading down and then to the hut which unlike the others is not on the beach but 500 metres inland.

AT0091

Finally the hut in sight. We got there before midday but as we started at 4.30 am it took us seven hours or so, with breakfast and rest stops. The longest day of the tramp.

AT0092

The hut is a restored homestead and absolutely lovely. We got an upstairs room. Only sleeps 20. Lots of grass around it, so spent afternoon reading books on the lawn and swimming down at the beach.

Tramp almost done now. Just a two hour walk out on Monday to Wainui Bay.

10 issues in 2016

February 12th, 2016 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff lists 10 political issues for 2016:

  1. Spies – what will the intelligence agencies review recommend?
  2. Iraq – will the two year mission be extended?
  3. Ship Visits – will the US come?
  4. Polls – can Labour look viable?
  5. Tax Cuts – will we get any?
  6. Surplus – will we get another?
  7. Water – will there be a deal with Maori?
  8. TPPA – will anyone ever understand Labour’s position?
  9. Housing affordability – has Auckland cooled?
  10. Social services – how much of a role will the private sector play?
No tag for this post.

Labour’s latest TPPA position – they’ll renegotiate it!

February 12th, 2016 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

The Labour Party won’t pull out of the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement if it wins power, but would back itself to win changes on aspects it doesn’t support, leader Andrew Little says.

Yeah sure you will. 11 other countries will re-open negotiations two years after it has been signed and ratified because Andrew Little wants them to.

The deal is the deal. It is not going to be changed.

Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, Little confirmed the party would not pull out of the TPPA if in Government.

However, it would fight “tooth and nail” to win changes on aspects of the deal it did not support, such as the prohibition on banning foreign property buyers.

The TPPA allows a de facto ban through stamp duty. This is hollow pretend anger.

While foreigners were currently allowed to make submissions on New Zealand legislation, Little said the TPPA would “elevate that process to an obligation” by requiring the Government to notify partners about potential law changes.

Oh shock horror – law changes have to be notified in the Official Gazette now. What an awful obligation.

This is complaining about trivia, and avoiding the substance.

Little did not say whether he would pull out of the TPPA if he failed to win changes, but said he would be confident of success.

Here’s a question for Andrew. What proportion of trade deals ever get renegotiated after they have been signed and ratified? Is it 50%? 10% 5% 1%? Under 1%? He’s dreaming.

“The comments now coming out of other countries, even Hillary Clinton now saying the thing needs to be tweaked, I’m confident that over time we can get some change.”

The changes Hillary Clinton wants are not ones that would benefit NZ. Plus her rhetoric is just that. She doesn’t actually mean it.

What has happened to England?

February 12th, 2016 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Sky News reports:

A case of female genital mutilation (FGM) is reported in England every 109 minutes, official health figures show.

Some 2421 instances of mutilation were reported from April 2015 to September 2015 – the latest full six months of figures published by the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC).

Experts say the figures, released on the eve of the International Day of Zero Tolerance for FGM on Saturday, are just the ‘tip of the iceberg’.

 Plan UK is a charity that campaigns against the practice and collated the figures.

Its chief executive, Tanya Barron, said: ‘FGM has been a hidden danger threatening girls in the UK and around the world – only now is the full scale becoming clear.’

But she warned there were still many ‘unseen, unheard cases’ that didn’t show up in official statistics.

One case every 109 minutes. That is appalling. There should be zero tolerance for this, and prosecutions for those responsible.

No tag for this post.

General Debate 12 February 2016

February 12th, 2016 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel

Should Mallard be asking for a discharge?

February 12th, 2016 at 7:45 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Labour MP Trevor Mallard has asked the court to allow an illegal racer to escape conviction for lying to police.

The man, 24, was caught, and has been convicted, after illegally racing another car at speeds of up to 210kmh on State Highway 2, Lower Hutt, in September.

When police caught up with him later, he allegedly lied, telling them someone must have stolen his car.

So he drove at double the maximum speed limit and lied to the Police.

At the man’s sentencing on the racing charge, Judge Tuohy said he had previously been disqualified from driving for similar offending in 2009.

So not his first time. You give some leeway to being a stupid teenager when you are 17, but he’s 24 now and still doing it.

In the letter, Mallard urged the court to suspend the man’s conviction for lying to the police.

“This is a young man with tremendous potential and my request is that his years place of study not be negated by a conviction on the fake statement charge.” …

The false statement charge has been remanded for sentencing later this month, when the man’s lawyer will argue he should be given a discharge without conviction, using Mallard’s letter to support his case.

I’d be more sympathetic if he was younger and a first time offender. But it is hard to see why one would think he is going to change his ways, if he gets a discharge.

Hillary Clinton/Young Lover

February 11th, 2016 at 5:00 pm by David Farrar

Around seven and a half years ago I was fortunate enough to see Arthur Meek’s hilarious play On the Conditions and Possibilities of Helen Clark Taking Me as Her Young Lover.

A revamped version of the show called Hillary Clinton/Young Lover is on at Circa. It has a similar premise – the earnest Richard Meros doing a powerpoint presentation on why Hillary Clinton should take a young lover, and why it should be him.

Meek is excellent as Meros. He has a charisma and enthusiasm which shines through.

The audience were highly engaged and laughing through the show. Meros asks the audience to put their hands up if you have a degree – only in Wellington would three quarters have their hands up. And then as he asks them to remain up if you have honours, masters and finally a PhD, there were still a few hands up. That forms part of the play with one of those representing the smart people, and someone uneducated being picked to represent the uneducated (which was me that night!).

The humour is fast and furious, but not too over the top. Very clever use of images on the powerpoint such as bananas and kiwifruit got lots of giggles.

Meros is at his best as he deals with the numbers to whittle down the number of potential lovers for Hillary Clinton from 7 billion to one – him. The criteria for eliminating certain countries such as Canada and Australia was great.

It’s a one hour show, and lots of fun. Definitely worth seeing if you never saw the Helen Clark one, and if you did see it, you’ll still find enough new material to enjoy this one also.

It’s on until Saturday 20 February.

Rating: ****

Police treating accusation as proof

February 11th, 2016 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Mark Pearson was walking through the busiest train station in the UK during peak hour when his life changed forever.

In his left hand he was carrying a newspaper. His right hand was holding the strap on his backpack. As he brushed past a woman walking in the opposite direction, their shoulders colliding briefly, the 51-year-old thought nothing more of it.

The woman, an actress on her way to a rehearsal, later told police Mr Pearson sexually assaulted her. She offered details of how he “penetrated her” on the concourse of Waterloo Station despite the fact she was wearing “training pants” under a dress and despite footage showing he never broke stride.

Mr Pearson said the case against him was “preposterous”, but still his name was dragged through the mud. For a year he defended himself in court and out of court. When he explained to people that it never happened like his accused said it did, he knew people were thinking: “Of course you would say that”.

A jury spent just 90 minutes deliberating before finding Mr Pearson not guilty last week.

It came as a relief to the married picture-framer but the damage had already been done.

“Anybody who has seen the CCTV images knows that I couldn’t possibly have done it,” Mr Pearson said.

The Police need to fully investigate all allegations.

But when the evidence doesn’t back up the allegation, it is quite wrong to prosecute. Sadly in many countries the policy seems to be that no matter how weak the case, we’ll prosecute and leave it to a jury.

No tag for this post.

Dotcom appeal set for August

February 11th, 2016 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

NBR reports:

The appeal against the decision to extradite Kim Dotcom and his fellow Megaupload co-accused Mathias Ortmann, Bram van der Kolk and Finn Batato will be heard in August. …

They have appealed the decision, with a case management conference regarding the matter heard before Justice Raynor Asher in the High Court at Auckland.

He allocated an eight-week fixture for the appeal, beginning August 29.

Eight weeks? That’s a long time as the appeal can be on matters of law only.

Counsel for the US Christine Gordon, QC, had sought an earlier date but Justice Asher says given all the circumstances, including the complexity of the case, the date is appropriate.

He believes eight weeks is “very generous,” however, and says the hearing will probably take half that time.

Disappointing that the appeal may not conclude until November 2016. Then he will no doubt seek leave to appeal to the Court of Appeal which means Dotcom may end up trying to hijack another election.

Key on Labour

February 11th, 2016 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Some extracts from the exchange in Parliament on Tuesday:

Last week we were greeted with a new unemployment rate here in New Zealand: a dramatic fall to 5.3 percent. That is a very strong performance. We have the third-highest employment rate in the OECD , we have very strong results of growth for young people, and, of course, wages are rising faster than inflation. That was greeted with absolute joy by New Zealanders, with one exception—one exception. It was a great annoyance to the Labour Party and, in particular, to Grant Robertson, the doom merchant when it comes to employment. Grant Robertson is worried about a robot taking his job. A cynic could say: “Too late, one already did.”—the job he wanted

Heh.

Well, when we think “TPP”, we think Trans-Pacific Partnership; they think “two-position party”—that is what “TPP” says to them. This is because when it comes to David Shearer, he rightfully said to the New Zealand Herald—before he got a good spanking from the leader—“I’ll be voting for it. There’s no change there. Nothing’s changed my mind and the international interest analysis—fantastic.” Phil Goff, he is definitely voting for it, because it is, to quote Phil, the same as the China free-trade agreement taken under Labour. Helen Clark, she is a tremendous supporter of the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement. In fact, every Labour leader in the last 20 years supports the agreement except the current one.

Unsure if Cunliffe does or doesn’t. The Cunliffe who was a Minister in the Clark Government would, but the Cunliffe who was Opposition Leader may not.

So when you look at Andrew Little’s positions—and I will grant you he has had more positions than the Labour Party has had leader in the last 5 years—he says he hates the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement. He got asked a pretty simple question by Mark Sainsbury: “Will you withdraw New Zealand from the TPP?” Do you know what his answer was? It was: “We won’t.” He is going to kick up bobsy-die , but no, no, he will not. So then they asked him: “Will you vote against it?” A pretty simple question. He went: “Yeah, well, we already said—aah—if there—yeah—er—aah—if this legislation—aah. We don’t get to vote on TPP,” he said. What about pulling out? That apparently is incredibly difficult to do, even though the text, of which he has read 500 of 6,000 pages, says you can just do it by simply putting in notification for 6 months. When he was asked “Why won’t you pull out of TPP?”_—this was my particular favourite for the summer—he said: “Because we are the free-trade party.” Yeah, right. “We are the free-trade party.”

They once were a party of free trade. No longer.

So what he thinks is the problem is that other people, other corporations, other Governments can come to New Zealand and they can put a submission in against our law. That is apparently the problem. Here is a little technical issue. The first issue is, quite right, they can do that. In fact, anybody is free to come to New Zealand and put in a submission at our select committees. It is called open and transparent Government. But what did Andrew Little do at the end of last year? I know. He rushed off to Australia to go to put a submission in against its legislation and last night he was telling me to give David Cameron a ring, so I could put in a submission about their legislation.

Wonderful skewering of the hypocrisy from Labour. They are saying it is awful other Governments can put in submissions on our laws, yet he is himself demanding the NZ Government do the same.

The last issue is theoretically we can be sued under the provisions of investor-State. Well, do not accept my word for how difficult that is. Let me quote this for you, from Phil Goff who said, and quite rightly so because he actually understands what he is talking about when it comes to this area: “The barrier to get investor-State dispute is very high, and the chance is very unlikely.” We have had investor-State in this country for 30 years. Forget about a case being won. There has not been a case taken in 30 years.

Quoting Goff – I love it.

Parliament 11 February 2016

February 11th, 2016 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

The order paper is here.

Oral Questions 2.00 pm – 3.00 pm

  1. Hon ANNETTE KING to the Minister of Health: Does he stand by his statement that “we’ve slowed the growth of public spending” given growth in health spending has slowed from over 9 percent under Labour to just 2.6 percent over the last five years, and what impact has this had on district health boards?
  2. Dr PARMJEET PARMAR to the Minister of Finance: What is the outlook for the New Zealand economy, and how does this compare with other developed countries?
  3. MARAMA FOX to the Minister responsible for HNZC: What assurances can he give that the remediation work needed on the estimated 57,500 non-compliant houses, as identified in the2014 Trial of Rental Housing Warrant of Fitness Scheme report, will be carried out as a matter of priority?
  4. JAMI-LEE ROSS to the Minister of Transport: What announcements has the Government made recently on the East-West Connection roading project in Auckland?
  5. GRANT ROBERTSON to the Minister of Finance: When the Prime Minister said in his Statement to Parliament this week that there is now a $17 billion shortfall from Budget 2015, leading to “slightly higher debt”, exactly how much higher net and gross debt is now forecast, and when will that debt peak?
  6. TIM MACINDOE to the Minister of Tourism: What reports has he seen about the number of tourists that visited New Zealand over the summer season?
  7. METIRIA TUREI to the Minister of Education: Does she agree with the findings of the OECD Programme for International Student Assessment Report that “the socio-economic status of students is probably the most important risk factor associated with low academic performance”?
  8. CLARE CURRAN to the Minister of Broadcasting: Is she satisfied there is no conflict of interest in recent appointments to the board of Radio New Zealand?
  9. MARK MITCHELL to the Minister for Economic Development: What recent announcements has he made about economic development in Northland?
  10. RINO TIRIKATENE to the Minister of Customs: Does she stand by all her answers to Oral Question No. 11 in the House yesterday?
  11. DENIS O’ROURKE to the Associate Minister of Transport: Is he satisfied with the rate and seriousness of accidents involving overseas drivers, in light of the work the Government is doing to target overseas drivers?
  12. STUART SMITH to the Minister for Primary Industries: What recent reports has he received on the growth in wine exports?

National: Five questions on the economy, Auckland roading, tourism, Northland and wine exports.

Labour: Four questions on health spending, government debt, Radio NZ Board, and Minister of Customs standing by her answers

Greens: One question on student achievement

NZ First: One question on overseas drivers

Maori Party: One question on Housing WOFs

Debate on PM’s Statement 3 pm to 6.00 pm

Of the 13 hour debate there are six hours 49 minutes remaining, or 41 speeches.

Government Bills

It is likely the Government will adjourn the PM’s Statement debate at some stage and progress some bills.

Home and Community Support (Payment for Travel Between Clients) Settlement Bill – first reading

This Bill implements a settlement between the Crown, District Health Boards, providers of home and community-based care and support services, and certain unions on behalf of home and community-based care and support employees.

  • Introduced September 2015
  • 1st reading: October 2015, passed unanimously
  • SC report: December 2015, supported unanimously with amendments

The first reading consist of 12 speeches of up to 10 minutes each, for a maximum debate of two hours.

 

Abel Tasman Coastal Track Day 3

February 11th, 2016 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

AT0050

Woke up on Saturday and the estuary is at high tide so once again it is the high tide route. However this time that is only an extra 1 km or so.

AT0051

So around the coast we go.

AT0052

A nice track next to the water.

AT0053

Then over the bridge.

AT0054

A great view of where we were from above.

AT0055

Then further uphill.

AT0056

Then a great view of Tonga Bay as we approach it.

AT0057

Then some tramping down at sea level.

AT0058

And eventually you tramp across the beach itself. This is my least favourite part as you move very slowly on sand, it is very hot, and there is no shade. But the views make up for it.

AT0059

At the end of the beach a bridge leads inland.

AT0060

A nice view of Tonga Bay as we leave it.

AT0061

Then some nice track to go along.

AT0062

Then you cross over for your first view of Awaroa, and you can see the (private) Awaroa Lodge in the bush. We were not staying there ($400/night!) but at the $32/night DOC Hut.

AT0063

A stunning view of Awaroa from a look out on the track. The green strip is an air strip.

AT0064

Then it is head down to the beach and around a 20 minute walk along the beach and estuary.

AT0065

After around four hours we hit the Awaroa Hut around 1 pm. A very hot day so glad to be there.

AT0066

The lovely view outside the hut.

AT0067

The Awaroa Inlet at low tide. Despite the tide, we managed to go swimming for an hour or so, and caught some more pipis for supper!

AT0068

The Awaroa Inlet at high tide. You are advised to only try crossing it within two hours of low tide yet a moron couple (who had been at the lodge and lost track of time) tried to cross it at an hour before high tide. The entire hut was having bets on how long until they turned back. Eventually the two of them had their day packs over their heads and the water up to their arm pits before the DOC ranger rescued them in his boat.

There is no low tide track at Awaroa which means on Sunday we had to cross either before 5.15 am or after 2.15 pm.  We decided to go for the early crossing so set the alarms for 4 am and had an early night.

Maureen Pugh maiden speech

February 11th, 2016 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Some extracts from Maureen Pugh’s maiden speech:

My ancestors include amazing pioneers who helped shape New Zealand into what it is today. I can trace them back to include Thomas Bracken—journalist, poet, and politician. He was the first person to publish the words “God’s Own Country” when referring to New Zealand and the man who wrote the words to our enduring national anthem. I am a fifth-generation Coaster brought up in Cobden. The lesson of my upbringing was how focus and drive are keys to capitalising on the opportunities available to all New Zealanders. Having a plan, taking calculated risk, and never being afraid of hard work delivers dreams.

A good West Coast attitude.

In 2014 the West Coast – Tasman electorate was hit by Cyclone Ita. The storm left thousands of hectares of forest broken and lying on the ground. I championed this issue, and thanks to the Hon Nick Smith and a very pragmatic Government, we saw urgent legislation passed through this House, enabling the harvesting of some of those trees off the conservation estate. With good stewardship by Department of Conservation ecologists and management, we have seen a world-class harvesting programme create jobs and provide high-value timber to the market. No devastating haul roads built, no destruction of waterways—just consideration for our native forest within the conservation estate, and by working together, we made the most of a disastrous event.

The Greens opposed this of course.

I have a vision of a sustainable West Coast-Tasman region, neither disrupted by nor vulnerable to commodity downturns—a unique and beautiful region, which substantially adds not only to the visitor’s experience but also to the local and national economies. A key to making that vision a reality is bettering the road network around the South Island. Not only would improving this route provide new tourism experiences, it would also expand opportunities into the small communities of West Coast-Tasman. I am referring to the development of a road through South Westland across the Cascade River and from Buller through to Tasman via the Wangapeka. Something that, as an MP based in West Coast-Tasman, I will go in to bat for. Improving this route would be a game-changer for some small towns. Tourist numbers would multiply exponentially in Haast, glacier country, Hokitika, Greymouth, Karamea, Mōkihinui, Hector, Ngākawau, Waimangaroa, Westport, Tapawera, and Motueka. With the right support, these roads would provide an entirely new, core economic alternative, creating jobs, businesses, and amazing experiences tourists seek.

Road access to the Coast is rather challenging.

Herald on Awaroa Beach

February 11th, 2016 at 9:58 am by David Farrar

The Herald editorial:

Labour leader Andrew Little thinks it would a good idea for the Government to chip in and support the social media campaign to buy a sliver of land in Golden Bay.

Which destroys the whole community spirit behind the bid. Forcing taxpayers to fund the purchase works against people donating their own money. I’m happy to voluntarily donate money to the bid but not happy for my taxes to be used on it.

At the 11th hour, Gareth Morgan entered the debate, offering to make up the difference between the amount raised by the social media exercise and the $2 million tender guidance. He promised to hand the beach over to DoC after his family had finished enjoying it. Unsurprisingly, the offer has been declined. Contributors to the fund would have been justifiably reluctant to subsidise anyone’s acquisition of a private beach.

Many donors said they would withdraw their pledges if this happened.

Meanwhile, the crowdfunding appeal for Awaroa Beach deserves to succeed. The owner may be asking more than DoC thinks it is worth, but its value is whatever a willing buyer is willing to pay. The appeal is a rare opportunity for the public to decide.

The fund now stands at $1.77 million with 28,515 backers.

The UK EU deal

February 11th, 2016 at 8:41 am by David Farrar

The Telegraph reports:

Cabinet ministers are threatening to defy David Cameron by publicly speaking out against his deal with the European Union, which they are warning will fail to cut migration.

The Prime Minister was handed an offer on Tuesday by Brussels which critics said contained only “watered-down” pledges. The deal will give EU migrants “gradually increasing access” to benefits after they come to the UK – as opposed to the outright ban Mr Cameron had previously demanded.

Despite critics describing the deal as “pathetic” and “insubstantial”, Mr Cameron welcomed the offer by Donald Tusk, the president of the European Council, and said he “sure would” take the deal being offered.

Last night Cabinet sources accused Mr Cameron of effectively beginning the campaign for Britain to stay in the EU and warned that they will now start speaking out in favour of a “Brexit”.

Cameron has in fact managed to get some reasonable concessions. It remains to be seen whether the electorate judge them to be enough.
But in a boost to him, Theresa May has said she will now campaign to remain in. She was seen as a potential leader for an out campaign.
The main points of the deal are:
  • An emergency brake will limit migrants’ access to benefits for four years
  • New powers to stop suspected terrorists and criminals coming to the UK, not only if a threat is “imminent”
  • New rules will stop people coming to the UK via “sham marriages”
  • Recognises that the UK “is not committed to further political integration into the European Union”
  • A “red card” system will allow the House of Commons to band together with like-minded EU parliaments and block unwanted Brussels legislation