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


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.


A small crescent moon in the sky.


Just after 6 am light on the horizon.


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.


Then a hill climb.


Then Totaranui Beach ahead of us.


Now around 6.30 am.


A nice trail down to the beach.


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.


We stopped here for breakfast and cooked ourselves some porridge.


Then headed off on the high tide track.


A historic house now used as an education centre.


And up another hill of course.


Lots of trees like this.


Anapai Bay.


A wood pigeon in a tree.


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


Looking down to Mutton Cove.


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.


A great view of Whariwharangi Bay.


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


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.


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


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


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.


So around the coast we go.


A nice track next to the water.


Then over the bridge.


A great view of where we were from above.


Then further uphill.


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


Then some tramping down at sea level.


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.


At the end of the beach a bridge leads inland.


A nice view of Tonga Bay as we leave it.


Then some nice track to go along.


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.


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


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


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


The lovely view outside the hut.


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!


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

General Debate 11 February 2016

February 11th, 2016 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel

Sanders and Trump win New Hampshire

February 10th, 2016 at 10:22 pm by David Farrar

Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump have won their New Hampshire primaries.

This is not unexpected as both had clear leads in the polls.

Sanders is 21% ahead of Clinton. In terms of the expectations games, she will be seen as a loser of his margin is over 20%. If under 10% it is a relative victory.

Kasich is coming 2nd on 16%. He put all his energy into New Hampshire so probably a good enough result to keep him alive for now. But will soon be dead.

Bush got 12%. Still no path to victory for him but money can keep him in for a bit longer.

Cruz is on 11.5% and Rubio 9.8%.  Rubio will be bruised coming 5th and we Cruz will get a bounce.

Trump will declare himself Emperor on the basis of the win, and he is going to win easily. But he is winning with 34% of the vote. Eventually it will become a three way race, and I doubt that will be enough.

The next primaries are Nevada on 20 February for Democrats and on the same day South Carolina and Washington for the Republicans.

Now that’s a Labour deficit

February 10th, 2016 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar


Whale Oil has a copy of the Rotorua Labour accounts.

It shows:

  • $770 income for the entire year!
  • $10,542 of expenses
  • So expenses are 13 times their income!
  • Debt of $2,946 from the 2014 election

This is in a seat Labour used to hold. Now they can’t even raise $1,000.

HDPA on TPP protests

February 10th, 2016 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

HDPA writes in the Herald:

The opposition to the TPP was ugly. Worse than that, it backfired. At first, the crowds of thousands walking Auckland’s streets in protest were impressive.

Until you talked to them.

Too many of them didn’t even know why they were protesting.

“I dunno, to be honest,” was roughly what one man said.

Probably typical of most there.

The sight of Sue Bradford wrestling with police – again – can do quite a good job of drawing attention to a cause.

But the sight of Sue Bradford sitting on the tarmac in the middle of a main road to deliberately disrupt the traffic of a city already cursed with motorway constipation is just infuriating.

How did the TPP become the fault of Aucklanders who are just trying to get to work?

How did it require vandalism of one minister’s electorate office?

How would molotov-cocktail bombing another minister’s office stop it?

Nasty stuff. This is I guess what they mean by non-violent.

But what TPP-haters have done is drive the thousands of ordinary Kiwis who don’t really understand the deal and its implications straight into the arms of the TPP fan-boys and girls.

Whose argument are you more likely to believe: the guy who can relay the solitary blog post he’s read on how great the TPP is, or the guy lying in the middle of the road clutching a molotov cocktail because he’s angry about something vaguely to do with the price of medicine?

The anti TPP antics appeal to their own core activists, but are a turn off to middle NZ.

ODT also against Labour’s free fees policy

February 10th, 2016 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The ODT editorial:

It is, in the end, the middle classes who are most likely to take up tertiary education in its various forms, just as they have gained from the costly interest-free student loans.

While the policy is to cover post-school education, including apprenticeships, it is not the poor and disadvantaged who will be the primary beneficiaries.

Former prime minister Helen Clark basically bribed the electorate with its own money on the student loans and family support payments.

Now comes another transfer to help, largely, the relatively well off.

It is taking $1.2 billion a year from all New Zealanders and giving it to the people who will be the highest earning in society.

There must also be doubts about the price tag being limited to $1.2billion.

For a start, it is clear extra spending on free fees will have to be matched by extra institutional funding for increased demand.

And the extra demand will be way way more than 15%.

It is also true the current system of part-payment – the Government still pays the majority share of most courses – focuses the mind.

Not only are students likely to give more consideration to the value of their courses to them, but it also means more accountability from teachers.

Students paying for studies have proved much less likely to put up with second-rate teaching or second-rate programmes.

You don’t value things as much when they are “free”. This policy will see a significant decline in quality.

Parliament 10 February 2016

February 10th, 2016 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

The order paper is here.

Oral Questions 2.00 pm – 3.00 pm

  1. JONATHAN YOUNG to the Minister of Finance: What recent reports has he received on employment in New Zealand?
  2. ANDREW LITTLE to the Prime Minister: Does he have confidence in the Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment in light of student loan debt being set to pass $15 billion this year?
  3. JAMI-LEE ROSS to the Minister of Transport: What announcements has the Government made recently setting out its commitment to the City Rail Link project in Auckland?
  4. GRANT ROBERTSON to the Minister of Finance: Does he have confidence in the Governor of the Reserve Bank; if so, is he confident that the Policy Targets Agreement he signed with the Governor in 2012 is being fulfilled?
  5. MARK MITCHELL to the Minister of Trade: What progress has been made to advance New Zealand’s trade links with the rest of the world?
  6. METIRIA TUREI to the Prime Minister: Does he stand by his statement to Parliament yesterday that he’s in government to make this country a better place for New Zealanders and their families?
  7. CHRIS HIPKINS to the Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment: Is he satisfied with his oversight of the tertiary education sector?
  8. ALFRED NGARO to the Minister for Building and Housing: How does the number of homes consented in the last quarter of 2008 compare with the last quarter of 2015?
  9. Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS to the Prime Minister: Does he have confidence in the Hon Steven Joyce; if so, why?
  10. MELISSA LEE to the Minister for Small Business: How will New Zealand small businesses benefit from the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement?
  11. RINO TIRIKATENE to the Minister of Customs: Does she agree with the Prime Minister’s statement that “We will confront the P problem, using the full force of the Government’s arsenal”; if so, why does an experienced Customs officer say that only one in 10 illicit drug imports is being seized at the border?
  12. RICHARD PROSSER to the Minister of Conservation: What was her reasoning behind approving the transfer and release of silver carp near Lake Taupo?

National: Five questions on employment, Auckland City Ral Link, TPPA x 2, and building consents

Labour: Four questions on student debt, inflation, tertiary education sector and P

Greens: One question on PM’s statement

NZ First: Two questions on confidence in Steven Joyce and Lake Taupo

Questions to Members

  1. Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS to the Member in charge of the Births, Deaths, Marriages, and Relationships Registration (Preventing Name Change by Child Sex Offenders) Amendment Bill: Why did he draft the Births, Deaths, Marriages, and Relationships Registration (Preventing Name Change by Child Sex Offenders) Amendment Bill?
  2. Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS to the Member in charge of the Births, Deaths, Marriages, and Relationships Registration (Preventing Name Change by Child Sex Offenders) Amendment Bill: What problem does the Births, Deaths, Marriages, and Relationships Registration (Preventing Name Change by Child Sex Offenders) Amendment Bill seek to address?
  3. Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS to the Member in charge of the Births, Deaths, Marriages, and Relationships Registration (Preventing Name Change by Child Sex Offenders) Amendment Bill: What problem does the Births, Deaths, Marriages, and Relationships Registration (Preventing Name Change by Child Sex Offenders) Amendment Bill seek to address?
  4. Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS to the Member in charge of the Births, Deaths, Marriages, and Relationships Registration (Preventing Name Change by Child Sex Offenders) Amendment Bill: What problem does the Births, Deaths, Marriages, and Relationships Registration (Preventing Name Change by Child Sex Offenders) Amendment Bill seek to address?

The MP in charge is Dr Jian Yang. Not sure why Qs 2 to 4 are identical.

Debate on PM’s Statement 3 pm to 5.45 pm and 7.30 pm to 10.00 pm

Of the 13 hour debate there are nine hours 18 minutes remaining, or 56 speeches.

Maiden Speech 5.45 pm to 6.00 pm

New National List MP Maureen Push will give her maiden speech

Government Bills

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

Taxation (Annual Rates for 2015-16, Research and Development, and Remedial Matters) Bill – committee stage continued

The bill is an omnibus bill that significantly amends ten different tax acts,especially in the area of child support.

  • Introduced: February 2015
  • 1st reading: March 2015, passed unanimously
  • SC report: September 2015, supported unanimously with amendments
  • 2nd reading: October 2015, passed unanimously

There is no time limit for the committee stage but it is estimated to be a five hour debate as the bill has four parts and preliminary provisions to debate. Three parts have been agreed to, so there are probably one to two hours remaining.

The Minister has two SOPs.

Weathertight Homes Resolution Services Amendment Bill – committee stage continued

The bill amends the Weathertight Home Resolution Services Act 2006 to remove any doubt about the validity of the criteria, deem certain claims determined as ineligible to be eligible, and to widen the definition of qualifying claimant.

  • Introduced: February 2015
  • 1st reading: March 2015, passed unanimously
  • Select Committee report: July 2015, supported unanimously with amendments
  • 2nd reading: September 2015, passed unanimously

There is no time limit for the committee stage but it is estimated to be a three hour debate as the bill has two parts and preliminary provisions to debate. One part has been agreed to, so there are probably one to two hours remaining.


Guest Post: Tom Hunter on US election – America is Waiting

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

(for a message of some sort or another.)

This has been the craziest US Presidential election in the thirty years I’ve followed them. The cycle of Hope and Change (TM) has turned, except now it’s Make America Great Again, which is a far better but equally vacuous slogan.

Every one of these elections brings up the eternal battle between Good and Evil, touched with the circus element that draws the horrified fascination of a good chunk of the rest of the world. You can search back two hundred years and find the same thing, with the most bloodcurdling claims made; my favourite being the one stating that the result of electing Thomas Jefferson in 1800 would be that: … murder, robbery, rape, adultery, and incest will all be openly taught and practiced … (people Tweeting pictures of Donald cuddling his daughter Ivanka be warned)

But there’s no question that the 2016 election has a genuine tinge of desperation to it. There is a sense that something awful is drawing closer, but it’s hard to describe or identify. If Communists or Nazis were the guys holding up the stagecoach, the feeling now is more that the vehicle is slowly moving forward in fog and darkness while the passengers hold knives behind their backs and eye each other nervously. What is it exactly that is going wrong? Why does it feel that America is rolling ever closer to the edge of an abyss, and why are the drivers so distrusted, even as one after the other is replaced in the driver’s seat by the rowdy crowd below.

Takin’ it again. Again! Again! Takin’ it again.

This feeling exists on both sides of the American political fence. Democrats feel they’ve compromised too much: private health insurers still stalk the land, as do the giants of Wall Street, Obamacare and Dodd-Frank having empowered both. While the usual suspects still proclaim the Lightbringer that is Barack, behind the scenes is annoyance and even bitter angst that things have not turned out as they were supposed to. Ideas such as The Stimulus and Obamacare, and Ending Foreign Wars with Smart Power, were supposed to have made things better at home and abroad.

But the world is on fire – no more so than in the Middle East, where Obama actually helped start a Smart War in Libya – while at home the Stimulus seems to have simply washed into the sand and Obamacare remains as unpopular as ever, reduced to being simply another government program that stutters brokenly along. The idea that bipartisanship would take hold as it could not under the “divisive” GW Bush, was also refuted, as the people who so eagerly threw the GOP from the House and Senate in 2006 waited barely four years to put them back in charge of the former, and then increased the majority in 2014 while adding Senate control! But even in areas of total Democrat control, such as California and Chicago, there is a feeling that things are slowly spinning out of control. The latter is an almost perfect minature of the Democrat nomination race, with Mayor Raham Emanual having moved from being hated and feared to just being hated –

Aside from their Federal success, the GOP now controls almost twice as many states as the Democrats. Yet the GOP voters are angrier than ever, turning on people like Paul Ryan and Marco Rubio, whom they hailed as challengers to the status quo just a few years ago. But one can hardly blame them when they’ve seen things like Rubio’s leadership of the Gang of Eight on immigration and the Omnibus spending bill passed before Christmas, a package so stuffed with Democrat goodies that Pelosi and Reid openly taunted the GOP about it.

Well now… no, no… now, we ought to be mad at the government not mad at the people.

It’s the easiest trap to fall into, but the terrible truth in a democracy is that the government really is the people, for all the fuming about “elites”. Many who are concerned about a $19 trillion debt are barely aware of the $50-60 trillion of unfunded liabilities that is the Social Security System and Medicare/Medicaid. Annual deficits of half a trillion dollars that were condemned as the end of the world a decade ago are now the new normal, not worth talking about. There is no point sneering at politicians who dare not confront the necessary tax increases and spending cuts required to make these systems solvent long-term: they know they’ll get killed by the very people who tell them they’re compromising sleezebags.

Both Democrats and Republicans feel let down by their respective parties, the GOP voters with more reason as the GOP establishment has begged for their vote and then done nothing with the power or done what the Democrats wanted anyway, especially in the budget. But the establishment would argue that they’re facing reality: no US government will take over every hospital and clinic in America, or hack into Medicare.

No will whatsoever. No will whatsoever! Absolutely no honor. No will whatsoever. No will whatsoever! Absolutely no integrity.

American Leftists who demand that the US adopt the myriad systems of Europe are encountering more pushback than ever, as Europe looks less peaceful, advanced and progressive by the day. The flesh is still willing but the spirit is most definitely weakening.

But GOP voters also like their pork. Cruz was condemned by the long-time GOP governor of Iowa, for opposing the ethanol mandate that pours money into the pockets of Iowa farmers. Funnily enough this mirrors Season 6 of The West Wing, but I doubt Cruz will ever gain the respect from the left that was the implied promise of Sorkin’s script. It’s yet another tribute to Cruz that he won running against this rort and a black mark on his opponents who did the required pandering. By the same token, to observe Huckabee cuddling up to Trump and bitterly and jealously sticking it to Cruz on matters of religion was to observe the meaness and pettiness that politics can reduce people to.

I haven’t seen any any any citizen over there stand up and say “hey, just a second.”

The problem is that citizens are effectively pointing at eachother in saying this. The result is the deadlock of swings and roundabouts observed for almost two decades now. The Democrats have won the argument on goverment spending, the GOP on keeping taxes low: the mutually exclusive gap between them is being filled by the Federal Reserve – for the moment.

I mean, yeah, well… wha… what’re you gonna do?

You’re going to pump up Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders, two candidates who supposedly represent the extreme wings of each party but who have a frighteningly similar set of policies (yay, bipartisanship!).

Bernie is the real thing, a genuine believer. No more private sector compromises. More money to be spent on all that crumbling infrastructure somehow left untouched by the trillion dollar Stimulus: Wall Street and health insurers finally put to the sword. Free everything. Yet the sad truth is that Hillary and Bernie, two ancient white vessels, are the best the Democrats could produce this time. So much for the youthful, diverse future that would burst forth from the Obama era, as it is always supposed to for Progressive movements. It’s been both sad and amusing to see the Democrat media try to turn them into people who are hip, cool and down with the technology, with the bottom scraped when the woeful SNL used Larry David to portray Bernie as Your Cuddly Socialist Uncle Who’s Fun To Be With.

Trump is merely Trump. He speaks for whatever gets the headline of the day. A master media manipulator with an Obama-type cult following perfectly evolved for the age of the 140 character Tweet. The further construction of Brand Trump, with the GOP as his next Chapter 11 bankruptcy victim. Many of his supporters argue that it’s already bankrupt: whether they would say this with seven Liberal judges on the Supreme Court, among other things, is another question.

America is waiting ….

To talk of three candidates emerging from Iowa is to talk about the horse race. I’ve said for months now that Trump has a ceiling and will fade (though like everyone else I expected this to have already happened), and that as others drop away Rubio will more likely pick up their voters than Cruz or Trump. My bet remains on a Rubio-Cruz fight the longer this goes on, given their organisation, campaigning skills and money, and that Rubio will win with his optimism and unity themes. Cruz can’t fake sincerity as well.

But the bigger question is whether any of these candidates – and I include Hillary and Bernie in this – truly have what America needs and will respond to. I don’t think any of them do, but that probably says more about America than about the candidates.

Abel Tasman Coastal Track Day 2

February 10th, 2016 at 11:00 am by David Farrar


Friday morning starts off with a short trek along the Anchorage beach.


There is a low tide and high tide track. We had to use the high tide track which is an extra 3 kms and an hour longer. A climb at the beginning.


You loop around the inlet.


Some kayakers having a rest.


Then cross the water on the bridge.


This is just next to the bridge, and where we had morning tea. A lovely isolated swimming hole.


The low tide track across the Torrent Bay Estuary.


There’s a couple of dozen houses at Torrent Bay, and this is the main road through the settlement.


The beach at Torrent Bay.


You then climb up steeply after Torrent Bay, giving you this view. The track has no major climbs, but lots of minor ones of 100 metres or so.


A couple of paddle boarders.


The track goes inland and gets a bit narrow.


Over the large swing bridge.


Falls River.


As we drop down towards Bark Bay, we see a weka.


The beach at Bark Bay.


I went for a swim and discovered lots of pipis in the sea. So threw them in the water to spit out the sand and then boiled them, so we had pipis for afternoon tea.


The Bark Bay Hut. Two rooms inside the hut that sleep 14 each communally, and another room on the side which we were lucky enough to score that has just six individual bunks.


The Bark Bay Estuary at low tide. The campsite is in the trees between the estuary and the sea.


And as the tide comes in.

A fairly gentle four hour day with 13 kms or so.