Archive for April, 2008

Who refused to donate to Labour?

April 30th, 2008 at 11:39 pm by David Farrar

44 Labour MPs donated over $10,000 to help bail out their illegal pledge card and other associated spending. But they had 50 MPs last year. So who did not donate or donated under $10,000. By process of elimination they are:

  1. Taito Philip Field (left them mid year)
  2. Damien O’Connor
  3. Shane Jones
  4. Charles Chauvel
  5. Lesley Soper
  6. Paul Swain

It is possible they did donate, but it was just under the $10,000 disclosure limit.

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2007 Donations Return

April 30th, 2008 at 7:39 pm by David Farrar

The Electoral Commission has just published the donations returns of parties for 2007. Up until December the old Electoral Act applied. Only donations to a party of over $10,000 get disclosed.

The totals for each party are:

  1. Maori Party $70,000
  2. Labour $1,030,446.39
  3. National 704,100
  4. Greens $181,046.23
  5. United Future $0
  6. Progressive $0
  7. ACT – not received as at 5 pm
  8. NZ First – not received as at 5 pm

Now who were the disclosed donors to each. In order:

Maori Party

Susan Cullen donated $70,000. Susan (who I have met) is probably best known for her work with Te Wananga o Aotearoa and according to the Herald is worth $30 million.

Labour
Do you remember how Mike “confused” Williams told us fundraising to repay the $800,000 was going so well, and in fact having to pay the money had given people the incentive to raise more money.

Well in fact they have effectively levied their MPs to bail them out. Looks proportional to salary. Clark gave $29,099.04 and 42 MPs gave a total of $661,568.40 which is an average of $15,035.65. So the MPs personally paid for around 80% the money the Auditor-General identified as illegally spent.

Other Individual donors were Chhour Lim Nam for $25,000. Steven Wong for $19,000 and Thomas Wang $14,188. Chhour appears to be involved in the Cambodian community, Wong is President of the Chinese Association, runs a potato chip manufacturer and was a potential Labour candidate in 2002. Wong also gave $23,000 in 2006. Wang is an Auckland businessman also.

Corporate donors were Toll NZ for $25,000, Fletcher Building for $20,000, Griffin Property for $20,000 and Westpac for $15,000.

But here is the big story. Despite spending all year railing against anonymous donations, and pledging they will stop them – they were at the same time accepting $150,000 from one anonymous donor and $50,000 from another. (and another $30,000 I missed earlier so that is $230,000)

But really the hypocrisy of spending all year railing against anonymous donations and then pocketing the largest anonymous donation a party has received since 1999 is breath taking.

NZ First

Their donation return is not yet public. It may have just come in today (the due date). I am very very interested in that return.

National

Corporate donors are DMH Developments for $50,000, Fletcher Building for $20,000, Toll NZ for $25,000 and Westpac for $15,000. One individual donated $41,000 – Susan Zhou.

Two anonymous donations – $25,000 and $15,000.

Finally there were three Trust donations – $424,100 from the infamous Waitemata Trust, $69,000 from the Ruahine Trust and $20,000 from the Nationalist Trust. These are presumably the final donations from the Trusts, as the Electoral Finance Act (one of the few good parts of it, and not a part that was in the original Bill) removes any point in donating through a Trust. Generally the trust donations will be a collation of several or many individual donations the Trust has received – Waitameta could represent 21 $20,000 donations or seven $60,000 donations etc. Of course no one knows bar the Trustees, so it is good this will be the last return where one won’t know at least the size of any donations over $10,000.

I actually thought National would have received more donations than this, considering it was logical that some people would donate before the law changed.

Greens

The Green MPs had to dig deep also. Their six MPs donated an average of $19,812.71 for a total of $118,876.20. Jeanette gave most at $34,045.28.

Also big donations from Stuart Bramhall for $30,500, Christopher Marshall $18,670 and Cliff Mason for $13,000.

Bramhall is the contact for the New Plymouth Greens. Cliff Mason is a Pathologist who stood for the Greens in 1999.

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Chloe the Wainuiomata shoplifter

April 30th, 2008 at 6:06 pm by David Farrar

Everyone aged over 25 will remember Chloe from Wainuiomata. I think she was responsible for Chloe not being used as a name for female babies for a decade or so.

Anyway she appeared in court today charged with shoplifting, with which she effectively admitted guilt with an agreement to do diversion.

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NZIER on Emission Trading Scheme

April 30th, 2008 at 5:29 pm by David Farrar

The NZ Institute of Economic Research has done a report on the impact of the proposed Emissions Trading Scheme. The report is 77 pages long. For those who don’t read the whole thing, here are some key points:

  • The ETS will reduce GDP by $900 million by 2012
  • The average household will have $600 less spending
  • A reduction in employment equivalent to 22,000 jobs
  • By 2025, GDP will be $5.9 billion less than without an ETS
  • The average household will have $3,000 less by 2025
  • Hourly wages will be $2.30 an hour less by 2025 than they would be without an ETS
  • The ETS will reduce emissions by 5% less than merely funding emissions reductions directly
  • The ETS may be bad for the climate as some NZ production will become uncompetitive and shift to countries where their increase in emissions will be greater than if they stayed in New Zealand. This is known as “leakage”
  • The ETS will see by 2025 a 12.9% reduction in dairy farming, a 41% drop in diary land prices and a 6.6% reduction in sheep and beef farming.
  • As the decline in pastoral production in NZ will lead to greater pastoral production elsewhere, the increas in carbon emissions will be 3 million tonnes – around 25% of the reductions from the total ETS.
  • Southland and Northland would be most affected by the ETS with a 3% drop in GDP, with Auckland and Wellington less affected.
  • Paying for emissions reduction out of general taxation would be cheaper and more effective.

So they are not saying we should not be in Kyoto. They are saying the ETS, as proposed, will cost us more than alternative ways of meeting our Kyoto obligations. And also leakage due to industry relocating to non Kyoto countries will actually be worse for the environment than the alternative of direct funding of emissions reductions.

So one can say slow down with the ETS and don’t rush it into law just because of the election, without being a climate changer “denier” or “sceptic”. This is about how best to meet the Kyoto obligation, and it seems apparent there is a lot more work needed to be sure we have the right model. What will be interesting is what model Australia adopt as there could be considerable merit in harmonising between the two countries.

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Blog Bits

April 30th, 2008 at 2:52 pm by David Farrar

David Cohen at NBR covers the apology from Hot Topic to the Listener and notes that by allowing a comments section on your apology, you sort of undermine it.

Rod Drury tries out his Freeview box. He likes the high definition but given a choice between HD and being able to time shift on MySky, he puts the time shifting as more important.

Martin Hurst asks whether shorthand should still be taught in journalism schools, with the greater use of digital recording devices.

David Weigel at Reason looks at most over-rated Presidents. He chooses Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, and George HW Bush.

Conrad Reyners at Salient blogs on the Business Roundtable forum on public policy held last night. Sounds like Rod Deane stole the show.

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Do Not Vote campaign

April 30th, 2008 at 12:16 pm by David Farrar

On Monday a group called Better Democracy NZ launched a Do Not Vote website.

They support binding referenda as opposed to the “elective dictatorship” known as representative democracy.

Pretty stupid idea. I am strongly against binding referenda, but if they really think people want them, why don’t they get 300,000 signatures for an indicative referendum on having binding referenda. Or set up their own party.

On a practical level, it is impossible to have binding referenda without a written constitution. I support a written constitution incidentally, and would view a constitution and significant amendments to it as something that should be done by referendum. But not day to day law making.

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Debate on Absolute Power

April 30th, 2008 at 11:17 am by David Farrar

Poneke has blogged a review of Absolute Power, and there is a vigorous debate in the comments section, including author Ian Wishart, Keri Hulme, Russell Brown and even Kay Goodger who is featured in the book. My favourite point is when Ian Wishart labels Danyl M as “slippery”. The tag is catching on!

Incidentally I suspect the book is selling well. Both times I have been in book stories in the last week, and people ahead of me in the queue were buying a copy.

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Du Fresne on blogs

April 30th, 2008 at 10:37 am by David Farrar

Karl Du Fresne had an article in yesterday’s Dominion Post about blogs:

BREAKING NEWS: Police hold grave fears for the safety of a man reported missing in the Internet blogosphere.

The man told family members he was taking a short afternoon excursion to explore Poneke’s Weblog … He hasn’t been seen since.

“Poneke’s is a relatively gentle blog that shouldn’t have exposed him to any serious risk,” a police spokesman said. “But there are lots of links leading off it to other blogs, some of which are a good deal more hazardous. He may have strayed off the beaten track.

“We’ve seen this sort of thing before. Someone sets out to have a look at a blog like Poneke’s, then they get diverted on to Russell Brown’s Public Address weblog or David Farrar’s Kiwiblog, and with just a couple of innocent clicks they wander off into the wilderness. They lose track of the passage of time and before they know it they’re hopelessly bushed.

“It’s a maze out there and he may have ended up a long way from where he started. There are links to political blogs, media blogs, sports blogs, wine blogs, heavy metal blogs, climate change blogs, hard-left blogs, extreme-right blogs, greenie blogs, sado-masochism blogs . . . you name it.

An inquiring mind could ask how Karl knows there are sado-masocistic blogs :-). Unless he means Whoar where reading Phil’s uncapitalised prose does cause pain!

The police spokesman said concerns were heightened by the fact that the man was inexperienced and poorly equipped.

“He’s not had much previous exposure to infantile abuse and personal invective of the type that he’s likely to find in the blogosphere. Also, his family advises us he has a history of severe allergic reactions to bad grammar, misspellings and missing apostrophes. We’re encouraging them to keep their hopes up, but it’s not looking good.”

I think Karl is admitting to a secret addiction. Or maybe he is the mystery Queen Bee blogging at The Hive!

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McCarten and Hooton on TV3

April 30th, 2008 at 10:16 am by David Farrar

For political junkies, TV3 had Matt McCarten and Matthew Hooton on Sunrise this morning talking polls and politics.

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General Debate 30 May 2008

April 30th, 2008 at 9:35 am by David Farrar

They’re back!

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NZ Herald on Vector sale

April 30th, 2008 at 8:37 am by David Farrar

It is good to see the media focusing on the hypocrisy in the Government over Auckland Airport and Wellington’s electricity network. In the former example they moved heaven and earth to stop the private owners selling a minority stake to a Canadian pension fund. And for the latter they say there is no issue at all, despite it being 100% sale of a crucial monopoly.

So the NZ Herald editorial is welcome.

It is hard to find in these decisions any consistent policy that might guide foreign investors. The sensitivity of Auckland Airport had nothing do with its land, abutting Manukau Harbour, and it is hard to believe the Government’s comfort with the Vector sale has anything whatsoever to do with the land under the power lines.

It’s ridicolous. Is Dr Cullen really saying that all the hysteria he whipped up about asset sales (overlooking Winston sold it in 1998) was about the land under the airport, and not the airport itself? Yeah, right.

But for reasons that remain unexplained, Labour does not regard an urban electricity network as “strategic infrastructure”.

If that phrase has any meaning it must apply to power lines. A line network cannot be practically duplicated for the sake of competition. It is the classic natural monopoly. If line networks are not kept in public ownership they require careful regulation, as Telecom has shown, to prevent them gouging consumers or denying access to competing traffic.

Now again, so there is no confusion, I have no problem with the sale of the power lines. They will be subject to price regulation as most monopoly assets are. My problem is the hypocrisy.

Vector, as it happens, is a quasi-public entity, owned by a trust elected by Auckland consumers, whom it rewards at the expense of its consumers elsewhere. Wellington’s network has not been sold from this form of ownership wholly into the hands of a private company. It is a privatisation in anyone’s language. Yet the Government was more concerned about the partial sale of an airport in which two Auckland councils would have retained significant stakes. It will defy investors’ understanding.

This is a good point. This sale is far more of a privatisation than Auckland Airport was which was private fund managers selling to other fund managers. Vector is a public trust selling to a private entity.

The Government has steadfastly declined to publish a list of assets it regards as “strategic” because it has no consistent definition in mind. The public and potential investors are left to conclude that a property becomes “strategic” simply when it suits politicians to regard it so. At least that means that assets as vital as power lines can attract foreign investment when their luck is in. But this country’s process of approval should be better than a lottery.

Even Labour Party President Mike WIlliams has agreed that here should be a list of these so called strategic assets.

What this means is that each time Labour in the campaign tries to whip up populist sentiment on the basis of its actions in “protecting” Auckland Airport, their bubble will get pricked by reminders of the Wellington power lines, and Helen Clark’s lofty pronouncement that “asset sales will be a defining issue” looks as hollow as “carbon neutrality”, “closing the gaps” and “top half of the OECD”.

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John Armstrong on “The Phone”

April 30th, 2008 at 8:11 am by David Farrar

The Dominion Post a week or so ago suggested the voters were no longer listening to Labour and had taken the phone off the hook. John Armstrong goes a step further:

The electorate’s mood gives every appearance of having solidified. Not only have voters taken the phone off the hook, in Labour’s case, they have buried it deep in the bottom drawer.

And even better:

NZ First’s waving of the flag of economic nationalism combined with an injudicious bit of Asian-bashing has done nothing to lift its stocks.

Winston Peters’ party is registering at a paltry 1.5 per cent.

Winston will accuse an Iraqi refugee who used to work for Saddam Hussein of stealing his phone probably!

Adding to the agony, National’s leader is at his highest rating as preferred Prime Minister despite Labour’s campaign to denigrate and discredit him as “Slippery John”.

The gender breakdown shows Key is drawing female voters away from Clark.

Diddums.

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How can someone be so evil?

April 30th, 2008 at 8:06 am by David Farrar

I can’t understand how certain human beings can be so evil. I can understand how Mugabe gets drunk with power. I can understand the gang member who has been commiting crimes for 20 years, killing someone and not caring.

But I can’t understand how a father could imprison his daughter for 24 years, let alone father six children with her. Josef Fritzl defies rational explanation, no matter how much people in Austria are searching for it.

Evil isn’t so scary when it is easy to identify – the Mugabes,  the violent drug crazed killers. But when it turns out to be your next door neighbour (or your economics lecturer!) it shakes your belief in human nature.

Nothing can ever repair the damage done to Fritzl’s family, but at a minimum I hope he spends longer in prison than they did.

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And the majors

April 29th, 2008 at 3:55 pm by David Farrar

The afternoon session was pretty boring in the end, as both National and Labour were saying they should get the same amount of money.

National

Jo de Joux gave a short submission saying National and Labour should get the same amount. Made reference to the advantage the incumbent can get from the restrictions in the Electoral Finance Act and Government advertising campaigns.

Some questions on how the other parties should be treated in terms of tiers.

They want 15 minutes opening time for National and Labour but broadcasters have said 24 minute block on Friday and 48 minutes on Saturday, so the question from Helena Catt was if they won’t budge would National rather have 12 minutes on Friday or 15 minutes on Saturday. They said 12 minutes on Friday.

The normal question over TVNZ’s new requirement to be paid in advance was put. Murray McCully deftly suggested it was an issue for the Commission and the broadcasters to resolve, not the parties.

They were questioned why they suggested all five minor parties (except Progressive) get the same Tier 2 funding despite the Green polling considerably higher. Response was that polls do not always track minor parties well and the difference between 5% and 2% isn’t huge.

Labour

Mike Smith appearing. Guess Mike Williams was still hiding from the media. In fact I hear his cellphone message now asks people if they are journalists to ring someone else. Mike Smith speaks very softly so was hard to hear everything he said.

He said two main parties roughly equal on criteria of votes and MPs so should get the same. Also said polls should not be relied on so much as less people have landlines, so they should have reduced significance.

Also downplayed membership figures as different parties may classify how you qualify to be a member in different ways. And suggested National’s extra broadcast buy from last time due to the GST error should be taken into account for this time. Strangely he did not suggest Labour’s $800,000 overspend should be a factor.

He later clarified in questioning that while he was bringing the 2005 GST issue to the Commission’s attention, in the end they are advocating both Labour and National gets the same.

Labour said the new TVNZ system would not be a big issue – needing to book 10 days in advance. In my experience bookings are made well in advance, but the details of the actual ad is what may change right up until the last minute.

They also said they are happy with 62% for major parties, not 66% as National suggested.

So the morning session was far more interesting. Herald and Don Post did turn up in the afternoon.

I actually think the Commission has a pretty easy job this year as there is no dispute over National and Labour getting the same, and little issue with $10 – $20 k each to parties outside Parliament. The real interest will be how they treat the other six parliamentary parties.

If they have just a Tier 2 and Tier 3 then I’d say Greens, NZ First and Maori in Tier 2 and ACT, United Future and Progressive in Tier 3.

If they have a Tier 2, 3 and 4, then the possible options are:

  1. Greens – Tier 2
  2. NZ First – Tier 2 or 3
  3. Maori Party – Tier 2 or 3
  4. ACT – Tier 3 or 4
  5. United Future – Tier 3 or 4
  6. Progressive – Tier 3, 4 or possibly even Tier 5

It will be interesting to see the determination.

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Smacking Referendum petitions falls short – but only just

April 29th, 2008 at 1:26 pm by David Farrar

NZPA reports that the petition to force a referendum on the anti-smacking law has not made its target of 10% of voters, as too many were found to be invalid.

However the law provides for them to have another two months to bring it back over the level required, and they should manage this easily.

They needed 285,027 signatures valid signatures. They got 324,216 but a sample found around 11% were not able to be found on the electoral roll plus 1% illegible and 0.5% duplicates.  This is about normal off mory.

So their valid signatures were calculated as 269,500 so they need 16,000 more valid signatures which is probably 20,000 more total signatures to be safe.

I suspect the Government is nervous about having every voter reminded of the law they are primarily identified with, at the very point at which they are voting.

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The Minors have their say

April 29th, 2008 at 12:23 pm by David Farrar

This morning the six minor parliamentary parties appeared before the Electoral Commission to make their case for broadcasting time and money, and to answer questions.

In a fit of civic mindedness I decided to cover the hearings. So don’t bother calling me until this evening. The crowded media bench consisted of myself and TVNZ’s Jess Mutch. I did think NZPA might be here.

Maori Party

Somewhat rambling as the talked about the number of speeches their MPs had made in the House. This lead the Chairman (Justice McGechan) to suggest to future parties they didn’t need to cover their achievements.

Did say their submission this time was much easier as have a track record. They referred to Digi-poll results showing them ahead in all seats. Also cited Privy Council cases on Maori language.

Judge Williams cunningly suggest any Party targeting Maori language speakers should be eligible for funding, and the Maori Party agreed this would be fair. Then issue arose of should there be a separate allocation for broadcasting in Maori. That is beyond the Commission’s power to decide but might be an issue for Parliament.

Justice McGechan asked whether Maori language gets preference over sign language, as they are both official languages. Not sure what the response was but a very good question.

Greens

Led by Russel Norman. Said the party vote is most important factor. Suggestd one should look at total people who voted Greens on either vote. On that basis more votes than NZ First last time!

They sort of support Maori Party getting more than other parliamentary parties as they hold so many seats. But clear they think Green should be sole Tier 2 party. They suggest (as I did) that NZ First and Maori Party should be Tier 3.

They put the boot into National re GST error in 2005 as TVNZ now demanding money up front.

New Zealand First

Represented by their Party President and Damien Edwards from Winston’s parliamentary office.

Damien said that on current trends they will get 10%!

Said they are only minor party left with original leader and has not been a splinter of another party. They concede ACT has also not been a splinter. Somewhat enthusiastically claimed Winston worked with both major parties and both want him to be Foreign Minister. I am not sure “want” is the word I would use, but more “will not say no if they need the votes”.

They say they should be Tier 2 by themselves. Keeps referring to previous results but that is not within the criteria. Did have a good point that they have the best history of moving in the polls. Relitigated 2005 allocation in response to whether 20% cross subsidization from large to small parties is too small. Agreed not too small – just want more of the minors allocation.

Dr Catt offered them the same free hit at National on GST but they actually said the new TVNZ pay before you run an ad isn’t too bad for them.

A very polished submission but he did talk about Winston a lot!

Progressive

Matt Robson and David Cuthbert appeared. Cuthbert is or was a parliamentary staffer for Anderton.

They complained a lot that their initiatives get reported as Labour ones.

A very good question from Judge on what policy differences with Labour that they need money for, to promote. Robson says free education and Cuthbert raising drinking age.

ACT

Rodney Hide and Nick Kearney appeared.

Rodney says the current regime is devastating. Chairman points out they can not change the statute. Hide says in 1995 denied ability to have any radio or TV. Also slated 2005 TVNZ Epsom poll eight days out which said Hide would lose and this led to drop in party votes and they had no mechanism to respond.

Advocated that as they allocate evenly to all the small parties not in Parliament, on grounds of fairness, they should do the same for all viable parties that are likely to be in Parliament.

Very strong points on how all parties are banned from spending their own money on broadcasting, so this is not about allocating subsidies but about having a fair cap. Sadly for them the answer will be to remove the prohibition on buying your own broadcast advertising, not giving all (minor) viable parties the same money.

Belinda Clark said it was a very clear submission. From my Yes Minister manual this probably means I understand everything you said, but didn’t agree with any of it :-)

Rodney mentioned how all parties are allocated same time to appear, so that is a precedent. Judge Williams responded yes, but not much time! Justice McGechan says they give 30 minutes as a minimum to appear and to some degree do that with allocations by giving minimum $10,000.

Justice McGechan said like most New Zealanders he is sympathetic to arguments of fairness, but reiterated they are bound by statute.

This one went on the longest as it was the most contentious. The Chair replied it was a very thoughtful submission, but that should not be taken as a indication of agreement.

United Future

Represented by their President and a board member. Said they think Commission is fair, even though model is less than perfect.

Argued that Copeland should still be counted as a United Future MP. Sadly for them the criteria is MPs as dissolution, not MPs at the last election. The vote at the last election reflects that though.

Advocates that National and Labour get $1 million each and parties outside Parliament should all get the same. Says all the minor parties in Parliament (bar one) with more than one MP should get the same.

Dr Catt made the point that the vote at last election criteria is effectively MPs at beginning of Parliament. United Future response is that changes due to by-elections is different from List MP defections. I don’t think they can win this issue, but it is their best argument on it.

After lunch we have National and Labour. Has been an interesting morning if you find electoral funding issues of interest. It certainly reinforces to me how much the Broadcasting Act needs to be updated both in terms of clearer criteria but also in getting rid of the inability to purchase your own broadcast advertising.

Also interesting to see how the Commissioners interact. I would peg Judge Williams as the alpha male – he spent by far the most time debating the submissions. This may be because he is (I think) the most experienced Commissioner. Was very impressed with the points he made in response to sometimes quite outrageous suggestions by submitters.

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Labour’s flip-flops on tax

April 29th, 2008 at 11:08 am by David Farrar

Enjoy this video showing Labour’s views on tax cuts. Once again thanks to the reader who sent it in.

People can subscribe to the blog’s You Tube channel if they like, so they will automatically see any new videos as they are uploaded

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An excellent appointment

April 29th, 2008 at 10:15 am by David Farrar

The Government announced yesterday that Iain Rennie has been appointed State Services Commissioner.

I regard this as an excellent appointment. Rennie is held in high regard in Wellington, and is a straight shooter. I can’t think of many people who would have a bad word to say about him. People who have worked with him also say he is very affable and approachable.

His appointment was recommended unanimously by a panel of Jim Bolger, Dame Margaret Bazley, Stan Rodger and David Parker. I think it was wise to not just have it done by the Minister. Hell, we may have ended up with Mike Williams as State Services Commissioner then :-)

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Wonderful Chinese capitalism

April 29th, 2008 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

This comes from the BBC. Good on the enterprising factory owner for not letting politics get in the way of business!

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Clem to retire

April 29th, 2008 at 9:39 am by David Farrar

NZPA reports that Clem Simich is retiring after 16 years in Parliament.

Clem is hugely respected by pretty much all MPs for his fairness and manner as Deputy Speaker. He makes what can be a very tough job look easy.

I also remember with regret that his proposal (or the proposal from the Select Committee he chaired) to move the Beehive back and extend Parliament House to its intended full size never got implemented. That would have allowed Bowen House to be let go on and get Parliament back onto one site.

Clem’s low key style often led people to under-estimate him. However I recall working with him a bit on the 2001/02 boundary changes and Clem was just a mine of information. Where I had to look up polling place results, Clem could just point to an area and talk authoritatively on how good or bad that area was for National and Labour.

I also recall being the the huge party in the Grand Hall at Parliament to celebrate the passing of the Civil Unions Act and Clem was one of only a handful of National MPs to vote for it. So many people were going up to him and thanking him for his support, and he got huge cheers when he spoke to the crowd.

His retirement is an inevitable part of National’s ongoing renewal, so this means only 45 MPs standing for re-election, which means there could be quite a big intake in 2008 on current polls.

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The Poverty Industry

April 29th, 2008 at 6:47 am by David Farrar

The poverty industry is in the news again calling for handouts everywhere as part of their mission to get rid of poverty.

However they define poverty in such a way that if the top 50% of income earners were all made bankrupt, according to their logic there would then be no poverty in NZ as no one would then earn less than 60% of the median wage.

So called poverty measures like this come from the 1970s style socialist and even communist thinking that everyone should earn around the level of income, regardless of whether they are a brain surgeon or rubbish collector.

I certainly support policies which ensure families can afford food, power, education and healthcare. But I have no truck for those groups who think that everyone should earn the same, with minimal variation. Their focus is 100% on income redistribution and 0% on creating income.

No tag for this post.

Hypocrisy vs Stupidity

April 29th, 2008 at 6:32 am by David Farrar

Bernard Hickey reacts to news that a Hong Kong company is buying the Wellington electricity network by blogging that the Government has a choice between hypocrisy or stupidity.

The government now has to choose between blocking the deal, which would be stupid and dangerous, or approving the deal, which would expose the government’s recent comments on foreign ownership of strategic assets as politically motivated and opportunistic hypocrisy. I suspect it will choose hypocrisy and hope no one notices.

Indeed, they appear to be doing so. They have this magical invisible list of strategic assets which they won’t let anyone else see. And whether or not an asset is strategic or not seems to be pure political whim.

But let us look at the difference between Auckland Airport and the Wellington power lines:

  1. Electricity is arguably the most vital utility
  2. Every Wellingtonians uses electricity everyday, while relatively few Aucklanders use the airport every day
  3. While inconvenient there are other airports Aucklanders could use, while Wellingtonians have no other option for getting electricity to their homes.
  4. There are alternatives to air travel such as car, bus, train and boat. There is no real alternative to electricity

So how on Earth you must wonder does a Government deem a Canadian pension fund buying a 24.9% voting stake in Auckland Airport an evil evil takeover which must be stopped at all cost, yet having the richest man in Hong Kong buy 100% of Wellington’s electricity network not even worth a pause for consideration?

Is this the same Prime Minister who declared at her Congress that asset sales were a defining issue? WHat has happened to the lofty rhetoric in just two weeks?

Now please don’t think I against the sale. I think foreign investment is good and necessary in New Zealand. Without it we would be a lot poorer than we are. I would not stop either deal. But the Government’s hypocrisy is massive.

Bernard looks at the issue further:

Just a few weeks ago two junior ministers in the government decided to block a deal to sell a significant stake in Auckland Airport to a Canadian pension fund. They did so after Finance Minister Michael Cullen shifted the goalposts near the end of the bidding process by saying the Overseas Investment Office should consider blocking foreign acquisitions of strategic assets on sensitive land. This cost Auckland Airport shareholders dearly and damaged New Zealand’s reputation as a reliable place for foreign fund managers to invest. It was a blatantly opportunistic, political decision with little rhyme or reason apart from it helped Labour in the polls, marginally.

So the question now is: Do Michael Cullen and Helen Clark believe that Wellington’s power network is a strategic asset on sensitive land?

The availability of power to the nation’s capital sounds strategic. Would the Beehive work without power? What about the Ministries of Defence, Foreign Affairs, Agriculture (Biosecurity), Education and Health? Sounds important and strategic to me. What about the Reserve Bank of New Zealand and Treasury? Don’t they manage our financial system and wouldn’t they be our crisis managers in a financial crisis? Then there’s a mere trifle of around a tenth of the population needing that network to keep working and living.

Bernard also points out the proposed buyer has connections to the Chinese military, and there have been official warnings in the US about him. So the question again is:

But will our government judge a man who was considered by the US government to be a security threat as safer than bunch of Canadian pension fund managers to run a network supplying power to the heart of the nation? Looks like they will. …

This just shows the naked hypocrisy of the Auckland Airport decision. If Auckland Airport is a strategic asset on sensitive land then surely Vector’s Wellington power network is too. If so, the government should reject this latest deal.

Having said that, I think the government should choose hypocrisy over stupidity. We need the money and we can’t afford to damage our reputation as a safe place for international investment any more than it already has been.

I agree hypocrisy is preferable over stupidity in this case, but people should be in doubt the total lack of consistency in the two cases, and that Auckland Airport was merely about polls, not what is good for New Zealand or even a honest belief for or against foreign investment. I can respect people who honestly believe foreign investment is bad. The trouble with Helen and Michael is they know it is good (otherwise would block this deal), but when down in the polls revert to xenophobia to ramp up hysteria against foreigners investing in NZ.

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Calculating the broadcasting allocations

April 29th, 2008 at 12:28 am by David Farrar

The allocation of the broadcasting money is governed by the Broadcasting Act 1989, specifically Part 6.

Section 75(2) sets out the criteria the Electoral Commission shall have regard to, in allocating time and money. They are:

(a) The number of persons who voted at the immediately preceding general election for that party and for candidates belonging to that political party; and

(b) The number of persons who voted at any by-election held since the immediately preceding general election for any candidate belonging to that political party; and

(c) the number of members of Parliament who were members of that political party immediately before the dissolution or expiration of Parliament; and

(d) Any relationships that exist between a political party and any other political party; and

(e) Any other indications of public support for that political party such as the results of public opinion polls and the number of persons who are members of that political party; and

(f) The need to provide a fair opportunity for each political party to which subsection (1) of this section applies to convey its policies to the public by the broadcasting of election programmes on television.

Now according to Labour, the weighting used by the Commission in 1996 was:

  1. Votes at last election – 1.5
  2. By-election Results – 0.25
  3. Number of MPs – 1.0
  4. Party Vote Polls – 2.0
  5. Electorate Vote Polls – 1.0

They supported this weighting in 2005. Now in 2008 they advocate equal weight to all criteria. They correctly note there have been no by-elections but incorrectly note there are no public electorate vote polls, so correcting for their confusion mistake, their 2008 submission should be

  1. Votes at last election – 1.0
  2. Number of MPs – 1.0
  3. Party Vote Polls – 1.0
  4. Electorate Vote Polls – 1.0

Now what are the results for the eight parliamentary parties on each criteria:

Votes at last election

PV EV Total Vote Percentage
National 889,813 902,874 1,792,687 40.4%
Labour 935,319 902,072 1,837,391 41.4%
Maori 48,263 75,076 123,339 2.8%
ACT 34,469 44,071 78,540 1.8%
NZ First 130,115 78,117 208,232 4.7%
UFNZ 60,860 63,486 124,346 2.8%
Green 120,521 92,164 212,685 4.8%
Progressive 26,441 36,638 63,079 1.4%
Total 2,245,801 2,194,498 4,440,299 100.0%

Labour make three further errors in their submission. They add up National’s PV and EV incorrectly and give National 100,000 too many votes – 1,892,687 instead of 1,792,687. Also they have NZ First electorate vote out by 1,000 – they cite 77,117 when it is 78,117. Their combined total is correct though.

Another huge error is United Future. They cite the individual votes correctly, but add them up to get 153,026 instead of 124,346. Really – this level of error is shocking for a formal submission from a major political party.

Number of MPs at Dissolution

MPs Percentage
National 48 40.3%
Labour 49 41.2%
Maori 4 3.4%
ACT 2 1.7%
NZ First 7 5.9%
UFNZ 2 1.7%
Green 6 5.0%
Progressive 1 0.8%
Total 119 100.0%

Note that the percentages are just out of the eight parliamentary parties which applied for funds, to establish relative weightings.

Party Vote Polls

Is is usual to look at public polls over the previous 12 months, in this case being April 2007 to March 2008. There were 63 polls published during that period and their average ratings are below:

Poll Av Percentage
National 49.4% 49.8%
Labour 35.8% 36.1%
Maori 2.3% 2.3%
ACT 1.0% 1.0%
NZ First 3.1% 3.1%
UFNZ 0.7% 0.7%
Green 6.6% 6.7%
Progressive 0.2% 0.2%
Total 99.1% 100.0%

Labour claims National is 49.2%, Labour 36.3%, Maori 2.4%, ACT 1.0%, NZ First 2.9%, Maori Party 2.4%, ACT 1.0% and UFNZ 0.7% with no result for Progressive. All fairly close to what I make it except Labour over-stated by 0.5%.  I have included nine TVNZ polls, six TV3 polls, 23 Morgan polls, 10 Herald polls, three Fairfax polls and 12 UMR polls.

Electorate Vote Polls

Colmar Brunton and One News do regularly poll on the Electorate Vote. There were nine polls from April 2007 to March 2008. The averages were:

Poll Av Percentage
National 50.2% 51.0%
Labour 37.1% 37.7%
Maori 2.8% 2.9%
ACT 0.7% 0.8%
NZ First 2.0% 2.0%
UFNZ 0.8% 0.8%
Green 4.3% 4.4%
Progressive 0.4% 0.5%
Total 98.4% 100.0%

Overall Weightings

2005 Vote MPs PV Polls EV Polls 05 weighting 08 weighting
National 40.4% 40.3% 49.8% 51.0% 45.7% 45.4%
Labour 41.4% 41.2% 36.1% 37.7% 38.8% 39.1%
Maori 2.8% 3.4% 2.3% 2.9% 2.7% 2.8%
ACT 1.8% 1.7% 1.0% 0.8% 1.3% 1.3%
NZ First 4.7% 5.9% 3.1% 2.0% 3.9% 3.9%
UFNZ 2.8% 1.7% 0.7% 0.8% 1.5% 1.5%
Green 4.8% 5.0% 6.7% 4.4% 5.4% 5.2%
Progressive 1.4% 0.8% 0.2% 0.5% 0.7% 0.7%
Total 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0% 100.0%

The 05 weightings are based on the 2005 Labour submission which suggested the 1996 weightings be used. The 08 weightings are based on their new suggestion (Labour basically argues whatever favours them each time rather than a consistent approach) of equal weighting for all criteria.

Now what happens if we give $10,000 to each party not in Parliament, and apply the rest between the eight parliamentary parties.  Eleven parties grab $110,000 leaving $3,102,000 for the other eight.

05 weighting 08 weighting 05 Amount 08 Amount
National 45.7% 45.4% $ 1,419,000 $ 1,408,002
Labour 38.8% 39.1% $ 1,202,643 $ 1,213,034
Maori 2.7% 2.8% $ 84,968 $ 88,061
ACT 1.3% 1.3% $ 40,201 $ 40,593
NZ First 3.9% 3.9% $ 119,508 $ 121,881
UFNZ 1.5% 1.5% $ 45,769 $ 46,596
Green 5.4% 5.2% $ 168,557 $ 161,545
Progressive 0.7% 0.7% $ 21,354 $ 22,289
Total 100.0% 100.0% $ 3,102,000 $ 3,102,000

Now remember again the 05 and 08 amounts are not for different elections, but based on what Labour argued in 2005 and 2008, for this allocation.

Now the Electoral Commission tend to try and group parties together in tiers, rather than strictly apply a formula. So what would those tiers be, on this analysis.

Tier 1 – National and Labour. Almost every party has said they should get the same amount. There is a case for National to get up to $200,000 more but the reason I can’t support this is because this is not just a funding entitlement, but a funding cap for broadcasting. So if Labour get $200,000 less funding than National they are prohibited by law from spending as much as National on the campaign. This is wrong. Sure Labour benefited from this in 2005 and refused to change the law, but as a matter of principle the two major parties should get the same, so they can spend the same amount.

Tier 2 – The Greens are clearly a Tier 2 party. They average over 5% and got over 5% last time. One could argue NZ First and Maori Party are Tier 2 but there is quite a gap back to them, and in the end I conclude the Greens deserve a Tier to themselves as they are double the support levels of the next Tier.

Tier 3 – NZ First and Maori Party.  When you combine electorate and party vote polls they are both at around 2.5%. Maori Party is also ahead in all seven Maori seats on known polls. Against that NZ First got 2.5 times as many party votes in 2005, and around the same level of electorate votes. So I peg them around the same.

Tier 4 – ACT, United Future and Progressive. They are all polling below below 1% and all have one electorate seat. I don’t see the grounds exist this time to put Progressive in a tier of their own.

Tier 5 – All registered parties not in Parliament who applied.

Tier 6 – All unregistered parties who applied.

So how much would I give to each. Let’s start at the bottom and say $10,000 for Tier 6 and $20,000 for Tier 5. More than they deserve on their support, but less than that goes nowhere. That is $60,00 for Tier 6 and $100,000 for Tier 5

Then Tier 1. I think 66% to Tier 1 is appropriate – two thirds going to the two parties who are the primary choice of forming a Government.  And this is still well below the amount they would get if you strictly followed the weightings. So that is $1,059,960 each, rounded to $1,050,000 each.

This leaves $952,000 for the other six parliamentary parties. I would give 30% of the remainder for Tier 3, 20% to each Tier 2 and 10% to each Tier 3 which helpfully makes 100%. So this would produce:

  1. National, Labour – $1,050,000 x 2
  2. Greens – $285,600
  3. Maori, NZ First – $190,400 x 2
  4. ACT, United Future, Progressive – $95,200 x 3
  5. ALCP, Democrats, Family Party, Libertarianz, Alliance – $20,000 x 5
  6. Kotahitanga, New World Order, Liberals, RAM, South Island Party, Workers Party – $10,000 x 6

That would equal $3,212,000 exactly.

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The parties bid for our money

April 28th, 2008 at 10:26 pm by David Farrar

The Electoral Commission is hearing oral submissions today and tomorrow on how to divide up the $3.212 million (incl GST – please note National!) of broadcasting allocations for parties. They have also put up on their website the written submission by the parties. They also get allocated 102 minutes of time on TV One and Radio NZ for opening and closing broadcasts.

The Kiwi Party and Pacific Party forgot or decided not to apply, so miss out.

  1. ACT says they don’t like the system (esp that parties cannot buy their own time). They claim the $3.2 million should be divided up equally amongst all parties which are viable to gain seats. This would give $400 million thousand to each of the eight parliamentary parties. They have no chance of getting this. Their backup plea is give National and Labour a bit more, but treat the other six parliamentary parties the same. They do not reveal their membership size but say they have 30,000 people on their mailing list. They also amusingly claimed that as Don Brash got 40% with ACT’s policies, they should get money reflecting that.
  2. ACLP cites a poll giving them 7.9% support. But only in Greymouth! Also that they have the longest serving party leader.
  3. Libertarianz call the rules immoral, and says they want as much money as possible, which they will not spend, hence saving the taxpayer money. I love it!
  4. Maori Party has 23,215 members (impressive – around three times that of Labour). Want more money so they can campaign in Maori (te reo) also.
  5. New World Order (no not joking) just wants one minute for their opening adddress. Should be fascinating!
  6. NZ First claim to have over 10,000 members. Say that Winston’s poll ratings should count more than the party’s. Says NZ First should get more funding than all other parties except Labour and National. They won’t.
  7. Labour makes a big fuckup in their submission and additionally gives National 100,000 extra votes (combined party and electorate) and mistakenly claim Labour got 39.70% of the combined votes and National 40.89%. Would be funny if National got more money based on Labour’s inability to add. They also claim there are no published polls on the electorate vote but this is untrue as Colmar Brunton poll on this monthly. Labour twice claim there are no electorate polls so are misleading the Commission significantly.They say that the average of all polls for last year has Nats 49.3% and Lab 36.3%. They claim 54,892 members but this includes “compulsory members” through affiliates and it is unknown how many people have voluntarily joined Labour – 8,000 is the rumoured level. As they are now low in the polls, they have changed their previous position to claim poll levels should have just the same weighting as number of MPs and votes at last election. Their conclusion is National and Labour should get the same despite National being ahead even on their own suggested criteria. Next tier should be NZ First and Greens. Third tier Maori, Act and UFNZ, Fourth Progressive and 5th those not in Parliament.
  8. Progressive says should be three tiers – Labour and National in tier one, NZ Furst and Greens in tier 2 and the other four parliamentary parties in tier 3. Whines a lot that their polling is bad because junior Coalition partners get little publicity.
  9. RAM have not learnt how to turn off full justification in MS Word. Cites votes in AUckland council elections.
  10. Alliance says the minimum for any party should be $25,000 (was $10,000 last time). Refers amusingly to leadership changes and “schisms”.
  11. Family Party just cites media coverage.
  12. Green Party has around 4,000 members. Say no party polling below 2% should get opening address time but can get funds. Says National and Labour should get same funding. Then Green Party get third largest amount – more than NZ Furst due to their low polling.
  13. Liberal Party has a long whine about corruption involving the State Services Commissioner, the Chief Ombudsman and the Auditor-General. How the hell do people like this get 500 members? They claim they will get 5% to 10% of the vote. Want 10 minutes for their opening and closing addresses. No chance.
  14. National has been consistent with its 2005 submission (unlike Labour) and have said Labour and National should get the same amount of money despite National’s massive lead in the polls. Doesn’t state membership level but that confident higher than any other party. A minor boob in they refer to 69 electorates instead of 70 which it now is. Says tier two parties for funding should be all the other parliamentary parties except Progressive. Notes the two main parties got 62% of the funding in 2002 but 80% of the votes. Advocates the share going to them should increase to 66% or two thirds. Also wants the share of opening broadcast time (combined for the two majors) to go from 33% to 42% which would be 15 minutes each.
  15. South Island Party quotes from its own Wikipedia entry in support of its application. Hilarious.
  16. United Future whines about Gordon Copeland leaving and says he should still be treated as a United Future MP as he was a List MP. Quotes 2002 election results as they prefer to ignore 2005. Incorrectly claims that NZ First got 44% more MPs in 2002 than the Greens despite just 1% more vote. The are right NZ First had 13 MPs to 9 Greens but NZF got 10% to 7% for the Greens. They also speculate that Labour may not have won the last election if they had not been given $200,000 more broadcasting money than National. Says they should get the same. They support all the other parliamentary parties bar Progressive being second tier for funding. Their submission is probably the most comprehensive and well argued and even recommends specific funding levels for all tiers.

The non parliamentary parties appeared on Monday to argue their case. The parliamentary ones appear on Tuesday. If I can spare the time I might pop down and blog them.

I am also going to do some of my own calculations based on the Labour Party submission, but correcting the errors they have made. Will blog these when done.

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Blog Poll Results

April 28th, 2008 at 3:08 pm by David Farrar

The blog polls are just a bit of fun, and not at all scientific. But having had 15 or so to date, thought it would be interesting to see what they have said:

  1. 63% said they like the new site design over the old one
  2. For who was telling the truth over NZ First donations 51% said Dail Jones, 45% neither and 4% Winston Peters
  3. Three News is favoured by 58% over One News on 36%
  4. 57% think Barack Obama would be a better President than Hillary Clinton
  5. Of the minor parties 36% dislike the Greens the most followed by 26% NZ First, 10% United Future, 10% ACT and 9% for Progressive and 9% Maori Party
  6. Boston Legal fans named Denny Crane as their favourite character at 49% and 45% Alan Shore
  7. 61% support a free trade agreement with China
  8. 81% support the right of employees to work on a public holiday if they wish to earn extra money
  9. Rock and Paper tied on 38% with Scissors last on 25%
  10. Preferred parties were National 41%, Act 18%, Kiwi Party 13%, Labour 10%, Greens 7%, Libertarianz 4%, Maori Party 1%, NZ First 1%, Progressive 1%
  11. 75% said they would vote for the China FTA if they were an MP
  12. Only 14% correctly named the Head of the KKK as saying the top priority is to bring the troops home from Iraq
  13. 85% have a unfavourable or very unfavirable view of Winston Peters
  14. In the battle of the blondes 42% say Scarlett Johansson is most attractive, 35% Charlize Theron, and Reese Witherspoon 23%
  15. 77% correctly guessed that carbon emissions have gone up 14% in Helen Clark’s first six years of office
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