Archive for August, 2011

Chris Carter off to fight corruption!!

August 31st, 2011 at 5:08 pm by David Farrar

Andrea Vance reports:

Expelled Labour MP Chris Carter is leaving New Zealand to tackle corruption in war-torn Afghanistan.

Te Atatu MP Carter is to take up a post in Kabul with the United Nations. He has previously said he would leave parliament at the election.

It’s understood Carter is to quit next week before flying out that weekend.

Our loss is Kabul’s gain.

Will Chris give a valedictory speech?

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Farewell NZPA

August 31st, 2011 at 3:09 pm by David Farrar

Today NZPA sadly goes out of existence. This will make New Zealand one of the few countries without a national news agency. It also means that fewer worthy but unsensational parliamentary stories will get written and covered. NZPA provided excellent coverage of Parliament.

On Stuff there is a farewell article from former NZPA Editor Max Lambert.

Stuff also has an article focusing on the future:

The NZPA national news service officially ceases today and the void is being filled by news services set up by both companies, named FNZN and APNZ respectively, and joined by a third from the Australian Associated Press.

It will be interesting to see how the three services go. I’m not that hopeful:

APNZ would be “less institutional” in its focus, putting its resources to provide news that readers wanted rather than sticking rigidly to emergency services and political argument, Simons said.

I read this as being more stories about Britney Spears and fewer stories about boring stuff such as the electoral system referendum.

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Labour to abolish termination as a copyright option

August 31st, 2011 at 10:53 am by David Farrar

Clare Curran blogs at Red Alert:

If elected, we will introduce a Bill within 90 days to remove the termination clauses from the Copyright Act. Those clauses, which give the District Court the ability to impose account suspension as a remedy for infringing file sharing – can’t work in the long term.

This is a welcome policy from Labour. Congrats to Clare to have got Labour to change their position so radically. Three years ago the law was to require ISPs to terminate all repeat copyright infringers (based on accusation), and now it is to remove termination as an option.

This is a good example of the difference a dedicated spokesperson can make.

It is worth noting that the termination clauses are a “reserve” power at the moment, and can only be activated by Cabinet if they feel the current regime has failed to work. I don’t think it is likely they would ever be activated, but I certainly would much prefer the option is taken off the table – as Labour is proposing.

What this means, is that if a future National Government does ever try to activate the termination clause, it would be vigorously opposed by Labour as well as the Greens (and much of the community), which should reduce the chance of it happening also.

Labour will also undertake a review of the Copyright Act, with the aim of introducing a new Copyright Bill within 18 months that updates and extends the framework for digital copyright in New Zealand.

The first phase of the review will be to commission an independent analysis of the problems with the status quo from an eminent expert, such as the review Professor Hargreaves has recently conducted for the UK Prime Minister, and then consultation on a draft Bill before it is introduced.

New Zealand’s Copyright Act has been half-heartedly adapted for the Internet age.  Instead of more piece-meal reforms, we need to transform our digital intellectual property framework, to bring it into the 21st century and to promote innovation and growth in our economy

I’m supportive of this also. I hope any such review (if Labour do form Government) is what I would call a first principles review of copyright – asking what is the correct balance between economic protection and public use in today’s world. This is more than just asking how can we make the law better. I would see such a fundamental review as being more than an 18 month exercise.

The focus should also be on more than just digital copyright. We should also debate issues such as fair use vs fair dealing, protection for use for satire or parody etc. The debate should be about these basic issues, before we even get onto how then does it apply in the digital environment.

Overall though a very welcome announcement from Labour. Well done.

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Poll Demographics

August 31st, 2011 at 10:41 am by David Farrar

I will blog on other issues later today (am about to fly to Hamilton) but want to cover off some fascinating demographics from the Fairfax Poll. They’ve used Keith Ng to display them visually, which is great.

Some tidbits:

  • Amongst men, National 59%, Labour 23%
  • Even amongst women, National twice as high – 55% to 28%
  • Over 60s – National 59%, NZF 7.5%, Labour 23%
  • Under 30s – Greens 17%
  • Rural – Labour 20%
  • Auckland – National 65%, Labour 20%,
  • Struggling households – Labour 39%, National 38%
  • 2008 Labour voters – 15% now voting National, 7% now voting Greens
  • 2008 Labour voters – 21% prefer Key as PM, 21% Goff
  • 2011 Green voters – 20% prefer Key as PM, 12% Goff
  • Struggling Households – 42% prefer Key as PM, 9.5% Goff
  • Auckland – Key 63%, Goff 8%
  • Rural – Key 59%, Goff 3%

I think is is rather fortunate for Phil Goff this poll didn’t come out on Monday, before caucus.

 

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Who would survive?

August 31st, 2011 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

On the Fairfax poll, Labour would lose 11 seats in Parliament. But when a party drops this low, it is getting very difficult to work out who they would be. Why? It depends on the electorates.

Labour are predicted to get 32 MPs on this poll. Now if no electorates change hands (except Labour take Wigram), they have 22 electorates, so get 10 List MPs.

That means Andrew Little, Shane Jones, Darien Fenton, Moama Mackey and Rajen Prasad would survive. However Raymond Huo, Carol Beaumont, Kelvin Davis, Carmel Sepuloni, Rick Barker, Stuart Nash and Steve Chadwick would be gone.

However Labour believe they can win Te Tai Tonga and West Coast-Tasman. If they did, then Mackey and Prasad would both miss out also. And if Labour dropped another 1.6% then Shane Jones would also be out of Parliament. And another 0.8% below that and Andrew Little won’t make it in.

However there is a silver lining for the List MPs. If Labour’s party vote is as low as under 26%, then they may start losing electorates. Normally safe electorates such as Te Atatu and Mana could go, along with marginal Rimutaka, Palmerston North and Waimakariri. Even New Lynn could come into play.

Hipkins, Twyford, Lees-Galloway,and Faafoi are ranked low on the list and Cosgrove is not on it. So if those five lost their seats, they would be goneburger, meaning MPs such as Mackey, Prasad, Huo and Beaumont would survive.

This is one of the tensions of MMP. List candidates do better, when their party loses electorate seats!

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Labour drops to mid 20s

August 31st, 2011 at 8:40 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Voters appear to be deserting the Labour Party for the Greens as Phil Goff’s election chances look increasingly hopeless.

The Greens have leapt to 11 per cent in today’s Fairfax Media-Research International Poll – and their rise has come at the expense of Labour, which has slumped to 25.7 per cent.

On these results the MP allocation would be National 70 (+12), Labour 32 (-11), Greens 14 (+5), Maori 4 (nc), ACT 1 (-4), United 1 (nc), Mana 1 (nc).

With 86 days until the election, there are echoes of 2002 in the latest poll results.

That year National crashed to a disastrous 20.9 per cent vote on election night, with supporters panicked into voting strategically for the minor parties, particularly NZ First, after deciding Bill English had no hope of victory.

In one sense, Labour is beating National. They are well ahead of National in dropping into the 20s.

Three months before the 2002 election, National was averaging 31% in the polls. They didn’t drop to 25% until the final month.

The Green Party’s improved result in this poll shows the party may be benefiting from a shift in its position towards National. It had previously ruled out working with National in any sort of coalition deal.

The Greens now say that although a deal with National is “highly unlikely”, they will not shut the door completely.

The Greens will have some interesting thinking to do. If they got 14 MPs, they would be a much stronger party. MPs would be able to focus more on just one or two areas than have five portfolios each.

One path open to them would be to try and supplant Labour as the leading left-wing party. However that won’t get them into Government for a long time. It is hard to see how a loft-wing Government would be in contention for even 2014, if today’s poll becomes the 2011 result.

The other path open to the Greens is to use their numbers to get a more substantive deal from National. Now lets again be very very clear – the Greens would never prop up a National-led Government if a left wing Government could be formed as an alternative.

But if National is the only game in town, what do the Greens ask for? There are two broad alternatives.

The first is what they had in 2008 – 2011. A co-operation agreement where they work with Ministers in a few defined areas.

The second is actual taking of Ministerial portfolios, in exchange for an abstention on confidence and supply. Maybe one could even innovate, and only have the Green Ministers required to abstain on confidence and supply.

The scale of the challenge for Labour to win is best illustrated by iPredict. The market has the odds of Phil Goff becoming Prime Minister at 5.4%, while the chances of Labour winning Helensville is at 6.5%.

This means that people think it is more likely young Jeremy Greenbrook-Held will win Helensville off John Key, than Phil Goff will win the Prime Ministership off him. Perhaps Labour would be better if Mr Greenbrook-Held was made Leader!

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General Debate 31 August 2011

August 31st, 2011 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel
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Candidates in and MPs out

August 30th, 2011 at 5:01 pm by David Farrar

I blog at Stuff on which candidates would get in, and which MPs would be out on the latest poll.

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Health itches

August 30th, 2011 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Grant Robertson blogs at Red Alert:

The conventional wisdom is that Tony Ryall is making a good fist of the Health portfolio. Now that I am up close in the area I can say that he keeps a tight rein on matters health, and is managing the portfolio effectively.

I’m trying to recall the last time an Opposition Spokesperson said the Minister is managing the portfolio effectively. Good on Grant though for acknowledging the reality. Of course he has a criticism:

But there is a big difference between managing the politics of health and actually doing what is right for the long term health outcomes of New Zealanders.

So what does Grant mean by this:

The best evidence of that is the release today of the Child Health Monitor Report. It shows, among other things, that in the last two years there have been an additional 5 000 avoidable hospital admissions for things like respiratory illness and skin infections. The authors of the report note that the cost of going to the doctor, especially after hours is a factor in whether children are getting the healthcare they need, along with a range factors associated with child poverty.

I am not saying all of this is down to the Health policy of the current government. But the focus on the narrow range of health targets set by the Minister means that child health is not the priority it should be. The Minister has narrowed the health targets in such a way as to scratch the itches of waiting lists and time spent in ED, but it is at the expense of early intervention and public health programmes.

So what are these itches that Grant refers to? An itch suggests something that isn’t that important, but is noticeable. Well the six targets are:

  1. Shorter Stays in Emergency Departments
  2. Improved Access to Elective Surgery
  3. Shorter Waits for Cancer Treatment Radiotherapy
  4. Increased Immunisation
  5. Better Help for Smokers to Quit
  6. Better Diabetes and Cardiovascular Services

Now it might just be me, but I doubt many people would regard shorter waiting times for cancer treatment as just scratching an itch, or having more people get elective surgey or having shorter waits in ED Departments.

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Flogging a dead horse

August 30th, 2011 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

3 News reports:

Labour leader Phil Goff says anyone who suggests he’s facing a leadership challenge is flogging a dead horse.

The party’s caucus is meeting for the first time since reports were leaked that Mr Goff offered to step down at a front bench meeting.

I’m not sure I’d talk about flogging dead horses if I was Phil. People might get the wrong idea.
The problem for Labour in trying to close this issue down, is its own MPs keep igniting it. You had the front-bencher who leaked about the offer, and at least two other MPs who commented on it. And then look at what Shane Jones said on The Nation this weekend:

Duncan        So if you win the seat you have said that you want to play a bigger role in the party?

Shane          Sure.

It isn’t generally the done thing for MPs to declare in advance of an election they expect a bigger role if they win their seat.

Duncan        So just back to my question.  If you wanted to play a greater role, define that greater role for me.

Shane          Oh no I certainly want to recover my position on to the front bench, but anything beyond that it’s with the caucus and it’s for the future mate.

About as clear a statement as you can get he wants the leadership in the future. Again it is very rare for an MP to be that open about their ambitions.
Duncan        And you’re suggesting someone in the caucus has leaked?

 Shane          No I have no evidence that a person in the caucus has leaked, I certainly know it wasn’t me cos I’m not on the front bench, but the fact to wake up when you’re trying to win votes and to read in the newspaper such a story about our leader, it causes my Slavic blood to boil

A very clear statement that he is not the leak as he was not on the front bench, and that he is peeved at who did it.

Duncan        Now suggestions I’m getting out of Wellington being around the press gallery is that there are some camps now starting to set up in the Labour caucus camp.  Cunliffe we’ll call one and Camp David Parker the other.  What have you heard?

 Shane          No, no no I don’t think so.  I think that both of them are very ambitious and they’ve got a lot to offer the Labour Party etc.

 Duncan        Does Cunliffe have leadership qualities?

 Shane          Well what he needs to do at the moment for all of us, and that’s what he’s promising he’s gonna do for us, is go and sell our economic policy.  I understand David to have said on numerous occasions he’s a team player and he’s gonna tautoko or support Annette King and Phil Goff.  Now what happens in the future we need to talk to him about that, but there’s really no – there’s no scope for this fratricide or there’s no scope for feeding the media’s appetite in wanting to turn this election into a Labour Party leadership fight, it’s a joke.

Now that looks to me like a bit of a slap towards Cunliffe – basically saying go concentrate on selling the economic policy.

Duncan        Have you given up your leadership ambitions?

Shane          Yeah no, I was – well I was flattered to be compared to JT and Winston etc.  But those ambitions of mine have dimmed.

Duncan        Dimmed or gone?

Shane          Oh, no they’re at a very low ebb.

Duncan        Have they gone?

Shane          Oh that’ll depend on how well I do in Tamaki Makaurau.

Again as clear a statement as you can get that he will stand for the leadership after the election if he wins his seat.

Now back to Phil, Stuff reports:
Labour Leader Phil Goff is refusing to accept his party’s poor popularity saying its bad polling is because people aren’t focused on the issues.
No Right Turn comments:
Phil Goff’s excuse for his latest round of poor polling? “People aren’t focused on the issues”. But before Labour hacks engage in another round of “blame the voters”, I think we should ask: whose fault is that?

To point out the obvious, getting people to care about “the issues” so that they are energised and mobilised to vote is a core task of a political party. If people aren’t focused on Labour’s chosen issues, then that tells us that the Labour Party is doing a piss-poor job. Either they’ve chosen their issues badly, or they’re communicating them poorly (and in particular, worse than the government). But either way, it is not the voters who are at fault, but the party. And blaming the voters for the party’s failure just adds to the perception that Labour is arrogant.

Now just 89 days to go.

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Earthquake Facts

August 30th, 2011 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Some interesting facts from the latest cost update on the Earthquake

  • Number of houses estimated to have more than $100,000 of damage increased from 12,000 to 30,000
  • Damage to land increased from $300m – $600m to $1.8b
  • Total cost of earthquake now estimated to be $15b, or 8% of GDP
  • This makes it the largest natural disaster to hit a developed country (in terms of cost proportional to the economy) in recent memory
  • Government share of earthquake costs estimated to be $12.9b, including EQC
  • The number of claims has been 388,000. The previous highest total was 6,224 for Gisborne in 2007
  • Regardless of the size of the economy, the earthquakes are the 4th most costly event for insurers since 1970 – beaten only by the Northridge earthquake in California in 1994 and earthquakes in Japan in 1995 and 2011

 

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Key on youth minimum wage

August 30th, 2011 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

NZPA report:

Scrapping the minimum wage for young workers could result in people being paid as little as $2 an hour, Prime Minister John Key says.

His comment came after Act leader Don Brash last week proposed abolishing the minimum wage for people under 20, which he said would result in more people working for less rather than fewer people earning higher wages.

Key has said the Government would consider reinstating youth rates, but today raised issues with Dr Brash’s more radical proposal.

The proposal would result in “very low wage rates” and some companies would hire people for as little as $2 an hour, he said.

Actually for many young people there already is no minimum wage. It doesn’t apply to those aged under 16. So I disagree with the PM that moving the minimum wage coverage from 16 to 18 would lead to lots of people working for $2 an hour. Are there many 15 year olds working for $2/hour?

Incidentally when I was at 14, I did get a job for $2/hour. Now today that is worth $7/hr, but regardless is still around half of the minimum wage. It was working at Woolworths cleaning rubbish bins out etc during the week and doing checkouts on Friday night. Having an after school job was great in terms of learning the value of work.

Today no one would be on $2/hour because the welfare system sets a de facto minimum wage of around $4.50 an hour.

Incidentially if it is so wrong to have different minimum wages, based on age – then why it is okay to have different dole payments based on age?

An 18 and 19 year old gets paid less than a 20 – 24 year old by around $37 a week, if both live at home.

And a 25 year old gets paid $38 a week more dole than a 24 year old on the dole.

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Listener on four year term

August 30th, 2011 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The Listener editorial:

New Zealand’s electoral cycle is too short. Since 1935 there have been only two single-term governments. The second Labour Government (1957-60) was hammered for its infamous Black Budget, and the third Labour Government (1972-75) had the misfortune of leader Norman Kirk dying in office and being replaced by the less popular Bill Rowling.

There is no single reason that voters usually give the government a second term, but it is possible to speculate on the reasons. One is that the public thinks three years is insufficient time for the new incumbents to prove themselves. Changing the course of a heavily laden ship of state is a slow business, whichever direction you point it. Three years is a short time in which to judge the success or failure of complex new policies. Another reason may simply be that generally public fatigue takes longer than three years to set in. Also, voters may not want another big round of change visited on the country so soon after the last round.

I agree that the length of the term is why so few Governments get tossed out after one term. It is interesting that no National Government has ever failed to get a third term.

Ministers in a new government spend the first year getting to grips with their portfolios. Currently, the third year is dominated by its re-election chances, with only relatively timid policy changes. That leaves precious little time in between to do anything, particularly on important matters that require a lot of consultation or that might be unpopular. A four-year term would allow governments more chance to get things done that often should be done, but are neglected.

This is the strongest argument for change. A 33% increase in the parliamentary term would lead to 100% increase in time for quality policy development etc.

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Quake costs double

August 30th, 2011 at 10:18 am by David Farrar

Andrea Vance at Stuff reports:

The cost of the Canterbury earthquakes to the Government has more than doubled to $7.1 billion.

Finance Minister Bill English this morning said the Earthquake Commission has increased its liability by about $4 billion to $7.1 billion.

He said the announcement would not affect homeowners claims.

The cost blowout includes an increase of $2.17 billion from the 22 February earthquake and $1.42 billion from the 13 June earthquakes and other aftershocks, which were not previously included.

At a press conference, English said the new estimate follows a risk assessment, based on analysis of damage claims.

He said the extra costs can be met through the Natural Disaster Fund which held about $6 billion before the first earthquake. The government will meet the shortfall. EQC also has reinsurance in place to help meet the cost of any future events.

“Today’s announcement will not affect homeowners’ claims, which EQC will continue to pay in full. And it will not delay rebuilding in Christchurch,“ English said.

Basically this means an extra $3b to $4b of borrowing. There is no choice about this – it is just what the costs are.

But it is worth reflecting that even by their own calculations, Labour’s tax plans require greater Government borrowing for at least the next seven years. And that is before we even get to their spending plans. Will these extra costs make Labour reconsider their policy of tax cuts and boosting benefits?

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Labor v union

August 30th, 2011 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

A week ago I blogged on the fraud allegations around federal Labor MP Craig Thomson:

A federal Labor MP, Craig Thomson, is under huge scrutiny as when he was the head of the Health Services Union he spent around $150,000 on his union credit card including several prostitutes. He sued Fairfax a couple of years ago who reported this, but has now dropped the lawsuit, but Fairfax has all the documents under discovery.

There is no doubt he stole money off the union, and used their funds for his personal expenses. He denies he hired prostitutes and say someone else signed the chits.However the escort agencies were also rung from his cellphone and handwriting experts say the signatures are his.

There’s a more detailed post on this from someone in Australia tomorrow, but I want to focus today on the issue of why has he not been charged? Well simply because the Police say they can’t investigate unless the union complains.

So why has the union not complained? Wouldn’t any other organisation that had someone do this, complain?

The answer is because he is a Federal Labor MP, and if they complained, then he might be found guilty and might have to resign his seat which would cause a by-election. And if Labor lost the by-election, they may lose Government.

So to protect their mates in Labor, the union won’t complain to the Police. Never mind the fact $150,000 of their members fees were spent by this Labor MP. They put protecting Labor above their own members interests.

Now I am pleased to say the situation has changed. The union has now complained to the Police, after huge criticism of them for not doing so, and being seen to be complicit in covering up a crime.

But one can now have some sympathy for the union, in terms of the pressure they were under from Labor. Like a bad plot from the Godfather, the union secretary had a dirt-covered shovel left outside her home at 2 am. The story notes that “Labor party figures are angry Ms Jackson referred the allegations Mr Thomson faces to the police.

As you can imagine this has hit Labor in the polls:

KEVIN Rudd would be Labor’s sole MP in Queensland if an election was held today, according to a new opinion poll. A year after Julia Gillard formed minority government, her support has crashed to a record low in the Sunshine State. In the worst result ever recorded in a Galaxy poll for The Courier-Mail, Labor was backed by just 23 per cent of the state’s voters last week.

The plunge in support for Labor represents a slump of more than 10 percentage points since the election on August 21 last year. Support for the Liberal National Party has surged to 55 per cent, up more than seven points.

If the results are replicated at the next election, the Coalition would win by 63 per cent to 37 per cent on a two-party preferred basis.

These figures would see an 8 per cent swing against the Government – a move that would leave Kevin Rudd the last Labor MP standing in Queensland, assuming a uniform swing across the state.

It is not considered likely Gillard will survive to the 2013 election. iPredict has the chance of her leaving before July 2012 as a high 76%.

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Compulsory circumcision for male MPs

August 30th, 2011 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

No this is not a joke. AAP report:

ZIMBABWE’S male ministers will all undergo circumcision as part of a campaign to prevent the spread of HIV, the deputy prime minister has been quoted as saying.

Research indicates male circumcisions can help prevent infections of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

According to Thokozani Khupe, quoted in the state-run Sunday Mail newspaper yesterday, all men in the 150-member parliament and all male councillors in urban and rural councils should also undergo the minor operation.

Which party in New Zealand will announce this as policy :-)
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General Debate 30 August 2011

August 30th, 2011 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel
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Truth in Advertising

August 30th, 2011 at 8:00 am by David Farrar

Red Alert has been showing off some videos sent in by concerned citizens, who shock horror just happen to be members of Young Labour.

Now good on them for getting involved, but it would be nice if someone pointed out to them that they are not meant to lie and deceive over what National is promising until they are MPs. Take the asset sales video.

It starts off with someone offering trains for sale. Now I wish the trains were for sale. Far from it. National is spending around $2 billion of taxpayers money on buying new trains, upgrading current stock, and electrification of lines. And their policy is for the Government to retain 100% ownership of Kiwirail.

So the advertisement starts with what can only be called a massive blatant lie. This is of course why they promote it on Red Alert.

The ad follows on with partial lies, saying people can buy power companies – they can all be yours. No mention at all that only minority stakes will be offered, and no you won’t be able to buy your own power company – you’ll just be able to buy some shares in a power company. But hey lets not facts get in the way.

Then the advertisement reverts back to a full lie. It claims Kiwibank is for sale, and at half price. Again, somewhat sadly, Kiwibank is not for sale – not even one share. National’s policy is to retain 100% ownership of Kiwibank and NZ Post.

Following the total lie, we go back to a further partial lie. That Air New Zealand must go. Air NZ already has private minority ownership. The only change is the amount may go up, but remain under 50%.

So two total blatant lies, and two partial lies. Not bad for 53 seconds.

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I overlooked the hypocrisy!

August 29th, 2011 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

On Thursday I blogged my amusement at Labour criticising National for the fact it uses a template for its candidate announcements. Trevor Mallard had said:

Labour’s campaign chair Trevor Mallard said any ”fill in the blanks” type press statements were ”subject to ridicule”.

”It’s a sign of both laziness and also disrespects the electorate on the part of the candidate,” Mallard said.

Now my memory failed me. The correct reaction shouldn’t have been amusement but outrage at Trevor’s hypocrisy. Why?

Well I forgot how Labour set up a Government Communications Unit, also known as the Burns Unit. It consisted of five taxpayer funded press secretaries, and do you know what its job was? To produce hundreds and thousands of press releases for local newspapers, candidates and MPs. They’d take one standard press release, and stick in local data and send it to the local media. It was exactly what Trevor Mallard is now labelling as disrespecting the electorate. The difference is National has one staff member at Party HQ doing candidate releases, and Labour had a taxpayer funded unit of five full-time press secretaries dedicated to these “fill in the blanks” type press statements.

Again the hypocrisy is amazing.

Maybe Trevor forgot that Labour had their own taxpayer funded fill in the blanks press release factory. I doubt it though as the former head of the unit is now a Labour MP.

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Only 5% of income!

August 29th, 2011 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

NewstalkZB reports:

The Green Party says it has the numbers to prove farms will remain very profitable, even if they’re charged for irrigation.

It says MAF statistics show its suggested charge for irrigation is 4.8 percent of total farm income for the average Canterbury dairy operation.

Co-leader Russel Norman believes it shows farmers can afford the cost

This sort of claim could only be made by someone who has never owned or managed a business.

An extra charge which amounts to 4.8% of gross income is a huge expense. Hell many businesses have a net profit margin of less than 5%, so an extra 5% would turn them into a loss maker.

I’ve actually said I do support user pays for water – so long as it applies to all water users. But the Greens shouldn’t say that an expense equal to 5% of income is easily affordable.

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2011 candidates updated

August 29th, 2011 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

I’ve updated the candidates list, which is a permanent page on this blog.

The page has the main candidates for each electorate. It now also has a spreadsheet which lists the electorate candidates for the smaller parties, and the party lists for those parties that have announced them. This will be updated approximately weekly.

Labour have found a couple more victims for seats, but still have a few unfilled. At this stage I have no known Labour candidates for Hunua, Ikaroa-Rawhiti, Tamaki and Tauranga.

UPDATE: Labour this morning announced that their Tauranga candidate is Deborah Mahuta-Coyle. I guess they were incapable of finding anyone with an actual connection to Tauranga to stand. Deborah works in the Goffice as a press secretary and the closest they can do in linking her to Tauranga is saying:

Although not originally from Tauranga, Deborah grew up further along State Highway 1 in the small town of Huntly

Hilarious. Almost as funny as this:

“Deborah is dynamic, skilled, hardworking candidate- who will do her best to represent Labour in the Tauranga electorate and if given the chance, will strongly represent Tauranga as their MP after the general election”, Moira Coatsworth said.

Deborah is one of Labour’s better candidates, but to suggest she can win Tauranga is lunacy.

UPDATE2:

Whale points out that Tauranga is of course nowhere near SH1.

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Retiring MPs

August 29th, 2011 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

A large number of MPs elected in 2008 are retiring at the 2011 election, or have already retired. By party I make it:

ACT

  • David Garrett (left 2010)
  • Roger Douglas
  • Rodney Hide
  • Heather Roy
  • Hilary Calvert

Greens

  • Jeanette Fitzsimons (left 2010)
  • Sue Bradford (left 2009)
  • Sue Kedgley
  • Keith Locke

Labour

  • Helen Clark (left 2009)
  • Michael Cullen (left 2009)
  • Winnie Laban (left 2010
  • Darren Hughes (left 2011)
  • Ashraf Choudhary
  • George Hawkins
  • Pete Hodgson
  • Lynne Pillay
  • Mita Ririnui

National

  • Richard Worth (left 2009)
  • Pansy Wong (left 2011)
  • John Carter (left 2011)
  • Sandra Goudie
  • Wayne Mapp
  • Simon Power
  • Georgina te Heuheu

Progressive

  • Jim Anderton

So that is 25 MPs elected at 2008 and one MP who came in in 2010, who will not be standing in the 2011 election.

On top of that a number of incumbent MPs may fail to be re-elected, so the turnover may increase even more.

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Labour’s stop the school campaign

August 29th, 2011 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

A most unusual campaign being run by Labour MPs and candidates in Pakuranga and Botany. Labour are campaigning against a school opening in the local neighbourhood.

Now this is unusual, as most communities campaign against schools closing, not opening. But Raymond Huo blogs at Red Alert:

As Prime Minister John Key enjoyed the hospitality at the Pakuranga Country Club yesterday, Labour Candidate for Botany Chao-Fu Wu joined hordes of locals who displayed their strong opposition to Thurston Place College through a picket demonstration.

The community is outraged that proper consultation has not taken place and that plans to build Thurston Place College continued despite the strong community opposition to the development.

So why are they against Thurston Place College opening? It is because the 100 or so kids who will go there are in CYFS care. They are not criminals, but they are kids with some serious problems.

Once upon a time Labour might have been the champion of helping kids in serious need. Now they are the champions of NIMBY politics. Let’s look at the status quo they are trying to maintain:

Hon ANNE TOLLEY: This is a very difficult position for these young, vulnerable students. The previous Government allowed them to be educated and housed in disgusting conditions for 9 years. The Education Review Office reported year after year, and the ministry put in commissioner after commissioner. These students were being educated in nothing more than sheds. This Government has said that we cannot do that to this vulnerable group of young New Zealanders. They deserve a good education, they are in the care of the State, and at this school we are looking to provide that.

I’m sure they were nice sheds though. Oh, and how is this for playing the race card:

Raymond Huo: Would the consultation have been better if the majority of the immediate community had not been Asian, or does this approach meet the new standards for consultation generally?

Hon ANNE TOLLEY: I find that accusation absolutely insulting. I did not know that the majority of the local community was Asian.

Also Whale Oil pointed out:

Raymond, do you know which electorate Thurston College is in?

It is in Pakuranga Electorate, so the Labour candidate in Botany is protesting at a function in Botany electorate for the Botany MP on behalf of locals in Pakuranga.

Thurston College is more than 3 kms away from the nearest edge of Botany electorate.

Whale incidentally lives around 200 metres from Thurston Place College and he is happy for it to open, and not be a NIMBY. he also points out the school was specifically designed for high need kids.

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Back Benches 31 August 2011

August 29th, 2011 at 10:36 am by Kokila Patel

THIS WEEK ON BACK BENCHES: IT IS THE SCIENCE & INNOVATION SPECIAL. Watch Wallace Chapman, Damian Christie, the Back Benches Panel and special guests!

“We’re a country of innovators. We’re known for and are proud of our No. 8 Wire mentality. It may get things done, but is it holding us back? Back Benches is answering your questions in this Science & Innovation Special on August 31st. Why is it important for us to move beyond the No. 8 wire? How do we transform the backyard inventor into a world class successful businessman?

How do we compete against countries like China and India where Sciences and Maths are a priority? What can teachers do to fight against the idea these subjects are boring? How do we make, as one Kiwi Scientist suggests, Science sexy?

How can innovations change our biggest industry—Agriculture? Improve Agriculture for the better—better for the environment, better for farmers, better for the bottom line, and most importantly better for our wallets? How do we become world-leaders?

National says their investing our dollars in Science & Innovation while Labour says it’s not enough.  Is it about spending more money or spending it more efficiently? Or is it really about making a huge cultural shift? We’ll find out as only Back Benches can with our MPs, experts, and you the audience.”

Join us for a night of LIVE pub politics from the Backbencher Pub: Wednesday, 31st of August. Our Panel: ACT MP Heather Roy, Green Party MP David Clendon, Labour MP David Shearer and National MP Dr. Paul Hutchison.

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ACT’s economic policies

August 29th, 2011 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Don Brash gave a speech last week outlining ACT’s economic policies. People may be interested in a summary of them:

  • ACT would promptly re-introduce youth minimum wages – or better still, abolish minimum wages entirely for those under 20.
  • further reform of employment law so it is less heavily stacked against employers
  • scrap the Emissions Trading Scheme
  • radical reform of the RMA
  • seek to reduce government spending to below 30% of GDP, the level it was at at the end of Labour’s second term in office in 2005
  • Longer term, as the economy grew, we would want to get the government share of the economy to a lower level, perhaps 25%, as it was for much of our history up to the mid-seventies
  • harmonise the top personal, company and trust tax rates at 21%; or
  • radically reduce the company tax rate, to perhaps 10 or 15%, with the top personal and trust tax rates remaining at, say, 28%
  • age of entitlement for NZ super has to rise gradually over the next 10 years or so
  • favours the sale of government-owned businesses
  • see legislation passed which would constrain the future growth of government spending
  • see legislation passed which would make it harder for governments to pass laws and regulations which would impinge on the rights of citizens
  • see the Bill of Rights amended to protect the property rights of citizens

While I don’t agree with every single item, there’s a lot I do agree with, and they would definitely help push New Zealand faster in the right direction.

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