Archive for the ‘NZ Politics’ Category

Lowe for Albany

June 24th, 2016 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Auckland Future have announced:

Graham Lowe, highly respected former rugby league football coach and administrator, is to contest the Albany ward for Auckland Future in the upcoming council elections. He will join current Upper Harbour local board chair, Lisa Whyte as the second Auckland Future candidate.

Lowe coached the New Zealand Kiwis in the 1980s including New Zealand’s first win over Australia in 12 years in 1983. He went on to coach Wigan in their first championship win in 27 years during the 1986-87 British Rugby Football League competition.

According to Auckland Future chairman, Peter Tong, Graham brings a wealth of leadership experience to the team.

“We are delighted Graham has chosen to serve the city after such a distinguished career in rugby league coaching and administration. Decades of sport leadership can only benefit the working of Council at the governance level,” he said.

Graham said he was entering local body politics because the city needed strong leadership and a united team and he strongly supported Auckland Future’s aim to secure a centre right majority on Council.

“Ratepayers need to know what they are voting for and in Auckland Future they will get a team of councilors who want to cap rates, eliminate wasteful expenditure and work together collaboratively as a team. For the North Shore our first priority is to see Penlink brought forward as a matter of urgency.

Great to see two great candidates for Albany. Auckland needs candidates who will not vote for 9.9% rates increases.

Ombudsman backs former diplomat

June 24th, 2016 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

The Government has rejected parts of a damning report into its handling of an inquiry into leaks from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

Ombudsman Ron Paterson has told the Government it should compensate a former top diplomat whose career ended in tatters after he was targeted by the inquiry, which was instigated by the State Services Commission.

He has also recommended a formal apology.

The 2013 inquiry has already cost taxpayers as much as $1 million, including lawyers costs and fees paid to the woman who headed it, Paula Rebstock. 

State Services Commissioner Iain Rennie said on Thursday he did not agree with some of Paterson’s findings and Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully stood by comments made at the time the inquiry was released.

McCully said the Ombudsman’s review criticised the steps taken in assessing the responsibility of particular individuals for “some very unprofessional behaviour” – but did not dispute that those behaviours occurred.

“My statement, made at the time of the release of the Rebstock report, referred to unprofessional and disreputable conduct but did not name any individuals. My statement was undoubtedly correct.”

The 2013 inquiry headed resulted in senior diplomats Derek Leask and Nigel Fyfe  being singled out , despite evidence the leaks that sparked it originated from within the State Services Commission itself. The person responsible cannot be identified because of suppression orders.

While they were not named in the State Services Commission-ordered inquiry, Leask and Fyfe were easily identifiable and their conduct was publicly  criticised by the State Services Commissioner and Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully after personal emails were published revealing their opposition to restructuring of the ministry.

I make no comment on Leask and Fyfe specifically but there was definitely some disgraceful behaviour within MFAT at the time. The lowlight being calls being made directly to Phil Goff from an MFAT conference room.

In a statement, Leask said the 2013 findings against him and other MFAT staff had been rubbished by the Ombudsman.

“It is good to have the slur on my reputation removed. Today’s findings by the Ombudsman go beyond the vindication of my actions. The Ombudsman’s report suggests that the 2012/2013 SSC investigation was out of control from start to finish.”

Leask, a former deputy secretary of foreign affairs and New Zealand’s high commissioner in London, said It was a matter of great public concern that the SSC acted in the way it did.

In a statement, Rennie said he did not agree with all elements of the Ombudsman’s findings, in particular that in making findings relating to the investigation being outside its terms of reference.

But  he accepted that the way in which the investigation dealt with Leask “could have been better”.

Little playing coy on New Plymouth

June 24th, 2016 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Labour leader Andrew Little has been spending time in his old stomping ground – but wouldn’t be drawn on whether he’ll stand in the electorate again.

Little held a public meeting, ironically in the blue room, at the New Plymouth Club on Wednesday night.

He had attended the 2016 Citizens Awards at the New Plymouth District Council on Tuesday night and visited his former school, New Plymouth Boys High, on Wednesday ahead of the meeting.

However Little, who was soundly beaten by National’s Jonathan Young in the 2014 general election, remained tight-lipped on whether he would stand in the New Plymouth electorate in 2017.

“I haven’t made that decision, I have got to make that very soon but I haven’t made that decision,” he said.

Of course he won’t stand again. He got thrashed there last time.

He is looking for a safe seat. Almost certainly he is gunning for Rongotai.

How network pricing may work

June 23rd, 2016 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

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This graphic from Stuff gives a good idea how variable network pricing may work. The AA noted:

“This is a very different proposition to what we saw come out of Auckland Council last year with a proposed motorway user charge,” Irvine said. …

Motorists would receive a bill based on the number of kilometres they travelled on which roads and at what times.

The idea being that it would replace the petrol tax.  Like the AA I think it is a good idea. It is basically user pays rather than subsidies.

Gagging Councillors

June 22nd, 2016 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Changes to Nelson City Council’s Code of Conduct has the potential to gag councillors and turn them into spin doctors for the council, according to a researcher.

Massey University researcher Catherine Strong says a paper she published in 2014 found 10 councils from around the country had inserted phrases to state elected members could not criticise council, its policy, or actions.

Strong says Nelson has also re-worded its code in November, 2014.

The changes were similar to those made by councils she had studied for her paper, which she found had the potential to “fetter” free speech. 

Nelson City Council’s reworded code 5.10 currently states: “Elected members public statements expressing their opinion on matters before the Council shall not criticise the conduct of the Council, other elected members or officers of the Council.”

What nonsense. They’re trying to say a Councillor can’t criticise the Mayor. This would be like Parliament having a Standing Order saying MPs can’t criticise the Prime Minister. Any Council with such a provision in its code should scrap it.

Another Green maths fail

June 22nd, 2016 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Nick Smith released:

Claims by the Green Party on contaminated sites expenditure expose how poorly they understand economics, Environment Minister Dr Nick Smith says.

“Their claim the Government has underspent on contaminated sites clean-up by $32.6 million involves basic accounting errors that raise serious questions about their economic competence.

“It is a nonsense for the Greens to claim that the transfer of $11.3 million for the Tui mine clean-up from the annual appropriations to a multi-year one is a cut. The funding is identical but a multi-year appropriation recognises a particular project may be spread over a number of financial years.

Maybe we should crowd-fund a Treasury secondee for the Greens so they don’t make such basic errors.

Murphy scores the Auckland Mayoral candidates

June 22nd, 2016 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Tim Murphy at The Spinoff covers a recent Auckland Mayoral Forum. Most of the article is about Desley Simpson and if she’ll become Deputy Mayor, but he also scores the candidates out of 10 for their performance at the forum. His scores:

  1. Victoria Crone 8/10
  2. Phil Goff 7/10
  3. Mark Thomas 6/10
  4. John Palino 5/10
  5. David Hay 4/10
  6. Penny Bright 0/10 (a no show)

Geddis on Euthanasia

June 22nd, 2016 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Andrew Geddis writes:

First, earlier this month the Victorian Parliament’s Legal and Social Issues Committee tabled an extensive report on on its inquiry into end of life choices. This report proceeded the way that NZ’s Health Committee really should have done – it first examined how the State’s palliative care services are operating and what should be done to better improve this, before then turning to look at the issue of aid in dying. With regards that latter matter, the Committee concluded that:

“Assisted dying should be made available to adults with decision making capacity who are at the end of life and suffering from a serious and incurable condition, which is causing enduring and unbearable suffering that cannot be relieved in a manner they deem tolerable.

Suffering as a result of mental illness only does not satisfy the eligibility criteria.

Assisted dying should be provided in the form of a doctor prescribing a lethal drug which a person may then take themselves, or in the case of a person being physically unable to take the drug themselves, the doctor administering the drug.

The request to access assisted dying must be completely voluntary, properly informed, and satisfy the verbal request, formal written request, repeat verbal request procedure described [in the report].”

There’s a bunch of reasons why we should care what this Committee thinks. First up, it represents the conclusions of a group of MPs from a society that is (like it or not) pretty similar to our own. What is more, the report represents a cross-party near-consensus on the issue. The Committee consisted of three Labor MPs, three Liberal MPs  and one representative each from the Sex Party (yes – really!) and the Greens. Of these eight members, only one (from the Liberal Party) dissented from the recommendation. So you can’t just dismiss this report as the ideologically driven predetermined views of [insert whatever side of the political spectrum you disagree with].

It will be interesting to see what conclusions the MPs on the Health Select Committee reach.

So now that Canada has brought in a regime of legalised aid in dying, we’ve got a near perfect comparator for us as a nation to see if the claimed negative consequences of the practice eventuate. Will Canada’s introduction of aid in dying somehow harm the practice of medicine (or, at least, the practice of medicine in end-of-life situations)? Will it lead to elderly/depressed/disabled people being pushed by relatives or money-saving governments to end their lives? Will the suicide rate, especially for young people, trend upwards because of “mixed messages” about the practice? Etc, etc?

I agree Canada will be a good country to study to see what happens. While I support euthanasia in principle I am always ready to be swayed by evidence.

For the same reason I look forward to the results of Oregon and Washington legalising cannabis. Will it increase harm or make no difference?

Congestion charging for Auckland

June 22nd, 2016 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Simon Bridges announced:

Mr Bridges says it has found that achieving a step change in the performance of Auckland’s transport system will require a range of interventions.

“It concludes that while ongoing investment in new road and public transport projects will clearly be needed, greater use of technology and in the longer term, road pricing – or directly charging for road use, will also be part of the toolkit,” he says.

“The final stage of ATAP will look at what additional projects could be brought forward in the next ten years to support Auckland’s growth. If the benefits of early investment in these projects are significant, there may be a case for the Government and Council to make extra funding available,” Mr Bridges says.

Exactly how that funding could be provided would need to be considered after ATAP provides its final report.

“Auckland will need to accommodate an expected 700,000 additional people over the next 30 years. The emerging approach indicates a need to focus on ensuring transport enables and supports this growth, particularly through early investment in new growth areas in the north-west, north, and south of Auckland,” Mr English says.

“The approach also looks to better target investment to strengthen strategic road, rail, and public transport connections, as well as ensuring we’re making the most of the existing network,” he says.

Mr Bridges says the potential opportunities from current and future technology are exciting.

“ATAP is finding that by embracing intelligent transport systems early, we can position Auckland to make the most of any future benefits from connected and shared vehicles. Technology could also enable a progressive move towards road pricing.

There’s a lot of detail in the report dealing with both supply and demand issues. On the supply side it identifies further investment needed in roads, busways and rail.

On the demand side it says that network pricing should be considered, which is basically congestion charging. It means that you might pay to use certain network corridors, and pay more if using them at peak times.

I strongly support this. It is user pays. At the moment we have indirect user pays through petrol tax and licence fees. But the future will be and should be a more direct link between the roads you use and the amount you pay.

What is important is this is not used just to increase revenue for the consolidated fund. But as I understand it any transport revenue will remain dedicated for transport, and if direct charges come in, then indirect charges (petrol tax) may reduce.

This will be many years off, but it is good to see the Government moving in this direction.

Tisch to retire

June 21st, 2016 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Long-serving Waikato MP Lindsay Tisch will leave Parliament after next year’s election.

Mr Tisch, a former National Party president and who became an MP in 1999, has announced he will not seek the National Party nomination for his Waikato electorate next year.

Waikato is a safe National seat, with Mr Tisch having one of the largest majorities in the country when he won the seat by 16,169 votes in 2014.

18 years is a decent period of time to be in Parliament.

It is a very safe seat. I expect a number of very credible people will be interesting in being candidates.

Latest poll

June 21st, 2016 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The latest Roy Morgan poll is at Curia. Greens up and National and Labour down.

Quote of the week

June 21st, 2016 at 9:00 am by TaxpayersUnion

“First they make us pay in our taxes for Greek olive groves, many of which probably don’t exist. Then they say we can’t dip our bread in olive oil in restaurants. We didn’t join the Common Market – betraying the New Zealanders and their butter – in order to be told when, where and how we must eat the olive oil we have been forced to subsidise.”

– Boris Johnson

The quote of the week is brought to you by the New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union. To support the Union’s campaign for lower taxes and less government waste, click here.

Iraq mission extended

June 21st, 2016 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Gerry Brownlee announced:

Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee says Cabinet has today agreed to extend New Zealand’s contribution to the joint New Zealand-Australia mission to train Iraqi Security Forces until November 2018.

Also agreed was an amendment to the mission’s mandate to allow small numbers (generally around six to eight at a time) of our training and force protection team at Taji to travel for short periods to Besmaya, a secure training location about 52 kilometres south east of Taji.

“At Besmaya our troops will ensure a smooth hand-over of the Iraqi soldiers they’ve been training at Taji to other coalition trainers, who will be teaching them to use heavy weapons,” Mr Brownlee says.

Finally, Cabinet has also agreed in principle that New Zealand personnel be authorised to provide training to stabilisation forces, such as the Iraqi Federal Police, in addition to the Iraqi Army.

“These forces are providing an essential role in securing cities once they have been liberated from Daesh so rebuilding can occur,” Mr Brownlee says.

“To date this has been a successful mission, and the value we’re providing the Iraqi Security Forces to rid their country of Daesh is increasing all the time.

This is a broken promise, but the right thing to do. Circumstances have changed, and we would lose credibility to bail out of Iraq at the end of the two year mission. The Islamic State needs to have their territory removed from them, as it is territory that gives them credibility. It is important that the forces they battle be local residents, not outsiders. NZ has played a small but useful role in training the Iraqi Army. and so far the training has worked. They have recaptured significant cities and territory from ISIL.

The mission is not without risk, and we may suffer casualties.  But far far more people will die if Islamic State is left in control of the territory they have.

The Herald reports Andrew Little as saying:

Labour leader Andrew Little says he will withdraw New Zealand troops from Iraq if his party is elected to power next year.

Mr Little said he expected the security situation in the Middle East to change significantly by the general election, by which time the Islamic State may have been pushed back further or defeated.

But regardless Little says NZ will do nothing to help defeat Islamic State. It is worth recalling that the intervention in Iraq has a Security Council authorisation, and the support of the Iraqi Government. It is against a clear evil that has spread terror in scores of countries. Yet Labour is still against NZ doing anything to defeat ISIL.

Hone standing again

June 20th, 2016 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Radio NZ reports:

Former MP Hone Harawira is getting back into politics and will stand for Māori electorate seat Te Tai Tokerau again in next year’s election, he says.

Mr Harawira lost his seat to Labour’s Kelvin Davis in 2014. His Mana Party which combined with Kim Dotcom’s Internet Party, got just 1.5 percent of the party vote.

He told RNZ’s Mihingarangi Forbes on TV3’s The Hui he was re-entering the political fray because Māori lacked a strong voice in Parliament. …

Mr Harawira said his former Mana Movement colleagues, Sue Bradford and John Minto, could be involved in the party, but in less prominent roles than in 2014.

Mr Harawira first won the Te Tai Tokerau seat as a Māori Party MP in 2005.

This is excellent news.

On this one I agree with Jacinda

June 19th, 2016 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Jacinda Ardern writes:

We have long advocated for the introduction of an independent criminal case review commission – a place where cases like this can be reviewed independently and sent back to the Appeal Court. A similar commission operates in England and Wales and, in the last 15 years, 320 of the 480 convictions they referred to the Appeal Court were overturned. We need the same here.

I agree. The fact that two thirds of the cases the UK bodies refer to the courts are successful show that.

David Seymour replied:

Ensuring we have a strong criminal justice system won’t be achieved by establishing yet another government commission. Ultimately, that replicates the royal prerogative of mercy (appeals considered by the Governor General) and undermines the role of the appeal courts.

I don’t agree. The prerogative of mercy is effectively run by the Ministry of Justice and has been shown to be ineffective in cases such as Peter Ellis. And a commission would refer cases to the appeal courts, not decide for them.

UPDATE: Don Brash has commented below that this is also a rare instance where he also disagrees with David Seymour.

Little retracts statement on Shewan

June 19th, 2016 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Labour leader Andrew Little has today backed down from comments that the man charged with investigating New Zealand’s offshore trusts industry had advised the Bahamas Government on protecting its financial sector from tax changes. …

On April 13, Mr Little alleged that Mr Shewan and Dr Brash had effectively advised the Bahamas – a country known for tax haven activity – on how to protect its offshore financial services industry and maintain its haven status.

Appointing him to lead an inquiry on New Zealand’s offshore trusts industry showed a lack of judgment, he said.

But today, in a short statement, Mr Little admitted that he was wrong.

“In April, I made statements concerning advice provided to the Bahamas government by John Shewan, the person appointed to review the disclosure rule concerning foreign trusts in New Zealand. Those statements were based on a report in a Bahamas newspaper,” he said.

“After meeting with Mr Shewan, I accept his explanation that while he advised the Bahamas government on tax matters he did not advise them on how to maintain their tax haven status.”

So two months later he announces on a weekend he was wrong and that he effectively incorrectly smeared Shewan.

I hope media give as much attention to his retraction as they did to his original comments.

Impact of 90 day trial periods

June 18th, 2016 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Treasury has published a paper (by two MOTU economists) looking at the impact of 90 day trials periods. The findings are:

We find no evidence that the policy affected the number of hires by firms on average, either overall or into employment that lasted beyond the trial period. We also do not find an effect on hiring of disadvantaged jobseekers. However, our results suggest that the policy increased hiring in industries with high use of trial periods by 10.3 percent.

So the impact was in industries that were using the trial periods. Makes sense. Many industries won’t want to use trial periods, but those that do did see an increase in hiring.

Specifically they found:

we estimate the policy effect to be a statistically and economically insignificant 0.8 percent increase in hiring on average across all industries. However, within the construction and wholesale trade industries, which report high use of trial periods, we estimate a weakly significant 10.3 percent increase in hiring as a result of the policy.

Vetoed

June 17th, 2016 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

The Government has vetoed a Labour Party bill which would have extended paid parental leave from 18 weeks to 26 weeks.

Finance Minister Bill English confirmed this afternoon that he had exercised the financial veto – the first time he has used it to sink an entire piece of legislation.

Labour MP Sue Moroney’s bill had broad support in Parliament and was expected to pass into law this month.

But Mr English said it was unaffordable.

“Treasury estimates the cost of this legislation amounts to $278 million over the next four years, a significant extra – unbudgeted – cost,” he said.

“That’s on top of the $251 million a year (net of tax) taxpayers are expected to spend by 2020 under the existing paid parental leave framework.” …

United Future leader Peter Dunne, who wants an eventual increase in paid leave to 52 weeks, said there was a “delicious irony” in the Government’s veto.

“Yesterday Government was saying that putting children at the centre of policy was priority. Today they ban a bill on paid parental leave.”

Why stop at 52 weeks? Why not 156 weeks?

Dunne’s proposal would cost $391 million a year more. That’s around 30% of the total budget every year for new spending.

Little served

June 17th, 2016 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Labour leader Andrew Little has now been served with defamation proceedings by National Party donors and hoteliers Earl and Lani Hagaman.

The Hagamans confirmed in a statement they had now commenced defamation proceedings against Mr Little in the High Court and they had been served on Mr Little.

The defamation suit relates to comments Mr Little made about a management contract Mr Hagaman’s company, Scenic Hotel, was awarded to manage the Matavai Resort on Niue. That was awarded a few weeks after Mr Hagaman donated $101,000 to the National Party during the 2014 campaign.

The Hagamans gave Mr Little a deadline to retract his comments and apologise last month, but Mr Little refused.

“As we said earlier, the reasons we’re taking defamation action have been widely reported in the media and I won’t be repeating his allegations that Earl and I find hurtful, highly offensive and totally false.

We will now clear our names in court”, Lani Hagaman said.

I presume it will go to trial, if not settled, around the middle of next year.

Herald argues for oppressive values

June 16th, 2016 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald editorial:

One of those basic Western, liberal values is a tolerance of diverse views and open debate. Muslims who come here may arrive with distinctly non-Western values on the status of women and decency in dress and relationships. They justify their restrictive codes of dress and conduct on a sense of respect and self-respect that they find deficient in Western liberal values. Westerners find that sort of respect oppressive but it is good to have our attitudes challenged. To bar people because they do not share them would be the antithesis of basic Western, liberal values.

Not at all. Does the Herald editorial writer think for example we should welcome in members of the KKK because it is good to have our values challenged? How about neo-nazis from Europe? Would having more neo-nazis in NZ be good for our NZ as they will challenge our values? By the same basis, I don’t want people immigrating here who think gays should be stoned to death, that execution is the appropriate punishment for apostasy or that women are second class citizens.

A difference between gossip and a leak

June 16th, 2016 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

The TVNZ journalist Paula Bennett’s press secretary leaked to was Rebecca Wright – a journalist with whom the Social Housing Minister has crossed swords in the past, including taking an unsuccessful complaint to the Broadcasting Standards Authority.

The minister’s press secretary told Ms Wright about a police investigation into the handling of a case by Te Puea Marae chairman Hurimoana Dennis, after Mr Dennis informed the minister about the matter in a private meeting last week.

The police investigation is not a criminal investigation into Mr Dennis personally, who could not be immediately reached for comment today.

Opposition MPs have claimed that the press secretary, Lucy Bennett, must have passed on the information with the minister’s permission. Paula Bennett has denied this, saying the first she knew about the leak was when a Radio NZ reporter asked her about it on Tuesday.

She has described the leak as inappropriate and has apologised to Mr Dennis, who is on leave from his role as police inspector and iwi liaison officer while the investigation is underway.

RNZ was the first to ask the minister about the leak. It is not known how RNZ found out about it.

Ms Wright has not responded to requests for comment. Lucy Bennett, who is not related to the minister, declined to comment or confirm Ms Wright was the journalist she spoke to.

My understanding is that what happened was gossip, not a deliberate leak. Press secretaries and reporters exchange gossip all the time. In this particular case, many in the media were already aware of the investigation into Mr Dennis, and an assumption was made Rebecca Wright already knew.

It was an error of judgement on Lucy Bennett’s part, but not any sort of deliberate act.

For those convinced it was some sort of deliberate strategy signed off by the Minister, well if so the last person they would choose to deliberately leak to is Rebecca Wright! As in even if every other journalist in NZ had Ebola, Paula would still not choose to deal with Rebecca Wright, let alone leak to her.

If TVNZ and Radio NZ had revealed immediately that the journalist talked to was Rebecca, then I doubt any one else in the media would have taken seriously the accusation that this was a deliberate leak. The ill will between the Minister and Rebecca is well known. You wonder if it was a deliberate decision not to reveal this, so the story would be more potent.

Bishop on PPTA and charter schools

June 16th, 2016 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Chris Bishop wrote on Facebook:

This just makes me want to weep.

I encourage people to read the whole article along with the correspondence (which Stuff.co.nz has put up online too), but here’s a summary of the story:

Te Kura Hourua O Whangarei Terenga Paraoa is a partnership school based in Whangarei which opened in 2014. It’s a new school but since opening it’s been doing well – its roll increased from 50 to 72 in 2015, it graduated five year 13 students all with UE; it placed 4th at the regional kapahaka competition, to name a few. All of its students in 2015 were “priority learners” (Maori, Pasifika, kids with special needs or from low socio-economic backgrounds). The exact kids we really want to be helping.

It’s achieving great NCEA results for its students – 100% NCEA Level 3 and 2 achievement rates in 2015; and 84.2% at Level 1 – well above the average for Maori.

Earlier this year a local high school, Kamo High School, offered to let the kura use their chemistry fume cupboard to mix chemicals for students’ science experiments. Sounds sensible right? Who could possibly be opposed to that? As the Principal of Kamo said, she “saw this as an opportunity to support a highly successful emerging school in our area, and to improve the chemistry results for Maori students.”

Well, the PPTA it seems, the union for secondary teachers. This was a “major issue”. The executive turned up unannounced at the school for a “vital” meeting with the staff. Soon a long menacing letter arrived, threatening all sort of legal repercussions – all over the simple offer to let a nearby school use some science resources.

So now the offer’s been withdrawn. What a shame for the students of the kura. Once again, the PPTA is putting its ideological (and frankly wrong) views about partnership schools ahead of kids in our education system – and kids whom the system has largely failed so far (that’s why partnership schools exist).

This is not an isolated incident. In 2015 a teacher studying to become qualified was asked to leave one of his placements because he was employed at the kura. The PPTA has instructed all its members to “refrain from all professional, sporting and cultural contact with charter schools” – so no playing rugby against them, participating in arts festivals, no debating competitions – nothing.

I find all of this really sad. Partnership schools are a genuine, well-intentioned attempt to try and tackle the long tail of under-achievement in our education system. Every kid deserves a good education. For some, the existing system doesn’t work well. Partnership schools may help them; and the evidence so far is that they are. Nobody is forced to send their children there. No teacher is forced to work there. They’re a choice. I haven’t been to the kura (yet), but I’ve visited South Auckland Middle School in Auckland, and looked at their results. Sadly, many opponents of partnership schools have not bothered to do the same.

So this school agreed to allow students at another school their chemistry fume cupboard and because of that they had almost the entire PPTA Executive descend on their school to threaten them.

UPDATE: I’m informed that it was not the entire PPTA Executive, but just two people – the President and a staffer. Also the visit was known in advance.

What are NZ values?

June 15th, 2016 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Should refugees be expected to officially commit to New Zealand values when they get here?

Some political leaders say yes, they should.

Refugees should sign up to a ‘New Zealand values statement’, proposes ACT leader David Seymour as he believes it would help ensure those arriving share our values. 

Just look at Australia, Seymour points out – they have a charter to accompany their visa approvals.

What the Australian charter says:

“Australian society values respect for the freedom and dignity of the individual, freedom of religion, commitment to the rule of law, Parliamentary democracy, equality of men and women and a spirit of egalitarianism that embraces mutual respect, tolerance, fair play and compassion for those in need and pursuit of the public good.

“Australian society values equality of opportunity for individuals, regardless of their race, religion or ethnic background the English language, as the national language, is an important unifying element of Australian society.”

Seymour admitted Australia have a different set of migration circumstances, but “on balance Australia is an incredibly tolerant and liberal place, that many many people from around the world want to go to”.

Seymour said it wouldn’t be difficult to pull together a simple charter, stating for example: “We believe regardless of gender, sexuality, ethnicity or religion, you have the same legal rights as everybody else.”

I quite like the Australian one, but Seymour’s one is also good.

What the Netherlands do is also good. They actually require all prospective immigrants watch a video about life in the Netherlands, and in it they stress things like freedom of speech, that same sex couples are affectionate in public and that if this upsets you, you should consider not moving here, as you’ll be unhappy.

1st increase in refugee quota for 30 years, so of course attacked by the left!

June 14th, 2016 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

The number of refugees New Zealand will accept is to increase from 750 to 1000 each year, a decision widely panned by human rights advocates. 

Prime Minister John Key confirmed Cabinet had discussed the issue and reached a decision on Monday.

The figure is short of the 1500 refugees campaigners and Immigration NZ have said New Zealand can handle, but Key said services had to be bolstered to cope with an increase first. 

The annual costs to take on additional refugees would rise by $25 million to $100 million per year.

The Government was also working on a new pilot that would see community groups sponsor certain refugees, that filled criteria that was yet to be decided on. 

New Zealand’s refugee intake quota has remained at 750 per year, for the past 30 years.

New Zealand Amnesty International chief executive Grant Bayldon said the announcement was “shameful”. 

“This is a shameful and inhumane response and a stain on our country’s reputation as a good global citizen.

I recall the good old days when Amnesty was not seen as partisan. A non=partisan Amnesty would say we are pleased the Government is the first one in 30 years to increase the quota but we are disappointed they have not increased it further. But instead they call the first increase in 30 years “shameful”.

Key said Monday’s announcement was “an appropriate response”.

“Before we take any more, we need to be sure that people have the appropriate support and services they need to resettle in New Zealand, like housing, education and translation services. 

“Therefore, we’ve opted to increase the quota to 1000 from 2018, after the Syrian emergency response refugees have been resettled,” he said.

“When the new quota of 1000 comes into effect, the annual cost will rise by $25 million a year, to $100 million a year.

“It’s important to note, the annual refugee quota is just one part of New Zealand’s total refugee and humanitarian programme. 

“There are also 300 places available each year for family reunification, and an additional 125 to 175 asylum seekers have their claims approved each year.”

So once implemented we probably will be taking in around 1,500 refugees a year.

ACT leader David Seymour welcomed the increase but said the Government could do more to monitor the “tolerance” of refugees.

“This level of increase is very close to where we would be if we had followed ACT’s policy of increasing the quota in line with our growing population.

“However, this is also a good opportunity to up our commitment to values of peace and tolerance. Why wouldn’t we state these values clearly to the people seeking join our country?”

He proposed making all immigrants sign a “New Zealand Values Statement”, similar to those signed in Australia and Belgium.

“Specifically, freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, and respect for women and those of different sexualities should be understood and respected by all new New Zealanders.”

I agree with David Seymour. I think this should be a priority.

The reoffending rate

June 14th, 2016 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Judith Collins released:

The number of people going on to re-offend after completing a sentence has decreased by 25 per cent from 2011, Corrections Minister Judith Collins said today.

“This is excellent progress, and I’m very proud of the hard work the Department of Corrections has done to get to this point. Reducing re-offending is hugely important because less crime means fewer victims and safer communities.”

Corrections aims to reduce re-offending by 25 per cent by 2017.  As of December 2015, the rate of re-offending has fallen by 6.8 per cent since 2011. 

“Unfortunately the re-offending rate is affected by a small group of individuals who are offending more often and more seriously.”

Up until reading this release I had not reflected on the difference between the re-offending rates for offences and people.

It’s a great thing 25% fewer people are re-offending.

But the re-offending rate has only fallen 7% as some offenders are re-offending more often.

It is possible they are a hard core who will not respond to rehabilitation, and there will come a point where you just have to keep them in jail for longer and longer to protect the community.

But those who do respond and stop re-offending should be given considerable support to do so.