Archive for the ‘NZ Politics’ Category

No online voting for Auckland

August 30th, 2015 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Aucklanders won’t be able to choose their next council at the click of a mouse.

Local Government Associate Minister Louise Upston confirmed that the country’s biggest city wouldn’t feature in a trial of online voting for next year’s local body elections.

Officials from the Super City are some of the biggest supporters of a digital voting revolution, but Auckland Council’s catchment has been deemed too big.

“A trial that includes all of Auckland and its approximately 1 million electors is simply too large to adequately mitigate these risks,” she said.

I understand the nervousness about having such a big Council s part of the trial, but by excluding Auckland you also run the risk that the trial is uneconomic.

If the Government was willing to contribute towards the costs of a trial, then I think it would be fine to say Auckland is too big to take part. But as the Government has declined to contribute costs, then excluding the largest Council in NZ runs the risk that the trial will not occur.

Stung by a dismal 36 per cent voter turnout in the 2013 elections, Auckland Council has lobbied hard to introduce internet voting.

But its campaign has failed. Applications are now only being sought from smaller councils to provide a range of voting systems.

So far, Porirua, Rotorua, Palmerston North, Matamata-Piako, Selwyn, Marlborough and Whanganui councils have confirmed that they want to be part of the trial.

So four cities and three districts. I’m not sure if they will be able to make it economic. I hope they can, because if there is a sucessful trial, I expect 90% of Councils would then offer an online voting option in future.

Auckland Council bosses are not happy about being sidelined as they consider the council is well placed to take part.

“We were disappointed the Government decided to exclude the council from the online voting trial,” manager democracy services, Marguerite Delbet, said.

The council had been actively working to introduce online voting and this year asked the Government to allow it.

Auckland’s size is a risk, but also a benefit. They have a more well resourced voting unit than most Councils, and I think would have addedvalue to teh trial.

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Gould prescribes Corbyn for NZ Labour

August 30th, 2015 at 7:07 am by David Farrar

Bryan Gould writes:

For New Zealand students of current affairs, the contest for the leadership of the UK Labour Party involves four names that will mean little – and, in that, they will not be too different from observers of the contest in Britain itself. Yet, the emergence of one of the four candidates – Jeremy Corbyn – as the unexpected front-runner is worth a second look, not least for the lessons it might offer to left-of-centre parties around the globe. …

The Corbyn economic policy platform, in other words, is comfortably in line with what is fast becoming the new consensus – less doctrinaire and more common sense than the old orthodoxy. Whether these factors will actually produce a Corbyn leadership remains to be seen, but he has certainly revitalised the party and enthused potential Labour voters. By opening up a long overdue debate, he has redefined the political landscape and offered new hope to those who have been conditioned to believe that “there is no alternative”.

Labour leaders elsewhere, not least in New Zealand, will – or should – be watching closely.

I strong endorse what Bryan Gould is saying. I think NZ Labour should watch closely and elect their most left-wing rebellious MP as leader, declare solidarity with Hamas, Hezbollah and the IRA, and propose economic policies that even in the 1970s would have been to the extreme left.

You will be wildly successful, and win the next election convincingly.

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Queen Nanaia?

August 29th, 2015 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Vernon Small reports:

Is Hauraki-Waikato MP Nanaia Mahuta in line to be the next Maori Queen?

It’s a rumour that just won’t go away and one that the Kingitanga movement was keen to dispel during coronation commemorations last week, reportedly raising it with media and others in order to quash it 

And it’s understandable why.

King Tuheitia, who was elected to the role in 2006, is in poor health, but it is considered disrespectful to discuss the succession, including a potential abdication.

But …

While Mahuta is not in the bloodline – her father Sir Robert Mahuta was the adopted son of the former King Koroki and the elder brother of Queen Te Atairangikaahu – that is not considered an insurmountable obstacle. In principle it is not an inherited title, though in practice it has been.

The king’s spokesman, Tukoroirangi Morgan, is said to be opposed to the Mahuta option, though insiders say the talk still goes on behind closed doors. For every person that says it is odds-on she will be offered the title, there’s another who says she definitely will not.

If Tuku is against, then it may be a very good idea.

But there have also been questions about her commitment since her role in the four-way leadership race last year. As one senior Labour MP put it, “she has not been the most prolific attendee” at caucus meetings and Parliament – a view widely held among MPs. Some are even saying that, given her senior role in the Maori caucus, her patchy attendance is a poor role model.

It will be no surprise if leader Andrew Little takes all that into account when he reviews his lineup later in the year.

It would be a poor look to keep her on the front bench, when she has been so invisible as an MP.

First it has to confirm a new deputy leader, unless Annette King surprises everyone and stays on. She has done a good job as a place holder, but the party has planned for a new face.

The logical choice has always been Jacinda Ardern. She gives the leadership team the balance it needs: a woman from a younger generation and, crucially, from Auckland.

She has made an impact on television and with Auckland business … no small feat for any Labour MP, let alone one that has on her CV the presidency of the International Union of Socialist Youth.  

Around the press gallery commentariat, her stocks are not as high, but she is clearly having an impact with voters, and that matters. As fourth-ranked preferred prime minister in a recent poll – albeit on just 3.5 per cent, but behind heavy hitters John Key, Little and Winston Peters – she is an asset for the party.

Other names in the frame include Phil Twyford and Carmel Sepuloni – who can add a Pasifika dimension to the young-woman-Auckland credentials of Ardern –though Ardern must still be ahead.

It needs to be someone from Auckland. I think it is a choice between Ardern and Sepuloni, even though a bold caucus might go for Kelvin Davis.

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Dim-Post on Ardern

August 28th, 2015 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Danyl McL blogs:

But the context around Ardern’s surge in popularity complicates all of this a bit, I think. She isn’t popular because she’s an effective campaigner, or because she’s been breaking big stories or landing hits on the government in the House. She’s popular because she’s gotten glowing coverage in the women’s magazines over the last few months, appearing on the cover of Next magazine and being profiled in the Woman’s Weekly. I assume this is all being facilitated by Labour’s new comms director who is a former Woman’s Weekly editor and it is a level and type of coverage that any politician – even the Prime Minister – would envy.

Ardern’s popularity subsequent to that coverage tells us something very interesting about the power of that type of media, which is something that political nerds like me are usually oblivious to. But it’s also something that’s happening because she’s really pretty. And there’s something problematic about insisting politicians shouldn’t be judged on their looks when they do appear to be succeeding specifically because of their appearance.

My thoughts are three-fold:

  1. Graham Lowe’s comments were inappropriate as the phrase “a pretty little thing” is sexist and condescending
  2. However it is a fact that attractiveness is a factor in political success. There have been peer-reviewed experiments backing this up. And it is not inappropriate to comment that attractiveness is a factor, especially when as Danyl points out that you are doing front page photo shoots for women’s magazine covers. And this doesn’t apply just to female politicians. Simon Bridges’ looks play a part in his success also, in my opinion.
  3. One can recognise attractiveness as a factor in political success, but it is silly and demeaning to suggest it is the only factor in their success.

What I’d genuinely like to hear is a feminist perspective on politicians elevating themselves through the celebrity/gossip media instead of traditional media platforms. People like Clark and Key have appeared in these magazines, obviously – but after they’ve risen to prominence. Ardern’s use of them to achieve prominence is a new phenomenon in New Zealand politics, I think, and worth talking about.

Matthew Hooton has also written in the print edition of NBR about how unprecedented it is for a non leader like Ardern to be at 4% Preferred Prime Minister, as it is an unprompted question. It means that one in 25 New Zealanders when asked who they want to be Prime Minister, name her without prompting. That is an extraordinary achievement, when you take into account she is only the 9th ranked Labour MP.

For myself I rate Ardern’s political skills, and will point out that in 2012 I predicted she will be Labour Leader and Prime Minister one day.

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Sunday ad ban should go

August 28th, 2015 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

The Government is considering scrapping the Sunday morning and public holiday bans on television and radio advertising.

Broadcasting Minister Amy Adams said she wanted to make the rules governing traditional and new media more consistent.

The Government is also canvassing changes to election programming rules and the way internet television programmes are classified.

Television stations are prevented by the Broadcasting Act from carrying advertisements between 6am and noon on Sunday, and on Christmas Day, Good Friday, Easter Sunday and Anzac Day morning, while online media are not.

The public holiday advertising bans also apply to radio stations.

The broadcasting ad restrictions should go. They once may have made sense when broadcasting was so dominant, but today they are farcical.

Many are like me and don’t watch live TV anyway. I record stuff on My Sky and watch delayed, ignoring ads anyway.

Also people are watching torrents, DVDs, Netflix, You Tube etc.

Broadcasting is going to struggle to survive anyway, without additional restrictions such as no advertising on Sunday mornings.

Plus why Sundays? The prohibition is probably originally religious, but in a secular society, we should not have days when the state prohibits certain activity.

Green Party broadcasting spokesman Gareth Hughes opposed lifting the ad bans, “unless we have a proper commercial-free public broadcasting option”.

You do – Radio NZ and Maori TV.

“It is important there is a little bit of peace and quiet in our hectic modern world,” he said.  

I’d rather not have MPs decide if I need to be sheltered from advertisements on TV on a Sunday.

But Adams said the consideration being given to lifting the ad-ban had nothing to do with supporting the state-owned broadcaster.

“It is increasingly indefensible to distinguish whether something is on TV, radio or the internet; whether it’s tax treatment, advertising or election programming, I am saying it is time we had a consistent approach,” she said.


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CTU against work for prisoners

August 28th, 2015 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Salient reports:

Helen Kelly, head of Council of Trade Unions (CTU), told Salient that the work programme at Arohata would not realistically lead to employment for inmates, and the women are not paid fairly.

Kelly said the CTU supports working prisons, but only when the conditions are right. For the CTU this means that the work is not undermining the market, that those doing the work are paid properly, and that the work includes “an element of real training that will lead to real work”.

“They should at least earn minimum wage and that can be put into a bank account and be used to pay for study or for training. Everyone that’s contributing through their labour should be paid the minimum wage,” Kelly said.

This is nuts. First of all there would be no work at all for anyone in prison, if they are being paid the minimum wage, You’re not going to choose the prison company when it is the same cost as another company.

Secondly as we’re paying $100,000 a year or so to house the prisoner and keep the community safe from them, why should they get to not contribute to the cost of their imprisonment. Under CTU fantasy land a prisoner would save more money than a struggling family.

“Victoria University shouldn’t be exploiting the labour of these women in that way. There’s not going to be work in laundry for when these women [are released], and it will be undermining other laundry service workers.”

By exploiting, she means giving them an opportunity to work and gain skills.

John Pratt, Head of the Institute of Criminology at Victoria, supports the University’s use of the prison laundry service.

Pratt said it was “patronising” to suggest that the work would not teach inmates marketable skills.

He said the work would impart productive habits and increase prisoners’ employment opportunities in dry cleaning organisations or laundries upon their release.

“They are likely to have such poor work records and such limited educational backgrounds that their opportunities for employment are very, very small at best in most cases. If this does something to improve those chances then it’s a valuable skill.”

I agree.

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Drug policy changes?

August 27th, 2015 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

How severely people are dealt with for possession of illegal drugs or drug utensils is to be reviewed.

Officials will focus on whether action is proportionate to how much harm an offence causes.

Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne has released the 2015-20 National Drug Policy, which could significantly reform the treatment of drugs such as cannabis.

Mr Dunne said three words – compassion, innovation and proportion – were of the utmost importance when developing drug policy.

The policy has been hailed as hugely significant by the NZ Drug Foundation, which says it signals an armistice in the “war on drugs”.

If so this is a good thing. I think drug policy should distinguish between drugs with relatively little harmful side effects like cannabis, and those which can cause huge harm such as P.

Speaking at the launch of the policy, Mr Dunne said the Ministry of Health would work with the Expert Advisory Committee on Drugs to make sure that drug classification decisions were focused on harm.

The focus should be on harm reduction. Sometimes this will mean the criminal justice system, but sometimes it won’t.


Parliament 27 August 2015

August 27th, 2015 at 1:22 pm by David Farrar

The order paper is here.

Oral Questions 2.00 pm – 3.00 pm

  1. DARROCH BALL to the Minister for Social Development: Does she stand by all her statements?
  2. ALASTAIR SCOTT to the Minister of Finance: What reports has he received that expect the economy to deliver more jobs and higher wages for New Zealand families over the next three years?
  3. Hon ANNETTE KING to the Minister of Health: If Government health expenditure has not kept up with all inflationary pressures, as he admitted on 29 July, what impact has this shortfall had on patients?
  4. JONO NAYLOR to the Minister of Justice: What initiatives has she announced to support judges making family violence bail decisions?
  5. JAN LOGIE to the Minister for Social Development: Will she make an emergency one-off injection of funding into Child Youth and Family to address concerns about the safety of children in state care raised by the Children’s Commissioner today?
  6. GRANT ROBERTSON to the Minister of Finance: Does he stand by the Prime Minister’s statement that “the removal of the $1,000 kick-start contribution will not make a blind bit of difference to the number of people who join KiwiSaver”?
  7. SARAH DOWIE to the Minister of Health: Can he confirm that rheumatic fever rates have dropped 24 percent since 2012 following the Government investing more than $65 million on a range of initiatives to combat the disease?
  8. BARBARA STEWART to the Minister of Health: Does he agree with Alzheimers New Zealand’s Catherine Hall that “dementia is one of the most significant healthcare challenges facing us globally and in New Zealand”; if not, why not?
  9. CHRIS HIPKINS to the Minister of Education: Does she stand by her predecessor’s statement in 2010 regarding truancy that “We cannot sit back and do nothing. These figures are really shocking and we need to get serious about tackling this problem”; if so, by how much has the truancy rate increased since then?
  10. MATT DOOCEY to the Minister of Tourism: How is the Government supporting growth in the tourism sector?
  11. CARMEL SEPULONI to the Minister for Social Development: Does she agree with the statement by the Children’s Commissioner that “we don’t know if children are better off as a result of state intervention, but the indications are not good”?
  12. DAVID SEYMOUR to the Minister for Building and Housing: Does he agree with the Deputy Governor of the Reserve Bank, that the key problems with housing supply are “a limited supply of land ready for building; restrictive planning processes, and a lack of coordinated planning in infrastructure development”?

National: Four questions on the economy, bail, rheumatic fever and tourism

Labour: Four questions on health spending, KiwiSaver, truancy and CYF

Greens: One question on CYF

NZ First: Two questions MSD Minister standing by her statements and dementia

ACT: One question on housing supply

Government Bills 3.00 pm to 6.00 pm

Health and Safety Reform Bill – third reading

The Bill replaces the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992 and the Machinery Act 1950 to reform New Zealand’s workplace health and safety system, following the work of the Independent Taskforce on Workplace Health and Safety and the Royal Commission on the Pike River Coal Mine tragedy.

  • Introduced March 2014
  • 1st reading: March 2014, passed unanimously
  • SC report: July 2015, passed with amendments by majority with Labour, Green and NZ First minority reports
  • 2nd reading: July 2015, passed 63 to 56 with Labour, Greens and NZ First against
  • Committee of the whole House: August 2015

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

Note the bill has now been divided into five separate bills.

Taxation (Bright-line Test for Residential Land) Bill – first reading

This Bill introduces amendments to the Income Tax Act 2007 and the Tax Administration Act 1994 so that residential land (except a main home) sold within two years of acquisition is automatically deemed a capital gain and taxed.

  • Introduced: August 2015

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



Finlayson slaps down Law society

August 27th, 2015 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Chris Finlayson released:

Attorney-General Christopher Finlayson QC today expressed his disappointment at the lack of rigour shown by the Law Society in its recent press release criticising provisions of the Health and Safety Reform Bill.

“Law Society President Chris Moore claimed that Schedule 2A of the Health and Safety Reform Bill would allow a person to be tried of a criminal offence without seeing all the information relied on by the Crown and without the right to be present (or to have their representative present) during all the proceedings. This is wrong,” Mr Finlayson said.

“The Law Society appears to have been commenting on an old version of the bill and to have ignored, or simply missed, Supplementary Order Paper 108 which amended Schedule 2A seven days before their press release.

That’s shabby work from any lobby group, let alone the NZ Law Society. They generated a day of stories based on an old version of a bill.

“The Law Society plays an important role in contributing to the quality of legislation passed by Parliament,” said Mr Finlayson. “But in order for Parliament to benefit from that contribution, accuracy really is paramount, especially when the Law Society chooses to comment on legislation via press release.”

If I was a lawyer, I’d be asking my society when they chose to embarrass the profession in such a way.

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Bishop with some alcohol facts

August 27th, 2015 at 9:03 am by David Farrar

Pleased to see Parliament vote 99-21 to allow bars to easily open during the Rugby World Cup. Kudos to David Seymour for getting this law change through Parliament.

I was thinking about the Greens demanding that bars near schools not be allowed to open, even though only three out of 58 games will take place on a schoolday morning. If they had their way I imagine the Backbencher pub in Wellington would have to remain closed, despite it being a very popular rugby destination. You see the Backbencher is very close to not one, not two, not three, but four schools. How terrible. In fact I’m surprised the Greens are not demanding the Backbencher be never allowed to open at all, as hell kids walking down Molesworth Street at 3.30 pm may see people in the Backbencher!

During the debate Chris Bishop addressed some of the claims that alcohol use and abuse in New Zealand has got worse since the laws were liberalised.

I want to put on the record some actual facts around alcohol consumption in New Zealand society. Firstly, the World Health Organization in 2014 did a global report on the use of alcohol in society. Actually what that report shows is that by international standards New Zealanders actually drink a moderate amount. We are 96th in the world for alcohol consumption. We drink about 13.7 pure litres of alcohol per capita. That places us 96th in the world. It is slightly less than the United Kingdom; it is slightly more than France. So actually we are, internationally, average drinkers. What about binge drinking? Well, by international standards New Zealanders are very low binge-drinkers. Our prevalence rate of binge drinking is 5.6 percent. That is half that of Australia’s

So 96th in the world, and a binge drinking rate half of Australia’s.

That is half that of Australia’s, it is a quarter of Canada’s, and it is one-sixth of the United Kingdom’s binging prevalence rate. So is the assertion that we are a nation of binge-drinkers correct? No.

Some NZers binge drink regularly. By far most do not.

The proportion of young people who drink has dropped 25 percent in the last 5 years—that is from 2007 to 2012. It is one-third that of the rate in 2000. What about the number of people who are regular drinkers? That dropped 9 percent between 2007 and 2012. The number of people who are regular drinkers is half that it was in 2000—this is amongst young people. What about the people who are young binge-drinkers? What about the number of people who say that they binge drank in the last month? Between 2007 and 2012 the number of young people in New Zealand who say that they binge drank in the last month has dropped by 18 percent.

And youth drink driving is also well down. The trend for youth drinking is decisively going down – the exact opposite of the impression the wowsers give.

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Red zone rebels costing ratepayers $42,000 each

August 26th, 2015 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Christchurch red zone stayers say they have no intention of moving despite city council plans that may cut back key services such as roading, water and wastewater.

A Christchurch City Council staff report recommends decommissioning infrastructure no longer needed and reviewing services to residents still living in the Brooklands and Avon red zones to save money.

The report, which will go to councillors on Thursday, says maintaining red zone infrastructure costs about $260,000 a month and last year cost $3.1 million.

About 74 red zone houses are still occupied by people who did not accept the Crown’s buyout offer after the earthquakes, the council estimates.

So each red zone rebel is soaking up $42,000 from other ratepayers. A very easy decision.

Jan Burney, one of about 25 people who have decided to stay in Brooklands, said she had no plans to leave.

That’s fine – just don’t expect subsidies from others.


Wowser watch

August 26th, 2015 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff has an article quoting dozens of groups saying terrible things will happen if bars can automatically open for RWC games.

To me this shows exactly why the law change is needed. Any bar that tried to get a special licence to open would have these same groups flood the licensing authority with objections. The cost of getting a licence, and ridiculous conditions imposed would mean few would actually be able to open.

The most hysterical submission was:

National Community Action on Youth and Drugs workers are concerned the RWC will become a “marathon drinking challenge” with “24 hour drinking” dares like the “ice bucket challenge” laid down on social media, and fighting in the streets.

Or rugby fans will just head down to the bar at 5.30 am to watch the All Blacks over a couple of beers.


NZ Initiative says Stronger organ donor compensation can save lives and money

August 26th, 2015 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

The NZ Initiative states:

Improving compensation for live organ donors is a rare opportunity to save both lives and healthcare dollars, according to a report released today by The New Zealand Initiative.
Author Elizabeth Prasad found that every transplant provides recipients with longer and better lives, while being much cheaper than dialysis – saving the government money over the longer term.
An indicative case of a 50-year-old male on dialysis who receives a transplant would live for eight additional years, and enjoy an improved quality of life. In this example, the Ministry of Health would save more than $120,000 by providing a transplant. Benefits are even greater for younger recipients as they avoid more years of dialysis.

So taxpayers save $120,000 if someone donates a kidney to someone on dialysis.

Many potential donors cannot afford time off work to assist a loved one. Currently, financial support for donors ranges from $140 to $350 per week for 12 weeks, depending on age and marital status. The average weekly wage in 2014 was $991.

The Chris Bishop bill would see donors get the equivalent of ACC – 80% of normal earnings. So around $800 a week for 12 weeks which is $9,600.

Paying a donor $9,600 to save $120,000 in dialysis costs. A no-brainer.

Dr Eric Crampton, Head of Research at The New Zealand Initiative, said that this issue was a case where an improved health policy brought about a win-win – the health of the recipient improved, as did the outcome for the funder.
“Usually policy is about trade-offs. When the government provides a favourable new scheme, it’s either at the expense of another policy, or taxpayers’ wallets.

Yep this is rare. Normally a policy has winners and losers. Here everyone is a winner – the donor, the recipient and the taxpayer.

Chris Bishop’s bill should complete its first reading tonight.

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Parliament 26 August 2015

August 26th, 2015 at 11:45 am by David Farrar

The order paper is here.

Oral Questions 2.00 pm – 3.00 pm

  1. NUK KORAKO to the Minister of Finance: How is the Government’s fiscal strategy supporting resilience in the New Zealand economy?
  2. ANDREW LITTLE to the Prime Minister: Does he have confidence in the Minister responsible for Housing New Zealand Corporation?
  3. SIMON O’CONNOR to the Minister of Health: What reports has he received on New Zealand’s health system?
  4. METIRIA TUREI to the Prime Minister: Does he stand by all of his Government’s policies?
  5. GRANT ROBERTSON to the Minister of Finance: Does he agree with First NZ Capital that there is a 25 to 30 percent chance of New Zealand going into a recession in the next 12 months?
  6. IAN McKELVIE to the Minister for Primary Industries: How is the Government supporting growth in the seafood industry?
  7. Dr RUSSEL NORMAN to the Minister of Trade: Will the New Zealand Parliament be able to modify the text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement if the Government signs the TPPA; and is it Parliament or Cabinet that ratifies the TPPA?
  8. KELVIN DAVIS to the Minister of Corrections: Have any cases, other than the one he mentioned in Oral Question No 7 yesterday, been identified of Mt Eden Corrections Facility guards giving sparring prisoners “coaching on their technique”?
  9. JACQUI DEAN to the Minister for Social Development: What reports has she received on Government initiatives to support young people into employment?
  10. DARROCH BALL to the Minister for Social Development: Does she stand by all her statements?
  11. ALFRED NGARO to the Minister of Transport: What recent reports has he received on progress on the Government’s Accelerated Auckland roading programme?
  12. JACINDA ARDERN to the Minister for Social Development: How many people who have made claims with the Historic Claims Team are still waiting for a response from the Ministry of Social Development, and of those, what is the longest period a claimant has waited?

National: Five questions on the economy, health system, seafood industry, youth employment and Auckland roading

Labour: Four questions on confidence in Housing Minister, recession,Mt Eden Prison and historic abuse claims

Greens: Two questions on Government policies and TPP

NZ First: One question on Minister of Social Development standing by her statements

General Debate 3.00 pm to 4.00 pm

The general debate is 12 speeches of up to five minutes each for a debate of an hour.

Members’ Bills 4.00 pm to 6.00 pm and 7.30 pm to 10.00 pm


Australia worried about brain drain to NZ

August 26th, 2015 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Australia has a new fear – a brain drain to New Zealand.

Australian Treasurer Joe Hockey has sounded the alarm, warning that an increasing number of Australian residents are moving to New Zealand, including “high net worth” individuals, The Australian reported on Monday.

Hockey has outlined a proposal to cut taxes to make Australia more competitive.

He told ABC  Radio New Zealand’s lower income tax rate was “unquestionably” part of the reason increasing numbers of Australian residents were moving to New Zealand.

“New Zealand has a top personal tax rate of 33 cents in the dollar. We have a top personal tax rate of 45 cents in the dollar, plus two per cent for the Medicare levy, plus two per cent for the temporary budget repair levy – so 49 cents in the dollar.

“Sooner or later people start to move to New Zealand and that’s what’s happening. In fact, in the last 12 months, for the first time in years, there were more people moving to New Zealand than there were New Zealanders moving to Australia.”

Labour and capital is now globally mobile. If you tax either too much, they will move to where they get taxes less. It is not the only factor in the movement of labour and capital – but it definitely plays a role.

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Latest poll

August 26th, 2015 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

This morning’s Herald Digipoll is blogged at Curia.

The Herald story has demographic breakdowns of party support. These have a higher margin of error so caution is needed. However the gaps are so huge in some of them, it is worth commenting on.

The gap between National and Labour is:

  • 30% among men
  • 27% in Auckland
  • 35% among over 65s

When you can only get the support of one in four men, one in four Aucklanders and one in four retired NZers, you won’t be in Government.


PPTA wants to ban international school qualifications

August 26th, 2015 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

It said schools offering Cambridge and IB made public assertions that portrayed the NCEA as not challenging or lacking credibility – which was not true – and therefore should be banned as it was further undermining the local qualification.

I’m used to outrageously bad proposals in education, but this might take the cake. Because some parents and schools hold Cambridge and International Baccalaureate in higher esteem than NCEA, the PPTA’s answer is to ban them!!!

Do their political allies in Labour and Greens agree with them?

And as for NCEA?

The union said it would only continue to support NCEA if changes were made to ensure it retained its quality and fairness.

And what do they mean by that?

These included the removal of the government target

So no accountability.

less required moderation

Which means it is less fair. Also ironically the NZEI argues national standards do not have enough moderation while PPTA says NCEA has too much moderation.

reduction in the dominance of universities over the qualification

So less quality.

and a ban on international qualifications such as Cambridge and International Baccalaureate

And no choice.

I look forward to Labour campaigning on this in 2017.


So does this means we should sack Corrections and hand them over to Serco?

August 25th, 2015 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

The Department of Corrections has been criticised for failing to provide proper medical care for two inmates, one of whom eventually died.

The dead man, a Spring Hill inmate in his 50s with a range of health problems, complained of pain for weeks before he was eventually diagnosed with terminal cancer in 2013.

He went into hospice care and later died.

Corrections have since apologised to the man’s partner.

If this was a private prison, Labour and the unions would be demanding that the prison operator be sacked, and that the prison management be transferred to the state.

As this death occurred in a public prison, will anyone make a fuss, and demand it be handed over to say a private operator?

My point is that neither public nor private operators get it entirely right. I want a level playing field where they are judged equally on the results, not slammed by politicians only if they are privately managed.

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Labour on National and vice versa

August 25th, 2015 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Richard Harman at Politik wrote:

Sometimes it’s worthwhile listening to what the Government and Opposition have got to say about each other in private. And each has a very different view of the other at present. But there is a degree of validity ion each narrative. National think Labour is hopelessly divided and that Andrew Little has yet to stamp his authority on the Labour caucus. They also think the party’s front bench is not performing particularly well.

Labour on the other hand think that the Prime Minister looks tired and that the “body language” of him and Bill English suggests they have run out of ideas.

The Labour front bench is Little, King, Roberston, Mahuta, Twyford, Hipkins, Clark, Ardern and Davis.

It’s hard to read Labour’s caucus.

Obviously the “globalists” — MPs like Phil Goff, David Shearer and David Parker would like to be able to agree to the TPP. But Andrew Little and Grant Robertson have not been sending the same signals. The danger for Mr Little is that he ends up in the same position as Labour Leader Walter Nash did after the 1951 waterfront dispute which he said he was “neither for nor against”. National hounded him for years over that statement.

Sounds like their new position on the flag!

Meanwhile the Government does seem to have gone off the boil. Their response to the drop in milk prices at this stage is to say that things are not as bad as the critics suggest. But it’s early days. And there are plenty of doomsayers on the Opposition benches. NZ First MPs (for example) claim that they have “inside” information which says the milk price will drop another 50 cents a kilo. So what this all adds up to is that we are in the early stages of what will become a political debate focused intently on the economy. It will require a gear change from National as it leaves the rock star economy behind and it will require more engagement (and some policy) from Labour.

I’d love to see policy from all parties about what they’ll do to foster economic growth.

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Parliament 25 August 2015

August 25th, 2015 at 12:31 pm by David Farrar

The order paper is here.

Oral Questions 2.00 pm – 3.00 pm

1. ANDREW LITTLE to the Prime Minister: Does he have confidence in the Minister for Workplace Relations and Safety, given his decision not to include sheep, beef, and dairy farming in his Proposed Schedule of High Risk Industries?

2. JONO NAYLOR to the Minister of Finance: How is the New Zealand economy placed to be resilient to international economic fluctuations?

3. Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS to the Prime Minister: Can he tell us all again about the socalled Rock Star economy and his policies to maintain it?

4. GRANT ROBERTSON to the Minister of Finance: Does he stand by his statement that “risks arising from Greece and China have receded somewhat and that there has been an improvement in the outlook for our trading partners.  That is positive for the New Zealand outlook”?

5. JAMES SHAW to the Prime Minister: Does he stand by all his Government’s policies?

6. TODD MULLER to the Minister of Transport: What update can he provide on the Tauranga Eastern Link, which is one of the Government’s Roads of National Significance?

7. KELVIN DAVIS to the Minister of Corrections: What was the date of the CCTV footage that led to a Serco staff member’s suspension for fighting an inmate at Mt Eden Corrections Facility?

8. TODD BARCLAY to the Minister for Primary Industries: What reports has he received on Government support for diversification in the dairy industry?

9. Dr RUSSEL NORMAN to the Minister of Trade: Which stakeholder groups have been briefed as to the draft content of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement since the completion of the last round of negotiations in July; and which groups have been briefed as to the process going forward for the agreement?

10. BARBARA KURIGER to the Minister of Health: Can he confirm that the health target for emergency departments has been met for the second consecutive quarter, meaning that 95 per cent of people attending our emergency departments are treated, admitted, or discharged within six hours?

11. Hon DAVID PARKER to the Minister of Foreign Affairs: Did he approve officials’ recommendation on 19 April 2012 to commence work on “finding an appropriate mechanism to meet Al Khalaf’s concern for ‘compensation’ (possibly through the joint venture)”; and was the $4m payment to Al Khalaf the adopted mechanism, given Cabinet noted part of that payment was for “the settlement of the long-running dispute”?

12. Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS to the Minister of Finance: Does he stand by all his statements; if so, why?

National: Four questions on the economy, roads, dairy industry and emergency departments

Labour: Four questions on workplace safety, the economy, Mt Eden Prison and the Saudi farm

Greens: One question on TPP

NZ First: Two questions on the economy and Finance Minister standing by his statements

1. POTO WILLIAMS to the Member in charge of the Parental Leave and Employment Protection (Six Months’ Paid Leave and Work Contact Hours) Amendment Bill: Why did she draft the Parental Leave and Employment Protection (Six Months’ Paid Leave and Work Contact Hours) Amendment Bill?

2. IAIN LEES-GALLOWAY to the Member in charge of the Parental Leave and Employment Protection (Six Months’ Paid Leave and Work Contact Hours) Amendment Bill: What indication of support has she received for putting forward the Parental Leave and Employment Protection (Six Months’ Paid Leave and Work Contact Hours) Amendment Bill?
Tuesday, 25 August 2015

3. POTO WILLIAMS to the Member in charge of the Social Workers Registration (Mandatory Registration) Amendment Bill: Why did she draft the Social Workers Registration (Mandatory Registration) Amendment Bill?

4. POTO WILLIAMS to the Member in charge of the Social Workers Registration (Mandatory Registration) Amendment Bill: What indications of support has she received for putting forward the Social Workers Registration (Mandatory Registration) Amendment Bill?

There are also four questions to members in charges of bills.

Government Bills 3.00 pm to 6.00 pm and 7.30 pm to 10.00 pm

Health and Safety Reform Bill – committee stage continued

The Bill replaces the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992 and the Machinery Act 1950 to reform New Zealand’s workplace health and safety system, following the work of the Independent Taskforce on Workplace Health and Safety and the Royal Commission on the Pike River Coal Mine tragedy.

  • Introduced March 2014
  • 1st reading: March 2014, passed unanimously
  • SC report: July 2015, passed with amendments by majority with Labour, Green and NZ First minority reports
  • 2nd reading: July 2015, passed 63 to 56 with Labour, Greens and NZ First against

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

There are seven SOPs – two from the Minister Michael Woodhouse, three from Labour, one from the Greens and one from the Maori Party.

Employment Standards Legislation Bill – first reading

This bill promotes fairer and more productive workplaces by providing enhanced protections and benefits for both employers and employees through a number of improvements to the employment relations–employment standards legislative framework.

  • Introduced: August 2015

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




Little falls for demented conspiracy theory

August 25th, 2015 at 11:40 am by David Farrar

I’ve blogged on this before, on how a few nutbars on the left think that Bill English and Nick Smith have devised a cunning plan to enrich themselves by a hundred million dollars or so by transferring land and houses to the Tamaki redevelopment company which they own 59% of.

Except they don’t of course. They are shareholders in their capacity as ministers, not in any personal sense. Anyone who has an ounce of common sense or intelligence could see this, and know this.

Now one nutbar facebooked Andrew Little saying:

Govt ministers Bill English and Nick Smith each have a third interest in a company BUYING state houses, the Auckland Council the other third. Wouldn’t this be subject to a conflict of interest?

What do you think and what will you say Andrew?

Now Andrew is not responsible for what nutbars post on Facebook, but he then responds to the nutbar:

The least I can do is make some inquiries. Company ownership is a matter of public record

Oh dear, that is an epic fail on the scale of an MP saying they will inquire into whether to ban dihydrogen monooxide.

So you have the Leader of the Opposition promising to make inquiries into the fact that shares in a government owned company are owned by the Government!


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Quote of the week

August 25th, 2015 at 8:00 am by TaxpayersUnion

“Society exists for the benefit of its members, not the members for the benefit of society.”

– Herbert Spencer

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.

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Saner Easter Sunday trading law coming

August 25th, 2015 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Michael Woodhouse has announced:

The Government is to enable local communities, through councils, to decide whether retailers can open on Easter Sunday, Workplace Relations and Safety Minister Michael Woodhouse announced today.

“The current rules around shop trading over the Easter period are complex and relatively arbitrary. The law allows certain shops selling specific items to remain open, while others must close their doors.

“It also includes several historical exemptions which allow shops in areas such as Queenstown and Taupo to open on Easter Sunday, while those in Wanaka and Rotorua cannot.”

“The result is that some businesses and regions have an unfair advantage over others, and there is a demand from communities across the country to allow for shop trading on Easter Sunday.

“The proposed law change will enable communities to choose whether or not to allow trading. It will mean regions, especially tourist areas, can respond where there is strong demand for Easter Sunday trading,” Mr Woodhouse says.

The current law is a nonsense. Sadly all attempts at reform by members’ bills have failed due to an unholy collusion between unions and churches. So very pleased to see the Government taking action, to improve the ridiculous status quo.

“In addition, the law change will give workers the opportunity to decline to work or accept work if they wish to on that day – with no reason necessary.

And this I support. It is about allowing workers to earn extra money – if they wish to do so, and retailers to open if they want to do so, and shoppers to shop if they wish to do so. But no one is forced to do anything.

Only changes to Easter Sunday are being proposed. Mr Woodhouse says this reflects the added religious and cultural significance attached to Good Friday, Anzac Day and Christmas, that remain subject to restrictions.

A step in the right direction, but more needs to be done.

For Easter, we should allow trading on all four Easter days of Good Friday, Holy Saturday, Easter (Sunday) and Easter Monday. But I’d also have all four as public holidays which they attract penal rates, and also that any employee can decline to work on those days. That would actually give employees more flexibility (they currently have to work Holy Saturday and Easter Monday if asked) and more pay (penal rates would apply for all four days, not just Good Friday and Easter Monday). So this would benefit employees, but also benefit retailers who could open for the whole long weekend – if they wanted to.

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Political Positioning on Twitter

August 24th, 2015 at 1:42 pm by David Farrar


This analysis comes from Litmus Marketing.

They did text mining of tweets from National and Greens MPs. Their take:

  1. National are the ‘one trick pony’ all about the Economy – nothing new but interesting to see it coming out
  2. Greens are definitely about social policy but have clearly got content out there that is evenly split between the Environment and Human rights. 
  3. This may be too much as ‘you’d expect’  but there is value in better understanding how parties ‘position’ themselves
  4. Next steps is to look to time box the analysis to see if things change over time, through the last election etc.

Would be interesting to see how this changes over time.

It also suggests that National MPs are very disciplined with their tweets and messaging.


Support for changing the age threshold for youth court

August 24th, 2015 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Support from across the political spectrum is backing a Government proposal to keep 17-year-olds out of adult courts.

Justice Minister Amy Adams has asked officials to look at whether dealing with 17-year-olds in the Youth Court will cut rates of re-offending and stop some young people starting out on a life of crime.

The Youth Court, currently for those aged 12 to 16, is less formal and has specialised judges. Offenders also don’t get a criminal record.

Labour leader Andrew Little, Greens co-leader James Shaw and UnitedFuture’s Peter Dunne are all in favour of the Government exploring raising the threshold – a move the United Nations also wanted.

Shaw said the Greens took a restorative justice approach to crime and he questioned the impact of sending teenagers to prisons.

“It’s more likely they’ll end up in prison over and over again”.

The trouble is that there are a hard core of youth offenders who have no fear of the youth court, and will treat the period up until which they can go to adult  court, as a no consequences offending period.

Now you don’t set policy just based on the worst offenders, but you do need to make sure the law can keep youth out of jail if at all possible, but also protect us from recidivist youth offenders.