Archive for the ‘NZ Politics’ Category

The Harmful Digital Communications Act

June 30th, 2015 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

This afternoon Parliament will pass into law the Harmful Digital Communications Act. If I was an MP, I’d vote against the bill.

In saying that I recognise a significant amount of good will come from this bill. I also recognise that Amy Adams has made improvements to it, which have mollified some of the concerns people have had with the bill, which is why Labour and NZ First are now supporting it. In fact ACT is the only party against – David Seymour explains why here.

Here’s the good aspects to the new law:

  • The approved agency (will be Netsafe who are very good) will get legal standing, and be able to far more effectively mediate cases with Facebook, Google etc where real harm is happening – especially cyberbullying of teens
  • Specifics behaviours which are despicable such as encouraging someone to kill themselves, posting revenge porn etc will face criminal sanctions
  • Has an extensive safe harbour for intermediaries such as Kiwiblog and Trade Me, so that we’re not liable for content generated by others on our sites, so long as we pass complaints on promptly
  • Rather than me having to judge if a comment is harrassing, threatening etc, I can allow the Approved Agency to mediate, or the District Court to rule

The bad aspects include:

  • The 10 communication principles are too wide, and principle No 10 especially could lead to severe restrictions for online speech, with the principle being used to stifle legitimate criticism
  • The timelines for the safe harbour are very tight
  • A few dedicated trolls could make life hell for content hosts by constantly taking them to court, especially as there is no filing fee
  • Different legal standards now apply to offline and online speech

The Press editorial is opposed:

The purpose of the statute is high-minded enough.  It is designed to deter, prevent and mitigate harm to individuals by digital communications. But the thresholds set by the new statute are perilously low and potentially pose a  threat to freedom of speech. …

Both the agency and the District Court must  decide matters according to “communication principles” contained in the new statute.  Some of these are ludicrously wide.  One, for example, prohibits  digital communications that make a false allegation.  As those with experience of defamation law know, that can be an area of endless argument, and the new statute has none of the safeguards provided by two centuries of development of defamation law.  A similar risk arises from the prohibition on a communication that may be “grossly offensive to a reasonable person in the position of the affected individual”. It does not take much imagination to see how that provision could be used by a deeply religious person to resurrect blasphemy laws that have largely (and properly in a secular society) fallen into disuse.   

A complainant will not be able to obtain any redress unless he or she can show that the offending digital communication has caused  harm. But harm has also been given an alarmingly expansive definition by the statute. It is defined as anything that causes a complainant “serious emotional distress”, a disconcertingly subjective notion. 

The statute requires any decisions to be consistent with rights and freedoms contained in the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act. It is odd the new statute should state this explicitly because those provisions should apply anyway. Presumably it was in recognition of the fact that the new statute potentially threatens those rights and freedoms.

The BORA reference should mean that the court only orders material to be removed in extreme circumstances. But until we have several cases go through the system, we don’t know what sort of approach will be taken.

As I said, there are good aspects to this law. It will help a number of people considerably. But as with The Press I fear the communication principles are too wide, and it will result in people ironically being bullied by others using the law for exercising their free speech online.


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Parliament 30 June 2015

June 30th, 2015 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

The order paper is here.

Oral Questions 2.00 pm – 3.00 pm

  1. ANDREW BAYLY to the Minister of Finance: What Budget policies will soon take effect and help to distribute dividends from the growing economy to New Zealand families?
  2. ANDREW LITTLE to the Prime Minister: Does he stand by his statement that “Locally-based providers can be closer and more responsive to their community” in relation to the Government’s policy to sell state houses to private providers?
  3. STUART SMITH to the Minister for Workplace Relations and Safety: How is the Government helping to support young New Zealand families through paid parental leave?
  4. Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS to the Minister for Building and Housing: Does he stand by all his statements?
  5. JONATHAN YOUNG to the Minister of Transport: What is the Government doing to support the development of urban cycleways across New Zealand?
  6. PHIL TWYFORD to the Minister responsible for HNZC: Does he still intend to sell 1,000 to 2,000 Housing New Zealand houses by January 2016, and that “houses will not be transferred unless tenants get better services and taxpayers get fair and reasonable value”?
  7. METIRIA TUREI to the Minister responsible for HNZC: Does he stand by his statement that “Anyone that wants to have a go at this will have to show that they’ve got the capacity to manage the properties, to manage the finances, to look after the tenants and to help redevelop our social housing community”?
  8. DAVID SHEARER to the Minister of Consumer Affairs: Is he satisfied that New Zealanders are not paying too much for their milk; if so, why?
  9. BARBARA KURIGER to the Minister of Revenue: What reports has he received about changes which will bolster the tax rules around residential property speculation?
  10. Dr KENNEDY GRAHAM to the Prime Minister: Does he stand by all his statements?
  11. MARK MITCHELL to the Minister of Customs: What effect is the lower tobacco duty-free limit having on the amount of cigarettes and tobacco being brought into New Zealand at the border?
  12. SUE MORONEY to the Minister for ACC: Why will people with older cars pay $90 more per year to register their vehicle than those who can afford the latest model Rolls Royce?

National: Five questions on Budget, paid parental leave, cycleways, property tax rules and tobacco duty

Labour: Four questions on state houses x 2, milk prices and ACC levies

Greens: Two questions on state houses and does PM stand bu statements

NZ First: One question on Minister of Building standing by his statements

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

Harmful Digital Communications Bill – third reading continued

The Bill aims to “mitigate the harm caused to individuals by digital communications and to provide victims of harmful digital communications with a quick and efficient means of redress.” by creating a new civil enforcement regime to quickly and effectively deal with harmful digital communications; creating new criminal offences to deal with the most serious harmful digital communications and making some small amendments to existing legislation to clarify their application to digital communications and cover technological advances.

  • Introduced: November 2013
  • 1st reading: December 2013, passed unanimously
  • Select Committee Report: May 2014, supported unanimously, with amendments
  • 2nd reading: March 2015, passed 77-43, with Labour and NZ First against
  • Committee: June 2015, Minister’s SOP passed 120-1 with ACT against

There are nine speeches of up to 10 minutes remaining for a maximum of 90 minutes.

Environmental Reporting Bill – committee stage continued

The bill provides for independent environmental reports in the areas of air, climate and atmosphere, freshwater, marine and land.

  • Introduced February 2014
  • 1st reading: March 2014, passed 78 to 41 with Labour and NZ First opposed
  • Select Committee report: March 2015, supported with amendments by the majority, minority views by Labour and Greens
  • 2nd reading: May 2015, passed 61 to 60 with Labour, Greens, NZ First and Maori Party opposed

There is no time limit for the committee stage. It has two parts so is likely to last for at least two hours.  There is one SOP from Eugenie Sage.

New Zealand Superannuation and Retirement Income Amendment Bill – committee stage

The bill amends the New Zealand Superannuation and Retirement Income Act 2011 to facilitate the efficient and effective investment of the New Zealand Superannuation Fund by allowing the Guardians to control entities formed for the purpose of holding, facilitating, or managing the investments of the Fund.

  • Introduced: November 2013
  • 1st reading: March 2014, passed unanimously
  • SC report: July 2014, supported with amendments without dissent
  • 2nd reading: May 2015, passed 101-13 with Greens against

There is no time limit for the committee stage. It has two parts so is likely to last for at least two hours.  There are two SOPs from Bill English.


Milk prices

June 30th, 2015 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

New Zealanders are paying over-the-top prices for milk, with Coca-Cola now more affordable, the Labour Party says.

Figures from Statistics New Zealand showed the average price of two litres of milk was $3.19 in May 2013, which had jumped to $3.45 in May this year.

The milk price index has actually dropped 4% in the last 12 months, so Labour are complaining at the time milk prices are dropping.

The index was 1204 in May 2015, 1254 in May 2014 and yes 1129 in May 2013. So by going back two years Labour makes it look like prices are currently increasing.

What do they look like over the last 15 years?


So milk prices in NZ are quite volatile, with some big increases some years and big decreases in other years. That suggests a competitive market.

In the six years and five months since 2008, milk prices have increased just 8.5% overall. That’s an average of 1.3% a year – so below the mid-point of the inflation target range.

Now let’s go back to the comparison with Coke

Shearer said Primary Industries Minister Nathan Guy had some explaining to do, as it was “all looking a bit too cosy”.

It was “perverse” that Coca-Cola was more affordable than fresh milk, at a time when child obesity and diabetes were causing major problems in the health system, he said.

First of all the Government does not set the prices of goods. It is no surprise that something which is basically water with some mass produced syrup costs less than milk which has to be produced on a farm and transported.

But even putting aside the stupidity of the comparison, let’s like at the price increases of soft drinks and milk since December 2008.

Milk inflation has been 8.5% while inflation for “soft drinks, waters and juices” has been 21.7%. So under Labour coke was even cheaper than milk!

Now Stats NZ also has the specific average price for a 2 litre container of milk and a 1.5 litre soft drink. If we make this a cost per litre what does it show?


Now you may understand how truly stupid Labour is being. They managed to pick the exact month where in fact milk is slightly cheaper than coke (by 1 cent) – $1.73 vs $1.74. And of course if we go back to 2008, milk was $1.67 a litre and coke $1.31.

But we should not just blame Labour for not doing their homework. They were counting on media who would not fact check them. This took me around 30 minutes with the Stats NZ database. Wouldn’t it be great if a journalist actually did this and when Labour spout off crap like this, ask them questions such as:

  • As milk prices have fallen 4% in the last year, why are you claiming the price is increasing?
  • As milk prices have increased just 1.3% a year since 2008, what is the problem you are claiming needs fixing?
  • As milk is currently cheaper than Coke, why are you claiming it isn’t?

The only way Labour will learn not to shoot off stupid inaccurate crap, is when people call them on it.

UPDATE: Kudos to Claire Trevett who in this article did look beyond the spin from Labour, and point out prices had dropped in the last year.

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Quote of the week

June 30th, 2015 at 8:00 am by TaxpayersUnion

“There is no worse tyranny than to force a man to pay for what he does not want merely because you think it would be good for him.”

– Robert Heinlein

The 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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Translating Phil Goff

June 30th, 2015 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Phil Goff criticises Auckland ‘presidential’ leadership |

Auckland mayoral prospect Phil Goff says he would run the city differently from the current “presidential” style of leadership.

In a local television interview the Mt Roskill Labour MP has reiterated that he’s seriously considering standing for mayor, but claims he still hasn’t made the final decision.

Translation: I’m definitely running

“If I ran for mayor, that’s the reason I’d run as an independent.

Translation: Labour is unpopular in Auckland, so I’m hoping to con people into thinking I haven’t been a Labour MP for the past 34 years.

“I think a mayor needs not to be partisan, but to be inclusive to look after the whole of the city and to try and work with the whole of the council.

Translation: I hope to win with no policies, no position on rates increases by just promising to be inclusive.
Also Phil Goff claimed that Auckland is 40% of NZ’s GDP. He’s out by $11 billion or so. NZ GDP in March 2014 was $220 billion so 40% is $92 billion. Auckland’s GDP was $81 billion.
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Fallow on Immigration

June 29th, 2015 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Brian Fallow writes in the NZ Herald:

The net inflow of migrants hit a new high in the year ended May, eliciting ritual denunciation from Winston Peters.

“The Government is condemning more Kiwis to the dole queue and to a life in rental houses,” he said. “Soon there will be anger as so many miss out on the Kiwi dream of home ownership, especially in Auckland, where over half the record net 57,800 migrants are settling.”

The first point to make in response to this is that the statisticians’ definition of permanent and long-term migrants includes Kiwis.

Indeed. In the last 12 months 29,510 New Zealanders “migrated” home.

In the latest year there was a net loss of 5800 New Zealand citizens, compared with an average net loss of 26,600 a year over the previous 10 years, and 13,200 in the year to May 2014. Harder times across the Tasman explain a lot of that.

In 2012, the net outflow of New Zealanders was 38,910, so it is now one sixth of that.

So who are the immigrants Peters is keen to scapegoat?

A breakdown of visa types gives us a clue. Of the 80,000 visas issued in the past year, 35,100 – 44 per cent – were work visas. That is 13,800, or 65 per cent, more than four years ago, before the need to rebuild our second-largest city boosted demand for people in the building trades. By all accounts Auckland could do with some of them too.

There are definite areas where not enough Kiwis are available for work.

Student visas are the second-largest category, representing 32 per cent of all visas issued in the past year. The total of 25,600 issued in the past year is up from 17,600 in the previous year and 9500 10 years ago.

“Indian student arrivals of 12,100 are double the previous year and Chinese student arrivals were up 22 per cent to over 7000 in the past year,” Peters said.

Whatever his source for these numbers was, it was not Statistics NZ, which put the number of student visas issued to Indians at 10,100 and to Chinese at 4800.

“Young Kiwi workers are also missing out on low-skilled jobs as foreign students, most of whom want permanent residence, take over in supermarkets, service stations and hotels,” Peters said. “Why should foreign students be allowed to work at all? Our supposed export education industry is supposed to be bringing in foreign exchange.”

Well, it is. A report by Infometrics on the economic impact of the international education industry estimates that gross spending, including tuition fees, rose 10.4 per cent last year to $2.75 billion, the majority of it in Auckland.

“About 14,500 full-time-equivalent jobs are directly attributable to international education delivered within New Zealand, with another 15,700 jobs being indirectly supported through the industry’s upstream and downstream multiplier effects,” it said.

We make a substantial profit from offering international education. A great income earner.

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Govt says no to sugar tax

June 29th, 2015 at 12:58 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Tackling obesity tops the Government’s priority list – but it says punishing sugar lovers with a tax is not the answer.

Health Minister Jonathan Coleman saidon Sunday there was no evidence a sugar tax worked and further regulation was not the answer to New Zealand’s obesity problem. He conceded, however, that action was needed on the way sugar-loaded products were marketed to consumers but the Government believed voluntary action by the food industry was the answer.

“Marketing is an issue but we’ve got to work with the industry to turn that around and if you look at the Advertising Standards Authority guidelines, which the industry has signed up to, there’s been major changes over time,” Coleman told TVNZ’s Q+A programme.

But the Government’s major focus was on exercise, portion control and the diets of pregnant women. The Prime Minister’s chief science adviser Sir Peter Gluckman was at the forefront of some of that work.

“All my discussions with Sir Peter have been around the intervention around the perinatal period (the period immediately before and after birth) … and that’s what the medical evidence is starting to show is very important. That and exercise and education,” Coleman said.

“Not this fixation with advertising and sugar taxes.”

Good. The activists want a sugar tax, a fat tax, a soda drink tax etc etc. No end to what they want to tax.


Labour against tying premiums to risk!

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

Stuff reports:

Labour is accusing the Government of rewarding those with “flash” cars at the expense of older and poorer owners, with ACC levies tied to vehicles safety ratings.

The new risk-rating ACC regime, which kicks in next month, means some owners of older cars will pay $158.46 annually – 52 per cent more than the $104.09 they would have paid without the differentiated system

Labour ACC spokeswoman Sue Moroney said more than a million owners would pay more than necessary.

Labour once again being silly. First of all the differentiated system collects the same amount of money in total. If you charge older less safe cars the same as newer more safe cars, then the fee for newer cars would be more.

ACC Minister Nikki Kaye said the purpose was to improve safety and the regime gave incentives to have safer vehicles.

About 50 per cent of older vehicles were in the safest band.

“There is a bit of a myth out there you have to have the flashest car to have the safest vehicle – that’s not correct.”

She said she understood many people did not have the choice to buy another car, but if they were choosing between two cars they could choose the safer one.

But Moroney questioned whether targeting the cost of registering a car was the best way to improve safety.

She asked if the system meant “the superannuant who’s never had an accident in her life, who happens to drive an older car because she’s on a fixed income is less safe than the corporate executive who’s just been to the long boozy lunch and gets in his Merc to drive away?” 

Now Sue Moroney is basically arguing to abolish ACC as a no faults scheme!

Tying premiums to risk is sensible and what happens with other levies such as the employer levy.


Despite the rhetoric, inequality not increasing in NZ

June 29th, 2015 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

New Zealand needs to “change its tune” on inequality, think tank The New Zealand institute says.

The group, which is supported by many leading business people, made the call following the publication of a Treasury paper which found inequality in this country has, with some variability, largely remained constant for the past 20 years. …

The new Treasury report acknowledged inequality in this country did rise from the late 1980s to the early 1990s. But it said that since then inequality had – with some variability – remained either constant or had fallen slightly. (Read the report in full here)

In a statement on Friday, NZ Initiative head of research Eric Crampton said “New Zealand simply has no problem of rising inequality”.

In contrast, income inequality had risen in may parts of the world and New Zealand seemed to have imported the narrative that the gap between rich and poor in this country had been widening to the same degree.

“The most striking finding in the latest Treasury work is that inequality in consumption is lower than it was before the reforms of the 1980s. While salary-based measures of income inequality have not declined as dramatically, a lot of work ignore the fact that the tax and transfer system already works to equalise incomes,” Crampton said.

“In the end, it’s consumption-based measures that give us a better picture of real differences in how people live.”

So when you take account of the tax and welfare system, there is less inequality in NZ than the early 1980s when for some bizarre reason socialists hark back to as a golden era.


WCC spending too much

June 29th, 2015 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

John Milford writes in Stuff:

On Wednesday, the Wellington City Council will vote to votes on adopting the Long Term Plan (LTP) and the numbers tell a story that every Wellington ratepayer should be worried about.

It projects that in the next 10 years total rates will jump by 62 per cent – from a total rate take of $241.4 million to $393.4 million.

That’s an increase of $152 million in 10 years, and that’s massive in anyone’s language, but especially for those who have to pay it. Add to this the increase in the council’s total borrowings, projected to grow from $404.1 million to $806.5 million.

This is nearly a 100 per cent increase in debt.

The chamber’s members are concerned at what they are seeing in these numbers.

Let’s not forget that Wellington’s business community pays 46 per cent of the rates while only making up just 21 per cent of the rateable property.

Our business rates differential is higher than both Auckland and Christchurch.

While the LTP proposes to increase rates by an ‘average’ of 3.1 per cent a year over the 10 years, it also proposes a further 0.8 per cent for an invest-to-grow programme, taking rates rises to an ‘average’ of 3.9 per cent. The council justifies this as a trade-off because it will invest in projects to expand the city’s economy and grow the rating base. We note that the 3.9 per cent is the ‘average’ increase, the actual increase being considerably higher. For next year the total rate take will jump 11.8 per cent – around an additional 5 per cent for the owner of a house at the median value, and around 6.7 per cent for a suburban commercial property.

With inflation at 0.1% this is way too big an increase.

I think we should have a law that requires a referendum to approve any rates increase which is greater than say the increase in population and inflation.


Euthanasia select committee inquiry

June 29th, 2015 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

MPs will carry out an inquiry into voluntary euthanasia.

Announcing an inquiry on Wednesday, chairman of the health select committee, Simon O’Connor, said members were “ready to engage” on what was an “important conversation that needs to be had”. …

It would take a couple of weeks to come up with a plan for the inquiry, O’Connor said.

The inquiry would consider how best to involve the public and what questions and terms of reference need to be included, he said.

This is a good step forward. It is no substitute for a bill, but can be complementary.



Fighting over a carcas

June 28th, 2015 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Self-inflicted body blows continue to batter the Conservative Party, with a newly appointed board suspending the membership of founder, party benefactor and former leader Colin Craig.

And in a further hit to the divided party’s credibility, Craig last night said the new board – and therefore his suspension – was invalid because neither natural justice nor the party’s constitution had been followed at yesterday’s meeting.

“I think any ordinary person will realise a process when you don’t advise the person that you’re considering something, you don’t let them attend, you don’t even give them a chance to respond to allegations, is no proper process,” Craig told the Herald on Sunday. …

The fallout from Craig’s revelations has decimated the party’s board with all but one member, John Stringer, resigning in the past week.

Stringer appointed himself chairman yesterday and created a new board with former electorate candidates Deborah Cunliffe, Mark Pearce and Thomas O’Rourke, and Waikato regional chairman Al Belcher.

“They meet again next month, when they may make a final decision on Craig’s suspension and appoint a leader.

Craig said Stringer’s actions were invalid because he had been suspended from the party by remaining board members on Thursday, which Stringer denied.

“It’s a bit rich of him to accuse us of things he’s done himself. I think he has got bigger issues to resolve than us.”

This is like fighting over the remains of a carcas. Sad.


A ratepayer funded party to celebrate a 10% rates rise!

June 28th, 2015 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Auckland Mayor Len Brown and council staff held a ratepayer-funded party hours after passing a new budget that includes a 9.9 per cent average rates rise for households.

Senior staff have defended the function as a way of thanking staff but critics say the decision was misguided when thousands of Aucklanders were smarting from big rates increases.

If this just adds even more pain to the 9.9% rates rise, you can do something about it – join the Auckland Ratepayers’ Alliance. The 10 Councillors who voted for the 9.9% rates rise will be targeted for defeat at next year’s election – to send a signal to all Councils and Councillors in NZ that if you massively hike rates, you will lose your jobs.


Gordon Campbell against Uber

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

Gordon Campbell writes:

It would be nice to think that California – the home state of Hollywood – may have finally and decisively overturned the “contractor” fiction through which the likes of Uber and the film industry continue to exploit their workers. Uber and Warners do like to portray themselves as being at the forefront of technological innovation and business excellence. Well, it’s the 21st century, guys. Maybe its time you stopped making your employees accept 19th century work conditions as the basis for keeping their jobs. Basically, if your business model depends on offloading your own legitimate costs onto your workforce, then maybe the model doesn’t deserve to endure.

So Gordon Campbell thinks the Uber model does not deserve to endure. Has he not noticed that many taxi drivers are flocking to Uber because they earn much more money with Uber, as Uber doesn’t have huge sign up fees, or costs. They’re often better off. But Gordon, like many on the left, don’t like anyone being contractors.

This is going to be a good test for Labour’s Future of Work Commission. The future of work is companies like Uber allowing people to be contractors and private drivers. Uber would die if they were forced to become employers, rather than merely a booking app.

Will Labour come up with policies that reflect the 21st century? Flexibility is what the 21st century is about, not forcing everyone to be an employee.

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What land should pay rates?

June 27th, 2015 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

The ACT newsletter:

Amidst all the Good Ideas
One notable item was that the exemption on Crown land from rates is unjustifiable. Quite so. Central government dumps regulatory burdens on local government, but is tight fisted in paying for them itself. Allowing local authorities to charge rates on Crown land would encourage agencies to use land more efficiently and would be fairer to ratepayers.

The Rating Base
Councils can charge targeted rates for water, sewage and refuse collection, but cannot levy other rates, including uniform annual charges or general rates on Crown land. One option might be to allow councils to apply uniform annual charges to Crown land. That might encourage them to not push the uniform charge down to the minimum, as has happened in Auckland.

But Which Land?
As a first cut at what might be included, and what not, conservation and recreational land could be excluded. Because schools and hospitals all compete with private organisations, they should pay rates. Road and rail network infrastructure should probably be excluded, but ports and airports are private businesses, albeit often partially owned by councils, so would be included.

And Some Controversial Areas
Land used for religious worship or education, and Maori land of various types is exempt from rates. It’s hard to see how that could be justified.

The Net Effect
Slightly lower rates burden, slightly higher central government tax burden – but better price signals and incentives all round. And fairer.

I agree there should be no rates exemption for religious or Maori land. I also agree that some Crown land should pay rates – not conservation land, but other land. It will encourage better use of the land.


One union to rule them all

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

Stuff reports:

The old adage of strength in numbers is the main driver behind the proposed merger between two of New Zealand’s larger unions.

In July, the potential combination of the Service and Food Workers Union (SFWU) with the Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union (EPMU) will be put to the vote at a national conference and if it gets the thumbs up there, the memberships of both groups will then get to have their say.

These are the two largest unions of Labour’s six affiliated unions. Individually they have 42% and 25% of the affiliate vote. If they combine they will have 66% of the affiliate vote. It means the combined union will effectively select their own vice-president of the party, have reps on the list moderating committee, be far more dominant at selection meetings and this one entity would control 13% of the leadership electoral college.

In other words the Labour Party would not be far removed from being a subsidiary of the new combined union.  In a leadership ballot the vote of each delegate would be worth almost 50 times as much as an ordinary member.

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Pollution taxes

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

The Herald reports:

Environment researchers have made fresh calls for a tax on polluters on the back of an OECD report highlighting rising pressures on our green backyard.

Through its new book, Vanishing Nature, the Environmental Defence Society has put forward an environmental consumption tax and rebate as a key reform, which it argues has the potential to tackle environmental degradation while broadening and rebalancing New Zealand’s tax base.

The lead author, EDS senior policy analyst Dr Marie Brown, said it would also help to reduce wealth inequality, could be designed to cut growth-limiting income and company taxes, and fund climate change mitigation.

My first reaction to any proposed new tax, is I’ll consider its merits if it is proposed not to increase the overall level of taxation, but as an alternative revenue source, which would allow income and company taxes to be reduced. It is good to see that this is the case here, even though they seem to be suggesting only a partial offset.

Dr Eric Crampton, head of research at the New Zealand Institute, said that in principle, taxes on pollution were far better than taxes on income so long as they were set properly – but this was very hard to do.

Simplicity is important – as we have with GST.

Taxes tend to reduce whatever you tax. So if you tax income, you reduce labour. If you have a GST you reduce consumption. If you have a CGT, you reduce capital. So a pollution tax can reduce pollution.

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$333 million for cycleways

June 26th, 2015 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Telling the Prime Minister to get on his bike might normally get a minister sacked. 

But on Thursday Prime Minister John Key and Transport Minister Simon Bridges visited Rotorua to announce a $333m cycleway investment programme that Bridges says will change the face of cycling in New Zealand.

That’s a huge investment. I doubt any other Government has ever done so much to promote cycling.

National is balanced when it comes to transport – it invests in roads, bus lanes, rail and cycle. Some one the left promote is as either or – they want next to no funding for roads because they hate cars. But the reality is the different systems are complementary, not substitutes. Sometimes I bike, sometimes I bus, sometimes I walk and sometimes I drive. I want investment in all the modes of transport.

Bridges says that as well as the 13 cycleway projects announced in January, an additional 41 will receive funding as part of the Urban Cycleways Programme.

“This is the single biggest investment in cycling in New Zealand’s history,” Bridges says.

“This will make cycling a safer and more attractive option.”

The safer it is, the more people will do it.


Four new members’ bills

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

Four bills were drawn from the ballot yesterday. They are:

Local Government Act 2002 (Greater Local Democracy) Amendment Bill – Labour MP Stuart Nash

This bill would mean any poll on amalgamations of local government will be unsuccessful unless it gains not just a majority over the affected area, but also a majority in each and every district within.

Public Collections and Solicitations (Disclosure of Payment) Bill – National MP Matt Doocey

This would require people soliciting donations, signatures or the like to disclose whether they are paid collectors.

Financial Assistance for Live Organ Donors Bill – National MP Chris Bishop

This would allow people who can not work due to having donated organs, to get income assistance equivalent to ACC (80% of lost earnings) for a maximum of 12 weeks, compared to the current sickness benefit only.

New Zealand Superannuation and Retirement Income (Pro Rata Entitlement) Amendment Bill – NZ First MP Denis O’Rourke.

This would reduce the level of NZ Superannuation on a pro-rata basis to people who have not been or remained in NZ between the ages of 20 and 65.

My thoughts on each are:

  • Nash bill – just seeks to reverse a law change from a few years ago. Would vote against at first reading
  • Doocey bill – a useful concept and enhanced transparency is good but current wording may be too draconian. Support at first reading, and review after select committee
  • Bishop bill – strongly support
  • O’Rourke bill – is worth having a debate on the issue, and the principle of less NZ Super for those who spent less time in NZ is not a bad one. But don’t want to punish people for doing their OE for a few years. Worth supporting at first reading to get submissions
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The guilty 10

June 26th, 2015 at 7:00 am by David Farrar
  • Arthur Anae
  • Len Brown
  • Bill Cashmore
  • Linda Cooper
  • Chris Darby
  • Alf Filipaina
  • Mike Lee
  • Calum Penrose
  • Wayne Walker
  • Penny Webster

You now know who not to vote for Auckland.

Special attention must go to Mike Lee who correctly labels the 9.9% rates increase as odious and deeply flawed, yet votes for it.


Clerk argues for satire

June 25th, 2015 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Parliament’s top official has urged MPs to “grow up” and allow the official television feed to be used to mock them.

Mary Harris, Clerk of the House, told the Privileges Committee a ban on using footage of Parliament for satire may need to be relaxed “in this day and age”. …

Harris, whose seven-year term as Clerk ends on July 3, said the rules around satire were developed at a time when television was among the only ways of viewing Parliament, but with the proliferation of media the concerns had changed.

The rules have “been lifted in Australia [and] we borrowed our rules from Australia, and we maybe need to grow up,” Harris told the committee on Wednesday.

“I don’t think there’s a need to shelter Members [of Parliament] any longer.”

“It’s difficult to police. Once or twice Speakers have brought people in and given them a bit of a lecture about it but I think it’s a bit like slapping people with a wet bus ticket.”

I agree. The rule is ignored anyway, and satire is a good thing!

Harris said the committee may want to consider other changes, including expanding rules around photography to cover MPs taking photos in the House, as standing orders related only to footage taken from the public and press galleries.

Official footage of Parliament should also be allowed to show MPs misbehaving, Harris said.

“If members are going to be disorderly, they should be seen to be so.” …

Press Gallery chairwoman Claire Trevett told the committee the gallery backed the lifting of rules around disorder in the House, signalling that if there was an episode such as MPs brawling, the chances were media outlets may simply ignore the rules.

The idea behind that rule is to discourage MPs deliberately misbehaving so they get on TV, but they’re not really discouraged anyway. Another rule that can go.

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Mana Party AGM heals woman, so she can walk

June 25th, 2015 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Our favourite political party offical new site reports:

Kaylee Teree Ngarimu has been wheel chair ridden for months, doctors couldn’t diagnose her condition. What Kaylee was suffering from is often referred to as Maori sickness a condition that modern medicine has no solutions. Tuta and Kaylee went to many experts until whanau at the Mana AGM referred Kaylee to alternative healing. Nothing was working until she decided to attend the Mana AGM. After speaking to a Maori Healer Kaylee was able to stand then walk away from her wheel chair and hasnt used it since.

This is great news. Attend a political party AGM and your sickness will be cured and you can walk again.

Imagine all our people who are reliant on western medicines and end up that way for years with no real cure,if our people went back to OUR way of healing, our iwi would be better off.

I encourage all Mana Party members to abandon this evil subsidised Western medicine.


Members’ bill ballot 25 June 2015

June 25th, 2015 at 10:16 am by David Farrar

There will be a whopping four bills drawn from the ballot of 73 at midday today. Bills in the ballot are:

  Bill Title Member Name
1 Accident Compensation (Recent Migrants and Returning New Zealanders) Amendment Bill Melissa Lee
2 Affordable Healthcare Bill Barbara Stewart
3 Age of Majority (Attainment at 18 Years) Amendment Bill Brett Hudson
4 Better Public Service Target Results Independent Audit Bill Tracey Martin
5 Births, Deaths, Marriages, and Relationships Registration (Preventing Name Change by Child Sex Offenders) Amendment Bill Dr Jian Yang
6 Buy New Zealand (Procurement) Bill Richard Prosser
7 Care of Children (Adoption and Surrogacy Law Reform) Amendment Bill Kevin Hague
8 Charter Schools (Application of Official Information and Ombudsmen Acts) Bill Hon Nanaia Mahuta
9 Child Poverty Reduction and Eradication Bill Jacinda Ardern
10 Children, Young Persons, and Their Families (Parent’s and Guardian’s Responsibility) Amendment Bill Barbara Kuriger
11 Climate Change (Divestment from Fossil Fuels) Bill Dr Russel Norman
12 Commerce (Supermarket Adjudicator and Code of Conduct) Amendment Bill Steffan Browning
13 Credit Contracts and Consumer Finance (Break Fees Disclosure) Amendment Bill Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi
14 Crimes (Corporate Manslaughter) Amendment Bill Hon Damien O’Connor
15 Crimes (Non-fatal Strangulation) Amendment Bill Kelvin Davis
16 Criminal Procedure (Removing Paedophile Name Suppression) Amendment Bill Pita Paraone
17 Crown Minerals (Protection of World Heritage Sites) Amendment Bill Hon Ruth Dyson
18 Customs and Excise (Prohibition of Imports Made by Slave Labour) Amendment Bill Peeni Henare
19 Domestic Violence—Victims’ Protection Bill Jan Logie
20 Education (Charter Schools Abolition) Amendment Bill Chris Hipkins
21 Education (Charter Schools Curriculum) Amendment Bill Hon Phil Goff
22 Education (Charter Schools Teacher Quality) Amendment Bill Louisa Wall
23 Education (Public Good not Profit from Charter Schools) Amendment Bill Dr David Clark
24 Education (Restoration of Democracy to University Councils) Amendment Bill Hon David Cunliffe
25 Electricity Industry (Energy Efficiency) Amendment Bill Rino Tirikatene
26 Electricity Industry (Small-Scale Renewable Distributed Generation) Amendment Bill Gareth Hughes
27 Electricity Transparency Bill David Shearer
28 Employment Relations (Allowing Higher Earners to Contract Out of Personal Grievance Provisions) Amendment Bill Scott Simpson
29 Employment Relations (Certainty at Work) Amendment Bill Iain Lees-Galloway
30 Employment Relations (Restoring Kiwis’ Right to a Break at Work) Amendment Bill Jenny Salesa
31 Employment Relations (Safe and Healthy Workplaces) Amendment Bill Alastair Scott
32 Energy Efficiency and Conservation (Warm Healthy Rentals Warrant of Fitness) Amendment Bill Metiria Turei
33 Environment Canterbury (Democracy Restoration) Amendment Bill Dr Megan Woods
34 Equal Pay Amendment Bill Mojo Mathers
35 Family Proceedings (Paternity Orders and Parentage Tests) Amendment Bill Jacqui Dean
36 Financial Assistance for Live Organ Donors Bill Chris Bishop
37 Healthy Homes Guarantee Bill (No 2) Andrew Little
38 Immigration (Refugee Quota) Amendment Bill Denise Roche
39 Independent Prison Inspectorate Bill David Clendon
40 International Non-Aggression and Lawful Use of Force (Implementation of Amendment to Statute of Rome) Bill Dr Kennedy Graham
41 Keep Kiwibank Bill Hon Clayton Cosgrove
42 Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary Establishment Bill Eugenie Sage
43 Land Transfer (Foreign Ownership of Land Register) Amendment Bill Mahesh Bindra
44 Land Transport (Vulnerable Road Users) Amendment Bill Julie Anne Genter
45 Legislation (Climate Impact Disclosure Statement) Amendment Bill James Shaw
46 Life Jackets for Children and Young Persons Bill Alfred Ngaro
47 Local Government (Four Well-beings) Amendment Bill Su’a William Sio
48 Local Government (Freedom of Access) Amendment Bill Paul Foster-Bell
49 Local Government Act 2002 (Greater Local Democracy) Amendment Bill Stuart Nash
50 Marriage (Court Consent to Marriage of Minors) Amendment Bill Joanne Hayes
51 New Zealand Superannuation and Retirement Income (Pro Rata Entitlement) Amendment Bill Denis O’Rourke
52 Nurse Practitioners Bill Hon Annette King
53 Oaths and Declarations (Endorsing the Principles of the Treaty of Waitangi) Amendment Bill Marama Fox
54 Oaths and Declarations (Members of Parliament) Amendment Bill Meka Whaitiri
55 Official Information (Parliamentary Under-Secretaries) Amendment Bill Adrian Rurawhe
56 Overseas Investment (Protection of New Zealand Homebuyers) Amendment Bill Phil Twyford
57 Parental Leave and Employment Protection (Six Months’ Paid Leave and Work Contact Hours) Amendment Bill Sue Moroney
58 Private International Law (Choice of Law in Tort) Bill David Bennett
59 Public Collections and Solicitations (Disclosure of Payment) Bill Matt Doocey
60 Public Works (Prohibition of Compulsory Acquisition of Māori Land) Amendment Bill Catherine Delahunty
61 Radiocommunications (Enhanced Public Broadcasting Provision) Amendment Bill Kris Faafoi
62 Receiverships (Agricultural Debt Mediation) Amendment Bill Ron Mark
63 Sentencing (Domestic Violence) Amendment Bill Poto Williams
64 Sentencing (Livestock Rustling) Amendment Bill Ian McKelvie
65 Shop Trading Hours Act Repeal (Shopping Centre Opening Hours) Amendment Bill Hon Trevor Mallard
66 Social Security (Apprenticeship Assistance for Youth) Amendment Bill Grant Robertson
67 Social Security (Stopping Benefit Payments for Offenders who Repeatedly Fail to Comply with Community Sentences) Amendment Bill Mark Mitchell
68 Social Workers Registration (Mandatory Registration) Amendment Bill Carmel Sepuloni
69 Summary Offences (Drink or Drugs Affecting Behaviour) Amendment Bill Clayton Mitchell
70 Summary Proceedings (Warrant for Detention Conditions) Amendment Bill Jonathan Young
71 Telecommunications (Interception Capability and Security) Amendment Bill Clare Curran
72 Vulnerable Children (Mandatory Social Worker Registration) Amendment Bill Ria Bond
73 Waitemata Harbour Protection Bill Rt Hon Winston Peters
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Even Rudman is lashing the Councillors

June 25th, 2015 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Brian Rudman writes:

Tomorrow, for example, even though only seven of 20 councillors support the mayor’s proposed 10-year budget, it is likely to be adopted, because possibly five opponents will look the other way and abstain.

Chamber of Commerce chief executive Michael Barnett calls this abstaining “a total nonsense” and “a breach of trust with ratepayers”, and I agree.

In a democracy, if the executive can’t get a majority to support its plans, the accepted course is for the rulers to go away and prepare a budget the majority will support.


The Auckland Ratepayers Alliance has said:

The Auckland Ratepayers’ Alliance is pledging to hold to account those who support Len Brown’s proposed Auckland Council budget tomorrow, including those who allow it to pass by abstaining. The Alliance, which launched in April, has nearly ten thousand members and is growing every day.

Ratepayers’ Alliance spokesperson, Jo Holmes, says:

“Make no mistake, this is a bottom line for our members and activists. Any councillor that votes for, or abstains tomorrow will be a target in the lead up to next year’s election.”

“We are now confident that the Ratepayers’ Alliance will have enough financial support to conduct a mailout to every Auckland household. We will ensure that all voters know who the guilty Councillors are. There will be billboards, radio ads and even ringtones naming those who allowed Len Brown to hike rates at 99 times the level of inflation.

“Those who fail to vote tomorrow to stop the Mayor’s rates hike will not get away with it.”

The 9.9% rates increase is just an an average. In some low income areas it is as high as 17%!!!

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Thresholds bill fails

June 25th, 2015 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Parliament has voted down a bid to close the loophole that allows MPs to enter Parliament on the coat tail of someone who wins an electorate seat.

A bill promoted by Labour MP Iain Lees-Galloway would have implemented the recommendations of the Electoral Commission following a review which called for the removal of the single electoral seat threshold and a corresponding reduction in the party vote threshold from 5 per cent to 4 per cent. Lowering the party vote threshold would make it easier for smaller parties to win seats in Parliament because they would only need to win 4 per cent of the vote, not 5 per cent, the current threshold. 

Ironically if this had been implemented at the last election, as Labour wanted, Colin Craig would almost certainly be an MP and hold the balance of power. The Conservatives got 3.97% and it is inevitable they would have got 4% if voters had seen them so close to the threshold.

The coat tailing rule is seen as unfair because it means parties that win only a small number of votes can still get a number of MPs in Parliament so long as they win an electorate seat.  It also can allow larger parties to do deals that would help smaller parties into Parliament, which happened with ACT and National in the Epsom seat in Auckland. In 2008 ACT won just 3.6 per cent of the vote after then-leader Rodney Hide won Epsom, in contrast with NZ First which got voted out of Parliament with 4.1 per cent of the vote.

I think the coat tailing rule should go, on balance, but point out that in 2011 there were no “coat tail” MPs and in 2014 there is only one.

But ACT leader David Seymour said the Opposition were “so wrong on every count” about the coat-tailing rule.

He said the only benefiting from the coat tailing rule in the current Parliament was the Maori Party, which got an extra MP thanks to Te Ururoa Flavell winning the Wairiki seat.

Other parties had benefited in other Parliaments including the Greens, NZ First and the Alliance.

“If you take the entire history of MMP, for a period the coat tailing rule benefited the Left and then it benefited the Right.  There is no more to it than that; there is no more sincere motivation than that it has politically disadvantaged [Labour] recently. I’ll be opposing this bill because there is no sound principle, only self-interest.”

Labour, the Greens and NZ First voted for the bill, but National, United Future, the Maori Party and ACT voted against.

Seymour has that dead to rights.