Archive for the ‘NZ Politics’ Category

A reader writes in

December 22nd, 2014 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

A reader writes in:

I flew up to Auckland today on an Air NZ flight at 5pm. I was in the back row, seat 23C. To my surprise and yes, delight, Steven Joyce and a private secretary had the two seats next to me in that back row.

Steven Joyce would not know me from a bar of soap but he engaged in pleasant chit-chat as we taxied for take-off and I assume he did not know I knew who he was. What really impressed me was that a Minister of the Crown was in the very back seat of such a flight and clearly was happy to be there. I have never in all my years of flying in NZ encountered a cabinet minister in the back row (they are almost always in the first or second rows).

I’ve also had readers e-mail me about how they sometimes see the PM at the Koru Club, and he always queues up to get his own coffee, rather than have a staffer get it for him.

Of course with the new Koru coffee app, no more queuing for it!


Assault complaint against an MP

December 21st, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Police have been investigating an assault complaint against government MP Mike Sabin.

There are no details as to what the complaint or complaints allege, and whether or not they are recent. Hard to comment without knowing more. Sabin is a former police officer.


Dom Post opposes alcohol sponsorship ban

December 20th, 2014 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

The Dom Post editorial:

Public health researchers use tobacco as a model for alcohol reform. But the comparison is not fair. Alcohol in small amounts is healthy. For most people, it is not especially addictive. There is no similar risk that a few drinks at a young age mean a lifetime chained to the habit.

That is the key difference.

An advertising ban is a heavy-handed move that would cut off a major funding stream for sports teams and suppress diversity in a market that has shown plenty of it recently. (Consider the craft beer explosion, not exactly associated with problem drinking.)

You ban advertising and sponsorship, and you effectively ban new products.

To the extent that regulations can help, they should be carefully targeted at drunkenness and young people. Banning obscene boozing competitions, as the Government did in 2012, justified itself. Curtailing bar hours, as the police are pushing for in Wellington, also has merit. Scrubbing sponsors’ logos from games mostly watched by adults seems like overdoing it.

May the Government drown the report in a vat of craft beer.

The Press and Herald editorials are also sceptical or hostile to the recommendations.

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NZ showing how reform can occur

December 18th, 2014 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Oliver Hartwich wrote in the Spectator:

Rarely does a government manage to build a positive narrative around the policy changes it implements. However, there are exceptions to this rule, or at least one exception: New Zealand.

At a time when many commentators have given up on the possibility of pro-market reforms, the New Zealand government under Prime Minister John Key demonstrates that they are still possible. More than that, Key shows how despite his government’s reformist zeal it managed to get re-elected not once but twice already.

In my new monograph Quiet Achievers: The New Zealand Path to Reform, published this week, I try to dissect Key’s political management and his leadership style. What I hoped to find were lessons for economic reforms that could be applicable to other countries, whether in the eurozone or in Australia. There are quite a few.

There are two types of reforms. The first are those reforms that are undertaken when there is no alternative, or at least no plausible one. The classic example is Margaret Thatcher’s radical turnaround of Britain. Following the winter of discontent, there really was no choice but to move on from the country’s post-war, half-planned economic model.

The labour market reforms under German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder in 2003 fall in the same category of reform, for lack of a better alternative. As unemployment numbers exceeded five million people, something had to be done. Closer to home, both Australia and New Zealand went for a radical restructuring of their economies in the 1980s and 1990s because circumstances were dire and something had to give.

These emergency-driven reforms constitute what I would call ‘pathological learning’. Policy mistakes are finally corrected only when circumstances have become so dire that even the greatest reform-deniers cannot block change. Eurozone reforms fall into this category as well. We can praise the heroes of such reforms, but their job is comparatively easy. What is far harder to achieve is to lead economic change when conditions are not quite catastrophic yet.

Australia’s more recent experience is a good illustration of this problem. Given the mining and terms-of-trade boom, it was hard to make the case for any policy changes. Instead, the temptation was there to use the proceeds of the boom on new government spending programmes.

Commentators like The Australian’s Paul Kelly and (ex-)politicians like former finance minister Lindsay Tanner have expressed their concerns about this. They argue that our political culture with its short attention spans and focus on headlines and sound bites has made good policy-making difficult, absent a major crisis which forces political action. They certainly have a point.

This is where the New Zealand counter-example is worth examining. True, the last few years of the Global Financial Crisis and the devastating Canterbury earthquakes have hit New Zealand hard. However, the situation was not so bad that it left Key without alternatives. He could have easily used these crises as an excuse to allow his budget to blow out or introduce emergency taxes. In fact, that was very Australia’s response to the GFC and the Queensland floods. Remember the giant stimulus packages and the so-called flood levy?

Instead, Key and his finance minister Bill English did the opposite of such populist activism. They quietly steered New Zealand onto a more sustainable economic path. They kept budgets tight, undertook a substantial overhaul of the welfare system, started an experiment with charter schools, part-privatised some state-owned enterprises, cut income taxes and increased consumption taxes.

It was a combination of policies that did not only put the budget back on a credible path to surplus. It also increased New Zealand’s competitiveness, which has now surpassed Australia’s. It created economic growth and tens of thousands of new jobs.


The surplus is not quite there yet, but Hartwich is right that there has been significant reforms in the last six years.

How did the Kiwis do it? How did John Key get away with so much reform?

The answer I have come to in Quiet Achievers is simple. Shunning any reform rhetoric or political grandstanding, Key quietly and slowly goes about his reform business. Reforms are carefully crafted while the public is prepared for upcoming changes and informed why they are necessary. In this way, the reforms are building their own constituency and by the time they are implemented, the measures appear imminently commonsensical. Key’s strategy is one of incremental, silent radicalism.

New Zealand proves that reforms, even in mature democracies, are still possible. They should be possible in Australia as well where they are much needed. Australia has not implemented any substantial economic reforms since the introduction of the GST in July 2000.

For any political leaders wishing to embark on a process of economic reform, whether in Australia or in Europe, a look at New Zealand may well be inspirational.

The welfare reforms are an excellent example of this.

But while there has been good progress in a number of areas, the need for reform is continual, and further reform is needed – especially around land availability.

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Goff apologises

December 17th, 2014 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

“All witnesses, including Mr Goff, were subject to a confidentiality order of the Inspector-General. The order was made to ensure fairness and the integrity of the inquiry. The disclosure of the report by Mr Goff was in breach of the order,” IGIS said in a statement.

Today’s release said no classified information was disclosed, but it led to “premature media reporting on the content of the report, to the detriment of other witnesses to the inquiry, particularly those adversely affected by the report”.

Gwyn said she would be taking steps to ensure there was greater clarity around release protocols and legal obligations for future reports.

“I have met with Mr Goff and received a full and unreserved apology, in person and in writing. I have accepted that apology, and do not intend to take this matter further.”

I joked on Twitter that now Goff is writing a column for the Sunday Star-Times, will he leak his own column the day before publication to try and spin it! :-)

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Alcohol Sponsorship and Advertising Recommendations

December 17th, 2014 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The Ministerial Forum on Alcohol and Advertising and Sponsorship has made 14 recommendations to the Government:

  1. Ban alcohol sponsorship of all streamed and broadcast sports
  2. Ban alcohol sponsorship of sports [long-term]
  3. Ban alcohol sponsorship (naming rights) at all venues
  4. Ban alcohol sponsorship of cultural and music events where 10% or more of participants and
    audiences are younger than 18
  5. Introduce a sponsorship replacement funding programme
  6. Introduce a targeted programme to reduce reliance on alcohol sponsorship funding
  7. Ban alcohol advertising during streamed and broadcast sporting events
  8. Ban alcohol advertising where 10% or more of the audience is younger than 18
  9. Further restrict the hours for alcohol advertising on broadcast media
  10. Continue to offset remaining alcohol advertising by funding positive messaging across all media
  11. Introduce additional restrictions on external advertising on licensed venues and outlets
  12. Establish an independent authority to monitor and initiate complaints about alcohol advertising and
  13. Establish a mechanism to identify and act on serious or persistent breaches of advertising standards
  14. Establish a multi-stakeholder committee to periodically review and assess Advertising Standards
    Complaints Board decisions and pre-vetted advertising

Recommendations 1, 2, 3 and 7 would basically cripple most sports in NZ.

Recommendations 4 and 8 may have merit, as alcohol should not be promoted to under 18s

Recommendations 5, 6 and 10 means increases taxes and have taxes spent on sponsoring sports

Recommendation 9 could also have merit, in that advertising should occur later at night

Recommendation 11 could mean anything

Recommendations 12 to 14 look like the Government establishing its own advertising regulator, effectively abolishing the self-regulatory model.

All in all pretty depressing. On a related note, an article from Patrick Basham on plain packaging:

Two years after its implementation, plain packaging’s impact upon smoking and the illicit cigarette trade remains the subject of vigorous debate. No longer debatable, however, is plain packaging’s negative affect upon the alcohol industry and other non-tobacco sectors of the Australian economy.

The unintended effects of plain packaging have the potential to vastly outweigh the legislation’s intended public health benefits, real or imagined. In fact, Australia’s imposition of plain packaging on tobacco opened a Pandora’s Box of potential trade costs with the nation’s alcohol sector set to become the first example of the policy’s collateral damage.

Indonesian farmers recently rallied in front of the Australian embassy in Jakarta in support of their government’s targeting of Australian alcohol. The Indonesian trade ministry is preparing to mandate the plain packaging of alcohol products, including Australian wine, with the respective labelling devoted to warnings of the adverse health consequences associated with alcohol consumption.

Providing political support for these plans are Indonesian business lobbyists seeking to protect their domestic market from foreign competition, as well as global and domestic public health NGOs who support plain packaging on all manner of ‘unhealthy’ consumer products, including alcohol and tobacco.

Such support would not have mattered to the Indonesian government if Australia had not opted for plain packaging in late 2011. But, then-Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s Labor government could not resist the temptation to become the global ‘leader’ in tobacco control policy. Consequently, Australia is now embroiled in a messy trade dispute that may spill over into a costly trade war.

Eventually the demand for plain packaging will extend to drinks and to food. It’s a bad precedent.


Caption Contest

December 16th, 2014 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar


Captions below. As always go for funny, not nasty.

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Surplus bye bye

December 16th, 2014 at 1:16 pm by David Farrar

Bill English has said:

The Government believes an OBEGAL surplus is achievable this financial year, despite Treasury’s latest forecast today predicting a $572 million deficit (0.2 per cent of GDP) for the year to 30 June 2015, Finance Minister Bill English says.

“These forecasts emphasise the unusual conditions the New Zealand economy is experiencing,” Mr English says. “Treasury is predicting solid growth, growing employment and low interest rates, which help New Zealanders to get ahead. But at the same time, falling dairy prices and low inflation are restricting growth in the nominal economy and government revenue.

“This is making it more challenging for the Government to achieve surplus in 2014/15. However we remain on track to reduce debt to 20 per cent of GDP by 2020.

The Government has limited control over revenue, short to changes to tax rates. But what they can control is spending. If they want to get into surplus they need to rein in spending more. They knew revenue forecasts are always risky, yet allowed spending to keep rising.


Greens again call for cows to be culled

December 16th, 2014 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Mr Groser said making a greater commitment up to 2030 would be “a big challenge” for New Zealand because 80 per cent of its energy already came from renewable sources.

“Once you’re that high it’s difficult to find low-hanging fruit,” he said.

There were other obstacles.

No solutions had yet been found by New Zealand researchers into reducing the emissions produced by agriculture.

Quite valid points. But the Greens have a solution.

Green Party climate spokesman Kennedy Graham rejected Mr Groser’s claim that there was no “low-hanging fruit”, saying that similar agriculture-based countries had reduced their dairy herds.

This is the Green Party policy – set a limit on the number of cows in NZ. We’ll cripple our economy for the sake of environment purity, despite the fact our total annual CO2 emissions is less than the daily around the same as the weekly growth in China’s CO2 emissions.


Improving teaching

December 16th, 2014 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

An interesting interview in the NZ Herald with Bali Haque. His background is:

Bali Haque is well known in education, having headed schools, a principals’ association and as the former deputy chief executive of the Qualifications Authority.


Mr Haque – a former executive member of the PPTA

So what does he see as a problem:

Mr Haque stresses that most teachers do a great job and that socio-economic factors are most important when looking at the “tail” of student underachievement.

But he doesn’t shy away from what he sees as problems within the profession. A big one is teachers he terms “free riders” – those he says refuse to work past 3.30pm, do nothing during their holidays and the very minimum required in class.

The collective agreement has provisions for incompetence – themselves often not acted upon – but not for the relatively few teachers who “hover in the only-just-competent area”, Mr Haque says. In the book, Changing our Secondary Schools, he argues that under the current collective such “free riders” will be paid much the same as those who go above and beyond.

We need to better reward the great teachers, motivate the mediocre teachers to improve, and weed out the teachers who are just not able to connect with students.

He says this should be addressed through a version of performance pay – not linked to one measure such as student achievement, but likely judged by the principal and possibly paid as an end-of-year bonus.

Principals should have more flexibility in how they pay their teachers.

also believes that teachers, through their unions, should look at reducing their holidays from 12 weeks to four or five.

The workload pressures that some teachers complain about are often self-inflicted, he says, and other professions work more flexibly to cope. Because most of the workload happens during the 38 weeks of term time, many teachers cope by working evenings and weekends, leading to stress.

Using some of the current holiday time to call all teachers in to school to carry out tasks such as planning meetings and professional development could go a long way to reducing the overall stress levels in most staffrooms, Mr Haque argues.

I can’t see the unions or teachers agreeing to giving up eight weeks holiday!

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Laila quits her membership

December 16th, 2014 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Laila Harre facebooked:

Today I have officially stepped down as Leader of the Internet Party. I have also resigned my membership.

It is no surprise she has resigned as leader, but to resign your membership also can only be read that she never actually believed in the principles of the Internet Party. It was just a vehicle for her to try and get more MPs for Mana.

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Mayor Goff?

December 15th, 2014 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Background noise about a mayoral bid has become something of a drum roll in recent weeks. And while he claims to be surprised, the 61-year-old former Labour leader is also flattered.

“I’m genuinely surprised that so many people from such a broad cross section have approached me,” Goff says in his office at Parliament this week. …

“Frankly, it’s not particularly the lifestyle that I want to choose and that’s why I’ve said no, at this point, to it. When pushed I’ll say I’ll consider it, but I’ve got to say that’s not my preference.”

Later, he says he will look at the candidates that are emerging then make a decision. The implication? That if nobody else from the Left emerges to depose Len Brown, then Goff may step up.

Penny Hulse is known to be interested but won’t stand if Brown insists on standing again.

What kind of mayor does Goff want?

One who is “fiscally responsible”, he says, who “doesn’t rate people to death”, tries to do more with less, while creating a “socially inclusive city”.

Sounds good to me.

Brown “will look at what the polling is telling him and make a decision on that basis”, Goff says.

Brown has been embroiled in controversy since the revelation he conducted an extramarital affair in the chambers of the town hall, but Goff says recent criticisms of the hidden wardrobe and bathroom in the mayor’s new office were “unwarranted attacks”.

Brown “works really hard as mayor”, Goff adds, and “right now people should just let him get on and do the job he’s been elected to do”.

Sounds to me like Goff will challenge Brown, but not right now.


Internet Party may stand again in 2017

December 15th, 2014 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Internet Party founder Kim Dotcom says his party could still make another bid for election in 2017 despite its merger with the Mana Party coming to an end.

Mana Movement leader Hone Harawira confirmed at the weekend that the two parties had formally split after failing to win a seat in the last election.

The Internet Party will soon be leaderless as Laila Harre plans to stand down and its main backer, Mr Dotcom, says he has run out of money fighting his extradition to the United States.

But the internet entrepreneur suggested yesterday the movement was still alive, saying he “would not be surprised if the Internet Party has another go” in 2017.

He did not want to comment further as he was focused on getting the US branch of his party up and running for the US elections in 2016. The US Internet Party will be backed and run by American citizens, but Mr Dotcom is likely to play some role.

Dotcom’s plans have changed from NZ domination to global domination – an Internet Party in every country maybe!


Labour dumps euthanasia bill

December 15th, 2014 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

A bill which would legalise voluntary euthanasia has been dropped by Labour MP Iain Lees-Galloway at the request of his leader Andrew Little.

Mr Lees-Galloway had been canvassing support for his End of Life Choice Bill before deciding whether to return it to the private members’ bill ballot.

But Mr Little confirmed yesterday that he had told Mr Lees-Galloway not to put it in the ballot because it was not an issue Labour should be focused on when it was rebuilding.

“It comes down to priorities at the moment,” Mr Little said. “We are very much focused on … jobs and economic security.

I think this is a real pity, as I suspect if it had remained in the ballot and been drawn, that it had the numbers to pass.

Mr Little said Labour was still a socially progressive party under his leadership.

“It’s not about avoiding controversy but it’s about choosing the controversies that are best for us at this point in time. That stuff on euthanasia, it isn’t the time for us to be talking about that.”

I would have thought just after an election is the best time to be considering issues such as this, rather than closer to the next election.

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2014 Kiwiblog Awards Winners

December 15th, 2014 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Over 1,300 votes were cast last week in the 2014 Kiwiblog Awards. The results are:

  • 2014 Press Gallery Journalist of the Year – Katie Bradford wins on 35% followed by Fran O’Sullivan 34% and Andrea Vance 31%
  • 2014 Minor Party Politician of the Year – David Seymour wins on 44% followed by Tariana Turia 29% and Sue Bradford 28%
  • 2014 National Party MP of the Year – John Key wins on 40% followed by Bill English 34%, Steven Joyce 17% and Amy Adams 9%
  • 2014 Labour Party MP of the Year – Kelvin Davis has a crushing win on 79% followed by Stuart Nash 12% and Damien O’Connor 9%
  • 2014 MP of the Year – an easy win to John Key on 85% with Hone Harawira on 16%



Mana and Internet Party split

December 14th, 2014 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

3 News reports:

The Mana Movement has split with the Internet Party as the pair’s controversial coalition comes to an end.

A letter has been sent to the Electoral Commission to formally close off the Internet Mana relationship after a disastrous election result.

The Mana Party were warned by many not to do it, and they paid the price. Without parliamentary funding, or funding from Dotcom, they will find it difficult to get back into Parliament. Making 5% is pretty much impossible, and Davis is likely to work hard at retaining his seat.


Fairfax Ratings

December 13th, 2014 at 5:30 am by David Farrar

Fairfax score the front benchers:

  • John Key 8.5
  • Bill English 8.0
  • Steven Joyce 8.0
  • Andrew Little 7.5
  • Paula Bennett 7.0
  • Grant Robertson 7.0
  • Jacinda Ardern 7.0
  • Kelvin Davis 7.0
  • Winston Peters 7.0
  • Jonathan Coleman 6.5
  • Annette King 6.5
  • Amy Adams 6.0
  • Phil Twyford 6.0
  • Chris Hipkins 6.0
  • Russel Norman 6.0
  • Te Ururoa Flavell
  • Christopher Finlayson 5.5
  • Metiria Turei 5,5
  • Tracey Martin 5,5
  • Simon Bridges 5.0
  • David Seymour 5.0
  • Carmel Sepuloni 4.5
  • David Clark 4.5
  • Gerry Brownlee 4.0
  • Hekia Parata 3.5
  • Peter Dunne 3.0
  • Nanaia Mahuta 2.5

I should mention that I strongly disagree with a few of these ratings. Christopher Finlayson at the same level as Tracey Martin is ridiculous, and they seem to be judging Hekia Parata on her 2012, not 2014, performance and achievements.


The Nation’s finale

December 12th, 2014 at 3:28 pm by David Farrar

The Nation is having a political extravaganza tomorrow with a year end Holmes style Christmas Party on live television. It’s on at 9.30 am Saturday and replayed Sunday at 10 am.

There will be 60 guests, including myself, talking about the year that is ending, and the year ahead. Those on the show include:

  • Shane Jones
  • Colin Craig
  • Jamie Whyte
  • Hone Harawira
  • Winston Peters
  • Andrew Little, Phil Goff and Jacinda Ardern
  • Nikki Kaye, Jami-Lee Ross and Paul Goldsmith
  • Metiria Turei
  • Jami-Lee Ross
  • David Seymour
  • Te Ururoa Flavell and Marama Fox
  • Ben Uffindell
  • Plus pundits galore

The official blurb is:

TV3’s The Nation comes to an end….for 2014.

This weekend, join hosts Lisa Owen and Paddy Gower to celebrate the weird and wonderful year that was, and look ahead to the delights 2015 could bring.

We’ll be at a festive location, getting into the Christmas spirit with politicians of all stripes, plus business leaders, commentators and Twitterati from the left, right and everything in between.

Forget “Jingle Bells”, Darren Watson of “Planet Key” fame will be belt out a tune or two…will Paddy join him on a tambourine? And Jeremy Corbett and Paul Ego will wish everyone a Merry Christmas in their inimitable style, and in just 60 seconds of course. Plus we’ve scoured the archives to bring you our pick of the best political moments of the past 12 months – find out who’s been naughty and who’s been nice.

So get out the mince pies and brace yourselves for a Christmas special like no other, with some of your favourite characters from the Beehive … and beyond.

I’m looking forward to drinking their champagne from 9.30 am!


Goff joins Collins at Sunday Star-Times

December 12th, 2014 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Jono Milne writes at the SST:

When we announced last week that Judith Collins would be writing a column for the Sunday Star-Times, it excited comment across the broadcast and digital media. …

Would we also be running a column from an MP in one of the other parties, asked a Green Party PR person, for balance? “Wait and see,” we replied, coyly.

Quick as a flash, the PR person moved the goalposts: “Cool, you got a Labour and Green MP signed up too? News to me,” she said, just a tad sardonically. Apparently it would now take two columnists from the left to take on just one Judith Collins.

The outrage on Twitter was hilarious.

A few Twitter users demanded our readers cancel their subscriptions. Three of them actually went through with their threats by emailing me their cancellations – though one refused to identify himself or herself in the email because, this correspondent said, the right wing had so corrupted journalism that the writer could not risk me knowing his or her identity. Without knowing the person’s name and address, it was rather difficult to cancel his or her subcription!

Paranoia at its best.

Indeed, there is plenty of healthy precedent for senior MPs writing columns for the country’s big papers – among them, David Lange, Simon Upton, Deborah Coddington, John Tamihere, Jim Anderton and George Hawkins.

So who has the SST got to balance Collins?

Finally, for those who believe commissioning Judith Collins was an outrage, I have more bad news … as foreshadowed, I’ve taken on a second MP, too. Phil Goff will go toe-to-toe with Collins in the Sunday Star-Times every week. Goff, once the leader of the Labour Party, has now been moved off new leader Andrew Little’s front benches. Like Judith Collins, he is freed of the constraints of collective responsibility – both of them can call it like they see it. If that means they sometimes criticise their own leaders, so be it. This weekend, the former foreign affairs minister will examine whether Kiwis should be allowed to go take up arms in foreign wars like those in Syria and Iraq.

This is hilarious as many on the left regard Goff as a right wing sell out. I look forward to more howls of outrage.

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Could have been a slogan for 2014!

December 12th, 2014 at 8:03 am by David Farrar

The Dom Post looks back to 1935:

The Dominion ran a series of political adverts warning about the consequences of a vote for Labour. One just before the election said: “Vote Sane, Vote Safe, Vote National.

Wouldn’t that have been a great slogan for the 2014 campaign?


$60 million too much for town hall upgrade

December 11th, 2014 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The Dom Post editorial:

Wellington faces a large earthquake-strengthening bill for many of its best-known buildings, none more so than the Town Hall.

Work on the ornate municipal building ground to a stop earlier this year after the projected cost ballooned to $60 million. When first mooted in 2011, it had been supposed to cost $34m. That hike saw some Wellington City Council leaders question whether saving the building was worth it.

We are a small city of just 75,000 ratepayers. The cost is likely to end up at around $1,000 per ratepayer. That is way too much.


2014 parliamentary stats

December 11th, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Some stats for the 2014 parliamentary year.

  • 70 sitting days
  • 73 bills passed into law
  • 13 Treaty settlements passed into law
  • 23 sitting weeks
  • 65 question times
  • 788 oral questions
  • 1409 sitting hours, including 126 hours under urgency
  • 9695 written questions

UPDATE: And 879 references to Cameron Slater in search results on the parliamentary website!


NZEI backs down

December 11th, 2014 at 7:13 am by David Farrar

The NZEI announced:

NZEI Te Riu Roa and the Ministry of Education have agreed to work together on a new initiative that will support children’s education at every level of their learning.

The agreement was reached yesterday and follows the overwhelming rejection by primary principals and teachers of the government’s $359m Investing in Educational Success scheme.

“This new initiative is a great win for children and for good education policy,” says NZEI Te Riu Roa National President Judith Nowotarski.

“It represents a positive way forward and has come about because teachers and principals kept true to our values of quality public education for all children.

“The agreement means we will now work with the Ministry in a genuine, collaborative way to identify and support locally-driven initiatives that put children at the centre of teaching and learning.

“Instead of a top down, one-size-fits-all initiative which is the IES, we will be going out to schools and early childhood education centres and actively finding out what works.

A member of the public could read the above and actually believe the spin about a new initiative and rejecting the IES. In reality this is window dressing, and the NZEI has done a not very graceful u-turn as scores of primary schools were signing up to the IES without their endorsement, and they were getting angry calls from members about not only missing out on the new positions, but also realising that they were unlikely to get any pay increases in the foreeseable future having rejected a $359 million package of extra funding for (mainly) salaries.

The IES which was agreed to by the PPTA, is significantly different from the original proposal in January. The Government and the PPTA negotiated in good faith on changes, and there were many (but not around the core principle). This so called new initiative will be close to a clone of the IES which they claim they rejected.

Labour of course campaigned against the IES, and are also trying to pretend this is not a backdown by the NZEI, but by the Government. Chris Hipkins said:

News that the Government has backed down and returned to the drawing board on its flagship ‘expert teacher’ policy will come as a welcome Christmas present to schools and teachers, Labour’s Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins says.

“Teachers throughout New Zealand will be pleased to hear the Ministry of Education is engaging with the profession on issues like increasing collaboration, improving student transitions and developing better career pathways.

“If the Government had taken this approach in the first place, there probably wouldn’t have been such strong opposition to their Investing in Educational Success (IES) plan.

“The NZEI should be congratulated for holding out for a better deal.

This is so amusing, it could be in a George Orwell book, alongside the declaration we have always been at war with Eurasia.

I’m glad the NZEI have seen sense. If they need to pretend that what they have agreed is something different to the IES so they don’t look silly, then that’s fine. The important thing is that great teachers and principals will have an opportunity to share their skills beyond their classrooms and schools, and be able to earn more money for doing so.

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Mana planning to stand in 2017

December 10th, 2014 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Yahoo News reports:

The Mana Movement is planning for the 2017 election and Kim Dotcom could be involved, leader Hone Harawira says.

That would be superb. Please make it so.

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Progress on online voting trial

December 10th, 2014 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Louise Upston has announced:

The Government has agreed to continue work to enable a small number of local authorities to trial online voting, Associate Minister of Local Government Louise Upston said today.

“The agreement to continue work is in response to requests from local government to trial online voting at the October 2016 local authority elections. The councils that may participate in a trial are still to be determined.”

Ms Upston said it is important to ensure the trial process is secure and fair so public confidence in the integrity of local elections can be maintained.

“It will be up to local councils to ensure the necessary groundwork is in place before any trial can go ahead. Any participating local authority will need to ensure governance and funding arrangements are in place, and ensure their communities are consulted with.”

Ms Upston said central government will maintain some oversight and will work with local government to establish the security requirements for an online voting technology solution. 

“I’ve asked the Department of Internal Affairs to continue to work closely with the local government sector to develop the necessary policy and technical requirements so that online voting could be trialled safely and securely.

Good to see progress on this issue. It would be good to have some local authorities trialling online voting in 2016, so people have the choice of returning their ballot paper by post or via the Internet.