Archive for the ‘NZ Politics’ Category

OUSA President praises @peace for Kill the PM song

September 2nd, 2014 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

OUSA President Ruby Sycamore Smith wrote in this week’s Critic:

We’ve launched an interview this week with HomeBrew and @peace artist Tom Scott. I had the pleasure of interviewing him and watching him be a part of the Enrolment Party that we hosted a few weeks ago (thank you Generation Zero and their enrolment support, and thanks to RockEnrol for stealing the spotlight on TV3). Tom Scott’s a talented and creative musician who is passionate about getting you out there to vote in these elections. Wake up to your rights as citizens 

in New Zealand. His mantra is fantastic, and he’s super cheeky about it. Recently he wrote a song entitled “Kill the PM.” Yes this is naughty, but I think the amount of media coverage and the huge slur around this is unnecessary, what about our rights as citizens to speak our own opinions. 

All the young women at Otago University might want to reflect on the fact their student president thinks a song expressing a desire to kill the Prime Minister and implicitly rape his daughter is just a bit naughty, and that criticism of the song is a slur, and that there is a right to express an opinion that you want to implicitly rape someone to piss off their father.

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Taxpayers’ Union bribe-o-meter now includes minor parties

September 2nd, 2014 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The Taxpayers Union announced:

We’ve added the Green, ACT, United Future and Conservative Parties to the ‘Bribe-O-Meter’ election costing page launched last month.  Excluding ACT and New Zealand First, the total election ‘bribes’ – that is new spending not already in the budget covering the next parliamentary term, equals $12.7 billion, or $7,486 per household.

We’re delighted that the Bribe-O-Meter is enabling Kiwis to judge for themselves the various bribes this election. With the addition of the minor parties voters can assess which political parties are offering taxpayers value for money.

Currently National’s election promises add up to $329 per household. The equivalent figure for Labour is $2,776, the Greens $2,893, United Future $1,253, and the Conservatives $236. ACT is in the negative, committing to cut spending by $6,876 per household.

A lack of detail in New Zealand First’s policy documents has made it impossible for the Union’s independent expert, Dr Michael Dunn, to calculate credible figures for the Party’s inclusion in the Bribe-O-Meter.  Public and private requests to New Zealand First have, to date, not resulted in amelioration. New Zealand First apparently just doesn’t have the information. It appears that Mr Peters makes promises to all and sundry, but no one at his office is adding up the cost.

These costings are independent of the parties’ and done by Dr Dunn who is a former head of forecasting at IRD. I think this is a vital service that taxpayers can understand how much extra spending parties are promising to spend on their behalf, funded by taxpayers.

It’s appalling that NZ First have such nonsense policies, that it is basically impossible to even cost them!

bribes

Note the above is a screen-shot. Use the link below to click through to get more details.

The bribe-o-meter is here. It will continue to be updated as parties continue to make promises about how they will spend your money.

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Greens wages policy

September 2nd, 2014 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

The Greens wages policy is here. Some extracts:

As a first step to restore workplace fairness, the Green Party will increase the minimum wage to $15 immediately, in December 2014. We will then raise it in $1 steps on April 1st each year, so that it reaches $16 on April 1 2015, $17 on April 1 2016, and $18 on April 1 2017.

They also want to abolish the starting off wage, so they want to make it illegal to hire a 16 year old for less than $18 an hour!

The minimum wage in NZ is very high compared to the median wage. It is set at 66%. This policy would see it go to close to 85% (less any increase in median wages by 2017). The Department of Labour estimates this policy would see 24,000 lose their jobs, and go onto welfare.

Treasury have said that the minimum wage in New Zealand is the highest in the OECD compared to the average wage (at 49%) and third highest compared to the median wage.

National has increased the minimum wage by 19% in six years. Combined with tax cuts, the after tax income of someone on the minimum wage has gone up 27%. Adjusted for inflation a minimum wage worker has had a real income boost of 11%.

There is no case for the massive increases in the minimum wage, proposed by the Greens. We already have almost the highest in the world compared to median and average wages.

The Green Party also supports the Living Wage Movement, which has established that a typical family needs a wage of $18.80 to buy the
basics and participate in society. In order to lead by example, the Green Party will pay the Living Wage to all core public service staff,
and require all relevant Government contractors to pay a Living Wage when their contracts come up for renewal.

This will mean a de facto $18.40 minimum wage for most of NZ. There are very few companies that don’t have a government agency as a client. If you run a photocopier business, and supply services to a government agency, then you’ll have to pay the 16 year old intern $18.40 an hour!

As another major step towards a more stable and secure future for workers, we will implement recommendations from business, Government and unions for a statutory minimum redundancy payment for all staff equivalent to four weeks’ pay

And as part of this:

These changes will give workers more stability, and discourage unnecessary restructuring. In the case of large-scale redundancies, we will also fund union delegates to work with staff for 3-6 months to support them through the transition

This is the real policy – to have taxpayers fund unions.

We will also incorporate pay ratios into Government procurement policies.

So the Greens in Government will ban companies from gaining Government contracts, even if they are the cheapest and best provider, if they think their CEOs are paid too much!!!

The Green Party will work with the Union movement to see how the terms and conditions of unionised workers can be extended to others in their industries, whether through the Council of Trade Unions’ Extension Bargaining model or other policies

De facto compulsory unionism to return!! Joy. And hey by coincidence those unions are major donors to parties on the left.

To tackle the unacceptable face of precarious work, the Green Party will introduce laws banning zero-hours agreements, as part of greater
regulation of hours of work.

This is insane. This means a company would have to pay casual staff, even when there is no actual work to do.

Increasing the minimum wage will cost $1.1 billion over three years, owing to higher Government staffing costs, especially in the health
sector. However, that will be offset by increased tax revenue from wages of $1.9 billion over three years.

This is economic failure of the highest kind. They are counting the extra tax from higher wages, yet have ignored the fact companies paying those higher wages will have smaller profits and pay less tax. And low paid workers pay tax at around 15% and companies at 28% so here’s the actual cost of this policy:

  • $1.1 billion in higher government staff costs
  • Extra PAYE tax from higher wages -$1.9 billion
  • Less company tax from lower profits – $3.5 billion

So the actual fiscal impact of this policy would be $2.7 billion, not the claimed $800 million savings.

Now think about the economic incompetence of a party that doesn’t realise that profits fall if wages increase. And think about how massive that deficit will be if these people are making economic decisions in a Cabinet!

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Heffernan says Labour’s power policy is nationalisation

September 2nd, 2014 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Doug Heffernan is not a fan of what Labour and the Greens plan to do to the electricity sector.

Dr Heffernan retired last Friday as chief executive of Mighty River Power after nearly 40 years in the industry, during which he witnessed radical structural changes.

He worked for the New Zealand Electricity Department and its corporatised successor, ECNZ. He was chief executive of Power New Zealand, before the local power companies were split into lines and retail energy businesses.

And he had been chief executive of Mighty River Power since it was carved out of ECNZ as a state-owned enterprise and latterly as a listed company under the mixed-ownership model. …

Under the NZED central planning model, nearly every generation investment decision was a bad one, he said, citing Marsden B (built to run on oil but which never generated a single kilowatt hour), the Clyde Dam with its massive over-runs and Huntly, designed to run on coal but which spent most of its life gas-fired.

“I’m old enough to remember the shortages in the 1970s because someone made the wrong decision about what plant to run. Same thing happened in 1992. We actually ran out of electricity,” he said.

California also has a single buyer model and they are warning they may need blackouts.

“That is what has surprised me over my career. To go from a position where you think the smartest brains would work out the best thing to do, to a system where a diversity of thinking has created far better outcomes.”

Dr Heffernan sees the single-buyer model as a form of nationalisation. “They say, yes, it is someone else’s capital but we will control the outcomes. That’s equivalent of having nationalised the industry.”

Of their many bad policies, this is arguably the worst. Even the man they cite as the inspiration for the policy, Frank Wolak, has lashed it as being a very bad move.

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PPTA on Investing in Educational Success

September 2nd, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

The PPTA has a blog post on some of the misinformation on the Investing in Educational Success initiative.  They state they are supportive of it because:

IES is a political initiative because it comes from the party that is in government and because it’s election year but its aims are entirely consistent with PPTA professional policy around such things as:

  • collaboration between schools

  • openness and the sharing of expertise

  • career paths –  especially for new and beginning teachers.

They deal with five myths being put out:

  1. That the proposal in the cabinet paper is the same policy that is now being negotiated – it has changed.
  2. That it will be mandatory – you can’t force people to collaborate
  3. No such role as a super principal – now called community of schools leadership role
  4. It is not performance pay – they are regular roles with an allowance
  5. There is no final agreement, just an interim agreement, which may lead to a proposal to take to members

Now the PPTA don’t say who is putting out the misinformation, but pretty easy to do a search on the Internet and find this release a few days ago from the NZEI:

The IES policy proposes the creation of four new roles, including an extra $40,000pa for “executive principals” and “expert teachers”, who would mentor and manage across a cluster of 10 schools, with the aim of lifting student achievement. “Change principals” and “lead teachers” would also be created.

So the NZEI is using role titles which they know are outdated, and no longer part of the proposal. But as they are acting in bad faith, they try to hoodwink their members and the public on what the current proposal actually is.

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Inquiries galore

September 2nd, 2014 at 6:52 am by David Farrar

There’s now three major inquiries underway in relation to the e-mails published in the Nicky Hager book, and subsequently.

Here’s my take on them.

  1. Police inquiry into the hacking of Cameron Slater’s messages. This is pretty straight forward in that the hacker has clearly broken the law, and off memory could face charges with a maximum seven years imprisonment if identified and convicted. What is less clear is whether Hager has broken any laws. Legal friends have suggested a case can be made for receiving stolen property.  IANAL so don’t know where this will end up.
  2. IGIS inquiry into the OIA release showing Phil Goff had not told the truth about being briefed about the Israelis in Christchurch. The Inspector-General has issued subpoenas and is taking evidence under oath, using the new powers granted by this Government and Parliament. I have confidence it will be a robust inquiry. I would point out that the inquiry is not about classified or secret information. It is about information that was deemed suitable to publish under the OIA. I’m not totally surprised that some people in Government *may* have got a bit talkative when informed that a document was going to be released directly contradicting a statement made by the Leader of the Opposition.
  3. Some sort of high level inquiry into the behaviour of the Minister responsible for the SFO in relations to the then Director Adam Feeley.  This is an appropriate issue for an inquiry, as it is about behaviour of a Minister in relation to their ministerial duties. It is not a criminal or legal matter. Arguably it could be an employment issues. The inquiry sounds like it will be robust headed by a retired Judge or QC, and have the ability to take evidence under oath.

Now David Cunliffe is calling for a Royal Commission of Inquiry into basically the entire Hager book. With respect, this is breathless hysteria that verges on McCarthyism. Labour thinks that the fact a press secretary and some MPs have had conversations with a blogger, is something that needs a Royal Commission of Inquiry. Seriously? Where would it end? Should this Commission of Inquiry require evidence from every media outlet in NZ, requiring their journalists to disclose under oath all their dealings with Whale Oil? Should all Labour MPs and candidates be required to do the same, or just National MPs? Why just dealing with one blogger? Should the inquiry include people who have ever talked to me? How about people who have talked to left wing blogs? You see why I call it verging on McCarthyism.  And this is from the party that won’t even confirm how many staff who work for David Cunliffe have blogged under a pseudonym at left wing blogs.

That is not to say some of the revelations in the e-mails are not disturbing. I don’t know if Mark Hotchin was involved in trying to undermine the SFO, because he was under investigation by them. If so, that is very serious. But it is a potentially criminal matter that the Police are capable of investigating, and I presume are already assessing the evidence to make appropriate decisions.

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Mana candidate lashes Dotcom

September 1st, 2014 at 7:07 pm by David Farrar

3 News reports:

Internet Mana candidate Georgina Beyer has gone rogue and come out swinging at her party’s so-called visionary, Kim Dotcom.

She says he’s pulling the strings and is in politics for all the wrong reasons – including revenge.

Internet Mana’s the party that’s big on going big – big names, big productions, big personalities. But now it seems it’s got big problems too.

“Who is pulling the strings? Well, the big man himself,” says Ms Beyer.

Ms Beyer, a former Labour MP and New Zealand’s first transgender MP, is Mana’s candidate in the southern Maori seat of Te Tai Tonga.

She believes Dotcom is tearing her party apart.

“His reasons for becoming involved in New Zealand politics in the way he has is one of retribution against people who he feels have slighted him,” says Ms Beyer.

If Georgina Beyer can work it out, why can’t Hone Harawira or Laila Harre? Maybe it’s the $4 million he has put into the parties they claim to lead.

Beyer also said that she has started to see the leader (Harawira) forfeit some of his strong held beliefs for the sake of political expediency. This presumably is a reference to his u-turn on cannabis law.

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Flavell massively ahead in Waiariki

September 1st, 2014 at 5:41 pm by David Farrar

A Maori TV poll just released of Waiariki has incumbent MP Te Ururoa Flavell on 50%, Annette Sykes from Mana on 21% and the Labour candidate on 17%.

Polls can be out, and Maori seats are hard to poll, but I think there is little doubt that the Maori Party will be back in Parliament. They are also marginally ahead in Te Tai Hauauru. I suspect Tamaki Makaurau may be very close also.

Depending on their party vote, they could get List MPs also. But I don’t think enough to make Tame Iti an MP!

 

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Stephen Berry on discrimination

September 1st, 2014 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

ACT candidate Stephen Berry blogs:

I was an audience member at Auckland’s LGBTI meeting last night. …

Unfortunately it was a poorly attended and largely dreary affair. In 21st century New Zealand politics, homosexuality is so acceptable as to hardly be an issue at all. We watched politicians from across the political spectrum largely agree with each other and Jamie set a new record for being in full agreement with Kevin Hague.

I’m not surprised.

Jamie’s message was spot on when he said that there should be no discrimination whatsoever by the state for any reason. I was glad when he bravely pointed out that this shouldn’t be applied to the sphere of individual’s private lives. Everyone, every day, discriminates against others for a host of minor reasons. If you’re approached by a man in a bar who you find physically unattractive you’d be likely to reject their advances based on that. I would hope nobody would suggest that you’re obligated to accept someone’s physical advances. The Human Rights Act could not possibly list all the different reasons private discrimination should be banned and it shouldn’t even begin to start. Freedom of association is far more important than hurt feelings at your company being rejected.

The difference between state discrimination and private discrimination is crucial.

I’m a proudly gay man at number 6 on the ACT Party list. I don’t know if being gay in itself is anything to be proud of, but I’m very good at it.

Heh.

Assessing some of the answers that were given at the LGBTI forum, I think the biggest danger to the “Rainbow Community” in terms of future discrimination is from itself.

Labour’s Kelly Ellis not only wants discrimination against transgender people banned under the Human Rights Act but the impression I got from her address is that she considers jokes about transgender people to be a form of discrimination in itself. I have to ask, how much freedom of speech does she want to eliminate in order to spare her feelings?

Beware candidates that think removing rights is how you protect rights.

Internet Mana’s Miriam Pierard suggested Parliament have a special representative from the “Rainbow Community” in Parliament (like a Gay Statutory Board?) and said she wanted feedback from others about the idea. I retorted it was a terrible idea and she said, “Well you don’t want a Ministry of Women’s Affairs either.” Exactly Miriam! 

ACT are consistent!

What the aforementioned politicians fail to grasp is the total invalidity of collectivism. I encountered it myself when I took part in a debate at AUT earlier in the day. The pro-compulsory student group politicians were complaining that students have lost their voice under voluntary student membership. I pointed at individual students watching in the quad and said that there is no way that student, and this student, and this other student all have one voice. They are individuals with their own hopes, dreams and visions for their own lives. They are not a blind block of drones standing in formation waiting for their leader to tell them what to say and think.

“We’ve all individuals.” … “I’m not!”

On a private social level, Government can never and should never try to eliminate discrimination. The only moral way to tackle discrimination at a private level is through social pressure and sanction. It is an approach I take myself. It will never be one hundred percent successful, but no measure ever taken by the state ever will be either. It is the moral way to deal with discrimination and leaves our right to decide who we choose to interact with intact.

Discrimination in employment and business services I view differently to discrimination by individuals.

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Party leaders on “family” issues

September 1st, 2014 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Family First have done a very interesting table showing the positions of the nine party leaders on 35 different moral, family and social issues.

It is perhaps no surprise that Colin Craig’s views align with Family First on 34 of 35 issues. 2nd is Winston Peters who is consistent on 27/35 issues.

Some of the issues:

  • Define marriage as one man and one woman – only Craig and Peters in support, all others opposed
  • Allow polygamy – Key, Peters, Craig opposed, Turei and Whyte undecided, others no response
  • Income splitting for parents – Whyte, Craig, Flavell, Peters, Dunne in favour. Key undecided. Turei, Harawira, Cunliffe opposed
  • Decriminalise abortion – Whyte, Turei, Dunne, Cunliffe support. Key, Criag, Peters oppose.
  • Decriminalise euthanasia – Whyte, Cunliffe support. Key partially support. Craig, Dunne opposed. Turei, Harawira, Peters undecided
  • Decriminalise cannabis – Whyte, Turei, Harawaira support. Cunliffe partially support. Craig, Flavell, Key, Peters Dunne oppose
  • Raise drinking and purchase alcohol age to 20 – Craig, Flavell support. Peters partial support.All others opposed
  • Liberalise Easter trading laws – Whyte, Key, Dunne support.
  • Three strikes legislation – Whyte, Craig, Key support. Peters partial support. Turei, Harawira, Cunliffe, Flavell, Dunne oppose

The degree of agreement with Family First for each leader is:

  1. Colin Craig 34/35
  2. Winston Peters 27/35
  3. John Key 11/35
  4. Hone Harawira 10/35
  5. Peter Dunne 10/35
  6. Metiria Turei 8/35
  7. Jamie Whyte 8/35
  8. Te Ururoa Flavell 5/35
  9. David Cunliffe 4/35

My personal alignment is 7/35 or 20%.

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Mallard on Chinese students

September 1st, 2014 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Most political parties turned out last week to the Great Immigration Debate at Eden Park in Auckland, where Labour MP Trevor Mallard said New Zealand was getting a reputation for letting in “fat, rich lazy, unintelligent Chinese students”.

If you know any Chinese students, make sure they know what Labour thinks of them.

UPDATE: Trevor Mallard has commented:

David the reason the media who were there didn’t pick up on it was that I was quoting Chinese Minister of Education in circa 2003 who felt we needed to lift our game because we were getting some of the wealthy but less talented students. His words not mine.

Useful clarification. I’d still make the point that repeating someone else’s words can sometimes be seen as agreement, depending on context.

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Oh dear

September 1st, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

The anti-smacking law is to blame for youth suicide, youth prostitution and even sexually-transmitted infections, a leading Conservative party candidate claims.

Maybe it is to blame for global warming also?

Edward Saafi, who is fifth on the Conservative list and would be elected if they break the 5 per cent threshold, has delivered the striking message during recent speeches at Tongan churches, Fairfax has learned.

“We are starting to recognise the incidence of suicide going up in Pacific communities, especially the Tongan community and people are starting to understand the lead-on from this legislation.

“Once you pass it, children, rather than doing what mum and dad says, they go and commit suicide. It opens up another thing they could do,” Saafi, who holds a doctorate in biomedicine, said.

Yeah those kids go off and commit suicide because they didn’t get disciplined! Inredible.

I’m not a fan of the anti-smacking law, and would amend it to allow light correctional smacking. But this argument is rather nuts.

Asked if he thought there was a direct link between the anti-smacking bill and youth suicide, Saafi said: “It’s just common sense, really. It’s our way of thinking parents have a role to look after their kids, including disciplining them. If the law tells the child that mum and dad can’t discipline you any more, they will do whatever they want, including these other alternatives like suicide. It’s quite appalling.”

Stephen Bell of Youthline, a youth mental health counselling service, said there was nothing to support Saafi’s views, and there had been a downward trend in youth suicide statistics since the law change in 2007.

“There is no evidence that links the two and I am quite horrified that someone will use the death of young people to try and rationalise or justify their particular view of the planet,” he said.

The overall suicide rate in 2011 was 10.6 per 100,000. That is the lowest it has been since 1985.

The youth suicide rate bounces around more. It was 19.3 in 2011 and was 15.2 in 2007.  But that was an unusually low year. For the last decade it has averaged in the 18s over every three year cycle.

Saafi said the legalisation of prostitution had led to children “sneaking off at night to get extra pocket money” and returning home with sexual infections, the treatment of which stretched their parents’ budgets as they paid medical bills.

First of all prostitution was not legalised. It has been legal for decades. It was solicitation that was legalised. And it is illegal for someone under 18 to be a prostitute.

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SSC on Collins and Feeley

August 31st, 2014 at 3:38 pm by David Farrar

Iain Rennie, the State Services Commissioner put out a release this morning. In it he said:

“Any activity that undermines, or has the potential to undermine, the trust and confidence in the public service to impartially serve the interests of the government and New Zealanders is a matter of concern to me.”

 “It is important that Chief Executives and Ministers mutually support each other to carry out their respective roles, in order to work together to serve the best interests of New Zealand and New Zealanders. Ministers are entitled to hold public servants to high standards of trust and performance and, in turn, should respect the role the public service plays.”

“I am therefore extremely concerned by an allegation that a Minister has associated with third parties to discuss influencing my assessment of a Public Service Chief Executive.  If true, this would be wholly unacceptable.”

“I told the Prime Minister’s Office that Judith Collins had a positive view of Mr Feeley’s  performance through her time as Minister responsible for the Serious Fraud Office.”

The relevant Ministers are consulted at least annually on how they view the performance of their respective CE’s.  This hardly looks like a Minister who was unhappy with their CE.

“The Commission has reviewed its documentation and sought the recollections of staff responsible for the SFO portfolio at the time in coming to this view.  This includes the period following the date of the email in October 2011 released today by the Prime Minister.  Earlier in 2011, Judith Collins had raised with me the appropriateness of Mr Feeley’s consumption of a bottle of champagne following a media inquiry.

“It was appropriate that she spoke to me about this matter and my view on the matter was released publicly at the time.”

A key thing to note here is that the raising of the issue around the champagne bottle occurred well before the e-mail. There was no information relayed to the SSC after the conversation referred to in the e-mail.

“Any campaign to undermine my confidence in Adam Feeley’s performance was entirely ineffective and unsuccessful.  He was a strongly performing Chief Executive through his tenure for his work in transforming the SFO and vigorously pursuing criminal conduct in respect of finance company collapses.”

I would be very happy to consider Mr Feeley’s return to the Public Service in the future.”

The key thing again to note is that Collins gave Feeley positive performance appraisals, which is incongruous with the suggestion she was gunning for him.

 

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Ben Uffendell op ed in the Herald

August 31st, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Ben Uffendell from The Civilian Party writes in the NZ Herald:

How you perceive this election really depends on your political allegiance.

If you’re a big National supporter, you’ve got nothing to worry about, and subsequently nothing to invest in.

If you hate National, there’s a high chance you think this is the most important election of our generation, that this is the most right-wing government in New Zealand history, and there’s a vague chance your house is bugged.

I envy you in your fantasy world, Martyn Bradbury, because if you’re absolutely anyone else, it’s boring.

Heh.

And it’s not just boring because it isn’t truly competitive; it’s boring because the issues I heard discussed on Thursday night were the same four or five issues I’ve heard discussed for the entirety of my life, and the changes being proposed in those areas – while significant in the context of the status quo – are actually very minor in the scale of possible change. Sometimes I just wish John Key would come out and say: “We’re selling it. We’re selling it all. Everything. To Burger King.”

McDonalds surely!

Perhaps I just wish our elections were more ambitious, less safe, bold, with no pale pastels.

There was a time when we had the courage and lack of foresight to completely overhaul our social and economic structures.

Whatever happened to that? We once had a Prime Minister who called an election while drunk. How have we fallen so far since then?

If it takes six years to balance a budget, and another six years to build some houses, then I’ll be long dead before anything exciting or significant happens.

Oh might not be that long. Think if there is a Government propped up by the Internet Mana Party and a Judge rules that Kim Dotcom can be extradited, meaning the decision then goes to the Minister of Justice.  Then you’ll have fireworks!

And if National or Labour don’t want to commit to actually changing anything, they could at least make us look interesting. Rebrand.

Get rid of the kiwi and replace it with a tiger or something. When we look at ourselves, do we really see a bird that can’t fly? Actually, maybe.

Or how about replacing the national anthem with something that has a smooth, hip-hop beat?

No one listens to the old one in their spare time, and half of it I don’t even understand what the words mean.

Hell, I don’t understand the Maori version, either.

Vote Civilian for a new national anthem!

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Hide on the election

August 31st, 2014 at 7:46 am by David Farrar

Rodney Hide writes in the HoS:

This election has been like watching the Bledisloe Cup. Just as the ball’s kicked off, the ball boys start a verbal. The cameras zoom in. The argument looks hot and bothered but it’s not the test.

The cameras stay fixed on the boys. Aargh.

We want the real game. That’s what we sat down for. Nicky Hager, Cameron Slater and Kim Dotcom are the ball boys in this election. They aren’t the game.

The real test is John Key versus David Cunliffe. At stake is who gets to run the government for three years.

We must decide whose judgment we want applied to the likes of the global financial crisis, the Canterbury earthquakes, the threat of international terrorism. It’s a big deal.

I wonder if even 10% of NZers could name a single policy released in the last two weeks?

Following September 20 either John Key or David Cunliffe will be Prime Minister. One will win and be running the country. The other will lose and be out on his ear.

It matters big time for the both of them. It matters big time for the country.

But whatever the result Kim Dotcom will still be facing extradition, Nicky Hager will be off writing his 2017 election bombshell and Cameron Slater will still be blogging.

The result doesn’t matter to them. They don’t run the country. We have had the sideshow. Let’s get back to the match that matters. Can we have our election back?

20 days to go.

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Herald on Herald and Slater

August 31st, 2014 at 7:12 am by David Farrar

Jared Savage writes:

Nearly three years ago, I wrote a front page story for the Weekend Herald which detailed how Adam Feeley, the head of the Serious Fraud Office, celebrated the criminal charges laid against Rod Petricevic by hosting a drinks function at which champagne belonging to Bridgecorp was served to SFO staff.

Judith Collins was the Minister in charge of the white collar crime agency and her staff did not return my calls before deadline, but promptly referred the matter to the State Services Commission after publication.

Blogger Cameron Slater wrote a post saying it was a “non story” but later changed his mind. To the best of my memory, I hadn’t ever spoken to “Whale Oil” before but contacted him as the story rolled into the next week.

So the Herald contacted Cameron, not vice-versa.

I knew he was well connected to Collins and was trying to find out what he knew.

At the same time, I received a few emails about what was happening inside the SFO office.

Most of it was flotsam and jetsam, interesting tidbits of unverified information or gossip which I decided against pursuing as angles.

I cut and pasted the content of some of those emails, to remove any possible identifying features, and forwarded them on to Slater. So information was shared, there was a bit of “horse trading”, we talked about developments as the story rolled along.

And in their own words they passed on unverified information and gossip to Whale Oil, for Cameron to run, in exchange for Cameron sharing inofmration with them in return.

This sometimes happens with journalistic sources and it’s naive to think otherwise. In total, I wrote six stories about the Feeley/champagne issue and Slater was not the source for any of them. I didn’t know that our conversations about Feeley were being shared with others, like PR man Carrick Graham – and that was naive of me to think otherwise.

Since then, I’ve kept in touch with Slater on-and-off over the years always armed with the knowledge that he comes with a right-wing agenda. There have also been some robust discussions about Herald stories which upset him, such as Luigi Wewege’s role in the Len Brown affair and Maurice Williamson’s links to Donghua Liu.

Journalists talk to all sorts of people about all sorts of stories, much of which is nothing more than rumour or innuendo. Our job is to sort the wheat from the chaff and publish what is accurate, fair and true.

And pass onto bloggers to publish that which isn’t true!

Now I actually agree with Jared. This is how the media world works. You trade information all the time. When I worked at Parliament I would constantly have discussions with journalists where we swapped information. As a blogger, this is still the case today.  Politics thrives and survives on this stuff. Helen Clark used to personally trade info and gossip with senior members of the press gallery on a regular basis. David Cunliffe’s closest advisor is a blogger at The Standard. His Chief of Staff has blogged at The Daily Blog. Three or four of his staff are former (possibly current) bloggers at The Standard.

And this is the point with the Hager book. He has selectively only shown the sharing of information between people on the “right” with Cameron Slater, to make it look like a conspiracy. It is no surprise that MPs and staffers sometimes talk to bloggers and share info with them, just as media themselves do. This is how it has happened for hundreds of years in politics.

I am not saying that means every individual action with regards to the sharing of information was wise or appropriate. Some clearly was not. But it was not a conspiracy or a concerted effort.  One could have published a breathless book on how the NZ Herald conspired with agents of Mark Hotchin to attack the Head of the SFO, and demand a Commission of Inquiry into the NZ Herald – if you were to take the least benign interpretation of the e-mails.

Again my point is for some consistency.

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Cameron Slater and the media

August 30th, 2014 at 3:11 pm by David Farrar

Collins2email

This is the e-mail released by the PM’s Office. Obviously it has impacted Judith Collins, but if you read the whole thing you’ll see it backs something I have said consistently.

Cameron deals with a huge range of people, including Labour MPs, Green MPs, and almost every media organisation in NZ. The book only showed you his interactions with people associated with National, but this e-mail includes media contact with no less than four different journalists. One specific quote:

I am maintaining daily communications with Jared Savage at the Herald and he is passing information directly to me that the Herald can’t run and so are feeding me to run on the blog.

Now let me say again that what Cam says in an e-mail is his interpretation of events. I regard Jared Savage as an excellent investigative reporter. But the e-mail does lead to questions being asked. How is media giving Cam stories, different to a press secretary doing so?

Now again what Cam has written is his interpretation. It may not be the literal truth of what Jared was doing. But here’s the thing – you need to be consistent. If you accept everything in the e-mails written by Cam as the literal truth, then the NZ Herald was feeding stories to Whale Oil, which they could not run in their newspaper. If you do not accept those e-mails as the literal truth, then why would you accept the ones about interactions with people in National as the literal truth?

Is the Herald going to say that everything Cameron wrote about his dealings with us is incorrect, yet everything else is correct?

Will other media subject Herald reporters and editors to the same level of inquiry that they have subjected others named in the hacked e-mails to?

As I said I have high regard for Jared Savage. The point I am making is consistency.

 

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Collins resigns

August 30th, 2014 at 12:05 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Judith Collins will lose her job in a matter of hours, the Herald understands.

Prime Minister John Key has changed his plans today in order to give a special media stand-up at 12.30pm.

Collins’ resignation comes after evidence emerged in the past 24 hours of her role in moves to discredit former SFO boss Adam Feeley.

It’s understood she has resigned in a bid to clear her name without damaging the election campaign.

My understanding is that there is no evidence that Judith Collins did do anything to discredit or pass on information about Adam Feeley. The e-mail is second hand, with someone else saying that Judith said she’ll pass on any information she has. As I have said many times in the past, taking everything said in e-mails between friends as a literal statement of the truth, rather than a mixture of bravado and exaggeration, is dangerous.

But kudos to Judith for apparently resigning, to stop this ongoing saga. A very very difficult call I am sure. My thoughts are with her. While the last six months has been a torrid time for Judith, I do think people will recall she achieved a huge amount as a Minister for five and a half years as Police, Corrections, ACC and  Justice Minister.

Judith Collins has announced:

This morning I informed the Prime Minister that I am resigning as a Minister from Cabinet.

A new allegation has come to light from an email conversation from 2011 between Cameron Slater and others suggesting I was undermining the then Director of the Serious Fraud Office. I was not party to this email or discussion and have only today been made aware of it.

“I absolutely and strongly deny this and any suggestion of inappropriate behaviour.  I am restrained in clearing my name while I am still a Minister inside Cabinet and I believe the right thing to do is to resign as a Minister so I am able to clear my name.

I have asked the Prime Minister for an Inquiry into these serious allegations so that my name can be cleared. I will, of course, cooperate with any Inquiry.”

“The Election should be focused on the issues that matter such as law and order, health, education and the economy and I do not want this matter to be a distraction for the Prime Minister or the National Party during the campaign.

“I am a strong advocate for the people of Papakura and I will continue to put the same passion and energy into representing them.

“I am getting on with my job as MP for Papakura and will campaign strongly for re-election this year.

The PM has said:

Prime Minister John Key today announced that Hon Judith Collins has resigned from Cabinet.

Mr Key says the resignation of Ms Collins followed the receipt of new information that raises allegations about Ms Collins’ conduct as a Minister.

“The relationship between a Minister and their Chief Executive is vital, and goes right to the heart of a trusted, effective government.

“This new information suggests Ms Collins may have been engaged in discussions with a blogger in 2011 aimed at undermining the then Director of the Serious Fraud Office. Ms Collins was the Minister responsible for the SFO at the time.

Mr Key released an email which had been recently been provided to his office.

“I have spoken with Ms Collins about the matters in the email, and she strongly denies any suggestion of inappropriate behaviour on her part.

“Ms Collins accepts these are serious allegations and that resigning as a Minister is the honourable step to take in these circumstances.

Mr Key says Ms Collins resignation takes effect immediately, and Hon Christopher Finlayson will be Acting Minister of Justice, Hon Craig Foss will be Acting Minister for ACC, and Hon Hekia Parata will be Acting Minister for Ethnic Affairs. 

 

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Williams suing NZ First

August 30th, 2014 at 11:45 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

NZ First MP Andrew Williams has started legal proceedings over being dumped from the party list ahead of the election.

Williams is seeking a declaration that the party breached its constitution when it determined the list, removing him as an electorate (East Coast Bays) and list candidate.

Williams had been ranked number 3 on the party list in 2011, and said he was given no reason for his demotion.

“I regret that I have no other option other than to take my party to Court to protect my reputation”, Williams said.

He had been “mistreated” by the party.

“I do not, however, wish to derail NZ First’s campaign, so I am asking for an urgent hearing following the election.

“As the matter is now before the Court, I do not intend to make further comment.”

Peters is notorious for not following his own rules. He unilaterally kicked Horan out, without even consulting his caucus.  Williams appears to have suffered the same lack of due process.

University of Otago law professor Andrew Geddis said the precedent in a case like this had ironically been set by Peters, when he was in the process of being dumped by National.

Do as I say, not as I do!

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Police and electoral law

August 30th, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Idiot/Savant at NRT blogs:

In 2007 Parliament passed the Electoral Finance Act. One of the changes it made to our electoral law, retained in the subsequent amendments, was to massively increase the penalties for electoral offences. The penalty for a corrupt practice was doubled, from one to two years imprisonment. That for an illegal practice was increased from a $3,000 to a $40,000 fine. The message was clear: Parliament took electoral offending seriously.

Meanwhile, police have stopped prosecuting them entirely.

According to an OIA sent via the FYI system, not a single case resulting from the last election or subsequent by-elections has resulted in prosecution. Instead, police have dealt with even clear cases of double voting with warnings. Eighteen months ago they hadn’t even done that, so its hard to see it as anything other than a conscious push to clear cases off the books, to tick the “resolved” box so the stats look good.

The police’s excuse is that offenders are mostly first-timers and that warnings are appropriate. That may be true in the case of double voters (but even so…). But its certainly not true in the case of political parties violating advertising and donations law.

The Police have failed to do anything for the 2005, 2008 and 2011 elections. Under my version of three strikes, they should be out, and prosecution should transfer to another entity. Even worse than their failure to investigate cases, is the fact they when they did investigate (in 2005) they totally misinterpreted the law, made the most basic errors, and didn’t even understand concepts such as strict liability.

It is time for things to change. When Parliament reviews the 2014 election, they should recommend that the Police no longer be the body to make decision on electoral law prosecutions. It should either go to Crown Law, or rest with the Electoral Commission itself. Also the Electoral Commission should have the power to issue minor fines for minor breaches.

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Another Internet-Mana meltdown!

August 30th, 2014 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

3 News reports:

The Internet Mana Party has had another media blowout, with Hone Harawira stopping an interview and walking off after just one question.

Mr Harawira refused to talk about his party’s U-turn on cannabis and would only take questions on a Te Tai Tokerau candidates’ debate.

He was once one of Parliament’s toughest opponents to cannabis, but Mr Harawira has flip flopped. Mana now wants to see decriminalisation – fitting with the preferred position of Kim Dotcom’s Internet Party.

Looks like $4 million doesn’t just buy you some candidates, but also some policies!

To understand how massive Hone’s u-turn is, consider that in March Hone said he wants to execute legal high sellers.

Also in March, the Herald reports:

Mr Harawira said he did not agree with Mr Dotcom’s policy that marijuana should be decriminalised.

Yet now he does. We knows who calls the shots now.

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Should rural broadband be funded by taxpayers or telcos?

August 29th, 2014 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

National announced this week a further $100 million for regional broadband. I certainly welcome the investment, as I have welcomed the investment in fibre to 75% of NZ. I think there are overall benefits to NZ by having a fast connected country.

But there is one part of National’s policy I am not so comfortable with. The fibre to the home initiative is funded by the NZ Government, ie taxpayers. As I said, confortable to have some taxpayer investment in infrastructure.

But the $100 million for rural broadband will be funded by extending a levy on telecommunications companies. And this money will go from them, to possibly their competitors. I’m not so keen on this.

If there is a case for better rural broadband (and there is), then it should be funded by the Government (taxpayers), not by a levy on telcos.

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SST analysis of three strikes

August 29th, 2014 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

The Sensible Sentencing Trust has done an analysis of the three strikes legislation (which may be gone if the Government changes). As at the end of 2013, the stas are:

  • 1st strikes 3,721
  • 2nd strikes 29
  • 3rd strikes 0

It’s great to see so few second strikes, and that so far there have been no third strikes.

They have a profile of the 24 2nd strikers:

  • 100% have numerous prior convictions as adults. And these are not for minor offences. They include burglary, male assaults female, possession of offensive weapons, robbery, aggravated robbery, indecent assault, theft and many others.
  • 46% have prior convictions for ‘strike’ offences before Three Strikes taking effect on 1 June 2010. Because Three Strikes was not implemented ‘retrospectively’ these prior offences do not count as ‘strikes’ against their record.
  • The average age of second strikers is just under 26 years, and all but one are men. The youngest second striker is 19 years old, and the oldest 45 years old, at the time of second strike sentence.
  • 67% received a sentence of imprisonment for their first strike offence/s. Of those imprisoned, the average term was 14% of the maximum available. The average term imposed was 20 months.
  • 38% of first strikers committed their first strike offence while on bail, parole or while still subject to sentence.
  • 67% of second strikers committed their second strike offence while on bail, parole or while still subject to sentence.
  • 92% received a sentence of imprisonment for their second strike offence/s. Of those imprisoned for their second strike offence/s, the average term was 24% of the maximum available. The average term imposed was 35 months. The term imposed is served without parole or early release under the three strikes law.
  • 67% committed their second strike offence while on bail, parole or while still subject to sentence.

The fact that 38% of second strikers committed their first strike whole on bail or parole is telling.

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Auckland rates to go up up up

August 29th, 2014 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Auckland Mayor Len Brown is talking of selling council carparks and naming rights to swimming pools to help balance the books in his new 10-year budget.

Mr Brown released his first draft of the budget yesterday, which contains overall rates rises of 2.5 per cent in the first two years and 3.5 per cent thereafter.

But due to a plan to reduce business rates at the expense of households, residential rates will increase by about 3.5 per cent in the first two years and 4.5 per cent over the next six years.

A Mayoral candidate in 2016 pledging that rates will not increase faster than inflation will easily win I’d say.

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Stuff that matters – cancer treatment

August 29th, 2014 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Tony Ryall announced:

If your doctor suspects you have cancer, the Government will ensure you see a cancer specialist and receive treatment faster than ever before. …

“We inherited cancer services which were failing New Zealanders. Patients were waiting months for treatment and some had to travel to Australia because of lengthy delays here. Thankfully those days are over – all patients now receive radiotherapy and chemotherapy treatment within four weeks of being ready to treat.

“We will build on our successful plan and introduce a new national health target which will ensure cancer patients receive their diagnostic tests, surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy even faster.

“If your GP suspects you have cancer, you should see a cancer specialist within two weeks. Diagnostic tests and clinical investigations will be completed in a faster, more streamlined way and our goal is for patients to receive their first cancer treatment within a maximum 62 days of their original GP’s referral.

“The new target is much broader than the current cancer health target, which focuses on how long patients wait to start their chemotherapy and radiotherapy when ready to treat. The current cancer target didn’t include surgery, which is often the first treatment step for patients, or the time patients wait to see a cancer specialist and have tests done.

“The maximum 62 days is an international gold standard for cancer treatment. Currently in New Zealand around 60-65 per cent of patients receive their first cancer treatment within this time.

“The new target will be for 90 per cent of patients to receive their first treatment within a maximum 62 days of seeing their GP by June 2017.

This is stuff that matters.

Cancer waiting times were abysmal under the last Government. Not on purpose, but because the health system had little clear focus. With something like 100 different health targets, it was a mess.

Ryall has managed to focus the health system on a few achievable but very important targets such as faster treatment for cancer, more immunisations, quicker A& visits, more elective surgery, better quit smoking help, and more health checkups. And the great thing is that doctors and nurses and health managers have shown an ability to meet, and sometimes exceed, these targets when they are have a clear focus.

This stuff literally saves lives.

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