Archive for the ‘NZ Politics’ Category

The Nation – 28 February 2015

February 27th, 2015 at 9:45 pm by Kokila Patel

Its boots on the ground… kind of. With the announcement that New Zealand is sending trainers to Iraq, 3News political editor Patrick Gower sits down with Prime Minister John Key to find out whether he expects retaliation, how long we’ll be there, and what the end goal is.

Then, as Australians fight abroad – and in the Liberal Party caucus –  Lisa Owen interviews Foreign Minister Julie Bishop about Iraq and whether Tony Abbott is on his way out.

And what is it actually like on the front line? We talk to a British man fighting with Kurdish forces about what’s really needed to defeat Islamic State and what happens if he gets captured.

We’ll discuss all this and more with our panel: Victoria University political scientist Jon Johansson and public relations consultant Matthew Hooton.

The Nation on TV3, 9.30am Saturdays and 10am Sundays.

Check us out online, on Facebook or on Twitter. Tell us what you think at thenation@mediaworks.co.nz or text 3330.

The Nation is proudly brought to you by New Zealand on Air’s Platinum Fund.

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Caption Contest

February 27th, 2015 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

oweek

Photo taken at O Week at Otago. As always captions should be funny, not nasty.

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Wairarapa businesses on amalgamation

February 27th, 2015 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

The Wairarapa Times-Age reports:

The Wairarapa Chamber of Commerce is backing the super-city model.

In a statement on Wednesday, chief executive Steph Gundersen-Reid said their surveys showed 65 per cent supported the Local Government Commission’s draft proposal to create a Greater Wellington Council.

“We’ve listened to our members and engaged with the business community across the Wairarapa,” she said.

“Many of them support the proposal and understand that we must seize the opportunity to benefit the Wairarapa.”

Their surveys, conducted since December 2014, showed that most were in favour of some form of change to the current model.

A reader has e-mailed me some correspondence with the Chamber, which details they had a 20.6% response rate from their approx 220 members.

That means 45 replies.

The margin of error on 45 responses out of 220 for a 65% support is 12.5%.

To have the normal 95% confidence level, a sample of 136 would be needed. So the results are indicative but not conclusive.

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Peters standing in Northland

February 27th, 2015 at 12:21 pm by David Farrar

As expected Winston Peters has announced he is standing in Northland, despite living in Auckland Central.

A key point is that as Peters is already an MP, if he did win, then NZ First gains an additional MP, who is their candidate for Invercargill.

So a vote for Peters is a vote for one fewer MP in Northland and one extra MP in Invercargill.

National’s selection is tomorrow night. It will be a decision of 120 local members, rather than executive fiat.

UPDATE: Peters say he has always been very concerned for Northland. If that is the case I look forward to media asking him why his party didn’t even bother to stand a candidate in Northland not just in the 2014 election, but also 2011 and 2008! Yes his party has not even stood there for the last three elections, and he claims to care about it.

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Professor Robert Ayson on Islamic State conflict

February 27th, 2015 at 10:59 am by David Farrar

Professor Robert Ayson (Strategic Studies, VUW) writes in the Herald:

And this brings us to the national interests that should be motivating New Zealand’s concern about ISIS internationally and its commitment to the coalition.

One is that we have an interest in the preservation, where it is possible, of the idea that recognised nation states (like us) retain a domestic monopoly on the use of force and that non-state groups (like ISIS) are denied that opportunity.

A second is that we have an interest in the preservation, where it is possible, of the international boundaries which separate one nation state from another and in preventing armed groups from violating those points of demarcation. The caliphate idea of ISIS is a direct challenge to this standard.

A third is our awareness that an unstable Middle East, where governments fear for their continuing existence, presents particular dangers to international security.

We talk rightly of Asia’s importance to New Zealand, and of the South Pacific’s, but the deployment of our forces much further afield often tells a different picture.

A fourth is that it is against our interests for a group such as ISIS to continue violent actions in Syria and Iraq which are then used to inspire overseas recruits and sympathisers, including to a very limited extent within New Zealand itself.

A fifth is that New Zealand needs a world where a significant number of states are willing, when it is necessary, to use force in the promotion and protection of collective interests.

A sixth is that we need leading western powers, who share many of our interests and values, to be willing to take leading roles in this endeavor. This does not mean we are going to Iraq because of some price of some club.

 

He continues:

I assume there are occasions when the use of force is both necessary and has some utility. Force can be a blunt instrument with unintended consequences. I cannot guarantee to you, and neither can the government, that things will be hugely better once the military campaign has been completed.

Nor can I guarantee that, once trained, the Iraqi forces will do their job nearly as well as we might wish. But I am convinced that it is not possible to deal with ISIS, at least in the short term, without the use of force being part of the approach.

Andrew Little’s talk of reconstruction and agriculture as a substitute for force is nonsense. You need both those things – but as well as force. ISIL will not give up dreams of a global caliphate because Iraq develops better agriculture.

Could there be blowback? Absolutely. But can we reduce the threat that ISIS poses to our interests and values without someone using force against it? I don’t think so.

So the only question is whether we just rely on everyone else for that force, or if we contribute a small amount through training.

But in baiting that trap the Opposition created one for themselves. They ended up in a position where there unwillingness to support even the dispatch of NZ forces for training undermined any sense that they regarded ISIS as a problem really worth worrying about.

As they have no solution, one can only assume they don’t see it as a problem.

They gave the clear impression that whenever someone mentions Iraq, it is all about reliving New Zealand’s correct decision not to join the 2003 invasion.

But now is not then. Same part of the world yes, but a different problem. Did that invasion create some of the conditions that ISIS has taken advantage of? Yes.

Does that guarantee that the use of force now will worsen the situation, and make ISIS stronger not weaker? I don’t think so. Should New Zealand be part of that effort? For me, the answer is yes.

You can be against the 2003 invasion, but in favour of military force against the Islamic State.

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Mona Dotcom confirms Internet Party funding was to help with extradition

February 27th, 2015 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

The High Court in Auckland has also heard that Mona Dotcom was initially hesitant to donate money to the Internet Mana political party, at her husband’s suggestion, but eventually agreed the family trust would give $400,000. …

She believed Dotcom’s claims that his involvement with the Internet Mana party would eventually relieve the family of his threat of extradition, she said.  

This confirms what we all suspected but was denied by Dotcom.

The shame should fall on Laila Harre and Hone Harawira. They took millions from Dotcom to try and get into Parliament (or remain there), and must have known his motivation or quid pro quo was help with his extradition case. Dotcom’s wife confirms this is why he was doing it.

A multi-millionaire tried to buy his way out of extradition through a pet tame political party, and Hone, Laila and John Minto all lined up at the trough.

Hat Tip: Pete George

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MP salaries

February 27th, 2015 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

The Remuneration Authority has announced the new salaries for MPs, backdated to July 2014.

A key para is:

In 2014, the Authority’s payline at the level for ordinary members increased by 3.3%. For this year, the personal benefit of the travel entitlement to members and their families has been assessed at $3,200 per member, a reduction in the amount assessed in previous years, which takes into account tightened provisions around the personal use of travel by family members. Taking into account the change in value of the travel entitlement, this produces a package increase of 3.56% and a salary increase for ordinary members of 5.5%.

So a 3.6% increase. All pay rises for MPs are unpopular but with inflation at below 1% this one will be more so.

The MPs only have themselves to blame though. On multiple occasions I have submitted that the law should be changed so that the Remuneration Authority sets salaries for an entire parliamentary term, rather than annually. There is no need for annual adjustments in a low inflation environment. They should be set three months before each election and apply for the whole term.

Maybe the backlash to this increase, will finally see a change. I don’t begrudge MPs getting well remunerated for what can be very tough roles. But they go through a needless annual round of pain and vitriol by having annual increases.

MP Salaries

This shows the new salaries for each type of MP, and the increase in total salaries which is $1.22 million more.

Of interest is the Labour Deputy Leader and Senior Whip get paid more than the Green and NZ First party leaders.

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Redesigning NZ Super

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

Michael Littlewood from the Retirement Policy and Research Centre has a commentary on redesigning NZ Superannuation. He says (and I agree) that we should not just look at one issue in isolation or just the cost.

He highlights eight key design features that should be agreed on. They are:

  1. Universal or means-tested (I favour means-tested if the administrative costs of doing so are not prohibitive)
  2. Age of entitlement (I favour increasing it and tying it to life expectancy)
  3. Residency test – how long should someone live here to quality. The current threshold is ten years and I think it should be higher. It used to be 25 years.
  4. The level. Currently is 43% of the net average wage for a single person. Set at 66% of  the after-tax national average wage for a couple.
  5. How to revalue? Is indexed to both CPI and the average wage.
  6. How to pay for it? Pay as you go and partially pre-funded. Should it be both? What should the mix be?
  7. Payments to single people? Why does a married couple get less than two singles living together?
  8. Overseas pensions? The rules for deducting overseas pensions are inconsistent

ACT’s proposal to have an expert panel devise a number of schemes that would go to a vote, would be one way we could have a debate on, and decide these issues.

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Tindall says halt port expansion

February 26th, 2015 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Auckland business leader Sir Stephen Tindall is making a last-gasp plea to Auckland Mayor Len Brown and councillors to halt further reclamation of the Waitemata Harbour for port use until a full study of the economic, social and environmental impacts is complete.

In an open letter to Mr Brown and councillors this morning, Sir Stephen is calling on the politicians to use all their powers to stop two large wharf extensions into the harbour at the end of Bledisloe Wharf.

I’m against extending it further into the harbour. In fact I think long-term it should be moved – I don’t care where to, just out of the CBD and prime waterfront space. There are far far better things you can do on a CBD waterfront than store cars and logs.

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Parliament 26 February 2015

February 26th, 2015 at 1:43 pm by David Farrar

The order paper is here.

Oral Questions 2.00 pm – 3.00 pm

  1. IAN McKELVIE to the Minister of Finance: What progress is the Government making in building a more competitive and productive economy as one of its priorities for this term of Parliament?
  2. Hon ANNETTE KING to the Minister of Health: What advice has he received on the Health budget for 2015/16?
  3. SCOTT SIMPSON to the Minister for Social Development: What reports has she received on the latest valuation of the benefit system?
  4. JAMES SHAW to the Minister of Finance: Does he have confidence that the New Zealand Superannuation Fund is living up to its commitments to ethical investment as outlined in its Responsible Investment Framework?
  5. KANWALJIT SINGH BAKSHI to the Minister of Transport: What work is the Government doing to provide better transport connections between Auckland International Airport and the Greater Auckland area?
  6. CHRIS HIPKINS to the Minister of Education: Does she stand by her decision to approve the Whangaruru Partnership School; if so, why?
  7. JACQUI DEAN to the Minister for Primary Industries: What Government support is available for farmers and growers along most of the East Coast of the South Island since a medium-scale adverse event was declared on 12 February 2015?
  8. DENISE ROCHE to the Minister for Workplace Relations and Safety: Should the minimum wage be enough to live on?
  9. Hon PHIL GOFF to the Minister of Defence: What rules of engagement, if any, has the Government set for the New Zealand Defence Force personnel operating in Iraq if they come under attack?
  10. TRACEY MARTIN to the Minister for Food Safety: What reports, if any, has she seen regarding food safety issues in kindergartens, play centres and kōhanga reo?
  11. Hon DAMIEN O’CONNOR to the Minister for Primary Industries: Does he have confidence in his department?
  12. BARBARA KURIGER to the Minister for Women: What reports has she received relating to the prevention of family and sexual violence in New Zealand?

National: Five patsies on the economy, benefits, Auckland transport, drought and sexual violence

Labour: Four questions on health budget, charter schools, Iraq and biosecurity

Greens: Two questions on NZ Super Fund and minimum wage

NZ First: One question of food safety

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

Appropriation (2013/14 Confirmation and Validation) Bill – 1st reading

This bill confirms and validates unappropriated expenditure and validates excess net asset holdings for the 2013/14 financial year.

Introduced: December 2014

This bill is not debated.

Exclusive Economic Zone and Continental Shelf (Environmental Effects) (Transitional Provisions) Amendment Bill – first reading

The bill amends the Exclusive Economic Zone and Continental Shelf (Environmental Effects) Act 2012 (the EEZ Act) to overcome unintended effects of Section 162 of by allowing existing petroleum operators who have applied for a marine consent to continue their operations until the application is decided and any subsequent objections or appeals are determined.

Introduced: February 2015

The debate can be up to two hours.

Drug and Alcohol Testing of Community-based Offenders and Bailees Legislation Bill – first reading

The bill amends the Bail Act 2000, the Sentencing Act 2002 and the Parole Act 2002 to enable the Department of Corrections and the New Zealand Police to require community-based offenders and bailees, if they are subject to conditions prohibiting the use of drugs or alcohol, to undergo drug and alcohol testing to ensure compliance with these conditions.

Introduced: July 2014

The debate can be up to two hours.

 

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Hands free?

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

The Herald reports:

Mr Cunliffe confirmed to the Herald that he “made a cellphone call or two” on loudspeaker while driving to Massey University in Palmerston North.

“A cop pulled me over, I got an infringement notice and I regret it,” he said.

Mr Cunliffe said the phone was on “hands-free” mode and he “didn’t realise it was an offence”, though he clarified that he was holding the phone with one hand.

Umm, the definition of hands-free is that it is not in your hand!

Personally I think the law is a stupid one. The law should be about if you are driving safely and not distracted, rather than singling out specific devices such as phones. Eating a pie can be just as distracting, for example.

But not a good idea for MPs to break the laws they passed.

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Good crowd sourcing by the Herald

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

The Herald reports:

The New Zealand Herald has today launched an experiment in crowdsourcing following the release of donations and expenses’ returns for candidates at the 2014 general election.

The Electoral Commission has published returns for all 462 candidates, including all 121 current members of Parliament. Donations and expenses for candidates from the previous 2011 election are also available.

This is an enormous potential dataset and the Herald has uploaded nearly 900 documents to its own microsite, Money in Politics, allowing members of the public to interact with and analyse the data.

That’s a smart move. Going through 900 returns would take one reporter ages and drive them to suicide. But many people wil be happy to read through one or two and summarise them.

So far 468 out of 473 donation returns for 2014 have been done.  But only two out of 473 expense returns.

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Dom Post editorial repeats lie twice

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

The Dom Post editorial asserts:

And indeed charter schools do not operate on a level playing field.

They appear to get much more money per pupil than most state schools. …

They receive more money than state schools and therefore their pupils do better.

Once upon a time an editorial may have opinions you would disagree with, but its fact would not be incorrect. Now it seems an editorial thinks if you repeat a lie twice, then that makes it okay.

The Ministry of Education has a site that shows the actual funding for two partnership schools, compared to state schools of similar size and decile.

The decile 3 primary charter school receives $647 a student less funding than a comparable state school.

The decile 3 secondary charter school receives around 1,142 a student less funding than a comparable state school.

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No need for Sepuloni to be stood down

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

Stuff reports:

Labour leader Andrew Little has stood down his welfare spokeswoman Carmel Sepuloni after her mother was accused of benefit fraud.

Little said there was an obvious conflict of interest.

I don’t think there is a conflict of interest. Sepuloni is not responsible for what her mother does. Unless there is some reason to think Sepuloni knew her mother was allegedly fraudently claiming a benefit, then it is nothing to do with her.

TVNZ reported her mother Beverley Anne Sepuloni faced 19 benefit fraud charges and would appear in the New Plymouth District Court tomorrow.

It said she was accused of claiming the sickness benefit in 2006 when she shouldn’t have and applying for a disability allowance when she shouldn’t.

“It’s alleged she claimed rent subsidies between 2003 and 2010 which she wasn’t entitled to. And she’s also accused of failing to tell welfare officials – for 10-and-a-half years – that she was living with a partner,” TVNZ reported.

The court process needs to take place for Mrs Sepuloni, but I don’t think there is any need for Miss Sepuloni to stand down as spokesperson. At most she just needs to avoid commenting on the specific case.

Little said Sepuloni would be reinstated regardless of the outcome of any charges against her mother.

So why stand down?

One can only have sympathy for Sepuloni. Having a parent charged with an offence would be embarrassing for anyone, let alone when you are an MP. But no one will reasonably think it reflects on her at all.

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Vanguard Military School academic results

February 25th, 2015 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Been sent the academic results for the Vanguard Military School, one of the five charter schools. Their results are hugely impressive, especially when you consider that many of their students wer estruggling in other schools.

Their results are:

  • 96% achieved NCEA Level 1, compared to 83% nationally
  • 100% achieved NCEA Level 2, compared to 87% nationally
  • 100% of Asian students achieved NCEA Level 1, compared to 85% nationally
  • 100% of European students achieved NCEA Level 1, compared to 89% nationally
  • 92% of Maori students achieved NCEA Level 1, compared to 71% nationally
  • 100% of Pasifika students achieved NCEA Level 1, compared to 69% nationally
  • 97% of Year 11 students achieved literacy standard, compared to 90% nationally
  • 95% of Year 11 students achieved numeracy standard, compared to 88% nationally
  • 100% of Year 12 students achieved literacy standard, compared to 95% nationally
  • 100% of Year 12 students achieved numeracy standard, compared to 94% nationally

For some reasons Labour and Greens remain determined to close down schools like Vanguard.

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Herald on troops decision

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

The Herald editorial:

No New Zealand government should commit troops to a war zone without a clear awareness of the ramifications. In the case of the fight against the Islamic State, the consequences could be particularly grim.

The barbaric treatment of prisoners signals the fate of any New Zealander who falls into its hands. Then there is the manner in which New Zealand’s involvement will heighten the chances of terrorism on home shores. Finally, there is the reality that our troops will make little difference in a conflict that defies easy answers. Nonetheless, the Government has made the right call in committing more than 100 regular soldiers to a non-combat training mission at Taji Camp, north of Baghdad.

The editorial continues:

The most powerful reason for sending soldiers is the just nature of the cause. Whatever the doubts about the Iraqi Government and the eventual make-up of the region, an entity as evil as the Islamic State cannot be left to flourish. In the past few weeks, the increasingly horrific nature of its behaviour has confirmed that. The international community cannot allow atrocities to proceed unchecked.

This is the key point. And the proposal by Andrew Little that you’ll defeat ISIL by reconstruction projects, not military force, is possibly the stupidest thing he has ever said.

The decision to send troops comes at a time of emerging consensus on how the Islamic State can be eliminated. Its ideology requires continuing territorial expansion. If that does not happen, it will stagnate, losing much of its allure, especially to potential recruits in Western countries.

Good to see the Herald has picked up that key fact, of territory being vital to their success. They are very different to Al Qaeda.

Achieving that containment need not involve major battles. It can be realised by continued aerial bombing and stronger resistance by the ground forces arrayed against the Islamic State, especially the Iraqi army.

Therein lies the role of the New Zealand troops. They may not be crucial to a final victory. But they will personify, once more, their country’s willingness to stand up for what is right.

Doing nothing is, in my opinion, simply wrong.

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Parliament 25 February 2015

February 25th, 2015 at 11:43 am by David Farrar

The order paper is here.

Oral Questions 2.00 pm – 3.00 pm

  1. METIRIA TUREI to the Prime Minister: Does he stand by his statement “Get some guts and join the right side”?
  2. ANDREW BAYLY to the Minister of Finance: What are the features of the new social investment approach the Government will use in Budget 2015 and in future Budgets?
  3. ANDREW LITTLE to the Prime Minister: Does he stand by his statement that “We recognise ISIL is not a short-term threat and there is a lot of work to be done in the long-term”; if so, does he accept this means New Zealand’s deployment may last longer than two years and involve more than training?
  4. Dr SHANE RETI to the Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment: What reports has he received about employment growing across New Zealand?
  5. GRANT ROBERTSON to the Minister of Finance: Does he stand by all his answers to Oral Question No 4 on Tuesday, 24 February 2015?
  6. TODD MULLER to the Minister for Social Development: What is the Government doing to support older New Zealanders receiving New Zealand superannuation?
  7. PHIL TWYFORD to the Minister for Building and Housing: Does he agree with KPMG that banks are warning that the “significant deals done at ridiculous pricing” for New Zealand land and property could spell disaster for them?
  8. SARAH DOWIE to the Minister for Small Business: What measures has the Government implemented to support small businesses in accessing the Government procurement process?
  9. RICHARD PROSSER to the Minister for Primary Industries: Does he stand by all his statements?
  10. Hon DAVID PARKER to the Prime Minister: Does he stand by the statement made on his behalf last year about his contact with Mr Liu that: “As Prime Minister and the leader of the National Party, Mr Key attends a number of functions up and down the country which are attended by a large number of people. While we don’t have a record of who attends these events, Mr Key recalls seeing Mr Liu at various functions, including a dinner as part of a National Party fundraiser”?
  11. CATHERINE DELAHUNTY to the Prime Minister: Does he stand by his statement “we’re actually going to stand up for human rights…”?
  12. Dr DAVID CLARK to the Minister for Economic Development: What was the “range of price escalation” for the New Zealand International Convention Centre as recorded in advice to the Minister dated 26 February 2014?

National:Four patsies on social investment, employment, NZ superannuation and small businesses

Labour: Five questions on Iraq, Minister of Finance standing by his answers, house prices, Liu donation and Sky City

Greens: Two questions on Iraq and human rights

NZ First: One question on MPI Minister standing by his statements

General Debate 3.00 pm – 4.00 pm

A debate with 12 speeches of up to five minutes.

Local Bills 4.00 pm – 6.00 pm 

Manukau City Council (Regulation of Prostitution in Specified Places) Bill – second reading

The Bill authorises the (now Auckland) Council to make bylaws specifying places in the district where the business of prostitution or commercial sexual services may not occur otherwise than in a brothel or a small owner-operated brothel.

Introduced: August 2010
1st reading: September 2010, passed 82-36 on a personal vote
Select Committee report: The Local Government and Environment Select Committee recommended the bill not be passed on the basis the matters covered are not appropriate for a local bill, and that existing bylaws can be used

A debate of up to two hours.

Members’ Bills 7.30 pm – 10.00 pm

Parental Leave and Employment Protection (Six Months’ Paid Leave) Amendment Bill – third reading

The bill amend the Parental Leave and Employment Protection Act 1987 to extend paid parental leave to from a maximum of 14 to 26 weeks. It is in the name of Labour’s Sue Moroney.

Introduced: April 2012
1st reading: July 2012, passed 61-60 with National and ACT against
Select Committee report: February 2014: no agreement on whether it should proceed or be amended due to 3-3 split between National and Labour MPs
2nd reading: May 2014, passed 61-60 with National and ACT against
Committee of the whole House: December 2014, passed  with a number of amendments by Sue Moroney defeated 60-61 with National and ACT against

A debate of up to two hours.

Register of Pecuniary Interests of Judges Bill – second reading continued

The bill requiring judges to make returns of pecuniary interests to provide greater transparency within the judicial system and to avoid any conflict of interest in the judicial role. It is in the name of Green MP Kennedy Graham.

Introduced: November 2010
1st reading: June 2012, passed without dissent
Select Committee report: February 2014. The Justice and Electoral Select Committee recommended the bill not be passed on the basis that it is not needed

The debate has up to 50 minutes remaining.

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DPF at Act Conference

February 25th, 2015 at 11:00 am by Kokila Patel

David presented to the Act Conference over the weekend.  It was an overview of where the party had come from, the last election, and the possible policy stances Act can advance.    

So let’s take a look at where your support currently is.   ACT got 0.7% nationwide but this was actually 1.4% in Auckland and 0.4% in most other places. And in Auckland you had 2.4% in the Eastern suburbs. So the challenge is to expand from being an Auckland party to a party that can get at least 2.4% everywhere. That would get you almost four MPs.

Polls have shown that you get twice as much support from men as women. One fifth of your support comes from the self-employed and business owners which is significant, and one quarter from the under 30s – well done ACT on Campus. 

In the last three years 25% of ACT supporters cited the economy as the most important issue, followed by taxes on 10% and jobs on 9%. These are of course all linked so almost a half say the most important issues are economic.”

So how can Act gain more voters to increase their representation in parliament and decrease their reliance on the Epsom electorate?

However I think a clear message of opposition to most forms of corporate welfare has potential appeal to not just economic liberals on the right, but also to many on the left. It would make it hard for the left to paint ACT as the party of big business, if they are signing up to your campaigns against corporate welfare. 

Turing to social liberalism, the issue I would suggest ACT focuses on is euthanasia. Is anything a more fundamental human right than being able to choose between quantity of life and quality of life?

This is not some abstract issue. Sadly for many families, they have been through the horrors of a loved one who was unable to make an informed choice to reduce their suffering.  I actually used to be against euthanasia until I listened to the speech Rodney Hide made in 2003 about the death of Martin Hames. It reduced me to tears and made me realise how harmful the current law can be, and converted me to favouring a law change.

It is an issue that is both very real to many, but also very popular. The last public poll on this issue saw 61% in favour of terminally ill people being able to choose when to end their lives and only 18% opposed. A 3:1 ratio in favour is about as good as it gets.

Labour has banned their MPs from advancing this issue, because it may distract them from their core mission of getting more people to join a union. National MPs are discouraged from doing bills on conscience issues. In fact I think National discourages their MPs from doing any bills that haven’t been written by Chris Finlayson for them. The highlight was the West Coast MP’s bill on reforming the law of habeas corpus.

NZ First are generally against euthanasia, except for immigrants. The Greens are admirably supportive, but the suspicion is they see it as a way to reduce carbon emissions. 

More seriously there is an opportunity for ACT here to lead on this issue, and connect to New Zealanders on an issue that resonates, as well as clearly position themselves as the only party not wanting the state to interfere in decisions that belong to individuals.

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Does anyone think Labour would have made a different decision?

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

I’d be interested to hear if anyone seriously seriously thinks that if Labour was in Government, they would have made a different decision about contributing to the coalition against the Islamic State?

I totally believe that the Greens would have. They absolutely and passionately believe that the way to defeat the Islamic State is to do something like employ more community facilitators in under privileged communities, and all will be right with the world. It’s a bonkers view, but a sincerely held one.

But not for one second do I think a Labour Government would have said “No, we will be the only country in Western World not to contribute in a military sense to defeating ISIL”. Which means that their rhetoric this week is just opposition, because they don’t actually have the responsibility to make a decision.

Bear in mind that the last Labour Government sent the SAS to Afghanistan, and military engineers to Iraq.

But I’d be interested to hear a rational argument by anyone that Labour would actually have made a different decision, if they were in Government.

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PM on ISIL

February 24th, 2015 at 2:48 pm by David Farrar

From the PM’s ministerial statement to Parliament:

Last November I gave a national security speech which outlined the threat posed to New Zealand by ISIL.

This brutal group and its distressing methods deserve the strongest condemnation.

ISIL’s ability to motivate Islamist radicals make it a threat not only to stability in the Middle East, but regionally and locally too.

It is well-funded and highly-skilled at using the internet to recruit.

Disturbingly, if anything, ISIL’s brutality has worsened since I gave that speech late last year.

In recent weeks we have witnessed a mass beheading and the horrific plight of a Jordanian pilot being burned alive in a cage.

And we’ve seen stories of Western hostages who have been kidnapped and killed in barbaric ways.

ISIL’s outrageous actions have united an international coalition of 62 countries against the group.

The coalition includes Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Estonia, Germany, France, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Panam, Singapore, Sweden and Spain.

New Zealand is a country that stands up for its values.

We stand up for what’s right.

We have an obligation to support stability and the rule of law internationally.

We do not shy away from taking our share of the burden when the international rules-based system is threatened.

We have carved out our own independent foreign policy over decades and we take pride in it.

We do what is in New Zealand’s best interests.

It is in that context that I am announcing that the Government has decided to take further steps to help the fight against ISIL.

The Iraqi government has requested support from the international community and has been clear with us that security is its top priority.

We have been clear that we cannot, and should not, fight Iraqis’ battles for them – and actually Iraq doesn’t want us to.

Our military can, however, play a part in building the capability and capacity of the Iraqi forces so they can fight ISIL themselves.

I have been open with New Zealanders that we have been considering an option to train Iraqi Security Forces alongside our longstanding partner Australia, in Iraq.

Such an operation would be behind the wire and limited to training Iraqi Security Forces in order to counter ISIL and legitimately protect innocent people.

Mr Speaker, the Government has decided to deploy a non-combat training mission to Iraq to contribute to the international fight against ISIL.

No surprise. It’s at the lower end of what we could do.

The deployment will be reviewed after nine months and will be for a maximum two-year period.

I’m glad it isn’t open ended.

We recognise ISIL is not a short-term threat and there is a lot of work to be done in the long-term.

Defeating ISIL will mean winning the hearts and minds of those vulnerable to its destructive message.

That will take time.

As I said last year, we have already contributed to the humanitarian cause and we are currently examining options to provide more help.

We are also stepping up our diplomatic efforts to counter ISIL and support stability in Iraq.

As part of this, we are looking at options to base a diplomatic representative in Baghdad to serve as a conduit between the Iraqi government and our military deployment, as well as assess how we can support better governance in Iraq.

We will also expand our diplomatic engagement on international counter-terrorism by appointing a new Ambassador for Counter Terrorism.

Many other countries have done this.

We cannot be complacent, as events in Sydney, Paris and Ottawa have underscored.

To those who argue that we should not take action because it raises that threat, I say this:  the risk associated with ISIL becoming stronger and more widespread far outweighs that.

I know there is already risk.

New Zealanders do too, because they know we are a nation of prolific travellers who have been caught up in terrorist activity around the world many times before.

Mr Speaker, the Government has carefully considered our contribution to the international campaign against ISIL.

We are prepared to step up to help.

New Zealand does not take its commitment to Iraq lightly.

In return we expect that the Iraqi government will make good on its commitment to an inclusive government that treats all Iraqi citizens with respect.

Sending our forces to Iraq is not an easy decision but it is the right decision.

I would call it the least bad decision. There are risks. But the greater risk is leaving ISIL unchecked with their ambition to be a global caliphate. They are not terrorist. They are 7th century fundamentalists who wish to have the world live under their 7th century religious doctrine.

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Greens want all GM food banned

February 24th, 2015 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The Green Party in response to a petition has stated:

The Green Party agrees with the petitioner and seeks a stop to further GM food approval ahead of full safety studies, more comprehensive and enforced labelling, and a reassessment of existing GM food approvals.

It’s been 14 years since a Royal Commission chaired by a former Chief Justice concluded that there was no scientific basis to ban genetically modified organisms. Despite this, the Greens have fought against the science undeterred.

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Parliament 24 February 2015

February 24th, 2015 at 12:02 pm by David Farrar

The order paper is here and oral questions here.

Ministerial Statement 2.00 pm – 2.30 pm

It is likely that the Government will make a Ministerial statement on military assistance against the Islamic State. If so then the PM speaks for five minutes, followed by the Labour, Green and NZ First leaders for five minutes each and the PM can reply for up to two minutes. By leave, other party leaders may be allowed to speak. Hence the debate will be from 22 to 37 minutes.

Oral Questions 2.30 pm – 3.30 pm

  1. ANDREW LITTLE to the Prime Minister: Does he stand by his statement with regard to the deployment of troops to the warzone in Iraq that “I don’t think that’s a matter for a Parliamentary vote”?
  2. Dr RUSSEL NORMAN to the Prime Minister: Does he stand by his statement “Just passing everything by the barest of majorities isn’t the right way to govern a country”; if so, why?
  3. PAUL FOSTER-BELL to the Minister of Finance: What recent reports has he received on trends in Government revenue and how does this compare with forecasts in the Half-Year Update in December?
  4. GRANT ROBERTSON to the Minister of Finance: What is the additional amount of gross debt that the Crown has taken on since the Government was elected in November 2008?
  5. Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS to the Prime Minister: Does he stand by all his statements?
  6. EUGENIE SAGE to the Minister for the Environment: Does he agree with the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment that a 30 centimetre rise in sea level “may not sound much” but “will be significant at a national level” in New Zealand?
  7. STUART SMITH to the Minister for Social Housing: How will the Ministry of Social Development’s social housing purchasing strategy lead to better outcomes for tenants?
  8. Hon PHIL GOFF to the Minister of Defence: What is the level of risk assessed by the New Zealand Defence Force if its personnel are deployed to Iraq and what force protection would be provided for them?
  9. MELISSA LEE to the Minister for Small Business: What steps is the Government taking to support growth for small business?
  10. Hon DAMIEN O’CONNOR to the Minister for Primary Industries: Does he consider that cuts the Government has made to biosecurity have contributed to the current fruit fly outbreak?
  11. KANWALJIT SINGH BAKSHI to the Minister of Commerce and Consumer Affairs: What actions is the Government taking to limit the powers of repossession agents?
  12. CLAYTON MITCHELL to the Minister for Social Development: Does she stand by all her statements?

National:Four patsies on government revenue, social housing, small business and repo agents

Labour: Four questions on Iraq (x2), government debt, and biosecurity

Greens: Two questions on Iraq and sea level rise

NZ First: Two questions on PM and MSD Ministers standing by their statements

Government Bills 3.30 pm – 6.00 pm and 7.30 pm to 10.00 pm

Gambling Amendment Bill (No 2) – third reading continued

The bill amends the Gambling Act 2003 with minor policy and technical amendments

Introduced: August 2007
1st reading: August 2007, passed without dissent
Select Committee report: May 2008 and June 2013
2nd reading: May 2009, passed without dissent
Committee of the House: February 2015. SOPs from the Greens and NZ First were defeated. The bill was amended further and passed 108-11 with only NZ First dissenting

The debate has 40 minutes remaining.

Parole Amendment Bill – third reading continued

The bill amends the Parole Act 2002 to reduce the number of unnecessary parole hearings where the offender has little prospect of release

Introduced: November 2013
1st reading: November 2013, passed 104-15 with Greens, Mana and Horan against
Select Committee report: May 2014: supported with amendments by the majority, with Greens dissenting
2nd reading: November 2014, passed 105-16 with Greens and Maori Party against
Committee of the whole House: February 2015, passed 104-16 with Greens and Maori Party against

The debate has up to 80 minutes remaining.

Objectionable Publications and Indecency Legislation Bill – second reading continued

The bill increases the penalties for producing, trading, or possessing child pornography.

Introduced: May 2013
1st reading: November 2013, passed without dissent
Select Committee report: April 2014, supported unamiously with no amendments

The debate has 70 minutes remaining.

Statutes Amendment Bill (No 4) – second reading

The bill makes minor changes to the local government acts and the Official Information Act.

Introduced: May 2014
1st reading: April 2014, passed without dissent
Select Committee report: July 2014, supported unamiously with amendments

The debate can be up to two hours.

 

Appropriation (2013/14 Confirmation and Validation) Bill – 1st reading

This bill confirms and validates unappropriated expenditure and validates excess net asset holdings for the 2013/14 financial year.

Introduced: December 2014

This bill is not debated.

 

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DHBs doing better with health targets

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

The latest quarterly stats on the DHB Health Targets have been published. They show:

  • Cancer patients waiting less than four weeks for radiotherapy or chemotherapy – 99% (was 65% under Labour)
  • Emergency Department treatment within six hours – 94% (was 70% under Labour)
  • Elective operations at 107% of target (84,022 in 6 months up from 118,000 in 12 months under Labour)
  • 94% of 8 month olds are immunised (was 76% under Labour)
  • 92% of Maori 8 month olds are immunised (was 78% in 2012)
  • 96% of Pacific 8 month olds are immunised (was 87% in 2012)
  • 95% of smokers in hospital given advice or help to quit (was 17%)
  • 89% of smokers seeing a primary health care practitioner given advice or help to quit (was 40%)
  • 87% have had a cardiovascular assessment in last five years (was 46%)

The performance of our heath system is one of the more important things to New Zealanders. Despite the tight fiscal conditions, National has shown sustained significant improvements in outcomes.

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Dom Post on Islamic State

February 24th, 2015 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

The Dom Post editorial:

Islamic State is a gang of murdering fanatics who must be resisted. Almost the whole world agrees with that, so the only question is: how?

New Zealand, as Prime Minister John Key has said, was unlikely to do nothing about Isis. A political force which prides itself on beheadings and crucifixions of the innocent is intolerable to any democratic state.

But not intolerable to those who say it is nothing to do with us.

The problem is that almost every form of Western intervention is fraught with trouble. The West has learnt from the invasion of Iraq, and the long bloody stalemate in Afghanistan, that making war in the Middle East often makes things worse rather than better.

So the choice is extraordinarily conflicted. Honest opponents of intervention should admit that the decision not to fight is deeply troubling because Isis is evil. Honest proponents of intervention should also admit that the war might have a just purpose but it is also probably unwinnable.

Islamic State is different to Al Qaeda. It’s strength comes from holding territory.

The Key Government has decided to send a small military force to “train” Iraqi soldiers. This is defensible in principle. It recognises that the fight against Isis is primarily the task of local people, not of the West. It also recognises, perhaps, that the West has some responsibility for the rise of the terrorist group. They filled a vacuum created by the Iraq invasion and the subsequent chaos. So the West has to help restore the damage. …

All the signs suggest that Key is doing what Keith Holyoake did in Vietnam – sending the smallest possible force into the war, mainly to keep the allies happy and to show the flag. And probably the most that can be hoped for from this war is to contain Isis and stop it from building a lasting fundamentalist caliphate.

If it can’t build the caliphate, it loses its theological reason for being. And it then might lose some of its support, and splinter under its own murderous fanaticism. None of that is certain to happen, but it is a defensible aim for limited Western military intervention. It is the best option available.

I agree.

 

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Quote of the week

February 24th, 2015 at 9:00 am by TaxpayersUnion

“I am in favor of cutting taxes under any circumstances and for any excuse, for any reason, whenever it’s possible.”

– Milton Friedman

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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