Archive for the ‘NZ Politics’ Category

Not a trend we want to encourage

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

Stuff reports:

Nelson MP Nick Smith and his Waitaki counterpart Jacqui Dean are accustomed to pressing the flesh but one of them will be exposing it in public and online come the end of the year.

Smith hopes it won’t be him.

“I really need Nelson to pull out all stops as they do not want to see me wearing my togs in Trafalgar St,” he said.

Dean has a similar view: “I don’t think that Wanaka is ever going to be ready to see me in a bikini, not now, not ever.”

The National Party pair, with an eye on pre-election publicity, are backing their electorates in the Gigatown competition, which is currently led by Wanaka, with Nelson holding third behind Timaru.

They’ve pledged to take a “selfie” wearing their togs on the town’s main street and posting on their website or Facebook if their town is pipped.

If neither town makes the final top five, to be selected at the the end of September, they’ll both be stripping.

This is not a trend we want to encourage. I prefer my MPs in suits, not togs :-)

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WCC’s stupidest ever campaign dropped

July 29th, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

The Dom Post reports:

A $40,000 campaign to reduce begging on Wellington streets has been quietly ditched, with the council saying many people were simply confused by it.

The “alternative giving” campaign was meant to encourage people to give money to charities rather than giving it directly to beggars – but it raised just $3500 in eight months.

They spent $40,000 to raise $3,500. Hard to get a bigger fail than that.

Councillor Paul Eagle, who chairs the community, sport and recreation committee, said the campaign had been stopped while the council assessed its impact – not because it hadn’t worked. “If I thought it was a complete mess, I would tell you, but I don’t.”

Well Paul is the only one who doesn’t then.

Moore was begging yesterday with Ricki Buddy Tua and Roi Gurdy, and the trio said they often pooled their earnings. Buddy Tua said he earned anywhere from $30 to $180 a day begging, which mostly went on food and sometimes cannabis and cigarettes.

More money begging than working it seems.  I give a lot to charity, but I never give to beggars.

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Armstrong on gotcha politics

July 29th, 2014 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

John Armstrong writes:

“Gotcha politics” is all about focusing voters’ attention on the gaffes and mistakes of opponents rather than trying to win the election by winning the battle of ideas.

It is personality-based politics, not issue-driven politics. It is all about wrecking your opponents’ campaign by landing major hits on their credibility.

At its worst, gotcha politics can be an old-fashioned witch-hunt dressed up in modern-day notions of accountability. None of this new, of course.

What has changed is the extent and intensity of gotcha politics.

Even the Greens are not immune. Last Friday, that party joined others in stressing its campaign would focus on the issues, rather than the sideshows.

Was this the same Green Party whose co-leader Metiria Turei had spent much of the week demanding a prime ministerial apology for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs blunder regarding the granting of diplomatic immunity to a defence attache at the Malaysian High Commission charged with sexual assault?

No matter that various apologies had already been forthcoming. No matter that the State Sector Act and the Cabinet Manual set clear boundaries to prevent ministers interfering in operational matters – thereby begging the question of exactly what John Key was supposed to be apologising for. No matter that the Greens had politicised the whole affair to the point of jeopardising the prosecution of the Malaysian official.

Points well made. They have played politics fast and loose on this issue.

It is unfair to single out the Greens. Both National and Labour are just as guilty, if not more so. National’s being in Government makes it more likely to be a target of such attacks, however.

One reason “gotcha politics” is becoming more endemic is that Key has neutralised so many issues that Opposition parties are having to resort to personality-based attacks to make any kind of impact.

The other major factor is conflict-driven news media. The seemingly insatiable 24-hours-a-day appetite of internet news sites means quality has to be sacrificed for quantity when it comes to investigations and analysis.

In these circumstances, it is temptingly easier to manufacture the news through the media playing their own version of gotcha politics by trying to catch politicians out.

It seems clear Labour can’t win just by leadership preference or policies, so it is inevitable they will try H-Fee type issues.

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National announces coalition choices

July 28th, 2014 at 4:13 pm by David Farrar

John Key has announced the following.

  • They will contest all 64 general electorates
  • In Ohariu and Epsom they are saying that they are happy for supporters to vote tactically for Peter Dunne and David Seymour
  • There is no “deal” with the Conservatives in East Coast Bays, or elsewhere.
  • Main focus is on maximising the party vote for National

I suspect thousands of National activists around the country have just breathed a sigh of relief there is no deal with the Conservatives.

In my view there should be representation in Parliament for those who have seriously conservative social and economic views. However both NZ First and Conservatives are competing in that space and while they remain separate parties, there is a risk neither will make it. But I can’t see either leader agreeing to be the deputy leader to the other one :-)

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Chorus v Telecom

July 28th, 2014 at 4:03 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Chorus has returned fire over a complaint Telecom laid with the Commerce Commission over a new copper broadband product.

Telecom said Chorus planned to impose an “artificial cap” of 250 kilobits-per-second on the average throughput of its regulated copper broadband service in order to make new “premium” products it announced in May more attractive.

Telecom said the move would significantly degrade the performance of regulated copper broadband services, the price of which is set by the Commerce Commission.

It has laid a complaint against Chorus, saying the proposals breached the Telecommunications Act and were also a “breach of good faith”.

The commission said it would investigate the complaint and revealed CallPlus had also voiced concerns about Chorus’ changes.

This shows what a good idea it was to separate Telecom and Chorus. In the old days, this may have just happened without dissent. It is a good thing to have the interests of the largest competitive provider separate to the interests of the monopoly infrastructure provider.

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Beyer for Mana

July 28th, 2014 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Fomer Labour MP Georgina Beyer will stand for the Mana Party in Te Tai Tonga, saying she was doing so partly to atone for voting for the Foreshore and Seabed Act in 2004.

Ms Beyer was New Zealand’s first trans-sexual MP, serving under Labour from 1999 to 2007. She has struggled with kidney disease since last year but said her health was now steady and she was looking forward to a new challenge.

“When approached about the role, there were a few things to consider as there always are. Taking on this role is my way of making amends to Maori for voting for the foreshore and seabed bill which I was forced into and which totally broke me.”

No one was forced. Tariana showed integrity and left over it.

Beyer’s biggest achievement in politics was getting elected in the first place. I can’t recall any particular legislative or parliamentary achievements.

She won’t win Te Tai Tonga, but will be interesting to see how she goes.

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The Ministry of Taxis

July 28th, 2014 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

When it comes to walking the talk, it seems Ministry of Health staff would rather just take a cab.

Last year ministry staff took more than 1000 taxi rides for less than $10 – at the same time as officially advocating walking as a way to increase New Zealand’s low levels of physical activity.

In the 2012-13 financial year, staff based in Wellington charged taxpayers for 8645 taxi trips with 1076 of those for journeys costing less than $10. Another 1942 taxis were taken for $10 to $15.

The Star-Times took a $10 taxi in central Auckland to see how far it would take us. We travelled 1.7km. The return journey on foot, at a leisurely stroll, took just over 16 minutes.

That’s around four taxi trips a day of under $10. It is hard to get a fare for under $10. The initial cab hire and phone call is almost $5 so you won’t get to go much more than a km.

The Ministry of Health’s physical activity guidelines suggest people should be active every day in every way possible, doing at least 30 minutes of physical activity five days a week.

The ministry’s website says you should walk whenever you can. “Remember: Even small increases in physical activity can produce measurable health benefits,” the site says.

Do as we say, not as we do!

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Dotcom attacks Drury and Xero

July 28th, 2014 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

One News reports:

A war of words has erupted between Kim Dotcom and the founder of online accounting software firm Xero.

Speaking on TVNZ’s Q+A programme, Rod Drury said Internet Party leader Laila Harre knows nothing about technology and he wished Mr Dotcom would go away.

“At the beginning it was really cool to see someone like that come through but his manipulation of the media, so he’s very media savvy, understands that it’s a good story, that journalism’s cheap, I think it’s a big sideshow,” said Mr Drury.

Kim Dotcom then hit back with a string of tweets, claiming Xero was over-valued and pointing out how many more users his own company has.

“CEO of totally overvalued NZ cloud ‘accounting’ company Xero (300k users) says: ‘I represent the Internet Generation. Kim Dotcom doesn’t’,” tweeted Kim Dotcom.

One of the tweets is below:

Not such a nice guy is he when you dare to criticise him.

I would point out that Xero’s 300,000 users all pay for Xero. From $500 a year upwards. The vast vast majority of Mega users (and I am one) have a free account – because it is, well, free.  I understand well under 1% of Mega’s customers are paying customers.

I want both companies to succeed. I use both. Mega is very different company to Megaupload. But it is not a good look to have the self proclaimed mentor of the Internet Party trash talking and denigrating NZ’s most successful Internet company. But that just confirms the Internet Party is about Kim Dotcom, not about the Internet.

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Hehir on Election spending

July 28th, 2014 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Liam Hehir writes in the Manawatu Standard:

Since then we’ve seen plenty of further evidence against the idea that the rich can spend their way to power.

Republican Meg Whitman provided a spectacular example of this in 2008. She spent more than $US144 million (NZ$165m) of her own money chasing the California governorship. She was trounced.

In our last general election, the Conservatives spent a whopping $1.8m, which was more than Labour spent. For that expenditure, they received just 2.65 per cent of the vote – which works out to $31.71 a head. Three years later and even more money down the drain, that party is not polling any better.

Don’t get me wrong, money is required to get your message out. What is pretty clear, however, is that diminishing returns set in fairly rapidly. There are lots of studies showing this. The University of Chicago’s Steve Levitt – who also co-authored the popular Freakonomics – has observed that: “When a candidate doubled their spending . . . they only got an extra 1 per cent of the popular vote. It’s the same if you cut your spending in half, you only lose 1 per cent of the popular vote.”

It has some impact, but not a huge amount. Dotcom’s millions might get Mana-Internet from 1.1% to say 3.0%. However the free publicity from the media reporting his every tweet is probably worth far more to them.

National came to power and quickly repealed the Electoral Finance Act. To its credit, a chastened Labour Party did not stand in its way. Unfortunately, however, many of the restrictions and bureaucratic hurdles on third party campaigns were retained.

Greenpeace learned this recently after the Electoral Commission ruled that a website the lobbyists had set up to attack Energy Minister Simon Bridges was subject to electoral law restraints.

The commission also ruled that another campaign Greenpeace is involved in around climate change would also constitute an election advertisement and so was subject to the law. That interpretation is now to be the subject of court proceedings.

I sincerely wish them the best of luck. Ultimately, however, we should look to repeal the offensive provisions through Parliament.

Yes, I’d repeal all the third party spending restrictions except the need to identify the publisher.

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Trotter on Labour’s electorate MPs

July 28th, 2014 at 8:32 am by David Farrar

Chris Trotter writes:

Well, I say “Labour” but, really, the hoarding facing us was all about Phil Goff. It was his ugly mug and buck-toothed smile that confronted the viewer, and his name in bold sans-serif that somebody had helpfully placed a big tick underneath. Oh sure, right down the very bottom you could, if you squinted hard enough, make out the Labour Party’s slogan “Vote Positive”, and yes, there was even an exhortation to “Party Vote Labour”. But, seriously, nobody driving by is going to have time to register anything other than the local MP, Phil Goff, is soliciting their vote.

I’m told this is happening all over the country. That the hoardings erected by Labour electorate MPs are, overwhelmingly, self-promoting. Not the party (unless you have very good eyesight). And certainly not the Leader. (God forbid!) In spite of delivering the worst result in 90 years, the so-called “election strategy” of 2008, promote the candidate – not the party, is being idiotically repeated – by the same idiots!

Chris means 2011.

The fundamental message of the MMP system: Only the Party Vote matters! is, once again, being studiously ignored by MPs whose only concern is to retain their seniority in Labour’s faction-ridden caucus.

What this will produce, just as it did in 2008, is the absurdity of Labour plummeting to 27 percent in the Party Vote, but capturing 32 percent of the Electorate Vote. Had those figures been reversed on Election Night three years ago, Phil Goff would now be Prime Minister.

Well depends where they pick the party votes up from.

That Phil Goff is promoting himself alone, that his leader’s image is being relegated (as his own was in 2008) to the back streets, adds up, in my opinion, to just one bleak message.

Labour is heading for the worst defeat in its 98-year history.

We can only hope.

Danyl McL has also noted that very small Labour logos on the billboards.

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Seymour in Epsom

July 27th, 2014 at 12:36 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

David Seymour has knocked on 8500 doors, wearing out shoe leather on the manicured streets of Epsom. He aims for 20 doorsteps in an hour, and is campaigning for six hours day to call on all 22,000 households in the electorate.

But what’s the point, you may ask? One nod from Prime Minister John Key would return ACT to Parliament, propping up the National Government as it has done since 2008. It is likely Key will signal this week which electorate deals National is prepared to sew up with smaller parties.

“I just say to people that I am going for every endorsement that I can get. John Key is an Epsom voter and I certainly hope he will vote for me,” Seymour says.

“Not to be too pernickity, you actually can’t have a deal, because deals have to be enforceable and votes are secret. Ultimately, it only works if the people of Epsom believe that I am the best candidate.”

Indeed. The voters of Epsom are quite capable of deciding who they want to be their MP. A party can state a preference for how its supporters should vote, but it is up to the voters.

Good to see David campaigning the old fashioned way of knocking on every door in the electorate.

So why did a bright 31-year-old, give up a successful career as a policy analyst in Canada, to campaign for a party most people have long since written off? He’s not getting paid, and is supporting himself with some contract work and the generosity of friends and family.

His love life has also taken a hit.

“What I have discovered is girlfriends like you to stay in the same country, and moving back between New Zealand and Canada every two or three years has not been conducive. My philosophy also is that obviously no-one wants to be lonely for their whole life but the best way to deal with that is to be the happiest, most attractive person you can and that means doing what you like and what you are good at.”

Long-distance relationships suck, basically. You can do it for a while, but not great fun.

Seymour says he has “really strong beliefs” and it is important someone represents free market views. He wants to shrug off ACT’s stuffy image as a party of stale, white businessmen.

“I want to be the representative of a whole generation of people who are young, entrepreneurial and never lived under Rob Muldoon . . . you know Lorde, Eleanor Catton, Lydia Ko, Xero in business . . . you walk around Auckland and it’s a fantastic time.”

What is scary is we still have MPs in Parliament who entered when Muldoon was Prime Minister!

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National’s 2014 List

July 27th, 2014 at 10:25 am by David Farrar

2014LIST

National has released their 2014 Party List. I’ve done my normal calculations to show the approximate level of party vote needed for candidates to get elected. The assumptions are:

  • No change in electorate seats (I actually think there will be some, but for this exercise am assuming the status quo)
  • There is 3% wasted vote

National is currently  averaging 52.5% in the polls. If we assume National gets 49%, then get 63 MPs. The caucus demographics would be:

  • 73% European (46), 16% Maori (10), 6% Asian (4), 5% Pasifika (3)
  • 71% Male (45), 29% Female (18)
  • 2% in 20s, 10% in 30s, 37% in 40s, 41% in 50s, 11% in 60s
  • 38% from Northern Region, 18% CNI, 19% LNI, 17% Cant Westland, 8% Southern

Reasonably good demographic spread. I would like to see the proportion of women higher, but National has only five list only spots, so the challenge is not ranking women in winnable places (which National has done) but having more women win electorate nominations (which are decided purely locally).

Overall on a result of 49% National would have 17 new MPs – 10 electorate MPs and 7 List MPs.

The new List MPs would be Brett Hudson, Paramjit Parmar, Chris Bishop, Nuk Korako, Jono Naylor, Maureen Pugh and Fia Turner. But four of those people could well win their seats also (Hutt South, Port Hills, Palmerston North and West Coast – Tasman).

The placing of Brett Hudson (Ohariu) so highly means that you don’t have to be a clairvoyant to predict that National will endorse Peter Dunne in Ohariu.

Chris Bishop is the highest ranked male new candidate (excepting the strategic seat of Ohariu) which is a great result for him. Chris is one of the top debaters in New Zealand and will be a real asset to National in the House if he gets elected.

So potentially 17 new MPs is an excellent renewal for National.  even if National only gets what the got last time (47.5%) they still get 61 MPs, which is 15 new MPs.

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Barriers to voting

July 26th, 2014 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports on likely barriers to voting for the 22% who say they may not vote. In order they are:

  1. Too difficult to get to a polling station 18%
  2. Too busy 8%
  3. Don’t know enough 8%
  4. 5% not interested
  5. 5% dislike politicians and parties
  6. 3% which party wins does not matter

I note that electronic voting would help with the largest factor.

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Labour candidate attacks National MP for having a family holiday

July 26th, 2014 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

When David Cunliffe had a holiday with his kids, not one National MP or candidate attacked him for it. In fact it only became newsworthy because a Labour MP and/or candidate attacked him for it.

Now we have a Labour candidate attacking her National opponent for the same thing. Hawke’s Bay Today reports:

Meanwhile, in the neighbouring Tukituki electorate, Labour candidate Anna Lorck said sitting MP Mr Foss’ family holiday in Hawaii last week shows he’s “too relaxed” about the election. Mr Foss denied the claim,but said hi

s family always came first.

Ms Lorck said Mr Foss was “lying back in his deckchair and drinking pina coladas” on the tropical island while she was busy on the campaign trail.

Mr Foss confirmed he had spent “a good week” with his family at Waikiki Beach in Honolulu, Hawaii, up until Wednesday, July 16.

“We had a family holiday.”

However, he denied the holiday showed he was too relaxed about the upcoming election.

“I work hard for Hawke’s Bay families and I am backing the Bay each and every day.

“So much for Labour’s pledge to not be nasty.”

Lasted all of 24 hours.

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Gower asks why Cunliffe is scared of Dotcom?

July 26th, 2014 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Patrick Gower writes:

David Cunliffe should forget about fretting over his red scarf and start worrying about the black tracksuit.

Yes, Kim Dotcom’s black tracksuit is all over the political scene once again – and Cunliffe is running scared, refusing to rule Internet-Mana out even though voters think he should.

Internet-Mana is on the rise big-time and the Dotcom-boom is hurting Labour.

Cunliffe has left the door open to Labour working with Internet-Mana to form as Government. But the latest 3 News-Reid Research poll shows a majority of voters want Labour to rule them out.

Voters were asked:

Should Labour work with Internet Mana to form a Government?

  • NO, rule them out: 59 percent
  • YES, work with them: 29 percent
  • Don’t know: 12 percent

Even a majority of Labour voters want Cunliffe to rule out a coalition with Internet-Mana.

  • NO, rule them out: 47%
  • YES, work with them: 40%
  • Don’t know: 13%

A lot of Labour supporters would rather Labour lose, than have Dotcom having his proxies in the Government.

So the rise of Internet-Mana has created a big problem for Labour. Dotcom and Harawira are love-hate figures.

The reality is, with centre voters, they are probably more hated than loved.

There are lots of centre voters who don’t like Dotcom and lots who don’t like Harawira and a fairly decent core who don’t like both of them. The refusal to rule out Internet-Mana is hurting Labour with centre voters.

Hone Harawira, Annette Sykes, Laila Harre. Kim Dotcom and John Minto. It’s enough to send a lot of people running.

Cunliffe’s refusal to rule them out just gives them further credibility and as it rises, Internet-Mana will probably end up taking votes off Labour too.

As its own popularity falls, Labour cannot do without Internet-Mana’s numbers.

That’s why Cunliffe is scared of Internet Mana – he’s too scared to rule them out.

The rise of Internet-Mana tells us a lot about the fall of Labour.  

If the result is that Labour is in a position to form a Government with the Greens, NZ First and Internet-Mana, it will be fascinating to observe!

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Labour MPs enjoyed Joyce roast of Cunliffe

July 26th, 2014 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

John Armstrong writes:

Joyce took the first call in Wednesday afternoon’s general debate — long a platform for Parliament’s better orators — to parody Labour’s under-the-weather David Cunliffe in a fashion that was as clever as it was cruel as it was funny.

Within the space of a five-minute speech, Joyce had revealed another weapon in his armoury — the ability to cut an opponent down by sheer wit — and thereby further enhanced his credentials as the frontrunner for National’s leadership when Key finally moves on.

There was, however, another interesting outcome from his contribution — its impact on those sitting opposite him.

Cunliffe was not in the chamber. But those Labour MPs who were initially tried to ignore what was a virtuoso performance. But their barely suppressed smiles gave the game away.

When the cat is away, the mice will play!

Fortunately for Cunliffe, Labour is also now closer to election day than it was in 1990 when Mike Moore deposed Sir Geoffrey Palmer in a questionable coup which had the sole purpose of saving the party from being completely routed by National.

56 days to go.

Cunliffe’s cause has not been helped by Labour whingeing over TVNZ choosing Mike Hosking — someone Labour sees as biased in National’s favour — to be the moderator for the channel’s debates.

Hosking is a professional. He hardly needs reminding that his performance will be scrutinised intently. Any bias will be blatantly obvious. Which is why there will not be any bias. Labour has every right to object. In doing so, however, the party projects the image of a loser.

If anything I suspect Hosking will go harder on Key, because he has said favourable things about him in the past.

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Drury on ICT and Internet Party

July 26th, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

IT Brief reports:

As the political heavyweights debated the future ICT roadmap for New Zealand last night, Rod Drury sat shaking his head in the crowd.

Taking the stage amidst the backdrop of Auckland’s evening sky, key political figures debated long into the night about the future of New Zealand’s ICT sector.

Chaired by the New Zealand Technology Industry Association, CEO Candace Kinser orchestrated discussion with technology representatives from National, Labour, the Green Party and the Internet MANA parties.

But as the opinions flowed and policies were outlined, Xero’s charismatic CEO reawakened a conversation which, in the eyes of the entrepreneur, drifted widely off the overriding issue.

“I find this really depressing but I’ll try to be positive about it,” he said, in his typically outspoken manner.

Addressing Internet Party leader Laila Harre first, Drury told the recently elected head of the Kim Dotcom funded political party: “We’ve been in the industry for 20 years and you don’t speak for us, Kim Dotcom should go away and it’s kind of insulting to hear what you speak about because it doesn’t take into account the hard work we’ve done for the last 20 years.”

Rod is never shy about saying what he thinks. His view on this issue, is widely shared I must say.

According to Drury, panelists Harre, Amy Adams, Clare Curran and Gareth Hughes spoke about “incremental stuff which everybody else is already doing”, branding the discussion “boring.”

National had the big bold vision in 2008 of fibre to the homes of 75% of New Zealanders. I’m pretty comfortable with keeping the focus for now on the implementation of that. But we move towards the completion of that, we do need to get some thought leadership and vision on how we use it.

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Puhoi to Warkworth highway approved

July 25th, 2014 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

A Board of Inquiry has granted consent for the Puhoi to Warkworth motorway north of Auckland, known as the “holiday highway”.

The New Zealand Transport Agency acting highway manager Steve Mutton said the draft decision from the Board of Inquiry was welcomed by NZTA.

“The draft decision is great news and an exciting and important step towards improving transport connections between Auckland and Northland and the rest of the upper North Island,” Mr Mutton said.

That’s great news for all those living in Northland who need better roading infrastructure in and to the region.

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Another day, another u-turn or apology

July 25th, 2014 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Labour leader David Cunliffe told NewstalkZB in April that he would be happy to debate Prime Minister John Key “anytime, any place, anywhere, I’ll even do it on Mike Hosking’s show.”

I’m looking forward to Labour releasing their dossier on Mike Hosking. I wonder if they have dossiers on all journalists, or just those they feel are not comradely enough?

I note that Campbell Live ran an entire episode to a bizarre conspiracy theory about John Key and Kim Dotcom, which basically implied the PM was a pathological liar and part of a global conspiracy. Despite that the PM appears on Campbell Live and no one in National has ever tried to heavy TV3 as to their choice of moderator.

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Four more valedictories

July 25th, 2014 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

First is Rajen Prasad:

 I have been entrusted with the roles like New Zealand’s Race Relations Conciliator, Human Rights Commissioner, adjudicator in immigration cases, and * Chief Families Commissioner. But nothing prepares you for your life as a politician. In the eyes of many, I became useless, self-interested, untrustworthy, and just a bloody politician overnight. Such is the contempt in which we are held, but that reputation is neither accurate nor deserved. I have the utmost respect for all my parliamentary colleagues across the House. I have never worked with a more hard-working group of individuals dedicated to providing 24/7 for the nation and for their constituents.

A nice reminder that most MPs are very hard working and dedicated people. Yes there are some bad eggs, but they are the minority.

I have been asked to speak directly to Mrs Macindoe of Hamilton, Tim’s mother, who wants to know why I am always mean towards her son when debating in the House. Tim has been unable to convince her otherwise. Mrs Macindoe, I am speaking to you. I count your son as a friend, and we have travelled together through China and Mongolia with our partners. Tim is a perfect gentleman and on every occasion outside this House we act as friends and we always inquire about each other’s health. It is the nature of life in this Chamber to debate vigorously when our values lead to different policy prescriptions, but we remain civil, we remain supportive, we remain friends, and I count you as one of them and, through you, everybody else. 

Nicely said.

I want to make a few comments about ethnic affairs and immigration. But first I want to acknowledge the current ethnic members of this Parliament: Raymond Huo, Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi, Melissa Lee, and Jian Yang. Although we come from different sides of the House, we collectively understand ethnic issues and the demands of our communities. However, I wonder whether the nature of these demands is fully understood in the various courts of this Parliament. There are 500,000 members of ethnic communities in New Zealand, and this is our constituency. These communities have come to see ethnic MPs as their link to our formal systems. In addition, they have a not unreasonable expectation that we will be their advocates, their advisers, and their champions. We are required to be present at all their major events and functions, to speak at all of them, to act like their electorate MPs. So for ethnic MPs the country becomes our electorate and there is no end to the constituency matters that we have to deal with.

Sadly Labour may end up with no Asian MPs after the election. Hell they may end up with no List MPs at all!

I have seen a suggestion that all MPs should prepare an individual annual report on what work we have done as a way of informing our people. This is a sensible idea and could be useful in reaching over the media to inform people more widely. Instead, what is reported is how many press statements we put out, how many Official Information Act requests we lodge, or how many questions for written answer we ask. These have become the measuring stick, never mind the fact that most of them are never published, and that many are binned immediately after they have been received. 

Hmmn, I think he is referring my league tables. The trick is to get them published, and if you never put any out – well …

DARIEN FENTON (Labour): Tēnā koe, Mr Assistant Speaker, ngā mihi nui, kia koutou, tēnā koutou katoa. I want to first of all acknowledge my buddy Rajen Prasad, and tell him that I have still got the photos from our trip to Taiwan and that I am planning to divulge them before I leave. I also want to acknowledge you, Mr Assistant Speaker, because you will make your valedictory next week, and I am also looking forward to that, and it has been a pleasure working with you. I want to acknowledge all members of Parliament whom I have served with, and I do so without rancour or criticism, because much to my surprise, over nearly 9 years in Parliament, I have found that despite furious debate about political difference, most MPs come here with sincere intent. 

It’s a pity we only get reminded of this as valedictories.

I know that some people think I was born a devil beast trade unionist, but my apprenticeship to the labour movement in this Parliament was forged in many different experiences and some very tough jobs. I grew up in a family where war and politics cast a long shadow. My grandfather Frederick Frost fought and was injured in Somme* in the First World War*. . That man started his first job at the age of 12 as a pit boy in a Northumberland mine. So if I am a bit rough around the edges, I think you probably get it now. He was elected the Labour MP for New Plymouth in the wartime Labour Government led by Michael Joseph Savage* and then Peter Fraser*. . My father Verdun Frost was a navigator in World War II* and patrolled the Pacific. Like his father he was a declared socialist. My mother, the very staunch and Catholic Patricia Mary Te Rata Mahuta Kerr, came from an ancestry of Irish rebels. She was very stroppy. I was scared of her. Tau Henare descends from that line, so you kind of know what I mean. You cannot help your relatives. My parents instilled in their two sons and two daughters the hope of a better and fairer life for all in New Zealand. My generation profited from their sacrifice and hard work. Early Labour Governments meant that I, along with John Key, grew up in a State house and benefited from State-funded health and education. That gave me choices that younger people do not have today. I had the freedom and security to be different and to challenge. With my troublemaking heritage, it was inevitable that I would be drawn to the anti-war nuclear movements and the remote hippy generation of the 1970s. It led me on a journey that was both good and bad. I dropped out of education. I had a range of interesting and boring jobs. I travelled through dangerous countries, and I did some silly things. Some will have read the story of my drug addiction, when I was a younger person in the 1970s. Despite treatment and recovery years ago, I reluctantly agreed for my story to be published this year. It is still such a taboo topic, so hard to talk about. It was one of the hardest things I have ever done. I blame no one but myself for my mistakes, and I have made plenty. Drug-taking was a means of defiance against the establishment and seemed cool at the time. I know that the threat of law-breaking or addiction did not stop me, and the opprobrium of society made no difference. I want to say that smoking a joint did not lead me to other drugs; criminals selling drugs did. That is why I believe that the war on drugs has been a total failure. That is why I think it is time for this Parliament to treat drug abuse as a health problem, not a criminal offence—that means properly funded addiction treatment. I also believe it is time for politicians in this House to decriminalise personal marijuana use and take the crooks out of the business. 

A very interesting background, and I agree with her on drugs.

Hon Dr PITA SHARPLES (Minister of Māori Affairs):

I will just tell you straight that I go up and down the country talking to my people and I say to you—and I will say it again now—that Parliament is a Westminster system that is all about the vote. If you are able to secure the vote you are able to secure change and progress for you and your party. It is not just how loud you protest outside is or the issues you bring up; this is about sitting at the table. You have got to be at the table. That is why parties go to extraordinary lengths to try to do deals and be at the table and so on, and that is great—that is the system. But just know that that is the system. I really feel strongly that there should be programmes introduced in schools. This is what we did with * Te Reo Māori. It was slipping away—gone burger. Then, suddenly, we brought in * kōhanga reo and started teaching the little ones. Now they are reading the news in Māori. Now they are working for companies. Now they have got their own companies, kōrero Māori ana. And it works. So what about if we had some lessons in schools about our system of Government: what it is, what you do there, how you make laws and you get rewards and things for your people?

If you’re not at the table, then you’re just a series of press releases.

Well, you think you know your Prime Minister. I am going to just give you the real Prime Minister. You are a strong, forceful leader, albeit with a strange sense of humour.

Very strange :-)

I have got a lot of * mokopuna. They are all here—downstairs, I guess. I have got one great mokopuna. He is 1 now, and his name is Kanohi Tanga Utu Kanohi Tū Hanga. I want to speak to him now. E moko, in 30 years you can become the new co-leader of the Māori Party. You will have more than 20 Māori caucus members and be deciding which ones should be in the House of Representatives—in Parliament—and which ones should be in the “Upper Treaty Senate”, which, 30 years ago, began with our constitutional review. Moko, in 30 years’ time you will be dealing with a * superministry called * Whānau Ora. In my time, they had separate ministries for social development, education, employment, and so on. Moko, in 30 years’ time you will be dealing with the chief executive officers of Māori statutory boards all around the country. In my time we had to have a * hīkoi, we had to have lots of hui, and we had to have a scrap in * Cabinet to get the first one up and running in Auckland. In 30 years’ time you will be dealing with a “Minister for the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Negotiations”. That is right—that is the one who replaced the * Minister for Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations after all the settlements were completed. In my time, when we got the declarations signed they said it would not mean anything—by the way, that is what they said about the Treaty as well. Moko, in 30 years’ time you will be dealing with all the * Whare Ōranga Ake units that have been created. Back in my time they were called prisons and did not provide any rehabilitation programmes. Oh yes, moko, keep up with your English language, because in 30 years’ time * Te Reo Māori will be the official language of New Zealand, spoken by all. And so, mokopuna, grow strong; you have much to do. * Tēnā tātou.

A vision for NZ for his grandchildren.

Hon TARIANA TURIA:

There is nowhere where I feel more at peace than in the still tranquillity of the * Whanganui River, * Te Awa Tupua, our life blood, our tribal heartbeat, the sacred umbilical cord that unites us from the mountain to the sea. Every year our iwi come together to connect as one through the journey that we call the Tira Hoe Waka. In many ways the last 18 years in this place have been like that same journey that we take: a journey of hope, hope for a better future for our * mokopuna. 

Like Sharples, a focus on the future.

And my beloved friend-in-arms Parekura—I miss him so much. Whenever I think of Parekura, I think of how important he has been to my family. My baby, my mokopuna* whom I have raised, Piata, who would have given anything to be Ngati Porou*, , used to come home from school and say to me “Māmā*, , can I just say that I am?”, because she wanted Parekura to be her real pāpā.

Oh, that is so nice.

 And Darren Hughes—that amazing young man Darren Hughes—who I thought would one day be the leader of the Labour Party and who in fact will end up being the Prime Minister of New Zealand. I miss him so much; he was a great young man, a beautiful young man.

If Darren was still an MP, I suspect he would be Deputy Leader by now.

 I want to take this opportunity to mihi to somebody in the House for whom I have huge respect and regard, and that is Hekia. Tēnā koe ki te Minita*. . I have absolutely loved your passionate belief that all of our children have a right to succeed in education. Second-best is not part of your vocabulary, and only excellence will do. You know that we are preparing the next leaders of this nation. I believe totally in what you are doing and I want to say that today in this House.

And the results for young Maori doing NCEA are improving significantly.

I cannot leave this House without recognising a real friend, Chris Finlayson. Chris is the greatest Treaty settlements Minister that we have ever had in this country.

If National gets a third term, we may see the last historical settlement completed!

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Labour’s Comms & ICT policies

July 25th, 2014 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

I think it is a sign that the Government is doing most things right,  when most of Labour’s policies seem to be to keep the status quo and just have a lot of reviews. This is not a bad thing. An Opposition shouldn’t promise massive change just for the sake of it.

Labour’s policy is here. The details are:

  • Review the Ultra-fast Broadband project
  • Review the Rural Broadband Initiative
  • Review the telecommunications regulatory framework
  • Review the Telecommunications Service Obligations
  • Encourage local authorities to include broadband availability in their online maps
  • Hope someone builds a second cable, and offer the same money as National to be an anchor tenant in one
  • $2.4 million a year for local Councils to roll out Internet access to low income communities
  • $1.6 million a year for a pilot rural fibre connectivity scheme
  • $1.3 million a year for a connectivity innovation fund
  • Review the Telecommunications, Commerce and Radio Communication Acts
  • Review the Copyright Act
  • Review the recommendations of the Data Futures Forum

There’s nothing bad in this policy. The modest spending commitment of around $5 million could get some good results.  But largely the policy is an endorsement of the status quo and almost a dozen reviews. Some seem pointless, while others are very desirable (I am very keen on a first principles review of copyright law).

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How many hours until business class is justified?

July 25th, 2014 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

A group of Auckland councillors have managed to retain a business-class-travel perk, but a bid to give them free parking has been voted down.

The move comes as reduced library hours, street cleaning and an end to inorganic rubbish collections are on the table for sweeping budget cuts.

George Wood, Christine Fletcher, Denise Krum and Calum Penrose were among those who voted yesterday to defeat an amendment by councillor John Watson to restrict business-class air travel to health grounds only.

Councillors get to keep the perk of sitting in business class when taking flights of more than six hours and conducting council business within 24 hours of landing at an overseas destination.

It took the casting vote of finance committee chairman and Labour councillor Ross Clow to keep the status quo in the elected members’ expenses policy, despite many of his left-wing colleagues voting to tighten the rules.

Right wingers Cameron Brewer and Dick Quax supported the left to tighten the rules.

Mr Clow justified his decision on the basis that elected representatives needed to turn up fresh and fully prepared to represent Auckland after long-haul travel beyond most of Australia.

I’m not an advocate of no business class travel ever for Councillors. If you are flying to London  for example, I think business class is appropriate, as otherwise it takes ages to recover from a 24 to 30 hour plane trip.

But a threshold of six hours seems too low for me. You don’t need business class to Perth or Hawaii or some of Asia. A fair policy I think might be:

  • Economy for flights up to six hours
  • Premium Economy for flights of six to 12 hours
  • Business for over 12 hours
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Secondary principals tell primary principals to grow up

July 25th, 2014 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Secondary Principals’ Association president Tom Parsons said parents had been asking for detailed information about their child’s learning for a long time.

“Primary schools will get there with national standards but they’re doing it begrudgingly.

“There’s a political agenda here and it’s doing the youth of New Zealand a disservice. They need to get real.”

I’m surprised this quote has not received more publicity.  The head of the secondary principals’ association has labelled the opposition to national standards as being about politics, not kids and explicitly says the opponents are doing New Zealand a disservice.

This is no surprise to me. I have been aware for some time that most secondary teachers think national standards are common sense and can’t work out what the fuss is. They’ve had NCEA for a decade with all the same issues over moderation.

But the real reason so many in the secondary sector support national standards is because they are sick of kids getting to secondary school unable to read, write or do maths. They are then the ones who have basically the impossible task of trying to educate a kid for whom it is almost too late. Identifying at an earlier stage that a student is well below the national standards for literacy and numeracy will allow intervention to happen while they are at primary school, rather than dumping an illiterate student into the secondary school system.

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Brownlee and Airportgate

July 25th, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reported:

Prime Minister John Key says he was “really disappointed” after Gerry Brownlee bypassed airport security this morning, but he has been quick to back him.

Mr Brownlee and two of his staff deliberately bypassed airport security at Christchurch airport this morning. He offered his resignation as Transport Minister, but that was swiftly rejected by the PM.

I don’t think what happened is a sackable offence, but on balance I think it would have been better for the PM to accept the resignation. It wouldn’t have been resignation as a Minister (which would be ridiculous) but it would be resignation from that portfolio – which I think would have been justified on the grounds of the portfolio including responsibility for airport security.

Incidentally I think that we should abolish almost all security on domestic flights anyway.  We were fine for many years without them, and I don’t accept that what happened on 911 has increased the risk profile for domestic flights in NZ.  I accept we need stringent security for international flights, but why for domestic?

As it happens they don’t have them for domestic flights outside the three main cities. So flying to Hamilton has no security, yet flying to Auckland means you have to go through the x-ray etc.

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Labour MP trying to get a cartoon ruled illegal

July 25th, 2014 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

MP Louisa Wall says it is “appalling” that the Human Rights Commission has not upheld a single complaint under its race relations section despite receiving more than 2000 complaints since 1993.

No it is an excellent thing. Most complaints are settled with an apology or a decision there is no breach. Actually prosecuting someone for their speech should be reserved for the most grotesque forms of speech such as literal incitement of hatred or violence of the basis of race.

Louisa Wall, the Labour MP for Manurewa, has taken Fairfax Media and its papers The Press and Marlborough Express to the Human Rights Review Tribunal over cartoons by Al Nisbet printed in May last year.

The cartoons depicted people taking advantage of the Government’s breakfast-in-schools programme to spend money on their vices.

So a Labour MP is trying to stop a newspaper from exercising editorial control over its cartoons, by having it effectively prosecuted.  If you don’t like the cartoon, then don’t buy the paper.

Fairfax argued that the case concerned where to draw the line in section 61 complaints.

Wall had argued that it was too high a bar but Fairfax agreed with the Human Rights Commission that it should only be engaged at the serious end of the spectrum.

Lawyer Robert Stewart said if Wall’s approach was taken to its logical conclusion, any material that was “disrespectful, belittling, or that mocks a group on the ground of their colour, race or ethnicity” could be restricted by section 61.

I am sure that is what Labour wants. No more mocking.

Stewart said 61 should be interpreted “restrictively” to the serious end of the spectrum with​ “insulting” to mean “scornfully abusive”, and “bring into contempt”

to mean “regarding with deep despise, detestation or vilification”.

Yep.

Stewart said it was clear the editors “were aware of the possibility for the cartoons to cause offence”.

However, “the right to freedom of expression is also a right to shock, offend, and disturb any sector of the population”.

Exactly. There is no right not to be offended.

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