Archive for the ‘NZ Politics’ Category

Crampton on TPP and drugs

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

Eric Crampton writes:

I don’t think that the extensions to drug patents hinted at under TPP are for the good. But it isn’t obvious that they aren’t.

Let’s run the story.

Most new drug development happens in the US and EU, with more coming in now from China as well. It is ridiculously expensive to develop new drugs. Some of that is because the FDA makes things harder than they need to be, but a lot of it is real cost. The US has pretty strong drug patent protection to encourage investment in new drug development: nobody will spend hundreds of millions, or more, on drug research that might lead to one or two commercially viable breakthroughs if they can’t reap the rewards on the ones that pan out.

On that story, New Zealand and others have been free-riding pretty hard. Don’t get me wrong – this is great for New Zealand. We get a pile of generics out of India when they come off-patent here and the drug system saves tons of money. But we’re contributing rather less to the general “let’s develop more new drugs” effort. Price controls on pharmaceuticals do discourage new development (and here’s similar EU evidence), and newpharmaceutical innovation saves lives.

You could imagine an international convention, agreed to by everybody, that would reduce global free-riding on research done in the EU and US in order to get more new drugs developed. We in New Zealand would pay more than we’re paying now, but we’d also be paying a fairer share of the development costs of new drugs. Optimal pricing should still involve poorer countries paying less than richer ones, but you’d also have expected things like iPads to sell for less in New Zealand than in the US on the same kind of grounds – so that part might disappoint.

But think about the rhetoric on “doing our part” on global warming, and wonder why the same “doing our part” arguments haven’t been made about pharmaceutical innovation to save lives.

It’s a fair point.

Overall like Eric I don’t want want longer patent terms for drugs, but the cost to NZ may not be hugely significant. We’ll have to wait to see the costings, if or when there is a deal.

I’m still undecided on TPP, and getting nervous about the rhetoric. I’m a huge supporter of freeing up trade, but this is starting to sound like a very modest deal, rather than the gold plated one we were told was the aim of it.

Some of the US demands in the intellectual property chapter would be bad for New Zealand. We have resisted them to date, which is good. But as part of the final stage negotiating we may compromise on the IP chapter in order to make gains elsewhere. Now that may be okay if we get a really really good deal elsewhere, but not if we don’t.

The two key chapters appear to be dairy and IP. So broadly there are four scenarios. They are.

  1. Good dairy access, no compromise on IP chapter – a great outcome – sign it quickly
  2. Poor dairy access, no compromise on IP chapter – a modest outcome – worth signing
  3. Poor dairy access, significant compromises on IP chapter – don’t sign.
  4. Good dairy access, significant compromises on IP chapter – the difficult balancing act

So scenario 1 is what we want. Scenario 3 is what we should refuse to sign up to. Scenario 2 is disappointing but still a gain for NZ so ok.

Scenario 4 is more tricky. The devil will be in the detail. If we really got eventual unrestricted access to the US, Canadian and Japanese markets then we probably have to accept some painful concessions elsewhere. But if the dairy gains are relatively modest, then compromising on the IP chapter may turn the TPP into something I can’t support. Ultimately I’ll reserve judgement until I read the impact analysis, but I’m worried that scenario 1 is looking rather remote.

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Travel expenses for Wellington MPs

July 30th, 2015 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The latest MPs expenses have been published.

MPs need to travel to do their job, so it is no surprise that they have travel expenses. However MPs who live in Wellington, you generally expect to have smaller travel expenses, unless they have particular jobs (such as Opposition Leader) that requires them to travel a lot. So let’s look at the travel expenses for Wellington based MPs.

  1. Andrew Little $26,012
  2. Annette King $21,987
  3. Kris Faafoi $18,677
  4. Trevor Mallard $17,729
  5. Paul Foster-Bell $13,682
  6. James Shaw $12,637
  7. Chris Hipkins $11,858
  8. Jan Logie $11,733
  9. Gareth Hughes $10,927
  10. Grant Robertson $9,652
  11. Russel Norman $7,911
  12. Chris Bishop $6,318
  13. Brett Hudson $3,650

You can understand why Little and King have such expenses. But Faafoi and Mallard are spending almost $1,500 a week in travel, which seems a lot.

To put it into comparison Faafoi and Mallard have higher travel expenses than 80 other MPs, most of whom live outside of Wellington. They are 13th and 15th highest for travel costs out of 93 non Ministers.

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So Little says a referendum needs 50% turnout to be valid

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

Andrew Little has said:

Labour has moved to have the second flag referendum canned if the first attracts fewer than half the eligible number of voters, Opposition Leader Andrew Little says.

This is the same Andrew Little who said last year he favours a referendum on the flag and it should be changed. But anyway is this the leader of the Labour Party who forced a referendum on the partial asset sales in 2013 that had only a 45% turnout. So is Andrew Little say the referendum Labour, Greens and the unions forced on the public was a waste of time as it got under 50%?

And how about the union organised referendum in 1995 that had a 27% turnout only?

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Parliament 30 July 2015

July 30th, 2015 at 11:40 am by David Farrar

The order paper is here.

Oral Questions 2.00 pm – 3.00 pm

  1. Hon ANNETTE KING to the Minister of Health: In light of his admission yesterday that health funding has not kept up with all inflationary pressures under this Government, how will the health budget absorb the increased cost of purchasing medicines that the Prime Minister has said is likely to result from the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement?
  2. FLETCHER TABUTEAU to the Minister of Trade: Does he agree with the headlines in the Nikkei Asian Review, “Will TPP end with whimper like Doha Round?”, and in Gareth Morgan’s column, “Could the TPP become Key’s most embarrassing moment”?
  3. TODD BARCLAY to the Minister of Finance: What reports has he received on the outlook for the New Zealand economy?
  4. PHIL TWYFORD to the Minister for Building and Housing: Does he stand by his statement that non-resident foreign buyers in the Auckland housing market are a non-event; if so, on what empirical data does he base that?
  5. PAUL FOSTER-BELL to the Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment: What progress is the Government making in ensuring overseas-based New Zealanders repay their student loans?
  6. Dr RUSSEL NORMAN to the Minister of Trade: Has the New Zealand Government provided to other governments involved in the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations any documents regarding New Zealand’s position on specific issues in the negotiations; if so, have those documents been made publicly available to New Zealanders?
  7. CLAYTON MITCHELL to the Minister for Workplace Relations and Safety: Does he stand by his statement, “It’s important to strike the right balance between safe workplaces for workers and unnecessary red tape on businesses and I’m confident we have landed in the right space.”?
  8. Hon JUDITH COLLINS to the Minister of Education: What reports has she received on Trades Academies?
  9. JACINDA ARDERN to the Minister for Social Development: How much money has her Government spent developing and testing the ‘predictive risk model’ that was announced in 2012 to identify children at risk of harm and abuse, and in what year will it be rolled out?
  10. MARK MITCHELL to the Minister of Customs: How will the Government’s investment in next generation SmartGates increase security and ensure passengers are processed faster and more efficiently at the border?
  11. CATHERINE DELAHUNTY to the Minister of Education: Has she taken any papers to Cabinet proposing changes for charter schools; if so, is this an admission that the charter school model is not working?
  12. Hon DAVID PARKER to the Minister of Trade: Why did he say to journalists asking about the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement “we need adults to do this – not breathless children to run off at the mouth” and why does he think we should trust the Government to protect New Zealand’s interests when the Prime Minister has already admitted on TV that the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement may trade away New Zealand’s right to ban the sale of our homes to foreigners?

National: Four questions on the economy, student loans, trades academies and SmartGates

Labour: Four questions on health spending, Auckland housing, child abuse and TPP

Greens: Two questions on TPP and charter schools

NZ First: Two questions on TPP and workplace safety

Government Bills 3.00 pm to 6.00 pm 

Health and Safety Reform Bill – second reading

The Bill replaces the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992 and the Machinery Act 1950 to reform New Zealand’s workplace health and safety system, following the work of the Independent Taskforce on Workplace Health and Safety and the Royal Commission on the Pike River Coal Mine tragedy.

  • Introduced March 2014
  • 1st reading: March 2014, passed unanimously
  • SC report: July 2015, passed with amendments by majority with Labour, Green and NZ First minority reports

The second reading is a debate of 12 speeches of up to 10 minutes for a maximum debate of two hours.

Appropriation (2015/16 Estimates) Bill – committee stage continued

This Bill authorises the individual appropriations contained in The Estimates of Appropriations for the Government of New Zealand for the year ending 30 June 2016.

  • Introduced May 2015
  • 1st reading: May 2015, passed without dissent
  • 2nd reading: June 2015, passed 63-58 with Labour, Greens, NZ First against

The debate is an 11 hour debate divided into ten sector debates. The sectors are:

  • Economic Development and Infrastructure Sector – done
  • Education Sector – done
  • Environment Sector – done
  • External Sector – done
  • Finance and Government Administration Sector – done
  • Health Sector – current
  • Justice Sector
  • Māori, Other Populations and Cultural Sector
  • Primary Sector
  • Social Development and Housing Sector

Each debate is a minimum of eight speeches of up to five minutes each, led off by the relevant select committee chairperson.

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This is why you have Ministers

July 30th, 2015 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

tolley

Stuff reports:

A plan to treat vulnerable newborns as “lab rats” by sitting back for two years to see if they were abused has been blocked by the Government.

The Ministry of Social Development proposed to include 60,000 children born this year in an “observational study” to test the accuracy of its new predictive risk modelling tool.

It attempts to predict abuse, welfare dependency and the likelihood of a child’s downward spiral into crime on the path to adulthood so it can better target spending.

The Government gave the go-ahead to develop the model in 2012, as part of the Children’s Action Plan. It had now begun testing it. 

But documents show officials had sought ethical approval for one study which involved risk-rating a group of newborns and not intervening in high-risk cases, to check whether their predictions came true.

A furious Social Development Minister Anne Tolley said she could not fathom what her officials were thinking.

She has called a halt to the study.

The minister’s handwritten notes on the documents instructed officials: “not on my watch, these are children not lab rats”.

One of the roles of a Minister is to apply the political filter to stuff from their department. The idea that a Government would sign off on not intervening with at risk children just to test the accuracy of predictions is one which no good Minister would let fly.

Personally I’m surprised it even got to the Minister.

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The Craig booklet

July 29th, 2015 at 5:00 pm by David Farrar

The Craig dossier is on Scribd, put there by Ben Ross. [link removed as dossier is allegedly defamatory]

The Herald reports on some responses:

Mr Slater said he first heard about the defamation claim this afternoon, adding he had not been served court papers.

He said he had two words for Mr Craig: “Bring it.”

Mr Slater said he had “not one single concern” about Mr Craig’s legal action because he was capable of funding his defence and he had evidence for everything he published about Mr Craig on his website.

“New Zealand can find out once and for all what a ratbag Colin Craig is,” he said.

Mr Slater said if someone was going to stand for Parliament, it was important that the public knew about their background, especially if it contrasted with their Christian values.

Asked about Mr Craig’s allegations of “dirty politics”, Mr Slater said: “A: So what? B: Politics is dirty full-stop and if he doesn’t like it then perhaps he shouldn’t play away.”

Mr Stringer, a former Conservative Party board member and candidate who is based in Christchurch, said this afternoon that he stood by everything he had said about Mr Craig.

He said he had never met Slater or Williams, though he had corresponded with Slater since Mr Craig resigned.

“There is no dirty politics campaign against Colin Craig,” he said. “I’ve certainly not been part of one.”

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Craig sues

July 29th, 2015 at 2:37 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Colin Craig is seeking compensation for alleged defamatory comments made by the “Dirty Politics Brigade”.

He’s making cases against Jordan Williams, John Stringer and Cameron Slater in the order of $300,000, $600,000 and $650,000 respectively.

He made the announcement at a press conference in Auckland this afternoon.

He will also be releasing a booklet that outlines the “campaign of defamatory lies” he claims was purposely launched to undermine him.

If this goes to trial, discovery could be very interesting.

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Building consents

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

Stuff reports:

The Government is looking at ways to boost the private sector’s role in issuing building and resource consents.

At the same time it is eyeing ways to limit councils’ liability and ensure consumers are protected if builders fold to avoid paying for dodgy buildings.

Speaking to delegates at National’s annual conference in Auckland on Saturday, Housing Minister Nick Smith said a house typically costs about $500,00 to build, but councils would only receive about $10,000 in fees – equivalent to about 2 per cent of the revenue from the house. 

But when a building was faulty they had to pay on average about $200,000 towards the fix-up and may be “pinged” for the full cost.

“By comparison the building sector gets the bulk of the revenue from a building project but  is not paying its fair share of the liability,” he said.

“The building and construction companies are regularly winding their companies up under limited liability and avoiding that responsibility. And under joint and several liability it falls on the councils.”

That was why councils had been “so pedantic and conservative” about processing building consents, so they were not exposing themselves to liability. That in turn meant there were few private providers issuing building consents, even though they could under current law.

He said in Australia about 90 per cent of building consents were issued by the private sector and he wanted more competition and choice here.

We definitely want choice and competition between consenting authorities. That will incentivise them to act quicker and keep costs down.

The competition doesn’t have to be just private sector. One can have competition between Councils. When Christchurch lost its consenting authority, other Councils stepped in.  The Council that draws up the rules doesn’t have to be the Council that issues consents under those rules.

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Herald on power prices

July 29th, 2015 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

One in five Auckland households switched power companies last year, helping them save an average of $136 in the process.

The Electricity Authority’s annual review of the industry’s performance showed that 385,000 households changed their electricity provider in 2014 using Government-sponsored tools. That was fewer than the previous year, when 396,000 consumers changed companies.

The review by Government’s electricity regulator said the biggest savings were made in Bay of Plenty, where people changing providers saved an average of $318.

Households on the East Coast were most likely to switch companies – nearly a third moved to another retailer in 2014.

The review said growth of electricity brands – including a record-high 27 retailers – had fostered the high rates of company-switching. Aucklanders had the most choice with 21 companies, four of which had joined the market in the past year.

Great to see competition working.

The authority said prices had risen more slowly than retailers’ costs, which suggested that competitive pressure was limiting price rises.

However, prices still increased last year despite the more competitive market. Statistics New Zealand figures showed power prices rose 3.6 per cent – more than three times the rate of inflation.

This is the increase in the 2014 calendar year, but …

In the last quarter, Statistics New Zealand said there was zero change – the lowest annual change since 2001.

Yep a nil annual increase. Here’s the increases for June years for the last few years:

  • 06/07 6.0%
  • 07/08 6.7%
  • 08/09 5.3%
  • 09/10 1.0%
  • 10/11 7.6% (GST increase)
  • 11/12 3.7%
  • 12/13 3.3%
  • 13/14 4.5%
  • 14/15 0.0%

 

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Parliament 29 July 2015

July 29th, 2015 at 11:48 am by David Farrar

The order paper is here.

Oral Questions 2.00 pm – 3.00 pm

  1. JAMI-LEE ROSS to the Minister of Finance: How has the New Zealand economy been affected by recent international economic developments?
  2. ANDREW LITTLE to the Prime Minister: Does he stand by his statement that “it is highly unlikely, actually, that the Government will have to pay any more through Pharmac. But on the basis that it had to pay a tiny bit more, the Government would fund that increase”?
  3. KEVIN HAGUE to the Minister of Health: What advice, if any, has he sought or received on threats to public health in New Zealand?
  4. Dr JIAN YANG to the Associate Minister of Education: What investment is the Government making in Auckland schools to manage growth?
  5. Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS to the Prime Minister: Does he stand by all his statements?
  6. Hon ANNETTE KING to the Minister of Health: Has core Crown health expenditure kept up with health demographics and inflation growth since 2009/10?
  7. BRETT HUDSON to the Minister of Energy and Resources:What recent reports has he received on competition in the residential electricity market?
  8. CHRIS HIPKINS to the Minister of Education: Does she stand by her Government’s commitment that if partnership schools don’t succeed “the Government will be just as quick to close them down as we have been to establish them”; if so, how much taxpayer money is expected to be received by the Whangaruru partnership school between 28 May 2015, the date the Ministry recommended the termination of its contract, and 1 January 2016?
  9. TODD MULLER to the Minister for Building and Housing: What further progress has the Government made to deliver on its policy of delivering more houses in areas of need?
  10. KELVIN DAVIS to the Minister of Corrections: Does he stand by his answer during Oral Question No. 9 yesterday that “No, I have not received any reports” which contradict the official account of the number of attackers in the Littleton serious assault case?
  11. SARAH DOWIE to the Minister for Primary Industries: What recent reports has he received on the growth of the New Zealand horticulture industry?
  12. DARROCH BALL to the Minister for Social Development: Does she stand by all her statements?

National: Five questions on the economy, Auckland schools, electricity market, state housing and horticulture

Labour: Four questions on TPP, health spending, charter schools and Mt Eden Prison

Greens: One question on public health

NZ First: Two questions on PM standing by his statements and Anne Tolley standing by her statements

General Debate 3.00 pm to 4.00 pm

A general debate of 12 speech of up to five minutes for a maximum of an hour.

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

New Zealand Flag Referendum Bill – committee stage

The Bill establishes a process for the holding of 2 postal referendums, firstly to determine which alternative flag design is preferred by voters, and secondly to determine whether that alternative flag or the current flag is to be the New Zealand flag.”

  • Introduced: March 2015
  • 1st reading: March 2015, passed 76 to 43 with Labour and NZ First opposed
  • SC report: June 2015, supported with amendments by the majority, Labour dissenting
  • 2nd reading: July 2015, passed 63 to 58 with Labour, Greens and NZ First opposed

There is no set time limit for the committee stage. As the bill has three parts it is likely to be at least three hours.

Appropriation (2015/16 Estimates) Bill – committee stage continued

This Bill authorises the individual appropriations contained in The Estimates of Appropriations for the Government of New Zealand for the year ending 30 June 2016.

  • Introduced May 2015
  • 1st reading: May 2015, passed without dissent
  • 2nd reading: June 2015, passed 63-58 with Labour, Greens, NZ First against

The debate is an 11 hour debate divided into ten sector debates. The sectors are:

  • Economic Development and Infrastructure Sector – done
  • Education Sector – done
  • Environment Sector – done
  • External Sector – done
  • Finance and Government Administration Sector – done
  • Health Sector – current
  • Justice Sector
  • Māori, Other Populations and Cultural Sector
  • Primary Sector
  • Social Development and Housing Sector

Each debate is a minimum of eight speeches of up to five minutes each, led off by the relevant select committee chairperson.

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Human Rights Commission badly skews data

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

The Human Rights Commission said:

A gender stocktake of appointments to state sector boards reveals some Government ministers are doing very well while others need to try a lot harder says EEO Commissioner Jackie Blue.

The Ministry of Women’s Affairs gender stocktake of state sector appointments shows little has changed in ten years: including those years when Labour were in power.

“It’s 2015 not 1915: Ministers who appoint less than 3 in 10 women to their boards must do better, they have no excuse but to do better,” said Dr Blue.

“I congratulate those ministers close to achieving equity and urge their colleagues to see them as best practice.”

“Ministers doing well include: 45% (Upston) and 50% (Tolley, English) and those who have slightly surpassed 50% (Woodhouse, Coleman, Dunne, Parata). Minister Goodhew achieved 66% female representation and the case must be made that future appointments need re-balancing.”

“However ministers who appoint less than 3 in 10 women to their boards (McCully, Bridges, Brownlee, Key) have a lot of catching up to do.”

However the Human Rughts Commission made a fatal error, as reported by Claire Trevett:

Women’s Minister Louise Upston and Transport Minister Simon Bridges are among those copping blame for the deeds of their predecessors after analysis named and shamed ministers with low rates of appointing women to boards.

Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner Jackie Blue released information showing the percentage of women appointments to boards in ministerial portfolios, broken down by individual ministers.

However, the analysis was based on appointments in the 2014 year and many were before the election resulted in a reshuffle of portfolios.

That means many ministers are now either benefiting from or being blamed for the deeds of their predecessors.

The Human Rights Commission should apologise to the ministers it named. The stocktake by the Ministry of Women’s Affairs just referred to portfolios, and it was the HRC which then attributed them all to the current Ministers, rather than the Ministers in office for most of 2014.

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DHBs should be appointed not elected

July 28th, 2015 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

A leaked document suggests removing the control of District Health Boards from elected representatives in a proposed overhaul of their governance structure.

The Capability and Capacity Review leaked to Radio New Zealand is part of a series of reviews implemented in the health sector when new Director-General of Health Chai Chuah was confirmed in the role in March.

Currently most DHBs have 11 members, seven of whom are elected at local government elections.

The remaining four are appointed by the Minister of Health.

I have long advocated that DHBs should be entirely appointed by the Government. The Government funds DHBs and is accountable the performance of the health system.

Having elected members actually allows the Government to avoid accountability and responsibility. The problems at a DHB are then blamed on the DHB members, instead of the Government.

But Health Minister Jonathan Coleman said major changes were unlikely.

The review was a third party report, and not Government policy, Coleman told RNZ.

A pity.

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How about Option 4 for Chch – give us our money back!

July 28th, 2015 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Former Christchurch Mayor Garry Moore is spearheading a group calling for a city council-led earthquake recovery.

Moore, a long-term mayor before Sir Bob Parker, and architectural designer Barnaby Bennett are among the founders of the Option 3+ group, which has attracted 649 members on Facebook within two weeks of its creation.

Moore said the group was about “capturing our city back” from “Wellington’s hands”.

I’m all for that, if it means they also no longer want Wellington’s money.

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Quote of the week

July 28th, 2015 at 8:00 am by TaxpayersUnion

“A robber who justified his theft by saying that he really helped his victims, by his spending giving a boost to retail trade, would find few converts; but when this theory is clothed in Keynesian equations and impressive references to the “multiplier effect,” it unfortunately carries more conviction.”

– Murray Rothbard

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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Euthanasia already happening in NZ

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

Stuff reports:

Doctors and nurses are playing increasing roles in prescribing, supplying or administering drugs that may hasten a patient’s death, according to new research.

A University of Auckland study anonymously surveyed 650 GPs.

Sixteen reported prescribing, supplying or administering a drug with the explicit intention of bringing death about more quickly.

But in 15 of those cases, it was nurses who administered the drugs. 

Researchers acknowledged the actions of the GPs would generally be understood as euthanasia, but the survey did not use that term. 

In the survey, led by Auckland University senior lecturer Dr Phillipa Malpas, GPs were asked about the last death at which they were the attending doctor.

Of the 650 to respond, 359 (65.6 per cent) reported that they had made decisions, such as withdrawing treatment or alleviating pain, taking into account the probability that they may hasten death.

Some made explicit decisions about hastening death.

Of the 359, 16.2 per cent withheld treatments with the “explicit purpose of not prolonging life or hastening the end of life”.

So euthanasia is already quite widespread – but with no legal protections for patients. If we legalise euthanasia, then we put in place a legal process where we can be sure any actions taken are with the consent of the patient, and is necessary tostop their suffering.

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Supporting trade academies

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

Stuart Middleton from MIT writes:

The New Zealand Herald is right to call for more enrolments in trades academies. Yet to protect teacher management jobs from funding cuts, the NZ Post Primary Teacher’s Association (PPTA) recently advised against secondary schools enrolling numbers of students in trades academies.

The argument put forward by the PPTA is that they will lose funding for the one day per week that the student attends trades training.

Cutting the number of students able to access trades academies would dramatically disadvantage those students – particularly those in low decile areas. Trades academies are proven to keep students in education longer and to improve their employment outcomes.

That’s the important outcome.

South Auckland has experienced real success with these initiatives. As an example, the MIT Tertiary High School (introduced in 2010) has produced fantastic results for students who weren’t achieving in mainstream schools – its NCEA pass rate is comparable to decile 10 schools, and students are learning skills which will prepare them for real jobs in the future.

Early access to vocational and technical programmes is the key.

Importantly, the students’ results improved in their other subjects, not just the trades. Research, including a study undertaken by the MIT Centre for Studies in Multiple Pathways, shows that students learning in trades academies perform much better across all of their schooling.

Excellent.

The issue for the PPTA is that this training is best undertaken by the tertiary sector. It is cynical to deny students these opportunities simply because it would decrease a school’s funding. It is perverse that a higher premium is placed on a relatively small amount of staffing, than on the success that trades training can deliver to students.

We will only get different results by working differently. The PPTA needs to work with the opportunities, instead of resisting them. Mixing conventional school subjects with trades training is a winning combination and the only way that New Zealand will achieve excellence in both achievement and equitable outcomes across our communities.

By withdrawing students from trades training, the disadvantage for many students will far outweigh the funding advantage to a few adults.

Well said.

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Stuff repeating fiction as fact

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

Stuff reports:

Lorde has gone beyond the role of pop princess and is speaking out to help Kiwi kids in need.

The singer posted an image on Instagram of lunches from Eat My Lunch, a start-up run by award-winning chef Michael Meredith and Auckland woman Lisa King. 

For every lunch ordered through the service, another is provided for a child who can’t afford their own.

A great initiative, and cool to see Ella supporting it. But the part of the story which is wrong is:

It is estimated one in four children in New Zealand live in poverty and go without lunch every day.

One can debate the correct definition of poverty, but let’s put that to one side. The assertion (reported as fact) that one in four kids go without lunch every day is wrong. It was an assertion made by Metiria Turei which has been debunked. I blogged in March on this.

KidsCan said that in the 449 schools it works with, 23% of kids need lunch every day on average. There are 2,500 schools in NZ, so this is 23% of the 20% of schools that have a problem (and hence KidsCan is involved with).

That 23% of 20% is around 4% of kids overall. So it is one in 20, not one in four.

Now one in 20 is too many, and that’s why it is great we have charities there helping kids whose parents aren’t providing lunches. But there is a big difference between one in 20 and one in four.

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Latest poll

July 27th, 2015 at 7:49 am by David Farrar

I’ve blogged at Curia the results of the 3 News Reid Research poll broadcast last night.

Like the One News Colmar Brunton poll the previous week, it shows no bounce for Labour from its targeting of people with Chinese surnames.

What it does show is that Andrew Little has fallen below Winston Peters as Preferred Prime Minister.

This is a feat never achieved by Phil Goff, David Shearer or David Cunliffe.

The last time an Opposition Leader failed to poll in the top two as Preferred Prime Minister was in October 2003 – 12 years ago. Later that month he was rolled in a coup.

So the results of Labour’s concede Northland to Winston strategy has been to have their leader fall into third place behind Winston as Preferred PM.

And the results of their decision to highlight home buyers with Chinese surnames has been to achieve nothing in the polls, but alienate many Chinese New Zealanders.

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Five migration changes announced by PM

July 26th, 2015 at 1:13 pm by David Farrar

The PM announced at the National Party conference five changes to migration policy. They are:

  1. Currently, skilled migrants with a job offer get 10 extra points if that job is outside Auckland, and those points count towards the 100 they require. From 1 November, they will treble that, and give them 30 extra points.
  2. Last year launched an Entrepreneur Work Visa, targeting migrants who offer high-level business experience, capital and international connections. Currently, people applying for this visa get 20 extra points if they set up a business outside Auckland, and that counts towards the 120 they require. From 1 November, we will double that to 40 extra points.
  3. From 1 November employers can find out faster whether New Zealanders are available to fill a particular vacancy, before they lodge a visa application with Immigration New Zealand by being able to contact Work and Income directly to check availability.
  4. The Government intends to provide a pathway to residence for a limited number of long-term migrants on temporary work visas in the South Island.
  5. Government will consider a new global impact visa targeted at young, highly-talented and successful technology entrepreneurs and start-up teams, who want to be based in New Zealand, employ talented Kiwis and reach across the globe.

All sounds sensible to me.

Talking of the conference I was disappointed there were so few protesters there. I think I recognised around half of them personally!

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Social housing priorities

July 26th, 2015 at 9:38 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

The Government is poised to crack down on people on the state house waiting list who turn down a house offered to them, Social Housing Minister Paula Bennett said at the National Party conference in Auckland.

They will drop down the list unless there was good reason — at present there are no repercussions.

Anyone who turned down a house for insufficient reason should not remain ahead of someone else on the list, she said.

Mrs Bennett said that in the year from November 2013 to 2014, a total of 3,081 people on the waiting list for a state house declined a property offered to them.

She later released figures showing that 7 per cent of them had declined a property three or more times.

“They often declined because they didn’t like the neighbour, or they didn’t think the fence was good enough and there is no repercussion for people who decline houses.

“I’m sorry, but that sort of thing has to stop.”

Agreed. Unless there is a really good reason, you need to take the house offered to you.

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Councillors keen to steal dividends off power users

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

NBR reports:

Cameron Brewer says he is pleased the “sacred cow” Auckland Energy Consumer Trust (AECT) is included in the review. Although AECT is not a council asset, under its 80-year deed it will be wound up in 2073. Its biggest asset is a 75.4% ownership of Vector, worth $2.1 billion.

“We owe it to ratepayers to explore the trust, its deed, legislation and the value or potential of its assets, instead of stinging them every year while council debt continues to skyrocket. The shares are owned by Aucklanders, who also pay rates and it remains the biggest and most glaring nest-egg in the region. 

“I am sure the Aucklanders receiving a $300 dividend cheque every year won’t mind forgoing it if it means lower rates and the money is ploughed into infrastructure that benefit the region.

I’m damn sure they will mind having their dividend cheques stolen off them by the Council.

The Council should learn to live within its means, not look to steal assets off other organisations.

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Hehir on ISDS

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

Liam Hehir writes:

Protectionist critics of the TPP, however, allege that ISDS undermines national self-government by allowing foreign businesses to sue member states over legitimate policy decisions. NZ First MP Fletcher Tabuteau is so concerned about this that he has a bill before Parliament to outlaw free trade agreements that include ISDS provisions altogether – something that would preclude our participation in the TPP.

Consistent with its Hamlet-like agonising on the subject, Labour has pledged to support Tabuteau’s bill to a first reading (despite the fact that it will almost certainly back the treaty when it comes to the crunch).

In fact, concerns over ISDS are probably overstated.

In the first place, ISDS is now a well-established aspect of international trade. Globally, there are already about 3000 treaties and deals with ISDS in place. Our own recent free trade agreements with Malaysia, South Korea and the People’s Republic of China include such provisions (and did so, it should be added, with Labour’s support).

Yes, ISDS is not some new thing dreamt up by the US. Labour agreed to ISDS clauses in most of the FTAs they signed.

Those still wavering can take further comfort in the fact that, in any event, no ISDS procedure will be able to overturn any of our laws or enjoin our government from any particular course of action. The most an aggrieved party could ever win would be compensation for harm suffered. And if our Government didn’t want to pay the damages, nobody could force it to – though our international reputation would take an (entirely deserved) beating if that happened.

This is not to say that we should go along with ISDS in any form whatsoever. We should only sign treaties we intend to honour and a badly drafted ISDS regime could expose the Government to unmeritorious claims that could soon become a serious nuisance. If the risk of that happening outweighs the benefits of the treaty, then the Government should refuse the deal.

When all is said and done, however, there is nothing conceptually untoward about ISDS provided our overall national sovereignty is not threatened (more on that next time). The devil will be in the detail, of course, but in all probability New Zealanders will have more to gain from the mechanism than our government stands to lose from it. It is not, in principle, a sound reason to oppose the TPP.

As Hehir says, there are some ISDS forms which would be bad for NZ. But our negotiators have negotiated ISDS clauses in several previous FTAs, and we’ve never had a problem to date with them.

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Court says prisoner voting ban breaches the Bill of Rights Act

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

Stuff reports:

A ban on prisoners voting has been ruled inconsistent with the Bill of Rights, in a declaration from the courts that is the first of its kind.

Prisoner Arthur Taylor is one of a group of five serving prisoners who argued that the Electoral (Disqualification of Sentenced Prisoners) Amendment Act 2010 was inconsistent with the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act 1990.

Under the amended act, all people in prison on election day are unable to vote.

Taylor lost a High Court bid in September last year which would have allowed him to vote in the general election. 

On Friday, Justice Paul Heath formally declared the ban to be inconsistent with the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act, which all laws should be in line with. 

The declaration from the High Court was the first of its kind. It sends a formal message to Parliament that the law it passed was indefensible as it limited individual rights without reasonable justification. 

This is not a big surprise, as the Attorney-General said much the same thing when the law change was being considered.

I’m of the view that the previous ban on prisoners sentenced to more than three years was arbitrary and unprincipled.

I believe either all prisoners should be able to vote, or no prisoners should be able to vote. And I’m not overly keen on giving Clayton Weatherston a vote I have to say.

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Shaw on Muller

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

James Shaw does 12 questions in the Herald:

8. Who do you like in National?
Todd Muller. He’s a former Fonterra executive now at the bottom of the ladder as a backbench MP. There have been a few times when we’ve looked at each other across the aisle and just gone, wide-eyed, “What is going on here?” We share the idea that we’re here to get something done and we ought to be talking to each other. Todd has a great deal of integrity, thoughtfulness and openness.

I agree with James.

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Corrections takes over Mt Eden

July 24th, 2015 at 3:46 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

The Corrections Department has confirmed plans to take over Serco’s management of Mt Eden Correctional Facility.

Corrections Minister Sam Lotu Iiga said this afternoon that a management team would take over the day to day running of the prison from Monday “for the immediate future”.

Serco’s staff would remain on site, but a Corrections Department Prison Director and their team would oversee the prison. …

As part of Serco’s contract, Government has power to step in and manage the prison either on a temporary or permanent basis.

You wonder what has been discovered for the Government to take this step?

But this is the good with with accountable contracts. If a provider fails to meet standards, then they can be held accountable – either fined, overseen, or ultimately replaced.

Serco has to pay for the cost of the staff stepping in.

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