Archive for the ‘NZ Politics’ Category

Bishop announces for Hutt South

April 17th, 2014 at 12:21 pm by Jadis

Nice to see a local lad going for the National Party nomination in Hutt South.  Chris Bishop has been around the Party for many years, is a very strong debater and will give Mallard a run for his money.

I’m putting my name forward to be the National Party’s candidate for Hutt South as I believe the electorate needs a fresh face in Parliament and a strong voice in Government.

Lower Hutt is my home. I was born in Lower Hutt Hospital in 1983 and attended Eastern Hutt School and Hutt Intermediate. I played cricket on the Strand in summer, rugby on the Hutt Rec in winter, and waterpolo in Naenae Pool.

Those of us from the Hutt know what a great place it is. It’s a fantastic place to bring up a family, to work in, and to have fun in. Lower Hutt is full of friendly, creative, hard-working people who are proud of where they live. It’s my community, and I’m passionate about making the Hutt even better.

 

He’s got a pretty tidy CV for his age and thankfully a mix of Wellington and real world work experience – especially for his age.   He is of course a Senior Adviser to Joyce.  A role he will need to step down from through the selection process.

I work as a Senior Advisor to Steven Joyce at Parliament, helping him implement the National government’s programme to lift our economic growth and deliver better public services for Kiwis. From 2008-11, I worked in a similar role for Gerry Brownlee.

Between 2011 and 2013 I spent two years living and working in Auckland as a Corporate Affairs Manager for a large international corporate. I learned a lot, very quickly, about what makes business tick. I believe it is important MPs understand not just Wellington and government – but also how government decisions affect business and economic growth. My time in the private sector has given me that knowledge.

I have a Bachelor of Laws with first class honours and a Bachelor of Arts from Victoria University. While at Victoria I was elected to the University Council, tutored law, and was President of the Debating Society, winning three NZ University Blues. I’ve won 10 intervarsity debating tournaments, including at the Cambridge Union and the Sydney Union, and I was twice ranked as one of the top 10 debaters in the Asia Pacific. I’ve also won awards for mooting (legal arguing) and oratory.

I’m an active contributor to the community and have served on a range of charitable organisations in Wellington and overseas. From 2008-12, I was President of the NZ Schools’ Debating Council, a charity which organises debating in secondary schools in New Zealand. I’ve adjudicated hundreds of school debates around New Zealand and also overseas. In 2006 I was named Young Wellingtonian of the Year.

I didn’t know that Chris had been Young Wellingtonian of the Year.  

Of course, Chris still has to win the nomination and with today’s announcements about boundary changes there may be some competition for the Hutt South nomination. 

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Parliament Today 17 April 2014

April 17th, 2014 at 12:00 pm by Jordan.M

Questions for Oral Answer 2.00PM-3.00PM

Questions to Ministers.

  1. DENIS O’ROURKE to the Minister of Transport: Does he agree with all of the Prime Minister’s statements concerning transport?
  2. JOANNE HAYES to the Minister of Finance: What reports has he received on recent trends in the cost of living for New Zealanders?
  3. GRANT ROBERTSON to the Minister of Justice: Did she meet with a senior official from the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine, also known as the AQSIQ, during her Ministerial visit to China in October 2013?
  4. PAUL GOLDSMITH to the Minister for State Owned Enterprises: What progress has the Government made on the mixed ownership model programme?
  5. Hon DAVID PARKER to the Minister of Finance: Does he stand by all his statements?
  6. ALFRED NGARO to the Minister for Social Development: What recent reports has she received about the number of people on a benefit?
  7. Dr KENNEDY GRAHAM to the Prime Minister: Does he support or condemn the killing of a New Zealand citizen by a United States drone strike in Yemen last year?
  8. Dr CAM CALDER to the Minister of Education: What recent announcements has she made on further Initial Teacher Education provision?
  9. JACINDA ARDERN to the Minister of Police: Does she stand by her statements that police are “much happier under a National-led Government” and that, “there have been no police budget cuts”?
  10. CHRIS AUCHINVOLE to the Associate Minister of Transport: What recent initiatives has the Government announced to help improve safety on our roads?
  11. DARIEN FENTON to the Minister of Immigration: What steps has he taken to ensure that New Zealand workers are given priority for jobs in the Christchurch rebuild and migrant workers given temporary visas are protected?
  12. TE URUROA FLAVELL to the Minister for Primary Industries: Is he aware of the concerns of the Chairman of Te Rūnanga ā Iwi o Ngāpuhi that the revised policy laid out in the Fisheries (Foreign Charter Vessels and Other Matters) Amendment Bill will disproportionately affect iwi owners of settlement quota who lack the scale, capital and flexibility of other quota owners to make other arrangements for catching their annual catch entitlement; if so, what is he doing to address these concerns?

Today Labour are asking about the Oravida saga, whether the Minister of Finance stands by all his statements, budget cuts to the Police, and migrant workers. The Greens are asking about drone strikes. New Zealand First are asking about transport.

Patsy of the day goes to Cam Calder for Question 8: What recent announcements has she made on further Initial Teacher Education provision?

Government Bills 3.00PM-6.00PM

1. Social Security (Fraud Measures and Debt Recovery) Amendment Bill - Third Reading

2. Land Transport Amendment Bill (No 2) - Third Reading

The Social Security (Fraud Measures and Debt Recovery) Amendment Bill is being guided through the house by the Associate Minister for Social Welfare, Chester Borrows. This bill proposes amendments to the Social Security Act 1964 to make spouses and partners, as well as beneficiaries, accountable for fraud, and to enable the Ministry of Social Development to recover debt more effectively.

The Land Transport Amendment Bill (No 2) is being guided through the house by the Minister of Transport, Gerry Brownlee. This bill was formerly part of the Land Transport and Road User Charges Legislation Amendment Bill (Formerly part of Land Transport and Road User Charges Legislation Amendment Bill).

 

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Parliament Today April 16 2014

April 16th, 2014 at 2:25 pm by Jordan.M

Questions for Oral Answer.

Questions to Ministers 2.00PM-3.00PM.

  1. Hon DAVID CUNLIFFE to the Prime Minister: Does he have confidence in the Hon Judith Collins and her handling of her relationship with Oravida Ltd?
  2. JAMI-LEE ROSS to the Minister of Finance: What are likely to be the main pressures on interest rates and what steps is the Government taking to help prevent home mortgage rates from returning to levels seen in 2008?
  3. GRANT ROBERTSON to the Minister of Justice: Was the employer of the senior Chinese border control official, who she had dinner with in Beijing in October 2013 on her Ministerial visit to China, from the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine also known as the AQSIQ?
  4. Dr RUSSEL NORMAN to the Minister of Energy and Resources: Does he stand by all his statements?
  5. Hon KATE WILKINSON to the Minister for Canterbury Earthquake Recovery: What new initiatives is the Government supporting to assist housing affordability in Christchurch?
  6. Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS to the Minister of Justice: Why will she not identify the senior Chinese border official with whom she met on 20 October 2013, and disclose the business that was discussed at the dinner with him that evening?
  7. IAIN LEES-GALLOWAY to the Minister for ACC: Does she stand by her answers to Oral Question No. 10 yesterday?
  8. TIM MACINDOE to the Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment: What progress has the Government made in ensuring overseas-based student loan borrowers meet their obligations to New Zealand taxpayers?
  9. PHIL TWYFORD to the Minister of Housing: Does he stand by his statement that it will take “a period of a decade or two” to get housing affordability to his long-term target?
  10. KEVIN HAGUE to the Minister for ACC: Have all of the recommendations of the 2012 Independent Review of ACC’s Privacy and Security of Information been implemented; if not, why not?
  11. ANDREW LITTLE to the Minister of Finance: Does he stand by his statement “we still have much more to do to improve New Zealand’s economic growth and to support higher incomes across the board”?
  12. Dr PAUL HUTCHISON to the Minister of Health: What investments has the Government made to support new technology for paramedics?

Today Labour are asking two questions about Oravida, ACC privacy, Housing and, Economic Growth. The Greens are asking about energy, and  ACC privacy.  New Zealand First are asking about Oravida, and economic growth.

Patsy of the day goes to Dr Paul Hutchison for Q12: What investments has the Government made to support new technology for paramedics?

General Debate 3.00PM -4.00PM

12 speeches of 5 minutes each. Educational and amusing.

Government Bills 4.00PM-6.00PM and 7.30PM -10.00PM.

1. Statutes Amendment Bill (No 4) - First Reading

2. Victims of Crime Reform Bill – Committee Stage

3. Victims’ Orders Against Violent Offenders Bill - Committee Stage

The Statutes Amendment Bill (No 4) is being guided through the house by the Minister for Courts, Chester Borrows.  A Statutes Amendment Bill is an omnibus bill that amends a range of Acts.

The Victims of Crime Reform Bill is being guided through the house by the Minister of Justice, Judith Collins. This bill amends legislation so as to implement the Government’s reform package for victims of crime.

The Victims’ Orders Against Violent Offenders Bill is being guided through the house by the Minister of Justice, Judith Collins. This bill would establish a mechanism for a victim of a violent offence to obtain a non-contact order against an offender sentenced to imprisonment for five years or more.

 

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Spot the Spoof

April 16th, 2014 at 1:33 pm by Jadis

* Jadis post

So yesterday we had the dump truck policy from David Cunliffe, where he said:

“There’s nothing Kiwis like more than getting on the road and going on holiday. But on public holidays like Easter and Anzac Weekend fun can quickly turn to frustration when the family realises the rego for the caravan has expired or there’s a big truck hogging the fast lane.”

Then today we get this different kind of statement from Cunliffe (via Imperator Fish)

But we’re not stopping there. People also tell us that they can’t stand it when they’re merging in traffic, and when some clown in a souped-up car tries to push ahead of everyone else. We’ll make sure everyone merging in traffic follows the rules.

I’ve been travelling up and down this country talking to people, and I hear a lot of complaints. People are fed up. People have had enough. They’re at their wits’ end. They want to know why it is that when their neighbour’s car alarm goes off at three in the morning for the fourth night in a row, the police lack the power to confiscate the vehicle. We’ll fix that.

It simply isn’t good enough for this government to throw up its hands and say “not our problem” every time you go to open a tin of baked beans, only to find that the tin opener fails to cut the last bit, and then you have to get a spoon or a knife to twist the lid up, and then you have to wiggle the lid until it breaks off.

It’s not good enough for John Key and his rich mates to say “we’re not responsible” when you buy a carton of Anchor vanilla custard from the supermarket, take it home, and then open the carton at the top to pour the contents out, only to find that the custard is too thick to come out. Where’s the support for hardworking Kiwis forced to use a pair of scissors to cut the top of the carton off? Who’s looking after ordinary mums and dads forced to scoop the custard out with a spoon?

This is quality satire – all within the realms of possibility.  Well done, Scott.  I am sure you got a few heads nodding in agreement.

 

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Clustertruck continues

April 15th, 2014 at 5:18 pm by Jadis

* a Jadis post – by now you know the drill.  DPF will return one day

So it turns out that yet again Cunliffe and the Labour team haven’t checked the numbers or the unintended consequences of a policy announcement.  Ministry of Transport analysis shows that under Labour’s new policy many motorhomes would actually be charged higher Road User Charges – not lower as Cunliffe tried to suggest earlier today.  Brownlee explains this latest clustertruck from the Labour team:

“But analysis by the Ministry of Transport shows that based on the difference between average and maximum weights for trucks versus motorhomes, the owners of many motorhomes would end up paying more for Road User Charges than they do today.

“Road User Charges already assume that a vehicle travels empty about half of the time, as trucks frequently do travelling from a depot to pick up a load, or returning to the depot.

“Motorhomes, however, generally carry their furniture, fittings and other material at all times, which means they weigh more than an equivalent unladen truck.

“The 4.6 tonne average motorhome is in a weight band required to pay Road User Charges of about $57 per 1000 kilometres.  If paying by actual weight, Road User Charges would typically be between $50 and $70 per 1000 kilometres, depending on the exact weight of the vehicle and its fit out.

“So this policy would see many motorhome owners penalised rather than compensated, in some cases by as much as 22 per cent.

I wonder, was this Cunliffe’s intention?  May be he is doing us a favour by stealth and getting those slow motorhomes (and tourists) off the road.  The attack on the truckies was just a cunning sideshow.  Yeah, nah… I call Clustertruck on this one

 

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Mills has always been Left

April 15th, 2014 at 3:00 pm by Jadis

* Jadis post – the DPF goat is still up a mountain

Issac Davidson has had a tough day.  First, the online team put a graphic of a two-lane motorway to a story about Cunliffe’s 3-4 lane truck ban and then someone puts a silly headline to Issac’s story about Phillip Mills donating to Labour and the Greens.

“Climate swings donor Left”

The head of an international fitness empire says he is donating $125,000 to Labour and the Greens because he is fed up with National’s inaction on climate change.

Les Mills International chief executive Phillip Mills, a former New Zealand Entrepreneur of the Year, has given donations totalling $64,999 to the Labour Party and $60,000 to the Green Party, which were declared by the two parties yesterday.

If I was the Greens I’d be a bit miffed as Mills has done plenty of work with them (and associated organisations) in the past.

He said he had been politically neutral until now, but Government’s response to the latest United Nations warnings on climate change had prompted him to take a side.

“I’ve been trying impartially to deal with National. I’ve met with John Key around this a number of times …and really I held the hope that I and groups that I’ve been involved with would be able to get National to see sense.

Oh come now, Phillip. There’s nothing remotely ‘neutral about some of the groups you’ve been involved in and the media comments you’ve made.

And if we’re talking climate change… how many flights have you taken in the last five years growing your business interests, speaking on the world circuit and proselytising?  If one believed in human-lead climate change then one might only Skype rather than fly?

 

 

 

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The MP that never was

April 15th, 2014 at 2:30 pm by Jadis

* Jadis post – if it isn’t a travel blog post it will be from Jadis.  As tempting as it is to go climb a mountain I am doing stuff that normal people do like looking after my family, building two businesses, volunteering to a few causes I believe in and providing the odd barb here in the hope that DPF can hang on to a few followers while he is gallivanting around the countryside… or mountainside.

The Herald reports:

Kim Dotcom’s Internet Party says discussions with a sitting electorate MP who was poised to join the party have ended due to the prospect of a tie up with Hone Harawira’s Mana Party.

When my daughter was little she had imaginary friends.  She had around ten of them and they had various names and distinct personalities.  We did a bit of research into them and this Wikipedia entry sums it up pretty well:

Imaginary friends or imaginary companions are a psychological and social phenomenon where a friendship or other interpersonal relationship takes place in the imagination rather than external physical reality. Imaginary friends are fictional characters created for improvisational role-playing. They often have elaborate personalities and behaviors. Although they may seem very real to their creators, children usually understand that their imaginary friends are not real.[

The key line is that children usually understand that their imaginary friends are not real.  Kim Dotcom clearly does not understand that “Mystery MP” or perhaps he calls him”Mister Reempy” is a figment of his own imagination.  I fear that all those role-playing games that Mr Dotcom likes to play have blurred his lines between reality and fiction.

 

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Cunliffe says “Truck off”

April 15th, 2014 at 1:32 pm by Jadis

* a jadis post as DPF lost on the mountain for days and days.  I could have posted earlier but to be honest I have a life of family, work, work, voluntary work, etc that means Kiwiblog got a lower priority

 

Well, it seems that David Cunliffe and Labour were so concerned about Kiwiblog’s hibernation that they felt the need to launch a nutty ‘waste of time’ policy.

What the truck is Cunliffe thinking with his ultimate ‘truck off’ policy?   This is real Matt ‘gamechanger’ McCarten stuff.

Under the transport proposals, trucks would not be able to drive in the fast lane in three or four-lane motorways. The move was designed to reduce congestion because trucks had a lower speed limit of 90km/h.

Cunliffe’s big speech today (the one where he is avoiding the House (despite multiple political angles he could run) and the speech that wasn’t even properly advised to media!) is titled ‘Leading and managing our economic future’ and this ‘Truck off’ policy” is his goldmine announcement to (his words) ‘leading and managing our economic future’.

OK, so here’s a few wee things for Mr Cunliffe to think about:

1. Trucks, yes those heavy ones, are very important to New Zealand’s economy.  There’s an awful lot of them particularly in the Golden Triangle (Auckland-Hamilton-Tauranga) that move goods to port for export, that move goods from suppliers to customers, and that employ thousands of New Zealanders.

2. The road rule is already 90km maximum for heavy trucks (as Cunliffe says himself) and the Police can (and do) tell off truckies if they could use a different lane.  The answer is not more legislation Mr Cunliffe.  The answer is if someone is breaking a rule then Police it.  Somehow I don’t think you’ll be asking the Police to up their focus on this area… or will you?

3. Sometimes truckies use the so-called fast lane because they have a turn coming up.  At what point does Mr Cunliffe propose the lane ban takes place? 100m? 50m? Will he then take responsibility for any crashes that take place as trucks try to keep with the lane ban policy and wipe out a car or two in the process?

4. We need trucks to get our goods to retailers and customers and from suppliers.  Manufacturing relies heavily on trucks.  I thought you cared about manufacturing Mr Cunliffe.  How about our primary production industries?  They need trucks too?  It seems you want to drive down the number of trucks on our roads.  Does this mean the next big policy from Labour is a massive investment into rail.  Hmmm… lots of New Zealand isn’t electrified so it’ll either be dirty diesels or millions and millions of investment in rail infrastructure and rolling stock too  Who is paying for that, Mr Cunliffe?

5. Your policy only applies to three and four lane motorways.  There’s quite a few of those in Auckland but very few in other parts of the country.  You talk about:

“There’s nothing Kiwis like more than getting on the road and going on holiday. But on public holidays like Easter and Anzac Weekend fun can quickly turn to frustration when the family realises the rego for the caravan has expired or there’s a big truck hogging the fast lane,” he said.

Umm… Aucklanders generally get held up on one or two lane highways on their way to the Coromandel or the North for their Easter break.  They are more likely to get held up by a caravan or a car and trailer (or boat) than they are a heavy truck.  Most heavy trucks set off pretty early in the day (mine must be one of the few families that can be organised pre-8am) and there is significantly less heavy truck traffic on statutory holidays.  Methinks your holiday quip out of the ‘feels about right’ file rather than the fact file.  PS – the Herald doesn’t help your case by using a file photo of a two lane motorway.  And, FFS, if we are keeping registration (to offset road use/damage) then surely Dad or Mum can create their own checklist of making sure it is done before the holiday rather than legislate away?  I dare you to cut the fees altogether – the administrative churn is probably higher than the actual fee when you get below $35.

6. I hope you’ve checked and re-checked your figures.  It’d be so embarrassing if you took another policy at face value and the costings or the reach or the unintended consequences weren’t considered.

 

 

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Parliament Today 15 April 2014.

April 15th, 2014 at 1:15 pm by Jordan.M

Questions for Oral Answer.

Questions for Ministers 2.00PM – 3.00PM.

  1. DAVID BENNETT to the Minister of Finance: How will the Budget next month help to lock in the benefits of sustainable economic growth to support more jobs and higher incomes for New Zealanders?
  2. Hon DAVID PARKER to the Prime Minister: Does he have confidence in all his Ministers?
  3. JONATHAN YOUNG to the Minister for Economic Development: What steps is the Government taking to encourage more investment in New Zealand’s regional economies?
  4. CHRIS HIPKINS to the Minister of Education: When did she first become aware that the New Zealand Qualifications Authority had posted hundreds of examination booklets to the wrong students?
  5. Dr RUSSEL NORMAN to the Prime Minister: Does he stand by all of his Government’s policies?
  6. LOUISE UPSTON to the Minister for Social Development: What recent changes has the Government made to the social housing sector?
  7. Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS to the Minister of Justice: Does she maintain that it is not in the public interest to answer all questions regarding Oravida?
  8. IAN McKELVIE to the Minister for Communications and Information Technology: What reports has she received on the progress on the Remote Schools Broadband Initiative?
  9. Dr KENNEDY GRAHAM to the Minister for Climate Change Issues: Does he stand by his statement in this House on 8 August 2013 that: “We have every reason to be concerned about New Zealand’s reputation, but our action on climate change right now is not amongst those reasons.”?
  10. IAIN LEES-GALLOWAY to the Minister for ACC: On what date did ACC adopt the policy to stop paying compensation to people who refused to provide a signed, unaltered copy of the ACC167 form?
  11. KANWALJIT SINGH BAKSHI to the Minister of Health: What progress has the Government made on capital investments in health in Counties-Manukau?
  12. GRANT ROBERTSON to the Minister of Justice: Does she stand by her statement  that “in hindsight” she should have noted her dinner with her husband’s fellow Oravida Ltd directors and a senior Chinese border control official in her report to Cabinet on her Ministerial visit to China in October 2013?

Today Labour are asking whether the Prime Minister has confidence in all his ministers, the incorrect posting of examination booklets, compliance with ACC procedures and, the Oravida saga. The Greens are asking about whether the Prime Minister’s stands by all his policies, and climate change. New Zealand First is asking about the Oravida Saga.

Patsy of the day goes to Ian Mckelvie for Question 8 to the Minister of ICT: What reports has she received on the progress on the Remote Schools Broadband Initiative?

Government Bills 3.00PM – 6.ooPM and 7.30PM – 10.00PM.

1. Government notice of motion No 1 – 2013/14 alterations to appropriations for Officers of Parliament and 2014/15 appropriations for Officers of Parliament

2. Industry Training and Apprenticeships Amendment Bill -  Third Reading

3. Vulnerable Children Bill - Second Reading

4. Fisheries (Foreign Charter Vessels and Other Matters) Amendment Bill - Second Reading

5.  Trade (Safeguard Measures) Bill - Third Reading

The Industry Training and Apprenticeships Amendment Bill is being guided through the house by the Minister for Employment, Steven Joyce. This bill proposes amendments to the Industry Training Act 1992 and the Education Act 1989, and repeal of the Modern Apprenticeship Training Act 2000 to implement the findings of the industry training review undertaken by the Government in 2011 and 2012.

The Vulnerable Children Bill is being guided through the house by the Minister of Social Development, Paula Bennett. This is an omnibus bill that proposes establishing the Vulnerable Children Act and the Child Harm Prevention Orders Act. The purpose of the proposed amendments is to protect and improve the well-being of vulnerable children.

The Fisheries (Foreign Charter Vessels and Other Matters) Amendment Bill is being guided through the house by the Minister for Primary Industries, Nathan Guy. This bill seeks to implement the Government’s decisions on the regulation of foreign charter vessels following allegations of mistreatment and underpayment of foreign crews.

The Trade (Safeguard Measures) Bill is being guided through the house by the Minister of Commerce, Craig Foss. This bill implements a new safeguards regime for New Zealand.

 

 

 

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Parliament Today 10 April 2014

April 10th, 2014 at 1:19 pm by Jordan.M

Questions for Oral Answer.

Questions for Ministers 2.00PM – 3.00PM

  1. Dr RUSSEL NORMAN to the Minister of Energy and Resources: Does he think conservation land, designated as ecological areas, should be opened up for petroleum exploration as part of Block Offer 2014?
  2. Hon DAVID PARKER to the Minister of Finance: Does he believe that the Government’s policies have reduced income inequality; if so, does he agree with the IMF that rising inequality slows economic growth?
  3. Hon TAU HENARE to the Minister of Finance: What progress is the Government making with its share offer programme to free up capital to invest in new public assets without having to borrow more from overseas lenders?
  4. DENIS O’ROURKE to the Minister of Transport: Does he agree with the conclusion in the 2012 New Zealand Transport Agency commissioned report by Opus International that coastal shipping, followed by rail, are the most cost effective modes of transporting freight over long distances in New Zealand?
  5. Hon ANNETTE KING to the Minister of Health: What recent reports has he seen on the funding of hospitals in New Zealand?
  6. MIKE SABIN to the Minister of Police: What steps is the Government taking to reduce the supply of methamphetamine and its precursors into New Zealand?
  7. CHRIS HIPKINS to the Minister of Education: Is she satisfied that no student will be worse off as a result of the establishment of the new category of Expert Teacher; if so, why?
  8. JONATHAN YOUNG to the Minister of Energy and Resources: What update can he give on the Government’s Warm Up New Zealand home insulation programmes?
  9. ANDREW LITTLE to the Minister for Economic Development: Does he stand by his statement, “Taranaki is one of the leading regions, if not the leading region in the country.”?
  10. JACQUI DEAN to the Minister for Senior Citizens: What recent announcement has she made about elder abuse and neglect prevention?
  11. DENISE ROCHE to the Associate Minister of Health: Does he stand by his statement that “he has absolutely nothing to hide” in regard to any potential conflicts of interest in regard to his duties as the Associate Minister of Health?
  12. GRANT ROBERTSON to the Minister of Justice: Does she know the name and employing department of the Chinese official that she had dinner with in Beijing on 20 October 2013 on her Ministerial visit to China; if so, is the reason that she has refused to tell the House that information is because she believes it is not in the public interest to do so?

Today Labour are asking about income inequality, hospital funding, expert teachers, regional development of the Taranaki, and Oravida. The Greens are asking about petroleum exploration, and ministerial conflicts of interest.  New Zealand First are asking about coastal shipping.

Patsy question of the day goes to Johnathan Young for Question 8: What update can he give on the Government’s Warm Up New Zealand home insulation programmes?

Government Bills 3.00PM -6.ooPM

1. Veterans’ Support Bill – Second Reading

2. Credit Contracts and Financial Services Law Reform Bill – Second Reading

The Veterans’ Support Bill is being guided through the house by Minister of Veterans Affairs, Michael Woodhouse. This bill proposes a new support scheme for veterans of military service that would replace the current scheme prescribed in the War Pensions Act 1954.

The Credit Contracts and Financial Services Law Reform Bill is being guided through the house by the Minister of Commerce, Craig Foss. This bill proposes amendments to the Credit Contracts and Consumer Finance Act 2003 and the repeal of the Credit (Repossession) Act 1997. The objects of the bill are the reform of the legislation governing consumer credit contracts.

 

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High Court rules in favour of Commerce Commission

April 9th, 2014 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

A consumer group has welcomed a High Court ruling on copper broadband prices, saying it should eventually deliver lower prices for telecommunications users.

The court said today that Chorus had lost its challenge over cuts to copper broadband prices by the Commerce Commission.

This is not a surprise.

The commission had decided Chorus could charge only $10.92 a month for copper broadband connections, down from $21.96.

Brislen said lower prices were not expected soon as a drawn-out process to establish final prices for the sector was continuing.

Not as drawn out as it could be. A final price may be set by year end.

In a judgment released today, Justice Stephen Kos rejected Chorus’ appeal.

“The simple fact is that the commission did not accept Chorus’ submissions,” he said.

“Despite the combined intelligence and force with which Chorus’ submissions were delivered, I am left unpersuaded that the commission erred in law.

“In my view, submitters were plainly aware that a price point above the confines of a more limited benchmark range was a possibility. The commission, in my view, was also open to that possibility.

“In my view, the commission has done just as Parliament had prescribed.”

This is a key point. Parliament passed the law. The job of the Commerce Commission is to interpret and implement it. Those who don’t like the outcome shouldn’t have attacked the Commerce Commission for just doing their job.

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Labour keep focusing on the Royal Tour

April 9th, 2014 at 2:30 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Earlier today, Labour leader David Cunliffe took a swipe at John Key over the royal visit, suggesting the prime minister was milking the extra “face time” with Prince William and his wife, compared with his own limited meetings.

Oh dear. This is not a good look.

Labour seem to have had an obsession with the Royal Tour (which frankly I find a bore). They first invented a convention that you never have a royal tour in election year. After I pointed out there had been around five ro six previous royal tours in election years, they changed this to be no royal tour within six months of an election, but again there had been royal tours (when Labour were in power) much close to an election than this.

So first they invented conventions, and now they’re complaining they are not getting enough invites to hang out with the royals.

He also described a possible visit to the White House as “pre-election PR from the prime minister ” who was “stage managing the calendar of the year as it suits him”.

Umm, the NZ Prime Minister doesn’t decide the timing of an invite to the White House. In fact such invites are very very hard to get. If the PM is getting an invite, it is because President Obama likes and rates him.

A diplomat made an interesting observation to me a few weeks ago. He said that the national leader who has spent the most time in the last year with the President of the United States would be the NZ Prime Minister. He also said that the national leader who has spent the most time with the President of China would be the NZ Prime Minister. Now it is pretty extraordinary for any NZ PM to be the leader either super-power President has spent the most time with. But to be have had the most face time with both the US and Chinese Presidents – I’d say unprecedented for almost any national leader, let alone a minnow like New Zealand.

Cunliffe said it was very  important that the treatment of the royal visit was as even-handed as possible between the government and the opposition, and also that the visit was well-spaced from the election.

Of course the Prime Minister is going to have more time with overseas dignitaries than the Opposition Leader.

Asked why Key had so many events with the royals Cunliffe said, “I guess he likes the camera time.”

Key said that he would not be at the “vast, overwhelming” number of events on the royal visit schedule and did not believe he was milking the event.

“I don’t actually think anyone’s going to vote National, Labour or any other political party because we’re seen standing next to the royals when they’re in New Zealand,” Key said.

“They vote on the economy, law and order, health and education. As soon as David Cunliffe starts talking about that and not this sort of rubbish, he might do a little bit better.”

That’s actually sound advice. Whining that you have not had enough time with Price William is just not an attractive look – even if you honestly feel slighted.

At his one-on-one meeting with the prince, Cunliffe expected to discuss those issues the visitor wanted to raise. He would also be happy to brief him on things Labour thought were important such as building a fairer and more decent country and including everybody in the opportunities.

“I’m sure that he would agree with that.”

He would also talk about the deeper economic issues, such as the problems with the balance of payments.

Labour’s going to talk about the Balance of Payments with Prince William. Hell I may be a republican, but that’s just a step too far – cruel and unusual punishment!

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Tax revenues down

April 9th, 2014 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reported:

Worsening budget deficits raise serious questions about National’s management of the economy and its books, Labour finance spokesman David Parker says.

He was speaking after Treasury today reported that the Budget deficit had continued to worsen. A lower tax take had pushed the books into the red by $1.4 billion, $884 million more than expected.

Parker said for four months in a row the books were worse than predicted, with tax revenues falling short of expectations.

“For the November and December figures Treasury said there were timing issues. They were given a bit of leeway. But now even Treasury admits it doesn’t know why the books are even more in the red.

“Somehow (Finance Minister) Bill English is presiding over a growing economy but not getting the tax revenue that should be coming with it. He needs to explain himself.”

Tax revenues are notoriously difficult to project. Even an individual company can easily find its profit will vary from forecast by 10% to 20%. The Government’s tax revenues are based on projecting the combined profits and hence tax payments of several hundred thousand companies. And that’s just on an annual basis – let alone on the monthly forecasts.

Employers may be hiring extra staff which reduces profitability and tax in the short-term. They may be purchasing assets which increases depreciation.

Or it may be that heightened business confidence and economic growth is not actually being reflected in profitability and tax for structural reasons – which would be more of a concern.

English said the figures reinforced the need for restraint in government spending.

“We remain committed to reaching a surplus next year and Budget forecasts next month will confirm we are on track,” he said.

“It is a challenging task that will be achieved only if we remain disciplined.”

Yep. The Government has limited control over how much tax is paid to it by the private sector. It does however control how much money the Government will spend.  Hence the constant need for fiscal discipline.

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Brown on synthetic cannabis

April 9th, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Russel Brown writes:

With the news yesterday of the attempted arson of a legal highs store in Invercargill, it’s reasonable to ask whether we’re on the verge of public hysteria about synthetic cannabis. The next question would be why it’s happening now, when 95% of retail outlets for such products have been either shut down or forbidden to to sell the products — and those remaining are closely monitored and, for the first time, required to be strictly R18 premises.

What seems to have happen is that the law has been sucessful in closing down most legal high outlets but it has made the remaining outlets more visible.

The list of products deemed low-risk and granted interim approval is a fraction of the nearly 300 legal highs sold in the past few years, before the new Act. It includes half a dozen fairly harmless pill products containing caffeine, guarana, kava, green tea and amino acids, and the rest is synthetic pot. When the full approval process gets underway, all of these will be banned subject to the Authority being satisfied that they present a low risk. It is quite possible that no products administered by smoking will meet the standard.

People forget that prior to the law change there was no regulation at all. Prohibition will not work, so the current law should be given time to see if it is effective.

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And Tau makes 15

April 8th, 2014 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

National MP Tau Henare has announced his retirement from politics on Twitter.

The veteran MP announced he will retire at the election.

The 53-year-old former Maori Affairs Minister made the announcement via Twitter this morning, saying: “Well, I’m on my way to caucus to inform my colleagues of the @NZNationalParty that I intend to retire at the upcoming General Election.”

Henare was first elected to Parliament in 1993 elections for New Zealand First in the former Northern Maori electorate.

He is currently chair of the Maori Affairs select committee and a member of the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade committee.

I knew Tau when he was the NZ First Maori Affairs Minister. Not too many Ministers would be sitting in their office with some of their staff having a sing-along with a guitar. Tau was actually an effective Minister, and I’ve always been a bit disappointed he never got a chance to be a Minister again.

“I could have put my name in to be nominated but at the end of the day [15 years] is a good haul for a fella like me.

15 years is a good spell. Some in other parties seem to think 33 years isn’t enough! I’ll miss not having Tau around – lots of fun, and he was also a key MP in getting votes for Louisa Wall’s marriage bill from the Nats.

He would be the 15th National MP to retire at or before the election, with the most high profile among those resignations being Health Minister Tony Ryall.

Hopefully lots of new faces in caucus after the election. So far the quality of candidates selected has been good, but many more to go.

Matthew Beveridge has a collection of tweets from colleagues across the House wishing Tau well.

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Stonking confidence

April 8th, 2014 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

The economy is running at the best pace in more than a decade and business confidence is the highest since 1994 according to a new survey.

The latest NZIER Quarterly Survey of Business Opinion released today shows optimism and activity were being translated into hiring, investment and better profits.

“The underlying trend is very, very strong – stonking,” NZIER principal economist Shamubeel Eaqub said.

Retail spending surged to its highest level since 1994 and building was at its best since December 2003.

The survey shows confidence about the general business situation remained at net 52 per cent of firms positive, seasonally adjusted, the highest since June 1994.

The ten year highs keep getting replaced by 20 year highs.

So obviously this is a time in which we need to increase taxes, scrap our monetary policy, and partially nationalise electricity and housing sectors!

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Parliament Today April 8 2014

April 8th, 2014 at 1:42 pm by Jordan.M

Questions for Oral Answer.

Questions for Ministers. 2.00PM-3.00PM

  1. MAGGIE BARRY to the Minister of Finance: How is the Government ensuring recent broad-based growth and good fiscal management is delivering higher incomes and more jobs for families?
  2. Hon DAVID CUNLIFFE to the Prime Minister: Does he stand by all his statements?
  3. CHRIS AUCHINVOLE to the Minister for ACC: What announcements has she recently made in respect of the ACC levies?
  4. Hon DAVID CUNLIFFE to the Prime Minister: Does he have confidence in all his Ministers?
  5. RICHARD PROSSER to the Minister for Primary Industries:Does he believe that New Zealand’s biosecurity preparations, including Biosecurity NZ, are sufficiently and adequately resourced to protect New Zealand from biosecurity risks?
  6. Dr RUSSEL NORMAN to the Minister for Climate Change Issues: By what percentage will New Zealand’s net greenhouse gas emissions increase in the next 10 years, according to the Ministry for the Environment annual report for the year ended June 2013?
  7. Hon DAVID PARKER to the Minister of Finance: Does he agree with the Infometrics estimate that the 1974 Super Fund would have savings of $278 billion, if it had not been axed by the National Government, and does he agree wages would be higher in New Zealand if we had those higher savings?
  8. IAN McKELVIE to the Minister for Economic Development: What announcements has the Government made to further help New Zealand exporters succeed internationally?
  9. Hon CLAYTON COSGROVE to the Minister of Commerce: Does he stand by all his statements?
  10. Dr JIAN YANG to the Minister of Health: What recent announcements has the Government made about better supporting people with autism?
  11. CHRIS HIPKINS to the Minister of Education: Is she satisfied that the proposed creation of new Executive Principal and Expert Teacher positions has the support and confidence of school teachers and principals; if so, why?
  12. GARETH HUGHES to the Minister of Energy and Resources: Is he satisfied safety in the petroleum industry is adequate given there have been two fires at installations, six uncontrolled releases of hydrocarbons, 15 events that saw emergency response plans activated, one well integrity issue and three incidents with the potential to cause a major accident, in just the past eight months?

Today Labour are asking whether the Prime Minister stands by all his statements, whether the Prime Minister has confidence in all his ministers, performance of superannuation schemes, whether the Minister of Commerce stands by all his statements, and partnership schools. The Greens are asking about the safety of petroleum production. New Zealand First is asking about bio security.

Patsy Question of the day goes to Dr Jian Yang for Question 10: What recent announcements has the Government made about better supporting people with autism?

Government Legislation 3.00PM-6.00PM and 7.30PM-10.00PM.

1. Land Transport and Road User Charges Legislation Amendment Bill – Committee Stage

2. Industry Training and Apprenticeships Amendment Bill – Committee Stage

3. Social Security (Fraud Measures and Debt Recovery) Amendment Bill – Committee Stage

4. Trade (Safeguard Measures) Bill – Committee Stage

The Land Transport and Road User Charges Legislation Amendment Bill  is being guided through the house by the Minister of Transport, Gerry Brownlee. This bill proposes amendments to the Land Transport Act 1998 and the Road User Charges Act 2012.

The  Industry Training and Apprenticeships Amendment Bill  is being guided through the house by the Minister for Business, Innovation and Employment, Steven Joyce. This bill proposes amendments to the Industry Training Act 1992 and the Education Act 1989, and repeal of the Modern Apprenticeship Training Act 2000 to implement the findings of the industry training review undertaken by the Government in 2011 and 2012.

The Social Security (Fraud Measures and Debt Recovery) Amendment Bill is being guided through the house by Chester Borrows, the Associate Minister of Social Development. This bill proposes amendments to the Social Security Act 1964 to make spouses and partners, as well as beneficiaries, accountable for fraud, and to enable the Ministry of Social Development to recover debt more effectively.

The Trade (Safeguard Measures) Bill is being guided through the house by the Minister of Commerce, Craig Foss. This bill implements a new safeguards regime for New Zealand.

 

 

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1983 – Back in the Day

April 8th, 2014 at 10:00 am by Kokila Patel

In David’s absence, I’ll be posting a few items in Kiwiblog fashion – focussed on politics

Q+A are researching the political news archives and looking back.  This snippet from last Sunday

The Labour Opposition Chief Whip Jonathan Hunt had refused to provide Ruth Richardson a voting peer.  Richardson, then a young mum needed to be absent from the house so she could breast feed her newborn baby.  In 1983, Richardson’s vote was essential due to National’s slim majority.

Response from Sir Robert Muldoon

“Jonathan of course is an elderly bachelor, and probably doesn’t understand much of these things, but there must be someone on the other side of the house who has got some compassion for Ruth and the problem in which she finds herself”

I’m cynical enough to believe that Muldoon in needing the vote, found the compassion for a mum on his side of the house (and there’ll be plenty of insiders who can correct this assumption), but what is more interesting is that it is the Labour Chief Whip who did not.  Even so, an invigorated Labour Party would have started to smell victory, and hard to imagine that any breastfeeding mother wouldn’t be bulldozed in that path.

I don’t know the exact legislation or regulations Richardson was helping National to maintain, but during the days of price freezes, ever spiralling inflation, some if not all of the voting must have been through gritted teeth!

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Vance on why Labour can still win

April 8th, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Andrea Vance gives five reasons Labour can still win:

  1. The electoral system
  2. He’s no John Key. But he ain’t Phil Goff either
  3. New Zealand First: a spent force?
  4. The missing voters
  5. A new electoral landscape?

The electoral system definitely favours Labour.

Cunluffe is a very good debater, but so was Phil Goff. The challenge for Cunliffe will not be doing well in the debates, but having a good enough brand leading up to the debates that. Vance puts it like this:

He’s two-parts untrustworthy to one-part fake. And that’s just among his MPs.

Ouch.

Andrea is right that Winston is far less of a force in the House now. However that doesn’t mean he won’t make 5%. A few bribes to oldies and bash up the Chinese is a pretty tested formula for him.

The missing voters is what Labour is gambling everything on. It will help them if they can motivate sympathetic non-voters but I’ve yet to see signs that their own supporters are motivated – let alone non-voters.

National not getting any allies into Parliament is the nightmare scenario. They get 59 seats again but can’t govern.

So Vance is correct that Labour absolutely can win. There’s five months to go. The odds are against them but if they get their shit together they will be competitive.

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Dotcom invited to Mana AGM

April 7th, 2014 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

In a statement this evening, Harawira confirmed talks with Dotcom in central Auckland over the weekend to discuss possibilities “for a relationship between the Mana movement and the Internet Party”.

He said the Mana executive had extended an invitation to Dotcom to address its AGM on Saturday,.

Dotcom had accepted the invitation in order to “talk to and understand the views of Mana members” Harawira said.

Oh this is too funny to be true. Hone can’t wait to sell out.

So will any Mana member have the courage to get up and berate Dotcom over the low wages he pays his staff (allegedly below minimum wage).

Will any Mana member say how disgraceful a look it is for him to fly into Huka Lodge in a helicopter to relax for the weekend, while scores of struggling Kiwi businesses had been waiting over two years to be paid by him?

Or will they just ask him how much money they can have for their election campaign?

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McKinnon says NZ republic is inevitable

April 7th, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

It is “inevitable” that New Zealand will ditch the monarchy and become a republic, Sir Don McKinnon says.

Speaking on the eve of the royal visit by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, the former deputy prime minister said the country has been moving towards republicanism “for a long time”.

“I’m quite certain the royal family understands that completely,” Sir Don said.

”[There are] 54 countries in the Commonwealth, only 16 are realms, and I can tell you now that one Caribbean publicly, and three Caribbean, privately are probably going to give up that relationship with the monarchy when the Queen dies. So it is a diminishing group of countries, and the important thing is for us to openly and candidly debate the issue.”

This is significant coming from the former Commonwealth Secretary-General. Especially that four of the remaining 16 countries are planning to become republics when the Queen dies. Arguably that is a sensible time for NZ to do the same. A plus – no King Charles :-)

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A victory for intolerance

April 6th, 2014 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Tech workers in Silicon Valley are debating whether Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich got the comeuppance he deserved or was himself a victim of intolerance when he resigned under pressure this week amid outrage over his opposition to same-sex marriage.

It was intolerance. He wasn’t a campaigner or political activist. He dared to make a $1,000 donation in 2008 to a cause that is now unpopular – and got hounded out of his job for it.

Mozilla co-founder Eich, who invented the programming language Javascript, donated US$1000 in 2008 to support Proposition 8, which sought to ban same-sex marriage in California. Voters approved the measure, but it was struck down last June by the US Supreme Court.

In 2008 Barack Obama was also against same sex marriage.

When I blogged on this issue a week or so ago, some moron on Twitter did a comparison to someone who is a member of the KKK. Yes to some on the left, not being a supporter of same sex marriage is just like being a supporter of the KKK and lynching black people.

I’m a right winger who campaigned hard for same sex marriage. I’m thrilled it has been introduced in NZ. But I don’t judge those who had a different view.

On Friday, news of Eich’s departure prompted a backlash on Twitter. Many suggested Silicon Valley was intolerant of people with views outside northern California’s liberal mainstream.

Even Rarebit’s Hampton Catlin said he had not anticipated the issue’s escalation and was saddened by Eich’s resignation.

“We absolutely believe people should be allowed to have personal opinions, but we also believe that we are allowed to disagree and to try and change someone’s mind by expressing our own personal story,” the Catlins said in a statement.

I think it is horrific that Eich was forced out of a job after two weeks – not for anything he did in the job or since being appointed. But due to a six year old donation. It was a victory for intolerance.

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Views on private prisons

April 6th, 2014 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald on Sunday looks at the private prison debate:

The news of a declining number of people returning to jail comes as work gathers pace on a new $300 million private prison being built at Wiri, South Auckland, due to open next year.

Currently, the country’s only other privately operated jail is the 960-bed Mt Eden remand prison in Auckland.

Critics believe the construction of a for-profit facility signals a move towards more of the public system being placed in private hands. Even libertarians believe law and order is the most basic function of government. Surely justice and prisons are the last things we should privatise?

As I have previously blogged, almost all our prosecutions are done by private law firms. It’s been this way for decades. If you think the private sector has no role in providing services in the justice sector, then to be consistent you should be advocating for Crown Law to hire hundreds of extra lawyers and take on all prosecutions itself.

He believes Serco has learned from teething troubles he encountered during his time at Mt Eden. By its second year in charge, Serco had vastly improved its performance and was meeting 95 per cent of the targets set for its six-year deal.

The latest report is here. Mt Eden is outperforming most public prisons on (not having) prison escapes, positive drug tests, violence rates and rehabilitation and also exceeding its targets on reducing assaults, positive drug tests and complaints.

In the face of problems overseas, why are we building a $300m private facility at Wiri? The New Zealand Government will be locked into a 25-year contract, for which Serco is obliged to outperform public prisons by 10 per cent – meaning it will have to show a 27.5 per cent reduction in reoffending, the same as at its Mt Eden operation.

Excellent. Set a higher target for the private prison. If reoffending drops then everyone is a winner.

Jacinda Ardern, Labour’s Corrections spokeswoman, warns that future governments may have to prop up private prisons because of the long-term contracts. “The secrecy surrounding the deal with Serco is a concern,” she adds. “Would Government have to start injecting vast sums of money into the private sector if things started to go wrong? We should be spending money on cutting crime and making the streets safer, not building more expensive prisons.”

What secrecy? The contract for the management of Mt Eden Prison is on the Corrections website. And it’s a silly statement that means nothing to say we should spend more money on cutting crime, not building more expensive prisons. It isn’t a choice of one or another. The Government is spending heaps more on rehabilitation which cuts crime, and the crime rate is dropping significantly. However some of the existing prisons are almost falling apart and their facilities are ancient. Having a more modern prison like at Wiri will assist rehabilitation. So it is not a choice of one or another.

Private prisons, by their nature, have a vested interest in crime rates staying high. That’s according to Dr Jarrod Gilbert, University of Canterbury sociologist and gang expert. “It costs more than $92,000 a year to keep a prisoner locked up in New Zealand, so there has to be a conflict of interest when it comes to rehabilitating people if you are making money from them being in your facility.”

Oh what nonsense. Their contract requires them to reduce reoffending rates. They don’t get paid if they fail.

Does Dr Gilbert also argue that private law firms should be banned from being crown prosecutors because they have a vested interest in keeping crime rates high?

One recent convert to the private system is Mike Williams, former president of the Labour Party and chief executive of penal reform organisation the Howard League.

“We have the second-highest incarceration rate in the world behind the United States and have had a sky-high rate of reoffending,” he says.

“It is time to bring some new thinking into the system and the new focus on having less people return to jail is welcome. It is an experiment that is worth a go.”

Even the hardline Sensible Sentencing Trust is behind Corrections Minister Tolley’s drive to cut re-offending. “If private companies can do a better job of turning criminals into decent human beings, then we are all for trying it,” says spokesman Garth McVicar.

If Mike Williams and Garth McVicar agree on something, then that says something.

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A massive change in RMA consenting on time

April 6th, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Amy Adams announced:

The 2012/13 Resource Management Survey shows the Government’s first phase of RMA reforms aimed at improving consenting processes are paying off, however further reform of our planning frameworks is still required.

The survey of how well councils are implementing the Resource Management Act shows that 97 per cent of consents were processed on time for the 2012/2013 period, compared with 95 per cent in 2010/2011.

“This is a vast improvement from the 69 per cent of resource consents processed on time in 2007/08,” Ms Adams says.

Only 3% are no longer processed on time, compared to 31% under Labour. The non-compliance rate by local authorities has dropped by 90%.

When National left office in 1999, the compliance rate was 82%. This dropped to 69% by 2007/08 under Labour. Since then the trend has reversed thanks to the law changes made by National and generally opposed by Labour.

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Has it turned to just mindless bashing of Countdown?

April 6th, 2014 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

On the original allegations against Countdown, I’ve praised Shane Jones for the work he did in exposing their allegedly ugly tactics of asking for retrospective payments from suppliers. I don’t think such a practice (if it happens) should be condoned.

But yesterday, it turned into almost a smear campaign against Countdown. They were accused on TV3 of everything from threatening a select committee, to bullying competitors also, to bullying Councils to shock horror selling Lotto tickets.  I think a line has been crossed, and we are now just seeing a degree of mindless bashing.

Let’s look at the various stories, starting with the Mad Butcher stores:

Now, chief executive of the Mad Butcher Michael Morton told The Nation Countdown does not just bully its suppliers but also its competitors.

“I believe they have a cultural billing within the whole organisation,” he said.

“If you look to the information that came out and the allegations that were made about the supply and the tactics that were done there. The fact that when we do any comparative advertising to them, we get smashed with lawyers letters. They come down like a sledge hammer.”

There’s a key fact missing from that story. As much as I love the Mad Butcher, in this case his (former) stores are the bad guys. You see their advertisements were found to be false and misleading by the Advertising Standards Authority:

The Mad Butcher’s advertising that claimed to have cheaper meat than Countdown has been labelled “misleading” and “likely to deceive”.

Earlier this year, The Mad Butcher ran print, television and radio advertisements claiming “Jo from Onehunga”, a randomly selected shopper, paid 30 per cent more for lamb chops, schnitzel, mince, pork chops and eye fillet steak at Countdown than at The Mad Butcher.

But an Advertising Standards Authority decision released on Monday upheld the complaint of Progressive Enterprises Limited, which owns Countdown.

The decision said the ad was not comparing like for like as no basket shop was undertaken by Jo, four out of five products in the Countdown basket couldn’t be purchased at the time, and 1kg meat packs couldn’t usually be bought at Countdown.

The Countdown prices given were from Onehunga, and weren’t reflective of national pricing, it said.

“The advertisements made comparisons that were likely to mislead or deceive consumers,” it said.

“The advertisements falsely claimed a price advantage in this instance.”

I’m sorry, but no sympathy. You tried to deceive consumers about your prices, and your competitor complained your advertisements were false and misleading. That isn’t bullying. That’s just good sense.

Then the next bash was shock horror they sell Lotto tickets:

Labour MP Shane Jones has again taken aim at Countdown, raising concerns about lotto sales at the supermarket’s checkouts.

Lotto tickets are being sold despite new evidence that people spend less on food when there is a big jackpot.

You can now buy lotto at the checkouts in 100 Countdown supermarkets around the country. That makes buying a ticket more convenient, but Mr Jones says that is the problem.

“With Countdown putting a one-armed bandit at every Countdown checkout counter, you’re bringing gambling into the community,” says Mr Jones.

That’s just pathetic. I’ve been buying lotto tickets at New World for over a decade.  Why is it fine at one group of supermarkets, but not another? This is just smearing Countdown.

Mr Morton says the lotto jackpot should be capped, and Mr Jones agrees the jackpot can get too big. But he says the availability is the real problem.

“I really want to have an immediate review of the Gambling Act,” says Mr Jones. “Is it really in society’s interests to have lotto and gambling available at every checkout counter in the Aussie-owned supermarket?”

Now we’re getting effing ridiculous. Shane Jones wants to cap the size of the jackpot for Lotto? He should go join the Green Party.

And he think lotto tickets can be sold in supermarkets, so long as they are not owned by Australians? This is just xenophobic bashing.

And to answer his question, yes it is in society interests  that hundreds of thousands of New Zealanders who enjoy Lotto can buy tickets conveniently for it. Apart from the enjoyment they get from it, money from Lotto funds Sport NZ, Creative NZ, the NZ Film Commissions and thousands of community groups. They get almost $200 million a year from people voluntarily playing Lotto.

Then we have Jones making things up about a threat:

Labour MP Shane Jones has accused Countdown of threatening a parliamentary committee with legal action, amid an investigation into extortion allegations.

Mr Jones made the allegations on The Nation this morning, claiming a letter threatening legal action against the commerce select committee is “around”.

But both Countdown and the committee deny the existence of a threatening letter, the latter labelling Mr Jones’ allegations “obviously” wrong.

“I am not sure how Shane knows about that… but he is obviously wrong,” commerce select committee chairman Jonathan Young told NZ Newswire.

The so called threatening letter merely asks for a transcript of the last hearing – which is a routine request.

And finally we had complaints that Countdown are appealing against decisions imposing hours on beer and wine sales that are more restrictive than the national default hours:

Well in many cases they fighting against what a lot of councillors do and that is to limit the sale of alcohol in supermarkets. The default position is from seven a.m to 11 p.m. Most councillors in New Zealand are adopting a nine a.m to nine p.m approach and in some cases Countdown in particularly and Progressive have appealed that on the basis that they want it to be open to 11 p.m.

I actually support Countdown on this issue. All you do by restricting beer and wine sales to 9 pm is annoy a lot of late night shoppers who can’t buy a bottle of wine with their groceries. Many Councils are falling into the trap of not distinguishing between specialist bottle stores and supermarkets. If you go to a bottle store at 10 pm, you are almost inevitably buying alcohol to drink immediately. But if you are buying alcohol from a supermarket at 10 am, then it is generally not for immediate consumption. The retail data shows very few people buy just alcohol from supermarkets after 9 pm. They are doing their regular shopping, and just happen to include some beer or wine with that.

So it is quite reasonable for a supermarket to question decisions made by local politicians, if they are not actually going to reduce alcohol harm – and instead just punish supermarket shoppers and supermarkets.

As I said at the beginning, Countdown’s alleged behaviour towards suppliers appears to have been bad, and that is now being investigated by the Commerce Commission. But all these other complaints are looking a a bit pathetic to be honest. Complaining that your misleading ads were complained about or that Countdown sells lotto tickets is just whining.

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