Archive for the ‘NZ Politics’ Category

Cunliffe did know after all!!

July 24th, 2014 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald originally reported:

But the Labour leader threatens to be distracted by internal ill-discipline and criticisms over his judgment, including the holiday itself and a meeting last week with a prominent New Zealander given name suppression on charges of performing an indecent act.

Mr Cunliffe confirmed to the Herald last night that he had arranged for the person – whose case has been the topic of media coverage – to meet a Labour candidate but said he had no idea about the controversial background until yesterday.

“If I had known of the suggestion, no such meeting would have taken place.”

But Newstalk ZB reported:

Mr Cunliffe admits a prominent New Zealander’s possible sexual offending had been raised with him before he met with the man in Queenstown last week.

The Labour leader says the meeting went ahead because no proof had been supplied.

It would have taken one phone call to find out. One could have had a staffer ask the person in question, or pretty much anyone in Queenstown. But they wanted his help with the local Labour candidate, so they decided to do a don’t ask, don’t tell policy.

Now I’m not advocating the man in question should be a pariah. But this episode suggests that Cunliffe’s apology to Rape Crisis for being a man was easy words, but not action.

I mean just a few days after you make national headlines for apologising for being a man to Rape Crisis, and saying we have a rape culture in New Zealand, you go and meet a prominent New Zealander who has plead guilty in court to sexual assault but got name suppression for it. And you admit you did hear about it prior to meeting him, but ignored it.

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Armstrong on why he thinks Peters will not run for East Coast Bays

July 24th, 2014 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

As captivating and entertaining as such a contest would have been, Winston Peters is unlikely to throw himself feline-like into the pigeon loft and stand in Murray McCully’s East Coast Bays seat.

The idea of putting himself up as the New Zealand First candidate initially seemed like a very cunning plan to disrupt the political footsie being played by Colin Craig’s Conservatives and the National Party in order for the former to get a toehold in Parliament and the latter to remain in power.

But the warning bells ought to have been ringing in the New Zealand First camp after Christine Rankin, the Conservative Party’s chief executive, urged Peters to “bring it on”.

It would give the Conservatives a lot of publicity, and allow them to position Craig as the natural successor to Peters.

Peters is not in the business of giving rivals who are after the same votes as him the means to raise their profile. When it comes to winning the seat, Peters is (for once) handicapped by his refusal to reveal his post-election intentions. East Coast Bays is one of National’s safest seats. Around two-thirds of both the electorate vote and party vote in the seat went to National in 2011.

Peters would need a big chunk of the National vote to shift his way. But why would National voters back him and risk seeing him install a Labour-led government?

All Craig would need to say is “Vote Peters. Get Labour”. 

Yeah I can’t see East Coast Bays voters voting for Peters if it means he may make David Cunliffe Prime Minister, and support a Labour-Green-Mana Government.

Also Peters hates losing electorate contests. He has never got over being beaten by Clarkson and then Bridges. Losing to Craig would be an unendurable burden for him.

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Labour doesn’t want Hosking

July 24th, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

The Labour Party is in a standoff with TVNZ over plans to use presenter Mike Hosking to moderate the live televised leaders’ debates.

The state broadcaster is refusing to budge, declaring: “Mike is our man.”

Leader David Cunliffe’s inner circle believes the Seven Sharp host is too close to National and has compiled a dossier of examples.

I think it is pretty obviously that Mike Hosking has a centre-right worldview. Just as John Campbell has a centre-left worldview. The issue is not their world-view, but whether they would be biased and be unfair moderating a debate.

I’ve never heard of National demanding (for example) that John Campbell not moderate a TV3 leaders debate, so am surprised that Labour is so sensitive that they are trying to demand a moderator they agree with.

National’s campaign manager, Steven Joyce, rejected this and said he was happy with the current format of prime minister versus opposition leader.

He said the party had no issues with TV3 using John Campbell for its televised debate. “We’ve all got to trust the professionalism of the interviewers,” he said. “There are people who think John Campbell is to the Left but the prime minister is more than happy to front on both TV channels.”

Sensible.

 

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A $1.5 million sculpture funded by Auckland ratepayers

July 24th, 2014 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald editorial:

Of all the plans for Queens Wharf, none has invited as much debate as the planned $1.5 million sculpture of a state house featuring a 4.5 tonne Venetian glass chandelier.

Yet any discussion can be no more than conjecture because the public is being denied images.

The Auckland Council says concept outlines are still being developed and will be released as soon as they are finalised.

That is not good enough.

Anything is better than nothing. The available images should be released if the council wants to avoid the suspicion that it is trying to put a lid on controversy.

There is much to be debated. Is the two-storey state house, to be built on a blue basalt plinth, a suitable object at the end of the wharf?

Or will it be, as the Waitemata Local Board contends, an out-of-place intrusion that will impede sea views? Would it, in fact, be better located at Wynyard Pt?

Why was the cost allowed to balloon out beyond the plentiful $1 million gifted by Barfoot & Thompson? And given the necessity for ratepayer funding, why has the project been fast-tracked with scant regard for normal council procedure?

It’s not clear if the $1.5 million is the ratepayer contribution, or just $500,000. But either amount is too much.

Don’t get me wrong. I am not a cultural philistine. I’m actually a member of the Wellington Sculpture Trust. When a Council has its books in order, and rates are not rising faster than inflation, then some investment in stuff such as sculptures can be okay. But Auckland Council is in a funding crisis. It is not business as normal. $100,000 on curtains and $1.5 million on a sculpture are luxuries that it can’t afford.

UPDATE: I understand that the Auckland Council has underwritten the Parekowhai sculpture to $500,000.

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The Review of Standing Orders

July 23rd, 2014 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The Standing Orders Committee has published its recommendations for changes to Standing Orders, which will inevitably be accepted by the House.

The previous review was quite bold and made some significant changes, which have enhanced Parliament considerably – especially the use of extended sitting to minimise the use of urgency.

This time, the changes are very modest and they have rejected almost every significant proposal for change. As one of those who advocated change, I’m disappointed.

There are some useful enhancements though. They include:

  • Recommending funding for full webcasting of select committees
  • Adopting the temporary rules in use for recording MPs attendance, so they can have pay deducted if absence without leave
  • Allows the Business Committee to decide to retain question time when the House is in urgency (I and many advocated question time should be retained automatically)
  • Allows sign language to be used in the House if an MP wishes
  • Any opinions from the Attorney-General that a bill unjustifiably breaches the Bill of Rights Act will now be formally considered by the relevant select committee. However no requirement for amendments to be assessed by the Attorney-General for BORA compliance which is what we really need.
  • Some minor changes to general debates on the Budget and PM’s statement, but no overall reduction in time allocated to them which is a pity as after the first six or so speeches they become meaningless speeches with no relevance to the topic.
  • The time recorded for replies to written questions will not tae account of interim or holding replies, so that Ministers are incentivised to still provide full replies more quickly
  • Make clear that donations to MPs such as for leadership contest expenses must be disclosed if over $500

But overall the report is more noticeable for what they did not do, than what they did agree to.

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The Press on Labour’s need for discipline

July 23rd, 2014 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

The Press editorial:

Worse than that, however, the attack on Cunliffe was yet another illustration of the continual indiscipline afflicting the Labour Party at present. It also demonstrates Cunliffe’s inability to get his party inside the House and outside focused on what they must do if they are to have any chance at all in the general election.

The attack, which first appeared in the Sunday-Star Times at the weekend, was done behind a veil of anonymity. The source was described as a senior Labour figure, but it could not be discerned from the story whether it was a person in the caucus, two-thirds of which is said to support someone other than Cunliffe, or someone in the wider party. Either way, it seemed calculated to do the maximum harm.

Labour are suggesting the source was not an MP. But that is hard to reconcile with the quotes in the SST:

“We will be having a talk to David at caucus about his work ethic on Tuesday. We’ll be letting him know he’s got two months to turn this around, and we’re backing him and right behind him but he’s got to lift his game.”

The only people who attend caucus on Tuesday are MPs, the Chief of Staff and the President. I assume it isnt Matt McCarten being quoted or the President, so hence it must be an MP.

It was the latest in a series of stories that has put Labour in the headlines all right, but for all the wrong reasons. From Trevor Mallard wittering on with some harebrained thoughts about the genetic reconstitution of moa, to Kelvin Davis breaking with the party line over a contentious highway in Northland, to a half-baked suggestion about changing the burden of proof in rape trials, to Cunliffe’s own cack-handed apology for being a man, the stories are a corrosive distraction from whatever substantive policies Labour is trying to promote. The party’s message is being swamped by them.

And banning some perfumes and cosmetics.

But if Cunliffe wants to present himself as an alternative prime minister, and the party as an alternative government, he must bring some discipline to it. Otherwise, voters will, quite rightly, write him and the party off.

Sound advice.

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Board says no to Basin flyover

July 23rd, 2014 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Controversial plans to build a flyover next to the Basin Reserve in Wellington have been killed off by a board of inquiry.

In a stunning move today, four commissioners declined resource consent for the New Zealand Transport Agency’s proposed $90 million project.

It means the agency’s plans to build a 265-metre elevated highway 20 metres north of the historic cricket ground are now all but dead in the water.

Affected parties have 20 days to comment on the board’s draft decision before it is finalised on August 30.

That’s hugely disappointing. We need four lanes from the airport to Levin and if even one section is only two laned, then the entire network will move at the speed of the slowest car.

I only hope NZTA can do a revised proposal that can gain consent. The status quo is not acceptable.

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Yeah that will fix it

July 23rd, 2014 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

The Labour leader also said he would have reconsidered taking a holiday in the recess if he had known how bad the polls were. His red scarf would get fewer outings after comments were made about the regularity with which he wore it.

“I, like everybody else, need to stick closely to the core issues and I will be extremely careful about those little things, such as the scarf, that can become distractions.”

Yes, wearing a red scarf less often in public will fix things. Genius.

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Voters reject Labour’s class size policy as best use of money

July 23rd, 2014 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

New Zealanders would rather money was spent on improving teaching standards than on reducing class sizes, a Herald-DigiPoll survey reveals.

Education has become a political battleground before September’s election, with both major parties promising to spend hundreds of millions of dollars on it.

Asked about their priorities, more than 60 per cent of those polled said they would spend money on trying to improve teaching standards rather than cutting class sizes.

Labour has included reducing class sizes in its election policies.

Another of its policies, a promise to pay schools which do not ask parents for donations, gained support in the poll.

National has pledged $359 million for a scheme that would pay the best teachers and principals more.

Labour countered by promising to use that money to instead hire 2000 more teachers and reduce class sizes.

Asked about those policies, 61 per cent of those polled said the money was better spent on trying to improve teaching standards.

Thirty-five per cent thought it should be used to cut class sizes.

Excellent. Voters understand quality is more important than quantity.

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Cunliffe says sorry for his holiday

July 23rd, 2014 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Labour leader David Cunliffe has admitted to making errors, including taking an over-long three-day holiday in Queenstown last week.

Cunliffe emerged from a caucus meeting of his MPs today promising to make changes to the way he and the party delivered their messages and admitting that the holiday was a mistake.

“I take responsibility for things I could have done better,” he said.

“I’m happy to say that with the information that I now have about the movement in the polls, which I didn’t have when I made that decision [to take a holiday], I would have made a different decision.”

He certainly would not have gone on such a long break, though he noted he was also ill for two days “and I didn’t have much choice about that”.

And in another story:

He scoffed at suggestions that some in his caucus were “doing the numbers” on a leadership change.

“That’s nonsense, absolute nonsense,” he said.

“I am confident I have the full support of my caucus.”

Hilarious.

Former leader Phil Goff ruled out any interest in becoming leader again, and while Cunliffe’s predecessor David Shearer wouldn’t rule it out, he said he was focused on the party’s key messages.

Mark my words. Shearer will challenge after the election.

Also a third Stuff article reveals a new side to Cunliffe:

Pray, is Reverend Sue Dickson’s advice.  Cunliffe says he does – daily. 

I did not realise Cunliffe is such a devout Christian.

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Pagani advice for Labour

July 22nd, 2014 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Josie Pagani blogs at Pundit on what Labour should now do:

First, stop blaming the media. 

The problem isn’t ‘right wing framing’. There isn’t a media conspiracy to get a third term National government. When you fall behind everyone airs their favourite explanation and negatives get repeated and amplified. It’s the job of politicians, not media, to inspire a change in the story. 

National did this also in 2002. It is very tempting to do, but almost always pointless.

Stop saying the polls are close. It reminds voters that Labour aims to lead a bloc in which it might not be all that dominant and which could include the toxic Dotcom party. Tortuous explanations about the Left Bloc v the Right Bloc sound cynical, as if you don’t care about winning support of people.

Distance Labour from Dotcom. One reason for Labour’s poor polling is people just want to get rid of Dotcom and somehow he has become Labour’s problem now. Only because he is an enemy of our enemy.  Labour should only ever say of Dotcom, “he shouldn’t be in the country and National should not have let him in. We want him and his party nowhere near government.”

If Labour did that, I think they would get a very significant boost in the polls. People do not like the idea of a Labour-led Government being subservient to Dotcom.

Stop barking at every passing car. We don’t need a position on every lifestyle or identity issue in the news cycle. Though Labour tries to talk about core themes, like jobs and smaller class sizes, it can’t complain when those subjects get overshadowed by its own policies. 

The temptation of releasing a ‘policy a day’ comes from a lack of confidence that the main themes are strong enough to win. This is a strategy error, not a discipline one. 

I think they are taking this advice on board.

There are no easy pathways now. The party made David Cunliffe leader for his strategy of shoring up the base with a more militant tone. He’s delivered on that strategy but it hasn’t worked. 

Correcting to the centre close to the election carries the seeds of disappointment for those who believed it would work, and has the added downside that the public don’t believe it. 

It’s too late to ditch some of the rhetoric that made people doubt whether you would put them ahead of sectarian interests, but not too late to campaign for  the values that make Labour, Labour.  It’s mission is to represent working people and their families in a broad-based party. So: do that.

I think it is too late to now try and move towards the centre.

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Hauiti quits

July 22nd, 2014 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

National list MP Claudette Hauiti has decided to withdraw from the election and politics altogether.

She has already been selected as National’s candidate in the Kelston electorate, which is thought to be a safe Labour seat.

She told National MPs at their caucus meeting this morning.

Her decision comes a few days before National releases its list ranking and Ms Hauiti may have been warned she would get a low list ranking.

A tough decision, not but I think the right one. When you come in mid-term it is hard to make an impact in terms of achievements, and her lapses of judgement will have been a factor. I wish Claudette well.

It is worth noting that when the credit card receipts came out for the last Labour Government, Ministers had charged up all sorts of personal expenses ranging from mountain bikes to golf clubs – with no repercussions. However we are now in an era where (rightfully) there is greater scrutiny and less tolerance of such occurrences – even if repaid.

This is not the first time National has had to do a second selection. They also did one for Tamaki in 2011 when the selected candidate and MP (Allan Peachey) stood down very late (due to ill health).

UPDATE: Typo above corrected.

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Tau’s Twitter valedictory

July 22nd, 2014 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Tau Henare tweeted yesterday an online valedictory. You can see it all here. Some highlights:

  • Some stuff I did in 15 years as MP, $15 million for Maori Language
  • Was part of turning around National to see that Independance was good for #EastTimor
  • Funded the innovative housing programme for Ngai Tai, great scheme, Eastern BoP
  • The biggest thanks go to my #Wife. For all the shit you put up with both from me and politics. Love you forever and beyond.
  • Returned some of our Ancestors from their “trip” to England
  • Invited French Prim Minister to #APEC, forgot they weren’t part of #APEC
  • My words to French PM, “ill see you in Auckland for APEC, he said But we are not members, I said “Well you should be”
  • Was intrdcd to DukeofEd, he asked what I did, I explained to him that I was a list MP, he sd “Oh one of those that don’t do anything” I said Yeah just like you, he laughed out loud. #CheekyBugger but very well informed lol
  • I passed the #TeAhoMatua Kura Kaupapa Maori Philosophy/Guiding principles into Legislation. 1st time ever a philosophy passed into Law
  • Met Clinton and gave him a #Toki I told him it was used for dispatching enemies. He said he would have it in the #OvalOffice ready to use.
  • Intorduced Maori Reserved Land Legislation, 1st part of getting rid of Glasgow type leases on Maori Land.
  • Chaired the Maori Affairs Select Committee for 6 years. The most bi-partisan com in Prlmnt. A ton of Treaty Legislation. Big thanks to mbrs.
  • Got booted from the House 7 times in one year. #OOPS
  • Apologies to anyone Ive offended over 15 years, some need to harden up, Ive only got 140 characters so no space for all. lol
  • Are #Cleaners worth $20 bucks an hour ? Well yes and I should have said so, my bad.
  • Ive given up smoking 6 times in 15 years or since 1993. #Valedictory I was never a great boozer. I was always on time except once.
  • I turned up to a #marae one day early, when the kuuia asked me what I was doing I sd I was just checking the route.
  • I hated door knocking. I once door knocked a house in the Hokianga, and there was a tangi on, they invited me in. Was from Sth Auck, algood.
  • My first day on the job and I had a run in with Jim Anderton, Grrrr blamed me personally for the unemployment prob in the North ? He was Pissed off I got the trip to East Timor and he didn’t. Old coot I thought. Still do.
  • That infamous fight with @TrevorMallard, wasn’t much. 2 old testosterone filled eggs.
  • I never hated anyone in the House. apart from nah. lol They all good.
  • A big shout out to #Parekura where ever he is. Miss you chief.
  • The best thing about the Sth Island National Party supporters is man they can bake.
  • I think I would’ve made a good speaker, nothing flash and wldve changed the rule book somewhat. I don’t hold grudges (MaoriParty)
  • I once presented a carved waka to the Captain Cook Museum in Middlesborough. I was just about to ask where he was buried. Then I remembered.
  • Well thats about it. To Parliament and the Country, thanks for having me. Goodbye and Good Luck. Nga manaakitanga ki a kotou katoa.

Thanks Tau – a great online valedictory and a lot to be proud of.

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Labour chess

July 22nd, 2014 at 9:48 am by David Farrar

The current internal machinations in Labour are a bit like a game of chess. Grant Robertson is the King of the Board who doesn’t want to do combat himself, so he is sending pawns off to do battle, and clear the way for him. The latest play is:

  • Grant has the numbers to roll Cunliffe, and has had for some time. This is beyond dispute
  • Grant does not want to become Leader yet. He rightfully fears losing the election, having a divided party, and an activist base that will blame him for the loss. This is almost beyond dispute.
  • Another factor for Grant is he is not even sure if he wants to be Leader for the 2017 election if Key still leads National. He only wants to become leader when he thinks the election is winnable (which it was in the middle of last year).
  • David Cunliffe is unlikely to go quietly after the election, if they lose. The magnitude of the loss will be a factor, but very clear signals have been sent out that he believes the unions and activists will stay loyal to him, and allow him to carry on. This is of massive concern to many MPs, and this is almost beyond dispute also.
  • David Shearer has been picked as the candidate to go up against Cunliffe in the December leadership ballot and then the membership vote. He strongly feels he was not given a fair go, and that he can appeal to non-core voters. He is far more angry and resentful against Cunliffe than people realise, but a complicating factor is he is equally resentful towards Robertson whose faction toppled him. But Camp Robertson would support him. I would put this as highly likely if Cunliffe does not resign.
  • A growing number of MPs are worried they will lose their seats and have been canvassing numbers for David Parker to challenge before the House rises. They are worried it will look desperate, and also the election materials have been printed. However the possibility of Little, Ardern and even Parker losing their seats weighs heavily on them. I’d say this is less than 50/50 probability – there is talk, but caution will overcome action.
  • A complicating factor is the Deputy Leadership. Both Parker and Shearer want Robertson as their Deputy so he shares the success or blame of their leadership. He would rather keep his powder dry until it is his time (he saw when deputy to Shearer how much activists also blamed him) and a condition of his support is that Ardern becomes Deputy.

Again change is less likely than not before the election. It must effectively happen today or next Tuesday. There are 60 days until the election. They are resigned to a result probably in the 20s. Their fear is a low to mid 20s result that removes some of their “stars” and leaves them too weakened to be competitive in 2017. They will now accept a result of even 29% as adequate.

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Better Pubic Services Results

July 22nd, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Snapshot July14

So six targets well on track, two on track but changes not embedded and three making progress but not on track for the target.

The changes so far are:

  1. Those on jobseeker support for more than 12 months down from 78,000 to 68,932
  2. Early childhood education participation rate up from 94% to 96%
  3. Infant immunisation rate up from 75% to 91%
  4. Rheumatic fever incidence rate up from 3.7 to 4.3 (so wrong direction with 36 more hospitalisations)
  5. Assaults on children down from 3,176 to 3,111
  6. 18 year olds with NCEA Level 2 up from 68% to 78.6%, Maori from 45% to 63% and Pasifika from 51% to 71%
  7. 25 to 34 year olds with a Level 4 qualification or higher up from 53% to 54.5%
  8. Crime down 16% since 2011, violent crime down 11%, youth crime down 30%
  9. Reoffending rate has dropped by 12.2% which is 2,242 fewer recividist offenders
  10. Effort for business in dealing with Government has increased from base of 100 to 102 (wrong direction)
  11. 42% of transactions with Govt are onlne, up from 30%

I am a huge fan of this approach of having quantified measurable targets that the Government can aim for, and be measured against. It makes Government more accountable and focused on outcomes, rather than outputs or inputs.

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Meet your future NZ First Minister!

July 22nd, 2014 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

I really don’t know what is more terrifying. A New Zealand Member of Parliament who thinks the Reserve Bank of New Zealand is foreign owned, or the fact she still insists it is after being corrected.

I look forward to seeing the NZ First list rankings next month.

The comments on Twitter are gold.

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Back Benches 23 July 2014

July 21st, 2014 at 7:11 pm by Kokila Patel

THIS WEEK ON PRIME TV’s “BACK BENCHES”: Watch Wallace Chapman, Damian Christie, the Back Benches Panel and special guests discuss the week’s hottest topics!


WORK, WORK, WORK:  Larry Page, boss of the internet giant, Google suggested it’s time for us to work less saying a 4-day work week would create a better work/life balance, happier workers and more productive. Should New Zealand get on board? Do we work too hard? How many work more than 40 hours a week? Do we respect a healthy work/life balance? Are we judged for taking time off? http://www.stuff.co.nz/technology/digital-living/60148227/google-boss-says-people-should-work-less

CENTRAL vs LOCAL BODY DECISIONS: Should water fluoridation be a central government decision versus being left up to local councils to decide. At the Local Government NZ Conference in Nelson, Kapiti Mayor Ross Church says the decision should be with the Ministry of Health rather than local bodies. Does it matter there is no consistency from town to town? And if it becomes a national decision-will it properly represent the feelings of the local residents?


There are two ways to get in on the political pub action:
First, you can join the live audience in Wellington’s iconic Backbencher Pub on Wednesday, 23rd of July at 6pm. Filming begins around 6:15pm.

Or watch us that night on PRIME TV at 10:30pm!
http://www.primetv.co.nz/

Plus, Follow us on Facebook (BackBenchesTV) or on Twitter @BackBenchesTV.

Our Panel: Labour MP David Shearer, National MP Louise Upston, and Green Party MP Eugenie Sage.

” This show is shaping up to be essential election year viewing ” – Paul Casserly, NZ Herald 3/6/14

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A question.

July 21st, 2014 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

He [Peters] also announced a new policy to tackle binge drinking and drug taking.

“We propose, to the degree that it could cause serious harm to themselves, or someone else, it will be an offence to be drunk or seriously drug affected in a public place, or while trespassing on private property,” with offenders paying fines of up to $2000 or three months in prison.

Would this policy apply to someone who say drank wine for six hours at GPK Bar in Takapuna, and then on the way home pulled down his trousers and pissed on a tree?

Is Winston saying that someone in such a situation should be eligible to go into prison for three months?

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Felix Marwick on Labour

July 21st, 2014 at 12:30 pm by David Farrar

Felix Marwick from NewstalkZB writes:

Deficits are something no political party likes and the problem for the Labour Party at the moment is that it has one; a popularity deficit.

Its 27 percent result at the last election was the worst result it’d had in over 80 years and, at the time it was thought the party had scraped the bottom of the barrel. The only way, it seemed, was up. But four consecutive polls since last Wednesday have had the party polling below 30 percent and it seems distinctly possible Labour could crash and burn on September 20 unless it has a major change of fortunes.

From the outside Labour’s predicament looks pretty simple. It has no discipline. Its caucus appears more focused on personal rivalries, revenge, and self interest than they do in winning the election.

I’m trying to recall the last time I chatted to a Labour person about winning, rather than about internal battles. It was a long time ago, with the exception of the odd electorate candidate who is very focused on their local race.

Certainly there are some within Labour’s ranks that will probably argue that David Cunliffe and his supporters are being served the dish they themselves plated up for previous leaders Phil Goff and David Shearer. It does seem there is an element of payback going on. This is something voters should pay attention to the next time a Labour MP tells them about how committed they are to the future of this country. The party’s track record since the departure of Helen Clark suggests self interest reigns supreme.

Bring back Helen!

What all of this means of course is that Labour is worse than a house divided; it’s a house falling apart. It’s a Christchurch red zone home. Its foundations are stuffed, its walls are broken, the roof is a leaking ruin, and its garden is submerged in liquefaction.

Nice analogy.

One seriously wonders if the party would be better off ditching all of its incumbents, replacing them entirely, and starting afresh. If ever a political party needed a fresh slate, it’s Labour.

Some people say the next Labour Prime Minister isn’t yet an MP. They do need a circuit breaker. Hard to see David Shearer uniting the party after he challenges for the leadership back in December.

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Conservation park agreed for Great Barrier Island

July 21st, 2014 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

A new conservation park is set for Great Barrier Island.

The new Aotea Conservation Park will consist of 12,109 hectares of land on the island in Auckland’s Hauraki Gulf.

It will be the Department of Conservation’s largest park in the Auckland region and will be similar in size to the Auckland Council’s Hunua and Waitakere Ranges parks.

The new park will include 18 different blocks of general stewardship land and will be New Zealand’s largest area of possum-free forest, including native trees, kauri, pohutukawa, kanuka and the Great Barrier tree daisy.

There will be healthy bird populations of kaka, pateke (brown teal), puweto (spotless crake) and matata (fernbird).

The park will also have the most diverse range of native freshwater species of any offshore island in New Zealand, and populations of very rare frogs, native paua slugs and niho taniwha (chevron skink).

Conservation Minister Dr Nick Smith announced plans for the new park today at a community function in Claris with Auckland Central MP Nikki Kaye.

I’ve been to Great Barrier Island many times. It is a unique part of New Zealand, and it is a very good thing to increase the protection of the DOC land there by making it a conservation park.

“The immediate priority is the restoration of tracks, bridges, repair of huts, signage, campgrounds and the Department’s office” Dr Smith said.

The Government has committed $2.5 million to the repairs.

Great Barrier Island is my favourite place in New Zealand for getting away from it all. I haven’t done all the walking tracks on the island, but hope to over time.

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ACT on Honesty for Taxpayers

July 21st, 2014 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Jamie Whyte has proposed:

On this policy, regulatory impact statements, cabinet submissions and ministers’ introductory speeches for Bills in parliament will need to state clearly that “but for this proposal, your income tax rate would be X percentage points lower”.

When taxpayers visit the website of any government agency or local council and any programme of that agency, they should have a clear idea of the price of that agency in their taxes or rates.

Government departments and agencies should be required to declare on their home webpage “but for this agency, your income tax rate would be X% lower”.

Similar rules should apply to local governments. They should be required to reveal how much lower rates would be if not for a particular new policy proposal or existing service of the Council.

If a minister, department, agency or local council believes that the programmes it administers do indeed offer value for money to taxpayers, they should be proud to say how they are putting taxes to work in the clearest way taxpayers can understand.

For example, the government should be keen to alert taxpayers that, without Working for Families:

·      the 17.5% income tax rate would be 12.5% OR

·      the 10.5% income tax rate would be 3.5%.

The Minister for Tertiary Education should be keen to remind everyone that, if not for interest-free student loans

·      the 17.5% income tax rate be would 16% OR

·      the 28% company tax would be 25% OR

·      the 33% top income tax rate would be 30%.

That’s a great idea. The public will be able to judge the worth of spending programmes more effectively, if they know the opportunity cost of the spending – the reduced taxes they won’t be getting.

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Hide on Harre’s hypocrisy

July 21st, 2014 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Rodney Hide wrote at NBR:

I am worried about Laila Harré: having dropped any pretence of principle she now finds hypocrisy addictive. There’s no other explanation. She should have OD’d by now, but no, she just keeps loading it up.

Her latest dose is to assert property rights in Green Party policy.

That’s right. That’s her response to criticism of her announcing Green Party policy as hers just hours ahead of the Green’s release. Ms Harré was working for the Greens. She then decamped to lead the Internet Party taking Green Party policy with her. No wonder the Greens are little annoyed in their touchy-feely, caring way.

But as she explains it, “Look, I contributed huge intellectual property to the Green Party in the 15 months that I spent working for them.” So what’s theirs is also hers.

That’s a bellyful of hypocrisy. Remember this is the Internet Party. Her party’s founder, funder, paymaster and visionary is fighting to avoid facing copyright infringement charges. Intellectual property doesn’t mean that much to Mr Dotcom.

For his proxy leader to be defending herself by spuriously claiming intellectual property is breathtaking hypocrisy. Intellectual property matters to Ms Harré – but only when she’s claiming it as hers. No one else’s appears to matter. …

Mr Dotcom is not the top 1% that Ms Harré complains about. He’s more like the top 0.0001%. But he’s okay because his money is useful to her.

Oh and here she is the hard-core, all-controlling, lefty pushing for the internet. It’s not the central committee that produced the internet: it’s capitalism. Internet commerce is a fine example of anarchy. We don’t need or want central control. The hypocrisy of the Left pushing for internet freedom is gobsmacking.

The Left oppose freedom and their system of economic control is the internet’s antithesis.

I think it is fair to conclude that Rodney will not be voting for the Mana-Internet Party.

It got me thinking that if we had a true Internet Party, Rodney would be a very good leader of it – someone who is passionate about fighting state control.

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Cunliffe meets sex offender with name suppression

July 21st, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

David Cunliffe says his Queenstown ski holiday has left him “recharged” and ready to take the battle to Prime Minister John Key in the two-month countdown to election day.

But the Labour leader threatens to be distracted by internal ill-discipline and criticisms over his judgment, including the holiday itself and a meeting last week with a prominent New Zealander given name suppression on charges of performing an indecent act.

Mr Cunliffe confirmed to the Herald last night that he had arranged for the person – whose case has been the topic of media coverage – to meet a Labour candidate but said he had no idea about the controversial background until yesterday.

“If I had known of the suggestion, no such meeting would have taken place.”

This is staggering in its incompetence.

You go to rape crisis, apologise for being a man, talking about the rape culture in New Zealand, and then go out to dinner (my understanding, or at least meet with) with a man who pleaded guilty in court to forcing himself onto a woman and got name suppression because of his status.

The identify of the Queenstown resident is not a closely guarded secret. It has even been published in Australia. Rodney Hide has been campaigning for the identity of the man to be published in Parliament.

One can only take David Cunliffe at his word that he didn’t know, but I find it impossible to believe no one on his staff knew. The identity is an open secret. Either the meeting/dinner was not arranged through his staff, or there is something very very wrong in his office.

Here’s the report of the offending:

Over a three-year period, he visited their home half a dozen times, but always with someone else.

On the day of the incident, she was about to leave to do some shopping with her daughter, she said.

While her daughter went to get the mail from the end of the long drive, the man followed her inside and “he just grabbed hold of me from behind”, she said.

“He was tall and towered over me. I said: ‘What the hell are you doing?’

“And he said: ‘But you are so lovely’. It was horrible. His hands were all over me,” the woman said.

“He kept pushing his tongue in my mouth, pulling my head back and sticking his tongue down into my mouth and I was trying to push him off.

“His hands were all around my back, his hands down the back of my knickers.”

He confessed he had always liked her.

“I was totally shocked. It took me by surprise. But I wasn’t scared because I knew my daughter was about.

“I was trying to push him off and he took my hand and put it on his what’s-it and he said to me: ‘This is what you are doing to me’.

The offender, who has political links, was given name suppression. He should not have got name suppression.

Even the offender says his identity is an open secret:

Despite name suppression, the man said everyone in his home town knew he was the “prominent man” in the paper. “It has taken away all my livelihood,” he said.

“Even with name suppression I got fired from a job because a guy had heard it was me,” he said.

He believed he was unfairly targeted because he was a household name.

Again I find it almost beyond belief that David Cunliffe or his staff did not know. And they were also meeting the local Labour candidate.  How could she not know? Again, this was an open secret.

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A stupid and unaffordable policy

July 21st, 2014 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

NZ First has announced a plan to remove GST from food, as part of several policies announced at its party conference.

This is incredibly stupid. Our GST is the envy of much of the world for its lack of exemptions. When you start doing exemptions, then you get gaming of the system. Does food include fast food? does it include pre-packaged meals? Does it include caviar? Does it include dining at top restaurants? Does it include drinks?

Peters said the policy was estimated to cost $3 billion a year, and would be funded by a clamp down on “tax evasion and the black economy”, which it estimated to cost $7 billion a year, and what Peters said was “drawing on the projected surplus of billions in the years ahead that result from running a sound economy”.

This is just intellectually dishonest. Basically this policy would blow the deficit out by $3 billion a year. There is no magic wand you can wave to locate and tax the black economy. The reality is that if you want a $3 billion a year tax cut, then you need a $3 billion a year spending cut.

 

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A potentially cunning move by Peters

July 20th, 2014 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

NZ First Leader Winston Peters is taking the fight to Colin Craig by refusing to rule out standing against the Conservative Party Leader in East Coast Bays.

Mr Peters said many people had suggested he stand in East Coast Bays given the “outrage” of a potential deal between Mr Craig and National.

“I think it’s an exciting thought… we’ll wait around and think about it.

“I’m not ruling that out.”

That’s quite cunning. If National didn’t stand, who would win the seat? It would also give NZ First a lot of publicity.

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