Archive for the ‘NZ Politics’ Category

Are EPA staff balanced?

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

Stuff reports:

Allegations that the author of a report on Chatham Rock Phosphate (CRP) signed a Greenpeace petition has led CRP to ask the report be withdrawn.

The demand comes after CRP criticised the content and timing of the Environmental Protection Authority’s staff report, which was issued last week.

The report said it could not recommend a marine consent for CRP to vacuum phosphate nodules from the seabed of the Chatham Rise, about 450 kilometres east of Christchurch.

Chatham Rock holds a mining permit over an area off the coast of New Zealand with significant seabed deposits of rock phosphate.

CRP’s managing director Chris Castle said a new and potentially more serious basis for concern about the validity of the report and its conclusions had emerged.

“It has come to CRP’s attention that one of the key authors of the EPA staff report appears to have been a signatory to a Greenpeace petition in 2010 seeking the Government permanently stop all plans to open up New Zealand’s coastal waters to offshore oil drilling and stop any expansion of coal mining in New Zealand,” Castle said.

“If this is the case, it raises very serious questions over the objectivity of the report and its conclusions.”

CRP considered the report to be potentially biased and therefore totally unreliable. It intended to seek the formal withdrawal of the report, Castle said.

How serious this is, depends on how key a role this person had in deciding and authoring the report.

Generally any evidence of pre-determination is grounds for review, and signing a petition against offshore exploration may suggest that the author was influenced by his or her own views, rather than the evidence submitted.

This is one of the challenges of conservation and environmental agencies. Many of their staff have passionate views on their subject areas, which can interfere with their requirement to not let those views affect their professional judgement.


If parties were beer

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

Grant McDougall at Public Address has a blog on which beer each party might be. His picks are:

  • National – Tui
  • Labour – Monteith’s
  • Greens – Emerson’s
  • United Future – Rheineck
  • NZ First – Lion Brown
  • ACT – Budweiser
  • Internet-Mana – Boundary Road
  • Maori – DB Draught
  • Conservatives – Steinlager Lite

His explanations for each are amusing.

United Future is most hard done by. I recall Rheineck, but not fondly.


At least this one is well done

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


The damage to billboards is still occurring at a massive rate. But I do have to give credit to the people who did this one – good artistic merit :-)


Tame Iti to stand for Maori Party!

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

Stuff reports:

Tame Iti, the larger-than-life face of Maori radicalism is now aiming to become part of the establishment, and will stand for the Maori Party this election.

The man best known to some for his activism, his imprisonment on firearms charges and his participation in military-style training camps and to others for his fight for Maori sovereignty, his art and his work with youth, has revealed his intentions to Fairfax Media.

Speaking in the home he built himself in Ruatoki, Iti said he had always supported the Maori Party and had decided to stand to boost the party’s support and because he endorsed the work it had done in government.

“Not very long ago I wouldn’t have thought about it but I see there’s more achievement… with National in terms of the treaty settlements so we have come a long way,” he said.

Having a Maori voice in power had led to gains in areas such as health and social services for Maori and it was important for Maori “to be sitting on the table rather than across the road throwing rocks at each other”.

My first reaction was that I am not sure that having Tame Iti praise the National Government is a good thing.

But actually it is. I’d much rather those with radical views become moderate and work within the system, than run around the bush playing war games.

And his words about how it is better to be around the table rather than throwing rocks, are sentiments I agree with.

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ACT wants family and youth courts opened up

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

The Herald reports:

Act Party leader Dr Jamie Whyte said the party wants to see Youth Court and Family Court open to public scrutiny.

Dr Whyte said in a policy announcement today that there should be a right to access Youth Court and Family Court records.

Media should be able to report on cases through the Youth Court and Family Court in a similar way they can report on District Court proceedings, he said.

“The Act Party is campaigning to end secret courts” Dr Whyte said.

“There is no way of analysing and understanding what is going on in the family court.

“There are disturbing stories that evidence in Family Court cases is unreliable.”

Dr Whyte said the “secrecy” of the Youth Court was the biggest problem in the youth justice system.

“It is a wholly unjustified violation of the principle of open justice.”

The party supported names and identifying details of parties remaining suppressed, Dr Whyte said.

As I understand it the default mode for these courts is not to be public, but media can apply for access. ACT seem to be saying they would reverse the default setting so that access is the norm.

So long as names are suppressed, I favour all courts having a default setting of being open to the media.

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Russel missed the bus so wants a train!

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

The Herald reports:

Greens co-leader Russel Norman was literally up in arms about public transport yesterday – but he still missed the bus.

Norman was heading from a TV3 appointment in Mt Eden to Auckland Airport and, as a good Green, opted to use the Airbus Express service.

But he could not attract the attention of the driver, who drove straight past.

Venting his frustration, he tweeted: “Hey Airbus, you know how you just drove past me on Mt Eden Rd even tho I was waving my arms rather vigorously, it doesn’t help PT [public transport].”

Norman then plugged an airport rail link.

“Oh boy we need a rail link to Auckland airport. 45m plus wait for an Airbus that wd stop. Greens will transform Auckland transport.”

I’m not sure that a bus refusing to stop for Russel is a good reason to build a rail link to Auckland Airport.

That’s another $1.5 billion added onto the Greens spending promises!

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Council wants to compete with Trade Me?

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

The Press reports:

A Christchurch City councillor hopes the Government will set up a national register of residential rental properties, as a local scheme could prove too costly.

In March, councillors voted unanimously to explore options for setting up a register in the city.

It was the idea of the Tenants Protection Association and part of measures being considered to help address the city’s rental accommodation shortage.

Council housing committee chairman Cr Glenn Livingstone said the register could cost up to $1.5 million a year, which would be offset by charging registration fees.

Would be a total waste of money.

Trade Me is our effective register of properties.

The register would contain information on the availability of rental properties, whether houses were fit to live in, and on which landlords and agencies were charging letting and renewal fees.

People want to know what it will cost them, not if someone is on commission. And whether a house is fit to live in is something they generally like to decide for themselves by viewing it.


Crampton and Nolan on Greens spending claims

August 25th, 2014 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Matt Nolan at TVHE blogs:

This one is genuinely disappointing as it seems to be an almost explicit misinterpretation of Budget forecast figures.

The numbers for claiming falling real expenditure come straight from the Treasury forecasts here, but are then deflated.  This sounds good on the face of it, and people do this all the time.  However, it ignores that there is both unallocated spending, and allowances for additional spending in future Budgets – both which largely get allocated to Health and Education on the day.

It is an “open” secret that the Health and Education numbers work this way – as both Labour and National want to announce increases in spending on these items on the day. [Note: It is just like "tax cuts to get rid of fiscal drag" - political marketing all the parties do].

In that context, saying that the real value of spending is going to fall on these items is empty rhetoric.

It is almost a lie.

Eric Crampton also explains:

So what do we have here? For each line, we have the expenditures by spending area. For example, health rises from $12,368m in 2009(actual) to $15,274 in the 2018 forecast. BERL then goes and deflates that by expected inflation; the Greens then claim that there’s a real cut in spending.

Now take a look at the line reading “Forecast for future new spending”. That’s the line where Treasury makes its best wink-wink-nudge-nudge guess as to future operating spending announcements, some of which it’s possibly already had to cost for future government policy announcements, and some of which will be based on expectations of future inflation adjustments.

When BERL runs its inflation adjusted accounting on Core Crown Expenditures, it finds a 9.9% nominal and 2.8% real spending increase over the next three years. That total Core Crown Expenditures categoryincludes the future spending increases. Those future spending increases have not been allocated across spending categories. If it were allocated proportionately across all categories, the weighted average of the different categories’ increases would wind up being 2.8% real. But BERL doesn’t assume that. It just takes each line from the BEFU and inflation adjusts it while ignoring the forecast future new spending.

This sort of manipulation does not help the credibility of BERL or the Greens. They knew they were being misleading.

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Dotcom boasts of hacking a PM and refuses comment

August 25th, 2014 at 5:17 am by David Farrar

3 News reports:

The Internet Mana election launch has ended in disaster, with Kim Dotcom running from the building as journalists were sworn at.

And his bodyguards trying to physically block journalists from following him.

It all started after Dotcom made reference to hacking in his speech, and when journalists wanted to ask him more, whether it was linked with Dirty Politics, it turned ugly.

Internet Mana press secretary Pam Corkery was not happy journalists wanted to talk to Dotcom.

“You puffed-up little s**t,” she said. “He doesn’t want to. He said three times, ‘I don’t want to give you an interview.’ He’s not a candidate. He doesn’t owe you anything. When will you glove puppets of Cameron Slater just piss off?”

So were the media being unreasonable?

Dotcom denies he’s the hacker behind Dirty Politics, but at the party’s campaign launch today said this.

“I hacked our German credit rating system and put our Prime Minister’s credit rating to zero because I didn’t like the guy,” said Dotcom. “You have all figured by now there’s another Prime Minister I don’t like.”

So Dotcom gives a keynote speech to their campaign launch, boasts how he once hacked the German Prime Minister because he didn’t like him, and then mentions how he doesn’t like John Key.

Of course the media will want to interview him about this, no matter how much Pam Corkey yells abuse at them. He wasn’t a spectator at the launch, he was a keynote speaker.

As for whether Dotcom had anything to do with the hacking, well he clearly knew what was in the Hager book before it was published, and has not been able to answer the question how.

But he didn’t want to talk about his comments afterwards.

The abuse started when we were filming, explaining Dotcom was in hiding.

“We’ve talked about jobs today and people living in poverty.” said Corkery. “You want to interview Kim, who said no interviews, about a 19-year-old story. You work in news!”

First of all press secretaries don’t dictate to the media who they are interested in interviewing. He was a speaker, not an observer. Secondly Dotcom is the one who referred to the 19 year old story, so it is natural to want to ask him about it.

But he didn’t want to talk about his comments afterwards.

The abuse started when we were filming, explaining Dotcom was in hiding.

“We’ve talked about jobs today and people living in poverty.” said Corkery. “You want to interview Kim, who said no interviews, about a 19-year-old story. You work in news!”

But he didn’t want to talk about his comments afterwards.

The abuse started when we were filming, explaining Dotcom was in hiding.

So the Internet Mana launch ended in disaster, with talk of hacking, Dotcom running off and media abuse

I don’t know if Dotcom was behind the political espionage hacking, but what we do know is this.

  1. Dotcom has convictions for hacking
  2. Dotcom is very wealthy
  3. Dotcom hates Slater and Key
  4. Many ex Dotcom friends and staffers were giving information to Slater
  5. Dotcom yesterday boasted that he hacked the German PM because he didn’t like him
  6. Dotcom’s chances of not being extradited to the United States are hugely enhanced if he managed to change the Government

It’s not proof, but it is certainly means and motive.

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National’s housing announcements

August 24th, 2014 at 2:54 pm by David Farrar

Their housing policy and social housing policies are linked.

John Key gives an example in his speech of how it might work:

Let’s imagine a couple are both earning $40,000 a year – they might, for example, be living here in South Auckland.

They’ve been in KiwiSaver for five years, and are looking to buy a first home that’s under the price limit.

Under our changes, they could together withdraw up to $29,000 from their KiwiSaver accounts, and get either a $10,000 or $20,000 HomeStart Grant, depending on whether they’re buying an existing or a new home.

In total, that means a deposit after five years of almost $40,000 – or almost $50,000 if they are buying new.

That would be enough on its own to get a Welcome Home Loan for a house costing up to $400,000 or up to $500,000 if new – depending, of course, on their ability to service the mortgage.

Our changes will give a lot more people the confidence that if they join KiwiSaver, and keep saving, they can put together a deposit on their first house.

It’s important to note that most of that deposit will be their own savings.

We want to help people into their first home, but they have to help themselves first.

I much prefer that to the Government borrowing $3 billion more per year to try and become NZ’s biggest property company!

All these changes I’m announcing today will take effect from 1 April next year, if we are re-elected.

Not too long after that, the first people to benefit from these changes will be unlocking the front door of their own home for the first time.

The new policy will cost $218 million over the next five years.

That’s a fairly modest cost compared of around $35 million per year compared to borrowing $3 billion a year.

The details of the changes are:

The package comprises three changes:
Replacing the KiwiSaver First Home Deposit Subsidy with a KiwiSaver HomeStart Grant, doubling the support for buying a new home and increasing the house price limits;
Enabling larger KiwiSaver First Home Withdrawals by including the member’s tax credit (meaning first home buyers will now be able to withdraw all of their KiwiSaver savings except the $1000 kick-start);
Expanding eligibility for Welcome Home Loans by aligning the house price caps with the new KiwiSaver HomeStart Grant.

“We are roughly doubling the number of people receiving a Government grant to buy a first home from 10,000 per year to 20,000 per year, and doubling the Government grant they are eligible for if buying a newly-built home,” Dr Smith says.

“The focus of this package is to increase the supply of new housing and to encourage housing companies to build homes in a price range affordable for first home buyers.

 “The house price limits for KiwiSaver HomeStart and Welcome Home Loans will be $550,000 in Auckland, $450,000 in Wellington, Christchurch and other similarly-priced housing markets, and $350,000 for the rest of the country.”

Currently, first home buyers are eligible for a grant of $3000 after three years in KiwiSaver, $4000 after four years and $5000 after five years. Under KiwiSaver HomeStart, this grant will double to $6000 after three years, $8000 after four years and $10,000 after five years for the purchase of a newly-built home.

The changes to the KiwiSaver First Home Withdrawal in enabling access to the member’s tax credit will increase the maximum withdrawal amount by $512 per year for each year a member has contributed.

The KiwiSaver First Home Withdrawal is limited to members buying a first home, who have been contributing for a minimum of three years. The KiwiSaver HomeStart Grant and Welcome Home Loans have additional criteria of people having an income below $80,000 for an individual and $120,000 for a couple, and the house being purchased must be below the regional house price limits.

I wasn’t at the campaign launch, but I underatand there were 2,000 to 2,500 people there making it the biggest political gathering in a few decades I’d say – and it was a National Party meeting in South Auckland!

UPDATE: I hear the final count was 2,700!

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Studying Simon Lusk

August 24th, 2014 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Geoffrey Miller has gone back through Simon Lusk’s Master’s thesis on Ecampaigning, and makes some observations.


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Secondary tax

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

Stuff reports:

Labour has announced plans to scrap secondary tax for workers with more than one job – but National says it’s already implementing the policy.

In the current system, those with more than one job often pay a higher rate on their secondary income.  It is expected they claim a refund on the wash-up at the end of the financial year.

However, Labour says this is too complex, overpayments are often not claimed back and the system hits hardest those in casual work.

Within five years of taking office Labour would develop an alternative to secondary tax. In the interim, it would implement special tax codes until an Inland Revenue computer upgrade comes online.

I’m not sure you can call this a policy. At best it is a desire. A policy would be an announcement of the alternative. All they have announced is that at some stage before 2020, Labour will develop an alternative.

However, National’s revenue spokesman Todd McClay said they were already going ahead with the policy.

He said IRD’s Business Transformation plan will “address the PAYE system, including secondary tax and end-of-year square-ups.”

And that work is due to be completed by the end of 2015, well before 2020.


Billboard arsonists strike again

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

Stuff reports:

The Conservative Party says dirty politics have become dangerous politics after a candidate’s car hoardings were set alight. 

New Lynn representative Steve Taylor says his neighbours alerted him to the fact that the political signs – which were affixed to a trailer – were ablaze.

Fire fighters put out the blaze. 

The car had been parked at Taylor’s home, where he lives with his wife and two young children. 

Flames could easily have reached the house, Taylor said. 

“This is a wilful act of destruction and very risky to my family as we live in a fairly bushy area. It could easily have reached the house while we were sleeping.”

Thanks to the two nearby fire stations and a quick-thinking neighbour, this wasn’t the case, he said. 

Taylor said he believed the motive was political.

Of course it was political. While some billboard vandals are apolitical (attack all), it has been noticeable this election that parties of the right have been massively targeted in co-ordinated attacks.


Uncovering that hid in plain sight

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

Stuff reports:

A new politician has been dragged into the saga of Donghua Liu’s funding of political parties.

National’s Coromandel MP Scott Simpson received a $5000 donation from the controversial Chinese-born property developer for his 2011 election campaign, after meeting Liu about 10 times, including a couple of dinner dates.

The donation was declared in Simpson’s post-election return, and has been uncovered by the Sunday Star-Times during a forensic trawl of donations to MPs.

The donation was declared in 2012. It has been sitting on the Electoral Commission website for a couple of years. There was nothing to uncover.

And I presume a “forensic trawl” is a fancy name for going to the Electoral Commission website and reading the returns online.


Key unplugged

August 23rd, 2014 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Claire Trevett goes out with Bronagh and John Key:

We go along the edge of the rose gardens and across the road to Rosie cafe. There is a fish and chip shop nearby but Key says he rarely visits. “Body’s a temple. Write that down.”

At Rosie they place him on the corner where he can be easily seen from outside. He’s good advertising. The Keys are clearly regulars. Key asks a waitress about her upcoming wedding and advises on dates. “Go for October. Snare him early.”


Key still does his physical training drills, assisted by the boys, at 5.40 several mornings a week. He’s doing a bit of boxing, flailing at a punching bag. He won’t say who he imagines when he’s punching it. 

The boys are his DPS guards.

But Bronagh can get her own back. After Key insists his body is a temple for the fifth time, she says “more like a warehouse”. He laughs and says, “There’s a reason she’s restricted to 600 words a day.”

She also reveals what is possibly the real reason the Max versus Key snr golf game idea was rejected. “Max can whip him. The beautiful thing is Max doesn’t really practise.” Key is highly competitive and doesn’t like to lose. In an attempt to regain ascendancy, he has a putting lesson lined up for the next day.

Key is meant to be a 15 handicap, so Max must be pretty damn good.

It turns out Bronagh also has quite the sense of humour. She mimics a teacher they had at school dubbed “Screaming Skull”.

The mimic emerges again when talking about Key’s handyman abilities. Key’s mother warned her he was useless at DIY. She puts on the late Ruth Key’s Austrian accent: “John is USELESS at fixing things round the house,” she says. “He’s going to have to do a good job because he’s going to have to pay someone else to do everything.”

Again heh.

When I ask Key later who gets which half of the cappuccino, he replies, “I won’t answer that on the basis your headline will be ‘Key likes a bit of fluff’.”

I love his sense of humour.

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The Conservative Party List

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

Stuff reports their top five:

  1. Colin Craig, property developer
  2. Chistine Rankin, former Head of WINZ
  3. Garth McVicar, founder of the Sensible Sentencing Trust
  4. Melissa Perkin, lawyer, executive director of the New Zealand Bar Association
  5. Edward Saafi, biomedical scientist, PhD and MBA.

Regardless of politics and policies, I have to say that’s a pretty strong lineup.


PPTA reaches agreement

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

Stuff reports:

Only a day after the country’s biggest teacher union walked away from the Government’s flagship education policy, secondary school teachers have agreed on an interim deal over it.

Today the Post Primary Teachers’ Association, representing about 18,000 secondary school teachers, reached an interim agreement around how the teaching roles would work as part of the $359 million Investing in Educational Success initiative.

Good to see there is one union not against their members being able to take up roles that pay $10,000 to $50,000 a year more.


The right to silence in the UK

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

The Herald reports:

As they did ahead of the 2008 and 2011 General Elections, the New Zealand Police Association yesterday released its policy document “for the future”.

Included in the proposals was a sterner stance on defendants’ refusals to co-operate with statements and evidence.

“The Police Association believes government policy to improve the effectiveness of the criminal justice system should … amend the law relating to criminal procedure and evidence to allow judge and jury to draw such inferences as appear proper from a defendent’s refusal to answer questions or give evidence,” the policy document reads.

“The incentive to silence greatly obstructs the ability of police, the courts, and most importantly victims, to ascertain the full truth and receive an explanation for an offence.”

“No one can make anyone talk but if you refuse to speak … then they should be able to comment on that,” association president Greg O’Connor said.

“No one is going to force you to speak, but the judge might say, ‘one might have thought if you were innocent, you would want to talk.’ It’s really about going along with the UK.”
In the United Kingdom, which shares New Zealand’s common law legal heritage, “a judge or jury may draw ‘such inferences as appear proper’ from a defendant’s refusal to make statements of give accounts to the police or court, while providing that a finding of guilt cannot be based solely on such inferences”.

“New Zealand should adopt a similar reform,” the association policy states.

The right to silence has been in the common law since the 1600s.

There are two aspects to the right to silence.

  1. The right to actually not answer questions. Most other participants in a trial must answer the question posed to them, or face jail for contempt.
  2. The right not to face adverse comment in court on the fat you have exercised the right to silence

As far as I know, no one wants to change the first part, just the second.

I suspect that juries, even if told not to, do mark a defendant down if he or she remains silent. But plenty of defendants have been found not guilty who have remained silent, so the impact is presumbly minor.

UK law does indeed the court to make adverse comment on a defendant remaining silent, but states the jury must be told no conviction can be be made solely on silence.

Stephen Franks makes the case for adopting the UK law:

I’m sorry that some in ACT have reneged on the policy I worked for in Parliament, according to Stuff.

 That policy to end the “so-called right to silence” (Ted Thomas J’s description of it) took into account the UK experience after ending it more than a decade earlier. It considered the academic writing on both sides (retired NZ judges from both sides of the  left/right spectrum considered it to be a poseur right). But mostly it flowed from my determination to focus our policy back on to increasing the availability to courts of the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

Most of the lay opposition to its abolition is out of a misconception that a right to silence would be replaced by a rule forcing people to give evidence. It would not. An accused could remain silent still. The only change could be that the court is permitted to recognise and draw inferences from a failure to expose yourself to cross-examination.

 Such a reform would simply recognise a common sense reasoning that probably finds its way into many (but unfortunately not all) jury findings despite vain judicial instructions not to take it into account. That reasoning is that the person in the court in the best position to know what really happened involving him is the defendant. If he has counsel hounding other witnesses with potentially spurious theories about what happened but declines to offer his own evidence, or to expose himself to questioning, then the court is deprived of the most direct account of the truth.

Mike Sabin has a members’ bill to allow adverse comments on silence to be made, where a victim is aged under 12.

Of interest is that former defence lawyer Russel Fairbrother called for a law change in 2008 when a Labour MP, as did Sir Geoffrey Palmer.

Overall I’m not convinced though. The change to the UK law might not be a bad change in itself, but it might be the start of a slippery slope where the right to silence gets eroded more and more.


Changes to MPs allowances

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

The Remuneration Authority has published its determination for travel and accommodation allowances for Ministers and MPs. This is the first time they have been set by an independent body. Prior to this, the Speaker and the Minister for Ministerial Services determined them. So it is good to have this now with an independent body.

What are the significant changes.

  • Cap on MPs’ Wellington accommodation increases from $24,000 to $28,000, the level it has been at since 2007. This increase reflects the 18% inflation we have had since 2007.
  • Cap on Ministers’ Wellington accommodation increases from $37,500 to $41,000, the level it has been at since 2009. This increase reflects the 11% inflation we have had since 2009.
  • Daily limit for hotels in Wellington increases from $160 to $190 for MPs and from $200 to $240 for Ministers. Again both these changes are near identical to the inflation level since 2007, so in real terms just a catch up.
  • Daily limit for hotels in Auckland and Christchurch increases from $180 to $210 for MPs and $290 for Ministers.
  • Spouse or partner travel was previously unlimited but is now capped at 20 trips a year for MPs and 30 for Ministers, and also now restricted to travel to accompany the MP on official business.

How Hager got it wrong on The Princess Party

August 22nd, 2014 at 5:10 pm by David Farrar

One section of Nicky Hager’s book stated I had organised a Princess Party, and had dialogue from some unnamed people about getting girls drunk, with an implication I was part of that conversation.


I was not the organiser of the party, and was not a party to the conversation. Yet Hager published this as fact. It is reasonably defamatory as various people have smeared me over it.

I did attend a party in 2011 in Palmerston North held the day before a party conference. I was not the organiser. I invited two friends along, of similiar age to myself. Off memory it was called a Princess Party, because the Royal Wedding was occurring around then. As a Republican, I’m an unlikely organiser.

The e-mails have been released by Whaledump, and I quote from then below. I’m redacting the names of the participants, but of course the source e-mails are on Whaledump.

Name 1, 4/26, 12:02am

my email doesn’t get read


Apparently Pinko is the main driving force behind the Princess party

Now this e-mail is presumably why Hager thought I was the organiser. But he gets it totally wrong. They are laughing at the fact that someone thinks I am the organiser. This is the problem where you write a book on stolen e-mails, and don’t verify, fact check, or interview a single person for it.

One must note the irony of the comment about e-mails not getting read though :-)

Name 2, 4/26, 12:03am

well i was going to say i have cleared the field for you, given you the most likely targets and will get them drunk for you
Name 1, 4/26, 12:03am

he has invited [REDACTED] to it and to the one the next night
Name 2, 4/26, 12:03am

righto, good cleint recruitment

he asked if he can bring Name 3, which i said yes to

Yep, I got invited to a party, and invited two friends to it – both of a similiar age to me - one male and female. I had no role in the conversation reported in the book. Yet the book reports me as the organiser, and implies I was involved in the conversation.

If Mr Hager is doing reprints of his book, I would appreciate it if he could make the appropriate corrections.

And perhaps this is a lesson to everyone out there, not to take everything in the book at face value. If he has got this wrong, what else has he got wrong? Again this is what happens when you don’t verify anything or give people a chance to respond.

UPDATE: I actually blogged on the party in 2011. To quote me:

Had a very fun night in Palmerston North last night (a sentence which some might say was unlikely to ever be uttered by me) watching the Royal Wedding. Yes I’m a Republican, but I can still enjoy a good wedding. The dress code was tiaras for women and black tie for men.

It was a hilariously mixed group of people. Three out of the five Kiwiblog editorial team were in attendance, plus I’d guess half the Don Brash coup committee. A wedding can be a good uniter :-)

We also had members of the Monarchist League and Republicans, so it was a very good fun night. Debating the constitutional reform at 1 am is so much more tolerable after many bottles of champagne.

Somewhat sad that it was a party, and I’m debating constitutional reform at 1 am at it. Also a very different impression to what Hager’s book implied.


A Ministry of Public Input

August 22nd, 2014 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Dr Jennifer Lees-Marshment has published a book recommending New Zealand create a Ministry of Public Input. The synopis is:

As political leaders acknowledge the limits of their power and knowledge, they seek a diverse range of public input into government, but this raises profound practical and democratic questions as to how we ensure that public input is collected and processed appropriately and what political leaders are supposed to do with that public input. Through interviews with government ministers and practitioners this research shows how politicians are becoming deliberative political leaders; integrating constructive input from inside and outside government into their decision-making. It also argues that we need to develop a permanent government unit to collect, process and communicate ongoing public input such as a Ministry or Commission of Public Input. By improving public input systems; acknowledging the limits of their own power and knowledge; and devolving solution-finding to others, politicians achieve change that lasts beyond their time in power. Public input is not irreconcilable with political leadership; it is essential to it.

I was one of those interviewed for the book. I think the idea of a Ministry of Public Input, to work across Government, is worth considering. In theory each agency should be doing this anyway, but Jennifer proposes an all-of-Government approach.

A summary of her book is online here.

Those she interviewed include around 51 current and former Australian, Canadian British and Ministers including a dozen current NZ Ministers.


Goff tried to suppress the fact he was briefed

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

The Herald reports:

He said Dr Tucker told him about Slater’s request for the documents on July 26, the day he received it.

Mr Goff said Dr Tucker said he intended to release that day, “and I hit the roof”.

He had told Dr Tucker it was “unbelievable that you would contemplate doing anything like that – that draws you right into the political arena”.

He said Dr Tucker then agreed to delay the release for a week.

Now think about this.

Phil Goff told the media and the public he had not been briefed on a security issue.

He had been.

The SIS told him that they planned to release the briefing note, after redactions, as it had been requested under the Official Information Act, and there were no legal grounds to refuse it.

Goff hit the roof and heavied the SIS into delaying the release. He thinks that documents showing he was briefed when he claimed not to have been, should not be released to protect him.

And Labour are trying to claim some sort of moral high ground!!


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Cunliffe says don’t sack me if Labour loses

August 22nd, 2014 at 1:30 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

David Cunliffe would like to remain Labour leader and take the party into the 2017 election, even if the party loses at the September 20 election.

“In general, and with any new leader, you go through a learning curve,” he said.

“I think there is a very strong argument that it would be a waste of time, energy and resources to go through that process and start again.”

Asked if he planned to stay on no matter what the result, he said, “Unless I feel like I have done such a bad job that it would be in the interests of the party for me not to put myself forward – if that question arises.”

If Labour gets a lower vote percentage that they got under Goff in 2011, then I can’t see how he can make a case for staying. If he gets Labour into the 30s, then his position is strengthened and he probably can carry on despite the lack of confidence from his caucus. If Labour’s results is between 27.5% and 30%, that is the uncertain zone.

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Making the targets more challenging

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

National announced:

Better-than-expected progress in reducing crime and having more young people attain higher qualifications means these two Better Public Service targets will be made more challenging if National is returned to government after the election.

The two targets are among 10 this Government has set to ensure the money invested in public services actually delivers demonstrable gains for New Zealanders, National Party Finance Spokesman Bill English and State Services Spokesman Jonathan Coleman say.

“For too long, governments have considered that spending more money equates to fixing problems, even when the evidence shows that simply isn’t the case,” Mr English says.

“That’s why our Government considers results rather than more spending as the best measure of the effectiveness of public services.

“In 2012, we set measurable targets in 10 challenging areas to improve the lives of New Zealanders, particularly the most vulnerable, and it’s pleasing that our six-monthly updates show good progress.

“In two targets, the results have been so much better than anticipated that we’re lifting the bar so we aim for even more improvement.”

The new targets are:

• Raising the proportion of 25 – 34-year-olds who will have advanced trade qualifications, diplomas and degrees by 2017 to 60 per cent – up from 55 per cent in the current target.

• Reducing the total crime rate by 20 per cent from June 2011 to June 2017 – up from the current target reduction of 15 per cent.

I think it is a very good thing, that when a target is met, you don’t just rest on your laurels, but then make it a more challenging target.


Has Labour’s bribe backfired on them?

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

The Herald reports:

Labour’s support among the elderly has slumped despite making free GP visits for pensioners the centrepiece of its election campaign launch recently.

A breakdown of the party vote according to age suggests a dramatic fall from 29.3 per cent among pensioners in last month’s poll to just 17.6 per cent in today’s poll.

Once the poll results are broken into age groups they are simply indicative.

But what makes the movement more credible is that New Zealand First, which assiduously courts the grey vote, has gone from 4.7 per cent support among the over 65-year-olds last month to 8.9 per cent of the older vote in today’s poll.

We can estimate how significant these changes are.

We don’t know how many over 65s were in the poll sample of 750, but let’s estimate 200.

A fall from 29.3% to 17.6% has a 99.3% chance of being a true fall, and only a 0.7% chance of being just random sample differences. So it is safe to conclude Labour has fallen in support from over 65s despite their bribe.

An increase from 4.7% to 8.9% has a 94.8% chance of being a true increase, so it is likely they have gained support from over 65s.

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