Archive for the ‘NZ Politics’ Category

Gordon Campbell against Uber

June 28th, 2015 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Gordon Campbell writes:

It would be nice to think that California – the home state of Hollywood – may have finally and decisively overturned the “contractor” fiction through which the likes of Uber and the film industry continue to exploit their workers. Uber and Warners do like to portray themselves as being at the forefront of technological innovation and business excellence. Well, it’s the 21st century, guys. Maybe its time you stopped making your employees accept 19th century work conditions as the basis for keeping their jobs. Basically, if your business model depends on offloading your own legitimate costs onto your workforce, then maybe the model doesn’t deserve to endure.

So Gordon Campbell thinks the Uber model does not deserve to endure. Has he not noticed that many taxi drivers are flocking to Uber because they earn much more money with Uber, as Uber doesn’t have huge sign up fees, or costs. They’re often better off. But Gordon, like many on the left, don’t like anyone being contractors.

This is going to be a good test for Labour’s Future of Work Commission. The future of work is companies like Uber allowing people to be contractors and private drivers. Uber would die if they were forced to become employers, rather than merely a booking app.

Will Labour come up with policies that reflect the 21st century? Flexibility is what the 21st century is about, not forcing everyone to be an employee.

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What land should pay rates?

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

The ACT newsletter:

Amidst all the Good Ideas
One notable item was that the exemption on Crown land from rates is unjustifiable. Quite so. Central government dumps regulatory burdens on local government, but is tight fisted in paying for them itself. Allowing local authorities to charge rates on Crown land would encourage agencies to use land more efficiently and would be fairer to ratepayers.

The Rating Base
Councils can charge targeted rates for water, sewage and refuse collection, but cannot levy other rates, including uniform annual charges or general rates on Crown land. One option might be to allow councils to apply uniform annual charges to Crown land. That might encourage them to not push the uniform charge down to the minimum, as has happened in Auckland.

But Which Land?
As a first cut at what might be included, and what not, conservation and recreational land could be excluded. Because schools and hospitals all compete with private organisations, they should pay rates. Road and rail network infrastructure should probably be excluded, but ports and airports are private businesses, albeit often partially owned by councils, so would be included.

And Some Controversial Areas
Land used for religious worship or education, and Maori land of various types is exempt from rates. It’s hard to see how that could be justified.

The Net Effect
Slightly lower rates burden, slightly higher central government tax burden – but better price signals and incentives all round. And fairer.

I agree there should be no rates exemption for religious or Maori land. I also agree that some Crown land should pay rates – not conservation land, but other land. It will encourage better use of the land.


One union to rule them all

June 26th, 2015 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

The old adage of strength in numbers is the main driver behind the proposed merger between two of New Zealand’s larger unions.

In July, the potential combination of the Service and Food Workers Union (SFWU) with the Engineering, Printing and Manufacturing Union (EPMU) will be put to the vote at a national conference and if it gets the thumbs up there, the memberships of both groups will then get to have their say.

These are the two largest unions of Labour’s six affiliated unions. Individually they have 42% and 25% of the affiliate vote. If they combine they will have 66% of the affiliate vote. It means the combined union will effectively select their own vice-president of the party, have reps on the list moderating committee, be far more dominant at selection meetings and this one entity would control 13% of the leadership electoral college.

In other words the Labour Party would not be far removed from being a subsidiary of the new combined union.  In a leadership ballot the vote of each delegate would be worth almost 50 times as much as an ordinary member.

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Pollution taxes

June 26th, 2015 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Environment researchers have made fresh calls for a tax on polluters on the back of an OECD report highlighting rising pressures on our green backyard.

Through its new book, Vanishing Nature, the Environmental Defence Society has put forward an environmental consumption tax and rebate as a key reform, which it argues has the potential to tackle environmental degradation while broadening and rebalancing New Zealand’s tax base.

The lead author, EDS senior policy analyst Dr Marie Brown, said it would also help to reduce wealth inequality, could be designed to cut growth-limiting income and company taxes, and fund climate change mitigation.

My first reaction to any proposed new tax, is I’ll consider its merits if it is proposed not to increase the overall level of taxation, but as an alternative revenue source, which would allow income and company taxes to be reduced. It is good to see that this is the case here, even though they seem to be suggesting only a partial offset.

Dr Eric Crampton, head of research at the New Zealand Institute, said that in principle, taxes on pollution were far better than taxes on income so long as they were set properly – but this was very hard to do.

Simplicity is important – as we have with GST.

Taxes tend to reduce whatever you tax. So if you tax income, you reduce labour. If you have a GST you reduce consumption. If you have a CGT, you reduce capital. So a pollution tax can reduce pollution.

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$333 million for cycleways

June 26th, 2015 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Telling the Prime Minister to get on his bike might normally get a minister sacked. 

But on Thursday Prime Minister John Key and Transport Minister Simon Bridges visited Rotorua to announce a $333m cycleway investment programme that Bridges says will change the face of cycling in New Zealand.

That’s a huge investment. I doubt any other Government has ever done so much to promote cycling.

National is balanced when it comes to transport – it invests in roads, bus lanes, rail and cycle. Some one the left promote is as either or – they want next to no funding for roads because they hate cars. But the reality is the different systems are complementary, not substitutes. Sometimes I bike, sometimes I bus, sometimes I walk and sometimes I drive. I want investment in all the modes of transport.

Bridges says that as well as the 13 cycleway projects announced in January, an additional 41 will receive funding as part of the Urban Cycleways Programme.

“This is the single biggest investment in cycling in New Zealand’s history,” Bridges says.

“This will make cycling a safer and more attractive option.”

The safer it is, the more people will do it.


Four new members’ bills

June 26th, 2015 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Four bills were drawn from the ballot yesterday. They are:

Local Government Act 2002 (Greater Local Democracy) Amendment Bill – Labour MP Stuart Nash

This bill would mean any poll on amalgamations of local government will be unsuccessful unless it gains not just a majority over the affected area, but also a majority in each and every district within.

Public Collections and Solicitations (Disclosure of Payment) Bill – National MP Matt Doocey

This would require people soliciting donations, signatures or the like to disclose whether they are paid collectors.

Financial Assistance for Live Organ Donors Bill – National MP Chris Bishop

This would allow people who can not work due to having donated organs, to get income assistance equivalent to ACC (80% of lost earnings) for a maximum of 12 weeks, compared to the current sickness benefit only.

New Zealand Superannuation and Retirement Income (Pro Rata Entitlement) Amendment Bill – NZ First MP Denis O’Rourke.

This would reduce the level of NZ Superannuation on a pro-rata basis to people who have not been or remained in NZ between the ages of 20 and 65.

My thoughts on each are:

  • Nash bill – just seeks to reverse a law change from a few years ago. Would vote against at first reading
  • Doocey bill – a useful concept and enhanced transparency is good but current wording may be too draconian. Support at first reading, and review after select committee
  • Bishop bill – strongly support
  • O’Rourke bill – is worth having a debate on the issue, and the principle of less NZ Super for those who spent less time in NZ is not a bad one. But don’t want to punish people for doing their OE for a few years. Worth supporting at first reading to get submissions
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The guilty 10

June 26th, 2015 at 7:00 am by David Farrar
  • Arthur Anae
  • Len Brown
  • Bill Cashmore
  • Linda Cooper
  • Chris Darby
  • Alf Filipaina
  • Mike Lee
  • Calum Penrose
  • Wayne Walker
  • Penny Webster

You now know who not to vote for Auckland.

Special attention must go to Mike Lee who correctly labels the 9.9% rates increase as odious and deeply flawed, yet votes for it.


Clerk argues for satire

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

Stuff reports:

Parliament’s top official has urged MPs to “grow up” and allow the official television feed to be used to mock them.

Mary Harris, Clerk of the House, told the Privileges Committee a ban on using footage of Parliament for satire may need to be relaxed “in this day and age”. …

Harris, whose seven-year term as Clerk ends on July 3, said the rules around satire were developed at a time when television was among the only ways of viewing Parliament, but with the proliferation of media the concerns had changed.

The rules have “been lifted in Australia [and] we borrowed our rules from Australia, and we maybe need to grow up,” Harris told the committee on Wednesday.

“I don’t think there’s a need to shelter Members [of Parliament] any longer.”

“It’s difficult to police. Once or twice Speakers have brought people in and given them a bit of a lecture about it but I think it’s a bit like slapping people with a wet bus ticket.”

I agree. The rule is ignored anyway, and satire is a good thing!

Harris said the committee may want to consider other changes, including expanding rules around photography to cover MPs taking photos in the House, as standing orders related only to footage taken from the public and press galleries.

Official footage of Parliament should also be allowed to show MPs misbehaving, Harris said.

“If members are going to be disorderly, they should be seen to be so.” …

Press Gallery chairwoman Claire Trevett told the committee the gallery backed the lifting of rules around disorder in the House, signalling that if there was an episode such as MPs brawling, the chances were media outlets may simply ignore the rules.

The idea behind that rule is to discourage MPs deliberately misbehaving so they get on TV, but they’re not really discouraged anyway. Another rule that can go.

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Mana Party AGM heals woman, so she can walk

June 25th, 2015 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Our favourite political party offical new site reports:

Kaylee Teree Ngarimu has been wheel chair ridden for months, doctors couldn’t diagnose her condition. What Kaylee was suffering from is often referred to as Maori sickness a condition that modern medicine has no solutions. Tuta and Kaylee went to many experts until whanau at the Mana AGM referred Kaylee to alternative healing. Nothing was working until she decided to attend the Mana AGM. After speaking to a Maori Healer Kaylee was able to stand then walk away from her wheel chair and hasnt used it since.

This is great news. Attend a political party AGM and your sickness will be cured and you can walk again.

Imagine all our people who are reliant on western medicines and end up that way for years with no real cure,if our people went back to OUR way of healing, our iwi would be better off.

I encourage all Mana Party members to abandon this evil subsidised Western medicine.


Members’ bill ballot 25 June 2015

June 25th, 2015 at 10:16 am by David Farrar

There will be a whopping four bills drawn from the ballot of 73 at midday today. Bills in the ballot are:

  Bill Title Member Name
1 Accident Compensation (Recent Migrants and Returning New Zealanders) Amendment Bill Melissa Lee
2 Affordable Healthcare Bill Barbara Stewart
3 Age of Majority (Attainment at 18 Years) Amendment Bill Brett Hudson
4 Better Public Service Target Results Independent Audit Bill Tracey Martin
5 Births, Deaths, Marriages, and Relationships Registration (Preventing Name Change by Child Sex Offenders) Amendment Bill Dr Jian Yang
6 Buy New Zealand (Procurement) Bill Richard Prosser
7 Care of Children (Adoption and Surrogacy Law Reform) Amendment Bill Kevin Hague
8 Charter Schools (Application of Official Information and Ombudsmen Acts) Bill Hon Nanaia Mahuta
9 Child Poverty Reduction and Eradication Bill Jacinda Ardern
10 Children, Young Persons, and Their Families (Parent’s and Guardian’s Responsibility) Amendment Bill Barbara Kuriger
11 Climate Change (Divestment from Fossil Fuels) Bill Dr Russel Norman
12 Commerce (Supermarket Adjudicator and Code of Conduct) Amendment Bill Steffan Browning
13 Credit Contracts and Consumer Finance (Break Fees Disclosure) Amendment Bill Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi
14 Crimes (Corporate Manslaughter) Amendment Bill Hon Damien O’Connor
15 Crimes (Non-fatal Strangulation) Amendment Bill Kelvin Davis
16 Criminal Procedure (Removing Paedophile Name Suppression) Amendment Bill Pita Paraone
17 Crown Minerals (Protection of World Heritage Sites) Amendment Bill Hon Ruth Dyson
18 Customs and Excise (Prohibition of Imports Made by Slave Labour) Amendment Bill Peeni Henare
19 Domestic Violence—Victims’ Protection Bill Jan Logie
20 Education (Charter Schools Abolition) Amendment Bill Chris Hipkins
21 Education (Charter Schools Curriculum) Amendment Bill Hon Phil Goff
22 Education (Charter Schools Teacher Quality) Amendment Bill Louisa Wall
23 Education (Public Good not Profit from Charter Schools) Amendment Bill Dr David Clark
24 Education (Restoration of Democracy to University Councils) Amendment Bill Hon David Cunliffe
25 Electricity Industry (Energy Efficiency) Amendment Bill Rino Tirikatene
26 Electricity Industry (Small-Scale Renewable Distributed Generation) Amendment Bill Gareth Hughes
27 Electricity Transparency Bill David Shearer
28 Employment Relations (Allowing Higher Earners to Contract Out of Personal Grievance Provisions) Amendment Bill Scott Simpson
29 Employment Relations (Certainty at Work) Amendment Bill Iain Lees-Galloway
30 Employment Relations (Restoring Kiwis’ Right to a Break at Work) Amendment Bill Jenny Salesa
31 Employment Relations (Safe and Healthy Workplaces) Amendment Bill Alastair Scott
32 Energy Efficiency and Conservation (Warm Healthy Rentals Warrant of Fitness) Amendment Bill Metiria Turei
33 Environment Canterbury (Democracy Restoration) Amendment Bill Dr Megan Woods
34 Equal Pay Amendment Bill Mojo Mathers
35 Family Proceedings (Paternity Orders and Parentage Tests) Amendment Bill Jacqui Dean
36 Financial Assistance for Live Organ Donors Bill Chris Bishop
37 Healthy Homes Guarantee Bill (No 2) Andrew Little
38 Immigration (Refugee Quota) Amendment Bill Denise Roche
39 Independent Prison Inspectorate Bill David Clendon
40 International Non-Aggression and Lawful Use of Force (Implementation of Amendment to Statute of Rome) Bill Dr Kennedy Graham
41 Keep Kiwibank Bill Hon Clayton Cosgrove
42 Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary Establishment Bill Eugenie Sage
43 Land Transfer (Foreign Ownership of Land Register) Amendment Bill Mahesh Bindra
44 Land Transport (Vulnerable Road Users) Amendment Bill Julie Anne Genter
45 Legislation (Climate Impact Disclosure Statement) Amendment Bill James Shaw
46 Life Jackets for Children and Young Persons Bill Alfred Ngaro
47 Local Government (Four Well-beings) Amendment Bill Su’a William Sio
48 Local Government (Freedom of Access) Amendment Bill Paul Foster-Bell
49 Local Government Act 2002 (Greater Local Democracy) Amendment Bill Stuart Nash
50 Marriage (Court Consent to Marriage of Minors) Amendment Bill Joanne Hayes
51 New Zealand Superannuation and Retirement Income (Pro Rata Entitlement) Amendment Bill Denis O’Rourke
52 Nurse Practitioners Bill Hon Annette King
53 Oaths and Declarations (Endorsing the Principles of the Treaty of Waitangi) Amendment Bill Marama Fox
54 Oaths and Declarations (Members of Parliament) Amendment Bill Meka Whaitiri
55 Official Information (Parliamentary Under-Secretaries) Amendment Bill Adrian Rurawhe
56 Overseas Investment (Protection of New Zealand Homebuyers) Amendment Bill Phil Twyford
57 Parental Leave and Employment Protection (Six Months’ Paid Leave and Work Contact Hours) Amendment Bill Sue Moroney
58 Private International Law (Choice of Law in Tort) Bill David Bennett
59 Public Collections and Solicitations (Disclosure of Payment) Bill Matt Doocey
60 Public Works (Prohibition of Compulsory Acquisition of Māori Land) Amendment Bill Catherine Delahunty
61 Radiocommunications (Enhanced Public Broadcasting Provision) Amendment Bill Kris Faafoi
62 Receiverships (Agricultural Debt Mediation) Amendment Bill Ron Mark
63 Sentencing (Domestic Violence) Amendment Bill Poto Williams
64 Sentencing (Livestock Rustling) Amendment Bill Ian McKelvie
65 Shop Trading Hours Act Repeal (Shopping Centre Opening Hours) Amendment Bill Hon Trevor Mallard
66 Social Security (Apprenticeship Assistance for Youth) Amendment Bill Grant Robertson
67 Social Security (Stopping Benefit Payments for Offenders who Repeatedly Fail to Comply with Community Sentences) Amendment Bill Mark Mitchell
68 Social Workers Registration (Mandatory Registration) Amendment Bill Carmel Sepuloni
69 Summary Offences (Drink or Drugs Affecting Behaviour) Amendment Bill Clayton Mitchell
70 Summary Proceedings (Warrant for Detention Conditions) Amendment Bill Jonathan Young
71 Telecommunications (Interception Capability and Security) Amendment Bill Clare Curran
72 Vulnerable Children (Mandatory Social Worker Registration) Amendment Bill Ria Bond
73 Waitemata Harbour Protection Bill Rt Hon Winston Peters
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Even Rudman is lashing the Councillors

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

Brian Rudman writes:

Tomorrow, for example, even though only seven of 20 councillors support the mayor’s proposed 10-year budget, it is likely to be adopted, because possibly five opponents will look the other way and abstain.

Chamber of Commerce chief executive Michael Barnett calls this abstaining “a total nonsense” and “a breach of trust with ratepayers”, and I agree.

In a democracy, if the executive can’t get a majority to support its plans, the accepted course is for the rulers to go away and prepare a budget the majority will support.


The Auckland Ratepayers Alliance has said:

The Auckland Ratepayers’ Alliance is pledging to hold to account those who support Len Brown’s proposed Auckland Council budget tomorrow, including those who allow it to pass by abstaining. The Alliance, which launched in April, has nearly ten thousand members and is growing every day.

Ratepayers’ Alliance spokesperson, Jo Holmes, says:

“Make no mistake, this is a bottom line for our members and activists. Any councillor that votes for, or abstains tomorrow will be a target in the lead up to next year’s election.”

“We are now confident that the Ratepayers’ Alliance will have enough financial support to conduct a mailout to every Auckland household. We will ensure that all voters know who the guilty Councillors are. There will be billboards, radio ads and even ringtones naming those who allowed Len Brown to hike rates at 99 times the level of inflation.

“Those who fail to vote tomorrow to stop the Mayor’s rates hike will not get away with it.”

The 9.9% rates increase is just an an average. In some low income areas it is as high as 17%!!!

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Thresholds bill fails

June 25th, 2015 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Parliament has voted down a bid to close the loophole that allows MPs to enter Parliament on the coat tail of someone who wins an electorate seat.

A bill promoted by Labour MP Iain Lees-Galloway would have implemented the recommendations of the Electoral Commission following a review which called for the removal of the single electoral seat threshold and a corresponding reduction in the party vote threshold from 5 per cent to 4 per cent. Lowering the party vote threshold would make it easier for smaller parties to win seats in Parliament because they would only need to win 4 per cent of the vote, not 5 per cent, the current threshold. 

Ironically if this had been implemented at the last election, as Labour wanted, Colin Craig would almost certainly be an MP and hold the balance of power. The Conservatives got 3.97% and it is inevitable they would have got 4% if voters had seen them so close to the threshold.

The coat tailing rule is seen as unfair because it means parties that win only a small number of votes can still get a number of MPs in Parliament so long as they win an electorate seat.  It also can allow larger parties to do deals that would help smaller parties into Parliament, which happened with ACT and National in the Epsom seat in Auckland. In 2008 ACT won just 3.6 per cent of the vote after then-leader Rodney Hide won Epsom, in contrast with NZ First which got voted out of Parliament with 4.1 per cent of the vote.

I think the coat tailing rule should go, on balance, but point out that in 2011 there were no “coat tail” MPs and in 2014 there is only one.

But ACT leader David Seymour said the Opposition were “so wrong on every count” about the coat-tailing rule.

He said the only benefiting from the coat tailing rule in the current Parliament was the Maori Party, which got an extra MP thanks to Te Ururoa Flavell winning the Wairiki seat.

Other parties had benefited in other Parliaments including the Greens, NZ First and the Alliance.

“If you take the entire history of MMP, for a period the coat tailing rule benefited the Left and then it benefited the Right.  There is no more to it than that; there is no more sincere motivation than that it has politically disadvantaged [Labour] recently. I’ll be opposing this bill because there is no sound principle, only self-interest.”

Labour, the Greens and NZ First voted for the bill, but National, United Future, the Maori Party and ACT voted against.

Seymour has that dead to rights.


Latest poll

June 24th, 2015 at 10:46 pm by David Farrar

I’ve blogged the latest poll at Curia.

On it National would have 62 seats, Labour 32, Greens 16 and NZ First 8.


Electricity Prices

June 24th, 2015 at 3:11 pm by David Farrar

Backbenches have said a topic for Wednesday is electricity prices:

POWER PRICES-A SHOCKER?:  Nearly 80% of our electricity comes from renewable energy sources, primarily hydropower. Power prices have more than doubled since 2002. So, why are our monthly power bills so dear? And why can your power costs vary so greatly from power company to power company. Labour says we are paying far too much. But what is the solution to lower prices? Do we need to nationalise the power companies? Do we need to change how much lines companies charge? Their tarrifs can make up to 40% of a monthly powerbill? Or is this just the price of doing business?

Yes they have doubled since 2002, but the increase has not been consistent. To help, here is a graph of annual electricity inflation.


Quite a difference, although price increase of over 3% are still too high.

In the seven years from 2001 to 2008 inclusive electricity prices increased 63.5%. Since 2008 they have increased 24%.


TPP and Dairy

June 24th, 2015 at 2:06 pm by David Farrar

Richard Harman at Politik writes:

Prime Minister John Key has confirmed that New Zealand has yet to see any major concessions on dairy exports to Japan and Canada from the Trans Pacific Partnership trade agreement negotiations.

That’s because both Japan and Canada, the negotiating countries with the highest barriers against dairy imports have yet to begin the “hard” part of their negotiations.

But it leaves a huge hole in the negotiations which Mr Key admits is not what New Zealand wants. …

Speaking at his weekly post Cabinet Press Conference, the prime Minister described the situation in Washington as “a game of chess” between the Senate and the House.

He said there was a deal on dairy products “but it’s not at the level we would currently like.

“There are more negotiations to be undertaken”

Asked what advantages New Zealand would gain, if the dairy agreement could not be reached he said: “What I’ve seen at the moment is if we froze time and concluded the deal, as I see it it’s a net positive for New Zealand.

“But it wouldn’t be nearly enough for dairy for us to be comfortable and we’d like to see more.”


The TPP was meant to be a gold standard trade agreement. It won’t be that if there is no meaningful dairy access.


Parliament 24 June 2015

June 24th, 2015 at 12:02 pm by David Farrar

The order paper is here.

Oral Questions 2.00 pm – 3.00 pm

  1. ANDREW LITTLE to the Prime Minister: Does he stand by his statement, in question time yesterday, he would “absolutely” retain confidence in a Minister who authorised a multi-million dollar payment to a disaffected businessman to unlock a free-trade deal?
  2. JAMES SHAW to the Prime Minister: Does he still have confidence in the Minister of Foreign Affairs?
  3. ANDREW BAYLY to the Minister of Finance: What reports has he received showing why more housing is needed as part of supporting a growing New Zealand economy?
  4. Hon ANNETTE KING to the Minister of Health: What advice, if any, did he give to Cabinet on the risks of the Social Bonds Pilot announced on 1 June 2015?
  5. Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS to the Minister for Māori Development: Does he stand by all his statements?
  6. ALASTAIR SCOTT to the Minister of Revenue: What recent announcements has the Government made around tax rules on property transactions?
  7. Hon DAVID PARKER to the Minister of Foreign Affairs: Did he meet with David Brownrigg and George Assaf in Auckland on 18 October 2011 “to discuss trade between New Zealand and the Middle East and, in particular, the resumption of a specialised live export sheep trade with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia” and was that meeting the subject of a letter to him dated 2 November 2011 from Brownrigg Agriculture on behalf of Mr Al Khalaf and Mr George Assaf?
  8. KANWALJIT SINGH BAKSHI to the Minister for Communications: What recent announcements has she made on a new emergency response system for mobile 111 calls?
  9. FLETCHER TABUTEAU to the Prime Minister: Does he stand by all his statements?
  10. CLARE CURRAN to the Minister for Māori Development: Why did he tell Radio New Zealand yesterday he did not discuss programming content with Paora Maxwell on 20 May, when Paora Maxwell said in an email to staff on 22 May that “We talked about … content”?
  11. JACQUI DEAN to the Minister for Small Business: What steps are the Government taking to improve the way we collect data from rural small businesses?
  12. KEVIN HAGUE to the Minister for Climate Change Issues: Does he agree with Lancet Commission co-Chair Professor Hugh Montgomery that “climate change is a medical emergency” but “tackling climate change could be the greatest global health opportunity of the 21st century”?

National: Four questions on the economy, property tax rules, 111 calls and small businesses

Labour: Four questions on the Saudi Arabia farm x2, social bonds, and Maori TV

Greens: Two questions on the Saudi Arabia farm and climate change

NZ First: Two questions on Maori Affairs Minister and PM standing by their statements

General Debate 3.00 pm to 3.00 pm

The general debate consists of 12 speeches of up to five minutes each, so a maximum of one hour.


Herald says Councillors should vote not abstain

June 24th, 2015 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald editorial:

Fairly or not, politicians are expected to have solid, unambiguous positions on every issue. Not for them the shades of grey that influence the decision-making of most people in everyday life. Consequently, it is unsurprising that the Auckland councillors who are thinking of abstaining to allow the council’s 10-year budget to pass are being strongly criticised. Yesterday, Michael Barnett, of the Auckland Chamber of Commerce, added to the pressure by saying taking that course would be “a total nonsense”.

They are elected to govern. If they can’t handle the responsibility, they should resign and allow in someone who can.

But ringing in their ears are the dire warnings of the council’s chief executive and chief finance officer, who have told councillors if the budget is not adopted, the council will not be able to set or collect rates, refinance loans or meet stock exchange requirements.

If they vote down Len’s budget, then Len has to put up an alternate budget which can get a majority. That is how it works.

It would surely not be catastrophic if the budget was not adopted. Any difficulties could be worked through as the budget was modified to meet the concerns of Mr Clow and others. This could see the rates impost reduced significantly through a variety of measures, including staff minimisation, enhanced efficiencies, and the selling down of council assets, such as port and airport shares and carparking buildings.

It is not a choice of Len’s budget or no budget. If they vote down Len’s budget, then a revised budget gets put up.

The issue is too important for any councillor to choose not to choose. They were elected to provide a voice for the citizens of their ward. That should not be lost when they are so adamant about the budget’s shortcomings.

Any Councillor who votes for the 9.9% rates increase budget, or abstains on it, will face a vigorous and effective campaign to stop them being re-elected.

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Corporate manslaughter

June 24th, 2015 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

The Government has confirmed plans to insert corporate manslaughter provisions into the health and safety reform law currently before Parliament.

The measure allowing firms to be prosecuted and fined for workplace deaths has been under consideration since the Pike River mine tragedy. Labour leader Andrew Little has been a strong supporter, but the Government has dragged its feet until now.

Justice Minister Amy Adams on Tuesday said the most appropriate place for the provision, which would address the concerns of those who lost loved ones to the actions of corporates, was in the health and safety law.

She had asked Workplace Relations Minister Michael Woodhouse to add the provision, and he had said he would look at it.

“There’s already a strong sanctions regime, but I’m certainly open to having a look at the suggestion around corporate manslaughter,” Woodhouse said.

There may be just cause to have such a law, but I fear it may become very politicised with calls for employers to be found guilty of manslaughter in relation to all workplace related deaths. The test should be gross negligence at a minimum.


More conspiracy nuttiness from Mana News

June 24th, 2015 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

There are lots of people on the Internet with nutty conspiracy theory. I ignore most of them. But when one of them is the official editor of the news site of a political party that came close to holding the balance of power, I think it is important for people to understand what sort of Government we would have had if it was a Labour-Green-NZ First backed up by the Mana Party.

Joe Trinder on Mana News writes:

There are rumours Henry receives free credit from Sky casino in exchange for getting talking points from the prime minister’s office as part of the right wing bias media.

It would be almost funny, if not so sad.

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Labour’s Flavell smears still lacking the vital element – proof

June 24th, 2015 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Labour leader Andrew Little has called for Maori Development Minister Te Ururoa Flavell to be stripped of responsibility for Maori TV after questioning whether Mr Flavell put pressure on the broadcaster to scrap a debate.

Stuff reports:

Calls are coming for the Maori Development Minister to resign, as it emerges he met with the Maori Television chief executive less than two hours before a contentious debate was canned.

This is just getting pathetic. Now Labour thinks Ministers should be sacked on the basis of a conspiracy theory with no proof.

I blogged on Monday on the issue of the e-mails from his staffer. They are quite mundane and if Labour think it is now illegal for a press secretary to negotiate details of a press appearance with media, well there won’t be any left in the building. That is their job. And Flavell’s staffer was quite explicit that Flavell would appear regardless of whether their views on other participants were taken on board.

The latest element is that Flavell met the Maori TV Chief Executive a couple of hours before the decision was taken to scrap the debate. Now certainly if Flavell and the CEO came to an agreement to cancel the debate, that would be outrageous. But the Herald reports:

However, the show was cancelled on May 20 and those involved were told two hours after Mr Flavell had a meeting with Maori TV chief executive Paora Maxwell.

Mr Flavell said that was coincidental and told Radio NZ he had not discussed the programme with Mr Maxwell at that meeting.

A file note from the meeting between Mr Flavell and Mr Maxwell provided to the NZ Herald contains no specific mention of Native Affairs or the proposed Whanau Ora debate.

However it does mention Maori TV plans to increase advertising revenue through the Ministries of Health and Education and “partnership with Whanau Ora Commissioning Agencies re: future growth of services.”

Mr Flavell said it was a regular quarterly meeting which was set up back in February.

So Labour are basically claiming both Flavell and the CEO are lying, and the file note deliberately incomplete. And their proof for this …. well, nothing at all.

A spokeswoman for Maori TV said the planned debate was cancelled because of low ratings on public holidays. “It was a format change because of ratings. Previous ratings for panel shows on public holidays were low.”

Seems pretty logical. And I’m sure Maori TV will have many debates about Whanau Ora over the next year.

Mr Little acknowledged he did not have firm evidence of any interference by Mr Flavell but the press secretary’s concerns and timing of the cancellation did raise questions Mr Flavell had to answer.

“In the absence of explanations about what happened in the meeting and in the absence of an explanation about why the debate on Whanau Ora was cancelled we are entitled to draw inferences. I have and I smell a rat.”

Translation: I made it up with no proof at all.

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Parliament 23 June 2015

June 23rd, 2015 at 11:53 am by David Farrar

The order paper is here.

Oral Questions 2.00 pm – 3.00 pm

  1. Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS to the Minister for Māori Development: Does he stand by all his statements?
  2. CHRIS BISHOP to the Minister of Finance: What progress is the Government making in helping reduce New Zealand’s external debt position?
  3. ANDREW LITTLE to the Prime Minister: Does he have confidence in his Minister for Building and Housing given that, since he became responsible for housing, the average Auckland house price has risen by $221,000, which works out at over $250 a day?
  4. JAMES SHAW to the Prime Minister: Does he have confidence in all his Ministers?
  5. Hon ANNETTE KING to the Prime Minister: Does he stand by his statement regarding refugee numbers that “it’s not 750, and I think it’s 3000 or 4000 off the top of my head”?
  6. IAN McKELVIE to the Minister of Civil Defence: What support is the Government providing to communities affected by the severe storm and flooding event of 18 to 21 June?
  7. Dr DAVID CLARK to the Minister for Economic Development:Does he stand by his statement on who is responsible for the spending at the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment: “Well, the Minister responsible for the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment is me”?
  8. CATHERINE DELAHUNTY to the Minister for the Environment: Does he support the continued Landcorp conversion from forestry to dairy despite the impact dairy farming has on freshwater quality, and the ongoing loss of forest as a carbon sink?
  9. FLETCHER TABUTEAU to the Prime Minister: Does he stand by all his statements?
  10. Hon JUDITH COLLINS to the Minister for Communications: Can she provide an update on the build programme for the first stage of the Ultra-Fast Broadband initiative?
  11. IAIN LEES-GALLOWAY to the Minister for Workplace Relations and Safety: Does he stand by his statement that “What will improve our health and safety record is changes in behaviour and attitude, and that is what I am promoting”?
  12. PAUL FOSTER-BELL to the Associate Minister for Social Development: What update can she provide about the Government’s welfare fraud reform initiatives?

National: Four questions on debt, civil defence, UFB and welfare fraud

Labour: Four questions on Auckland house prices, refugee numbers, MBIE spending and health and safety

Greens: Two questions on confidence in Ministers and Landcorp conversion of land

NZ First: Two questions on Minister of Maori Development standing by his statements and PM standing by his statements

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

Exclusive Economic Zone and Continental Shelf (Environmental Effects) (Transitional Provisions) Amendment Bill – third reading continued

The bill amends the Exclusive Economic Zone and Continental Shelf (Environmental Effects) Act 2012 (the EEZ Act) to overcome unintended effects of Section 162 of by allowing existing petroleum operators who have applied for a marine consent to continue their operations until the application is decided and any subsequent objections or appeals are determined.

  • Introduced: February 2015
  • 1st reading: February 2015, passed 106-13 with Greens against
  • SC report: May 2015, supported without dissent with amendments
  • 2nd reading: June 2015
  • Committee: passed without amendments or dissent

There are 11 speeches of up to 10 minutes remaining for a maximum of 110 minutes.

Harmful Digital Communications Bill – second reading

The Bill aims to “mitigate the harm caused to individuals by digital communications and to provide victims of harmful digital communications with a quick and efficient means of redress.” by creating a new civil enforcement regime to quickly and effectively deal with harmful digital communications; creating new criminal offences to deal with the most serious harmful digital communications and making some small amendments to existing legislation to clarify their application to digital communications and cover technological advances.

  • Introduced: November 2013
  • 1st reading: December 2013, passed unanimously
  • Select Committee Report: May 2014, supported unanimously, with amendments
  • 2nd reading: March 2015, passed 77-43, with Labour and NZ First against

There is no time limit for the committee stage. It has two parts so is likely to last for at least two hours.  There is a reasonably extensive SOP from Amy Adams.

Environmental Reporting Bill – committee stage continued

The bill provides for independent environmental reports in the areas of air, climate and atmosphere, freshwater, marine and land.

  • Introduced February 2014
  • 1st reading: March 2014, passed 78 to 41 with Labour and NZ First opposed
  • Select Committee report: March 2015, supported with amendments by the majority, minority views by Labour and Greens
  • 2nd reading: May 2015, passed 61 to 60 with Labour, Greens, NZ First and Maori Party opposed

There is no time limit for the committee stage. It has two parts so is likely to last for at least two hours.  There is one SOP from Eugenie Sage.

New Zealand Superannuation and Retirement Income Amendment Bill – committee stage

The bill amends the New Zealand Superannuation and Retirement Income Act 2011 to facilitate the efficient and effective investment of the New Zealand Superannuation Fund by allowing the Guardians to control entities formed for the purpose of holding, facilitating, or managing the investments of the Fund.

  • Introduced: November 2013
  • 1st reading: March 2014, passed unanimously
  • SC report: July 2014, supported with amendments without dissent
  • 2nd reading: May 2015, passed 101-13 with Greens against

There is no time limit for the committee stage. It has two parts so is likely to last for at least two hours.  There are two SOPs from Bill English


PPTA bully blocks student teacher

June 23rd, 2015 at 10:08 am by David Farrar

The Northland Advocate reports:

A Northland student is struggling to become a qualified teacher after being forced out of a school placement by a teachers’ union because he works at a charter school.

This is despite the Ministry of Education saying the Post Primary Teachers Association (PPTA) had no authority to make that decision. The student, who did not want to speak publicly, now faces an uncertain future with the possibility of not finishing his studies.

The man started at Te Kura Hourua O Whangarei Terenga Paraoa in Whangarei this year as a teacher. He had a bachelor’s degree and was employed on the proviso he would study towards a post-graduate diploma in teaching through Massey University. But just three days in to his first placement, at Tikipunga High School, he was asked to leave. …

The nation-wide ban involved PPTA members, the majority of teachers, limiting and avoiding where possible professional interactions with charter school employees. Tikipunga High School board of trustees chairwoman Veronica Turketo said the school was unaware the student worked at the charter school when it gave him the placement.

“When our members became aware of the student teacher’s employment at the charter school the PPTA position was followed,” she said.

Ministry of Education head of student achievement Graham Stoop said ultimately the board was responsible for the decision.

“It is not appropriate that a school refuses to accept a placement because staff at the school, or the union representing some of the staff, are running an industrial campaign against the student’s place of employment,” Mr Stoop said.

“The PPTA has no responsibility or authority to influence these decisions and it is disappointing if they have used their influence to stop a student-teacher receiving all of their training because they disagree with the student’s employment choices.”

The school should get some balls and tell the PPTA to go jump.

It’s disgraceful that someone aspiring to be a teacher has his employment blocked because of the political views of a union.

My view is that the Government should respond to this by announcing dozens more charter schools a year, so that after a few years there will be so many teachers working at charter schools, the boycott can’t succeed.


So its okay to spit on people who you disagree with?

June 23rd, 2015 at 6:40 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

A man accused of assaulting Paul Henry allegedly told police the television presenter was “a racist and a bigot who should expect consequences for his views”.

Diego Leonardo Chavez, 34, of Auckland, appeared in Auckland District Court this morning facing two counts of assault against Henry during an anti-Government protest in the central city last month. …

Henry was arriving at the Federal St complex for an unrelated matter, when he was spotted by the crowd, the police summary says.

He was “jostled, jeered and sworn at”, and SkyCity security were forced to intervene in an attempt to protect Henry, the summary claims. But the protesters prevented him from entering the building, crowding and jostling him.

Police stepped in, forming a physical barrier between Henry and the crowd, but as they tried to lead him away, Chavez pushed through the barrier and rushed at Henry, the summary alleges, claiming Chavez was “deliberately jumping towards him [Henry] and colliding with the victim, while spitting on his neck”.

So Paul Henry is just heading in there for a meal, and Mr Chavez thinks he can spit on him, because he doesn’t like him. He thinks the consequences of having views that Chavez disagrees with, is to be jostled and spat on.

Mr Chavez would have been at home in the 1930s.

Chavez is due to appear in court again next month, where a Spanish language interpreter was requested to attend.

He should pay for the interpreter if he is unable to converse in one of the three languages of NZ.

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Craig admits to inappropriate behaviour

June 22nd, 2015 at 5:13 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Colin Craig has admitted that some of his interactions with former press secretary Rachael MacGregor were “inappropriate”, but rejects accusations of sexual harassment.

Mr Craig also said today that he had forgiven a $20,000 loan to Ms MacGregor, but that this was unrelated to her controversial resignation from the party immediately before the election.

Mr Craig made the comments at a press conference alongside his wife Helen, who said she backed her husband.

Whenever a politician has a press conference involving himself and other women, I feel so sorry for the wife who not just has to deal with it, but then becomes a prop at a press conference.

Mr Craig said that in hindsight, some of his and Ms MacGregor’s actions may have been “inappropriate”. But he strongly rejected claims that he had sexually harassed the former staff member.

Mr Craig would not confirm whether he had penned a poem sent to Ms Macgregor, saying he would not go into any detail about his actions.

Mr Craig confirmed he had agreed to pay Ms MacGregor $16,000 for work she had done for the party, following her surprise resignation two days before the September election.

He also agreed to lend her $20,000 to cover outstanding credit card bills.

When Ms MacGregor was unable to pay this money back, he and his wife agreed to forgive the loan.

Mr Craig said this payment had nothing to do with allegations of inappropriate conduct between him and his former press secretary.

The question is would you lend $20,000 and write it off to any other former staffer?

It would be highly surprising to see Craig resume the leadership of the Conservatives after this. Also be surprising to see them remain a viable force – however they do have at least one other wealthy donor who can keep them alive. However they need a leader who can front a national campaign, and there seems no one apparent.

UPDATE: Rachel McGregor has put out a statement, which according to media on Twitter says:

  • Colin Craig’s breached a confidentiality agreement reached in mediation with the Human Rights Commission.
  • She’s checked with her lawyer, and is still bound by it herself. “I am therefore unable to correct the clear factual inaccuracies”.
  • MacGregor says she wants to correct Craig’s “factual inaccuracies”, but wants an assurance he won’t take legal action against her.
  • MacGregor says she’s also happy to brief Conservative Party board on what happened, but again, needs permission from Colin Craig
  • MacGregor says until she gets confidentiality agreement lifted, she’s got no further comment.

If I were Colin Craig, I’d not try to regain the Conservative Party leadership. There is no way he will come out this well.


Hehir on Housing WOF

June 22nd, 2015 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Liam Hehir writes:

I would unreservedly support a law change mandating stringent performance standards for rented properties provided that the following section is included in the legislation:

“Nothing in the Law of Supply and Demand nor the Law of Unintended Consequences shall apply to the provisions of this Act.”

This is really important because, unless Parliament can somehow prohibit those other laws from having an effect, extensive housing reform has the potential to make life much harder for many renters.

Sadly Parliament can legislate against unintended consequences about as sucessfully as it can legislate that PI=4.

By any historical measure, New Zealand is a prosperous country. We should aspire to be a society in which the basic comforts of human existence are universally available – particularly to children, who bear no responsibility for the circumstances in which they are raised.

Nevertheless, it does not follow that we should disregard the known risks of forceful government intervention. At some point, the imposition of requirements on landlords will result in rents being driven up. That could make it difficult for poor families to find any accommodation at all.

It will also lead to less houses being available.

Moreover, given that a survey of rental properties early this year had more than 90 per cent failing a warrant of fitness check, the minority of owners who already meet the standard will see their competition substantially lessened as thousands of houses are removed from the market. This will enable them to command premium rents – and you would have to be completely naive to assume that they would not look to do so.

So you’ll get fewer properties, and those remaining will have higher rents. That will help poor families a lot.