Archive for the ‘NZ Politics’ Category

Some people rorting KiwiSaver home subsidy

September 28th, 2014 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

The SST reports:

Speculators are cheating the KiwiSaver scheme that helps first-home buyers by using it to purchase rental properties.

The rort emerges as the new Government prepares to double taxpayer subsidies under the scheme – a flagship policy in National’s election campaign. An extra $218 million will be available – money that could be diverted into speculative property investments, rather than first homes for young families.

People who use the KiwiSaver first-home deposit subsidy scheme must live in the house they buy for a minimum of six months and it cannot be used as an investment property during that time – a rule designed to dissuade speculators from taking advantage of the popular scheme.

Fairfax NZ has learned of instances where first-home buyers have moved out of their property soon after buying it – or not moved in at all – and are instead renting it out.

This is not surprising. Our lessons of history is that when there is a financial incentive to do so, people will change their behaviour in order to gain the incentive. Any government agency proposing or evaluating a policy should brain-storm all the different ways people might try and rort the system.

Housing NZ financial operations manager Matthew Smith said first-home buyers using KiwiSaver for a deposit could be made to pay back their subsidy with penalty interest if they were caught breaching the rules. They would be required to remedy the breach or pay the subsidy back with penalty interest charged at a current rate of 5.75 per cent.

Smith said applicants were required to sign a statutory declaration stating they would live in the property for at least six months. “We also contact the owner after five months to check they’re still resident in the property,” Smith said.

But Bolton said there was no follow-up system to confirm buyers had stayed in the home.

I guess one needs to know the size of the problem, to decide whether one needs to physically check up on applicants.

My preference would be that the Government doesn’t give out taxpayer subsidies to aspiring home owners, but insteads work more vigorously with local government to free up land, reducing the cost of housing for all New Zealanders.


Fran on Dotcom

September 28th, 2014 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Fran O’Sullivan writes:

On Twitter: Must read: Fran O’Sullivan reports from inside John Key’s rectum and gets trashed by reader comments. EPIC FAIL :)

That was Dotcom at his most charming.

A day later, I was tempted to respond (also via Twitter) to Mr Kim Dotcom and point out that the less than 30 reader comments trashing my column saying that Dotcom’s “Moment of Truth” extravaganza was an ABJECT FAIL, was a mere drop in the bucket compared with the number of voters who contributed to the Internet-Mana wipeout on election night.

But Dotcom admitted he had poisoned the Internet-Mana brand himself.

What Dotcom’s little eruption did prove (like with the gratuitous “Sweet old lady, you’re cute” tweet he sent my way earlier on when I wrote a Herald column spelling out that content providers – like myself – don’t like having their copyright abused) is that this supposed two-fisted fighter for truth can’t take it if he meets up with other than journalistic adoration for his swash-buckling endeavours.

He’s been less vocal on Twitter since last weekend.

Then yesterday there was the Internet-Mana’s incontinent press officer Pam Corkery yet again bleating about the “puffed-up little shits” of telly land in a long-winded justification of her failure to exercise personal discipline at the party’s launch.

I like Pam. I cut my teeth in the private radio era of the early 1980s when the late Paul Holmes held sway on Radio Windy and Pam and a whole host of journalists who then went on to develop strong personal brands on the radio were starting off.

But instead of the inside story of what really went down in the Internet Mana soup which we all know Corkery is capable of providing, all we got was more deflection over the party’s disastrous defeat.

The upshot was that Hone Harawira failed to win Te Tai Tokerau, and Internet Mana finished on just over 1.2 per cent, well short of the 5 per cent needed to put an MP into Parliament.

The Prime Minister they tried to “take down” is back in the Beehive. Voters saw through the puppet-master and his well-paid politicians.

I have a lengthy post on Monday about what went wrong with Dotcom and Internet Mana.

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New Australian spy powers

September 28th, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Australia’s spy agency could soon have the power to monitor the entire Australian internet after new anti-terrorism laws passed the Senate on Thursday night.

Australian spies will soon have the power to monitor the entire Australian internet with just one warrant, and journalists and whistleblowers will face up to 10 years’ jail for disclosing classified information.

The government’s first tranche of tougher anti-terrorism bills, which will beef up the powers of the domestic spy agency ASIO, passed the Senate by 44 votes to 12 last night with bipartisan support from Labor. …

The new bill also allows ASIO to seek just one warrant to access a limitless number of computers on a computer network when attempting to monitor a target, which lawyers, rights groups, academics and Australian media organisations have condemned.

They said this would effectively allow the entire internet to be monitored, as it is a “network of networks” and the bill does not specifically define what a computer network is.

ASIO will also be able to copy, delete, or modify the data held on any of the computers it has a warrant to monitor.

The bill also allows ASIO to disrupt target computers, and use innocent third-party computers not targeted in order to access a target computer.

On Wednesday afternoon, Senator Brandis confirmed that, under the legislation, ASIO would be able to use just one warrant to access numerous devices on a network.

The warrant would be issued by the director-general of ASIO or his deputy.

“There is no arbitrary or artificial limit on the number of devices,” Senator Brandis told the Senate. …

A third bill enabling the collection of internet and phone metadata for a period of up to two years for warrantless access by law-enforcement and spy agencies will be introduced later this year.

These changes in Australia show how benign the law is in NZ, by comparison. Some differences:

  • Mass surveillance allowed in Australia, but not in NZ (confirmed does not happen by the IGIS and Provacy Commissioner)
  • Law changes rushed through Parliament in a few days, as opposed to NZ which had a public submission process
  • Warrants can be issued by ASIO themselves with no need for warrant to be signed by a Minister and a judicial officer
  • Metadata collection and storing to be legalised in Australia, but not legal in NZ

So the NZ law is relatively narrow, and has checks and balances built in. The Australian law is not.

After concerns were raised by Labor and Senator Leyonhjelm, the government agreed to amend the legislation to specifically rule out ASIO using torture.

Well that’s something!

“The internet poses one of the greatest threats to our existence,” Palmer United Party Senator Glen Lazarus said, speaking out against Senator Ludlam’s amendment.

Oh dear.I’m glad I am in NZ.


Chris Finlayson’s election diary for the Spectator

September 27th, 2014 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

A hilarious account of the election by Attorney-General Chris Finlayson in the Spectator. I recommend you read the whole thing, but some extracts.

Every three years in New Zealand, incumbent politicians must hit the campaign trail. Since 2008, I have chased votes in the Rongotai electorate. My Labour opponent, Annette King, has held the seat since 1996. She is a fine parliamentarian, a thoroughly nice person, and also a distant cousin on my mother’s side. ‘Chris says if he wins Rongotai, he’ll ask for a recount,’ she delights in telling voters.

Annette tells the story, because it is true! Tim Groser is also petrified that one day he will accidentally win New Lynn off David Cunliffe!

They both get it is the party vote that counts.

The Newtown debate is usually the rowdiest of the campaign. In 2011, I was shoved by an Anglican vicar as I made my way out. This year, there are ten candidates lined up across the stage facing the audience squeezed into a wooden church hall. The crowd has a very particular strand of rule-bound, suburban radicalism: every mention of ‘revolution’ is cheered, but the audience will not allow proceedings to begin while party signs are blocking the fire exits. Along with Annette, the candidates include Russel Norman, a Tasmanian who relocated to New Zealand to work for the Green Party and now, holding the office of Male Co-leader, campaigns against foreign ownership. He finds himself fighting candidates from the populist Conservative and New Zealand First parties for the xenophobe vote. The Newtown audience thinks I am insufferably right wing but also thinks the same about the Greens and Labour.

Sounds like Aro Valley.

Puzzlingly, Mr Dotcom does not address the meeting, leaving us to wonder what in the end the moment of truth was. The abrupt termination of proceedings recalls Horace’s line parturiunt montes, nascetur ridiculus mus.

Chris loves his classics.

The New Zealand union movement’s spiritual home is in the mining towns of the South Island, but most of its well-paid administrators choose to live in Island Bay. This pleasant seaside suburb is the scene of my final candidate’s debate. One heckler is particularly raucous. As I leave the meeting, I remind him that courtesy is contagious. He follows me down the street yelling that I work for the CIA.


By 10pm, National appears to have won an outright majority. For the first time in my three campaigns we have taken the most party votes in Rongotai booths, although Annette retains the electorate by a comfortable margin. I tell my volunteers that, on this trend, I should be able to unseat her by 2038.

Annette may still be there then! :-)

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Cunliffe standing again!

September 27th, 2014 at 2:35 pm by David Farrar

61 National MPs have just cheered as David Cunliffe announced he will contest the leadership of the Labour Party in the upcoming primary.

He will resign as leader at the end of caucus on Tuesday. I presume David Parker will become Acting Leader.

It is inevitable at least Grant Robertson will stand against him.

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A reverse engineering problem

September 27th, 2014 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

I want to try and work out what the relative voting strength of each union was in Labour’s leadership primary. My maths is too rusty to calculate it myself, but hoping some readers can help.

The voting breakdown for each union was:

  • DWU – Cunliffe 33, Robertson 0, Jones 6
  • EPMU – Cunliffe 25, Robertson 8, Jones 2
  • Maritime – Cunliffe 18, Robertson 3, Jones 2
  • MWU – Cunliffe 22, Robertson 1, Jones 6
  • Rail – Cunliffe 18, Robertson 3, Jones 2
  • SFWU – Cunliffe 254, Robertson 177, Jones 66

We know that the overall result was Cunliffe 70.77%, Robertson 17.3% and Jones 11.9%. So the question is what weighting is given to each union, to get that result?

Based on registered members, the DWU should be around 8%, EPMU around 40%, Maritime 3%, MWU 17%, Rail 7% and SWFU 25%. But the voting strength is based on affiliated members, not weighted members. The percentages above could vary by several per cent.

If someone can work out a formula to calculate voting strengths, that would be great. Why I want that, is to calculate the relative strength of a delegate in each union.

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Garner on Cunliffe

September 27th, 2014 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

It’s beyond doubt that Labour’s caucus doesn’t like David Cunliffe.

Voters don’t either, with a woeful 24 per cent election result, the party’s second worst in history.

The voters are never wrong. Never. So Cunliffe must do the obvious and decent thing and resign before Tuesday’s caucus.

Failure to do anything less means his MPs will nail him.

My sources tell me he can count his supporters on one hand, with only four MPs left backing him. Even his most loyal and ardent supporters, such as Palmerston North’s Iain Lees-Galloway, have deserted him. Staying on is simply not an option any more.

The fact that Cunliffe can’t, or won’t, see the writing on the wall is part of his problem. He’s prolonging the agony and heaping more attention on Labour’s misery. He’s equally blind to his own failings and weaknesses. He sang the wrong tune on election night and he’s missed his notes all week.

Telling his deputy, David Parker, not to talk while Parker stood beside him was simply wrong. It was patronising and poor.

Yep his support base has gone from seven to four. Yet he could still win a wider ballot.

Robertson is the one to watch, and expect him to have Jacinda Ardern as his deputy.

She was at his side during the last primary when the party voted for a new leader. She is one of his biggest supporters.

I think it will be Robertson and Ardern. Both are talented politicians. Both worked for Helen Clark. Ther strength is their weakness – they are what you call professional politicians, who have only ever effectively worked for Government, or as political staff. Neither have ever worked post-study in the private sector.

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How about less fast food and more toilet paper?

September 27th, 2014 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The Manawatu Standard continues with its advocacy for NZUSA with unchallenged students starving stories. The latest:

Using fast food wrappers as toilet paper and cutting fresh food from their diets are some of the desperate measures Manawatu students facing “financial distress” have resorted to.

A meal from McDonalds costs around $10. For that you can get 24 rolls of toilet paper. Seems an obvious solution. Less fast food, and then you can afford toilet paper.

New Zealand spends one of the highest proportions of tertiary funding on student support in the OECD. Our student support scheme is arguably one of the most generous in the world, due to interest free student loans. We spend 47% of our tertiary education budget on student support, compared to an OECD average of 22% or so. This is the second highest in the OECD.

If students need a higher level of income while poor and studying – I’m for that – so long as when they are earning good incomes they pay back the cost of the student loans, which includes the interest. So if we stick interest back on student loans (which won’t cost students anything while they are studying), then we can afford to give them more support while studying.

But what NZUSA wants is truck drivers to pay more in taxes, so doctors and lawyers get more income overall from taxpayers.


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Labourites on why Labour lost so badly

September 27th, 2014 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald talks to four Labourites on why they think Labour lost so badly. Some of their responses show how out of touch they are.

Len Richards: More than a decade of dirty politics aimed at demonising and destabilising the Labour Party by well-organised and well-funded opponents have taken their toll. The opinion polls reflect the public mood deliberately created by the spin doctors of the right, and the very poor election results for Labour over the last three elections reflect the polls.

So Len thinks Labour did nothing wrong, and Labour lost because of basically bloggers. My God.

His solution is for Labour to go more left wing. I hope they listen to him.

Brian Edwards: John Key, perhaps the most popular leader in New Zealand’s history, was deemed hugely likeable; David Cunliffe was widely disliked and mistrusted. Labour had the wrong leader.

Brian is right that leadership is important. It is only part of the challenge though.

Josie Pagani: Voters began to think Labour was trying to make you a better person rather than better off.

Which is what the Greens do.

John Tamihere: Under Helen Clark the party was captured by academics and tertiary-educated leaders of a union movement that never worked a shop floor. They concentrated on identity politics and controlled the party not on the great economic issues, but on whether you were gay, Maori, feminist, bisexual, etc. … hey have driven people like myself out of the conversation and out of contributing to the party. They have lost connection with middle New Zealand and, particularly, men.

It appears that 80% of men may have voted for parties other than Labour.

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A true election night story

September 27th, 2014 at 9:07 am by David Farrar

A true story from a female friend of mine.

Her husband was watching the election night coverage showing National well ahead. He fell asleep and woke up around 90 minutes later during David Cunliffe’s concession speech. As he listens to it, he yells out to his wife “What the hell happened, how did Labour win the election, when they were so far behind”.

She explains to him that they did lose, and the speech he is listening to is meant to be a concession speech

He remarks that it explains a lot.

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NZ 2nd most competitive tax system in OECD

September 26th, 2014 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

The Tax Foundation assesses the tax systems of OECD countries. They note:

Many countries have been working hard to improve their tax codes. New Zealand is a good example of one of those countries. In a 2010 presentation, the chief economist of the New Zealand Treasury stated, “Global trends in corporate and personal taxes are making New Zealand’s system less internationally competitive.”

In response to these global trends, New Zealand cut its top marginal income tax rate from 38 percent to 33 percent, shifted to a greater reliance on the goods and services tax, and cut their corporate tax rate to 28 percent from 30 percent. This followed a shift to a territorial tax system in 2009. New Zealand added these changes to a tax system that already had multiple competitive features, including no inheritance tax, no general capital gains tax, and no
payroll taxes.

In a world where businesses, people, and money can move with relative ease, having a competitive tax code has become even more important to economic success. The example set by New Zealand and other reformist countries shows the many ways countries can improve their uncompetitive tax codes.

In the digital age, capital and labour are highly mobile. Companies can choose which countries to base themselves in, to sell to the world from.

The top 10 countries are:

  1. Estonia 100
  2. NZ 88
  3. Switzerland 82
  4. Sweden 80
  5. Australia 78
  6. Luxembourg 77
  7. Netherlands 77
  8. Slovak Republic 74
  9. Turkey 70

They also note:

Under this measure, no country has a perfect VAT or sales tax base. New Zealand has the broadest base with a ratio of 0.99

We have the simplest and broadest GST in the world. We should resist exemptions that complicate it.

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Large donations updated

September 26th, 2014 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

A few last minute donations for the campaign. Have updated the total large (over $30,000) donations received in 2014. It excludes estates and includes the $1 million Kim Dotcom donated to his party before it was registered.

  1. Internet Mana $4,539,480
  2. Conservatives $2,536,000
  3. National $935,260
  4. ACT $236,000
  5. Maori Party $210,000
  6. Labour $164,999
  7. Green $108,295

Interesting that the two with the largest donations did not make it in.


How will Cunliffe go?

September 26th, 2014 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Tracy Watkins writes:

David Cunliffe’s resignation from the Labour leadership is certain. It is only the matter of his going that is yet to be decided.

In the old days he would have been gone already.

Tuesday’s brutalising caucus was a coup in all but name. It showed Cunliffe no longer has any authority over his caucus, who can outvote him at will. They already have, over his choice of Whip.  

A leader who can’t control his caucus or win a vote cannot credibly front National as the Leader of the Opposition.  But under Labour’s rules a coup is no longer a simple numbers game in the caucus.

If it were, Cunliffe’s rival Grant Robertson would already be leader.

He has had the numbers to roll Cunliffe for more than a year.

Yep. But even if there was not the issue of a membership vote, Robertson is wary of having a non unified party behind him.

Robertson’s supporters could force a vote of no confidence in Cunliffe, but that effectively puts the decision in the hands of the wider party and Labour’s union affiliates. In a vote, they could decide to re-install Cunliffe over a hostile caucus. They did so the last time the leadership was put to the vote, a year ago.

Whether they would do so again after the chaotic scenes of recent days remains to be seen.  Camp Cunliffe are convinced they would.

It appears Camp Robertson are not sure enough of their ground yet to put it to the test. Otherwise they would have forced the confidence vote on Tuesday and got the leadership ball rolling.  

That suggests Cunliffe may have sufficient leverage still to negotiate a dignified exit  – one that would give him a senior role in Robertson’s caucus, with no loss of face for him or his supporters.  Neither side was talking up that option yesterday.

But wise heads are surely counselling both sides that the last thing Labour wants on top of its humiliating election loss and this week’s damaging fallout is a divisive and draining leadership race.

I think it would be silly for Cunliffe to contest the leadership, as he clearly has lost the confidence of his caucus.

However I think it would be better for Grant to have a party wide leadership contest, between himself and David Shearer.

Grant would win, but it would allow the party to unify behind him, as they will have had their say. He may face sniping from activists and left bloggers if he is put in by caucus with no say from members.

Also Grant is well to the left of Shearer. It would be help unify the party to have a clear centrist and a clear left candidate, as once their choice is made, people can respect the direction the party will then take.

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Party demographics

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

party demographics

I’ve analysed the demographics of the caucuses of the four larger parties. Some interesting observations.


The Greens have the highest proportion of women, and NZ First the lowest. Labour has a higher proportion than National, however Labour’s is lower than in 2011 and National’s is higher.

Labour implemented a rule that 45% of their caucus must be women, and they went backwards – from 42% to 37%. National improved, despite having no rule. Reinforces my view that gender quotas are silly.


National’s caucus is the most ethnically diverse with European, Maori, Asian and Pasifika MPs. National is slightly over-represented with Maori MPs (it has nine) and European MPs and under-represented with Asian MPs and Pasifika MPs. However doing better than most other parties there.

Labour is over-represented with Maori and Pasifika MPs, and under-represented with European and Asian MPs. They have no Asian MPs at all, which won’t help them with 12% of the adult population.

The Greens are over-represented with Maori MPs, and have no Asian or Pasifika MPs.

NZ First are over-represented with Maori MPs, have their first Asian MP and no Pasifika MPs.

Note that I do not advocate that a caucus should have the exact same proportions of MPs by ethnicity as the NZ adult population. But neither do I think it is a good thing if a caucus consists of MPs from one gender and ethnicity only. A diverse caucus that is more representative of NZ is a stronger caucus – but it doesn’t have to match exact proportions with some sort of quota.


Labour has the largest proportion of under 40s. NZ First the largest proportion of over 60s.


All parties, except National, are under-represented in Auckland.

Labour and Greens are massively over-represented in Wellington.

Greens are massively under-represented in provincial NZ. NZ First has highest provincial representation.

Labour and Greens under-represented in rural NZ and National and NZ First over-represented.


National and Labour spot on for North and South Island. Greens are over-represented in South Island and NZ First over-represented in North Island.

Decade entered

Only NZ First had an MP enter in the 1970s.

3% of National MPs and 9% of Labour MPs entered in the 1980s.

In total 25% of the Labour caucus entered Parliament before 2000 compared to 13% of National.

UPDATE: Tracey Martin informs me that NZF MP Darroch Ball is of Tongan and Kiribati descent, so NZ First also have a Pasifika MP.

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Go Horse

September 26th, 2014 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

The Stratford Press reports:

New Plymouth District Council has voted in favour of establishing a Maori ward for the 2016 local body elections.

The decision yesterday afternoon makes it the first district council in New Zealand to have a Maori ward.

Moments after the historic decision was made, councillor John McLeod handed in his resignation, effective immediately.

“I cannot work in any environment that has a belief in separatist values, based on race, creed or religion,” the letter stated.

A principled stand by Horse.


Green soul-searching

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

The ODT editorial:

While the focus in the aftermath of the election rout has been on the woes of the Labour Party, the Greens should also be soul-searching and contemplating where to from here.

Despite brave words from co-leader Metiria Turei about the Greens doing well and holding their vote, the results must have been disappointing.

First, there is bewilderment that left-leaning parties were thrashed.

If you add the 4.1% of the Conservatives to National’s 48.1% (the Act and United Future party votes were only just worth counting), the ”right” trounced Labour’s 24.7%, the Greens’ 10% and Internet Mana’s 1.3%.

Yep, 53% to around 36%. To get a left Government not reliant on the whims of Winston needs around an 11% gain.

Both the Greens and Labour, often competing for the same voters, would have been expecting losses from one to flow to the other.

But they didn’t. Well Labour did lose some to the Greens, but the Greens lost some to non voters.

Although the Greens are ”red-green”, with most policies well left of centre, they continue to fail in the poorest electorates.

In South Auckland’s Mangere, Manukau East and Manurewa they could not even muster 900 votes per electorate.

Go to highly educated Wellington Central, and they won 8627.

Next highest was Rongotai (Wellington) with 8230 and then Dunedin North 6718 and Mt Albert (Auckland) 6205.

The dominant appeal is to the liberal middle class with, one suspects, a large number of socially and environmentally concerned middle-aged among those who ticked Green.

Yep. The challenge is how to expand beyond those.

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Project Speargun was the ditched cyber security project

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

story from last week worth highlighting:

The Government Communications Security Bureau has tightened its defence over claims of mass surveillance by confirming the term “Project Speargun” was used to describe an abandoned element of a proposed cyber defence system.

American journalist Glenn Greenwald had accused the New Zealand Government of conflating Project Speargun, which he believed was evidence of mass surveillance, with Project Cortex, a project to defend New Zealand institutions from cyber attack.

A GCSB spokesman told Fairfax that Speargun was a code that referred to “a core component of the cyber defence project in its earlier iterations” and which comprised part of an option set out in a Cabinet paper released by Prime Minister John Key on Monday.

“The prime minister decided the Speargun component specifically would not be taken forward,” he said.

Confirmation that Speargun was a term used by the bureau to describe an abandoned element of its cyber defence system is important for two reasons.

On the one hand, it confirms the authenticity of slides presented by Greenwald at the Internet Party’s “moment of truth” event on Monday, which were the first public reference to Project Speargun.

But it provides a relatively innocuous explanation for the seemingly explosive statements those slides contained.

The most intriguing statement in the slides read: “GCSB’s cable access programme SPEARGUN phase 1; awaiting new GCSB Act expected July 2013; first meta data probe mid 2013.”

The terms “cable access” and “probe” suggest mass surveillance, but the slides could be describing the progress of a cyber defence system.

Detecting malware would necessitate inspecting the metadata of incoming packets of internet traffic. In other words, Greenwald’s smoking gun could be a cigarette lighter that looked quite like a gun.

So the moment of truth was a forged e-mail and a cyber-security initiative that was never implemented.


iPredict looking forward

September 25th, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

I was fascinated by the efforts of some people to game iPredict, presumably to make certain seats look marginal. A person or persons must have put thousands of dollars into Hamilton East to try and make it look like Labour would win the seat. I put several hundred in to counter it (as I knew of no reason it would be marginal) and know quite a few others who did. Someone must have wasted a few thousand dollars in trying to make the seat appear marginal.

iPredict got the electorates pretty right – 70 out of 71 is quite good – only Christchurch Central was wrong (and in a big way).

In terms of the party vote, they did less well. Their final newsletter was out by the following margins for the party vote:

  • National 4.1% too low
  • Labour 0.7% too high
  • Greens 4.9% too high
  • NZ First 2.1% too low
  • Conservatives 0.2% too low
  • Internet Mana 0.9% too high
  • Maori 0.5% too low
  • ACT 0.6% too high
  • United 0.3% too high

The National, Greens and NZ First results were significantly out. The others not so bad.

Anyway what is iPredict predicting for leaders at the moment:

  • 62% chance John Key departs by end of 2017
  • 75% chance David Cunliffe departs in 2014 and 95% chance by end of 2015
  • 52% chance National wins 2017 election
  • 55% chance Grant Robertson is next Labour leader
  • 40% chance Steven Joyce is next National leader, and 32% chance Paula Bennett
  • 73% chance Jonathan Coleman becomes Health Minister

Time will tell how accurate these ones are!

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Numbers bad for Cunliffe

September 25th, 2014 at 6:40 am by David Farrar

Even assuming David Cunliffe got the same level of support from activists and unions as last time, the numbers look challenging for him in a wider vote.

Last time he get 11/34 votes in caucus. But four of those MPs have gone. He is now at 7/32. The seven are himself, Lees-Galloway, Mahuta, Moroney, Sio, Wall and Whaitiri. Doubtful any of the new MPs will vote for him. So he gets just 22% in the caucus vote, which is worth 40% overall, hence 8.8%.

Last time he got 60% of the members vote. I can’t imagine he would do as well this time, but even if he does that is 24% overall as members are worth 40%.

The unions loved him and voted for him 71%. Of their 20% that is 14.2%.

Add those up and Cunliffe gets 47%. He is 3% short.

Caucus may only be 40% of the vote but if they vote 4:1 in favour of someone else, then it makes it hard for the activists and unions to counter that. The key is the other contenders need to have a very clear agreement that they want their supporters to preference each challenger ahead of Cunliffe. I think that will be the case. Shearer supporters will put Robertson ahead of Cunliffe and Robertson supporters the same.

It is possible that Cunliffe could pick up support from some of the new MPs, but I suspect that is less likely after the mega-caucus he forced on them on Tuesday.

Even if he can lift the union vote to say 90% (which would give him 50.8% overall), then Cunliffe wins but it will be on the record that 80% of his caucus voted against him. Hard to get the public to back you when they know that.

As a Nat, I should want Labour to prolong the infighting for as long as possible, but I don’t think it is fair on Labour members and supporters for this to occur.

It seems there is only one solution. Only one person can fix this. Helen Clark.

Helen needs to pick up the phone, ring DC, and says that while he gave it his best, it is all over, and for the good of the party he needs to step down. I don’t think he’d take that advice from anyone else. Also there would be an implicit threat that she might repeat her advice publicly if he does not. Clark is the one figure who did and can unify the party. She won’t want to comment publicly, but she might do so to save the party she led from what would be a very messy public leadership battle. It would not be polite and matesy like last time. It would be brutal.

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Seymour on Backbenches

September 24th, 2014 at 8:12 pm by David Farrar

Attended Backbenches tonight and have to say ACT’s David Seymour was very impressive. He debated charter schools with ease against Chris Hipkins and Jan Logie, he showed some humour, and he also gave some rational answers on climate change which didn’t allow people to pigeon-hole him with a label.

If he can keep that up, he’ll have no problem surviving the House’s question time as a Minister.

Worth tuning into it tonight, if you weren’t there in person.

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CPAG calls for policies that already exist

September 24th, 2014 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Prime Minister John Key has asked his officials for fresh ideas on tackling child poverty.

On his first day back at Parliament since being re-elected on Saturday, Key said he had ordered Treasury and Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet officials to start presenting new ideas.

‘‘The recognition I think we all have is that there are some extremely poor children who are missing out,’’ Key said yesterday.

‘‘And so then the question is how do you resolve those issues, it’s not straightforward but there will be more you can do.’’

Key said it needed to be done without narrowing the gap between the incomes of those on benefits and those working, to ensure people were still encouraged into work.

Breakfasts in schools, free doctors’ visits for young children and tax credits for low and middle income families were examples of policies that could be used to tackle the problem, as could programmes such as Whanau Ora.

Last week, National released its welfare policy, which included a trial of financial incentives for beneficiaries who come off benefits into work as well as to help with childcare costs while they looked for work or upskilled.

Professor Innes Asher of the Child Poverty Action Group said to tackle child poverty, benefits and Working for Families tax credits needed to be tied to inflation, while the minimum wage needed to catch up to the increase in the cost of living.

Professor Asher doesn’t seem to realise this is already the case. Does this mean CPAG will come out and say they are happy?

Benefits are already inflation adjusted. In fact National passed a law to guarantee this.

WFF payments have been inflation adjusted also. Not 100% they still are, but they have been.

The minimum wage has gone up 19% since 2008 (and 27% after tax) while inflation has been just 14%, so the minimum wage has gone up more than the cost of living.

It doesn’t say much about the credibility of a lobby group, when they get such basic stuff wrong.

It would also be nice if the media fact checked claims.


Green Councillor confirms against any large roads

September 24th, 2014 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

The Dom Post reports:

The council’s Transport and Urban Development Committee today vested four pieces of land in Tawa to the Crown for the purpose of building the $850 million motorway north of Wellington.

Doing so was little more than a formality, given the New Zealand Transport Agency’s ability to acquire the land if the council did not willingly hand it over.

But acting committee chairman and deputy mayor of Wellington Justin Lester said, somewhat jokingly, it was the council’s last chance to stop Transmission Gully, which was first mooted in 1919.

”In my personal capacity, I wholeheartedly support it,” he said.

”We [councillors] do look forward to the project getting underway.”

But not everyone on the committee shared that view.

Councillor Iona Pannett said that even though the land transfer was a formality, she would not support it.

”I’m voting against this as a matter of principle because I’ll never never support mega road building,” she said.

”If there’s anything I can do to frustrate that, I will.”

Iona’s views are the views of most elected Greens. They are against roads, no matter what. They will never never support them. It is not about cost effectiveness, road safety or congestion. It is a near religious belief that cars are bad.

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Parliamentary Demographics 2014

September 24th, 2014 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

I’ve done an initial analysis of the demographics of the 51st New Zealand . This is based on provisional results. I apologise if I have any ages wrong – most are based on public information, but for a few I’ve had to guess.

2014 MPs


  • 82 (-1) Males, 68%
  • 39 (+1) Females, 32%

There is one more female MP than was elected in 2011, but two fewer than were in Parliament at the end of the 50th Parliament.

Compared to the end of the 50th Parliament, National has gained two female MPs, Labour lost two, Greens lost one, NZ First lost one.

Labour has only 37.5% of their caucus female – well under the 45% quota set in their constitution. They have a lower proportion of female MPs now than they did without a quota – it has dropped 3.8%.

National increased their female proportion from 25% to 28%.


  • 83 (-7) European, 69%
  • 26 (+5) Maori, 21%
  • 7 (+1) Pacific, 6%
  • 5 (+1) Asian, 4%

Compared to their share of the adult population, Maori MPs are over represented by 8%, Pacific MPs are dead on, and Asian MPs under represented by 7%. It’s great to see a diverse Parliament, but hard to argue you need Maori seats to ensure Maori MPs are in Parliament.

The Maori Party have two Maori MPs, Greens three Maori MPs, Labour seven Maori MPs and National nine Maori MPs.

National have two Pacific MPs and Labour five Pacific MPs.

NZ First has one Asian MP and National has four Asian MPs. Labour have no Asian MPs.


  • 2 (nc) 20s, 2%
  • 21 (+7) 30s, 17%
  • 45 (+8)  40s, 37%
  • 43 (-5) 50s, 36%
  • 10 (-9) 60s, 8%
  • 0 (-1) 70s, 1%

A fairly young Parliament.


  • 36 (-5) Auckland, 30%
  • 17 (+1) Wellington, 14%
  • 14 (nc) Christchurch, 12%
  • 25 (+3) Provincial Cities, 21%
  • 29 (+1) Rural, 24%


  • 91 (+1) North Island, 75%
  • 30 (-1) South Island, 25%


  • 114 (nc) “Straight”, 94%
  • 4 Gay (nc), 3%
  • 3 Lesbian (nc), 2%

Year Entered

  • Before 2000 18, 15%
  • 2000 – 2007 16, 13%
  • 2008+ 87, 72%

So 72% of MPs entered since John Key became PM.


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Jarrod was right

September 24th, 2014 at 1:55 pm by David Farrar

May have some carrots to eat.

I had an exchange with Jarrod Gilbert in August about the proportion of crimes caused by gang members, in reference to his disputing a statement by Anne Tolley.

I blogged:

Is Dr Gilbert Saying the Corrections Department is lying when it says 28% of the prison population are gang members? They supplied the data, and I see no reason why they would make it up.

I’ve just been told that the Corrections Department figures do include associates and family – something they did not make clear at the time.

So Dr Gilbert was quite right that the Minister was not comparing apples and applies, as one figure included associates, and one did not.

UPDATE: of course I apologise for doubting when he says Police and Corrections were using definitions of gang members. They were!


This is a good time to abolish the SIS and GCSB!

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

The Green Party policy is to:

We would therefore institute a select committee enquiry into whether the SIS should be abolished and its responsibilities returned to the police. …

we will abolish the GCSB and close its two signals intelligence bases at Waihopai and Tangimoana immediately.

Meanwhile in Australia:

A TEEN terror suspect under investigation for making threats against Prime Minister Tony Abbott was shot dead by police last night after stabbing a Victorian police officer and a federal police agent.

The injured officers, both from the Joint Counter Terrorism Team, are in hospital in a stable condition. …

Senior intelligence sources confirmed that the terrorism suspect had been among a number of people whose passports were recently cancelled.

It is believed that the man was well known to police, and had displayed Islamic State flags in the local Dandenong shopping centre.

And globally:

A 42-minute audio recording by an ISIS spokesman was released on social media Sunday, in which the group calls on Muslims to kill civilians in countries that belong to the anti-ISIS, U.S.-led coalition.

If you can kill a disbelieving American or European, especially the spiteful and filthy French, or an Australian, or a Canadian or any other disbeliever, then rely upon Allah, and kill him in any manner or way however it may be,” an ISIS spokesman says.

Note the reference to “any other disbeliever”.

The Herald editorial notes:

What should New Zealand do? Does this country have malcontents who would embrace even ascetic religious fundamentalism for the sake of a cause? Have any been with Isis and returned? Should this country, too, offer special forces to assist Iraqi troops on the ground? That depends on whether the new Iraqi Government is better than the last, and whether US air support alone might be effective, as it was in protecting Kurdistan. The decision must not be influenced by the possibility of terrorism at home. As Australia has shown, good intelligence can keep us safe.

This is worth reflecting on.

That doesn’t mean that the GCSB should be allowed to do what it wants. Absolutely not. I am against mass surveillance of New Zealanders (which does not occur in NZ). But be aware the Greens are not just against mass surveillance – their official policy is to abolish the GCSB entirely – and look at abolishing the SIS also. They take an unbalanced view on these issues, and that view has dangers as our closest neighbour comes under attack.

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