Archive for the ‘NZ Politics’ Category

Dover on why he is not voting Labour

July 19th, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Former Labour minister Dover Samuels says he won’t be voting for the party at the election.

He cited the party’s opposition to the Puhoi to Wellsford extension and Leader David Cunliffe’s “prima donna grandstanding” over the issue of sexual violence.

The former Maori Affairs Minister who now serves on the Northland Regional Council confirmed the Herald this morning he did not intend giving his party vote to Labour.

“Labour’s moved away from me, I’ve never moved away from Labour. I’m as staunch of the principles of Labour as I ever was, since the days of Mickey Savage.”

They’ve lost Shane Jones also. There is a pattern here.

“Winston Peters has been somebody that certainly has been an advocate of the regions and I’m a regional councillor and I find that spokespersons for the Labour Party have really turned their backs on some of the initiatives that the Northland Council have been advocating.”

He pointed to Labour’s plan to indefinitely postpone the Puhoi to Wellsford extension which it derides as “the holiday highway”.

” I don’t know where they got that from but the Puhoi road is integral to Northland’s economic future.”

Everytime Labour calls it the holiday highway, a Grey Lynn liberal applauds, and a local in Northland gets furious.

Mr Samuels said his advice to Labour was “come back to the grass roots principles”.

“I was a minister and a Member of Parliament under Helen Clark. She recognised you never become Government if you don’t take middle New Zealand with you.

“Shane Jones saw that and unfortunately this idea of “rich prick” and this idea of “I’m ashamed to be a man” and all of this kind of prima donna grandstanding does not actually resonate well with middle New Zealand at all.”

Mr Samuels said he was hearing many Labour Party supporters of long standing asking “what is happening to our party?”.

Their support base appears to now be reduced to the unions and people who comment at The Standard.

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Jamie Whyte on Immigration decisions

July 19th, 2014 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

ACT Leader Jamie Whyte blogs:

But politicians’ involvement with would-be immigrants is clearly a problem.  Maurice Williamson, Phillip Field, Shane Jones, Damien O’Connor and now Jonathan Coleman have been drawn into controversy.

Even if there has been no improper behaviour, the appearance of politicians doing favours for wealthy would-be immigrants undermines public confidence not only in our immigration system but in politics more generally. People will suspect that politicians are doing favours for these would-be immigrants in return for favours they have done the politicians.

The problem has a simple solution. The Minister of Immigration should have no involvement in the immigration application process. Nor should any other MP. Immigration applications are an operational matter. Political interference should play no role in them.

When exceptions to standard policy need to be considered, this should be done by qualified members of the Immigration and Protection Tribunal (IPT), which already exists. The IPT may need a wider remit to approve exceptional cases. That is a proper matter for politicians to decide. But once the rules and processes are established, politicians should play no further role in the matter. They should have no say in individual cases.

I think there is merit in this suggestion. Either a Judge, or members of a tribunal, should make decisions on cases that fall outside policy. You need the flexibility to make decisions on individual cases, but that doesn’t mean it has to be a Minister.

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Herald on electoral law

July 18th, 2014 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald editorial:

It is only a matter of time before bad law comes back to bite those who made it. Provisions of the Electoral Act regulating independent advertising in election campaigns were passed by the previous Labour Government with the support of the Green Party, and only slightly altered by the present Government. Now, seven years after its enactment, the electoral finance law is frustrating environmental groups that want to make climate change an election issue.

Six of them, including Greenpeace, Forest and Bird, Oxfam and WWF New Zealand, started a campaign called “Climate Voter” last month, aiming to force all parties to address climate change before the election. Whatever view may be taken of their cause, no democrat would deny them the right to put it in front of voters. But if they do, the Electoral Commission has ruled, their material will be deemed election advertising and subject to a discouraging array of statutory registration and accounting requirements.

The rules are less restrictive since National rewrote them, but they remain bureaucratic, which makes them onerous and off-putting for people who are not routinely organised for the purpose. The Climate Voter campaign is aggrieved to find itself subject to the act and has decided to challenge the commission’s ruling in the High Court.

“This is about freedom of speech,” said Steve Abel of Greenpeace. “There is a very real risk that if this law goes untested, many advocacy and civil society groups in New Zealand could be gagged. Some may even be forced to take down entire websites.”

I campaigned against the Electoral Finance Act. The most repressive portions of that were removed, but National did a deal with Labour and the Greens and agreed to keep in restrictions on third party advocacy. I believe that was wrong. I don’t think there should be any restrictions on third party advocacy during elections except to correctly identify the promoter of the advocacy.

He is echoing the warnings this newspaper and other critics expressed seven years ago. It is a pity green groups did not speak out at that time.

They went along with the Clark Government’s overreaction to pamphlets circulated before the 2005 election by a small religious sect, the Exclusive Brethren, whose material had been particularly harsh on the Green Party.

Now, the environmentalists want the courts to draw a distinction between that sort of campaign and theirs. “We think the law was clearly not intended to capture non-partisan, civil society groups,” says Mr Abel.

Typical hypocrisy. They’re saying that the restrictions that they no doubt supported, should apply to everyone but themselves.

The Greenpeace campaign is clearly aimed at influencing how people vote. There is a difference between commenting generally on issues, and running a campaign designed to change voting behaviour.

The only reason to regulate such advertising is to prevent it being used to circumvent financial restrictions on party advertising in an election period.

That purpose could be met if the law applied only to overt endorsements. In seeking to regulate all paid advertising of political issues in the three months before an election, the law remains too broad. Its registration and financial reporting requirements are too onerous for all but the most organised pressure groups, such as trade unions, and discourage others who could afford to promote their interests or concerns.

I agree. The law should be amended.

Environmental advocates seem to be under the impression the law applied only to the rich and the conservative. The courts are unlikely to see it that way.

Hoist by their own petard.

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IPCA on Police investigation of GCSB complaint

July 18th, 2014 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The IPCA have investigated the decision by the Police not to lay charges over the GCSB illegally spying on Kim Dotcom. Their report is here. Some extracts:

As has been noted above (para 22) the Police decision was based squarely on an opinion provided by the Solicitor-General, and it was an opinion that Police Legal Services recommended ought to be followed. As also noted above (para 26), it is not within the jurisdiction of the Authority to review the validity of that opinion or to determine whether the test used by the Police to determine legal liability was legally accurate: our task is confined to determining whether Police actions were appropriate. In our view they clearly were. The Police were entitled to rely upon advice as to the law provided by the Solicitor-General. Indeed, having received the opinion it would have been surprising if they had proceeded on any other basis.

However, even if the Police had proceeded on the basis that criminal liability did not depend upon proof of an intent by GCSB officers to act outside their statutory authority, we take the view that a decision not to prosecute would nevertheless have been warranted. There are two reasons for this.

First, the one interception of Mr Dotcom that the Police found to be unlawful in fact contained only metadata (being data embedded in a communication that relates to its form and time, date and circumstances of transmission rather than its content). As noted below (para 47), the report by the IGIS in May 2013 had expressed the view that the law was uncertain as to whether metadata fell within the scope of a private communication by a person. In the light of that uncertainty, a decision not to prosecute on that ground would not have been unreasonable.

Secondly, the Solicitor-General’s Prosecution Guidelines require not only that there be evidential sufficiency for a prosecution, but also that it be in the public interest. The evidential sufficiency threshold would have been met, but arguably the public interest threshold would not have been.

This is pretty resounding. First they say that to suggest the Police should ignore the advice of the Solicitor-General is stupid, as Dr Norman said. Then they point out that the law around meta data was unclear anyway, and thirdly there would be no public interest it is likely.

Kim Dotcom did have his rights broken by an illegal act by the GCSB. But this needs to be out in context. The Police were legally entitled to put him under surveilance and intercept his communications. The GCSB just shouldn’t have assisted them with this.

On the alleged conflict of interest:

As she interpreted her terms of reference, Ms McDonald’s role was a limited one. It did not involve the provision of advice about the law that was to be applied to the facts of the case.

Even if Ms McDonald had had a more extensive role, it is hard to see how this would have created a conflict of interest. A conflict of interest cannot arise from the mere fact that she was acting for or providing advice to the Police in two respects in relation to the same set of events. The Police investigation that she was overseeing was an independent investigation into the activities of the GCSB; the fact that she was acting for the Police in proceedings in which the GCSB was  involved as a separate party cannot preclude the ability to provide impartial advice in relation to that investigation.

And the third issue:

The other four interceptions that related to content all involved assistance to the NZSIS in the execution of a lawful issue of an intelligence warrant under the New Zealand Security Intelligence Service Act. Section 4D of that Act allows the NZSIS to obtain assistance from another agency to effect the execution of an intelligence warrant. Although there was some doubt about whether the GCSB was allowed to provide such assistance within the ambit of their Act as it then stood, there was sufficient statutory ambiguity to raise doubts about whether any unlawfulness was involved.

The Police determined, on the basis of that report, that the additional intercepts were not unequivocally unlawful and would clearly not reach the threshold to justify prosecution.

The Authority agrees with this view. Dr Norman argues that, since it can be said that there was, in the words of the IGIS, “arguably no breach”, it could equally be said that arguably there was a breach, and New Zealanders who were spied upon deserve to know whether the actions were lawful and justified. That may be so, but a full Police investigation into the GCSB’s activities in those cases would have been unable to provide such clarification, since the Police would not have been in the position to reach a determinative view on the statutory ambiguity. Only the courts could have done that, and the criminal prosecution of individuals in an attempt to clarify an inherently uncertain law would have been unjustified.

It is worth noting that there have been consequences for the GCSB failure. The Deputy Director was let go. The Inspector-General’s role has been beefed up, and there has been wholesale change due to the Kitteridge Report. And these things should happen. But that is different to saying that a staff member should face criminal prosecution for an honest error over someone’s residency status.

 

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Benefit numbers down 5%

July 18th, 2014 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

WINZ has released the latest benefit stats, and they’re good news.

  • 16,196 fewer people on a main benefit than a year ago
  • A 5% decrease for all benefits from June 2013 to June 2014
  • An 11% decrease for sole parent support benefits
  • A drop in the proportion of working age adults on welfare from 11.2% to 10.5%
  • Lowest number of people on welfare since 2008 before the Great Recession
  • Welfare numbers peaked at 352,000 in 2010 and now 294,000.
  • The number of teen solo parents is down 12%. On average a teenager who goes on the benefit stays there 19 years and has a lifetime cost of $246,000

It is great to see the welfare reforms working. The best way to boost incomes is for people to move from welfare into work.

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Labour’s guilty until proven innocent law makes the UK newspapers

July 18th, 2014 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

The Independent (UK) reports:

New Zealand’s second-largest political party wants to reverse the burden of proof in rape cases if it gets into power, making defendants prove their innocence to reduce the trauma suffered by victims.

Andrew Little, the Labour Party’s justice spokesman, has outlined plans for a monumental shift in the justice system in the run-up to the country’s general elections in September.

They won’t remain second largest as more and more people hear about their policy. But well done Labour on making international headlines for their policy.

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Caption Contest

July 18th, 2014 at 11:30 am by David Farrar

10275248

Photo from Stuff ‘s Kevin Stent.

Enter your captions below. As always make them funny not nasty,

Also enjoy these photos sent in by a reader.

mallard dog

 

Top photo in the montage is (c) Felix Marwick. The other photo is (c) Lloyd Burr.

 

 

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NZ First self-defence policy

July 18th, 2014 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

A hardline law and order policy by NZ First would offer greater protection to homeowners, farmers and shop keepers who shoot to kill intruders during home invasions or burglaries.

Along with a 40-year mandatory non-parole sentence for premeditated murder, NZ First wants the Crimes Act amended to give certainty over the use of “reasonable force” for self-defence.

Ahead of the party’s annual convention this weekend, law and order spokesman Richard Prosser said the policy was a response to a string of incidents that had seen farmers and shopkeepers in court over their use of firearms or even hockey sticks against would-be robbers.

Mr Prosser said so-called “castle doctrine” laws in some US states, which saw Texan Joe Horn acquitted after his 2007 fatal shooting of two men who had burgled his neighbour’s home, were “so over the top that it wouldn’t be something that I think anyone in New Zealand would give consideration to”.

“But what I do think people have a desire for is the ability to actually defend themselves and their families in their own homes.”

Mr Prosser wants a regime based on that introduced in Ireland in 2011 following controversy over the 2004 shooting of an Irish traveller by a farmer.

NZ First’s proposal would allow for homeowners to use “any firearm that is lawfully available to that person” to defend themselves.

It is unclear exactly what NZ First are proposing.

If they are proposing that you can legally shoot anyone illegally on your property, then I can not support that. The penalty for tresspassing and/or burglary should not be death.

If they are proposing that when a homeowner has a genuine fear for their safety, or their families, then they can use firearms for self-defence – I can back that. But shooting someone in the back, as they are leaving, is not self-defence (for example).

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Labour loses the vote of a former Minister

July 18th, 2014 at 10:17 am by David Farrar

Former Labour Minister Dover Samuels just said on Radio Live that he would not be giving his party vote to Labour this year, because it is no longer in touch with or representing the regions. He is party voting NZ First.

Samuels was a Labour MP for 12 years, and a Minister for almost six years.

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Auckland DHB thinks they are above the law

July 18th, 2014 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Andy Tookey filed an OIA with the Auckland District Health Board for a copy of a slide presentation by the Organ Donor Service to a taxpayer funded official meeting.

They refused the request on the grounds of privacy, even though no names were requested.

Tookey went to the Ombudsman who said it must be released.

They then declined on the basis it would be made public in six months time.

Again the Ombudsman indicated he would rule against them.

So what did the Organ Donor Service do?

They deleted the information.

organs

The Minister should tell the Auckland DHB Board that he will start sacking board members if this happens again. It is totally unacceptable to delete information that is the subject of an OIA request. It is in fact illegal. A prosecution could be justified.

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The return of Shearer

July 18th, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Labour would get an immediate lift in the polls if it dumped leader David Cunliffe, a new poll suggests.

The stuff.co.nz/Ipsos poll reveals that Cunliffe may have become Labour’s biggest liability, with a significant number of voters saying they would be more likely to vote for Labour if someone else were leader.

Click here for full poll results in graphics.

The effect is sizeable, making a 13.5 percentage point difference to Labour’s vote.

Although a similar effect is seen on National when asked the same question about John Key, it is much smaller.

The finding will plunge Labour further into crisis after yesterday’s poll result cementing Labour’s support in the mid-20s.

Privately, Labour and the Greens now acknowledge that it would take an unprecedented swing against National to force a change of government on September 20.

Some Labour MPs were yesterday privately canvassing leadership options, even at this late stage.

But they believe Labour would be even more severely punished by such an outward sign of panic.

Labour’s focus now has shifted to protecting its vote from further erosion, and preserving the seats of some of its up-and-coming stars, including Andrew Little, seen as a future leadership contender, and former teacher Kelvin Davis.

I think a change of leader 64 days before the election is unlikely, but it is correct Labour MPs are talking. They had their annual conference and their big education announcement, which should have given them a boost, and they’re still polling below what they got in 2011. The problem for them is that the phone is off the hook for many voters.

The major focus of Labour MPs is in fact on the leadership after the election. As I’ve reported previously they are terrified that Cunliffe won’t resign if Labour loses. Grant Robertson has the numbers to roll Cunliffe in caucus. He has had it for some time. But if Cunliffe doesn’t resign, and contests the leadership again despite being rolled by caucus, can Robertson win the vote of activists and unions? Cunliffe could well argue that he was never loyally supported by his caucus, and ask to be re-elected to have a mandate to do a purge.

Robertson’s fear is that he would lose again to Cunliffe, and this his chances of ever becoming Leader will be extinguished. And Grant is a cautious man. So the signal he has sent out is he will not stand.

So my understanding, from highly reliable sources, is that the decision has been made that instead David Shearer will stand again. His argument will be that he was never given a fair go, and that Labour would have done better if he had stayed on as Leader, than under Cunliffe. This will be difficult to argue against. Also Shearer is the one candidate whom Cunliffe can’t campaign against and accuse of disloyalty – because of course it was in fact Cunliffe who undermined Shearer. By contrast, Shearer has been publicly loyal.

Also Shearer has gained in confidence and performance since being dumped, as many have remarked. And crucially, he does not have such a high level of dislike.

So one can’t rule out a change in the next 64 days, but the more likely option is to try and minimise the loss, and then have Shearer challenge Cunliffe for the leadership in December.

However if the polls get much worse for them, then they may move. It will depend on if List MPs such as Andrew Little and Jacindaa Ardern look likely to lose their seats in Parliament. At the moment they are just back in on the average of public polls, and Labour picks up the electorate seats iPredict says they will.

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Cosmetics to be banned by Labour

July 17th, 2014 at 4:30 pm by David Farrar

Labour announced:

A Labour Government will help protect animals from harm by prohibiting the sale of cosmetics that have been tested on animals. 

Labour’s Animal Welfare spokesperson Trevor Mallard today launched the initiative at an event organised by Labour’s Ōhariu candidate Ginny Andersen at the Wadestown Veterinary Clinic, which after boundary changes is now in the electorate.

 Trevor Mallard says most New Zealanders find the testing of cosmetics on defenceless animals abhorrent. “No animal testing of cosmetics is carried out in New Zealand because it is barred under the Animal Welfare Act. However, there is no restriction on animal-tested beauty products being imported and sold here.

Labour thinks NZers are unable to make decisions for themselves on what products they find acceptable to buy – so Trevor will decide for everyone.

“Labour will ensure that no make-up sold in this country has been tested on animals by formally prohibiting it in New Zealand. We will also prohibit the sale of imported cosmetics that have been tested on animals. Legislation enacting Labour’s policy will be restricted to cosmetics, toiletries and fragrance. It will not affect medicines. 

“The European.Union last year prohibited the sale and importation of animal-tested products. As in the EU, Labour’s policy will apply both to finished products and ingredients, or combinations of ingredients.

So which companies may be impacted. This overseas site lists companies and brand names that use such testing

  1. American Beauty
  2. Aramis
  3. Avon
  4. Banana Boat
  5. Bausch & Lomb
  6. Bobbi Brown
  7. Bristol-Myers Squibb Co.
  8. Bumble and Bumble
  9. Cacherel
  10. Cargill
  11. Carpet Fresh
  12. Carter-Wallace
  13. Charlie
  14. Chesebrough-Ponds
  15. Church & Dwight
  16. Clarion
  17. Clairol
  18. Clear Choice
  19. Clinique
  20. Clorox
  21. Commerce Drug Co.
  22. Consumer Value Stores
  23. Coppertone
  24. Coty
  25. Cover Girl
  26. Crest
  27. Daisy Fuentes
  28. Dana Perfumes
  29. Darphin
  30. Dawn
  31. Del Laboratories
  32. Desitin
  33. Dial Corporation
  34. Diversey
  35. Donna Karan
  36. Dove
  37. Dow Brands
  38. Drackett Products Co.
  39. Drano
  40. EcoLab
  41. Eli Lilly & Co.
  42. El Sanofi Inc.
  43. Elizabeth Arden
  44. Erno Laszlo
  45. Estee Lauder
  46. Faberge
  47. Fantastik
  48. Fendi
  49. Final Net
  50. Finesse
  51. First Response
  52. Flame Glow
  53. Flirt!
  54. Garnier
  55. Giorgio Armani
  56. Givaudan-Roure
  57. Glade
  58. Glass Plus
  59. GlaxoSmithKline
  60. Good Skin
  61. Grassroots skin care
  62. Helena Rubinstein
  63. Helene Curtis Industries
  64. Herbal Essences
  65. Huggies
  66. ISO
  67. Ivory
  68. Jhirmack
  69. Jo Malone
  70. Johnson & Johnson
  71. Johnson Products Co.
  72. Jovan
  73. Kaboom
  74. Keri
  75. Kimberly-Clark Corp
  76. Kiton
  77. Kiwi Brands
  78. Kleenex
  79. La Mer
  80. Lab Series
  81. Lady’s Choice
  82. Lancaster
  83. Lancome
  84. Lava
  85. Lever Brothers
  86. Lipton
  87. Listerine
  88. L’Oreal USA
  89. Lubriderm
  90. Lux
  91. Lysol
  92. MAC Cosmetics
  93. Mars (candy company)
  94. Mary Kay
  95. Matrix Essentials
  96. Max Factor
  97. Maybelline
  98. McNeil Nutritionals
  99. Mead
  100. Michael Kors
  101. Missoni
  102. Mitchum
  103. Mop & Glo
  104. Nair
  105. Naturelle
  106. Neutrogena
  107. Neutron Industries, Inc.
  108. Ojon
  109. Olean
  110. Orange Glo
  111. Origins
  112. Oscar de la Renta
  113. OxiClean
  114. Pantene
  115. Parfums International
  116. Pearl Drops
  117. Pennex
  118. Pfizer, Inc.
  119. Pine-Sol
  120. Plax
  121. Playtex Corporation
  122. Pledge
  123. Polident
  124. Ponds
  125. Post-It
  126. Prescriptives
  127. Prestige Brands
  128. Prince Matchabelli
  129. Proctor & Gamble Co.
  130. Quintessence
  131. Raid
  132. Ralph Lauren Fragrances
  133. Reckitt Benckiser
  134. Redken
  135. Resolve
  136. Revlon
  137. Richardson-Vicks
  138. Sally Beauty Supply
  139. Sally Hansen
  140. Sanofi
  141. SC Johnson & Son
  142. Schering-Plough
  143. Scotch
  144. Scott Paper Co.
  145. Scrub Free
  146. Sean John Fragrances
  147. Sensodyne
  148. Signal
  149. Smashbox Cosmetics
  150. Snobal
  151. SoftSheen
  152. S.O.S.
  153. Splenda
  154. Stanhome Inc.
  155. Sterling Drug
  156. Suave
  157. Sun Star
  158. Sunsilk
  159. TCB Naturals
  160. Tegrin
  161. 3M
  162. Tide
  163. Tilex
  164. Tom Ford Beauty
  165. Tommy Hilfiger
  166. Trojan
  167. Truvia
  168. Ultima II
  169. Unilever
  170. Vaseline
  171. Vichy
  172. Vidal Sassoon
  173. Visine
  174. Vivid
  175. Warner-Lambert
  176. Westwood Pharmaceuticals
  177. White Shoulders
  178. Whitehall Laboratories
  179. Windex
  180. Woolite

As always great to see Labour focused on the important issue of telling NZ women which cosmetics they are allowed to buy.

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What alternative to 1080?

July 17th, 2014 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

New Zealand is facing an explosion of rats and stoats and, as a result, an extraordinary threat to our native bird population.

“A plague of biblical proportions” is how Conservation Minister Nick Smith has colourfully put it. A million tonnes of beech seeds have fallen throughout the country in a “mast” event – a prolific seeding that last happened in 2000. All that is grist for the pests.

The rat population has ballooned from 3 million to 15m. Stoats, even worse predators, are eating the rats and multiplying exponentially too.

Both species will eventually decline, but not before gorging on native birds.

Smith is doing his best Pied Piper impression. He has announced extensive new poisoning measures, including large aerial drops of 1080, mostly in South Island forest patches.

This is timely and commendable. The problem has threatened to batter such bird populations as the mohua and orange-fronted parakeet to the brink of extinction, and savage many others.

Smith has not been swayed by anti-1080 campaigners, who refuse to bow to the evidence and accept that the poison is our best weapon for preserving New Zealand’s unique birdlife.

1080 has some nasty unintended side-affects. But they are minor compared to the devastation caused by stoats, rats and possums.

He clearly cares about the issue. Earlier this year, he gave a detailed, passionate speech where he described rat and stoat breeding patterns in frightening detail and compared native bird losses to “having a Rena disaster every single hour”. (The ship’s grounding killed 2000 birds).

Yep the bird loss from the Rena was tiny compared to the loss from predators.

He also responded to 1080 critics, pointing out that the poison does not affect the water supply, has not killed kiwis, breaks down naturally and poses no real threat to human health. It has killed tiny numbers of dogs, but in sum, it is more efficient, affordable and humane than other options.

This view is backed up by two hefty official reports. First, in 2007, the Environmental Risk Management Authority undertook a major reassessment of 1080, approving the poison’s ongoing use under new rules.

Then, in 2011, Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment Jan Wright concluded emphatically that “not only should the use of 1080 continue (including in aerial operations) to protect our forests, but that we should use more of it”.

I’d like to see a stoat and possum free New Zealand. It would take 20 years or so, but can be done.

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Strike Two

July 17th, 2014 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reported:

National Party MP Claudette Hauiti has given up her parliamentary charge card after she used it to pay for a personal trip to Australia.

“I went to Australia. It was travel only and way outside Parliamentary Service guidelines,” she told Fairfax Media.

She said the trip over Christmas last year and other questionable spending, including refreshments for a hui on a marae, had cost about $200, which she has since repaid.

“Of course it’s absolutely no excuse for not knowing the Speaker’s rulings. It is my responsibility and I didn’t do it.” …

Earlier this year Ms Hauiti was caught out breaking Parliament’s rules by employing her civil union spouse in her electorate office.

The rules are not obscure. Parliamentary Service provide a facility where you can check expenditure and appointments. One can forgive one transgression as a beginner’s mistake, but a second one can’t be treated so benignly.

Also just common sense should tell you that you don’t charge a trip to Australia to Parliament. You actually need the permission of the Whips to travel overseas on official business.

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Two new polls

July 17th, 2014 at 7:41 am by David Farrar

Two new polls out in the last 24 hours. A Roy Morgan last night and a Fairfax Ipsos poll this morning.

curiappa

This shows the current size and time weighted average of all the public polls.

Labour have been in the 20s in the last seven polls. The last two polls had them at 23.5% and 24.9%. The average of all polls has them polling below what they got in 2011. By comparison in Sep 2011 they were polling at 32.5% so they are now polling 7% lower than at the same stage of 2011.

This is no reason to be complacent, as National always drops away when in Government during an election campaign. However it is hard to see how Labour can credibly form a Government if they get a result in the 20s, even if it becomes mathematically possible.

Just 65 days to go until the election.

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Dotcom’s e-bomb

July 17th, 2014 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Kim Dotcom has announced he plans to drop a political bombshell five days before the general election which he says will prove the Prime Minister has been lying about when he first knew about the German internet tycoon.

Dotcom made the announcement yesterday to 3News on the first day of the internet Mana party’s road trip campaign.

“On September 15, I’m doing a Town Hall event in Auckland and I invite everyone to come there because that is going to be the day when I’m going to reveal my evidence…..my evidence around the political interference and my evidence that John Key lied,” Dotcom said.

If the evidence stacked up as significant, he would not be releasing it five days before the election. He’s chosen that date in the hope media will breathlessly report it, and not have time to actually scrutinise or authenticate it. Otherwise he would release it well in advance of that. It’s basically a ploy to try and get publicity for his pet party in the last week, and damage National.

I can’t imagine it will be anything reliable. Probably some second hand report of someone saying they one mentioned his name to John Key at a social function.

If John Key had heard of Kim Dotcom prior to the raid, I can’t see why he wouldn’t have said “Yeah, I’d heard a couple of people mention him”. There is no significance in whether he had or had not heard of him earlier unless you believe the conspiracy theory that Joe Biden, Warners, Barack Obama and John Key are all part of a global conspiracy to persecute the honest businessman Kim Dotcom.

The fact that Dotcom has had to offer $5 million or so for proof of his pet conspiracy theory, suggests that he of course has no proof – otherwise why would you be offering money for it.

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A reader on Labour’s website

July 16th, 2014 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

A reader e-mails:

I went there yesterday to try and find out what Phil Twyford had said about the roading package.  First thing I noticed on the front page: no search function.  So I went to news and clicked on press releases.  They’re in chronological order.  So I clicked on page 3, as I figured that might take me back as far as June 29, when we made the announcement.  It didn’t, so I clicked on the last available page – page 5.  That took me back as far as July 4, but there is an arrow to the right of the five numbered pages, so I clicked on that, figuring it would take me to pages 6 and beyond.  Nope, it took me back to the front page of press releases.

 Shit I thought, I’ll have to go to Phil Twyford’s MP page – that’s bound to have his press releases.  No, it doesn’t.  It doesn’t actually have any of his media statements – there’s no hyperlinks from his page to anything he’s said, press releases or speeches.  It did have a link to what looked to be his personal website (‘Website: twyord.org.nz’), so I thought it might be there, but astonishingly that link merely refreshed the very page I was looking at.

 So in a nutshell:

  • Labour’s website has no search function
  • It has no archive of its press releases older than the past two weeks, and older releases just seem to drop off the bottom of the list as new ones enter the system
  • Its MP pages have none of their statements, and the links to what appear to be their external personal websites don’t work

 And, as someone else out to me, if you look at their team page, here: http://campaign.labour.org.nz/team the bios don’t follow any orchestrated formula; they’re a shambles – some are in the first person, such as Nanaia Mahuta … “since becoming an MP I have …”, some are in the third person, such as David Cunliffe … “David is in politics because he believes people matter …”, and some, like Chris Hipkins (ironically the Education Spokesperson) are a grammatical mess … “Chris passionate about education …”

The main purpose of Labour’s website seems to be to get people to give them their e-mail address.

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Garner on Labour MPs breaking ranks

July 16th, 2014 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Duncan Garner writes:

Three Labour MPs have broken ranks in recent weeks – quite loudly and very publicly.

They are interested in one thing: self-preservation. They want to win their seats and they’ve given up relying on their party. They are clearly concerned Labour will poll poorly on election night, so they’ve decided to run their own campaigns – away from head office and away from the leader.

These MPs have either chosen not to be on the list or they have a low-list spot. They are vulnerable. It’s all or nothing for them.

They must win their seats to return to Parliament; this sort of pressure usually focuses an MP’s mind. They want to be back in Parliament and they want the $150k salary.

I’m talking about West Coast-Tasman MP, Damien O’Connor, Hutt South MP, Trevor Mallard and list MP and Te Tai Tokerau candidate, Kelvin Davis.

Take Davis: yesterday he engaged Labour in its biggest u-turn in years. He told me he supported the Puhoi-Wellsford road project that his party has openly mocked and criticised.

Labour MPs call it the holiday highway; David Cunliffe has campaigned against it. Labour, until yesterday, was going to can the project upon taking office. Who knows where they stand now!

Labour appear to have now done a u-turn on it, saying their policy now is only to delay it not cancel it. I guess it took the floods for them to realise that campaigning against better roads into Northland isn’t too popular there.

O’Connor and Davis certainly look in touch with middle New Zealand, their electorates and their issues. They have given the one-fingered salute to their struggling party and put self-preservation first.

Who can blame them?

We may see more of this.

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Lowest power price increase since 2001

July 16th, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Simon Bridges announced:

New power price data released today shows the Government’s 2010 electricity reforms are making a real difference for consumers, says Energy and Resources Minister Simon Bridges.

“The sales data released by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment for the year ending March 2014, shows the lowest annual price increase since 2001 at 2.3 per cent,” Mr Bridges says.

“Discounts and other benefits from retailers are becoming the new norm in an increasingly competitive electricity market and the new data captures what consumers have actually paid for their power, rather than the advertised price.”

In other words, competition helps keep prices from increasing greatly.

For the June quarter, there has been an increase of 2.3 per cent.  This was driven by a 6.7 per cent increase in lines charges — the component regulated by the Commerce Commission — as retailers passed on the significant investment costs associated with upgrading local networks. 

The energy component — the part subject to competition — decreased by 0.7 per cent. 

This is what makes Labour’s policy so bizarre. Rather than focus on better regulating the parts of the electricity sector which are monopolies, their policy seeks to destroy competition and the market among generators.

Latest figures released by the Electricity Authority show that consumers can save, on average, $155 per year by switching power retailers.

Yep. I’ve saved heaps by swapping.

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The Dotcom conspiracy theory

July 16th, 2014 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

The head of Immigration has rejected suggestions Kim Dotcom’s residency was approved as part of a United States move to make it easier to extradite him to face charges there.

Documents published today show that the Security and Intelligence Service (SIS) withdrew its objections to Dotcom’s residency as the Government negotiated a deal with Hollywood studio Warner Bros to ensure The Hobbit trilogy was filmed here.

Dotcom believes US authorities wanted to keep him here to make it easier to extradite him on internet piracy and copyright infringement charges. He has long claimed the Government was acting at the behest of the American film industry but has never offered proof.

I love this conspiracy theory. The Government let Dotcom into New Zealand just so it could extradite him years later. And it was all part of a deal with Warners to film The Hobbit here. This makes people who believe the moon landing was faked look sane.

But in an exclusive interview, Immigration chief executive Nigel Bickle said that from Immigration’s point of view he had seen no evidence of that and it was Dotcom’s advisers who had called for a fast decision in his case.

‘‘Mr Dotcom was represented by a very good immigration adviser, who was rightly asking questions … ‘why is it taking so long making a decision? Mr Dotcom’s like a lot of these individuals – many countries are courting them. Could you hurry up and make a decision’.’’

The beauty of this conspiracy theory is it casts something that was favourable to Dotcom as being sinister.

Bickle said then-immigration minister Jonathan Coleman had not been involved in the decision to grant Dotcom permanent residency, and the call was made by an official.

In 2010 the investor category Dotcom was applying under, requiring at least a $10m investment here, was a new policy. Ministers were interested in how it was going and were briefed weekly. 

But in terms of Dotcom as an individual, Coleman had no involvement in the decision.

Bickle had told Coleman, under the ‘‘no surprises’’ policy, on October 28, 2010 after he had been informed Dotcom would be granted residency.

But it was not a decision that needed to go to the minister.

A minor inconvenient fact.

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The revolution that changed our lives

July 15th, 2014 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

The Dom Post editorial:

It was years ago today that the Lange Labour Party won the election that would change all our lives. This proved to be one of the major reforming governments of our history, comparable with the Liberals of the 1890s and the Labour government of the 1930s. It made profound changes in our economy, our foreign policy, and in race relations. Some of these changes were for the better, and some were not. We are still wrestling with the legacy of David Lange and Roger Douglas.

National’s Robert Muldoon was a backward-looking leader who had in many ways painted his country into a corner. Douglas used the economic crisis – massive internal and external deficits, a frightening overseas debt – to push through a Right-wing, top-down revolution which never figured in Labour’s election manifesto. New Zealand was hauled into the era of Thatcher and Reagan by stealth. At the end of six years, the government had a deserved reputation for failing to tell the voters of its real intentions.

Some of the economic changes were clearly needed. A brutal assault on costs was inevitable. An excessively protected economy imposed unnecessarily high costs on ordinary New Zealanders. Exchange rates, wages, prices and interest rates could not continue to be set by prime ministerial fiat.

Has someone told Labour today this?

But Douglas and his friends went way beyond sensible reforms and deep into the swamps of ideology. His massive privatisation and flat-tax proposals of December 1987 were shrink-the-state Hayekian politics dressed up as economic orthodoxy. That forced the fatal showdown between Douglas and Lange killed the government. It was a civil war that Labour had to have.

Douglas said his revolution would put New Zealand on a new, high-growth path. It didn’t. His excuse was that the job was left unfinished. Only ACT and Tea Party Republicans still believe that. The last 30 years have seen huge changes in economic theory that have demolished central parts of the Reaganite-Rogernome credo.

That’s the assertion of the editorial, but I don’t accept that. I think it is a shame Lange destroyed his own Government by going against the wishes of his own Cabinet. It would have been great to see a flat tax implemented.

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Wellington City Council must live within means also

July 15th, 2014 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The Dom Post reports:

Higher rates rises over the next few years could be the price residents have to pay for Wellington City Council’s “eight big ideas”.

Councillors have been warned that projects such as the airport runway extension, the Hilton Hotel and conference centre, and a film museum would not be sustainable without increasing the number of ratepayers – and even then “slightly higher rates increases in the short term” might be needed.

A presentation from council staff working on budgets for the next 10 years looks at various funding possibilities, one of which could be a rates increase above 10 per cent in 2015-16.

Another scenario, spreading out costs across the decade, involves an increase of about 6 per cent for 2015-16.

In recent years, rates rises have been held to about 2.5 per cent.

Rates should not increase more than inflation. It is all too easy for Councillors to have a wishlist of ideas, but we’re the ones who to have to fund them.

Any contribution to the proposed airport runway extension should be minimal.

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Greenpeace taking Electoral Commission to court

July 15th, 2014 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Newstalk ZB reports:

Environmental groups are taking the Electoral Commission to court over a ruling on a climate change campaign.

Greenpeace, Forest and Bird, WWF and others launched the Climate Voter initiative last month.

But the Electoral Commission says the campaign counts as an “election advertisement”, and is therefore subject to rules around wording of communications and spending restrictions.

Greenpeace says the ruling could gag grassroots advocacy groups – and the organisations are planning to take a freedom of speech test case to the High Court.

Greenpeace spokesman Steve Abel says it’s become a free speech issue.

“Organisations that are advocating for anything, whether it’s better cancer funding or milk in schools or lower taxes, the organisations should be able to do that without having to put a promoter statement on under electoral law.”

Organisations can advocate on issues without promoter statements. But if they are seen as encouraging a vote for or against a political party, then they need a promoter statement.  As this is a campaign headlined “Make your vote count” I am not surprised the Electoral Commission thinks they should have a promoter statement.

You might wonder why they don’t just stick a promoter statement on their website. The organisations backing it are already known. So why are they going to court, rather than sticking on a promoter statement?

Well Greenpeace has another lawsuit before the courts at the moment (a supporter might ask what proportion of their donations are going on lawsuits!) fighting the decision to deregister them as a charity due to their political advocacy. If they put a promoter statement on their website, then they weaken their own case that they are a charity, not a lobby group. So to try and keep up the pretence they are a charity, they are going to court again.

I hope the Electoral Commission seeks costs, if Greenpeace loses.

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Should have listened to the SIS

July 15th, 2014 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

The SIS tried to block Kim Dotcom’s residency application but dropped their objection 90 minutes after being told there was “political pressure” to let the tycoon into New Zealand, secret documents from the spy agency reveal.

Last night the leader of the Dotcom-funded Internet Party, Laila Harre, said she “wouldn’t have been comfortable” granting the tycoon residency if she had been the Minister of Immigration.

But she’ll take $3 million from him to get into Parliament now he is here. Hilarious.

Documents declassified and released through the Official Information Act show the Security Intelligence Service describing Dotcom as a “bad but wealthy man” who was under criminal investigation by the FBI.

It also has agents passing on information about the FBI investigation for then Minister of Immigration Jonathan Coleman, described as an “interested party” wanting to get “high rollers” into New Zealand.

In hindsight a rather bad decision overlooking the criminal convictions because of his wealth.

One hour and 27 minutes later, another SIS agent said the agency’s block would be lifted, writing: “Since Dotcom is not of security concern, there is no reason for this application to be on hold with us. Please can you inform your INZ contacts of this, also noting Dotcom is the subject of a criminal investigation and that they need to discuss the case with NZ Police before they proceed with granting him PR [permanent residency].” …

An Immigration NZ spokesman said last night no contact had been made with police after the SIS urged Immigration to do so.

So the SIS were aware he was flagged by the FBI as a person of interest, but as it was not a security issue, said go talk to the Police. But Immigration NZ never did. Sigh.

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Labour’s secret policy for compulorsy Maori language in schools

July 15th, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

All New Zealand schoolchildren would learn Maori under Labour’s long-term plan for te reo, but it appears the party is loath to give the policy a high profile.

So is it their policy or isn’t it?

Labour Maori affairs spokeswoman Nanaia Mahuta and education spokesman Chris Hipkins indicated Labour had an “aspirational” target for Maori to be taught in all schools after the Maori Party’s Te Tai Tokerau candidate, Te Hira Paenga, claimed Labour had endorsed his party’s policy for compulsory te reo in schools.

“We are glad to see Labour at last getting the message that our reo is something that we all, as New Zealanders, should embrace,” Mr Paenga said.

Ms Mahuta initially suggested Mr Paenga had the wrong end of the stick, saying Labour would only promote its own policy which was “the recognition that te reo should be a working language for all New Zealanders”.

However, Ms Mahuta was far more direct in a debate held in Gisborne earlier this month when she said: “We’ve made a clear commitment that te reo Maori will be compulsory in our schools.”

Isn’t this typical Labour. They say one thing to one audience, and another thing to another. That quote from Mahuta is crystal clear, but now watch them backtrack as the previously secret policy has been highlighted.

She later said the comment was made in the context of the recognition “that there are some real challenges in our school system to build the capacity of our teaching workforce who are able to teach te reo Maori”. She said te reo for all schoolchildren was “an aspirational goal within our policy platform around te reo Maori and we believe that we need to take some practical steps to be able to build up, for example, the teaching workforce to be able to teach te reo Maori in our schools as a way towards supporting that aspiration”.

Education spokesman Mr Hipkins said Labour “certainly wouldn’t use the phrase compulsory” for its long-term te reo policy.

So Mahuta says to a Maori forum that te reo Maori will be compulsory, while Hipkins says, no it won’t be.

“I would certainly like to make sure all kids have the option and there is availability of te reo maori in all schools. Whether in fact that was compulsory, that’s a discussion for another day.

Translation – that is our policy, but we don’t want people to realise it.

I have no problem with having a debate on the pros and cons of compulsory te reo Maori in schools.  What I do have a problem with is a two-faced party that won’t even be honest about its policies.

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