Archive for the ‘NZ Politics’ Category

Vanguard Military School 2015 NCEA Results

February 5th, 2016 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Vanguard Military School is a charter school that Labour and the Greens want to close down.

It’s students come from some of the most disadvantaged backgrounds, and were often failing in other schools.

Here’s their 2015 NCEA results.

  • NCEA Level 1 – 93.2% vs 83.7% NZ average
  • NCEA Level 2 – 100.0% vs 87.4% NZ average
  • NCEA Level 3 – 93.3% vs 81.3% NZ average
  • NCEA Level 1 Maori students – 95.2% vs 73.0% NZ average

Maori and Pasifika students at Vanguard are achieving 20% better than the national average.

There are already 160 enrolments for 2016. Hopefully they will not be closed down by a change of Government in 2017.

Herald critical of Labour’s bribe

February 5th, 2016 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald editorial:

A universal entitlement to three years’ free tertiary education has overwhelming public appeal. Whether it is in the public interest is another question. The policy is expensive: $1.2 billion when fully implemented.

That is a considerable lump of public spending. As always when something of this magnitude is proposed, we should not look at its merits in isolation. Governments do not have infinite budgets and there is a limit to the taxation an economy can provide and remain healthy.

Labour needs to be asked, is this the most worthwhile use of $1.2 billion Is it even the most worthy use of funds allocated to education?

Many professionals (outside the tertiary sector at least) would say raising funding of pre-school education is more socially urgent and productive than relieving school-leavers of an obligation to contribute to the cost of their qualifications.

Most of the $1.2 billion will go to wealthy families who planned to go to university anyway.

University student associations have complained about course fees and loans to cover them since they were introduced. But many thousands of graduates have paid their fees and repaid their loans over the past 20 years.

Tertiary education has seen spectacular growth over that period, attracting foreign fee-paying students as well as meeting New Zealanders’ needs. Why change the funding system now?

Or to put it another way, what problem is this policy designed to fix? Labour’s leader presents it as an answer to the frequent and unpredictable career changes people will need in the workforce of the future. But this “future” has been present for many years now and there has been no sign the costs of retraining have become a problem.

The student loan scheme is effectively a temporary targeted tax on those who undertake tertiary study. Once you eanr above a certain level, you pay a 12% higher tax rate until the loan is paid off.

So what is fairer – those who get the benefits of tertiary study paying a temporary higher tax rate, or all New Zealanders paying a permanent higher tax rate?

The economy is strong in large part because public spending is under control. Expensive proposals that waste money purely for political gain could put the country’s prosperity in peril.

It’s the old tax and spend.

Countries wanting to join the TPP

February 4th, 2016 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Top of their agenda will be what happens to prospective new members over the next two years, before the deal is able to come into force.

Indonesia, South Korea, Thailand and Columbia are among those countries that have expressed some interest in joining.

Taiwan has also.

What are their GDPs?

  • Indonesia $890b
  • South Korea $1,410b
  • Thailand $404b
  • Columbia $380b
  • Taiwan $530b

So that’s another $3.6 trillion of GDP likely to join in the next few years.

Yet again Labour wants to walk away from that.

Herald and Hosking on TPP

February 4th, 2016 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald editorial:

Looking back, it is hard to recall a greater diplomatic achievement than the comprehensive trade and investment agreement that will be signed by representatives of 12 countries in Auckland today. The post-war creation of the United Nations in which New Zealand Prime Minister Peter Fraser played a role may be as proud for those who remember it. The Trans-Pacific Partnership is directly in that tradition.

It represents another advance on the principles of the World Trade Organisation, formerly the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (Gatt) that was one of the multi-lateral institutions formed by nations seeking world peace and prosperity after two devastating wars.

Even 70 years ago, it proved harder to unite the world on rules for international business and trade than to establish a World Health Organisation and UN agencies for the likes of education and science. The Gatt did not become the WTO until the 1990s when just about all countries in the long communist experiment finally turned to capitalism for the prosperity the West enjoyed.

Now we just need Labour, Greens and NZ First to embrace capitalism again!

Mike Hosking writes:

Good morning and welcome to TPP signing day.

I know, I know, I know. We’ve thrashed this thing to death, but here’s your reality: It’s a done deal.

It will get signed today, the legislation will be passed, and all there is left to do is sit back and basically sees who’s right.

Will it be like every other free trade deal and open new markets, bring new opportunities and boost our wealth? Or are the doom merchants right and we’re heading for corporate armageddon, where we spend the rest of our lives in court and have our sovereignty whipped out from under us?

The really big question not many people seemed to ask in this whole debate was: Why would our Government sign us up to all this so-called trouble?

What Government in its right mind would take us down a path of disaster, and with it the political fallout?

Further, why would 11 other Governments do exactly the same thing?

If this is such a dastardly deal, how is it possible that a dozen countries all got sucked in and put their name to the sort of trouble and political mayhem the placard wavers are proclaiming?

12 Governments have signed it because they all stand to gain more from it than they lose. Trade is not a zero sum gain.

Long term, here’s Labour’s potential nightmare: Assuming those of us who like trade deals are right, as the numbers roll in, as the sales get made, and if this deal is like every other deal, it actually produces way more than the paper work ever indicated, think the China deal which is many times better than was initially thought possible.

As that all happens, Labour is going to be backed into a corner explaining just what it was it couldn’t see that the rest of us could.

The benefits of the China FTA have been much much greater than projected, If TPP goes the same way, Labour are going to look very foolish for campaigning against it.

Key is attending Waitangi

February 4th, 2016 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

On Tuesday, leaders voted 38-14 in favour of stopping Key attending, but were overruled by Ngapuhi elders.

Key said marae trustees had issued him a formal invitation after another meeting on Tuesday night, with “all of the same privileges and procedures there’ve been in the past”, and he would attend the event.

However, the large crowds of protesters expected at Waitangi were a complication, with the possibility that it could be too unsafe for him to get onto the marae.

“In a practical sense, if there’s so many people that they physically block the cars from getting in, I can just envisage a situation where I don’t actually get on the lower marae.”

He was “not looking for an excuse to get out”, and said he was happy to defend the Government’s support for the TPPA deal at Waitangi.

Almost any other PM would have happily take the vote as a great reason to not attend, and make them look ridiculous.  It is a measure of his commitment to good faith relations that Key is willing to endure the abuse and threats.

I’m not optimistic that the radicals won’t go over the top and it could get very nasty.

Labour’s taxpayer funded campaign office

February 4th, 2016 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

An e-mail from Paul Chalmers, Project Manager of Labour House:

We all know whoever wins Auckland, wins the next election.

That’s why Labour Leader, Andrew Little, has decided to open a fully staffed Labour office in Auckland where he and other MPs will base themselves every week.

That strongly indicates it will be funded by taxpayers from their parliamentary budgets. Labour has no money, so I can’t imagine the party is paying for much of it, if any.

The building will also become the centre of the Labour and the progressive movement in Auckland and the place to co-ordinate the local government and General Election campaigns. 

So by their own words they will be running Phil Goff’s mayoral campaign of this taxpayer funded office. Something they promised they would not do.

Does The Parliamentary Service know this office will be used to run their election campaigns from? That is a breach of the funding rules.

Business groups on the TPP

February 3rd, 2016 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Business and industry group leaders have lent their support to the Trans Pacific Partnership free trade agreement in an open letter to Prime Minister John Key.

In the letter they make the point:

NZ stands to gain significantly from TPP, which links 36% of global GDP, 812 million consumers and includes markets taking 40% of our exports …

It is inconceivable that NZ would allow our access to markets to be impaired and our competitiveness to decline by standing outside such an important agreement when our competitors are part of it.

Yet that is now official Labour Party policy.

The letter was signed by:

  • BusinessNZ
  • ExportNZ
  • NZ International Business Forum
  • Federated Farmers
  • Auckland Chamber of Commerce
  • EMA
  • Food & Grocery Council
  • Dairy Companies Assn
  • NZ Winegrowers
  • Horticulture NZ
  • American Chamber of Commerce in NZ
  • Beef + Lamp NZ
  • Medical technology Assn
  • ManufacturingNZ
  • Wellington Employers Chamber of Commerce
  • NZ US Council
  • NZ Port Company CEO Group
  • NZ Shippers Council
  • Employers Otago Southland
  • Health IT
  • ASEAN NZ Business Council
  • Japan NZ Business Council
  • Canada NZ Business Council
  • Latin America NZ Business Council

O’Sullivan lashes Little

February 3rd, 2016 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Fran O’Sullivan writes:

It is difficult to understand why Little prefers the judgment of NGO activists over that of a former NZ Trade Minister who not only negotiated the ground-breaking bilateral China free trade deal but also finalised the Asean deal with New Zealand and Australia.

Frankly there is nothing responsible in Little’s positioning.

Successive New Zealand governments – and their negotiators – have worked hard indeed to bring global economic giants like the United States and Japan and frankly protectionist nations like Canada into an Asia-Pacific agreement.

This is no mean feat.

New Zealand vision and leadership has been to the fore in securing TPP.

The reality is it had earlier proved impossible for New Zealand to forge separate bilateral agreements with these three countries as NZ was simply too small, too insignificant and not of sufficient strategic importance for these much bigger nations to bother.

This is a trade agreement that we initiated. It was not pushed on us. We managed to get the US to come on board, and also now Canada and Japan. It is a significant achievement. The TPP is far from perfect but it is clearly a net gain for NZ to be part of it, and we’d lose out badly if we were not part of it.

Labour MPs like Clayton Cosgrove and Stuart Nash will also be seething at their leader’s stance. Sure, they will cover it up in public – no-one wants to be dumped down the greasy pole of Labour’s political rankings by taking issue with their leader publicly.

There are a number of very unhappy MPs in Labour over this.

New Zealand has a proud record of bipartisanship when it comes to pursuing our advantage on the world stage: not just the many preferential trade agreements which successive National and Labour Governments have negotiated; but also our role in deepening global trade by taking a pro-active role in promoting major giants like China and Russia to successfully join the World Trade Organisation; promoting leaders like Helen Clark, Don McKinnon and Mike Moore to achieve high international office, and, securing NZ’s role on the Security Council.

NZ in opposition has always stuck to this bipartisan record, and up until recently so had Labour.

Watkins on Waitangi

February 3rd, 2016 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Tracy Watkins writes:

Remember when Titewhai Harawira used to be one of the reasons politicians stayed away from Waitangi?

You reap what you sow, as they say. On Tuesday, Harawira phoned with a personal appeal for Prime Minister John Key to attend the traditional Waitangi Day commemorations at the trouble-plagued Te Tii Marae.

But if Key stays away it will be because he’s sniffed the winds of public opinion as Waitangi threatens once again to descend into conflict and acrimony  – and judges that voters have had a gutsful of the annual Te Tii Marae sideshow setting the tone for our only national day.

No, if he stays way it will be because they voted 38 – 14 not to invite him.


Day off for the PM!

February 2nd, 2016 at 3:18 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Prime Minister John Key will be blocked from going on Te Tii Marae.

Marae elder Kingi Taurua has confirmed the final decision was made not to invite Mr Key onto the marae at a hui today.

“They put it to the vote and the vote decided it, not to allow him on.”

Excellent. PM gets a day off.

As the marae has decided they no longer want the Government to attend, I presume they no longer want money from the Government for any activities at the marae!

UPDATE: Radio NZ is reporting that he has been invited on. But possibly not allowed to speak. I guess all will become clear in time! It may be that Ngapuhi have voted one way, but the marae the other.

If I was the PM, I’d not turn up. He has said he’ll attend whenever invited, but they appear to have voted that they don’t want him there. There are thousands of others places in NZ that do welcome him, and welcome the opportunity to debate issues with him.

UPDATE2: TVNZ reports:

Ngapuhi representatives spent the day locked in talks at Waitangi.

A vote was held this afternoon on whether Mr Key should be blocked. The result was an overwhelming 38-14 in favour of stopping him from coming on to the marae.

But Te Tii elder Emma Gibbs then told ONE News those from the marae had overruled the decision and he would be welcomed on – but wouldn’t have speaking rights.

Ngapuhi elder Kingi Taurua reacted angrily to that claim and said in fact Mr Key would be blocked.

Ms Gibbs says as locals, they will continue to welcome anyone on to the marae, even if others disagree.

Again, there are many other places you can go.

Herald backs Greens costing policy

February 2nd, 2016 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald editorial:

Amid the fanfare surrounding Labour’s education policy release at the weekend, it should also be acknowledged the Green Party has made a good start to the year, with a proposal that is reasonable, moderate and financially responsible.

The suggestion an independent unit should be set up within Treasury to provide costings of each party’s election policies is one the Government will find tough to turn down.

Much as it might like to, social policy initiatives from the Opposition can easily be dismissed as fearfully expensive without reliable figures – Labour’s free tertiary plan being a timely case in point.

Labour have a long history of under-estimating the costs of policies – interest free student loans and KiwiSaver ended up costing many times more than they originally said it would.

I support an independent costing agency, but one has to realise that there will always be assumptions which are debatable.

To cost Labour’s education policy, the first step is to work out what would be the cost if the Government paid all the tertairy fees for current students, instead of lending them money for them. That is quite easy to do, and uncontroversial.

The harder part is calculating how many more people will enrol if tertiary education is free. Labour say they think there will be a 15% increase. I think this is massively low. Tertiary providers will be able to earn $15,000 or so if they can sign up any adult who has never been to university (or other tertiary). They’ll be going through rest homes convincing retirees to enrol in courses.  It could well be a 100% increase.

An independent costing agency will have to try and make a “best guess”. This may be based on what has happened in other areas when something is made free – for example what increase has there been in public transport use by retirees since they got free travel. They may be able to look overseas. But even Treasury in the past has vastly under-estimated the cost of policies such as Kiwisaver and interest free loans. Humans respond massively to incentives, and this policy provides huge incentives to providers to sign people up.

The public would be best served if once a policy was submitted to the unit its findings were automatically made public.

Parties might not welcome the risk, and might withhold some proposals from an evaluation, but that would do nothing for their credibility.

The agency should be subject to the OIA.


Maori businesses see TPP gains

February 2nd, 2016 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Some Maori business leaders say there are risks with the Trans Pacific Partnership, but people should look at it again to see the benefits it offers for the Maori economy. …

The Maori economy has been estimated at $40 billion and Auckland lawyer Paul Majurey, chair of the Hauraki Collective, said Pare Hauraki’s fishing and aquaculture assets would benefit and the trust was supportive of the deal.

It already exported to China and Japan and the TPP would open access to Japan where fish products faced stiff tariffs.

The agreement would also allow Maori to form partnerships with investors from those countries, as happened under the China FTA.

He said there were risks and it was natural Maori would be concerned about sovereignty and the erosion of Treaty of Waitangi rights.

“There are issues and question marks with any international agreement that involves our sovereignty.”

He said the TPP protected the Treaty and reserved the right to protect rights to traditional knowledge and plants, according to the Wai 262 finding. …

Traci Houpapa, the chair of the Federation of Maori Authorities (Foma), said the TPP had obvious benefits for Maori exporters and businesses and that would flow through to communities.

She said New Zealand could not miss the chance to sit with global heavyweights such as the US and Japan, and hoped consultation on the agreement over coming months would provide Maori with assurances about the Treaty partnership.

“People are wanting assurances that partnership is in place and isn’t impacted by the TPP.”

She was comfortable that other trade agreements had upheld the Treaty.

“And our expectation is this Government will do the same,” she said.

She said New Zealand was the only country with protections for indigenous rights in the trade agreement.

Yep as I previously blogged, NZ is the only country that got indigenous rights protected in TPP, and the wording in TPP is near identical to the China FTA that Labour signed.

Quote of the week

February 2nd, 2016 at 8:00 am by TaxpayersUnion

“Congress can raise taxes because it can persuade a sizable fraction of the populace that somebody else will pay.” 

– Milton Friedman

The quote of the week is brought to you by the New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union. To support the Union’s campaign for lower taxes and less government waste, click here.

Young on Little’s worst week

February 2nd, 2016 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Audrey Young writes:

This past week, without doubt, has been Little’s worst week as leader.

It began with uncertainty over Labour’s TPP position and ended in disunity.

I wrote last week that this will be the year we see whether Little has merely papered over the cracks in Labour or if he has plastered over them to make them watertight.

I didn’t realise we’d get the answer so quickly. It’s definitely a paper job so far.

When Labour staffers or MPs start leaking e-mails to Matthew Hooton, you know there is serious dissent.

It means his party has ended the bipartisan approach to free trade that has effectively operated since the fourth Labour Government started removing tariffs.

Labour has taken a gamble in dispensing with the prevailing orthodoxy.

With four of the last six Labour leaders supporting TPP, it makes Little’s sales job to the public all the harder.

Yes tell us Andrew why Helen Clark is so wrong when she said it would be unthinkable to not be part of such a huge trade agreement?

Garner on Key and Labour

February 1st, 2016 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Duncan Garner writes:

How on earth can Labour beat John Key?

This thorny question must have totally consumed Labour’s MPs at their recent caucus retreat.

I can’t imagine any back-slapping took place. More back-stabbing. After all, what is there for them to celebrate?

A sunny January?

Whether you like Key or not you have to concede that he’s one smart, pragmatic holder of the vast but crucial Centre ground.

And Labour’s only helping him by looking divided and hopelessly confused over the controversial trade pact, the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement.

No less than four former Labour Party leaders support the TPPA: Phil Goff, Mike Moore, Helen Clark and David Shearer.

They’re in the prime minister’s camp as leader Andrew Little takes his caucus towards the Greens.

Yep Labour once again shifts left.

The truth is, if John Key is a rabid Right-winger he’s disguised it well. He just wants to stay in power.

And Labour’s doing its best to help him by looking shabby, confused and divided.

This belated anti-TPPA posturing – too feeble and too late in the game – feels contrived and lacking in conviction.

I don’t know what Labour really stands for these days, and I’m sure, Goff, Moore, Shearer and Clark are struggling to answer that question too.

Labour is the gift that keeps on giving. Especially for Key.

Helen Clark must shake her head and wonder.

Dispelling TPP myths

February 1st, 2016 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Both Charles Finny and Stephen Jacobi dispel some TPP myths.

Finny in the Herald looks at the false information abut TPP and the Treaty:

Former MP Hone Harawira has stated some complete falsehoods about Trans Pacific Partnership, Maori and the Treaty of Waitangi.

This coincided with publication of a paper by “experts” Dr Carwyn Jones, Associate Professor Claire Charters, Andrew Eruti and Professor Jane Kelsey on “Maori rights, Te Tiriti O Waitangi and the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement”.

Days later several Maori elders spoke negatively about the TPP at Ratana and were joined by a bevy of political leaders.

This criticism of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) forced me to reread a big chunk of the TPP and previous free trade agreements and to study every element of the criticisms being levelled against the TPP and Maori.

My conclusions are radically different from the critics’. I believe that rather than being inadequate in its protections for Maori, TPP is if anything a taonga in the way it protects the rights of the New Zealand Government to discriminate in favour of Maori.

This in turn, I think, adds enormous mana to Maori.

Finny has actually read the TPP, and he makes the point NZ is unique in getting protection for the indigenous people in there:

TPP is an agreement between 12 countries. Pretty much all the 12 jurisdictions are home to indigenous minorities – for example, the First Peoples of the United States, Canada, Mexico, Peru, Chile, the Aboriginal people in Australia, the Malays in Singapore and Malaysia, and the Ainu in Japan.

Yet none of these peoples is mentioned in the main text of the deal and none of their Governments has secured agreement from the other members that they should be allowed to discriminate in favour of them.

And further:

TPP’s protection of the Treaty goes even further than earlier FTAs. It states “the parties agree that the interpretation of the Treaty of Waitangi, including as to the nature of the rights and obligations arising under it, shall not be subject to the dispute settlement provisions of this agreement.” This means it is entirely up to New Zealand to determine if any discrimination has occurred because of the treaty (so long as this is not a disguised restriction on trade).

I am frankly amazed the US and others have agreed to this provision. Our ministers and officials have done a great job achieving this. All Maori should be saying: “Well done!”


This image shows the China FTA Treaty clauses and the TPP Treaty clauses.  Again the difference is Labour are just sulking because they didn’t conclude the TPP.

And on the wider TPP issues, Stephen Jacobi responds to Andrew Little’s letter on the TPP:

I agree that the dairy aspects of TPP are not as good as they could have been and as we had hoped. But they are in the view of the negotiators and the dairy industry the best that could have been achieved in the circumstances. Dairy still benefits more than any other sector from tariff cuts in key markets and the establishment of new tariff quotas. The meat deal – specifically beef to Japan – is a significant market opening about which the industry has welcomed. Without this we will not be able to compete with Australia which already has an FTA with Japan. To call the rest “not much” is a serious underestimation – tariff reductions and/or elimination for horticultural products including kiwifruit, wine, wood products and seafood cannot so easily be dismissed. Addressing tariff and non-tariff barriers for manufactured products such as health technologies and agricultural equipment is also significant.

And he deals with Little’s claim one of their bottom lines was not met:

Labour’s clearly signalled “bottom-line” for TPP was it should provide for restrictions on land sales to non-resident foreigners. This is possible under TPP: a future Government could if it wished apply a stamp duty or other tax to restrict these sales. Opinion is divided on whether an outright ban could be introduced, but there is a ready alternative to meet Labour’s policy position.

Labour could set 100% stamp duty of sales to foreigners. They could set it at 10000%. It’s a different method to achieve the same result.

TPP does provide for our partners to make their views known on any measure which may be introduced that could have an impact on trade. But these provisions are far from “unheard of”. They are already enshrined in the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and other FTAs concluded by Labour including the China FTA. They are what make it possible for New Zealand to be consulted on changes affecting our exports to other markets such as subsidies under the Farm Bill or a discriminatory labelling or levy system. Importantly these provisions retain the right of the Government to continue to regulate: the Government may have to listen to the views of trading partners but not necessarily heed them. Bottom line is we do this already and have been doing so for years now.

Almost every international agreement has a provision about consultation, such as the Antarctic Treaty.

Little- “For instance we would have to let Carlos Slim, the wealthy Mexican telecom company owner, vet any regulation of our telecommunications industry.”

Not quite. The Government is required to publish notice of its proposed changes as it does in the Official Gazette, but not advise everyone personally. Mr Slim may offer comment if he wishes. The Government still decides.

So basically the requirement is to publish things in the Official Gazette. This is so trivial, I can’t believe Labour are seriously citing this as a major issue.

The reality is Labour are only against TPP because National concluded the negotiations. If they had been Government they would have got the same deal (or worse) and would be proclaiming it as a great success, as they did with the China FTA (which they did and was). They’re just sore losers because they’re in opposition.

My submission to the euthanasia inquiry

February 1st, 2016 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar


About the Submitter

  1. This submission is made by David Farrar in a personal capacity. I would like to appear before the Committee to speak to my submission.

Status Quo

  1. At present it is legal for people to end their lives, but illegal for anyone to assist with this.
  2. While active euthanasia (an active step to end life) is illegal, passive euthanasia (withholding treatment that could prolong) is legal and not uncommon

Quantity of life vs Quality of life

  1. It is a general aim of individuals, society and government for life to be as long as possible, and as happy as possible. We only live once, so it is absolutely normal to try to have both good quantity and quality of life.
  2. The issue is when quantity and quality of life come into conflict. There are frequent situations where the quality of life can become so intolerable, that decisions have to be made about trade offs.
  3. As a general principle I believe that if someone is of sound mind, they are best placed to decide for themselves whether to trade quantity of life for quality of life. The quantity traded may be just a few days, or it may be longer.


  1. If someone of sound mind has decided for valid reasons to end their life, it should not be a criminal offence to assist them, so long as a proper process is followed.


  1. Any law to allow assistance should regulate a process to ensure that the person wanting to die is of sound mind, and that this is verified.
  2. Currently passive euthanasia occurs with no regulatory oversight. Based sometimes on just verbal discussions, decisions are made to with-hold treatment that could extend life. I in no way suggest this has ever been abused, or doctors not acted in the best interest of their patients. But having no regulation in this area means that we can’t be certain.

Advanced Directives

  1. While euthanasia is generally associated with those terminally ill, it also has relevance for others who have degenerative conditions.
  2. For example, those who have Huntington’s Disease. HD has no cure and destroys both the mind and body until the person can’t move and has dementia.
  3. The awful choice for people with Huntington’s Disease who wish to avoid being unable to move or think can be to kill themselves at a relatively early stage unaided, as they may lose the ability to do at a later stage.
  4. The result of our current law is that they may (and do) end up killing themselves many years before they start to lose quality of life. A law allowing them to know they can be assisted to die when their quality of life diminishes unacceptably may actually extend their life by many years.

Possible Abuse

  1. Many people are concerned about the potential for abuse of a law which allows people wanting to die to have assistance.
  2. Ideally any system would have safeguards so there are no false positives – that there is no chance of someone being assisted to die, who genuinely doesn’t want to and it isn’t a result of pressure or manipulation.
  3. But there is no system that can give 100% assurance. Just as there is no system that gives us 100% assurance with food safety, with successful operations, with car safety etc.
  4. We have a criminal justice system based on the belief that it is better to let 100 guilty people go free, than one innocent person go to jail. However, we know that sometimes an innocent person is sent to prison. This is not an argument for having no criminal justice system – it is an argument for having rigorous safeguards.
  5. A sensible analysis should look at the risk of abuse vs the benefits a law change will have on those who are genuinely suffering and would welcome assistance if they wish to die.

January Public Polls

February 1st, 2016 at 11:00 am by David Farrar


The January Curia newsletter is out. The summary is:

Curia’s Polling Newsletter – Issue 93, January 2016


There was one political voting poll in January – a Roy Morgan.


The average of the public polls has National 19% ahead of Labour in January, down 1% from December. The current seat projection is centre-right 59 seats, centre-left 51 which would see the Maori Party hold the balance of power.

We show the current New Zealand poll averages for party vote, country direction and preferred PM compared to three months ago, a year ago, three years ago and nine years ago. This allows easy comparisons between terms and Governments.

In the United States as voting in primaries is about to start Donald Trump leads by 7% in Iowa, 215 in New Hampshire, 16% in South Carolina and 14% in Nevada.

On the Democratic side Clinton leads by 4% in Iowa, Sanders by 13% in New Hampshire and Clinton by 30% in South Carolina.

In the UK there is only a 6% chance of a Labour-led Government.

In Australia since the accession of Malcolm Turnbull, the Coalition has maintained a strong lead over Labor, with an election due within the year.

In Canada despite gloomy economic news, a plurality of Canadians think Canada is heading in the right direction.

We also carry details of polls on US ship visits plus the normal business and consumer confidence polls.

This newsletter is normally only available by e-mail.  If you would like to receive future issues, please go to to subscribe yourself.


Exporters worried by Labour

February 1st, 2016 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

New Zealand exporters say they are concerned that a political consensus on trade has been lost after the Labour Party came out against the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

ExportNZ executive director Catherine Beard said in the past exporters had been able to rely on the support of both main political parties on trade.

“This has helped our exporters succeed in new markets and earn valuable revenue for New Zealand,” she said.

“Exporters are now feeling some dismay at the thought that our future trade prospects could be limited by political disagreement.”

Ms Beard said it was difficult to understand why Labour supported the China free trade agreement but not the TPP, “when they are similar in all major respects”. She described Labour’s position on the TPP as a step backwards for the country’s export competitiveness.

It is sad to see Labour abandon decades of bipartisan support on trade policy. They keep getting dragged more and more to the left.


Charles Finny on TPP dispute mechanisms

January 31st, 2016 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

A very informative Facebook post by former trade negotiator Charles Finny on the TPP:

My old University chum Timothy O’Brien asked me yesterday to defend TPP’s dispute settlement provisions.

TPP contains two types of dispute settlement. In the media and political criticism the two are often confused. There is the standard (in WTO and all our FTAs apart from CER – the reason why apples took so long to resolve)provisions which allow parties to the agreement to challenge breaches of the agreement. This is a purely government to government process and applies to the full agreement unless specified (e.g. interpretation of the Treaty of Waitingi the dispute settlement provisions do not apply). Then, in the investment chapter only, there is the investor state dispute settlement mechanism. This allows a company to challenge a government if it believes that government has breached its commitments in the investment chapter only. Many of the critics (who should know better) suggest that governments can be sued for breaches of outside of the investment provisions. This is not possible.

Useful clarification.

It is important to stress that TPP is worded differently to NAFTA and the Australian investment treaties that were used to challenge plain packaging of cigarettes. The critics often cite these agreements as examples of why we should fear ISDS without noting the fact that TPP has been drafted with the sloppy drafting in earlier agreements in mind.

New Zealand has been agreeing (indeed advocating for ) ISDS provisions in investment treaties and FTAs since the late 1980s (see for example the original China NZ Investment protection agreement). To date the NZ Government has yet to face a challenge.

Put simply I believe these provisions provide useful security for NZ investors offshore. Some of the governments we trade with and have FTAs or investment treaties are far more likely to breach these agreements than we are.

Not one challenge in 30 years, yet alone a successful one. Over 3,000 international agreements have provisions for dispute resolution and the number of actual disputes is very small – around one per agreement on average.

There are multiple exclusions (e.g. our Overseas Investment laws) and multiple acceptances of our right to regulate to protect the environment, to protect human health and safety, to discriminate for Maori under the Treaty of Waitangi etc to ensure that TPP will not have the type of chilling effect on policy making that the critics maintain. And, on top of the above protections, tobacco is completely carved out of the agreement so no worries there.

Our negotiators did a very good job getting numerous exemptions.

But is you want to nationalise huge hunks of the economy without compensation – you do have a problem. As you would if you tried to use human health as a justification for a policy if there was no science to justify the policy. Until recently I did not think that future NZ Governments would act in this way. This is why I think we have nothing to fear and that these provisions can only benefit NZ.

I’d say it is more likely a NZ company could use the ISDS against a fellow TPP country, than a US company could use it against New Zealand.

We should evaluate the corporate welfare

January 31st, 2016 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Whale Oil blogs:

So how much money has Gameloft received from the NZ Government and Steve Joyce’s piggy bank?

Well it appears to be $15 million, which is funding at $5 million per annum for three years starting 1 January 2014. That means their funding goes until 31 December 2016…this year.

Which is problematic because this morning the news is that Gameloft is closing down, with all developers being sacked.

That’s sad for the staff involved and the investors.

Also sad for the taxpayer who pumped $15 million into a failed company.

I’m not against the Government having some role in supporting business, but we seem to be giving away a lot of money and I am unsure they produce a positive return.

Reports are done on grant recipients, but they tend to be done in the short term when of course the companies are doing well.

What I’d like to see is an audit done of all companies that received government money say five and ten years after they received the funding. Is that company still going? Do they have more or less staff than before they got the grant? Have they increased revenue and/or exports?

UPDATE: The correct figure is $2.8 million, not $15 million. $15 million is the company’s total spend on R&D, and the government grant was for 20% of that. Also Stuff reports the money will have to be repaid, which is good to see.

Dom Post on WCC secrecy

January 30th, 2016 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

The Dom Post editorial:

Wellington City Council is full of big ideas and grand announcements at the moment. Plenty of them are worth supporting.

But confusion and secrecy too often seem to follow in their wake – especially when it comes to the money involved.

First this week came word from three councillors that the costs of the Island Bay cycleway – already political dynamite in the south coast suburb – had blown out to more than double its projected $1.7 million budget. Yet council chief executive Kevin Lavery said that was completely wrong, and the cycleway was on track to meet its budget.

This yawning difference is amateur stuff – all four were in the same meeting. One side is barking wrong, and ratepayers need to know which it is.

Yes, we do.

I’m generally supportive of cycleways but the Island Bay one appears to be a clusterf**k. It has made the area more dangerous.

Meanwhile, the council’s triumphant announcement that Singapore Airlines will fly a new route from Wellington to Canberra from September also turns out to have strings attached for ratepayers.

The council, it emerges, is set to pay as much as $800,000 a year in subsidies to the airline for the next decade. The money will come from its Destination Wellington fund, which aims to “attract business, talent and investment” to the region.

Like the council’s Economic Initiatives Development Fund, which sank $300,000 of ratepayer money into the recently-failed call centre business CallActive, it also seems wreathed in secrecy.

But why should Wellington City Council applaud the arrival of an airline without revealing that it will help bankroll the new route? That isn’t commercial sensitivity; it is a sort of deception on the ratepayers.

It is deception and it also shows the Council a soft touch with ratepayers money. Other businesses will be lining up to try and get some dosh.

Tolls good – but for new roads

January 30th, 2016 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Whether or not Aucklanders pay motorway tolls is a key factor in the city’s negotiations with the government over funding the City Rail Link (CRL). …

But while the government has confirmed it will fund half of the project and bring the business plan forward to allow work to start in 2018, it has not given Auckland a cast iron guarantee.

It still needed to work through some complex issues with the council, Key said.

“These include how the project costs will be finally shared… and how the Rail Link will be owned and managed,” he said.

Auckland Council wants to help fund its share of the new rail link which will run through the city’s CBD by introducing tolls on the region’s motorways.

But Key said the council had plenty of other options, including paying for it with rates or raising debt.

“We are lukewarm on (tolls), because in the end it reduces the available disposable income of Aucklanders and makes Auckland as a place to do business a little more expensive.” the Prime Minister said.

“We haven’t ruled those things out but we have said they absolutely need to justify them.”

I support tolls and congestion charges as a form of user pays. Those who get benefits from the roads should pay for them.

But they should generally be applied only to new roads. The toll or charge should fund the road that is being used.

Placing a toll on roads long ago paid for is a form of double taxation and unfair.

Will TPP get ratified by the US Congress?

January 30th, 2016 at 8:54 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

New Zealand shouldn’t rush to sign the controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement given its “extremely remote” chances of passing into law in the United States, according to an American trade analyst and critic of the deal.

However, Prime Minister John Key has dismissed the concerns, saying he is confident American politicians will ultimately support the free trade deal.

Trade analyst Lori Wallach, who is in New Zealand to speak at a series of anti-TPPA public meetings, said the deal was “in a certain amount of political trouble” in the United States.

“One of the big questions in political Washington is why New Zealand is rushing towards both the signing right now but also the notion of passing implementation, given the prospects that the US Congress passes the TPP as it is – ever – is extremely remote.”

Wallach said the TPPA was “dozens of votes short” in the House of Representatives, with Democrats concerned about the changes to environmental standards and drug patent changes and Republicans opposed to the “carve-out” excluding tobacco control measures from the investor state disputes mechanism.

It is true that Republicans complain Australia and NZ negotiators were too tough and got too good a deal in the TPP. But this does not mean they will let TPP die.

First of all the likely vote is in the lame duck Congress, which will mean there will be some retiring Democratic Representatives and Senators who will be able to vote for it as they don’t need to worry about the Labor unions trying to get them thrown out if they support it.

But you also have to look at the history of major trade agreements in the US. NAFTA was way more controversial than the TPPA, yet it got ratified by the Congress with a 234-200 vote in the House and 61 to 38 in the Senate.

Rob Hosking sums up the week

January 30th, 2016 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Rob Hosking writes in NBR:

What a week.

The Greens embraced the Treasury.

National embraced public transport in Auckland.

And Labour embraced Jane Kelsey.

A great summary.

In sharp contrast, the Labour Party is jackknifing confusingly and messily all over the road over the TPP agreement.

The week closed with Andrew Little looking as though he had lost control of the issue, with two former leaders Phil Goff and David Shearer opposing his opposition to the TPP deal, and with Grant Robertson – Labour’s choice as Finance Minister in any future government – appearing on a platform with tenured university radical and free-trade opponent Professor Jane Kelsey.

Jane also opposed every FTA Labour negotiated.

But it has to be said that this week the Green party looked like the senior, rather than the junior party of New Zealand’s political left wing.

Not for the first time.