Archive for the ‘NZ Politics’ Category

Latest poll

April 26th, 2016 at 8:28 pm by David Farrar

Roy Morgan’s monthly poll is out and blogged here.

Quite different to Colmar Brunton. CB has National up while RM has National down.

Both CM and RM have Labour down, and well under 30%.

CM has NZ First down 1% while RM has NZ First up 3.5%.

Some fiscal discipline for Auckland

April 26th, 2016 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Victoria Crone has announced:

Auckland Mayoral Candidate Vic Crone has announced her first set of policies, fiscally responsible commitments she says are fundamental basics of building a world class city.

The policies were jointly developed with Auckland Future and the announcement includes lifting council performance in four key areas: keeping residential rates low, cutting waste, reducing staff costs and controlling debt – essentials that council needs to get right.

“Last year ratepayers faced a 9.9 per cent average rates increase, for some it was a shocking 15 per cent. As Mayor I will cap average residential rates increases at 2 per cent per annum for the next three years,” says Ms Crone.

So Victoria Crone and Auckland Future are pledging a maximum rates increase of 2% annually for the next three years.

Having rates go up massively end endlessly is a political choice. Len Brown and the current Council chose to increase rates by 9.9%.

This year Aucklanders should check out all candidates for Council and the Mayor, and ask if they have made a pledge on rates increases. If they won’t make a pledge, then don’t vote for them unless you want more further massive rates increases.

Vic Crone’s leadership will deliver at least $500 million in savings with a focus on reducing back-office waste, efficient procurement, cutting duplication and imposing a Mayor-led Line-Item Review programme.

As a start, Crone will reduce staff costs by 5-10 per cent over the next three years and cap staff numbers at current levels, saving up to $80 million.

“It’s concerning that every year for the last three years council has exceeded its staff cost budget line by over $50 million. I will put a stop to this trend while protecting frontline staff, core services and key capital investments.”

This can be done. If anything, one could be even more ambitious with reducing staff costs.


No surprise – Dalziel running again

April 26th, 2016 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

The Press reports:

Christchurch Mayor Lianne Dalziel says she will “not walk away from the city”.

Dalziel confirmed on Monday afternoon that she would seek a second term as Christchurch’s mayor in October’s local body election.  

She had been overwhelmed by positive feedback from the public in recent weeks, which helped make her decision, she said.

“The challenge of bringing about the change that we have managed to achieve in the last two-and-a-half years hasn’t come without its cost, but I am prepared to continue to serve the city for another three years if that’s what the city chooses.”

This is no real surprise. Very few people stand for Mayor and only do one term.

What will be interesting is if there is any challenger. It is quite possible there won’t be.

NBR on small passenger review

April 26th, 2016 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

NBR reports:

As someone in the pro-Uber, pro-disruptive technology, I was hoping the government would side with Uber but I’m surprised at just how emphatically Mr Bridges has backed the newcomer.

Last night, the transport minister said he would take the “lightest touch” possible as the new rules were finalised.

“I’ve always thought that in politics you’re on the side of the angels if what you’re doing is good for consumers, and ultimately this will be,” he said.

“What I want to see is a regime that allows for new technological innovations but is safe. Some change is required but we’re open to where that goes.”

A very welcome focus on what is best for consumers, not what is best for industry.

More broadly, some fear quality will drop under his laissez-faire proposals. But at least Uber drivers have the incentive that they are constantly being rated by passengers. And, in contrast, we’ve all had rubbish taxi drivers at times who have poorly maintained cars and/or an inability to work a simple GPS. Often the difference is nothing, given the number of taxi drivers who do double duty, whipping off their magnetic taxi badging when they get an Uber hail.

The New Zealand government’s approach is a happy contrast to some countries, like France, which are trying to ban or crack down on Uber; or Australia, were insanely complicated and expensive arrangements are being established (in South Australia, the state government is paying 1137 taxi drivers $A30,000 each as compensation for a law making ride-sharing apps like Uber legal. The $34 million move is being funded by a $A1 tariff on taxi fares that will, of course, make Uber seem even more attractive. Western Australia is introducing annual fees for Uber drivers. New South Wales is introducing a stonking $A250 million taxi industry compensation package, with a $A1 a ride special tariff for five years).

So well done, Mr Bridges.

A very good outcome from Bridges and Foss.

A land tax on foreign based land owners?

April 26th, 2016 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

In a dramatic shift in position, John Key is threatening to apply a land tax to foreign-based house buyers if there is evidence they are pushing up New Zealand house prices – and it could apply to Kiwis abroad.

I think a land tax on all land owners is a good idea economically. However only if other taxes are reduced so that NZers are not taxed more overall.

The evidence on foreign buyers could be just two weeks away.

A land tax to dampen demand by foreign-based buyers would be a complete flip in the Government’s insistence that overseas speculation has not been a problem in the heated property market, and a switch from its focus on increasing supply.

The Prime Minister told the Herald any land tax could also apply to Kiwis abroad with property in New Zealand after an exemption period of perhaps three years away.

But such an exemption could potentially contravene New Zealand tax treaties with other countries.

If it did, the tax would apply at the same time to all foreign-based buyers who are tax residents elsewhere, including Kiwis abroad.

“Subject to our capacity to do so, New Zealanders living abroad would be exempt but you could do it for a period of three years at which point if they retained the property, they might have to start paying [the tax].”

Quite a novel approach – actually gather evidence to see how big a problem there is, and then decide based on the evidence.


Quote of the week

April 26th, 2016 at 9:00 am by TaxpayersUnion

“Socialism states that you owe me something simply because I exist. Capitalism, by contrast, results in a sort of reality-forced altruism: I may not want to help you, I may dislike you, but if I don’t give you a product or service you want, I will starve. Voluntary exchange is more moral than forced redistribution.”

– Ben Shapiro

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.

Bill strikes a nerve

April 24th, 2016 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Trans-Tasman reports:

Finance Minister Bill English touched a raw nerve when he spoke of a cohort of individuals who are “pretty damned hopeless.” He was pilloried by the Opposition, and other commentators were quick to condemn the Govt for its failure to lift these unemployed out of their hopelessness. It’s an issue which divides NZ. Evidence came in the flood of emails to English’s office supporting what he said, more in a day than he had received all year.

That’s a lot of e-mails.

Hide on Niue deal

April 24th, 2016 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Rodney Hide writes:

Labour Leader Andrew Little this week got the political blunderbuss out and blew off both feet and then his arms. He never grazed his target.

In my view, his was a disgraceful display of nastiness and political incompetence not expected of a rookie opposition MP and gobsmackingly awful for a would-be Prime Minister.

I refer, of course, to what Little would have you believe was Niue-gate.

It was a spectacular own goal.

The trustees of the resort are New Zealand High Commissioner to Niue Ross Ardern (Labour MP Jacinda Ardern’s father); MFat Deputy Secretary Jonathan Kings and former NZ High Commissioner to Niue (and Wellington Mayor and National MP) Mark Blumsky. The trustees appoint the board of directors of Matavai Niue Limited (MNL), responsible for the resort’s operation. They are Ian Fitzgerald (chair), Bill Wilkinson, Toke Talagi (Premier of Niue) and John Ingram.

That’s a distinguished list.

Yet according to Little all part of a deal that stinks to high heaven. I didn’t realise the Premier of Niue is one of those Little has effectively accused of corruption.

In 2013 Auckland firm Horwath HTL did an independent review for the board and, among other things, recommended the appointment of a hotel management company.

The following year, on behalf of the board, Horwath ran an Expressions of Interest and Request for Proposals process that culminated in the consideration of two proposals with the recommendation of Scenic Hotels. The board agreed.

The transaction was not just arm’s length, several oceans of separation lay between the political donation and the management contract. There is no evidence of impropriety. The process would appear a model of probity.

Meanwhile, Little has besmirched a successful and highly regarded business couple, a New Zealand business success story, senior government officials, his own MP’s dad, and the Premier of Niue.

National sails on untouched. Little is on camera weaving and dodging the obvious questions and backpedalling on his original concerns.

Politics can be nasty. It’s often incompetent. Somehow Little has managed to plumb new depths.

If Little or his staff had done their homework, he could have handled it very differently – still calling for the AG to investigate, but avoiding smearing those involved by declaring it stinks to high heaven.

MPs occupations

April 24th, 2016 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Blackland PR has looked at the backgrounds of our 121 MPs:

The study, by political researcher Geoffrey Miller and public relations expert Mark Blackham, researched and compared the career histories of all 121 Members of the current Parliament.

They found that business owners, agriculturalists and unionists have a falling share of voice in their traditional parties, and have been replaced by people with no specific career interests, or careers limited to government and politics.

Miller said 23% of National MPs had experience working in a business, and only 10% of Labour MPs had worked in a union.

“National is no longer dominated by business experience and Labour no longer by unions.

“In fact, the whole of Parliament is now dominated by generalists, people of no specific experience, and government specialists – people whose only experience is working for government or in politics.

This is not a good trend – the rise of the professional political class.


I’ve compiled this table from their data. The percentages add up to over 100% as some MPs have had multiple careers.

Little’s conspiracy gets even larger

April 23rd, 2016 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Tracy Watkins writes:

As for McCully’s handpicked appointees, these are the members of the Niue Tourism Property Trust whose members are indeed appointed by McCully on behalf of the Niue Government.

It has already been widely reported that they include the likes of the island’s High Commissioner and former police officer Ross Ardern. (Ardern also happens to be the father of Labour MP Jacinda Ardern so one would assume he’s not embedded with the National Party).

But this is where it gets complicated.

The Niue Tourism Property Trust appointed a board to oversee the running of the hotel and according to one of the four board members the agreement was negotiated and signed between Scenic Hotels and the board rather than the trust itself.

The tender process itself, meanwhile, was run by consultancy group Horwarth (which did the early feasibility studies for Auckland’s international conventional centre). So again, a step removed from the government appointees on Niue property trust.

Little is right when he says that it is his role as Opposition leader to ask questions when a big political donor is awarded Government contracts.

But suggesting it “stinks to high heaven” takes things to a different level.

Even if there hadn’t been a number of steps between the minister and the decision to award the contract, Little’s claim appears to rest on the assumption that everyone involved in the process – from senior diplomats, to government agencies and senior politicians – was either swayed by the donation, or leaned on by the minister.

In the absence of a whistle blower, or any documentation, leaked emails or other evidence so far to support that view, that’s a pretty serious accusation. Seemingly, it relies solely on the fact that Hagaman donated money to the National Party.

This is dangerous territory for Little and not because the Hagamans have threatened legal action.

With the involvement of Horwarth, Little’s allegations only stack up if the conspiracy involves McCully, the two Hagamans, the three trustees (including Ross Ardern), the four board members and the staff of Horwarth.

Little was right to ask the question but wrong to leap to judgement before the Auditor General decides even whether to take a look.

If Little had just asked for it to be reviewed, no problems. But he rushed to judgment and declared it stank to high heaven, and insulted the trustees by effectively referring to them as McCully’s handpicked mates when one of them is an MFAT Deputy Secretary and another the High Commissioner (and father of a Labour MP).

If every big donation is going to be decried as dodgy there seem to be only two alternatives – either barring donors from tendering for Government contracts, which is probably unworkable, or a fully state funded regime, which is where the first option ultimately leads anyway, given the inevitable drying up of campaign funds.

This is what Labour wants. They are broke so they want to force taxpayers to fund their party.

We should charge for water – but for everyone

April 23rd, 2016 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Prime Minister John Key has downplayed concerns over foreign companies bottling and exporting water for large profits, saying only “a very tiny amount” is being sent overseas.

Controversy has been sparked by the Ashburton District Council’s decision to sell a property, with rights to extract 40 billion litres of water over 30 years, to an overseas company.

Opposition parties and environmental groups have called on the Government to charge fees for large-scale water takes which are exported overseas.

Why would you charge only if it is being exported? You charge for all or none.

However, Key told reporters in Beijing that governments had operated under a “long-standing principle” that water did not belong to anybody, and could not be sold by the Crown.

“The point is that no-one owns water, and if we’re going to start charging for it, then arguably we’d have to be consistent and charge a lot of people.

Yep. And we should as the market would be better at allocating water than local government officials.

“That means Meridian, when it gets its water and puts it through its hydro schemes, they would need to pay for that water, and Meridian aren’t going to pay the bill, so you the consumer are.”

Key said the access permits were only temporary, while only 0.004 per cent of all water used in New Zealand was bottled and sent overseas.

It is a tiny amount, and as usual xenophobia is behind it. But again Meridian should pay for the water it uses.

A Penny Bright campaign we might all support

April 22nd, 2016 at 2:56 pm by David Farrar

NBR reports:

While Auckland mayoral candidate and ex-Xero NZ boss Victoria Crone appears to have backed off from a battle over billboards with Auckland Council, fellow candidate Penny Bright has decided to take up cudgels on her rival’s – and ratepayers’ – behalf. …

Although Ms Crone seems to have conceded defeat on the issue, however, perennial rates activist and mayoral Penny Bright has signalled her intent to battle the billboard bylaw, which she sees as a matter of freedom of expression.

“So here we have Auckland Transport not telling us where they’re putting our money but they do want to tell us where and when we can put our signs,” Ms Bright says.

“I’m actually prepared to fight it on the basis of the Local Government Act 2002 s.155 (3) – that Council bylaws cannot be inconsistent with the Bill of Rights Act 1990.

“If it had been previously ok for years for individuals to display election hoardings on their private property at any time they liked, what’s changed?

“Who died and made Auckland Transport ‘the boss’ regarding the lawful rights of citizens to freedom of expression?

I agree. The Council and AT can make signs for their own property but it is ridiculous that they ban people from putting up election signs on their own property or on commercial hire sites.

Collins vs Goff

April 22nd, 2016 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Police Minister Judith Collins and the police have spoken out against claims that community stations in Auckland and the rest of the country will close, saying that is incorrect.

 NZME had reported that sources within NZ Police had claimed there are plans for the 16 to at least temporarily shut their doors and that some may never re-open.

According to NZME, information provided by independent sources and also by Labour MP and Auckland Mayoral candidate Phil Goff claimed that “police may be under pressure to reduce their footprint and under pressure to close stations”.

Interesting that Goff has been using his parliamentary role to help his campaign by asking numerous parliamentary written questions on Auckland issues.

Collins quickly responded, saying that she was “really disappointed that Phil Goff is touting a false story to the media against New Zealand police”. …

Police  have denied the community station closure saying  that a new set of infrastructure design features are being introduced for safety measures at police front counters.

The new features are designed to deal with the most likely threats at publicly accessible police premises.

“Our review of existing infrastructure has highlighted a number of premises where more immediate practical steps are needed to increase security.  There are 105 stations we have identified in this category around New Zealand,” said Acting Assistant Commissioner District Operations, Bruce Bird.

“In some of these stations, one of the options may be to limit public access at times when constabulary staff are on the premises.

“This does not mean the stations will permanently close, but the public access at some stations may be, as an interim measure, restricted to those times when a constabulary/authorised officer is available to work at the front counter.”

So Goff is attacking the Police for making their staff safer and more secure from attack.

500 trillion litres!

April 22nd, 2016 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Nick Smith released:

The call from opposition parties for a moratorium or a new tax on consents for bottled water plants is typically uninformed and scientifically unsound in respect of dealing with the challenges New Zealand has in freshwater management, says Environment Minister Dr Nick Smith.

“New Zealand has five-hundred trillion litres of fresh water each year flowing through our lakes, rivers, and aquifers, and we extract only two percent of that for human purposes. Ten trillion litres are extracted, made up of six trillion for irrigation, two trillion for town water supplies, and two trillion for industries. The total water extracted for bottled water is only 0.004 per cent of the resource.

So that is 500,000,000,000,000 litres a year. That is 100 million litres per New Zealander. And the opposition parties are scaremongering over it.

The suggestion by the Greens of a moratorium on bottled drinking water takes is about as sensible as pretending you could solve Auckland’s traffic congestion by banning bikes. The New Zealand First proposal for a special tax would be like putting a charge on bikes but ignoring trucks, cars and buses and pretending that it would help traffic management,” Dr Smith says.

As I’ve said many times, I have no problem with a charge on water, but it should apply to all.

“There is also a contradiction by opposition parties calling for a more diverse range of export industries than dairying but then wanting to prohibit the export of bottled water. Each litre of milk takes about 400 litres of freshwater to produce and if the export market is prepared to pay a good price for bottled water, it may be a more efficient and productive use of the resource. It would also be difficult to justify a charge on bottled water but not on a bottled product made with minimal additives of juice concentrate or other similar bottled drinking products.

“There is no case for the bottled water industry to be treated any differently from the thousands of other water users.

A tax or ban on bottled water is simply kneejerk idiotic politics.

Government deregulates passenger services

April 22nd, 2016 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Some really good decisions from the Government on the passengers services. Simon Bridges and Craig Foss announced:

Currently there are separate categories and rules for taxis, private hire, shuttles, and rideshare operators. Under the changes, these services will be regulated under a single category of small passenger service, meaning one set of rules for all.

A good start – one simple set of rules.

“New technologies like smart phones and apps have changed the way the sector can operate. Modernising our rules will ensure they are flexible enough to accommodate new business models,” Mr Bridges says

“The Government has clearly stated our intention to encourage innovation and enable new kinds of services. Freeing up the regulatory environment will allow transport operators to compete on an even footing,” Mr Bridges says.

Some rules that impose costs on operators, but no longer provide any significant benefits, will be removed.

“Removing outdated rules will allow a broader range of transport services to develop throughout New Zealand, giving consumers more choice,” Mr Foss says.

People used to just pick whatever taxi was on a taxi stand. Now many people use apps to book a driver, and will swap firms based on quality.

The regulations being removed include:

  • Signage requirements (including information about fares, mandatory branding, information supplied in Braille)
  • An Area Knowledge Certificate
  • Passing a full licence test in the preceding five years
  • The need to belong to an approved taxi organisation
  • Provision of small passenger services on a 24/7 basis
  • Driver panic alarms, monitored 24/7 from a fixed location

These have all imposed a considerable cost and now little benefit. The q+a explains:

The Ministry’s review found that these requirements no longer add value. For example, GPS and mapping technology means that area knowledge is not as important as it was in the past. Removing these requirements means that the proposed regime will be more flexible, and reduces compliance costs. It encourages businesses to make their own decisions about what their services should include, depending on their customers’ needs.

They have also given an exemption from the silly rule about needing a video camera in the vehicle if:

  1. Providing services to registered passengers only
  2. Collection of driver and passenger information
  3. Availability of driver and passenger information
  4. Retaining a record of each trip.

Drivers still need a P licence and a full Police check. However the time taken to do this has dropped from 55 days to 20 days, and reduce further yet.  And the cost is likely to drop from $700 to under $200 which will make it easier for mreo people to become part-time drivers – say students between lectures or retired persons for a few hours a day.

Really good to see the Government not trying to protect incumbent industries with regulatory overkill, but instead responding to a new business dynamic by reducing regulatory obligations on all participants. The end result is better choices and prices for consumers.

On that note Uber has just announced their prices in Auckland and Wellington are dropping 20%. They are already a third cheaper than most taxis, so this will probably mean around half the price in future – great.

Are these chemtrail things “real or not”?

April 22nd, 2016 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Geraldine and Peel Forest are a relative stronghold in South Canterbury for the Green Party, which received 12.5 per cent of the party vote at booths in the area at the 2014 General Election.

Frustration with the party’s inability to prevent partial state asset sales at a referendum in 2013 was evident in one member’s voice. She exclaimed she had spent “all my spare time” gathering signatures for a petition to force a referendum, which failed to change Government plans.

“Why are people so stupid?” one party member asked, prompting others to blame greed and New Zealand’s “really appalling media”.

Not everyone agrees with my views so they’re stupid.  Charming.

An audience member, who said he had been “looking up quite a bit on my wife’s iPad” asked if “these chemtrail things” were “real or not”.

Talking of stupid! …

No tag for this post.

Will Labour oppose the China FTA upgrade?

April 22nd, 2016 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

China will allow dairy to remain on the table as it progresses talks with New Zealand over an upgrade to an existing free-trade agreement.

But it’s not yet promising that formal re-negotiations will begin over an eight-year-old pact that the government would argue has fallen victim to its own success. 

Prime Minister John Key met with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing overnight (NZ time), and said he left the meeting more optimistic than when he went into it, about China’s willingness to progress free-trade talks. 

If an upgrade to the China FTA is negotiated, will Labour oppose it?

Once upon a time this would have been a ridiculous question to ask, especially as they negotiated the China FTA.

But consider these two points:

  1. Labour now regularly rails against the Chinese – everything from investing in a farm to buying a house to being an Chinese chef
  2. The initiated the TPP agreement in Government yet denounced it in opposition

Greens and NZ First both opposed the FTA with China. Labour’s policy has been getting closer and closer to the Greens, so it is not impossible they’ll oppose any upgrade to the China FTA purely because it may happen under National.

The Solution for Bill and open data

April 21st, 2016 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Politik reports:

Non-Government organisations joined public servants in a packed all day “hui” intended by Finance Minister Bill English to convince the Government agencies to start sharing the huge volumes of data they hold on New Zealanders.

Mr English wants the data shared so that social services can be directed more specifically towards at risk individuals and groups.

But public servants have been reluctant to share information – perhaps worried that the more they empower the non-Governmental groups, the more they are likely to take over social serviced delivery traditionally undertaken by state agencies.

Not just delivery, but analysis. Open up access to the crime and offending data, and you could well have some dedicated NGOs and charities discover patterns and links which will help with policies to lower reoffending.

But it was clear from a keynote speech from Finance Minister, Bill English, that he is finding pushback from the bureaucracy in supplying the data to the NGO’s.

“Access to data shouldn’t be the exclusive reserve of government – but that’s what it largely is because in many cases access is being decided ad hoc,” he said.

“Iwi, NGOs, and Pasifika – many of you here today – have told us getting information out of departments is not easy.

“It’s a negotiation. Agency by agency. Official by official.

“You’ve told us contracts are entered in to as if each negotiation was the first, with the each negotiation’s success dependent on who you are talking to.”

Mr English said that just saying “no” as an approach to data security had meant we have made only limited use of all the data the Government had gone to the trouble of collecting.

“Data has no value if it is not used,” he said.

“So let’s fix the system.

“Let’s reverse the presumption and make data sharing the norm rather than the exception by clarifying the rules.

“Because, actually, it’s your data.

“Specifically, the data we hold belongs to the people, and the whanau that you are working for and with.

“Some of you here today have spoken of data sovereignty.

“You, as citizens, and collectively as Iwi, Pasifika and NGOs acting on behalf of citizens, own the data held by public agencies.

“We agree with you.”

Great to hear Bill English say this and he has been the champion of open data. But as he notes there is bureaucratic resistance.

The key is indeed reversing the presumption, and here’s how it can be done.

Pass a law (statute or regulation) that says all datasets managed by crown entities and agencies must be made publicly available within five years, with two exceptions:

  • Any details that could identify individuals should be with-held
  • Agencies can apply to Cabinet for exemptions for specific datasets, to opt them out

The idea is to change open data from opt in for agencies to opt out.

Little in big trouble

April 21st, 2016 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Scenic Hotel Group founders Earl and Lani Hagaman are considering legal action over Labour leader Andrew Little’s claims about the timing of a donation from Mr Hagaman to the National Party a month before the hotel group was awarded a contract in Niue.

The $101,000 donation was made on 18 September, the last week of the election campaign in 2014. A month later Scenic Hotels won a contract to manage the Matavai Hotel on Niue, which is owned by a trust appointed by Foreign Minister Murray McCully on behalf of the Niue Government.

Mr Little said the timing “stinks to high heaven” and wrote to the Auditor General last week asking for an investigation into the donation and the handling of the contract, which was signed between Scenic Hotel Group and the hotel board in October 2014.

They should. Little has all bit accused them of bribing the NZ Government in order to win the contract.

The Auditor General is yet to decide whether to investigate but in a statement, the Hagamans said they would welcome an investigation from the Auditor General and would cooperate fully.

“In fact we request that an investigation occurs urgently in order to remove any doubt about the integrity and honesty of our name,” said Mrs Hagaman.

I really really hope the Auditor-General does investigate because it will end badly for Andrew Little. The highlight will be the testimony from the father of Jacinda Ardern as to what he thinks of being accused of being part of a corrupt bribe deal.

Lani Hagaman said the management contract for Matavai Resort Niue was gained by Scenic Hotel Group in an open and contestable process against other hotel groups.

The couple were also considering other legal options to address Mr Little’s attack.

“I can assure the public that for us the only thing that will ‘stink to the high heavens’ will be smell of roses which blossom from the fertiliser Andrew Little likes to spread around to gain his own notoriety.”

The politics of smear.

Ian Fitzgerald, the chairman of the Matavai Niue Limited which runs the Matavai has also now spoken, saying he would have “absolutely no concerns” if the Auditor-General looked into the process.

Mr Fitzgerald is one of four board members appointed by the Niue Tourism Property Trust to oversee the running of the hotel, which $18 million of New Zealand aid money has been invested in. The agreement was negotiated and signed between Scenic Hotels and the board rather than the Trust itself. Mr Fitzgerald said he was unaware Mr Hagaman had donated to the National Party and the board had only dealt with Scenic Hotels Group’s managing director, Brendan Taylor. It was in contract negotiations with Scenic Group for six months before the contract was awarded – well before the donation was made.

Have a think about how many people must have been in the corrupt bribe conspiracy for it to have worked.

First of all you’d have McCully, and the two Hagamans.

Then all three members of the Niue Tourism Property Trust which includes Ross Ardern, an MFAT Deputy Secretary and former High Commissioner Mark Blumsky.

But they didn’t decide the contract – the board they appointed did. So all four members of the board would need to be in on the conspiracy also.

So that’s a minimum of 10 people all in on the conspiracy.

Mrs Hagaman said in the past the couple had voted for Labour.

“One of the privileges of being a New Zealander is the ability to have freedom of choice and vote or donate to any political party one chooses. In the past both Earl and I have voted Labour but that was when the party had strong morals and direction and did not practice bully tactics on innocent people.”

If I was Angry Andy I’d consider apologising to the Hagamans and Mr Ardern and others.

Goff wants more powers for Auckland CCOs

April 21st, 2016 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Politik reports:

Goff also signalled an ambition for some central Government authority to be devolved to elements of the Super City. “Seventy percent of the growth in the country’s population and 95 percent of the growth in the working age population will be in Auckland.

“In terms of an organisation like ATEED (Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development)  – they will know more about promoting the city than NZTE (New Zealand Trade and Enterprise).  Transport Auckland will know more about Auckland’s needs than the Transport Agency.”

“Not immediately, but I think a case could arise for more authority and funding to be devolved from central to local government.”

Most people think the CCOs need to be reined in with their runway spending, but Goff thinks they need more powers and more money.


The Health of the State

April 20th, 2016 at 8:00 pm by David Farrar

The NZ Initiative has released a report called “The Health of the State”. Main points are:

  • Lifestyle regulations assume people do not always act in their best interests and must be protected from themselves.
  • Some public health policies (current and potential) lack strong evidence.
  • The report provides an economic toolkit to test the reliability of these studies.
  • The report uses three policy case studies: food taxes; e-cigarettes; and alcohol marketing.
  • The report concludes that some regulations are not based on sound evidence, and may not even improve health outcomes.
  • In these cases, encroachments on freedom are even more unjustified.  

Some extracts from their case studies:

Food Taxes – The report finds that studies fail to prove that taxes will achieve their stated policy intention: reducing obesity. Many studies focus on proxies, like whether a tax will reduce consumption or expenditure of that good. But they do not consider whether people substitute to cheaper products or other unhealthy food.   

This is a key point I have often made. Food is very different to tobacco. Almost every substitute to tobacco is far far healthier for you. This is not the case for food and drink.

Despite aggressive policies by government to get New Zealand ‘smokefree by 2025’, the smoking rate is now only decreasing marginally. This suggests that those who continue to smoke either do not want to quit, or lack access to effective cessation tools. Meanwhile, e-cigarettes are a much safer alternative to conventional cigarettes, with the potential to reduce the overall harm of smoking. Yet these products currently face greater regulatory burdens than cigarettes and tobacco products that have proven risk.  

It’s bizarre that it is legal to buy and sell tobacco in New Zealand, but illegal to sell e-cigarettes!


Anti-Semites out in force

April 20th, 2016 at 4:06 pm by David Farrar


Andrew Little posted on Facebook about his visit to the Auckland Jewish Community Centre.  A very nice post from him about the Jewish community.

Sadly the comments on the post (and no I don’t blame him for them) show how antisemitism is alive and well in NZ.

Jason Bryant doesn’t seem to understand (or care) about the difference between the state of Israel and Jews living in New Zealand. This is as bigoted as blaming the actions of Saudi Arabia on a New Zealand Muslim.

But it gets worse.


Sean Parkinson actually calls for death to all Jews. What a lovely chap. Would have been right at home in Nazi Germany.


And then we also have Michael Peacock with the conspiracy theories that Jews were behind 9/11 and running the world banking system,

They so hate Jews they can’t even see the point being made by Fraser Newman that blaming the actions of one country on all jews is like blaming the Kashmir violence on all Indians.

Quite sickening that such a positive post by Andrew Little gets such vile comments.

2016 Press Freedom Debate

April 20th, 2016 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

The annual press freedom debate is coming up, which is always a fun night which also raises money for the Media Safety and Solidarity Fund, a joint fund with the Media Alliance in Australia which help journalists and their families around the Asia-Pacific region.

Details are:

  • Date: Thursday May the 5th
  • Venue: The Backbencher.
  • Moot: ‘That local body elections are a waste of time’
  • Affirmative: David Seymour, Andrew Little, David Townsend.
  • Negative: Judith Collins, Metiria Turei, Pinky Agnew.
  • Chair: Jane Patterson.
  • Tickets: $25 from Brent or Jane

Will be fascinating to see David Seymour and Andrew Little on the same time, and same for Judith Collins and Metiria Turei.

Little dodges Ardern questions

April 20th, 2016 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

One News reports:

Answer the question Mr Little: Labour leader gets repetitive, won’t answer straight on Ardern link

It seems Labour leader Andrew Little isn’t keen to answer questions about the father of one of his MPs that is linked to a hotel deal in Niue that he has criticised.

I bet he won’t.

Either Little was unaware that Ardern’s father was one of the trustees, or he didn’t care. That means either incompetence or malice.

Mr Little yesterday came out swinging about the fact that the Scenic Hotel Group was given the contract to run the Matavai Resort on the tiny Pacific island, weeks after the chain’s founder gave a donation to the National Party.

Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully and Scenic have denied there is anything amiss, but that hasn’t stopped Mr Little speaking out about the deal, saying it stinks.

It emerged today that the father of Jacinda Ardern, Ross Ardern, is a trustee owner of the resort, and would have helped appoint the hotel’s board of directors, who organised the contract tender.

Mr Little was asked repeatedly by ONE News if his accusations reflected badly on Mr Ardern, but he wasn’t biting, giving the same stock answer every time.

Little went on about how the trustees were personally appointed by McCully and the decision stunk to high heaven. How can that not be seen as a slight on Mr Ardern (who is a very respected public servant)?

Cities that grow out are affordable cities

April 20th, 2016 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar


This graph from the Wall Street Journal is very powerful. It is backed up by almost every expert analysis of the situation in New Zealand – land availability is the biggest factor in house prices.

If you want cheaper house prices in Auckland, vote for a Council that will make more land available.