Archive for the ‘NZ Politics’ Category

Winston tried to bring back sedition laws

December 10th, 2014 at 7:20 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

NZ First decided not to give their support at the last moment, with leader Winston Peters proposing an amendment that would re-enact sedition laws repealed seven years ago. It was defeated.

Good God. The sedition laws were repealed unanimously by Parliament after a report from the Law Commission showing their long history of abuse, where people were jailed for what they said, not what they did. Much of the work the Law Commission did, came from a series of posts by No Right Turn on the issue.

It’s bad enough that Winston tried to reintroduce discredited sedition laws, but even worse he tried to do it at the committee of the house stage, which would have been incredibly undemocratic to have such a significant law change occur with basically no public notification and consultation.

Once again I am so pleased the Government is not reliant on him.

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2014 Kiwblog Awards Nominations

December 9th, 2014 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Voting is now open in the 2014 Kiwiblog Awards. The nominees (selected by readers, not me) who made the ballot are:

2014 National MP of the Year

  • Amy Adams – new front bencher on the rise
  • Bill English – the all important finance minister
  • Steven Joyce – National’s campaign chair and fixit minister

2014 Labour MP of the Year

  • Kelvin Davis – he won Te Tai Tokerau
  • Stuart Nash – only MP to win a seat off National
  • Damien O’Connor – kept their sole rural seat

2014 Minor Party Politician of the Year

  • Sue Bradford – walked with her principles and was vindicated
  • David Seymour – kept ACT alive, after many declared it dead
  • Tariana Turia – retired with dignity, and her party has survived

2014 MP of the Year

  • Hone Harawira – for delivering a third term for National
  • John Key – for delivering a third term for National

2014 Press Gallery Journalist of the Year

  • Katie Bradford
  • Fran O’Sullivan
  • Andrea Vance

Voting will close on Friday.

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Fonterra slammed

December 9th, 2014 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Fonterra focused on profits at the expense of a food-safety culture, the damning final report into a botulism scare that damaged New Zealand’s international reputation has found.

Earlier this year, Fonterra was fined $300,000 for the incident, which saw milk-products pulled off shelves when it emerged they were potentially contaminated with Botulism. 

Fonterra was late in notifying the correct authorities and it caused an international scare, particularly in China, with Fonterra unable to confirm for several days where the products, which had been produced more than a year earlier, were around the world.

Further testing showed that the risk of botulism never existed, although the false alarm prompted a review of New Zealand’s food-safety system.

The last of a series of independent reports was released today, and the inquiry, led by Queen’s Council Miriam Dean, found a number of errors were made. 

While food-safety protocols were in place, the culture of care around food safety had not been fostered.

Problems dated back to May 2012, when Fonterra reworked some of its concentrated whey using temporary pipes and hoses at the Hautapu plant in Waikato in a way not approved by regulators, which increased the risk of bacteria.

Hoses were cleaned using a caustic (rather than acid) solution, which failed to eliminate all contamination.

The report also found that having notified the ministry, days late in August 2013, Fonterra had no well-prepared group crisis plan to implement, including crisis communications (particularly in social media).

“Fonterra took until 18 August to trace all the affected products, a seriously deficient effort.

A pretty damning report. We were very lucky that it turned out to be a false alarm.

The full report is here.

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Ambrose sues Key

December 9th, 2014 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

NBR reports:

Freelance cameraman Bradley Ambrose is seeking $1.25 million in damages from John Key, claiming the Prime Minister defamed him.

The action has been taken at the High Court in Auckland, according to an RNZ report.

Mr Ambrose made news in the lead up to the 2011 election when he left a switched-on recording device on a cafe table after reporters withdrew and Mr Key began a private conversation with then ACT leader John Banks. 

The freelancer has always denied he purposefully recorded the conversation.

As this is the subject of defamation, I’d advise commenters to be mindful in their comments.

Mr Ambrose is asking for:

  • $500,000 dollars in aggravated damages relating to comments made by the Prime Minister at a media conference three days after the cup of tea meeting

  • $500,000 for an interview Mr Key have to TV3’s Firstline the following day

  • $250,000 for comments the PM made to journalists at a stand-up press conference in Upper Hutt two days after the incident

I thought when you sued for defamation you couldn’t seek specific damages? Am I wrong, or has the law changed?

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Herald on Educational Success initiative

December 9th, 2014 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald editorial:

It lies in a sharp drop in this country’s 15-year-old pupils’ position in mathematics, reading and science in the 2013 Programme for International Student Assessment (Pisa) rankings. This led the Government to seek the insights of the highly influential OECD survey’s designer, Andreas Schleicher.

His key finding is that top-performing countries ensure their most talented school leaders and staff are in the most needy schools. The Government’s means of achieving this involves spending $359 million over four years, some of which will pay the best principals and teachers more to spend time in other schools, and some of which will be used by struggling schools to attract these mentors.

The use of Dr Schleicher’s ideas presented a difficulty for the teacher unions. How could they oppose the prescription of such an acknowledged educational expert? Sensibly, the secondary teachers’ union, the Post Primary Teachers Association, decided to support the programme. So, too, did the Secondary Principals Association. While some PPTA members may have had qualms about this being performance pay in another guise, most clearly saw that it offered a strong incentive for good candidates to enter the teaching profession and remain there.

Regrettably, however, the primary teachers’ union, the NZEI, has remained opposed to the programme. Unconvincingly, it maintains the Government’s money would be better spent helping struggling schools cope with children impaired by poverty and neglect. That overlooks the increasing awareness of the importance of excellent teaching and school leadership.

The NZEI are passionately fighting against their own members being able to earn more money.

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90 schools signed up so far

December 9th, 2014 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Education Minister Hekia Parata confirmed yesterday that 11 “communities” made up of 90 schools would kick off the $359 million programme, which paid the best teachers and principals more to lift achievement across groups of schools.

Further details would be revealed later this week but the groups of schools included the full range of deciles, primary, intermediate and secondary schools and were all over the country, including Auckland.

Each of the communities would choose one problem to focus on and a principal and several teachers from within the group would be paid more to lead this work.

Good to see 90 schools already getting involved, especially as the final details were only ratified a few weeks ago.

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Labour will be consulted on intelligence agencies review

December 9th, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

SIS Minister Chris Finlayson says he wants to maintain the same bipartisan approach to the comprehensive review of intelligence agencies next year as he has with Labour over law targeting terrorist foreign fighters, which is expected to pass in Parliament tonight.

“I think there is nothing more important than a bipartisan approach between the National Party and the Labour Party to these issues,” he told the Herald last night.

“So they will be consulted on the reviewers and the terms of references.”

It would not be an officials’ review, he said. It would be “more arms-length than that”.

It is good the planned review is planned to be more than an officials’ review, and the desire to consult over the reviewers and their terms of reference.

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Labour’s post mortem

December 9th, 2014 at 6:54 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Labour’s review panel has reported its findings back about the party’s election campaign and the reasons for the low 25 per cent result, identifying problems ranging from a failure to unite behind former leader David Cunliffe to resourcing and confusion over its “Vote Positive” slogan.

The panel of four reported back to Labour’s Council at the weekend on the first part of its three-part review – a look into the election campaign.

The party will not release review findings until all three parts are completed, expected in February.

One of the review team, Bryan Gould, said the panel’s terms of reference had included the leadership of Mr Cunliffe and while there were mixed views on some issues, the main problem was a failure to unite behind the leader.

 

Was that a cause or a symptom?

Party leader Andrew Little said none of the findings was surprising and most issues had been voiced by himself and other leadership contenders during Labour’s recent leadership runoff.

“Things like the messaging, the ‘Vote Positive’ [slogan], issues about the resourcing of the campaign.” He said the Vote Positive slogan “didn’t mean anything to anyone”.

Vote Positive was in stark contrast to their messaging of the last three years. The only logical explanation for their slogan was they knew about Nicky Hager’s book in advance, and were hoping to capitalise on it.

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Greens can’t even organise a protest of two people properly!

December 8th, 2014 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

The only two Timaru protesters to stick their heads in the sand against perceived climate change inaction missed each other and ended up protesting at different times and ends of Caroline Bay yesterday.

Green Party Aoraki branch convener Gerrie Ligtenberg and party member Kate Elsen got their wires crossed and protested alone.

Ligtenberg dug her protest hole at the skatepark end of the beach at noon, whereas Elsen had turned up earlier at the Marine Parade end.

“It was all a bit last minute,” Ligtenberg said.

Although a few beach visitors gave her some odd looks, she was not as silly as she looked, she said.

“I put a plastic bag in the hole so I didn’t get sand in my ears.”

I think the Greens should use this photo in their next campaign:

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It seems to sum up the Greens’ stance on genetic engineering very nicely.

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Dom Post calls for 90% of rental houses to be banned

December 8th, 2014 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

The Dom Post editorial:

Housing in New Zealand is not only scarce and expensive; for too many people, it is also downright unhealthy.

Our national housing stock is of poorer quality than most OECD countries. In particular, too many houses are damp and cold – which means they contribute to our grim rates of infectious and respiratory diseases. …

They have also long pushed for a “warrant of fitness” regime for rental properties, an idea that is now receiving new attention. That’s deserved – a version of it should be taken up by the Government with haste.

Extensive work has already been done, so there is no excuse for delay. Most recently, results from a pilot study on 144 rental homes showed 90 per cent failing the warrant.

90% of rental houses failed the warrant, yet the Dom Post wants it made compulsory. That’s a great way to make rental housing far more scarce and expensive.

A housing WOF as a voluntary initiative where landlords who want properties accredited can do so, is a good idea. But making it compulsory will reduce the housing supply, and push prices up. Remember the law of unintended consequences.

That number needs some qualification – some houses failed for such easily remedied reasons as flat batteries in smoke alarms. But other results were more deeply concerning – like the third of rental properties that lacked any form of fixed heating.

My apartment has no fixed heating. So it would be illegal to rent it out if I wanted to? What next, illegal to have a flatmate without a warrant?

If introduced, the scheme should be pared down a little. It’s not obvious, for instance, that an inspector needs to check people’s window latches, as happened in the pilot. The WoF should focus on the essentials – keeping all renters warm and dry. Landlords too often neglect this basic task, especially for low-income tenants.

The scheme, if made compulsory, will only grow year after year. Lobby groups will demand more and more things be added to it. Far better to have it as a voluntary accreditation, where if it is made too demanding, then landlords will not sign up for it.

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Garner on Wellington

December 8th, 2014 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Duncan Garner writes:

Surely this is the most ridiculous and offensive statistic this week: The Wellington region currently has 95 councillors.

It’s simply indefensible having so many on the payroll. The wider Wellington region is over-governed and it’s getting nobody anywhere fast – there are nine mayors for just 490,000 people.

Wellington doesn’t need nine mayors, it just needs one good one with a genuine mandate to get things moving. The fragmentation also means duplication, nine CEOs – nine of everything basically.

Porirua Mayor Nick Leggett said it best this week when he stated: “This is serious. We need to pool our resources and get it together.”

The super-city plan is simple. One mayor, 21 councillors and a bunch of local boards representing each ward from Miramar to Masterton.

Everyone will get a voice.

When you hear voices on this issue, ask yourself a question – are they one of those who might lose their ratepayer funded job, if amalgamation occurs?

So, the model proposed for Wellington is essentially a tweaked version of what’s happened in Auckland. How’s it going in the City of Sails? It’s certainly had some teething problems. But Wellington can learn by going second.

It hasn’t been helped by Auckland Mayor Len Brown not being able to keep it in his pants. He’s largely lost his popularity, and with it his mandate. But his political impotence is all his fault, not the super-city model’s.

Regardless, Auckland now has an executive council which is a one-stop shop for decision-making. Government ministers know who they have to deal with when they turn up in town. Everything’s been streamlined.

On big infrastructure, consenting and building issues there is simply one point of contact.

This means the best decisions can be made without too many compromises. Yes rates are increasing more than Brown promised – but in Wellington city it’s the same, a 4.5 per cent hike when inflation sits at just 1 per cent.

4.5% is way too high a rates increase.

So super-city opponents, don’t fear change. Consider it an opportunity.

A Wellington super-city needs a super person to lead it – someone who understands business and both central and local government.

It’s not a role for Celia Wade-Brown. It’s a job for Fran Wilde.

Fran would be a very good regional leader – in fact she already is. Nick Leggett would be also.

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Labour breaking their word on asset sales

December 8th, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Asset sales are a controversial and often emotional issue. That is why National has been very careful to lay out its policy in advance, and keep to it.

In 2008 National said no SOEs would be sold in the first term, and none were.

In 2011 National said up to 49% of four power SOEs and Air NZ would be sold, and they were (except Solid Energy that collapsed).

In 2014 National said no further sales of SOEs and there are none planned.

Now contrast this to Labour in Christchurch. The Press reports:

It took months of briefings, quiet lobbying, and frank meetings to bring the Left-leaning People’s Choice councillors around to the inescapable truth that some asset sales would be needed to solve the city’s financial woes.

Those meetings happened  right up until late Thursday afternoon, which suggests some councillors were still wavering.

The reason the People’s Choice councillors – Andrew Turner, Jimmy Chen, Pauline Cotter, Yani Johanson, Phil Clearwater, and Glenn Livingstone– were  reluctant to go down the path of asset sales was because they had signed a pledge before last October’s elections to support keeping all significant public assets in public ownership and control.

They didn’t want to be seen to be going back on their word.

They were confident that if they pored over the council’s budgets, cutting expenditure and deferring capital projects, they could achieve the necessary savings without asset sales. 

Alas, it was not to be and on Thursday the People’s Choice councillors reluctantly threw in the towel and acknowledged the funding gap, which has jumped from $900 million to $1.2 billion, was too large to close through savings.

“Our preferred option is not to sell assets, however, the financial position in which the council has been placed requires us to sell assets as one of the number of things we need to do to fill the funding gap,” they conceded in a statement issued through Turner, their spokesman.

This is not true. There is a choice. They have chosen to break their word. I think their policy was stupid and wrong, but they made it.

The People’s Choice is the Labour Party in Christchurch local government politics. In fact most of the PC Councillors had their affiliation on their ballot as (The People’s Choice – Labour).

So the moral of the story is that National has kept its word on asset sales, and Labour once again has not.

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Dr Coleman

December 7th, 2014 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

The Dom Post profiles Jonathan Coleman:

The new Health Minister may be confessing to a few “puffs” of cannabis in his youth, but don’t expect him to go soft on drugs.

Jonathan Coleman has moved quickly to make changes since becoming the first trained doctor in the role in more than 70 years.

He has dumped the controversial cost-cutting agency Health Benefits Ltd (HBL), which his predecessor Tony Ryall vigorously defended in the face of revolt among district health boards.

And he is also pushing a more aggressive shift of health services, and potentially funding, from hospitals and into medical centres.

But in other ways, Coleman will be toeing the political line. Anyone hoping that the former GP might take a more health-focused approach to drug use will be disappointed.

Coleman said he had smoked cannabis (although never “a whole spliff”) once or twice in his 20s.

As a GP, he had regularly treated drug addicts, including prescribing methadone, particularly while working in London.

“[But] my clinical experience has led me to the view that decriminalisation isn’t going to work and the policy settings at the moment are the right ones . . . We need less marijuana in society, not more,” he said.

It will be interesting to see what happens in the US states that have legalised. Will legalisation lead to greater use, the same, or less?

Drugs aside, Coleman so far appears to have been given a cautious thumbs-up by the medical fraternity in his first months in the job.

He has spent much of his time in a hectic nationwide tour of all 20 district health boards, speaking to doctors, nurses, patients and administrators.

It was these talks that led him to dump HBL last month and shift responsibility for finding roughly $620 million in savings in the next four years to DHBs.

Association of Salaried Medical Specialists executive director Ian Powell said HBL was unpopular with doctors, who had welcomed its demise.

“So far the signs are positive. He did surprise us in a pleasing way with the decision on HBL.”

In a speech at the association’s conference last week, Coleman said DHBs should be running ideas past their senior doctors, a comment that went down well with the crowd of specialists.

But one of Coleman’s biggest aims is moving patients out of hospitals, where they are being treated by medical specialists, and into the care of GPs and nurses in the medical centres, most of which are privately owned.

He said that rising rates of chronic disease such as diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, and obesity meant it was more effective, and cheaper, to act earlier, in the community.

This would require a big shift in everything from monitoring diabetes to moving minor surgery from hospital to GPs and primary care nurses.

This is already happening in some DHBs.

“It’s not a matter of cutting stuff in the hospital, it’s a matter of moving things into the community and keeping people out of the hospital.”

A major aspect of this policy is obesity, where Coleman plans to use his other ministerial hat, sport and recreation, to encourage more people – particularly children – into physical activity.

However, he has ruled out more restrictive policies, such as the sugar tax being pushed by some public health experts as the most effective solution.

“We don’t think taxes are an answer to this. We don’t see any evidence that that works internationally.”

 

Good.

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He’s at it again

December 7th, 2014 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The HoS reports:

The singer behind the controversial Kill the PM song swore and joked about raping John Key’s son before walking out of a live radio interview.

Former Home Brew singer Tom Scott was yesterday on Kim Hill’s Playing Favourites segment of her Radio NZ show, where guests choose some of their favourite songs.

But things soured when Hill asked about the song Scott released with his band @peace during the election campaign, in which he sang about killing PM Key and having sex with his daughter, Stephanie.

Asked about the the lyrics, Scott said: “I mean obviously I regret what I said. I probably should have said I was going to rape his son.”

When asked if he had any regrets, he said: “I don’t regret what I said actually. Screw that.”

I’d really like it if as a taxpayer I no longer have to fund this guy – for any of his songs.

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Len’s secret rooms

December 7th, 2014 at 7:48 am by David Farrar

The HoS reports:

Thousands of dollars have been spent building a private bathroom and dressing room hidden behind a bookcase in under-fire Auckland Mayor Len Brown’s new office. …

The bathroom cost $10,000 and the large dressing room, which includes an $800 wardrobe, an ironing board and – according to plans – a two-seater couch, is accessible by a hinged section of bookcase that swings open like a door.

I guess that is one way not to have security guards walk in on you!

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2014 Kiwiblog Awards

December 5th, 2014 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

The year is almost over, so it is time for nominations for the annual Kiwiblog Awards. The nomination categories are:

  • 2014 Press Gallery Journalist of the Year
  • 2014 Minor Party MP of the Year
  • 2014 National MP of the Year
  • 2014 Labour MP of the Year
  • 2014 MP of the Year

Make your nominations in the comments (free free to say why) and next week I’ll start a vote based on the most popular nominations.

The winners in 2013 were Andrea Vance, Clint (Hey Clint), Shane Jones, and Bill English twice.

 

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One Council proposed for Wellington Region

December 5th, 2014 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

The Local Government Commission announced:

The most significant reforms of a generation are proposed for councils in the Wellington region, under a draft proposal released by the Local Government Commission. Public submissions are now being sought, with a deadline of 2 March 2015.

A new unitary authority, the Greater Wellington Council, is proposed. It would take over the functions of the existing nine councils: Masterton District Council; Carterton District Council; South Wairarapa District Council; Upper Hutt City Council; Hutt City Council; Wellington City Council; Porirua City Council; Kapiti Coast District Council, and the Greater Wellington Regional Council.

The new council would have a shared decision-making structure. Power would be shared between the governing body (a mayor and 21 councillors) and 60 members of local boards. The mayor would be elected by voters of greater Wellington. Councillors and local board members would be elected from eight defined geographic areas.

The current nine Councils have nine mayors (incl WRC), 95 Councillors and 57 community board members.

The proposed structure would see eight local boards:

  • Wairarapa (10 members)
  • Upper Hutt (6)
  • Lower Hutt (10)
  • Kapiti Coast (9)
  • Porirua-Tawa (7)
  • Ohariu (6)
  • Lampton (6)
  • Rongotai (6)

The local boards would be more powerful than the ones in Auckland:

The Commission expects Wellington local boards to have greater power than Auckland local boards. This includes approving management plans for most local recreation, cultural, and sporting facilities,and a significant role in community development and promotion. For example, it includes local parks and reserves, recreational and community facilities, arts and cultural facilities and libraries. It also includes local community and cultural events, decisions about public spaces such as town centres and main streets, and grants to local groups. The Commission also expects local boards to have responsibility for local transport infrastructure, waste and recycling facilities, and local economic development initiatives

I think the proposed structure is a significant improvement over the status quo. However it will be bitterly opposed by some incumbent politicians and Mayors as they of course would lose their positions. If the proposal goes forward, it is likely there will be a referendum, and I don’t think there is a great desire for change – so it could well be lost. That is a pity though.

The Local Government Commission have no vested interest except what they think will best serve the residents of the region. They’ve look at all the pros and cons, and have recommended this model. My hope is the debate will be on those pros and cons.

Wellington does suffer from a lack of leadership. You have to get agreement from all nine Councils for things to happen.

The Dom Post editorial is in favour:

On balance, it’s a good call for Wellington to get the super-city treatment, as proposed by the Local Government Commission.

The inclusion of Wairarapa’s three councils, however, remains unconvincing, and should be reversed. …

But no-one should pretend that the boards will be some kind of boon for grass-roots democracy.

On the contrary, this is a move to concentrate decision-making powers for the region. The crucial funding and regulatory decisions will happen centrally. That’s the point of the exercise, and it’s why it is worthwhile.

The best reason for a merger is that it will give the city a louder, more consistent national voice. Wellington is treading water while Christchurch and Auckland, for different reasons, dominate central government attention.

The region needs leadership that can lobby powerfully for it. It also needs a coherent vision for how it will remain energetic and attractive in the coming decades. That is a task better suited to one mayor and 21 councillors instead of the current tangle of local, often headbutting chiefs.

I’m quite relaxed on whether or not the Wairarapa councils are included. Many of the home owners there work or live in Wellington so there are strong connections, but if they want their own Council, I’m fine with the Wellingtion Region just including Wellington, Hutt, Porirua and Kapiti.

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Quotes of the Year

December 5th, 2014 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

You can vote at Massey University for your favourite quote of 2014. The finalists are:

  • “I’m sorry for being a man.” - David Cunliffe’s unusual apology at Labour’s domestic violence policy launch at a Women’s Refuge forum.
  • “We think it’s, um, pretty legal.” - Steven Joyce asked by reporters about the use of Eminen’s song for the National election campaign.
  • “You work in news you puffed up little shit! …. When will you glove puppets of Cameron Slater just piss off?” - Internet Party press secretary Pam Corkery at a campaign event, when the media kept asking for an interview with Kim Dotcom.
  • “It was all steam and no hangi.” – Te Tai Tokerau MP Kelvin Davis describing Internet-Mana. after it failed to deliver on the hype on election day.
  • “He could probably survive shooting little kittens in his garden with a shotgun.” - Kim Dotcom on how little impact Dirty Politics had on Prime Minister John Key’s approval ratings.
  • “I play politics like Fijians play rugby. My role is smashing your face into the ground.” - Whale Oil blogger Cameron Slater after Nicky Hager’s book Dirty Politics was released.
  • “I did not have textual relations with that blogger.” - Spoof of John Key’s initial denial that he had received texts from Whale Oil blogger Cameron Slater. Tweeted by Lloyd Burr of Radio Live and also on the radio’s website.
  • “It terrifies me how much of our economy is stuck inside a dairy cow.” - Comedian Te Radar talking to farmers at Fieldays.
  • “Get past the breath-taking PR snow job.” - Former CERA communications adviser Tina Nixon describing the official investigation into accusations of sexual harassment by former chief executive Roger Sutton.
  • “No more beersies for you.” - Tagline in this year’s Health Promotion Agency advertising campaign to reduce harmful alcohol consumption.

My favourite is the “I’m sorry for being a man” followed by Pam Corkery’s tirade.

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Norman attacking the media

December 5th, 2014 at 6:49 am by David Farrar

I don’t think Russel Norman did himself any favours yesterday for his shrill attacks on the Dominion Post and Trans-Tasman. I’ll cover what happened in detail, but let me start by saying that of course the Trans-Tasman MP ratings are subjective. They are the opinions of the three authors. A list from another three people would have different rankings. However Trans-Tasman are the only organisation that actually does a numerical rating for each MP, and has been doing so for over a decade. Hence it is news-worthy, and it is no surprise that media cover their publication.

So we have a party leader publicly berating a journalist because the journalist wrote a story on the ratings. Really? Isn’t this what a certain other party leader used to do in the 1970s? As for the smearing of Trans-Tasman as “far right” (a term used in Europe to describe neo-nazis), that’s idiotic. Certainly it is a business publication and like the NBR has an editorial tone that is pro-business. But it is no more “far right” than Radio NZ is “far left”. It is not a bad thing to have a diversity of views in the media – except for Russel who wants to silence those he disagrees with. I’ve been covering the Trans-Tasman ratings for almost a decade, and in my experience they tend to score Ministers higher than other MPs – regardless of who is in Government. Maybe that is because they see the job as harder. Helen Clark was the top rated MP when she was PM. In 2012 Russel Norman himself was rated the second top MP. Now I actually agree with Russel that some (not all) of his MPs got too low a rating this year. Catherine Delahunty deserved more than 2/10 and Julie-Anne Genter more than 4.5/10. There are lots of ratings different people will have different views on. You would expect a party leader to say he disagrees with the ratings for his MPs. But to smear the newsletter as “far right” and berate a Fairfax journalist for daring to do a story on it is a form of bullying. But he carried on:

Now he is hysterically claiming the newsletter “hates” his MP” because she is so effective, and is instructing the jouranlist to print his words. Rutherford notes:

To moan on social media about how we should print what a co-leader thinks about one of his lower ranked MPs. Nice try.

But it doesn’t end there. Norman retweets someone saying how much they “despise” Trans-Tasman and then calls Trans-Tasman sexist:

It is a panel of three. As for being biased against women, Helen Clark often topped their ratings. Annette King was the highest ranked Labour MP this year. It is true that male MPs get a higher average rating, but the senior ranks of both major parties tend to have more men there than women, so it may just reflect that.

Yes some female Green MPs have got rankings which I think are unfairly low. But every year there are ratings where I disagree with Trans-Tasman. For several years Coromandel MP Scott Simpson got a 2/10 which was bizarrely low. I note this year they have doubled that. One year a (female) Minister got a rating which was probably around double what most people would have given her. Just because you disagree with their ratings doesn’t mean they are biased.

But this isn’t so much about the rankings, but Norman’s behaviour. In the last two weeks we’ve had:

  • Norman lambasting a journalist for writing a story he didn’t like and demanding he print his views on his own MPs
  • Norman smearing a media newsletter as “far right”
  • Norman barging past the PM doing a media stand up and shrieking “Resign” at him
  • Norman using the 2014 post election review conference to effectively blame the SIS for the left losing the 2011 election

I should’t give free advice, but I think such behaviour is a big turn off. It’s an ugly look. He could have made a case for the Trans-Tasman ratings being too harsh on some of his MPs, without doing it as an attack on the media.

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Mayoral Contenders

December 4th, 2014 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Former Act leader John Banks and Auckland Chamber of Commerce chief executive Michael Barnett are contenders to challenge Len Brown for the Auckland mayoralty in 2016.

I don’t think Len Brown will stand again. Many on the left say Deputy Mayor Penny Hulse will stand as the left’s candidate.

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The 2014 Trans-Tasman Ratings

December 4th, 2014 at 11:50 am by David Farrar

Transtasman has published its annual ratings for the 120 (currently) MPs. As usual, I do some analysis.

The overall average rating is 5.3 (+0.6 from 2013, which is a big increase, probably influenced by retiring MPs)

Average Ratings per Party

  1. Maori 6.5 (+1.3)
  2. National 5.8 (+0.7)
  3. Labour 5.1 (+0.5)
  4. United Future 5.0 (+1.0)
  5. Green 4.3 (-0.1)
  6. NZ First 4.1 (+0.8)

Of the four main parties, their average rankings in order are National, Labour, Greens, NZ First

Top MPs

  1. John Key 9.5 (+0.5)
  2. Bill English 9.0 (nc)
  3. Steven Joyce 8.0 (+0.5)
    Chris Finlayson 8.0 (+0.5)

Bottom MPs

  1. Catherine Delahunty 2.0 (-1.0)
    Richard Prosser 2.0 (+0.5)
  2. Steffan Browning 2.5 (-0.5)
    Rino Tirikatene 2.5 (-0.5)

Top Labour MPs

  1. Annette King 7.5 (+0.5)
  2. Andrew Little 7.0 (+2.5)
  3. Grant Robertson 6.5 (+0.5)

Top Third Party MPs

  1. Winston Peters 7.5 (+0.5)
  2. Russel Norman 7.0 (nc)
  3. Te Ururoa Flavell 6.5 (+0.5)
    Kevin Hague 6.5 (+0.5)

Biggest Increases

  1. Andrew Little +2.5
    Maggie Barry +2.5
  2. Hekia Parata +2.0
    Alfred Ngaro +2.0
    Megan Woods +2.0
    David Shearer +2.0
    Scott Simpson +2.0

Biggest Decreases

  1. Judith Collins -2.5
  2. David Cunliffe -1.5

Group Ratings

  1. Ministers 6.3 (nc)
  2. Cabinet 6.9 (+0.2)
  3. National frontbench 7.7 (+0.3)
  4. Labour frontbench 6.0 (+0.2)
  5. National backbench 4.7 (+0.7)

All groups improved their ratings this year except Ministers (but Cabinet went up). The biggest improvement was the National backbench, due to rejuvenation. New MPs will be rated next year.

Worth noting that as always, I of course disagree with some of the ratings. They are the opinions of the three authors at Trans-Tasman.

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WCC proposes 4.5% rates increases

December 4th, 2014 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The Dom Post reports:

A $200 million war chest is being planned to fund Wellington’s big-ticket wish list over the next 10 years.

The stash of cash forms a key prong in mayor Celia Wade-Brown’s draft Long-Term Plan proposal, which she will present to councillors at a committee meeting next week.

The money – targeted for projects including the airport runway extension, a film museum and a new concert venue – would see an average rates increase of 3.9 per cent over the 10 years of the plan, compared with a 3.1 per cent rise if a status quo approach was taken instead.

Those increases would be “front loaded”, the mayor said – meaning ratepayers will feel the pinch immediately, with rises of about 4.5 per cent in each of the next three years.

Inflation is running at around 1%. A series of rates increases at four times the inflation rate is a Council with a spending problem.

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Fewer people gambling

December 4th, 2014 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

More than $2 billion is thought to be lost to gambling annually in New Zealand, but the number engaged in regular gambling has dropped off.

In 2012, researchers from AUT University and the National Research Bureau conducted the largest gambling survey since 1999, with 6251 adults taking part. The results have just been made public.

“The most notable finding was a substantial drop in the number of people who gamble weekly or more.

“In the present survey only 22 per cent of adults took part this often, compared to the 40 per cent in 1999 and 48 per cent in 1991, ” lead researcher Professor Max Abbott said.

So the number who regularly gamble is actually declining, not increasing. Useful to recall when we hear from taxpayer funded lobby groups demanding the Government give them more money to deal with problem gambling.

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Analysis of the 2014 election results

December 4th, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

2014 Final Election Results

Embedded above is my analysis of the 2014 election results by region, area and electorate. It has taken a while as the 2011 election results had to be recalculated on the 2014 boundaries to allow direct comparisons.

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A nuclear power debate in Australia

December 3rd, 2014 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has said Australia needs to consider nuclear power in the future, and unlike NZ this has led to a rational discussion rather than hysteria!

The SMH reports:

Calls for fresh talks about nuclear power have had a warmer response than expected, with economists and even a Labor MP taking up Julie Bishop’s offer for a “sensible debate” about all potential energy sources.

The foreign minister, who will depart for Lima, Peru, for fresh United Nations climate talks in days, said it is an “obvious conclusion” that to bring down emissions Australia had to embrace nuclear energy.

Environment Minister Greg Hunt said on Sunday that although nuclear power was not Coalition policy, he was supportive of a debate but any shift would require bipartisan support.

Economist Ross Garnaut told Fairfax Media that Ms Bishop’s suggestion that Australia should look at all sources of low emissions energy on their merits was a welcome one because avoiding dangerous climate change would require contributions from many sources.

“To arbitrarily limit the sources of low-emissions energy that we are prepared to consider may be to increase the cost of avoiding dangerous climate change and therefore to reduce the chances of our meeting the objectives that have been agreed by the international community,” he said. …

The Labor MP Alannah MacTiernan said she’d been anti-uranium mining until her “conversion” in 2010.  She said while she didn’t think nuclear would ever be necessary in Australia, she was keen to see uranium mining expand in her home state of Western Australia.

“Nuclear has nowhere near the risks of spewing coal into the atmosphere,” she said. 

Good to see Australia starting to have a discussion on this. If you are worried about climate change, you should not dismiss nuclear power as an alternative to coal.

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