Archive for the ‘NZ Politics’ Category

Brown on synthetic cannabis

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

Russel Brown writes:

With the news yesterday of the attempted arson of a legal highs store in Invercargill, it’s reasonable to ask whether we’re on the verge of public hysteria about synthetic cannabis. The next question would be why it’s happening now, when 95% of retail outlets for such products have been either shut down or forbidden to to sell the products — and those remaining are closely monitored and, for the first time, required to be strictly R18 premises.

What seems to have happen is that the law has been sucessful in closing down most legal high outlets but it has made the remaining outlets more visible.

The list of products deemed low-risk and granted interim approval is a fraction of the nearly 300 legal highs sold in the past few years, before the new Act. It includes half a dozen fairly harmless pill products containing caffeine, guarana, kava, green tea and amino acids, and the rest is synthetic pot. When the full approval process gets underway, all of these will be banned subject to the Authority being satisfied that they present a low risk. It is quite possible that no products administered by smoking will meet the standard.

People forget that prior to the law change there was no regulation at all. Prohibition will not work, so the current law should be given time to see if it is effective.

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And Tau makes 15

April 8th, 2014 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

National MP Tau Henare has announced his retirement from politics on Twitter.

The veteran MP announced he will retire at the election.

The 53-year-old former Maori Affairs Minister made the announcement via Twitter this morning, saying: “Well, I’m on my way to caucus to inform my colleagues of the @NZNationalParty that I intend to retire at the upcoming General Election.”

Henare was first elected to Parliament in 1993 elections for New Zealand First in the former Northern Maori electorate.

He is currently chair of the Maori Affairs select committee and a member of the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade committee.

I knew Tau when he was the NZ First Maori Affairs Minister. Not too many Ministers would be sitting in their office with some of their staff having a sing-along with a guitar. Tau was actually an effective Minister, and I’ve always been a bit disappointed he never got a chance to be a Minister again.

“I could have put my name in to be nominated but at the end of the day [15 years] is a good haul for a fella like me.

15 years is a good spell. Some in other parties seem to think 33 years isn’t enough! I’ll miss not having Tau around – lots of fun, and he was also a key MP in getting votes for Louisa Wall’s marriage bill from the Nats.

He would be the 15th National MP to retire at or before the election, with the most high profile among those resignations being Health Minister Tony Ryall.

Hopefully lots of new faces in caucus after the election. So far the quality of candidates selected has been good, but many more to go.

Matthew Beveridge has a collection of tweets from colleagues across the House wishing Tau well.

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Stonking confidence

April 8th, 2014 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

The economy is running at the best pace in more than a decade and business confidence is the highest since 1994 according to a new survey.

The latest NZIER Quarterly Survey of Business Opinion released today shows optimism and activity were being translated into hiring, investment and better profits.

“The underlying trend is very, very strong – stonking,” NZIER principal economist Shamubeel Eaqub said.

Retail spending surged to its highest level since 1994 and building was at its best since December 2003.

The survey shows confidence about the general business situation remained at net 52 per cent of firms positive, seasonally adjusted, the highest since June 1994.

The ten year highs keep getting replaced by 20 year highs.

So obviously this is a time in which we need to increase taxes, scrap our monetary policy, and partially nationalise electricity and housing sectors!

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Parliament Today April 8 2014

April 8th, 2014 at 1:42 pm by Jordan.M

Questions for Oral Answer.

Questions for Ministers. 2.00PM-3.00PM

  1. MAGGIE BARRY to the Minister of Finance: How is the Government ensuring recent broad-based growth and good fiscal management is delivering higher incomes and more jobs for families?
  2. Hon DAVID CUNLIFFE to the Prime Minister: Does he stand by all his statements?
  3. CHRIS AUCHINVOLE to the Minister for ACC: What announcements has she recently made in respect of the ACC levies?
  4. Hon DAVID CUNLIFFE to the Prime Minister: Does he have confidence in all his Ministers?
  5. RICHARD PROSSER to the Minister for Primary Industries:Does he believe that New Zealand’s biosecurity preparations, including Biosecurity NZ, are sufficiently and adequately resourced to protect New Zealand from biosecurity risks?
  6. Dr RUSSEL NORMAN to the Minister for Climate Change Issues: By what percentage will New Zealand’s net greenhouse gas emissions increase in the next 10 years, according to the Ministry for the Environment annual report for the year ended June 2013?
  7. Hon DAVID PARKER to the Minister of Finance: Does he agree with the Infometrics estimate that the 1974 Super Fund would have savings of $278 billion, if it had not been axed by the National Government, and does he agree wages would be higher in New Zealand if we had those higher savings?
  8. IAN McKELVIE to the Minister for Economic Development: What announcements has the Government made to further help New Zealand exporters succeed internationally?
  9. Hon CLAYTON COSGROVE to the Minister of Commerce: Does he stand by all his statements?
  10. Dr JIAN YANG to the Minister of Health: What recent announcements has the Government made about better supporting people with autism?
  11. CHRIS HIPKINS to the Minister of Education: Is she satisfied that the proposed creation of new Executive Principal and Expert Teacher positions has the support and confidence of school teachers and principals; if so, why?
  12. GARETH HUGHES to the Minister of Energy and Resources: Is he satisfied safety in the petroleum industry is adequate given there have been two fires at installations, six uncontrolled releases of hydrocarbons, 15 events that saw emergency response plans activated, one well integrity issue and three incidents with the potential to cause a major accident, in just the past eight months?

Today Labour are asking whether the Prime Minister stands by all his statements, whether the Prime Minister has confidence in all his ministers, performance of superannuation schemes, whether the Minister of Commerce stands by all his statements, and partnership schools. The Greens are asking about the safety of petroleum production. New Zealand First is asking about bio security.

Patsy Question of the day goes to Dr Jian Yang for Question 10: What recent announcements has the Government made about better supporting people with autism?

Government Legislation 3.00PM-6.00PM and 7.30PM-10.00PM.

1. Land Transport and Road User Charges Legislation Amendment Bill – Committee Stage

2. Industry Training and Apprenticeships Amendment Bill – Committee Stage

3. Social Security (Fraud Measures and Debt Recovery) Amendment Bill – Committee Stage

4. Trade (Safeguard Measures) Bill – Committee Stage

The Land Transport and Road User Charges Legislation Amendment Bill  is being guided through the house by the Minister of Transport, Gerry Brownlee. This bill proposes amendments to the Land Transport Act 1998 and the Road User Charges Act 2012.

The  Industry Training and Apprenticeships Amendment Bill  is being guided through the house by the Minister for Business, Innovation and Employment, Steven Joyce. This bill proposes amendments to the Industry Training Act 1992 and the Education Act 1989, and repeal of the Modern Apprenticeship Training Act 2000 to implement the findings of the industry training review undertaken by the Government in 2011 and 2012.

The Social Security (Fraud Measures and Debt Recovery) Amendment Bill is being guided through the house by Chester Borrows, the Associate Minister of Social Development. This bill proposes amendments to the Social Security Act 1964 to make spouses and partners, as well as beneficiaries, accountable for fraud, and to enable the Ministry of Social Development to recover debt more effectively.

The Trade (Safeguard Measures) Bill is being guided through the house by the Minister of Commerce, Craig Foss. This bill implements a new safeguards regime for New Zealand.

 

 

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1983 – Back in the Day

April 8th, 2014 at 10:00 am by Kokila Patel

In David’s absence, I’ll be posting a few items in Kiwiblog fashion – focussed on politics

Q+A are researching the political news archives and looking back.  This snippet from last Sunday

The Labour Opposition Chief Whip Jonathan Hunt had refused to provide Ruth Richardson a voting peer.  Richardson, then a young mum needed to be absent from the house so she could breast feed her newborn baby.  In 1983, Richardson’s vote was essential due to National’s slim majority.

Response from Sir Robert Muldoon

“Jonathan of course is an elderly bachelor, and probably doesn’t understand much of these things, but there must be someone on the other side of the house who has got some compassion for Ruth and the problem in which she finds herself”

I’m cynical enough to believe that Muldoon in needing the vote, found the compassion for a mum on his side of the house (and there’ll be plenty of insiders who can correct this assumption), but what is more interesting is that it is the Labour Chief Whip who did not.  Even so, an invigorated Labour Party would have started to smell victory, and hard to imagine that any breastfeeding mother wouldn’t be bulldozed in that path.

I don’t know the exact legislation or regulations Richardson was helping National to maintain, but during the days of price freezes, ever spiralling inflation, some if not all of the voting must have been through gritted teeth!

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Vance on why Labour can still win

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

Andrea Vance gives five reasons Labour can still win:

  1. The electoral system
  2. He’s no John Key. But he ain’t Phil Goff either
  3. New Zealand First: a spent force?
  4. The missing voters
  5. A new electoral landscape?

The electoral system definitely favours Labour.

Cunluffe is a very good debater, but so was Phil Goff. The challenge for Cunliffe will not be doing well in the debates, but having a good enough brand leading up to the debates that. Vance puts it like this:

He’s two-parts untrustworthy to one-part fake. And that’s just among his MPs.

Ouch.

Andrea is right that Winston is far less of a force in the House now. However that doesn’t mean he won’t make 5%. A few bribes to oldies and bash up the Chinese is a pretty tested formula for him.

The missing voters is what Labour is gambling everything on. It will help them if they can motivate sympathetic non-voters but I’ve yet to see signs that their own supporters are motivated – let alone non-voters.

National not getting any allies into Parliament is the nightmare scenario. They get 59 seats again but can’t govern.

So Vance is correct that Labour absolutely can win. There’s five months to go. The odds are against them but if they get their shit together they will be competitive.

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Dotcom invited to Mana AGM

April 7th, 2014 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

In a statement this evening, Harawira confirmed talks with Dotcom in central Auckland over the weekend to discuss possibilities “for a relationship between the Mana movement and the Internet Party”.

He said the Mana executive had extended an invitation to Dotcom to address its AGM on Saturday,.

Dotcom had accepted the invitation in order to “talk to and understand the views of Mana members” Harawira said.

Oh this is too funny to be true. Hone can’t wait to sell out.

So will any Mana member have the courage to get up and berate Dotcom over the low wages he pays his staff (allegedly below minimum wage).

Will any Mana member say how disgraceful a look it is for him to fly into Huka Lodge in a helicopter to relax for the weekend, while scores of struggling Kiwi businesses had been waiting over two years to be paid by him?

Or will they just ask him how much money they can have for their election campaign?

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McKinnon says NZ republic is inevitable

April 7th, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

It is “inevitable” that New Zealand will ditch the monarchy and become a republic, Sir Don McKinnon says.

Speaking on the eve of the royal visit by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, the former deputy prime minister said the country has been moving towards republicanism “for a long time”.

“I’m quite certain the royal family understands that completely,” Sir Don said.

”[There are] 54 countries in the Commonwealth, only 16 are realms, and I can tell you now that one Caribbean publicly, and three Caribbean, privately are probably going to give up that relationship with the monarchy when the Queen dies. So it is a diminishing group of countries, and the important thing is for us to openly and candidly debate the issue.”

This is significant coming from the former Commonwealth Secretary-General. Especially that four of the remaining 16 countries are planning to become republics when the Queen dies. Arguably that is a sensible time for NZ to do the same. A plus – no King Charles :-)

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A victory for intolerance

April 6th, 2014 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Tech workers in Silicon Valley are debating whether Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich got the comeuppance he deserved or was himself a victim of intolerance when he resigned under pressure this week amid outrage over his opposition to same-sex marriage.

It was intolerance. He wasn’t a campaigner or political activist. He dared to make a $1,000 donation in 2008 to a cause that is now unpopular – and got hounded out of his job for it.

Mozilla co-founder Eich, who invented the programming language Javascript, donated US$1000 in 2008 to support Proposition 8, which sought to ban same-sex marriage in California. Voters approved the measure, but it was struck down last June by the US Supreme Court.

In 2008 Barack Obama was also against same sex marriage.

When I blogged on this issue a week or so ago, some moron on Twitter did a comparison to someone who is a member of the KKK. Yes to some on the left, not being a supporter of same sex marriage is just like being a supporter of the KKK and lynching black people.

I’m a right winger who campaigned hard for same sex marriage. I’m thrilled it has been introduced in NZ. But I don’t judge those who had a different view.

On Friday, news of Eich’s departure prompted a backlash on Twitter. Many suggested Silicon Valley was intolerant of people with views outside northern California’s liberal mainstream.

Even Rarebit’s Hampton Catlin said he had not anticipated the issue’s escalation and was saddened by Eich’s resignation.

“We absolutely believe people should be allowed to have personal opinions, but we also believe that we are allowed to disagree and to try and change someone’s mind by expressing our own personal story,” the Catlins said in a statement.

I think it is horrific that Eich was forced out of a job after two weeks – not for anything he did in the job or since being appointed. But due to a six year old donation. It was a victory for intolerance.

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Views on private prisons

April 6th, 2014 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald on Sunday looks at the private prison debate:

The news of a declining number of people returning to jail comes as work gathers pace on a new $300 million private prison being built at Wiri, South Auckland, due to open next year.

Currently, the country’s only other privately operated jail is the 960-bed Mt Eden remand prison in Auckland.

Critics believe the construction of a for-profit facility signals a move towards more of the public system being placed in private hands. Even libertarians believe law and order is the most basic function of government. Surely justice and prisons are the last things we should privatise?

As I have previously blogged, almost all our prosecutions are done by private law firms. It’s been this way for decades. If you think the private sector has no role in providing services in the justice sector, then to be consistent you should be advocating for Crown Law to hire hundreds of extra lawyers and take on all prosecutions itself.

He believes Serco has learned from teething troubles he encountered during his time at Mt Eden. By its second year in charge, Serco had vastly improved its performance and was meeting 95 per cent of the targets set for its six-year deal.

The latest report is here. Mt Eden is outperforming most public prisons on (not having) prison escapes, positive drug tests, violence rates and rehabilitation and also exceeding its targets on reducing assaults, positive drug tests and complaints.

In the face of problems overseas, why are we building a $300m private facility at Wiri? The New Zealand Government will be locked into a 25-year contract, for which Serco is obliged to outperform public prisons by 10 per cent – meaning it will have to show a 27.5 per cent reduction in reoffending, the same as at its Mt Eden operation.

Excellent. Set a higher target for the private prison. If reoffending drops then everyone is a winner.

Jacinda Ardern, Labour’s Corrections spokeswoman, warns that future governments may have to prop up private prisons because of the long-term contracts. “The secrecy surrounding the deal with Serco is a concern,” she adds. “Would Government have to start injecting vast sums of money into the private sector if things started to go wrong? We should be spending money on cutting crime and making the streets safer, not building more expensive prisons.”

What secrecy? The contract for the management of Mt Eden Prison is on the Corrections website. And it’s a silly statement that means nothing to say we should spend more money on cutting crime, not building more expensive prisons. It isn’t a choice of one or another. The Government is spending heaps more on rehabilitation which cuts crime, and the crime rate is dropping significantly. However some of the existing prisons are almost falling apart and their facilities are ancient. Having a more modern prison like at Wiri will assist rehabilitation. So it is not a choice of one or another.

Private prisons, by their nature, have a vested interest in crime rates staying high. That’s according to Dr Jarrod Gilbert, University of Canterbury sociologist and gang expert. “It costs more than $92,000 a year to keep a prisoner locked up in New Zealand, so there has to be a conflict of interest when it comes to rehabilitating people if you are making money from them being in your facility.”

Oh what nonsense. Their contract requires them to reduce reoffending rates. They don’t get paid if they fail.

Does Dr Gilbert also argue that private law firms should be banned from being crown prosecutors because they have a vested interest in keeping crime rates high?

One recent convert to the private system is Mike Williams, former president of the Labour Party and chief executive of penal reform organisation the Howard League.

“We have the second-highest incarceration rate in the world behind the United States and have had a sky-high rate of reoffending,” he says.

“It is time to bring some new thinking into the system and the new focus on having less people return to jail is welcome. It is an experiment that is worth a go.”

Even the hardline Sensible Sentencing Trust is behind Corrections Minister Tolley’s drive to cut re-offending. “If private companies can do a better job of turning criminals into decent human beings, then we are all for trying it,” says spokesman Garth McVicar.

If Mike Williams and Garth McVicar agree on something, then that says something.

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A massive change in RMA consenting on time

April 6th, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Amy Adams announced:

The 2012/13 Resource Management Survey shows the Government’s first phase of RMA reforms aimed at improving consenting processes are paying off, however further reform of our planning frameworks is still required.

The survey of how well councils are implementing the Resource Management Act shows that 97 per cent of consents were processed on time for the 2012/2013 period, compared with 95 per cent in 2010/2011.

“This is a vast improvement from the 69 per cent of resource consents processed on time in 2007/08,” Ms Adams says.

Only 3% are no longer processed on time, compared to 31% under Labour. The non-compliance rate by local authorities has dropped by 90%.

When National left office in 1999, the compliance rate was 82%. This dropped to 69% by 2007/08 under Labour. Since then the trend has reversed thanks to the law changes made by National and generally opposed by Labour.

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Has it turned to just mindless bashing of Countdown?

April 6th, 2014 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

On the original allegations against Countdown, I’ve praised Shane Jones for the work he did in exposing their allegedly ugly tactics of asking for retrospective payments from suppliers. I don’t think such a practice (if it happens) should be condoned.

But yesterday, it turned into almost a smear campaign against Countdown. They were accused on TV3 of everything from threatening a select committee, to bullying competitors also, to bullying Councils to shock horror selling Lotto tickets.  I think a line has been crossed, and we are now just seeing a degree of mindless bashing.

Let’s look at the various stories, starting with the Mad Butcher stores:

Now, chief executive of the Mad Butcher Michael Morton told The Nation Countdown does not just bully its suppliers but also its competitors.

“I believe they have a cultural billing within the whole organisation,” he said.

“If you look to the information that came out and the allegations that were made about the supply and the tactics that were done there. The fact that when we do any comparative advertising to them, we get smashed with lawyers letters. They come down like a sledge hammer.”

There’s a key fact missing from that story. As much as I love the Mad Butcher, in this case his (former) stores are the bad guys. You see their advertisements were found to be false and misleading by the Advertising Standards Authority:

The Mad Butcher’s advertising that claimed to have cheaper meat than Countdown has been labelled “misleading” and “likely to deceive”.

Earlier this year, The Mad Butcher ran print, television and radio advertisements claiming “Jo from Onehunga”, a randomly selected shopper, paid 30 per cent more for lamb chops, schnitzel, mince, pork chops and eye fillet steak at Countdown than at The Mad Butcher.

But an Advertising Standards Authority decision released on Monday upheld the complaint of Progressive Enterprises Limited, which owns Countdown.

The decision said the ad was not comparing like for like as no basket shop was undertaken by Jo, four out of five products in the Countdown basket couldn’t be purchased at the time, and 1kg meat packs couldn’t usually be bought at Countdown.

The Countdown prices given were from Onehunga, and weren’t reflective of national pricing, it said.

“The advertisements made comparisons that were likely to mislead or deceive consumers,” it said.

“The advertisements falsely claimed a price advantage in this instance.”

I’m sorry, but no sympathy. You tried to deceive consumers about your prices, and your competitor complained your advertisements were false and misleading. That isn’t bullying. That’s just good sense.

Then the next bash was shock horror they sell Lotto tickets:

Labour MP Shane Jones has again taken aim at Countdown, raising concerns about lotto sales at the supermarket’s checkouts.

Lotto tickets are being sold despite new evidence that people spend less on food when there is a big jackpot.

You can now buy lotto at the checkouts in 100 Countdown supermarkets around the country. That makes buying a ticket more convenient, but Mr Jones says that is the problem.

“With Countdown putting a one-armed bandit at every Countdown checkout counter, you’re bringing gambling into the community,” says Mr Jones.

That’s just pathetic. I’ve been buying lotto tickets at New World for over a decade.  Why is it fine at one group of supermarkets, but not another? This is just smearing Countdown.

Mr Morton says the lotto jackpot should be capped, and Mr Jones agrees the jackpot can get too big. But he says the availability is the real problem.

“I really want to have an immediate review of the Gambling Act,” says Mr Jones. “Is it really in society’s interests to have lotto and gambling available at every checkout counter in the Aussie-owned supermarket?”

Now we’re getting effing ridiculous. Shane Jones wants to cap the size of the jackpot for Lotto? He should go join the Green Party.

And he think lotto tickets can be sold in supermarkets, so long as they are not owned by Australians? This is just xenophobic bashing.

And to answer his question, yes it is in society interests  that hundreds of thousands of New Zealanders who enjoy Lotto can buy tickets conveniently for it. Apart from the enjoyment they get from it, money from Lotto funds Sport NZ, Creative NZ, the NZ Film Commissions and thousands of community groups. They get almost $200 million a year from people voluntarily playing Lotto.

Then we have Jones making things up about a threat:

Labour MP Shane Jones has accused Countdown of threatening a parliamentary committee with legal action, amid an investigation into extortion allegations.

Mr Jones made the allegations on The Nation this morning, claiming a letter threatening legal action against the commerce select committee is “around”.

But both Countdown and the committee deny the existence of a threatening letter, the latter labelling Mr Jones’ allegations “obviously” wrong.

“I am not sure how Shane knows about that… but he is obviously wrong,” commerce select committee chairman Jonathan Young told NZ Newswire.

The so called threatening letter merely asks for a transcript of the last hearing – which is a routine request.

And finally we had complaints that Countdown are appealing against decisions imposing hours on beer and wine sales that are more restrictive than the national default hours:

Well in many cases they fighting against what a lot of councillors do and that is to limit the sale of alcohol in supermarkets. The default position is from seven a.m to 11 p.m. Most councillors in New Zealand are adopting a nine a.m to nine p.m approach and in some cases Countdown in particularly and Progressive have appealed that on the basis that they want it to be open to 11 p.m.

I actually support Countdown on this issue. All you do by restricting beer and wine sales to 9 pm is annoy a lot of late night shoppers who can’t buy a bottle of wine with their groceries. Many Councils are falling into the trap of not distinguishing between specialist bottle stores and supermarkets. If you go to a bottle store at 10 pm, you are almost inevitably buying alcohol to drink immediately. But if you are buying alcohol from a supermarket at 10 am, then it is generally not for immediate consumption. The retail data shows very few people buy just alcohol from supermarkets after 9 pm. They are doing their regular shopping, and just happen to include some beer or wine with that.

So it is quite reasonable for a supermarket to question decisions made by local politicians, if they are not actually going to reduce alcohol harm – and instead just punish supermarket shoppers and supermarkets.

As I said at the beginning, Countdown’s alleged behaviour towards suppliers appears to have been bad, and that is now being investigated by the Commerce Commission. But all these other complaints are looking a a bit pathetic to be honest. Complaining that your misleading ads were complained about or that Countdown sells lotto tickets is just whining.

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9/10 in 49 seconds

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

NZ Herald quiz here.

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Providing a legal and sought after service

April 5th, 2014 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Isaac Davidson at NZ Herald reports:

A fiercely anti-abortion lobby group is putting pressure on the National Party not to select an experienced doctor whose job has involved authorising and performing abortions.

Right to Life said the potential selection of medical practitioner Rosemary Fenwicke as a candidate in Wellington Central “would have serious consequences for the National Party at the forthcoming election”.

Abortion is legal in this country, and regardless of one’s personal views on it, I don’t see any issue with a candidate being a doctor who has performed a legal service that women have requested.

Right to Life spokesman Ken Orr said: “The National Party would be most unwise to nominate Dr Fenwicke for the Wellington Central electorate or any other electorate, or even for a place on the National Party list.

“Those in our community who defend a culture of life would be deeply concerned should Dr Fenwicke be nominated as a candidate for Parliament.”

He claimed that she supported abortions at any time during pregnancy “for any reason, or for no reason”.

I don’t believe that to be true. Can Orr provide a quote?

Dr Fenwicke has previously been the target of conservative MPs who unsuccessfully tried to prevent her from being elected to the Abortion Supervisory Committee in 2007.

Independent MP Gordon Copeland argued at the time that her appointment was a conflict of interest because in her roles as a consultant and surgeon she had power to both authorise and perform abortions.

The committee’s latest report in December showed abortion rates were at their lowest in 20 years.

The Wellington Central seat has been held by Labour since 1999. Labour MP Grant Robertson won it in 2011 with a 6376-vote majority over National’s candidate Paul Foster-Bell.

Mr Foster-Bell – who entered Parliament on the list in April – is seeking the nomination to represent National in Whangarei.

I can’t comment on who may seek that National nomination for Wellington Central as it is during the period when names can’t be revealed. But what I will say is that I don’t think someone’s day job should be a reason for people not to vote for them. Their views on political issues is a quite valid consideration, but I don’t think their job is.

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Why criminal histories should be shared

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

The Herald reports:

The tragic deaths of two Dunedin children shot by their father Edward Livingstone earlier this year could have been prevented if New Zealand and Australian police shared information on criminal convictions, TVNZ has reported.

Livingstone killed his two children Bradley, 9, and Ellen, 6, at their mother’s home in Dunedin in January, before turning the gun on himself.

TVNZ reported tonight that Livingstone had previously been convicted for arson in Sydney, after trying to burn down his then-girlfriend’s house when she broke up with him.

The incident occurred 30 years ago.

He also assaulted a flatmate during the same incident, ripping the phone from his girlfriend’s hands to prevent her from calling police, TVNZ reported.

New Zealand judges were unaware of Livingstone’s past conviction and behaviour when he appeared before the courts for twice breaching a protection order against his ex-wife, Katharine Webb.

Three months before Livingstone shot his children, the 51-year-old was discharged without conviction for breaching a protection order against his family for a second time.

We can’t know if this extra info would have made a difference, but it could well have. Even though it was 30 years ago, the behaviour was so extreme I think a Judge would have taken it into account. Having said that I think a second breach of a protection order should be jail anyway.

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Overseas travel on the benefit

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

3 News reports:

More than 21,000 people have had their benefits cut since rules around overseas travel were tightened, Social Development Minister Paula Bennett says.

More than $10.5 million has been saved since July last year by suspending the benefits of those who chose to travel, Ms Bennett says.

The largest group of suspensions applied to nearly 11,200 people on job seeker benefits, followed by more than 4800 sole parents.

More than 1750 people had their benefit suspended for multiple overseas trips.

The figures don’t include people receiving superannuation.

Hard to be looking for a job when you’re overseas!

Almost 5000 people have had their benefits cancelled because they failed to reconnect with Work and Income eight weeks after their departure from New Zealand.

Ms Bennett said although the rules are tighter, they still allow for overseas travel on compassionate or health grounds in certain cases for job seekers.

People without work obligations may in most cases travel overseas for up to 28 days.

Sounds reasonable.

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Caucus room now a war room

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

The Herald reports:

Labour leader David Cunliffe has ejected MPs from the caucus room to turn it into a war room, moving all key political staff into a vast open-plan office.

National has a war room also. It isn’t at Parliament though. It is at National Party HQ, where the staff are funded by members and donors – not by taxpayers.

Of course parliamentary staff always play a significant role in election campaigns, but for my 2c the campaign should primarily be driven from the party HQ.

The new strategy office is the brain-child of chief of staff Matt McCarten and is aimed at making sure the party is co-ordinated and quick on its feet. Labour MPs will now be sent downstairs to a smaller room for their weekly meetings.

I guess that is the good thing about having so few MPs – you can fit into the smaller room :-)

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Very disappointing – no tax cuts

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

The Herald reports:

The May Budget will have no plans for tax cuts, Prime Minister John Key confirmed yesterday, and he sought to dampen expectations that there would be anything significant in the future.

I’m very disappointed that there will be no tax cuts. Hard working New Zealanders deserve a boost to their after tax income.

In no way do I expect tax cuts for the 2014/15 year as the surplus is so small. But I was hoping that the Government would signal tax cuts in the future years.

When the Government’s accounts move into surplus, Governments have basically three things they can do with the surplus.

  • Increase spending
  • Reduce tax levels
  • Pay off debt

I believe a good Government does all three. If for example your projected surplus is $4 billion you might increase spending by $1 billion, reduce taxes by $1 billion and retain a surplus of $2 billion to pay off debt.

We’ve yet to see the size of any future projected surpluses, but if they are projected to be greater than say $2 to $3 billion (which allows contributions to resume into the NZ Super Fund) then tax cuts are affordable and desirable. And I want to see National commit to them.

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Watkins on economy

April 3rd, 2014 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Tracy Watkins writes:

 It speaks volumes about David Cunliffe’s bad week that on the day John Key delivered his pre-Budget speech, it was the Labour leader who copped it on the street over the Government’s failure to make a big dent in unemployment.

To be fair the gentleman in question abusing the Labour leader didn’t seem a fan of either major party.

Labour’s headache, six years on, is that National has been hugely effective at painting the Clark-Cullen years as a decade of tax and spend, compared with its own narrative of scrimping and fiscal prudence.

The reality, of course, is not quite as straightforward – despite the “zero” Budgets, government spending has continued to rise each year under National. But there is no dispute that when it came to power, the country was staring down the barrel at a decade of deficits and skyrocketing debt.

More than a decade of deficits. That was the original projection, but the revised forecasts were for a permament structural deficit that never went away – meaning debt would grow and grow and grow until the inevitable happened – as in Europe.

The May Budget will show that National has done a remarkable job of turning that around by bringing forward the return to surplus by some years and lowering the debt trajectory.

That it has done so by reining in spending, rather than slashing and burning and introducing austerity measures as seen in Europe and elsewhere, makes that feat even more remarkable.

It’s almost harder to do it by just restraining new spending, rather than cutting existing programmes. It’s politically easier, as people protest a spending cut more than not increasing spending. But from a government point of view, finding enough money by hundreds and hundreds of small efficiencies is harder work than just slashing a couple of programmes.

But the counterfactual – that a Labour government would not have responded to the global financial crisis in a similar fashion – can never be proven or disproven.

I don’t quite agree here. Sure you can’t prove it beyond a reasonable doubt. But you can judge Labour off its own press releases, statements and speeches. For five years they have consistently opposed and condemned every single move of fiscal restraint the Government has done. They battled against any reduction at all in public service numbers. They decry any efficiency gains as cuts – even if the money saved goes into frontline services. They opposed the reductions in KiwiSaver subsidies. And almost without exception all their policies are to spend massively more. The one noble exception is their superannuation policy.

So I don’t think it is unfair to judge Labour on the basis of their own statements. If we accept they believe what they say (a big call I know), then one can only conclude that there is no way New Zealand would be heading back into surplus next year if they had been in Government,

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Labour MP says Pacific church leaders just in it for the money

April 3rd, 2014 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

NewstalkZB reports:

The Labour MP for Mangere, Su’a William Sio, says stories of Pasifika leaders encouraging their communities to turn blue are exaggerated. …

Su’a William Sio says this is being led by a small Samoan group that is following the money.

Not sure this is the way of keeping church leaders onside – accuse them of just being motivated by money as the reason they are no longer supporting Labour.

“They are generally business entrepreneurs, and so they believe the lie about the brighter future and I think they’ll get a backlash from the Pacific public.”

Also reveals a bit of a paternalistic attitude that implies they should be content working in a factory, rather than trying to own their own businesses.

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Adams 1 Media 0

April 3rd, 2014 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

A Taranaki Daily News columnist wrote on the conspiracy pushed by a Labour blogger that Amy Adams had some conflict of interest around her actions as Environment Minister, on the basis she also owns a farm. I guess they think owning farm land means you can’t be Environment Minister.

Anyway look at this “clarification” that the Taranaki Daily News had added to the column:

In this article Taranaki Daily News columnist Rachel Stewart raised questions about the links between Environment Minister Amy Adams and the Central Plains Water irrigation scheme in Canterbury.

The column suggested the minister had the power to dismantle a Water Conservation Order so that the Rakaia River could feed that irrigation scheme, and this decision would benefit farm holdings she owned.

The Taranaki Daily News acknowledges the minister had no such power.

Rachel Stewart wrote the Minister had done things “by the book” but also suggested that to say the Minister had not abused her role would be “a big stretch”.

The Taranaki Daily News acknowledges that Minister Adams declared a pecuniary interest in the Central Plains Water scheme and transferred her responsibilities as Environment Minister to Minister Gerry Brownlee in April 2012.

We also acknowledge there has only been one Cabinet decision made regarding the Central Plains Water Scheme and on that occasion, Mr Brownlee took the paper to the relevant Cabinet committee. Ms Adams, who does not own a dairy farm in Canterbury, excused herself from the Cabinet committee where it was discussed, and took no part in the discussions.

Wow, that is a huge backdown. You’d think they’d check their facts before making such serious allegations.

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Planet Labour

April 3rd, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

3 News reports:

Labour leader David Cunliffe is adamant he and his party will both start rising in the polls as the election approaches.

He is also casting doubt on recent statistics suggesting crime is at a three-decade low, and an IMF report which named New Zealand’s economy as one of the world’s fastest-growing.

So on Planet Labour the polls are wrong, the crime stats are wrong, the GDP stats are wrong and the IMF is wrong.

I’d like to visit this dimension one day.

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What if everyone voted

April 3rd, 2014 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Andrew at Grumpollie does some calculations:

The discussion over at Dim-Post inspired me to have a play with the New Zealand Election Study (NES) data.

Each wave surveys a fairly large sample of voters and a small sample of non-voters. So I was having fun, and I started to wonder what would happen if all the non-voters with a party preference had got out and voted on Election Day.

There are a bunch of caveats to this analysis, including the small sample size and how representative the sample of non-voters was. BUT, if we assume for a moment that the data were broadly representative, then inspiring all non-voters to get out and vote wouldn’t have had a massive impact on the 2011 result.

Andrew calculates that if every non-voter with a preference had voted, then National would have gone up 0.1%, Labour up 1.7%, Greens down 1.0% and NZ First down 0.8%.

So my take on this is that just inspiring a larger turnout won’t necessarily help Labour. In 2008 it would have,but in 2011 it wouldn’t have.

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Key Derangement Syndrome hits a new low

April 2nd, 2014 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

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Toothfish is an anonymous environmental activist, who has facebooked this poster which he or she wants donations for, so they can run at least 1,000 of them.

41 people on Facebook have “liked” the poster including former Green candidate and social media campaigner Max Coyle. Now to be fair to the Greens, I am sure the vast majority of them would find the poster as disgusting as the rest of us. There is a reason Coyle is “former” with them.

Personally I hope he/she gets lots of donations for his or her campaign as I can’t think of anything more likely to increase support for National than people seeing those posters.

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Sense from US education secretary

April 2nd, 2014 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Nicholas Jones at the Herald reports:

Efforts to ensure all Kiwi kids can access early childhood education are “way ahead” of a similar American push, says the US Secretary of Education.

Arne Duncan has been in New Zealand at the International Summit on the Teaching Profession in Wellington, one of the biggest events in world education.

In an interview with the Herald, America’s top education official also said charter schools could be a valuable opportunity for New Zealand.

Mr Duncan, who has previously hosted Education Minister Hekia Parata, said he was keen to learn more about New Zealand’s early childhood education while here.

“We are pushing very, very hard back home in the States to increase access to high-quality early learning opportunities,” he said.

“And I think, frankly, New Zealand is way ahead of us in creating those kinds of opportunities at scale.”

The National Government wants 98 per cent of children starting school in 2016 to have participated in quality early childhood education.

In the 2007/08 year $807 million was spent in ECE. The budget for the current financial year is $1.48 billion which is a massive 83% increase in six years. For some reason, Labour and Greens call this a cut!!

The US has more than 5600 public charter schools in 42 out of 50 states, and one in 20 students nationally attends one, according to Moody’s Investors Service.

Despite being widespread they do face opposition. Newly elected New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, a Democrat, has been highly critical of charter schools.

Asked for his overall verdict on them, Mr Duncan said there was “huge variation”.

I’ve visited some amazing, amazing schools that are absolutely closing achievement gaps. We need to learn from those examples and replicate them. [But] when you have low-performing charter schools you need to challenge that status quo as well.”

Duncan is a Democrat, and a former head of the Chicago public schools. When he says some charter schools have done amazing work at closing achievement gaps, he is worth listening to. Why does the left want to close them down in NZ, rather than give them a chance to succeed?

Mr Duncan said the idea for the schools came from union leader Albert Shanker, who hoped to establish “laboratories of innovation”. Successes could then be spread to the wider education system.

“I think there’s a great opportunity there for this country.”

The left in NZ should embrace charter schools, as many of the left in the US have done.

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