Archive for the ‘NZ Politics’ Category

We don’t need another portfolio!

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

The Greens announced:

Greens will establish a Minister for Manufacturing in Government

The Green Party announced today that it will establish a Minister for Manufacturing in Cabinet, to better represent the interests of manufacturers and ensure they thrive.

The Minister will be inside Cabinet and have responsibility for the long-term interests of the manufacturing sector.

The last thing we need is another portfolio created.

This is almost as bad as having a Minister for Racing.

Shall we also have a Minister for Retailers? A Minister for Wholesalers? A Minister for Importers? A Minister for Service Industries?

My view is we need fewer portfolios, not more. In April 2011 I blogged:

My future would be:

  1. Ministry of Internal Security – Crown Law, Corrections, SIS, Justice, SFO, Police
  2. Ministry for Environment – Environment, EPA, Conservation, Biosecurity
  3. Dept of Administrative Affairs – DIA, LINZ, Building & Housing, Customs, Stats
  4. Ministry for Economic Development – Labour, MAF, MED, Fisheries, MORST, Transport
  5. DPMC – DPMC, SSC
  6. Education – Education, ERO, TEC
  7. Ministry of External Relations & Security – GCSB, Defence, MFAT,  NZDF
  8. Treasury – Treasury
  9. Incomes – IRD, WINZ
  10. Culture – Culture & Heritage, Nat Lib, Archives, NZ on Air
  11. Health – Health
  12. Social Policy – Pacific Island Affairs, MSD, CYF, Youth Development, Community Sector, Senior Citizens, Families, Women’s Affairs, TPK
  13. Parliament – Parl Serv, Min Serv, Office of Clerk, PCO

This means you could have a cabinet of 12. The Speaker looks after Parliament, and one Minister per major agency.

Left politicians seem to think having a new ministerial portfolio is necessary to actually do stuff. Hence they think a Minister for Children will reduce child abuse etc.

The Government doesn’t (for example) have a Minister for Open Data, yet it has done some great things in opening up Government data, led by Bill English. Rather than create a portfolio, he’s just got on and done it.

Trans-Tasman on the China trade beatup story

July 22nd, 2016 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Trans-Tasman reports:

Is China dumping steel in NZ, and has it issued threats of trade retaliation? The flurry of newspaper reports this week aroused much concern among NZ exporters but in the wash-up were found to have little substance. The Chinese ambassador in NZ Wang Lutong has given an assurance to the Govt there will be no trade retaliation if an inquiry into a complaint of alleged dumping of Chinese steel goes ahead. This followed the original newspaper report China has threatened “retaliatory measures” against NZ trade, warning it will slow the flow of dairy, wool and kiwifruit imports.

It turns out the original story, as they say in the trade, was a “beat-up,” based on a comment from a Zespri employee in Shanghai. Kiwifruit marketer Zespri says reports it was called to a meeting in Beijing or has been pressured by the Chinese Govt over a potential inquiry into the dumping of Chinese steel are “false.” It says two weeks ago local staff had received unsubstantiated information from an industry body in China on purported industry consultations related to the importation of NZ agricultural products. This information was passed on to NZ embassy officials in China as part of normal business.

Amusingly Fairfax is still trying to run the story hard, despite the fact most media have all but ignored it now the truth has come out. The Dom Post editorial has jumped the shark even further and has said Todd McClay should be ashamed of himself and should be sacked for some reason. The only part of the editorial I’d agree with is this:

Truth is the first casualty of war, as the phrase goes. This also seems to apply to trade wars.

Indeed truth is the casualty here, as Fairfax continue to insist there is a trade war when there isn’t.

Once again, this is why trust in media is at an all time low.

Latest poll

July 21st, 2016 at 9:39 pm by David Farrar

I’ve blogged at Curia the results of the latest Roy Morgan poll.

After a month of headlines of the Government in crisis and how Labour has them on the ropes and this is a turning point, the poll shows a massive 10% vote shift for National.

National has gone from 43% to …

53%!

A few pundits may be regretting their columns.

Now as I commented on Twitter I don’t think there has been a 10% increase in support for National in one month, which would be 250,000 more New Zealanders suddenly deciding they will vote National. Roy Morgan is known as a yo-yo poll as it does tend to have fairly regular large increases and decreases. So it is probably the case that either their June poll was too low for National or the July poll too high – or both.

But regardless of how large the movement has been, it is beyond doubt that in a month of relentless negativity in the media, National has gone up in the Roy Morgan poll. I’ve done an analysis of how likely each party movement’s is genuine, rather than just sampling margin of error.

  • National up 10% – 99.8% likely to have gone up
  • Labour down 2.5% – 83.3% likely to have gone down
  • Greens down 3.0% – 95.2% likely to have gone down
  • NZ First down 2.0% – 92.2% likely to have gone down

Labour at 25.5% is 5.5% lower than they were three years ago in the same poll. And if you compare it to how National were doing in Labour’s third term, well National in July 2007 was at 49%!

US Navy to visit

July 21st, 2016 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

The United States Navy will send a ship to New Zealand this year, ending a 33-year absence from our ports because of the anti-nuclear rift.

US Vice-President Joe Biden will formally accept the invitation today when he meets Prime Minister John Key in Auckland.

Biden arrived in Auckland last night and in a speech was effusive in his comments about New Zealand and its shared history with the US, particularly around defence.

He did not mention the rift of the past, nor the hugely symbolic gesture of the US Navy’s return.

New Zealand and the United States shared the same values, the same commitment to freedom and equity, and the same fierce independence, Biden said.

“You nor we never bend. We never bow. We know who we are. We mean what we say. We say it in slightly different ways but it is the same.”

The US is one of 30 foreign navies invited to attend the 75th birthday celebrations of the NZ Navy.

It has been mulling the invitation for the past 18 months and the matter is understood to have gone right to the Commander in Chief, President Barack Obama.

If correct, this is very good news. The US is an important ally and friend and it would be a shame to not have them attend.

He mentioned the work the two nations did together in the Antarctic, in the Ross Sea and at the United Nations Security Council.

There was deep history of partnership including in World War II when troops were stationed in New Zealand.

The US will be very pleased that we have announced a ship is being built that will be able to service Scott Base and McMurdo in Antarctica. We have been totally dependent on the US Navy to get supplies in by sea, so having a RNZN ship capable of getting to Antarctica makes it a more equal partnership down there.

There is probably no area the two countries work more closely together than in Antarctica.

UPDATE: It is confirmed.

ANZ Chief warns of housing bubble

July 21st, 2016 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

A strong op ed by David Hisco, the CEO of ANZ. He warns of the problems the housing bubble may cause.

He proposes a number of actions:

Heavily increase LVR limits for property investors. The Reserve Bank wants most property investors around the country to have 40 percent deposits in future. We think they should go harder and ask for 60 percent. Almost half of house sales in Auckland are to property investors. Taking them out of the market will be unpopular amongst investors but it may end up doing them a favour. Of course this would mean less business for us banks but right now the solution calls for everyone to adjust.

He could well be right that more than 40% is needed. But I think see the impact of the 40% requirement before deciding if it needs to increase to 50% or 60%.

Weaken the New Zealand dollar. The Reserve Bank should look to weaken the dollar, making our export industries more competitive. That’s good for employment and our balance of trade in the long run. The Reserve Bank in Australia are already examining unconventional measures to do this. The longer our dollar is out of step with the rest of the world we will slowly drift towards being uncompetitive. Rising unemployment and rising house prices can’t co-exist.

Here I disagree. The role of the Reserve Bank is not to set the currency rate, but to keep inflation low. Plus the level of our currency is set mainly be external factors such as Brexit, Australian economy etc.

And as it happens the real TWI is currently at 72, down from a peak of 82 in 2014. It hasn’t been below 70 consistently since the 2009 recession so I don’t think it is a major issue.

Voluntary tightening of lending criteria by banks. Since the GFC banks have been more conservative than ever on lending. But the current situation will see ANZ implement even tougher criteria for investment loans as house price inflation spreads from Auckland to other regions.

Great.

Review immigration policies. Immigration has been great for New Zealand. We are a harmonious, diverse and inclusive society. But Auckland’s housing, roads, public transport and schools are struggling to cope. Let’s have an honest and sensible debate about immigration using facts rather than prejudice to see if we should push the pause button.

I agree and have been saying this for some time. However we need to be aware that the level of residency visas has remained constant, so the Government doesn’t have a lot of latitude to impact net migration. However I do agree it should look to do so until the infrastructure has caught up.

Have a strong focus on infrastructure build, particularly in the growth regions.We always seem to play catch up in this country relying on bureaucratic formula to work out demand. There are smart ways to fund infrastructure that can spread cost across the generations if we choose to go that way.

Again I agree but would say this Government has done more infrastructure investment than any other. But definitely more to be done.

Treasury says decriminalising cannabis would save $550 million a year

July 21st, 2016 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Decriminalising cannabis would generate money for the Government and ease pressure on New Zealand’s courts according to an informal Treasury report.

The documents obtained under the Official Information Act by Nelson lawyer Sue Grey came from an internal forum at the Treasury “designed to test policy thinking on a range of issues in the public domain,” Finance Minister Bill English said.

The documents reveal Government spends about $400 million annually enforcing prohibition whereas decriminalisation would generate about $150m in revenue from taxing cannabis.

Moreover it said reforming drug policies would “save money, ease pressure on the justice sector, and lead to fewer criminal convictions for youth and Maori”.

Drug prohibition as it is in New Zealand disproportionately affects males, Maori and youth – in 2001 Maori made up 14.5 per cent of the population but received 43 per cent of the convictions for cannabis use.

It also pointed out that “drug reform isn’t a particularly radical idea these days”.

“It’s supported by The Economist and the Global Commission on Drug Policy, as well as reports by our Health Select Committee and the Law Commission,” the report said.

According to Treasury about 6 per cent of cannabis users are caught by police but 95 per cent of those who are continue to use cannabis.

It isn’t official Treasury advice but still very welcome information to have in the public domain.

Several US states have legalised cannabis, and over the next couple of years we will have very robust data on whether doing so leads to increased harms from drug use. If the evidence is it doesn’t, then we should follow on from them.

Does Goff have any policies?

July 21st, 2016 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Phil Goff, a Labour MP and former Housing Minister, offered little in the way of solutions for poor people affected by the city’s housing crisis at a mayoral debate in South Auckland last night.

Gordon Myer, of the CAB in Manurewa, said every day he saw the misery of people who cannot find a home.

“What, if anything, can council do to make God’s Own really God’s Own?” Myer asked four mayoral candidates, Goff, Vic Crone, Mark Thomas and John Palino.

Goff expressed sympathy for the problem, told a couple of stories about people sleeping rough in cars and threw in a few numbers about the housing shortage. His only hint of a solution was working in partnership with the Government to deliver on basic needs for human beings.

It is understood Goff, a leading contender to replace Len Brown who is stepping down at October’s local body elections, will issue a housing policy next month.

A policy would be a nice thing. So far Goff has made no specific commitments on pretty much anything.

Phil Twyford has said Labour’s policy is to abolish the MUB (formerly the RUB). However the only people who can do this are the Auckland Council. Will Phil Goff specify that as Mayor he would propose and vote for abolishing the MUB?

That is the one thing that more than anything else would reduce house inflation in Auckland.

Phil Twyford gets it. Will Goff?

Staffer labels WCC as toxic

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

Stuff reports:

A leaked email sent to Wellington city councillors paints a picture of an organisation in chaos, and a “toxic culture” in which personal ambitions reign supreme.

The email, provided to Stuff, is from Pete Whiting, who was hired from Australia as a transport engagement officer to advise on cycleways.

He quit late last month after only four months, saying council power brokers largely ignored his experience and ideas

In an email sent on July 11, after his resignation, he lambasted councillors and senior management, saying he had never before encountered a council that would “bury its head in the sand over transport and future transport issues”. 

He accused them of turning the Island Bay cycleway “into a political mess”, to the point “where the project completely stalled”, leaving him with virtually nothing to do.

“You should all be ashamed of yourselves in the way you treat each other and the issue,” Whiting wrote, in reference to the cycleway.

He said councillors divided the community and polarised the cycleway “just for some cheap support”, and he was dumbfounded by the council’s disconnected structure.

“I am just disgusted at the toxic culture I witnessed.

“I also found the lack of teamwork, cohesion, vision and unity of council astounding. I expect this in the community, not in council.”

He claimed authorities for whom he had worked in Siberia and Kazakhstan had better engagement with the public than Wellington did.

He concluded: “Please get your act together for Wellington’s sake.”

If there had been proper public engagement from the beginning on the Island Bay cycleway, it would not have become so toxic.

Councillor Simon Woolf also said Whiting had some fair points. “He’s a credible person. He’s got the goods … I felt he was the real deal.”

Woolf, the council’s community engagement portfolio leader, said Whiting arrived at a bad time, with the cycleway melee scuppering his chances.

“I certainly felt for him. He’s really a good guy, and very capable.”

Councillor Paul Eagle, a staunch critic of the cycleway design and consultation process, said Whiting was a “breath of fresh air”, but had been set up to fail.

“I thought, we’ve finally got a person who understands engagement, not consultation, and he had that Aussie bluntness,” Eagle said. 

It was “a real shame” Whiting had left. “We needed that expertise.”

Very clear that the status quo is not acceptable at the Council.

Who makes the laws – Police or Parliament?

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

Stuff reports:

A stoush is brewing between Wellington bar owners and police over lockout laws.

Bar owners around the Courtenay Place nightlife hub have accused police of trying to “force” a one-way door policy on the capital’s party precinct by objecting to every 4am licence renewal.

Hospitality New Zealand Wellington regional manager Dylan Firth said police had approached many licensees and indicated that, if they did not accept conditions, police would oppose the licence renewal, and the licensee would have to go to a hearing, racking up considerable legal costs.

More outrageous behaviour from the Police. Their submissions on licences should be focused on the track record and behaviour of the licensee, not on what hours they open.

The Police submitted to both Parliament and the local Council wanting an earlier closing time for bars. Their views were heard, and the democratically elected MPs and Councillors voted for a 4 am closing time.

But not content with this, the Police are effectively trying to bully bars into closing earlier, trying to have their licenses removed unless they comply. This is awful behaviour. Again the Police should only be submitting on how well the licensee complies with the law.

Police had made it clear they intended to seek a one-way door condition on each new on-licence application, and each on-licence renewal, in the Wellington CBD, he said.

A one-way door policy would stop anyone entering a bar after a set time, such as 2am or 3am. Those already inside at the cutoff time would be allowed to stay until the 4am closing time.

An issue which was again considered carefully by Parliament and the Wellington City Council. They heard all the evidence and decided that a one way door policy would cause more harm than good. But the Police know better than the law makers, so they use their special position to try and have their will imposed.

Nick Mills, whose family employs 160 people in its group of businesses including Bettys, Public, Hummingbird, Boston, Edison’s Superette, The Tasting Room and Spruce Goose, said Courtenay Place was nothing like it used to be, and a one-way door policy would be detrimental to business, as it had been in Sydney.

“No-one is thinking about the hundreds of workers who will have to start again when a business shuts.”

The legal battle to renew a licence for Siglo saw him spend eight times more than it would usually cost for a licence, he said.

“Places like Edison’s only open two nights a week, and paying for the legal fees for a licence would cost at least 50 per cent of its profit for a year. It’s ludicrous.”

He never had a problem with the police before, and thought of them as allies.

“I don’t think they should oppose [bar] owners trying to renew a licence when they have an exemplary history in the industry. They are trying to change the law by force.”

I think it is time for the Police to be hauled into line. If necessary the law should be changed, so the only issues they can submit on to licensing authorities is the track record of the licensee in obeying the law.

Another Councillor stands against Celia

July 20th, 2016 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

And then there were eight.

Veteran city councillor Andy Foster has added his name to what is becoming a very congested field in the race for Wellington’s mayoralty.

Foster, the council’s transport and urban development committee chairman, said he threw his hat in the ring because he felt the capital had lacked leadership for some years, and had been making too many “ad-hoc” decisions.

When he looked at the other seven people who have publicly declared they will run for mayor, he did not see a lot of those required leadership qualities, he said.

So Andy is saying the Mayor and Deputy Mayor of Wellington don’t have leadership qualities, nor does the Mayor of Porirua.

Foster said he had been contemplating a mayoral run for the past couple of months.

The Karori-based councillor will also contest a council seat in Onslow-Western, a ward where he has held a comfortable vote margin for some time.

Foster has stood for the mayoralty once before, in 2001, but has been largely content to act as a councillor during his 24 years of serving Wellington city.

Personal reasons played a part in his decision to challenge for the top job once again, he said. Foster’s son and daughter are now aged 13 and 11, and are old enough for him to be able to devote a bit more time to his political career.

Six of the eight mayoral candidates currently occupy a seat around the Wellington City Council table, meaning more than the third of existing councillors are now eyeing up a promotion.

When a third of the Council challenges the Mayor for the top job, it shows things aren’t good.

I’m just glad we have STV so we can rank our candidates – otherwise someone might win on 15% of the vote!

Should we be giving aid money to countries with a space programme?

July 20th, 2016 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The Taxpayers Union pointed out:

The Taxpayers’ Union is questioning why NZ Aid money, meant to help the world’s poorest, is being used to support countries and governments with their own space programs. The figures (see below) show that since 2010 more than $214 million of taxpayer money has been given to countries rich enough to fund their own space ambitions.

If a foreign government has enough cash to invest in ambitious space programmes, it should not expect to be receiving cash from New Zealand taxpayer which is earmarked for helping the world’s poorest.

No surprise that I agree. Redirect that aid money to pacific countries.

Lee should resign

July 20th, 2016 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

An Auckland councillor is using money from his own back pocket to take to the airwaves and criticise the decision to drop trains to the airport.

Last Wednesday and Thursday, Councillor Mike Lee’s 30 second radio commercial aired across five stations all owned by NZME.

Lee, who sits on the board of Auckland Transport, says in the commercial that rail to the airport has long been a priority for the city with a “longstanding commitment to route protection”.

However, last month the boards of Auckland Transport and the New Zealand Transport Agency voted to eliminate it as an option in favour of light rail or a bus option.

This is a disgraceful move by Lee and he should resign off the board of Auckland Transport immediately.

It is untenable to have a company director run advertisements attacking the company he is a director of.

If Lee was not on the board of Auckland Transport, then as a Councillor he can of course criticise their decisions. But as he is also on the board, he can not. If as a director you feel so strongly the board has made the wrong decision, you resign.

It is untenable to be on the board of a company and run advertisements attacking it. The Council should sack him immediately from the board.

Wellington Greens in fantasy land

July 19th, 2016 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Cheaper bus fares, slower speed limits, free Wi-Fi and a renewed push for light rail in Wellington are among the election carrots being dangled by the region’s Green Party local body candidates.

Party-affliated councillors from across the region have revealed what will the top of their agenda if re-elected in October.

Greater Wellington regional councillors Paul Bruce and Sue Kedgley said they would push for a 25 per cent discount on off-peak bus fares as well as a 50 per cent off-peak discount for students. …

Kedgley said introducing light rail in Wellington and replacing the city’s “polluting, noisy diesel buses” with modern electric buses within a decade would also be a top priority.

A previous story from 2013 reported:

The cost of a light rail system for Wellington has skyrocketed to nearly a billion dollars, with Mayor Celia Wade-Brown now conceding it looks unrealistic in the near future.

A detailed business case for light rail between Wellington Railway Station and Kilbirnie was made public for the first time today.

It put the cost of building the network at $940 million, largely because it would require its own tunnel through Mt Victoria.

This is the problem with the Greens. They never let reality get in the way of their ideas.

Rational people would say sure we’d love light rail but the cost is unaffordable.  Their fantasy would cost $10,000 per household.

Even worse the light rail proposal would produce very low level of benefits, compared to a bus rapid transit system. The benefit cost ratio for light rail is a minuscule 0.05 or a benefit of $1 for every $20 spent.

This is what the Greens are demanding for Wellington. Spend $1 billion to get a benefit of $50 million. Per household that is take $10,000 per household and get a benefit of $500 back!

Quote of the week

July 19th, 2016 at 8:00 am by TaxpayersUnion

“Those who promise us paradise on earth never produced anything but a hell.”

– Sir Karl Popper

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.

 

Tuku Morgan new Maori Party President

July 18th, 2016 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Tukoroirangi Morgan says he will be on a corporate fundraising campaign as new Maori Party president to finance a strong election campaign next year.

In a bid to win all seven seats, he wants current voters to desert Labour.

He wants the Maori Party to have greater engagement with younger voters, to improve communications and to have a higher profile in general seats.

“That means we will go across the country, reigniting the flames of desire, the hearts and minds of our people, to come back home, to desert the Labour Party in readiness for us taking back all the seats,” he said – although the party has never held all Maori seats.

“If we want to become a force in this country, a real genuine political force, we’ve got to have universal appeal amongst the young, amongst the disenfranchised, amongst our women.”

The party has already attracted former rugby league star Howie Tamati who will seek the nomination for Te Tai Hauauru, currently held by Labour’s Adrian Rurawhe.

Morgan said corporate sponsorship would be hugely important.

He said he would use the connections he had built over the years.

Morgan is the representative of King Tuheitia on the executive body of Waikato-Tainui, Te Arataura, and is a director on the tribe’s commercial arm, Tainui Group Holdings.

This is what is interesting. The Maori King and Tainui are normally seen as supportive of Labour. Possibly because of the demotion of Nanaia Mahuta (a cousin of the King), they are less supportive now.

Maori-Mana ceasefire

July 17th, 2016 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Maori Party co-leader Marama Fox and Mana leader Hone Harawira have come to an informal agreement for a ceasefire in the run up to the 2017 election as they try to win back the Maori seats from the Labour Party.

The Maori Party will have its annual conference tomorrow [Saturday] and Fox said it was likely the Mana Party would be discussed. She had met informally with Harawira recently.

“There is still no appetite amongst either party for a formal agreement at this stage but what we don’t want to do is have scraps in the media over things, because we basically want the same thing for our people. We cannot afford to split the Maori vote. “

Harawira said he caught up with Fox when they were both in Auckland recently. “We just had a coffee and said in terms of where things go in 2017 let’s not get too caught up in all the policy or personality issues. Just very much flagging the possibility of not getting into any s***fights with one another between now and the election, perhaps.

We’ll see how it goes.”

That sounds sensible. Labour gains if they fight each other.

But I doubt there can be a long-term merger as fundamentally Mana is a party of the hard left and the Maori Party is a party of the centre which says it will work with both major parties. Mana says it will never ever support or work with a National-led Government which means they, like the Greens, lose influence.

Should we have 18 years as a term limit for local government

July 16th, 2016 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

New Zealand’s longest-serving councillor is on track to notch up half a century in public office – provided voters give him the tick once again this year.

Grey District Council deputy mayor Doug Truman, 76, was first elected to a local authority in 1968, and plans to run for another three-year term in October’s local body elections.

His 48 years in office to date make him by far the country’s longest-serving councillor, according to information compiled by the Taxpayers’ Union.

I’m a believer that you go in to achieve a few things, and then give someone else a go.

Taxpayers’ Union researcher Matthew Rhodes said the figures showed turnover at councils varied greatly. The longest-serving councillor on Westland District Council had been there for only seven years.

“Whilst we all recognise the need for organisations to have long-standing personnel with institutional knowledge, we think these figures suggest that it is timely to look at implementing term limits at local councils.

“If you’ve been on a council for six terms – 18 years –  and you haven’t yet achieved what you set out to, it seems unlikely that you will do it by staying on council for another 18 years.”

I agree.

LONGEST-SERVING COUNCILLORS (WELLINGTON AREA)

Wellington City Council – Helene Ritchie (30 years) 
Kapiti Coast District Council – Diane Ammundsen (30 years)
Porirua City Council – John Burke (30 years)
Hutt City Council – Margaret Cousins (30 years) 
Hastings District Council – Lawrence Yule, Cynthia Bowers (21 years)
Greater Wellington Regional Council – Chris Laidlaw, Sandra Greig (18 years)
Napier City Council – Mark Herbert (18 years)
Hawke’s Bay Regional Council – Christine Scott (15 years)
Upper Hutt City Council – John Gwilliam (12 years)

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Ritchie standing for Mayor- again!

July 16th, 2016 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Veteran 10-term Wellington city councillor Helene Ritchie has announced she is running for mayor.

As nominations opened on Friday for spots on the council, Ritchie said she had handed in her forms to run for mayor, councillor, and for a spot on the Capital & Coast District Health Board.

Ritchie joins incumbent Celia Wade-Brown, councillor Jo Coughlan, Keith Johnson, Porirua Mayor Nick Leggett, Wellington Deputy Mayor Justin Lester, and councillor Nicola Young in the fight for the mayoralty.

I understand another Councillor is highly likely to announce, so Celia is beign challenged by her own Deputy and four of her Councillors!

Quite ironic that Ritchie is campaigning on injecting new energy when she was first elected in 1977!

So Labour and the Greens have merged it seems

July 16th, 2016 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

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From Facebook. You wonder if Andrew and Metiria bother to read what they are signing!

Guest Post: John Bishop on 14 July 1984

July 15th, 2016 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

John Bishop writes:

Thirty two years on from the beginning of the ‘new’ New Zealand which began with the ousting of the “socialist” National government of Rob Muldoon on 14 July 1984 how much better off are we?

We no longer need the authority of the Reserve Bank to subscribe to a magazine published overseas (and in this electronic era perhaps we don’t have it delivered by post any more either).

And of course there were a host of other changes as well to tax, import licensing, floating the currency, ending subsidies, deregulation of industries and later the opening up of the labour market and more.

The thing that I miss the least of the Muldoon era is the absence of generational warfare that the old tusker used to conduct regularly to appeal to my parents’ generation, the people who thrust him into power so decisively in 1975.

He told them they could have the world’s most generous superannuation scheme – a state funded pension at 80% of the ordinary time wage and paid from age 60. This was much higher and five years earlier than the then current universal pension which I recall was worth about 65% of the ordinary time wage.

I thought then and have believed ever since that this was intergenerational theft on a massive scale because the people who would pay for it were those in the workforce, and I was just starting out at that time. And I doubted that it would be so generous when it came my turn to claim the pension, if it existed at all.

He told my parents’ that they deserved a better retirement after what that had been through – the Depression and the war, and they believed him. It was my first lesson in how to legitimise greed; tell people they deserve it and that it was affordable.

All that had to happen was for the economy to grow at 4% a year, he said, ignoring the very inconvenient fact that from 1945 until then the New Zealand economy had never ever grown at 4% a year (and has done so only rarely since).

The pension is still there as I now approach that age of positive cash flow (and travel privileges) but it’s nowhere near as generous as it was, and we have interparty consensus only after broken promises from Labour’s David Lange and then from National’s Jim Bolger not to mess with the rates or the eligibility dates (remember the debates over surcharges), and only after much agonising over what to pay and how to pay for it. (Kiwisaver, Cullen Fund and rising the age of eligibility).

In the late 70s I saw Muldoon’s superannuation plan as an attack on my generation. As a second year reporter with 2ZB I remember paying 66% income tax on overtime. Overtime was taxed at a higher rate anyway – 60% regardless of income, and Muldoon had imposed a “temporary surcharge” of 10% on all income tax. I don’t miss that.

He savaged our culture. Remember him attacking Mi-Sex, “what’s that all about?” And the Screaming MeeMees, what sort of band are they?”

He was about disparaging what young people liked, and associating himself with the ‘short back and sides, a spell in the army will do them good, get a haircut generation’ that he’d fought in the war with and championed until the day he died.

Our generation rebelled against our parents and rejected their values.  We liked sex and drugs and rock’n roll. They thought we were depraved, idle and noisy spongers.

We didn’t support apartheid or sporting contact with it and fought hard to stop it while Rob championed the right to play sport regardless. Our regard for rugby suffered in the aftermath of 1981, even though it helped him to election victory. We didn’t like that either.

After Vietnam, the killing fields of Cambodia Nixon, Watergate, we didn’t fawn on the United States as the saviour of the free world; nor did we uncritically follow her of the UK anywhere.  We didn’t talk of England as home (although we still wanted to go there).

Whatever one might say about the reforms that follow – and political discourse is still shaped by arguments about the Douglas/Richardson reforms and the reactions and aftermath – the fall of Muldoon, the arch social conservative is one that I have never regretted.  And I have not the slightest doubt that New Zealand is better off for his defeat this day 32 years ago.

I agree.

Penny loses in court again

July 15th, 2016 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Radio NZ reports:

Auckland activist Penny Bright has lost the latest round in a legal battle over rates she’s refused to pay for nine years.

The High Court has dismissed her appeal against a February ruling that Ms Bright must pay rates and penalties of just over $34,000.

Justice Venning said Ms Bright’s refusal to pay simply increased administration costs for Auckland, and he awarded court costs to the council.

Ridiculous it has gone on four nine years.

Nasty Trevor under pressure

July 14th, 2016 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Mallard

The more worried Mallard is that he is going to lose his seat, the nastier he gets.

The context is Chris Bishop pointing out with amusement that the official Labour Party twitter account has blocked him from following them.

Trevor seems to be obsessed with Chris. More and more of his tweets are about Chris. While most of what Chris posts to social media is about what is doing out in the Hutt Valley.

Shewan recommendations adopted

July 14th, 2016 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The Government announced:

The Government is acting on all recommendations from the Shewan Inquiry into foreign trust disclosure rules, Finance Minister Bill English and Revenue Minister Michael Woodhouse announced today.

The Inquiry made a number of recommendations which propose improvements to registration and disclosure of information, anti-money laundering rules and increased information sharing between government agencies.

“The Government has always been open to making improvements to New Zealand’s already strong tax settings if that was warranted,” Mr English says.

“The Shewan Inquiry’s recommendations are sensible and well-reasoned and by acting on all of them, we will ensure that our foreign trust disclosure rules are strengthened and New Zealand’s reputation is protected.

“The changes to the foreign trust rules are a matter that the Government intends to move quickly on.

“The Government intends to introduce legislation to require a register that is searchable by Internal Affairs and the Police, and annual disclosure requirements in the coming months.”

So the Government is implementing Shewan’s recommendations while Andrew Little has still not apologised to him for slandering him.

Even Dave Armstrong wants some fiscal restraint from WCC

July 14th, 2016 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Dave Armstrong has an amusing column where he discusses the Mayoral options for Wellington with his niece. He goes through all their promises and at the end notes:

NIECE: Is Celia standing again?

DAVE: Apparently.

NIECE: I’m not sure she has contributed that much. When I see her I think roman sandals and cycleways. I want to be really inspired yet none of the candidates have done that so far.

DAVE: It’s a really tough job, the rewards aren’t that great and you cop a lot of flak. I’ve met these candidates and I have to say I like them all – as people.

NIECE: So what will the losing candidates do after the election?

DAVE: Get elected to council and bitch about whoever has won, I suspect.

NIECE: Okay, I’ll keep researching.

DAVE: I suspect whoever gets your vote will be our next mayor.

NIECE: By the way: a sports museum, film museum, new stadium, convention centre, runway extension, more cycleways, a second tunnel, free swimming pools, and a tunnel under the CBD. Who’s paying for all this?

DAVE: Guess.

NIECE: Oh.

DAVE: Another savvy?

NIECE: Cheers.

This is why I think all Mayoral candidates should state a maximum rates increase that they would vote for. Otherwise ratepayers will be left with continual unsustainable increases in our rates.

Unelected PMs

July 14th, 2016 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

I saw a graphic yesterday about how 12 out of 24 recent UK Prime Ministers became Prime Minister without winning a general election. They are:

  1. Theresa May
  2. Gordon Brown
  3. John Major
  4. Jim Callaghan
  5. Alec Douglas-Home
  6. Harold Macmillan
  7. Anthony Eden’
  8. Winston Churchill
  9. Neville Chamberlain
  10. Stanley Baldwin
  11. David Lloyd George
  12. HH Asquith
  13. Arthur Balfour

I assumed their high proportion was because of their five year terms, but have a look at NZ PMs and who came in via an election and not.

Elected

  1. Key
  2. Clark
  3. Bolger
  4. Lange
  5. Muldoon
  6. Kirk
  7. Nash
  8. Holland
  9. Savage

Replaced PM

  1. Shipley
  2. Moore
  3. Palmer
  4. Rowling
  5. Marshall
  6. Holyoake
  7. Fraser

So fairly close. And in Australia:

Elected

  1. Abbott
  2. Rudd
  3. Howard
  4. Hawke
  5. Whitlam

Replaced PM

  1. Turnbull
  2. Gillard
  3. Keating
  4. Fraser
  5. McMahon
  6. Gorton
  7. McEwen
  8. Holt
  9. Menzies

So in Australia most PMs first became PM without an election.

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