Archive for the ‘NZ Politics’ Category

Not a rare dolphin

May 24th, 2016 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

New Zealand freediver William Trubridge has backed a campaign urging fast food giant McDonald’s to stop sourcing its fish from New Zealand waters after the leak of a report which revealed the unreported capture of a rare dolphin.

The leaked report of a 2013 investigation by the Ministry for Primary Industries, titled Operation Achilles, followed the unreported capture of a Hector’s Dolphin, a close relative of the critically endangered Maui’s dolphin.

This is just the latest part of a ten year campaign by a German group targeting the NZ fishing industry.

And the media report the propaganda without any critical analysis.

The Maui’s dolphin is very endangered. Only around 55 remain.

But that is not the dolphin which was caught in 2013. So they are calling for a boycott of all NZ fisheries, because a non-endangered dolphin was caught by accident three years ago.

Mr Trubridge, who earlier this month broke two world records by diving to 124m and back on a single breath, is supporting the campaign.

“What decent human being or company could possibly buy fish from an industry that fights for the right to kill every last Maui’s dolphin?

But no Maui dolphin has been caught or captured let alone killed in recent years. The area they are in is highly protected. And the industry is not fighting for any right to catch or kill any dolphins, let alone Maui.

• Maui’s and Hector’s dolphins are the smallest and rarest marine dolphins on earth and live only in New Zealand.

• Maui’s dolphins have declined from an estimated 1800 in the 1970s to less than 50 as a result of fishing.

• The closely related Hector’s dolphin is also threatened, with several populations numbering fewer than 100 individuals.

Now note they talk of Hector as having several populations of under 100. Makes you think that perhaps there are just 400 or 500 Hector’s dolphins in total. In fact there are around 7,400. Why did the NZ Herald not bother to tell us the total number? I presume because they just repeat the data fed to them by the German group.

Parliament 24 May 2016

May 24th, 2016 at 11:52 am by David Farrar

The order paper is here.

  1. ANDREW LITTLE to the Prime Minister: Does he have confidence in his Minister for Building and Housing?
  2. Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS to the Prime Minister: Does he stand by all his statements; if so, why?
  3. TODD MULLER to the Minister of Finance: How will Budget 2016 build on the Government’s commitment to a more productive and competitive economy while delivering responsible fiscal management?
  4. GRANT ROBERTSON to the Minister of Finance: What is his answer to Fran O’Sullivan’s question, “Was John Key’s brain fart on the tax front an involuntary exercise or was it calculated”?
  5. KEVIN HAGUE to the Minister of Conservation: Is she confident that the Department of Conservation can carry out its work considering the inflation-adjusted reduction in Vote Conservation allocation it has endured under her Government?
  6. JAMI-LEE ROSS to the Minister for Building and Housing:What steps has the Government taken to dismantle Auckland Urban Limits that were identified by the Productivity Commission report in 2012 as a key problem for the city’s housing supply and affordability?
  7. PHIL TWYFORD to the Minister for Building and Housing:Does he stand by his statement when asked about the housing crisis, that “the idea that suddenly happened in May 2016 is a figment of some people’s imagination”?
  8. Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS to the Prime Minister: Does he stand by all his statements; if so, how?
  9. ALFRED NGARO to the Minister of Transport: What recent progress has been made on construction of the Government’s Western Ring Route motorway in Auckland?
  10. STUART NASH to the Minister of Police: Does she believe the Police have sufficient funding to meet the expectations of the public?
  11. TODD BARCLAY to the Minister for Communications: What recent announcements has the Government made to improve New Zealand’s response to cyber security incidents?
  12. MARAMA FOX to the Minister for Social Development: In the revamp of CYFS, will she be strengthening the appeals process for the review of decisions that may prevent incidences such as the death of Moko Rangitoheriri; if so, how?

National: Four questions on Budget 2016, Auckland urban limits, Auckland motorways and cybersecurity

Labour: Four questions on confidence in Housing Minister, tax cuts, housing and Police

Greens: One question on conservation funding

NZ First: Two questions on PM standing by his statements

Maori Party: One question on child abuse

Government Bills 3.00 pm to 6.00 pm and 7.30 pm to 10.00 pm

Residential Tenancies Amendment Bill – committee stage

This Bill amends the Residential Tenancies Act 1986 to require smoke alarms and insulation in residential rental properties.

  • Introduced: December 2015
  • 1st reading: December 2015, passed unanimously
  • Select Committee report: April 2016, supported with amendments, Greens dissenting
  • 2nd reading: May 2016, passed 107 to 14 with Greens opposed

There is no time limit for the committee stage but it is estimated to be a three hour debate as the bill has two parts and preliminary provisions to debate.

There are two SOPs from the Minister and Metiria Turei. Dr Smith’s are minor amendments. Turei’s seeks to give tenants rightts to renew tenancies as of right, and for a minimum fixed term of three years. It also lists 30 things that must be provided for in all rental houses.

Taxation (Transformation: First Phase Simplification and Other Measures) Bill – committee stage continued

The bill amends the following statutes relating to taxation in order to facilitate easier communication with Inland Revenue, simplify tax rules and provide for the sharing of information. The Acts amended are: the Income Tax Act 2007; the Tax Administration Act 1994; the Goods and Services Tax Act 1985; the KiwiSaver Act 2006; the Child Support Act 1991; the Student Loan Scheme Act 2011; the Gaming Duties Act 1971 and the Accident Compensation Act 2001.

  • Introduced June 2015
  • 1st reading: October 2015, passed unanimously
  • SC report report: March 2016, supported unanimously with amendments
  • 2nd reading: April 2016, passed unanimously

There is no time limit for the committee stage but it is estimated to be a four hour debate as the bill has three parts and preliminary provisions to debate.

There are two SOPs from the Minister and Julie-Anne Genter. Michael Woodhouse’s are minor amendments. Genter’s seeks to set up a register of foreign trusts.

Human Rights Amendment Bill – committee stage

This bill establishes a full-time Disability Rights Commissioner within the Human Rights Commission, and make changes to the role and structure of the commission.

  • Introduced: October 2011
  • 1st reading: November 2013, passed 105 to 15 with Greens and Mana against
  • SC report: April 2014, supported with amendments by majority, Labour and Greens dissenting
  • 2nd reading: May 2015, passed 73 to 48 with Labour, Greens and Maori Party against

There is no time limit for the committee stage but it is estimated to be a three hour debate as the bill has two parts and preliminary provisions to debate.

There is one SOP from the Minister with minor amendments

Extending Sitting 9 am to 1 pm Wednesday

  • Hineuru Claims Settlement Bill 2nd reading
  • Ngāi Te Rangi and Ngā Pōtiki Claims Settlement Bill 1st reading
  • Te Awa Tupua (Whanganui River Claims Settlement) Bill 1st reading

 

 

Labour commits to tax hikes

May 24th, 2016 at 9:56 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Tax is set to be a major battle line in the 2017 election after Labour’s Grant Robertson signalled his party would increase some taxes to pay for its policies – a stark contrast from National’s expected tax cut platform.

Mr Robertson addressed the issue of tax in a pre-Budget speech on today, saying before the election he would set out a tax policy including measures to ensure Labour could raise the revenue needed to pay for its promises in health, education and housing – a clear signal some taxes would be raised.

Labour MPs have already demanded or promised an additional $2.7 billion a year of annual spending. That alone (and this is before they even get into their election manifesto) would require everyone earning over $70,000 a year to pay 45% tax on income over that level. Or alternatively they’d need to increase GST to 17.5%.

 

Actually middle income households have done best

May 24th, 2016 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Since 2007, the income of a household in the top 10 per cent (90th percentile) has increased by at least $28,000, while a household in the bottom 10 per cent (10th percentile) has had gains of just $3100.

By focusing on the gross increase, instead of the percentage increase, Stuff basically produces a nonsensical figure.

Of course the top 10% of households will have higher gross increases than the bottom 10% of households. Just as Vodafone will have a bigger gross increase in sales than the corner dairy. If Vodafone increases its sales by $100,000 in a year that would be regarded as a horrendous failure. If the corner dairy increases its sales by $100,000 they’d regard that as the best year ever.

So this is why we use percentages – something Stuff fails to do, in order to support a narrative.

So what can we learn from the Stuff data:

In 2015, a household with an income in the middle (median), earned $76,180 annually compared to $58,237 in 2007.

For a household nearer the bottom the increase has not been so pronounced. A 20th percentile household (richer than 20 per cent of households and poorer than 80 per cent) has seen its annual income increase by $5200, from about $28,900 to $34,100. 

At the other end of the spectrum, an 80th percentile household has seen its income increase by $24,300, rising from about $110,800 to $135,000. A 90th percentile household had income of $175,700 in 2015, up by $28,000 since 2007.

Here’s the percentage increases for the percentiles above:

  • 20th percentile – 18% increase
  • 50th percentile – 31% increase
  • 80th percentile – 22% increase
  • 90th percentile – 19% increase

So those on the 90th percentile have actually had much the same relative increase as those on the 20th percentile. And households in the middle are the ones that have done best.

Note of course this is not actually studying individual households. The households in the top 20% in 2007 will not be the same households in the top 20% in 2015. We have reasonable income mobility in NZ where households move from one decile to another.

Quote of the week

May 24th, 2016 at 8:00 am by TaxpayersUnion

“People who are in a fortunate position always attribute virtue to what makes them so happy.”

– John Kenneth Galbraith

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.

Latest poll

May 24th, 2016 at 6:52 am by David Farrar

I’ve blogged at Curia the latest poll (Roy Morgan). It basically reverses the previous month’s poll. Seat projection is CR 57 and CL 51 so NZ First would hold the balance of power.

Herald on Labour’s housing policy

May 23rd, 2016 at 4:35 pm by David Farrar

The Herald editorial:

The Labour Party surprised many people last week, and dismayed some of its own supporters, by advocating the complete abolition of boundaries on urban expansion.

Its housing spokesman, Phil Twyford, endorsed the Government’s view that boundaries imposed by the Auckland Council have been a major contributor to the escalation of house prices. His announcement was timed to get in ahead of an urban development directive to councils expected from the Government soon, possibly in the Budget on Thursday. But Labour’s proposal goes further than Mr Twyford believes the Government’s national policy statement is likely to go.

“What we are calling for is the abolition of the urban growth boundary, not softening it, not making it more flexible,” he says. “And not just doing what the Auckland Council advocates, which is periodically adding in more parcels of land zoned for development. All that does is feed the speculative land market.”

I hope the Auckland Council listens, but I fear they won’t. And Phil Goff is refusing to back the policy, which is a bad sign.

The main condition is that development on the urban fringe must pay the full cost of the additional infrastructure they need and the party has proposed an interesting method by which this could be financed. It wants the Auckland Council to be allowed to issue infrastructure bonds that would be repaid from rates levied on the newly developed properties.

Developers are already charged for the cost of connecting their subdivisions to a city’s services but Auckland planners have long opposed urban sprawl on the basis of its infrastructure costs, so clearly those costs have not been fully covered in developers’ contributions. Infrastructure bonds could fill the gap. In fact, they could permit more amenities to be built in these new communities than have usually been provided from development levies because bonds are effectively a loan to future residents whereas development levies are built into the upfront cost of houses. …

Infrastructure bonds would enable those savers to share the gains from housing the population boom without pushing up house prices. The bonds might also attract some housing investors, reducing their demand for houses and slowing the rise of prices. New Zealand offers few investments as safe as houses and has an unsatisfied demand for bonds as secure as these. Labour is thinking well.

I agree. I like their policy on bonds rather than developer contributions up front.

Gibberish from NZ First

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

Have just read the NZ First minority view on the Shop Trading Hours Amendment Bill. It is literally gibberish:

New Zealanders work the second longest hours in the OECD.

New Zealand First does not support the amendments presented to the Commerce Committee.

We note that New Zealand has some of the most liberal shop trading hours in the world with only 3.5 days annually restricted and absolutely no restriction (aside from certain sectors) on opening hours.

Fundamentally the main purpose of the bill was, initially, to allow councils to consult with their communities regarding Easter Sunday shop trading, with employees given the opportunity to decline work without repercussion. However this has unintended consequences on employees and employers.

Example: Because any employment history must be disclosed, during the recruitment process.

A majority of submitters were, however, opposed to this. It was discussed that by allowing for policy provisions, rather than a bylaw, this concern would be adequately addressed.

Maybe a cat jumped on their keyboard?

Isn’t this what the left call dirty politics

May 23rd, 2016 at 1:05 pm by David Farrar

NBR reports:

The commercial fishing industry has accused a German activist-academic of waging a “determined anti-fishing agenda” in events surrounding the release of a research paper this week.

The University of Auckland research paper,Reconstruction of Marine Fisheries Catches for New Zealand (1950-2010), also known as the Simmons report after its lead author, was embargoed for release at 9.30am on Monday.

(NBR did not receive a copy of the report but was alerted to it after a flurry of media statements supporting it from the Greens, etc.)

All the opposition parties had their statements ready to go, indicating that the academics involved had been working with them on it by giving them advance copies.

Seafood NZ chief executive Tim Pankhurst says the report was widely circulated among opposition parties and Greenpeace at the weekend. He issued a detailed response soon after the embargo was lifted.

I don’t have a problem with this, but when others do it, some on the left call it dirty politics.

Mr Pankhurst says the German environmental organisation NABU was aware of the Simmons report’s contents a month before its release and told Seafood NZ as much.
 
Its spokeswoman, Dr Barbara Maas, visited Seafood NZ on April 14 and warned she also had evidence of alleged collusion between the MPI and the fishing industry; that she had a copy of an internal MPI document allegedly confirming that there was reference to it in the Simmons report; and she would make her claims public when the report was released.

“She further claimed she had 105 international conservation organisations ready to back a call for a boycott of New Zealand seafood if dolphin protection was not increased,” Mr Pankhurst says.

“Dr Maas first called for such a boycott in 2012 and again in 2014 but gained no traction, given the extensive protections in place and no Maui [dolphin] captures.

Dr Maas has been trying to get a boycott against the NZ fishing industry for years and years – at least seven. And the media report this as something new, as we see in the Herald:

Fast food giant McDonald’s has been being urged to stop sourcing its fish from New Zealand waters following the leak of a confidential report which revealed the unreported capture of a rare dolphin.

The leaked report of an investigation in 2013 by the Ministry for Primary Industries, titled Operation Achilles, also revealed New Zealand fishing boats had illegally dumped large amounts of healthy fish — a finding which prompted the ministry to launch an inquiry this week.

McDonald’s sources some of its fish for the Filet’O’Fish burger from New Zealand waters, and environmental campaigners are now urging it to drop New Zealand fish from its menus.

“We are not attacking McDonald’s,” Nabu International spokeswoman Barbara Maas said. “They have a huge opportunity here to do the right thing and bring about some real change in the New Zealand fishing industry — they could say they saved the Maui’s dolphins, and how good would that be for their brand?”

The group will soon launch a campaign which includes billboards with the message: “Buy New Zealand Fish Get Dead Maui’s Dolphin Free.”

All part of the co-ordinated campaign against the NZ fishing industry.

NBR continue:

“The Seafood NZ response to Dr Maas’ latest claims was that it was beholden on her to produce evidence of such serious allegations. Her threats amounted to economic sabotage, if not blackmail.”

Egged on by opposition parties.

 

 

No tag for this post.

A partial victory

May 23rd, 2016 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Customs will likely get powers requiring a person to provide a password or access to their electronic devices – but a threshold such as suspicion of criminal activity will have to be met.

Customs Minister Nicky Wagner today announced that the Government has agreed to a series of proposals that will modernise the Customs and Excise Act, and a Bill will be drafted for introduction later this year.

When proposed changes were released by Customs in a discussion document last year, a particularly controversial area was about access to electronic devices.

Currently, when Customs examines a person’s electronic device the owner is not legally obliged to provide a password or encryption key.

The agency says if people refuse, it can leave no way to uncover evidence of criminal offending even when officers know the device holds that evidence.

Customs’ preferred option was to require passwords for electronic devices without meeting a threshold, such as suspicion of criminal activity.

Critics of the proposal, including the NZ Council for Civil Liberties, have cited what they see as serious workability issues around the proposed change to require passwords, including the fact a person can have documents or files in cloud storage, meaning they will not be kept on an electronic device.

Today, Ms Wagner said that would not happen – but in some circumstances people would likely be required by law to provide passwords.

“The Government has agreed in principle that Customs needs to meet a statutory threshold before examining electronic devices. We have asked Customs to do further work on what this would look like in practice and report back prior to introduction of the Bill.

I was one of those aghast at the original proposal, which gave Customs an unlimited power to search your laptops, tablets and phones – just because you were going through an airport.

Requiring a a statutory threshold before the power can be exercised, such as reasonable suspicion of criminal activity, is a lot better than what was originally proposed. But it will depend on exactly what the threshold is.

I’m still unconvinced that this power is needed at all. Customs needs to give some specific examples of why this power is needed, so we can assess it better.

I absolutely support the right of Customs to make physical searches of luggage and persons when you go through airports and the like. People can be smuggling in drugs, guns, biosecurity hazards etc.

But any material on your electronic devices is not the same thing. You can e-mail it or transmit it around the world regardless of where you are.

Crone proposes more transparency for Auckland

May 23rd, 2016 at 11:06 am by David Farrar

Vic Crone has announced:

Auckland Mayoral Candidate Victoria Crone says if elected Mayor, she will open the council books, introduce six monthly report cards and establish an Independent Budgetary Office. Ms Crone says she has floated the ideas with Councillors, professionals and members of the public, and they say it’s about time.

An Independent Budget Office

“I will introduce an Independent Budget Office (IBO) for more robust budget advice on strategic, long-term, and large-spend investments. This will include providing much needed cost-benefit analysis that is relevant and digestible for the Governing Body, local boards and the public.

“Council is no small operation with a huge average $6bn of spend annually in the 10-year plan so it has the ability to fundamentally change the way we live. But there is serious concern, particularly in the business community, around the strength of advice behind its large-scale multi-million dollar investments.

“Independent investment analysis with the IBO will ensure we are taking these decisions seriously and getting it right the first time. The non-partisan IBO will also carry out reviews to make sure these approved investment decisions are delivering the outcomes promised.”

With a spend of $6 billion a year, this is a good idea to have independent verification of budgets.

Opening council’s books

To help improve confidence and engagement, Crone says she will initiate a comprehensive transparency programme making council information publicly available in an easily accessible way.

“I’ll initiate a strong data programme that effectively opens council’s books at a line by line level. This information will be available to the public to search and analyse, covering any area of expenditure (excluding commercially sensitive data) as well as full reporting around employee and contractor numbers,” says Ms Crone.

“If we’re doing things right, we’ve got nothing to worry about. If we’re not, that’s motivation to sort it out so we get it right next time.”

This is something all local Councils should do (and the Government). Many states in the US do this, and some Councils in the UK. You allow citizens to scrutinise the payments ledger, which is a great way to discourage waste. If a transaction looks suspicious, then you can do a LGOIMA request asking for details of it. They call these Armchair Auditors Acts.

The Mayor’s Report Cards

Finally, Ms Crone says she will introduce Mayor’s report cards to help Aucklanders understand council’s role and the context of key priority issues for the city.

“Six-monthly Mayor’s Report Cards will update us on progress in our priority investment areas. Transport and housing are definitely issues of urgency that would be at the top of the list needing clearer key metrics on progress,” Ms Crone says.

“These are a cost effective and coordinated set of initiatives that will bring improved performance, transparency, trust and confidence, around the workings of Auckland Council and CCOs.”

For more more information see attached policy document or visit www.vic4mayor.nz/policy.

Also a good idea.

We have three candidates for Council (Crone, Thomas and Palino) all proposing specific policies to improve the Council. As far as I can tell Phil Goff has not a single detailed policy, and his platform appears to be simply to spend even more money than Len did.

Ontario trying to introduce taxpayer funding of parties

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

Christine van Geyn writes:

Few things are as revealing of the underlying values of the current Ontario Liberal government as its most recent proposals for election financing reform. The proposals show an absolute lack of faith in voters, and a movement to replace the speech of civil society with government-controlled speech. All on the taxpayers’ dime.

The draft legislation introduced on May 17 includes a taxpayer subsidy of $2.26 per vote to political parties, and limits on speech by civil society groups without corresponding restrictions on government advertising.

The taxpayer subsidy of $2.26 per vote would give a total of $10.7-million in taxpayer money to politicians, with the governing Liberals receiving the most at $4.2-million. That’s $10.7-million that is not paying to build roads or bridges. It’s $10.7-million of your money that is not filling in potholes, assisting autistic children, or paying doctors’ salaries. You will be forced to hand over your money to political leaders for them to run attack ads and stuff your mailbox full of flyers.

This is what Labour wants in NZ. Because they are so unpopular that supporters have stopped donating to them, they want to force taxpayers to fund their party instead – as do the Greens.

A revealing speech

May 23rd, 2016 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

The speech by Andrew Little this weekend was very revealing, but not in a good way. The Herald reports:

Mr Little said in the eight years under a National Government, the proportion of economic growth that went back to working New Zealanders in wages had dropped from 50 per cent to 37 per cent. Instead he accused National of favouring “those at the top” through policies such as allowing foreign trusts and tax on multinationals.

These are the same policies of course that existed under the last Labour Government, but lets ignore that for now.

Stuff further reports:

Little said just 37 per cent of economic growth had gone into the pay packets of working families since National came to power – down from over 50 per cent under the previous Labour government. 

That meant the average family had lost out on more than $13,000 under the Government, and would miss out on $50 a week this year.

The use of this statistic is rather revealing, as to both how desperate and also how ill informed Labour are. Three things I’d note:

  1. In all my years of politics I’ve never known a voter to talk about the proportion of economic growth that goes to wages. 99% of NZers don’t even know such a statistic exists lets alone give a flying f**k about it. I’m not sure I’ve even hear of it before. It reeks of desperation in trying to find an obscure economic statistic that they can campaign on. Voters care about jobs, wages, hospitals, schools and families – not the proportion of economic growth that goes to salaries. Wages have in fact risen twice as fast as inflation in the last seven years.
  2. Little seems to believe that the Government sits around the Cabinet table and determines what share of economic growth will go to wages. The Government does not create the economic growth and decide which sectors generate it and where. While policies have some small impact, the over whelming factor is decisions made by tens of thousands of businesses.
  3. Use of this statistic goes against Labour’s efforts to show they understand the modern economy. They are effectively railing against entrepreneurs and innovation. Why might a smaller share of economic growth by going to salaries. Well companies like Xero and Uber. They’re great for the economy (and customers) but according to Little they are robbing working NZers of $50 a week.

So Labour have managed to look desperate, ill informed and backwards in one speech. That’s quite an achievement.

Claire Trevett reports in the NZ Herald:

The centrepiece was a very convoluted piece of research about the proportion of economic growth returned to workers. Labour had concluded New Zealanders were getting $50 less a week than they would have been.

It was effectively meaningless beyond showing what clever clogs they were to have worked out such a thing.

Maybe their staff were so busy working on finding this obscure statistic, that they didn’t have time to do due diligence on the home they claimed had 17 people living in it!

It also opened Little to questioning on how Labour would get that back into the pockets of those workers.

Ban tech companies?

Labour selects Invercargill

May 23rd, 2016 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Labour’s Invercargill candidate for the 2017 general election says National’s policies are failing Southland and she wants discussions on state housing, health funding and digital infrastructure in the city.

Dr Liz Craig, a public health doctor, was named as the party’s candidate on Friday. …

Craig is best known for her child poverty advocacy work. She was also Labour’s Clutha-Southland candidate in 2014.

A mother of two, Craig is married to David Craig, and lives between Dunedin and a small farm in Romahapa.

She plans to spend most of her time in Invercargill after her nomination and has been house hunting for an old villa.

In her spare time Craig is re-planting and restoring native trees in Romahapa and also studies Te Reo Maori at the Southern Institute of Technology.

Co-chair of the Invercargill Labour Party, Sue McNeill, said Craig was a candidate of high calibre and determination.

Labour leader Andrew Little said Labour’s nominees in provincial seats were quality.  

“I am looking forward to Dr Liz Craig joining our caucus in 2017.”

Little looks silly when he says stuff like this. You can say they’d be a great MP etc, but stating as a certainty she will become an MP just looks deluded.

Here’s Labour’s record since 2005 in Invercargill:

  • 2005: PV 14,369, EV 13,518, lost by 2,052
  • 2008: PV 12,927, EV 12,750, lost by 6,664
  • 2011: PV 9,296, EV 11,012, lost by 6,263
  • 2014: PV 8,553, EV 10,044, lost by 7,482

Goff’s solution for Auckland – make everyone else pay!

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

Stuff reports:

Mayoral candidate Phil Goff says the government needs to cough up more funding for Auckland infrastructure if it wants the New Zealand economy to keep growing.

So Phil Goff thinks the residents of Timaru should pay for the infrastructure of Auckland.

The city was at its debt limit and even modest rate rises would go nowhere near to raising the extra funds required.

Yep because the Council has been on an out of control spending binge – one Goff wants to continue.

“We are growing hugely and the government, if it wants an open population policy, then has to come to the party and make it possible to fund the infrastructure that population demands.”

Yes there are many more people in Auckland, but that means many more ratepayers. The Government provides certain infrastructure such as schools and hospitals. The job of the Auckland Council is to fund other infrastructure. And you know if they spent less time trying to tell people what they can do with their own trees, then they’d be more able to.

Seven more charter schools

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

Stuff reports:

The Government has announced seven new charter schools will open in 2018 and 2019.

The new schools will expand the flagship ACT policy that saw five schools open, mostly in Auckland and Northland in 2014 – one of which, in Whangaruru has since been closed by the Education Minister – and another four in 2015. 

Good. Charter schools are not a magical fix, but the evidence to date is that they have been effective for hundreds of students who were failing in other schools.

Trans-Tasman on the Little fail

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

Trans-Tasman writes:

On one level it is funny, the other level it is far from hilarious. To deal with the humour first: Labour Party leader Andrew Little and his backroom team – a team which tends to have a higher public profile than most Labour MPs – thought it would be a very good way to illustrate the housing crisis by staging a photo opportunity in the back streets of Otara.

Unfortunately Little went to the wrong place and stood in front of a house where the people were living in the car because the house was being renovated not because it was overcrowded. As an aside, for some reason at least one of the television channels chose not to mention this lapse in basic political competence. Others were not so gentle: the result being the Labour Party, once again, being unable to do the political equivalent of walk and chew gum at the same time.

Having worked for four leaders, I’m aghast at how incompetent the management was of this. Normally you would check out every detail in advance, rather than have an angry home owner deny they are over crowded.

David Garrett pointed out how it is normally done:

I am generally a “cock up rather than conspiracy” man…but you have to wonder if this truly was just a fuck up…

I recall in the 2008 campaign ACT pulling a stunt at Mt Eden prison based on one of our claims that, if 3S had been in place before they were killed (i.e. the killers would have been in jail at the time), “77 people would be alive today”…Rodney came up with the inspired idea of propping 77 coffin lids against the walls at Mount Eden prison, and laying it on for the cameras.

The “77 people would be alive today…” claim was based on research I had done following a series of OIA questions well prior to being selected to stand. Before he authorized the stunt Rodney grilled me on the basis for the claim, and demanded to see the OIA’s I had asked and the answers, to see for himself whether the claim stacked up. The stunt went ahead, and we got a lot of media mileage out of it.

All someone had to do to check this one out was have someone reliable go to the house and talk to the bloody occupants! Who didn’t take even that basic step, and why, I wonder? Surely they no longer have a job??

You can’t just blame the staff for this. Little as Leader needs to do what Hide did, and personally grill people to check that what they are about to do won’t explode in their faces.

Little lawsuit going ahead

May 21st, 2016 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

“See you in court” – that’s the message from Scenic Hotel Group founders, the Hagamans, to Labour leader Andrew Little.

Little looks set to face defamation proceedings after ignoring an ultimatum and failing to apologise to the Hagamans.

In a statement from Lani Hagaman she said she would “see Mr Little in court” after he failed to retract and apologise his comments that a Niue resort deal they were awarded “stunk to high heaven”.

Little has written to Hagaman’s lawyers saying he has a “constitutional duty to challenge the actions of the Government over the expenditure of public funds”.

Little had every right to ask the Auditor-General to investigate. However by saying the tender “stunk to high heaven” he went well beyond what was advisable. He effectively accused them of corruption.

The Herald further reports:

In a statement released this evening, Lani Hagaman said she would “see Mr Little in court”.

“The reasons we’re taking defamation action have been widely reported in the media and I won’t be repeating his allegations that Earl and I find hurtful, highly offensive and totally false”, she said.

“While Mr Little may be entitled to call for an investigation there is a correct process in which to do this. In my opinion a public flogging is not the correct process.

“We’re incredibly disappointed he hasn’t apologised and retracted what he said.”

Again it isn’t the calling for an investigation which was an issue.

Even Greens support scrapping Auckland’s RUB, but Goff doesn’t!

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

Bernard Hickey reports:

Green Co-Leader and Housing Spokeswoman Metiria Turei said the Greens were also open to Labour’s package of relaxed city limits, relaxed density controls and new infrastructure financing, as long as it included integrated planning with public transport and protection of special land.

“That deals with a lot of our general concerns about just freeing up land on the rural boundary to allow for more sprawl. On the face of it, it looks like something we could consider and support because it has all of the parts of the puzzle integrated. The devil is in the detail always, but we’re certainly interested in their proposal,” Turei told me, adding she was also open to the infrastructure funding idea.

“If this is a measure to help with the affordability question, then this is a measure that should be given some serious thought. With the housing crisis as it is, every idea needs to be explored. We can’t afford to dismiss any idea outright.”

Wow, not quite a total endorsement, but a real sign that that the facts are winning through in this debate – if you don’t allow for more land, then nothing else will work.

Auckland Mayoral candidate (and favourite) and Labour MP Phil Goff stopped short of endorsing Labour’s proposal for the abolishment of the RUB, saying other measures would have to be put in place to control growth or fund the subsequent higher infrastructure costs of housing developments well beyond the fringes.

“If you abolish them you’ve got to put other measures in place,” Goff said, referring to the bulldozing of farm land he had seen near Kumeu which he did not approve of.

“You have to have controls. You have to have a situation that if somebody wants to build way out of the city, the developer and therefore the property purchaser, will pay for the internal infrastructure — the streets and the water supply — but the Auckland ratepayers pay the cost of getting infrastructure to that area and the further out you go the more expensive it is,” he said.

“And unless you’ve got a user pays system in place there you can’t have open slather.”

Goff, as usual, won’t commit to anything at all. As other candidates release detailed policies, he seems to have none.

John Palino some weeks ago explicitly advocated scrapping the RUB. Labour has now endorsed Palino’s policy. But Labour’s Mayoral candidate will not.

Marlborough’s economy

May 20th, 2016 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Labour has selected its challenger to try and turn the safe National seat in Kaikoura red.

Former farmer, mediator and community advocate Janette Walker is the first confirmed Labour candidate in New Zealand for the 2017 general election. …

Walker was defeated by National’s Stuart Smith in the 2014 general election after Smith won with a final majority of more than 12,000 votes.

Walker said this time around she was better known but she would not be making any changes to her campaign style.

The campaign style was relentless negativity and gloom.

The result was Labour got a miniscule 17.1% of the party vote in Kaikoura.

The Marlborough economy was not booming, exemplified by 23 empty shops in the town centre, she said.

The electorate is more than Blenheim. Stats NZ reported in March:

For the year ended March 2015, Marlborough’s GDP increased 2.2 percent, which was influenced by volatility in agriculture, largely offsetting increases in other industries.

From 2010–15, Marlborough’s economy increased 28.0 percent. This was led by the manufacturing industry (food, beverage, and tobacco product) – Marlborough’s largest.

28% increase over five years is pretty damn good.

Labour will legalise medicinal cannabis

May 20th, 2016 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Labour will legislate for medicinal cannabis “pretty quickly” after taking office, leader Andrew Little has confirmed.

Little said cannabis products should be available to anyone suffering chronic pain or a terminal condition if their GP signed off on it.

Labour MP Damien O’Connor has drafted a bill for Parliament that would shift the onus of decision making on medicinal cannabis away from the minister to GPs and medical professionals.

In a wide ranging Facebook Live interview with Stuff on Wednesday, Little said Labour would pass O’Connor’s law “pretty quickly” after the next election, should it win.

But on the wider issue of decriminalising cannabis, he wanted to see more evidence.

“I don’t have a moral thing about recreational drugs…my own experience of dealing with it as an issue was when I was a union lawyer, when employers started to do drug and alcohol testing and I did a lot of work on that.

“The medical evidence that came back to me overwhelmingly was that a lot of the cannabis available in New Zealand had very high THC (mind altering substance tetrahydrocannabinol) levels. For brains that are still developing in their late teens and early 20s cannabis use even to a modest degree can still cause long term brain damage. So I’d want to know we are addressing that real risk to that issue.”

Both approaches seem sensible. I’d wait to see the results of legalisation in the three US states which have done so, and see if drug related harms have increased due to legalisation. If not, then we should follow cause.

After a trough in the polls, Little believed Labour was bouncing back and said that was shown by the response to him out and about New Zealand. People were stopping him in the street, shaking hands and taking “selfies”.

“There is a mood shift, there’s a changing expectation.”

I agree there is a mood shift about Labour, but not a good one for them!

Taxes do change behaviour – but only at certain levels

May 19th, 2016 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

John Bishop writes in NBR:

The advocates of a sugar tax also argue that price rises worked for tobacco, so why would they not also work for sugar.

I think there are three differences.

The first is that over time smoking became more and more socially unacceptable; smokers became social pariahs. That hardly applies to sugar consumers, whatever health damage their habit might be causing.

Second, the places where one could smoke were progressively reduced. No one is suggesting that consumption of sugar should be confined to certain designated areas.

Should there be a ban in cafés on sugar sachets on the table, or on selling cakes with a sugar content over a certain level? Good luck with that idea.

Third, the price increases in tobacco were large and regular. But even then it took years for people to cut out tobacco (and there was taxpayer funded assistance to do so through Quitline and the like). None of that will likely apply to a sugar tax. (Or a fat tax for that matter.)

The tax on tobacco is now around 400%. A pack which would normally cost $4 costs $20 due to the tax.

A 10% or even 20% tax on sugar would raise a lot of revenue but have minimal impact on sugar levels, let alone obesity.

Socialism vs capitalism

May 19th, 2016 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Glenn Reynolds writes:

It is a common misconception that socialism is about helping poor people. Actually, what socialism does is create poor people, and keep them poor. And that’s not by accident.

So true.

Under capitalism, rich people become powerful. But under socialism, powerful people become rich.

Also very true.

The daughter of Venezuela’s socialist ruler, Hugo Chavez, is the richest individual in Venezuela, worth billions and billions of dollars. In Cuba, Fidel Castro reportedly has lived — pretty much literally — like a king, even as his subjects dwelt in poverty. In the old Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, as Hedrick Smith reported in his The Russians, the Communist Party bigshots had lavish country houses and apartments in town stocked with hand-polished fresh fruit, even as the common people stood in line for hours at state-run stores in the hopes of getting staples.

Socialism means everyone but the socialist rulers are poor!

George Orwell explained the phenomenon in his Animal Farm, many decades ago. But people keep falling for it: Like Ponzi schemes, socialism is an evergreen form of fraud, egged on by suckers eager to believe the lies hucksters tell them.

Which brings me to Bernie Sanders. The Washington Post recently ran a pieceoriginally entitled “Bernie Sanders’s plans have surprisingly small benefits for America’s poorest people.” Among other things it noted that “In general, though, Sanders’s health-care plan would benefit affluent households more than it would poorer ones.”

Likewise, a paper from the left-leaning Brookings Institution notes that the biggest beneficiaries of Bernie’s free-college proposal would be rich kids:  “Under the Sanders free college proposal, families from the top half of the income distribution would receive 24% more in dollar value from eliminating tuition than students from the lower half of the income distribution.”

Labour in NZ is pushing for the same – a massive wealth transfer from taxpayers to the wealthiest people in NZ – college graduates.

We should sell poor investments

May 19th, 2016 at 12:01 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

The Government has no plans to sell Landcorp despite it being labelled by Deputy Prime Minister Bill English as a “poor investment”.

The government-owned farming company was grappling with a significant drop in its revenue against increasing debt levels caused by the fall in milk price, English told farmers at the DairyNZ Farmers’ Forum at Mystery Creek.

“It’s a very low returning asset, so you have $1 billion tied up in that organisation and it pays taxpayers very little, in some years nothing so it’s a poor investment. However, we’re committed to keeping it.

Why? NZ has thousands of dairy farms owned by farmers. Why does the taxpayer need to own scores also?

Landcorp made a net operating loss of $8.9 million for the half year ending December and its half year revenues were $108.8m, down from $115.1m. The state owned enterprise blamed the fall in revenue on 22 per cent contraction in milk revenue.

Landcorp expected to report a net operating loss of between $8m and $12m for the 2015-16 year, below that of the previous year where a net operating profit of $4.9m was achieved. The report blamed the fall in milk prices as the reason for the loss.

There is a huge opportunity cost having $1 billion tied up in Land Corp. If that was released one could use it to pay for say $1 billion of new schools or hospitals. Alternatively reduce interest payments by $60 million a year or so freeing up that money for health or education spending.

More support for Port move

May 19th, 2016 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

The Ports of Auckland must be moved for the growth and prosperity of the city, say three mayoral candidates.

Their comments came after a survey of 328 small business representatives by MYOB revealed 39 per cent would vote for a mayoral candidate who proposed to move the port.

The survey also found 31 per cent opposed a move while 32 per cent said it would not affect their vote.

During a mayoral debate yesterday on Newstalk ZB, Phil Goff, John Palino and Victoria Crone said moving the port was important.

Good to have three candidates in favour. What matters though is how explicit they’ll be in taking steps to make it happen. Platitudes are easy, policy is harder.

Speaking to Leighton Smith, Mr Goff said the port would reach capacity for bulk cargo probably within the next three to 10 years and for container traffic within the next 24 to 40.

“At a certain point Auckland port will not be able to take any further traffic and I am not in favour of the port expanding into the harbour.

“The second reason is that there is 75ha of prime central business district land there that I think would produce a better return than a port.”

He said moving the port would also reduce congestion on Auckland’s motorways.

Great, so what is your plan? Where would the money come from to pay for a move?

Victoria Crone said the port couldn’t grow with the city and was therefore obsolete.

“We have moved on and our economy is no longer driven by [the port]. It is an important part of it but it is not the main driver.”

She said it was important to take a 50 to 100-year view of the port, which would enable people to see the port would not have the capacity to serve the city.

“Our focus has to be on how do we move it, how do we move it cost-effectively, how do we keep the business communities in Auckland as little affected as possible when we go through the move and then we have an incredible piece of land with significant infrastructure opportunity that we can then open up to all of Auckland.”

Ms Crone suggested the land could then be used for “a combination of economic and social living, vibrant night life, we need a ferry terminal, people have said we need a stadium, we could look at a Sydney opera house”.

Would be amazing to have that land available for other use.

John Palino argued the business part of the port should be sold.

“If we sell the business part of the port, the value in the port is really the real estate … so we could look at Tauranga and Whangarei and possibly create a deal with them where we sell them the port or we sell someone else the port.

“We [then] give them the ability to run that port for up to 10 years but the deal would be that in 10 years the port has to be removed.”

A specific idea as to how it could be done.