Archive for the ‘NZ Politics’ Category

Harsh Harman compares Labour to Penny Bright

September 28th, 2015 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Richard Harman writes in Politik:

Whenever there’s a public political event in Auckland starring the Prime Minister veteran protestor Penny Bright turn up in her red beret and her cluster of placards. Her usual theme is to abuse the Prime Minister by calling him “Shonkey”. It’s all good fun and Ms Bright is personable and never really rude.

To be fair to Penny she protests many people!

Once the left of New Zealand politics used to own nationhood issues. Think Peter Fraser, Norman Kirk or intellectuals like Keith Sinclair and Bob Chapman. So when the Prime Minister proposed a redesign of the flag you might have thought Labour would embrace it and quickly realising that he was simply doing it as a sort of marketing exercise they might have attempted to propel the whole debate to a higher plane. Instead they went for cheap shots. …

But the problem with that was that it placed the progressive side of New Zealand politics right alongside the RSA nostalgists from NZ First. It took the energy and initiative of a host of ordinary Kiwis to point out that Mr Key’s celebrity-laden flag panel had let us all down. Labour should have done that. For a party whose whakapapa includes the sponsorship of the 1940 Centennial of the Treaty of Waitangi and the explosion of scholarship, writing and music that inspired it looked like Mr Little and his MPs had forgotten their past. Or maybe they simply didn’t understand the future. …

Labour couldn’t’ resist repeating its tired old lines. In the debate over the red peak proposal they went on about the cost; about the failure to include a yes/no vote in the first referendum and they took a few swipes at the Greens for daring to support the Government. What they didn’t do was remind us that they were the party of nationhood and that by their own historic standards this process had fallen short. By forgetting their own past Labour run the risk of becoming as relevant to contemporary political debate as Penny Bright.

Harsh, but also true.  I guess they are more relevant than UK Labour though!

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An unhappy NZ First MP

September 28th, 2015 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

It seems rather obvious all is not well in Winston First, as Tracy Martin speaks out:

In July Martin was rolled from the deputy leadership by “assertive and aggressive” Ron Mark and while she says he has the credentials for the job she also believes her gender played a part in her fall.

“I was asked by a reporter in Warkworth that said, why aren’t you deputy leader anymore, what did you do wrong? I’m not aware I did anything wrong so my flippant answer was, I was probably born the wrong gender. It’s an answer but it’s an unprovable answer,” says Martin.

Not good for an MP to be saying she got sacked as Deputy as she is female.

Martin says while Peters has a “1950s respect for women” he also sees the politics in everything, which is why he has previously sided with women on issues including underage forced marriage and paid parental leave.

That sounds like a back handed compliment, at best. So basically he sees women in the home, but as they have the vote will side on some issues for them! And this is from his own former deputy!

Peters says he was not sure what Martin meant by his “1950s respect”, but said that NZ First had more women on the board at a high level than any other party.

Do they make the tea also? And do they have more women on their board than Labour and Greens?

Martin’s time in Parliament could be tied to Peters – she says that if she was still there when he retired she would question whether she could stay on with another leader.

Translation is she won’t work for Ron Mark, or I suspect Shane Jones.

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Labour lashed

September 27th, 2015 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Patrice Gaffaney Heather du Plessis-Allen writes the NZ Herald:

If there was a prize for sounding like the biggest pack of sad sacks, the Labour Party would win it.

He cites three things. First:

Our biggest rivals had just been told by their new Prime Minister that the leader he’d most like to emulate is the guy running New Zealand.

Malcolm Turnbull had the whole world to pick from: Obama, Cameron, Merkel. …

Andrew Little told Australians he pitied them if that’s what their new leader wants.

That was the third time he missed the chance to display a little magnanimity or leadership in the past fortnight. If he carries on like this, it will be as hard to vote for his party in 2017 as it was in the last election a year and a week ago.

The second is the flag:

Possibly his biggest mistake though was playing politics with the flag referendum. Forget what Labour was saying publicly about wanting to get Red Peak on the ballot. They didn’t want that. …

That’s why Labour mucked around and that’s why the Greens and National outmanoeuvered it. Labour was more interested in embarrassing the Prime Minister than making sure we hand the right flag on to our grandkids.

Yep. And the third:

How do you turn a story about panda bears into something negative? Here’s how.

It sounds increasingly like our biggest trading partner might hook us up with a couple of cute – but admittedly expensive to keep – YouTube favourites.

If you’re Little, you don’t use this as a chance to show your sense of humour and crack a few panda puns or display your understanding of the tourism the bears generate.

Instead, you say there are better things to spend money on. There are always better things.

Little will have done his research. He’ll know about panda diplomacy. He’ll know getting pandas from China is the equivalent of a diplomatic BFF note.

Overall Labour and Little has just come across as relentlessly negative on everything.


Garner picks Ardern over King

September 27th, 2015 at 8:16 am by David Farrar

Duncan Garner writes at Stuff:

They need to now promote Jacinda Arden who last week appeared in the unprompted preferred PM rankings.

She should replace current deputy, Annette King.

King is strong, popular and performs, and my sources tell me there are some who want her to stay as number 2.

But Labour needs to excite the public and signal change and that’s where Ardern comes in.

As capable as King is, I don’t think they look like a party for the future with her as Deputy. If they retain her, it is almost a vote of no confidence in the rest of the caucus. However she is undeniably their best performing MP.

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The truth about Kiribati

September 26th, 2015 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Suzy McKinney writes at Public Address:

The case of the I-Kiribati man Ioane Teitiota being deported after failing to become the world’s first climate change refugee in the Supreme Court of New Zealand is unfortunate, but is not unfair and misrepresents the reality of climate change to Kiribati in a harmful way.

I’m a self-proclaimed climate activist – I protested at the UN climate negotiations in Peru last year and submitted to the Ministry for the Environment’s consultation process calling for ambitious action on climate change. I am also currently living in Kiribati, working at the hospital here as part of my medical training.

My climate change activist friends back in New Zealand think this man being deported is disgraceful. Although the long-term impacts of climate change upon Kiribati are certainly disgraceful, Teitiota’s deportation is not and to think so is to misunderstand the unique situation that these low-lying islands and their proud peoples face.


It would be unfair for me to speculate as to Ioane Teitiota’s reasons for originally leaving Kiribati, or how much of a role the impacts of climate change at home played in his decision to fight to stay in New Zealand. I can only observe the comments of those I-Kiribati people involved in climate advocacy here and quote to you the words of Pelenise Alofa, National Coordinator of Kiribati’s Climate Action Network – “no one has ever left Kiribati because of climate change”.

Does he even claim he left because of it? He is just using it as a way not to get deported as an overstayer.

Research carried out in Kiribati shows that I-Kiribati people want to continue to live in their country for as long as possible and desire adaptation projects such as sea walls that will allow them to do so, rather than to flee Kiribati in 2015. The failure of Teitiota’s claims make it harder for people working to protect Kiribati’s climate to secure assistance and funding for the adaptation projects the country really needs .

So he is harming his own country.

As an observer here in South Tarawa, Kiribati, I see anger at Teitiota for his actions and the words he has spoken about his country. I see resentment for him from civil society here for the way his court case has mischaracterized how I-Kiribati people want to respond to climate change.

This article should get as much media attention, as the overstayer’s claims did. And shame on Labour for backing his claims.


Trans-Tasman on Pig gate responses

September 26th, 2015 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Trans-Tasman scribes some possible responses from parties to Pig-gate.

Parliament rose this week for recess, but not without the parties giving their views on the allegations about British Prime Minister David Cameron and his youthful indiscretion with a pig.

National stands by its previous position on the issue, whatever it was, and points out Labour had nine long years to engage in debauched behaviour with animals but failed to do so. Also PM John Key is quite into pigtails.

Labour is setting up a Commission on the Future of Pork which will give it some policy. It has also unearthed official advice saying National ignored official advice on debauched behaviour with animals. MP Phil Twyford is protesting the traditional method of calling pigs, “SooEY!” sounds Chinese.

The Greens are querying the pig’s contribution to climate change, and also whether it could be used to combat child poverty.

The Maori Party is keeping a low profile, as it tends to do these days. There isn’t a Whanau Ora aspect to this, unless there is a chance to use the pig for some sort of koha – and really, they would rather not, considering where it has been.

New Zealand First doesn’t know what to think, as Winston is away right now. But whatever it is they are really really angry about it.

Peter Dunne meanwhile is just really irritable about the whole thing, and is hoping to annoy NZ First about it if he can’t annoy the government this time.

ACT’s David Seymour has a really amusing, accidental double entendre all prepared for the next photo op.

Heh, not bad.

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Regenerate Christchurch

September 26th, 2015 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Gerry Brownlee reports:

The Crown and Christchurch City Council have signalled a new era in central and local government relations with the development of a joint entity to drive the city’s regeneration.

The Minister for Canterbury Earthquake Recovery, Gerry Brownlee, and the Mayor of Christchurch, Lianne Dalziel, today outlined plans to establish Regenerate Christchurch – a joint entity tasked with overseeing the long term development and enhancement of the Central City, residential red zone, New Brighton and other potential regeneration zones. …

Regenerate Christchurch will be jointly owned and funded by the Crown and the Christchurch City Council.  It will have a board which will report to both the Crown and Council. After five years the organisation will transfer to the city as a fully Council Controlled Organisation (CCO).

Appointing an independent Board ensures that Regenerate Christchurch will be managed in a completely different way to the current entities, the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority and the Christchurch City Council.

Having it eventually revert to full Council control is the right thing, along with having an independent board.


Trans-Tasman on Key

September 25th, 2015 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Trans-Tasman writes:

What those who label Key as “Teflon John” or “Lucky John” can’t fathom is the leadership skills the PM brings to the job. These include an ability to communicate unmatched by previous PMs, and an unerring instinct connecting with the issues of the day, allied to a systemic cheerfulness. Key’s own personal chemistry has blunted the inherent rivalry visible in previous administrations where Ministers jostled for advancement. The result is a sense of teamwork between the PM and his senior Ministers unrivalled in NZ’s political history …

Key exploits the architecture of Govt, with cabinet committee agendas deeper and more challenging than in previous eras. Ministers who demonstrate they know what they are doing are given their head to do what needs to be done in their portfolios (witness Hekia Parata in Education). But then it is Key who delivers the surprises, as in the decision to raise benefits for the first time in 43 years. Some commentators say the Govt hasn’t done enough in reform, ignoring the welfare, education and social policy developments (which have totally de-fanged Labour), and dismissing the $40bn cost of the Christchurch rebuild as an inconsequential bagatelle. What may prove even more disconcerting to Key’s opponent is his determination to win a fourth term.

I’m going to do some posts next week looking at what reforms National has managed, that would appeal to centre-right people, but also what policies they have implemented that appeal more to centre-left.

People say Key operates from the centre, but this is not quite right. His overall policy programme is centrist, but he actually does do a fair amount of centre-right policies – it just he also does some stuff that usually you expect from a left Government. Overall by darting to the left on some issues, it allows him to advance policies on the right also.

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Children in care

September 25th, 2015 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

A review panel is scathing of Child, Youth and Family’s performance, saying the current system is focused on immediate risks and containing costs at the expense of tackling harm and supporting long-term outcomes.

The panel, led by economist Paula Rebstock, has recommended CYF should adopt an “investment approach” to needy children, intervening earlier in partnership with other agencies.

This is sensible, and is working well in ACC and welfare. Ultimately should be extended to most areas of social provision.

It also recommended a new advocacy service for children in state care which would be run by the philanthropic sector.

Also sounds worthwhile.

However, it is highly critical of CYF’s nine youth residences, suggesting that they should be replaced by “smaller, more localised services”.

“Evidence and experience show that the propensity of large-scale institutions to cause harm to vulnerable children generally outweighs the security and safety benefits,” the report says.

“Cold, sterile facilities like some of the CYF residences run the risk of re-traumatising children and young people.

“Security and safety can often be dealt with by smaller, more localised services where a stronger connection to communities and tailored support would also provide a better chance of healing and development.”

Again, seems sensible.

Mrs Tolley said some of the statistics in the report were “horrifying”.

She said by the time children with a care placement who were born in the 12 months to June 1991 had reached the age of 21:

• Almost 90 per cent were on a benefit;
• More than 25 per cent were on a benefit with a child;
• Almost 80 per cent did not have NCEA Level 2;
• More than 30 per cent had a youth justice referral by the age of 18;
• Almost 20 per cent had had a custodial sentence;
• Almost 40 per cent had a community sentence;
• Overall, six out of every 10 children in care are Maori.

“This simply cannot be allowed to continue,” Mrs Tolley said.

Those outcomes are awful, and it is good to see the ambition to lift them.

However we should also be aware there are limits to what the state can do. Many or most of those in state care have been abused, beaten or neglected by their parents. They may have been exposed to alcohol or drugs in the womb, or during their childhood. By the time they get taken away from their parents, they’re already in a pretty crap state. And with the best will in the world, the harm done to them may be very very difficult to reverse.

But we certainly can do better than the status quo.

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There is no joke writer

September 25th, 2015 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The Nelson Mail reports:

And so the question remains: Who writes this stuff?

Who is the unnamed man or woman that sits in Prime Minister John Key’s corner silently passing him zingers written on paper napkins under the table? This staffer (one imagines you could only pay someone to do this job) has collated an incredible trove of whimsy in Key’s seven years in power.

There has been that one about being eaten by members of Ngati Porou. The one about killer paedophile not being invited around to the Chilean president’s place for lunch.

Knowing the PM’s media and comms staffers, I can say with certainty that none of them write his jokes, or certainly not ones about being eaten by Tuhoe. In fact they probably are the onces wincing the hardest when he tells such a joke.

There was also the one, or was it the two, about having a gathering in Australia and not knowing which Prime Minister would show up.

Key told that one twice on Thursday.

These jokes have always been bad. But they are bad in the same way dad jokes are bad, or jokes told to audiences of business people are bad.

The former may cause a slight, uncomfortable cringe and no harm done. The latter will attempt to be edgy and often lame but will always be met with raucous laughter.

For some reason audiences full of business people are prone to raucous laughter no matter the subject matter. This is as it was in Nelson.

The prime minister has thrived on both these forms of humour. As he has evolved into a more comfortable political animal, his demeanour while telling these jokes has become more relaxed, more confident. They have become something of a signature of Key’s. If Key is not joking then you know something is wrong. Most of the time he is joking.

So the unnamed staffer should be given a pay rise out of the prime minister’s own pocket because bad jokes seem to have as much to do with brand Key as anything else.

Of course, that is unless Key writes this stuff himself.

Yep, he does.


Pandas get internal tourists, not external tourists

September 24th, 2015 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

“I’ve raised it with Xi Jinping. It was a while ago. The issue about Wellington wanting to take them is not new and they have raised that with us before…it is a long slow process.

“Personally, I think New Zealand will get there …but there are costs. Eventually I think a couple of pandas will turn up.”

Cities that exhibit the creatures “have done very well,” Key said. He’d talk to Xi Jinping about a kiwi-panda swap: “If that was a possibility, sure, yeah.”

Earlier on Tuesday Key confirmed the Government would help foot the significant bill – but said the cash injection “wouldn’t be massive”. 

It shouldn’t be anything.

I do not believe having pandas in a zoo in New Zealand will entice a single tourist to NZ. People do not decide what country to travel to, on the basis of whether they have a panda there.

Pandas in Wellington will boost internal tourism. People already in NZ will be more likely to visit Wellington and go to the zoo. Hence there is a case for a contribution from ratepayers, so long as the projected economic gain is greater.

But there is no real case for a contribution from taxpayers.

The idea of swapping some kiwis for pandas has merit though. But what would the exchange rate be?


The loopy rules report

September 24th, 2015 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Rob Hosking writes:

The government today released an outline of what Local Government Minister Paula Bennett bluntly calls “loopy” rules and what they are doing to business.

The range of examples in the Rules Reduction Task Force report, released today, range from the pointless to the power-tripping.

A bus depot with no walls was still required to put up four exit signs, just in case people couldn’t find their way out in an emergency.

A shop converted into a residential unit was required to reduce noise levels to 35 decibels – but when it was tested, the only place this was achieved was in the wardrobe.

Adding a pharmacy on to the front of an earthquake-damaged building in Christchurch, which added only 3.5% to the structure, triggered a requirement to upgrade the fire safety standard of the entire building – at the cost of $50,000.

Hairdressing firms still have to be inspected annually because they were once sources of infection but this is no longer the case.

An example I know of is a wholesale supplier who built a warehouse and office in a major provincial city. They were told that because of the size of the overall area, they had to have a carpark with room for 20 people to park. Now this is not a retailer. They generally never have more than two people parked there at any time.

But it gets better. 10% of their parks must be for disabled drivers. So they have to have two car parks reserved for disabled drivers. Now not many people in wheelchairs turn up to pick up a large piece of machinery.But even if they did, all 20 parks are basically always empty. But two still have to marked as reserved.

The taskforce received submissions on more than 2000 topics, the co-chairs – National MP Jacqui Dean and Auckland Chamber of Commerce chief executive Michael Barnett – say.

“About two-thirds are in the context of the Resource Management Act 1991 (RMA) and the Building Act 2004. Three quarters of the issues raised are about the responsibilities and actions of councils,” the report says.

All this focuses on matters a National-led government should be focusing on: the silly and often counterproductive rules that generate trouble but little or no benefit.


This is the issue, in my example. The car parks requirement benefits no one at all. It is just an inflexible rule that imposes a cost of a business for no corresponding benefit.

The Herald reports on a possible change from the report:

The door is ajar for letting builders sign off on the quality of their own work.

The proposal is among recommendations released today by the Government’s rules reduction taskforce, which was set up to look at the rules and regulations causing frustration for taxpayers.

The taskforce said self-certification should be encouraged for builders who meet set levels of qualification.

Local Government Minister Paula Bennett has indicated it was an area where current regulations might be excessive.

She has asked Building and Housing Minister Nick Smith to look at the proposal.

Dr Smith said he was open to the suggestion and had asked officials to look at the matter.

He said there was some work where self-certification would be appropriate, in exactly the same way as electricians sign off on their own work.

Definitely worth considering.


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Parliament 24 September 2015

September 24th, 2015 at 12:26 pm by David Farrar

The order paper is here (yesterday’s).

Oral Questions 2.00 pm – 3.00 pm

  1. Hon ANNETTE KING to the Minister of Health: What responsibility, if any, does he take for a lack of access to health services for New Zealanders?
  2. IAN McKELVIE to the Minister of Finance: How many more jobs have been created in New Zealand since the economy started recovering from the global financial crisis?
  3. Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS to the Minister of Defence: Does he regard all expenditure within Defence as being of high value?
  4. JAN LOGIE to the Minister for Social Development: Does she stand by her answer to written question 10747 (2015) that “Neither the Ministry nor myself are aware of Serco staff ever visiting any Child, Youth and Family site”?
  5. GRANT ROBERTSON to the Minister of Revenue: Does he agree with the New Zealand Law Society that “This bright line test is a bad idea and shouldn’t be enacted as in our view it will be ineffective in meeting the stated policy objective”?
  6. Dr PARMJEET PARMAR to the Minister for Social Development: What recent reports has she received regarding the state of Child, Youth and Family?
  7. PHIL TWYFORD to the Minister of Local Government: How much has been spent on the Rules Reduction Taskforce in total?
  8. SIMON O’CONNOR to the Minister of Health: Can he confirm that a record 542,000 patients received a first specialist assessment in the last 12 months, and that a record 167,000 patients received an elective surgery operation?
  9. DARROCH BALL to the Minister for Social Development: Did Serco visit the South Auckland Youth Justice facility, Korowai Manaaki, due to any issues identified at that residence?
  10. MOJO MATHERS to the Minister of Broadcasting: Does she think it’s acceptable that hundreds of thousands of New Zealanders who live with hearing loss are unable to access the TV commentary for any Rugby World Cup games because we do not have mandatory captioning requirements in this country?
  11. SUE MORONEY to the Minister for ACC: Does she stand by her decision to change to the risk rating model for ACC motor vehicle levies that has resulted in 115,000 vehicles being reclassified in the first 3 days?
  12. TODD MULLER to the Minister of Conservation: What recent announcements has she made about boosting community pest control?

National: Four questions on the economy, CYF, surgical assessments and pest control

Labour: Four questions on health services, tax on housing, Rules Reduction Taskforce and ACC

Greens: Two questions on Serco and TV captioning

NZ First: Two questions on sefence spending and Serco

Government Bills 3.00 pm to 6.00 pm

Environmental Reporting Bill – third reading

 The bill provides for independent environmental reports in the areas of air, climate and atmosphere, freshwater, marine and land.
  • Introduced February 2014
  • 1st reading: March 2014, passed 78 to 41 with Labour and NZ First opposed
  • Select Committee report: March 2015, supported with amendments by the majority, minority views by Labour and Greens
  • 2nd reading: May 2015, passed 61 to 60 with Labour, Greens, NZ First and Maori Party opposed
  • Committee of the whole House: June 2015, passed 63 to 58 with Labour, Greens and NZ First opposed

The third reading consist of 12 speeches of up to 10 minutes each, for a maximum debate of two hours.

Standards and Accreditation Bill – third reading

The bill amends and consolidates the law relating to standards and conformity assessment bodies “to ensure the New Zealand Standards and conformance system is viable, well-functioning, and meets the needs of business, regulators, and consumers into the foreseeable future.”

  • Introduced: July 2014
  • 1st reading: November 2014, passed unanimously
  • SC report: March 2015, supported with amendments with a minority report from Labour
  • 2nd reading: May 2015, passed 61-60 with Labour, Greens, NZ First and Maori Party against
  • Committee of the whole House: July 2015, passed 61-60 with Labour, Greens, NZ First and Maori Party against

The third reading consist of 12 speeches of up to 10 minutes each, for a maximum debate of two hours.

New Zealand Superannuation and Retirement Income Amendment Bill – third reading

The bill amends the New Zealand Superannuation and Retirement Income Act 2011 to facilitate the efficient and effective investment of the New Zealand Superannuation Fund by allowing the Guardians to control entities formed for the purpose of holding, facilitating, or managing the investments of the Fund.

  • Introduced: November 2013
  • 1st reading: March 2014, passed unanimously
  • SC report: July 2014, supported with amendments without dissent
  • 2nd reading: May 2015, passed 101-13 with Greens against
  • Committee of the whole House: June 2015, passed unanimously

The third reading consist of 12 speeches of up to 10 minutes each, for a maximum debate of two hours.

Note the bill has been divided into two bills – the New Zealand Superannuation and Retirement Income Amendment Bill and the Taxation (New Zealand Superannuation and Retirement Income) Bill.



Goff’s running

September 24th, 2015 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

The Super City mayoral contest has sparked to life with Labour MP Phil Goff all but declaring he is standing and the first centre-right candidate coming forward.

Last night, Mr Goff told the Herald “it is likely I will put my name forward”, telling voters to expect an announcement before Christmas.

If Goff stands, will he remain an MP and campaign while being paid as an MP? Lianne Dalziel resigned as an MP prior to the results of the Mayoral election. Will Goff do the same?

This comes as Orakei Local Board member Mark Thomas puts his hat in the ring.

Mr Thomas is standing as an independent with encouragement from several councillors but no political backing at this stage for the October 2016 contest.

The mayoralty is important, but even more important is getting a majority on Council who will stop doing over ratepayers with 10% rates increases.

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ACC residual levies to end

September 23rd, 2015 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

More than half of New Zealand businesses will have their yearly ACC contributions cut after an old charge has been thrown out.

Residual levies, which have been collected since 1999, will be removed from ACC’s Work, Earners’ and Motor Vehicle Accounts next year, ACC minister Nikki Kaye announced Tuesday morning.

That means 53 per cent of Kiwi businesses will see decreases in their contributions to the Crown entity beginning in April next year, while 47 per cent will be paying more.

When ACC was set up in 1974,  it operated on ‘pay-as-you-go’ funding model, where every year a levy was collected to meet costs of claims for just that particular year.

But when the funding model changed in 1999, the levy changed to collect enough money to meet the anticipated long-term costs of claims.

Suddenly, for the 25 year period between 1974 and 1999, ACC hadn’t collected enough money to pay for future costs.

The residual levy was introduced to play catch up for the downstream costs of old claims, ensuring there were enough funds set aside to pay for ongoing claims predating 1999.

Now, the Government has has announced enough money has been collected to fund the ongoing costs of all claims on ACCs books, including for claimants who will rely on ACC for lifetime support.

The levies companies pay are experience rated, reflecting the likelihood of injury in their particular industries.

The safer the industry a company is in – and the less likely it is that its employees will make have to make claims – the less the company has to pay.

The residual component was fixed, based on old injury rates, some of which date back 10 years or more and have become outdated.

Now, all businesses will have their levies calculated on the most recent data around injuries, rather than historical data, which will see 53 per cent pay less to ACC, while 43 per cent would see hikes.

Having the levies reflect current accident rates, rather than historical rates, is a good thing.

Also good to see the accounts are now fully funded.

However, Kaye also announced Tuesday that there were further levy cuts in store which could lead to three out of four Kiwi businesses decreasing their contributions starting in the 2016/17 year.

“The ACC Board has advised me they intend to propose significant average levy reductions next year, which could mean only 25 per cent of businesses get a work levy increase,” Kaye said.

“Around 75 per cent of businesses would see their work levy reduced, with the reduction being very significant for some. This is because they will effectively get a reduction through both the residual levy being removed, as well as potential reductions to the work levy.”

That’s good. The key to keeping levies down is both a reduction in accidents, but also not increasing the scheme’s coverage constantly.


Key rules Peters out as co-PM

September 23rd, 2015 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

The suggestion that Winston Peters could be prime minister in a job-share agreement if NZ First holds the balance of power is a joke, John Key says.

“[That has the same] chance as me holidaying on the lunar space station, I would have thought – just no chance,” Mr Key said.

National would never ever agree to Peters as a co-PM or sole PM for a short while.

Labour leader Andrew Little has also said any place for Mr Peters in a future Labour-led Government would depend on his support levels, but would not include the position of Prime Minister.

Ms Martin said she disagreed with Mr Little making that call now.

“He doesn’t know who he has got to deal with [after the 2017 election]. It is a silly thing to do, in my view, it is silly to rule things in and out before the vote has taken place. You don’t know what your position is.”

Key would clearly rather leave Parliament than have Peters as Prime Minister. But what will Little do if his only chance of being PM is to allow Peters say a year in the top spot?


Will Red Peak make it?

September 23rd, 2015 at 12:40 pm by David Farrar

The Greens have announced:

The Green Party will today ask Parliament to allow it to introduce a Bill offering New Zealanders the choice of the popular Red Peak flag as a fifth option in the upcoming flag referendum.

Green Party MP Gareth Hughes will seek the leave of Parliament to introduce the New Zealand Flag Referendum Amendment Bill 2015 and put it at the top of the order paper. This requires the support of every MP in Parliament if it is to be successful.

It won’t be given leave, but the important part is down further:

“We won’t be supporting any changes other parties may put up to this Bill. We want to keep it simple and allow the opportunity for Red Peak to be included without re-litigating the whole referendum process.

The Greens are saying they will not back Labour’s demand to sabotage the process by having a yes/no vote before we even know the final alternative design.

“If the Bill is blocked today, we would call on the Government to adopt it as its own, to put politics aside and provide the choice that New Zealanders clearly want,” Mr Hughes said.

The bill would then have the support of National, Greens, Maori Party, ACT and (presumably) United Future. Is that enough to meet what the PM has said he wants – cross-party support?

If it then becomes a Government bill, Labour then has to decide whether to try and vote the red peak bill down, even after their amendments fail. They’d piss off a lot of red peak supporters if they do.

If the bill passes then the first referendum will have five flags, and people will get to rank them for 1 to 5.

UPDATE: The Herald reports:

The Red Peak flag will be added as a fifth option in the flag referendum, Prime Minister John Key has confirmed.

The Government has agreed to pick-up legislation that was put forward by the Green Party this afternoon, which means the Red Peak design will join the four flag alternatives already selected.

“The whole way through I have said my preference is to stick wwith the process that the officials gave us – accept the four [designs already selected].

“I said I was prepared to go outside of that but I just didn’t want people playing games. The Greens have been very, very straight – they have said, here is a straight bill.

“In the end, I’m not wanting to be the one that stands in the way of people having some choice.”

I’m looking forward to people campaigning for their preferred design.


Parliament 23 September 2015

September 23rd, 2015 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

The order paper is here.

Oral Questions 2.00 pm – 3.00 pm

  1. BARBARA KURIGER to the Minister of Finance: What steps is the Government taking to better position the economy to manage future uncertainty?
  2. JAMES SHAW to the Prime Minister: Does he stand by his statement that his Government has achieved “a lift in the average wage of more than $10,000 dollars a year”?
  3. ANDREW LITTLE to the Prime Minister: Why did he say that pandas are “a subject dear to my heart” and taxpayer money would be made available to get pandas for Wellington Zoo?
  4. NUK KORAKO to the Minister for Canterbury Earthquake Recovery: What is the estimated value of public sector construction completed and underway in Christchurch?
  5. FLETCHER TABUTEAU to the Minister of Defence: Does he stand by all his statements?
  6. GRANT ROBERTSON to the Minister of Finance: Does he stand by his statement in relation to capital contributions to the NZ Super Fund that “saving by borrowing is like building up your savings with your credit card, it just doesn’t make sense”; if so, what has been the average return per annum since the NZ Super Fund was created?
  7. Dr KENNEDY GRAHAM to the Prime Minister: Does he stand by all his Government’s policies?
  8. JACINDA ARDERN to the Prime Minister: Does he stand by his response yesterday, when asked whether his Chief of Staff was trying to stop him talking about the flag during speeches, that “Far from that being correct, I think record numbers of people are turning up”?
  9. Dr SHANE RETI to the Minister of Education: What recent announcement has she made to improve teachers’ learning and development so that it lifts student achievement?
  10. POTO WILLIAMS to the Minister for the Community and Voluntary Sector: Does she believe that community housing providers with programmes that include home ownership should be able to be defined as charities based on the definition of charitable purpose within the Charities Act 2005?
  11. MATT DOOCEY to the Minister of Transport: What progress has the Government made on delivering the Urban Cycleways Programme in Canterbury?
  12. MAHESH BINDRA to the Minister of Corrections: Does he stand by all his statements?

National: Four questions on the economy, Christchurch construction, student achievement, and urban cycleways

Labour: Four questions on pandas, NZ Super Fund, NZ Flag and community housing

Greens: Two questions on average wage and PM standing by his policies

NZ First: Two questions on Defence and Corrections Minister standing by their statements

General Debate 3.00 pm to 4.00 pm

The general debate consists of 12 speeches of up to five minutes each for a maximum debate of one hour.

Government Bills 4.00 pm to 6.00 pm and 7.30 pm to 10.00 pm

Accident Compensation (Financial Responsibility and Transparency) Amendment Bill – third reading


Is Invercargill Council out of control?

September 23rd, 2015 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

The Invercargill City Council is sending five people to Japan to visit sister city Kumagaya on Friday – just days after the council copped heavy criticism for sending three staff members to Chinese sister city Suqian to buy Christmas lights.

That contingent arrived home minus any lights and the council copped a barrage of criticism, however it is proceeding with a visit to its other sister city, Kumagaya in Japan.

Council chief executive Richard King said the Kumagaya trip will cost about $20,000 and last about a week, including travelling time.

When asked if the trip was appropriate given the controversy over Suqian, King said the Suqian trip had been a oneoff.

Invercargill had been in a sister city relationship with Kumagaya for more than 22 years and normally sent a delegation there every two years to maintain the political relationship, King said. 

The money for the trip comes out of the council’s sister city budget.

“You are either in a sister-city relationship or you aren’t and we have been for the past 22-plus years.”

First of all most sister city relationships provide no benefits except to those who travel on junkets to celebrate them.

Secondly even accepting you have one, why five people for a week? All you need is the Mayor and the CEO for say three days.


An overstayer not a refugee

September 23rd, 2015 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

A last-ditch appeal against the deportation of a man who claimed to be the world’s first climate change refugee has failed.

Associate Immigration Minister Craig Foss has received a briefing on the case of Ioane Teitiota and his family, and has tonight declined to intervene.

That means he will be deported shortly to Kiribati, with his wife and young New Zealand-born children likely to join him.

Mr Teitiota had claimed to be the world’s first climate change refugee, but that was dismissed by the courts, and Labour instead asked Mr Foss to allow him to stay on humanitarian grounds.

Earlier today, Prime Minister John Key said there was no question that Mr Teitiota was an over-stayer, and not a refugee.

This is correct. Mr Teitiota is trying it on. Overstayers do this a lot. They have little to lose. I recall Danny Butler who claimed he would be killed if returned to Ireland.

On the issue of climate change, Mr Key dismissed the notion that New Zealand should consider looking at accepting people on the basis that their homeland was threatened by rising sea levels.

“I am certainly not ruling out that a future Prime Minister and a future Government wouldn’t take that compassionate view, and I suspect actually that they would. But it would be on genuine grounds that they actually can’t live in their country.”

Sea levels are rising. But at present by 3 mm a year. In the long term this will post massive problems for Kiribati, if it continues. But we’re talking maybe 50 to 100 years down the track, not during his lifetime.

Reverend Naisali said that sending the family to Kiribati was akin to putting someone on dialysis on a plane, despite knowing there was no medical help where they were going.

“There is no employment opportunities in Kiribati, there is population density in Kiribati, there are no education opportunities for the children.”

That may be so, but he is from Kiribati. If he did not overstay, he could apply for residency if he has skills NZ needs. But simply coming from a poorer country is not grounds for residency in NZ.

Green Party co-leader James Shaw said the case was the “canary in the mine”, and there would soon be “a flood of people from the Pacific Islands” because of climate change.

Will James define soon? Climate change is seeing temperatures increase and sea levels rise. And we do need to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions to mitigate this. But I dispute that there will soon be a flood of people. The IPCC most recent report is that if emissions continue to increase then by 2100, sea levels would have increased by 62 cms.  That will definitely impact many people, but 2100 is not “soon”.

That is not an argument to do nothing. Quite the opposite. But it is an argument that we do not need to claim there will be a flood of climate change refugees anytime soon.


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Will Peters demand co-PM?

September 23rd, 2015 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Labour leader Andrew Little is only just in front of NZ First leader Winston Peters in the preferred Prime Minister stakes but says he will not entertain the suggestion of sharing the top job if Mr Peters holds the balance of power.

In the latest 3 News Reid Research poll, NZ First would have the balance of power and on The Nation this weekend, Mr Peters would not rule out seeking a power-sharing role as Prime Minister if NZ First was strong enough.

He refused to answer a direct question, saying “it’s immaterial unless we get the kind of sign-up and support that we are seeking in 2017”. However, he pointed out there was precedent of the leader of the second biggest party in a coalition becoming Prime Minister – George Forbes in 1932.

Yesterday Mr Little said any place for Mr Peters in a future Labour-led government would depend on his support levels but the Prime Minister’s role was not up for grabs. “I don’t think New Zealand is ready to accept a state of musical chairs in the role of Prime Minister.”

But if it is a choice between that and a fourth term in opposition, would Labour buckle?



Common sense on spa pools

September 22nd, 2015 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

People buying a spa will no longer need to worry about fencing it off under a law change.

A lockable cover will be sufficient protection under legislation that has passed its first reading today with cross-party support.

The Government has also backed away from lowering the depth at which pools need to be fenced after public backlash against the idea that paddling pools would be covered.

The new legislation will replace the Fencing of Swimming Pools Act 1987, which significantly cut the number of children aged up to four who drowned in home swimming pools.

Such drownings decreased from 100 in the ten-year period before the measures were introduced, to 30 in the 10 years to 2012.

However, the Government said the regulations were inconsistent and “often cumbersome”, and changes were needed.

These will include:
• No longer requiring spas and hot tubs to be fenced off if they have a lockable cover and meet certain specifications.
• Require councils across the country to carry out five-yearly inspections of swimming pools.
• Make infringement notices the preferred way to deal with pool owners who fail to comply, with court prosecutions only in serious breaches.


Good to see common sense winning the day here.

The current law allows spa owners in Auckland to apply for an exemption from fencing if their spa has a lockable cover – but that costs $455.

What a rort.

The law change is expected to improve safety, but also reduce compliance costs by $17 million, Mr Foss said.



Parliament 22 September 2015

September 22nd, 2015 at 11:53 am by David Farrar

The order paper is here.

Oral Questions 2.00 pm – 3.00 pm

  1. ANDREW LITTLE to the Prime Minister: Does he stand by all his statements after almost seven years as Prime Minister?
  2. RON MARK to the Prime Minister: Does he stand by all his statements?
  3. JOANNE HAYES to the Minister of Finance: What progress is the Government making towards its target of returning to fiscal surplus this year and in achieving its other fiscal priorities?
  4. ANDREW LITTLE to the Prime Minister: Does he stand by all his statements after almost seven years as Prime Minister?
  5. JAMES SHAW to the Prime Minister: Does he stand by all his statements after almost seven years as Prime Minister?
  6. JACQUI DEAN to the Minister of Local Government: What progress has been made by the Government’s Rules Reduction Taskforce to get rid of “loopy” rules?
  7. Hon ANNETTE KING to the Prime Minister: Does he stand by all his statements after almost seven years as Prime Minister?
  8. SCOTT SIMPSON to the Minister of Health: Can he confirm this Government has expanded the number of children who are benefiting from free GP visits and prescriptions from 400,000 children to over 750,000?
  9. Dr KENNEDY GRAHAM to the Prime Minister: Does he stand by all his statements after almost seven years as Prime Minister?
  10. JONO NAYLOR to the Minister for Social Development: What progress has the Government made on implementing the Children’s Action Plan?
  11. JACINDA ARDERN to the Prime Minister: Does he stand by all his statements after almost seven years as Prime Minister?
  12. STUART SMITH to the Minister for Primary Industries: How is the Government supporting sustainability in aquaculture?

National: Five questions on the surplus, rules reduction taskforce, free GP visits, Children’s Action Plan and aquaculature

Labour: Four questions on whether the PM stands by all his statements

Greens: Two questions on whether the PM stands by all his statements

NZ First: One question on whether the PM stands by all his statements

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

Accident Compensation (Financial Responsibility and Transparency) Amendment Bill – committee stage

Passports Amendment Bill (No 2) – committee stage

“The Passports Amendment Bill (No 2) modernises the Passports Act 1992 by extending the maximum validity period of the New Zealand passport from 5 years to 10 years for persons who are at least 16 years old and by taking into account certain changes in technology.

  • Introduced June 2015
  • 1st reading: June 2015, passed unanimously
  • SC report: August 2015, supported with amendments unanimously
  • 2nd reading: September 2015, passed unanimously

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

Tariff (Free Trade Agreement between New Zealand and the Republic of Korea) Amendment Bill – second reading

This Bill amends New Zealand law as part of the implementation of the Free Trade Agreement between New Zealand and the Republic of Korea.

  • Introduced: June 2015
  • 1st reading: June 2015, passed 95 to 26 with Greens and NZ First opposed
  • SC report: July 2015, supported unanimously without amendments
  • 2nd reading: September 2015, passed 95 to 24 with Greens and NZ First opposed

There is no time limit for the committee stage but it is estimated to be relatively brief.



Vance on Key on the global stage

September 22nd, 2015 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Andrea Vance looks at John Key on the international stage. First an amusing tidbit:

A few years ago, Key was on an official trip to the tiny Pacific Island state of the Marshall Islands, and he had some down time. A local fisherman invited him out for some ocean fishing.

But Key was expecting a call from David Cameron, so he took a satellite phone out.

Just minutes before the scheduled call, he hooked a tuna. As he fought to bring the big fish on board, Cameron called – and was bemused by the noise in the background. Asking what it was, Key explained he was out fishing.

A bemused Cameron replied: “Oh, to be leader of a small Pacific island nation.”


“Obama tends to be pretty wonky. Key is less wonky than Obama but he can go there, so he has the vocabulary and the interests to dig deep into fiscal and social policy. Obama loves that level of discussion … I think Key is less that but he is a good reader of people – he is a very effective politician in that sense.”

Bower predicts Air Force One will touch down here before Obama’s term ends in 2016. “The White House has people looking at what countries he hasn’t been to…New Zealand is seen as a real friend. I think it is on his mind and if it is possible he really will.”

Key gained respect in Washington business and policy circles as defence and security ties with Wellington improved, Bower says. “Key has been fundamental in pushing that through. In Washington, he would get very high marks…he can talk about ISIS, China, South East Asia with a granularity – not all leaders have that capability.

For some reason some people think Key is not a detail person. He generally delegates to Ministers and doesn’t interfere, but he has a very detailed knowledge of what is happening in pretty much all areas.

In August, Key embarked on a round of speed-dialling to close the TPP deal. His charm alone was not enough to persuade other leaders to give ground on dairy tariffs in recent negotiations.  Canada, in particular, was immovable and the talks stalled.

If they were not on the verge of an election campaign, we may have got somewhere.

Outside of New Zealand, Australia is where Key has his biggest fans. Business leaders and conservative politicians respect his reforming agenda, Australian Financial Review journalist Luke Malpass says. “Raising GST in Australia is abominably difficult and he did it with barely a blink – and of course the big one is balancing the budget. “

He also has appeal for ordinary voters. “Australian politicians surround themselves with a phalanx of advisors, are very inaccessible and talk almost exclusively in soundbites. Key is quite a straight talker, he answers questions.”

As I said in my op ed, Key does multiple media stand ups a week, and many of his public functions also allow questions from the audience.  He is incredibly accessible.

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Quote of the week

September 22nd, 2015 at 8:00 am by TaxpayersUnion

“Taxation is the price we pay for failing to build a civilized society. The higher the tax level, the greater the failure. A centrally planned totalitarian state represents a complete defeat for the civilized world, while a totally voluntary society represents its ultimate success.”

– Mark Skousen

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.

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