Archive for the ‘NZ Politics’ Category

CTU tries to defend their troughing

January 15th, 2014 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The Taxpayers Union yesterday revealed that ACC has spent $19 million funding Business NZ and the CTU for training which even if it lowered accident rates by 50%, would only return a benefit of 16 cents for every dollar spent.

The CTU has tried to justify their troughing by saying:

“We trained nearly 2000 health and safety representatives last year and the feedback from participants has been overwhelmingly positive. 97 % felt they could perform the role of health and safety rep more confidently than before the course, 96 % said the course showed them how they could improve health and safety in their workplaces and nearly 99 % found that these courses were beneficial and helped with their understanding of the role and the importance of health and safety at work. Feedback has been consistently positive since we began these courses.”

The measure of effectiveness is whether there are fewer accidents at workplaces that receive the training, not on whether participants in a course tick a form saying they enjoyed the course.

The CTU is rightfully focusing on the appallingly high level of deaths in the foresty sector. They would be outraged if the Government’s response was that it doesn’t matter whether or not there are fewer deaths, so long as as employees who do a safety course rate it as beneficial.

CTU President Helen Kelly has also had a rant at The Daily Blog. She thinks there is something sinister that the TU got a response to our OIA 19 days after it was filed. Is she unaware that 20 days is the legal limit? She also says:

The training deliverables for the contract do not focus on the outcomes of the training only the numbers trained but the course is approved and overseen by a tripartite group.

That is the problem. It should be about outcomes. The CTU demand better outcomes in the forestry sector (and I agree with them) but don’t think their own levy payer funded training courses should be linked to improving outcomes. This is the problem when you stick your hand out for government funding – you become conflicted and even hypocritical.

 

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Labour supports paying three times as much for a boat

January 15th, 2014 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

The Government has defended its decision to award an $8 million ferry contract to a Bangladesh company rather than a local boat builder as the option offering the best value for money.

Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce said the difference between the local tenders and the Bangladesh bid was around $14 million.

“The numbers here were just too big to bridge, whatever way you want to cut it. If we were to prefer New Zealand suppliers at any cost, it would be a recipe for economic disaster,” Joyce said.

Twelve shipyards from Australia, Bangladesh, China, New Zealand, Poland and Singapore submitted tenders for the 43m vessel.

If the costs are similar, then there is sense in favouring the local company. But its would be a reckless use of taxpayers money to pay three times the price, just to go with an NZ company.

Also note that with CER one can not discriminate between NZ and Australian tenders.

Labour’s spokesman for economic development, Shane Jones, said the contract showed the Government’s new procurement rules were merely paying lip service. “It is bizarre New Zealand’s boat building industry was good enough for Oracle Team USA but is not good enough for the Pacific Islands,” Jones said.

So Labour support the taxpayers paying an extra $14 million. Is it now their policy that they will withdraw from all trade agreements and CER and ban all overseas companies from being able to tender for NZ Government contracts? I presume they will also be happy for overseas Governments to do the same, and ban NZ companies from being able to win overseas Govt contracts.

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The Internet Party

January 15th, 2014 at 12:30 pm by David Farrar

Kim Dotcom has announced the name of his proposed political party will be The Internet Party. Wallace Chapman has also stated he was asked to stand for it, and has declined. He has also been asked to stand for Labour in the past he discloses.

Also of interest is that Martin Bradbury is talking up the Dotcom Party, and states that “urban professional male Gen X National Party voters who don’t derive an income from the Dairy Industry will find Kim Dotcom’s economic vision a genuine way forward

What I find interesting is how Martin knows what that economic vision is, when their policies have not been released. It’s almost as if he is involved. But of course he would disclose that if he was, right?

UPDATE: In an exclusive Whale Oil discloses how two journalists are on the payroll of the Internet Party, or hold a leadership role in it. They key details are:

  • Martyn Bradbury on payroll for $8000 per month plus $5000 advance payment for technology upgrades
  • Bradbury to stand for Auckland Central
  • Scoop General Manager Alistair Thompson is to be the Party’s Secretary (a statutory role)
  • Scoop has registered the domain names for the party

This is the second time that Bradbury has been revealed to be on, or seeking to be on, the payroll of a political party he blogs favourably about, without disclosing it.

There are serious issues for Scoop and the press gallery also. Can a member of the press gallery be a senior office holder of a political party? Is it appropriate to have a party secretary asking hostile questions of the PM at his media press conferences, in his role as a journalist.

UPDATE: Bradbury says he has not yet been placed on the payroll, it was just a proposal. But the problem remains that he is publishing favourable articles on them, while trying to advise them, get paid by them, and be a candidate for them.

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Horan cleared

January 15th, 2014 at 11:05 am by David Farrar

The BoP Times reports:

Independent MP Brendan Horan has been cleared of any wrongdoing following an investigation into allegations he took money from the accounts of his late mother.

In his final determination dated October 1, 2013, sighted by the Bay of Plenty Times, the executor of Olwen Horan’s estate John Buckthought says an investigation into the claims found no evidence which enabled him to find any claim against Mr Horan.

Mr Horan, who was expelled from NZ First in December 2012 after his half-brother Mana Ormsby claimed he had inappropriately used their mother’s bank cards, has come out fighting.

Mr Horan said he was not ruling out defamation proceedings against one or more parties.

He said he planned to remain as an independent MP, and would contest the Tauranga electorate seat at this year’s general election.

At the time of his expulsion, NZ First leader Winston Peters said that after seeing “substantive” information, he had no confidence in Mr Horan’s ability to continue as a MP.

As I said at the time, that regardless of the substance of the allegations, the process used by Peters was flawed:

I do believe Peters has done the right thing in acting against Horan if there is substantive proof of wrong-doing that Horan can’t credibly rebut. But the process he has followed has been seriously flawed and dictatorial and for Peters especially very hypocritical.

It now turns out there was no proof of wrong-doing, and the process used a kangaroo court. Peters made the decision without even talking to his caucus or board about it. In a later post I said:

On the basis of what is known, I actually think Peters was right to take action against Horan. But the way they have taken action has been appalling in terms of process. They need to write to him and put the complaints to him, and have a hearing where he can put a defence.

If NZ First had followed due process, then they might have decided to only suspend Horan until the independent investigation reported back.

Of interest, Horan says he is setting up his own party.

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Roy retires

January 15th, 2014 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Two decades after he was first elected to Parliament, MP Eric Roy has announced he will not stand for re-election at the end of this year.

First elected in 1993, Mr Roy said he had been humbled and privileged to serve Southland.

“People put their trust in you every three years to represent their views and voices, in a way that has been my humble driver,” he said.

He was first elected to Parliament in 1993, as MP for Awarua When seat was dissolved forthe 1996 election he became a National Party list member, , serving electorates in the lower South Island.

In 2002 he contested the Invercargill seat, but was narrowly beaten by Labour’s Mark Peck.

Mr Peck announced he would not stand for re-election after his second term. , and with 49.51 per cent of the vote, Mr Roy was elected Invercargill MP, a position he has maintained for three terms.

He said politics was always in his blood and being an agent of change was just how he was “wired”.

“But in politics you have to remember one thing: you will agree with about 80 per cent of anything, 10 per cent you can be persuaded on and 10 per cent you don’t agree with – that’s the basic rule when you are in any party, otherwise you will stand for nothing,” he said.

Eric is one of the nicest and funniest guys around. He’s the current Deputy Speaker and has the respect of MPs across the House for his work in that role.

The rejuvenation trend continues for National with this announcements. Retirements since the election have included:

  1. Shane Ardern, TKC
  2. Chris Aunchinvole, List
  3. Jackie Blue, List (already gone)
  4. Cam Calder, List
  5. Phil Heatley, Whangarei
  6. Paul Hutchison, Hunua
  7. Colin King, Kaikoura (challenged)
  8. Eric Roy, Invercargill
  9. Katrina Shanks, List (already gone)
  10. Lockwood Smith, List (already gone)
  11. Chris Tremain, Napier
  12. Kate Wilkinson, Waimakariri

National needs rejuvenation to increase its chances for future elections. There is still one more possible announcement I would say, and also one more electorate challenge to be decided.

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Some 2013 posts

January 14th, 2014 at 4:30 pm by David Farrar

As I did for 2012, I thought it would be useful to highlight some of the posts in the last year where I have disagreed with the Government, or said things unhelpful to it. While I obviously support and want National’s re-election, I have and will continue to say what I think on issues on their merits.

I recall the quote of Keith Holoyoake who said he only agreed with around 80% of what National did, even when he was Prime Minister! I suspect with Muldoon, he agreed with 100% of what his Government did!

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Good

January 14th, 2014 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

The Accident Compensation Corporation will end a health and safety training programme it said today after activist group the Taxpayers Union highlighted almost $20 million in spending on the training which generated few benefits.

The union today released documents detailing the corporation’s spending since 2003 on the programme to train employees in health and safety practices.

Beginning in 2003, the money was paid to the Council of Trade Unions (CTU), employers’ group Business NZ and private training provider Impac Services.

However the documents showed the $19 million spent “did little, if anything, to reduce workplace accidents”, Taxpayers Union executive director Jordan Williams said.

The release and detailed data from the Taxpayers Union is here. What is staggering is that even if you make the incredibly generous assumption that the training resulted in a 50% reduction in workplace accidents in sites visited (and of course it did not), then it is still wasting 84 cents in the dollar.  The benefits are just 16 cents for every dollar spent, even under the most generous assumptions.

It should have stopped years ago.

ACC analysis found that over the time the programme was working there was a reduction in claims even in workplaces where no safety or workplace activity has occurred.

The analysis suggested that even if the training was responsible for half of the reduction in accidents, at best only 16c in every $1 spent did any good, or in other words, 84c in every $1 was being wasted.

The documents reveal that Business NZ and the CTU worked together with ACC to create the venture and doubts about the value of the scheme had existed since at least 2008.

“Business NZ and the CTU have created a nice little earner for themselves”, said Mr Williams.

“It’s a disgraceful example of big corporate and union welfare chewing through taxpayer cash.”

There are many many organisations out there receiving taxpayer funding, and not producing enough benefits to justify it.  It’s good that ACC has decided to put a stop to this one, saving employees and employers money.

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Have Green local candidates declared their donations

January 14th, 2014 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

WCC Watch blogs:

During the campaign it was reasonably well known that the Green Party had given somewhere in the region of $5,000 to all of their candidates in the election – there were a few other candidates who were pretty jealous of the fact, particularly after people like David Lee started bragging about it.

Good on Sarah Free for doing the legal thing and declaring a total of eight donations from the Green Party to a combined total of $4880.14 (one of the individual donations – $1916.46 was above the donation threshold on its own!)

However, that then leaves us with a very interesting question – what about the other candidates? David Lee and Iona Pannett both filed in donations returns without mentioning their Green Party donations. Did they not get any, or did they file a false return?

Very good questions.

Both of the Green regional council candidates declared large donations from their head office, with Sue Kedgeley getting $4657 and Paul Bruce getting $4393. It is really starting to look like Lee and Pannett have filed false returns.

If the returns are false, then they could face the same charges as John Banks is.

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Joyce on maintaining economic growth

January 14th, 2014 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Steven Joyce writes in the NZ Herald:

So how do we keep growth happening? How do we lift New Zealand’s longer term growth rate so that we add more jobs, reach our potential, and become a true “Pacific Tiger” rather than just a short-term success story? I think there are several key things:

1. Keep opening our markets and building strong people to people relationships. The lesson of the China FTA is obvious. If we can get a good TPP deal, then we should grab it – along with other FTA and trade opportunities.

2. Innovate, innovate and innovate. The National-led Government is putting a lot of taxpayers’ money into assisting firms and their ideas. As a country we are starting to see the power of innovation in our industries but we need to keep lifting private sector investment in research and development to international norms.

3. Keep building the skills of a successful and innovative trading nation. Encourage more of our young people into the careers that breed innovation, like engineering, ICT, and science.

4. Encourage more capital to invest in New Zealand. The mixed ownership programme has helped set up a stellar year for our stock exchange. We need to build on that. Capital investment in competitive industries creates sustainable jobs.

5. We need to keep removing red tape and provide certainty to investors, especially in resource industries. That means making decisions quickly and effectively, while also working to improve environmental outcomes.

6. We need to keep building infrastructure to support a growth-oriented country. Great progress has been made in electricity transmission and ultra-fast broadband. Those projects need to be finished. And we need to keep investing in our transport systems for safety and efficiency. That means high-quality four-lane roads in and out of our main centres, resilient highways elsewhere, and quality public transport that people want to use.

Finally – and above all – we need to make responsible fiscal and economic decisions that keep the tax burden low and pay off debt. We need to keep rewarding New Zealanders with efficient public services and lower income taxes than elsewhere. It’s talented, hard-working Kiwis who get out of bed every day that make all this happen. Kiwis strive and succeed because they see the benefits of their hard work. If politicians keep remembering that then New Zealand will truly become a Pacific Tiger.

In terms of the skills referred to in No 3, Joyce also announced yesterday:

“Four years ago we had a highly complicated vocational training system in New Zealand with a total of 39 separate industry training organisations and more than 4500 separate qualifications”, Mr Joyce says.

“ITOs were falling over each other and had signed up many trainees that were trainees in name only. Single employers were in some cases having to deal with a number of ITOs.

“With the latest ITO merger just prior to Christmas, we start this year with only 14 Industry Training Organisations,” Mr Joyce says. “This smaller number of generally larger scale organisations means that they can provide a better service to trainees and employers. There is now, for example, just one ITO for the primary sector – down from seven ITOs three years ago.

The number of qualifications at the vocational level has also been reduced. There were 4610 separate qualifications at Levels 1 to 6 at the beginning of 2011 and this has been reduced by 63 per cent so far to less than 1750 by the end of last year. The current targeted review of qualifications seeks to have the number reduced to around 1300 by the end of this year.

4,610 different trade qualifications was insanely high.

“We had a huge spaghetti of qualifications at sub-degree level in this country,” Mr Joyce says. “It was difficult for learners to decide when and how to study, and difficult for employers to understand the nature and quality of the different qualifications. The targeted review has meant that we have reduced, for example, 213 ICT qualifications to 14, and similarly 69 mechanical engineering qualifications have been reduced to nine.

213 ICT qualifications!!

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Project Rehabilitate Len

January 14th, 2014 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

The mayoral office is working on ways to rebuild Len Brown’s shattered reputation after his sex scandal. The strategy involves setting outan action plan and contacting communities.

Good to see Len’s six spin doctors hard at work.

Mr Brown and his advisers are considering a new year speech with a focus on public transport, in which Mr Brown wants to make a start on the city rail link in 2016.

Sounds good. Just tell us where the money is coming from.

Meanwhile, the right-wing local body ticket Affordable Auckland is organising a “Stand Down Len Brown” march up Queen St at noon on February 22.

Leader Stephen Berry and spokesman Will Ryan said the march was not so much about Mr Brown’s private life as his undeclared activities and poor financial management.

May take more than a speech from Len to make this go away.

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Nicola Young on living wage

January 14th, 2014 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Wellington City Councillor Nicola Young writes in the Dom Post:

Councillors often stress the need for evidence-based, reasoned and clear decisions; correct process; and the need to avoid writing blank cheques but there was little – if any – consultation and analysis of the impact this wages policy would have on Wellington households and businesses. Ironic, considering the council has also committed to the capital being “open for business”.

Mayor Celia Wade- Brown has defended this Alice in Wonderland approach by pointing out the council didn’t consult on the chief executive’s salary either. The reality is that the CEO is paid the going rate in a competitive international market, whereas the “living wage” is an artificial intervention to boost incomes of lower paid workers who happen to work at the council.

The “living wage” proposed by the Living Wage Aotearoa New Zealand Campaign, is higher (relative to GDP per capita) than the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, and Canada. Incredibly, ours is higher than London’s; the 18th most expensive city in the world (Wellington is ranked at 74th in Mercer’s Cost of Living survey).

The Council voted to outsource their wages policy to Rev Waldegrave. Whatever he says they should pay, they will pay it. It is the opposite of evidence based policy.

A review of the research that produced the New Zealand rate of $18.40 by researcher Brian Scott concluded the rate is over-stated and questioned its method and data (as did Treasury). It also questioned whether conclusions reached from overseas research on productivity, morale and poverty could be safely applied to New Zealand’s situation.

Preliminary research by the Auckland Council came to the same conclusion. Not everyone would agree that Sky TV, pets, international travel and video games are “basic necessities”; some expenses – childcare costs, for example – are counted twice and money is allowed for building and mortgage insurance, despite the stated assumption that recipients are tenants.

Good to see politicians taking notice of the Scott analysis.

Wellington may be a comparatively wealthy city, but with an older population; much of the council’s largesse will be funded by pensioners struggling on fixed incomes, well below the “living wage”.

The “living wage” is a one-size-fits-all tool, based on a two-adult, two-child family.

The reality is that almost 80 per cent of those earning less than $18.40 have no children; many are students living at home.

The concept of a single living wage is fundamentally flawed. Each different household composition will have its own level of needed income. A family of four has different needs to a single 18 year old living at home.

Wage policies shouldn’t be based on emotional arguments; it should be based on careful analysis and facts. The lack of consultation, research and analysis of this policy is a failure of governance, and will damage our city’s economy and reputation as a place to do business. The “living wage” policy is a poor solution looking to solve a complex problem.

Well said.

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Labour says it is undemocratic to have public sector redundancies!

January 14th, 2014 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Olivia Wannan at Stuff reports:

Older public servants have borne the brunt of recent government job cuts.

In the past two years, 412 government workers aged over 55 have been laid off, 42 per cent of the 970 redundancies in 10 agencies, figures released under the Official Information Act show.

Opponents say the loss is undermining the country’s democratic process.

Really?

The Public Service Association’s Brenda Pilott believed the Government initiative to condense levels of management was one factor behind the age skew.

“In that case, it is inevitable you’re going to be losing people who are in the older age group, as they’ve moved up into those middle and senior roles.”

So the Government is reducing the number of managers, and this is anti-democratic according to Labour?

It is a good reminder that Labour have opposed pretty much every state sector spending reduction in the last five years, and under them we’d not be heading into surplus, but ever growing deficits.

Labour state services spokesperson Maryan Street said the figures showed the public sector had lost many of its most experienced employees.

“The Government is, I think, deliberately stripping out the institutional knowledge and experience of the public service.

“This leaves a workforce that is not going to challenge anything ministers do and that is one of the things the public service is there for . . . It’s not good for our democratic apparatus.”

So Labour think it is the job of the public sector to challenge Ministers, not assist them?

What is depressing is once again Labour conflates quantity and quality. They think more of something is automatically good.

About 2.5 per cent of all public servants at the nine government agencies were made redundant over the past two years.

2.5%? And Labour is calling it the end of democracy. Sigh.

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Hooton rules out Epsom and ACT

January 14th, 2014 at 8:08 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Right-wing lobbyist Matthew Hooton has ruled himself out from contesting the ACT party leadership.

He has joined former leader Rodney Hide in removing himself from the list of potential candidates in the past week.

In a column written for the National Business Review, Hooton said he was certain he would win the electorate if he stood, but felt he was too closely aligned to the National Party.

“If ACT is to succeed in the longer run, it must strongly differentiate itself from National, especially given the interventionist tendencies of the current regime, and it must be a genuine party, without any suggestion of being a subsidiary of the bigger brand,” he said.

Hooton endorsed a split configuration of former Cambridge philosophy-lecturer-turned-management-consultant Jamie Whyte as leader of the party, and David Seymour as the candidate for Epsom.

Hooton’s column is here.

Compared to Matthew’s current earnings, being an MP isn’t a living wage :-)

 

 

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Smart move by Craig

January 13th, 2014 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Conservative Party leader Colin Craig says he still smacks his children “just like two thirds of New Zealand parents”.

The party is a possible coalition partner with the National Party after this year’s general election.

Mr Craig told RadioLive today he wanted the issue of repealing the anti-smacking law to be “on the table” for future negotiations with National.

Asked if he would start smacking his own children if the law was reversed, Mr Craig said: “I occasionally do it right now”.

“Like two thirds of New Zealand parents I don’t go putting the good raising of a child behind a silly law.

This is a smart move by Craig. By admitting he smacks his own kids, he turns the issue into a more high profile one. If he is really lucky some one will call for him to be arrested and charged, and then that will give him even more publicity.

It isn’t a huge issue for most voters, but the Conservative only need 5%.

He said mostly his discipline consisted of “a flick of a finger on the back of a knuckle”.

“It’s hurts for a moment,” he said.

But the vast majority of discipline he used was not physical, he said.

As it should be.

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Herald hypocrisy

January 13th, 2014 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald editorial:

Many firms that practice tax avoidance probably do feel wretched about it. But they owe it to their shareholders to pay no more tax than their lawyers and accountants say they must, and they transfer the blame to the legislators who leave loopholes for them, or who set taxes too high or spend the revenue unwisely. With the company tax rate at 28 per cent in New Zealand, lower than the top personal income rate, it is hard to justify corporate avoidance here.

A NZX filing by APN which owns the Herald in 2013:

APN News & Media [ASX, NZX: APN] today announced an update in relation to a tax dispute following a report received today from the Adjudication Unit of the New Zealand Inland Revenue Department (‘IRD’).

As stated in the Company’s 2011 Annual Report and the 2012 Preliminary Final Report lodged yesterday, the Company is involved in a dispute with the IRD regarding certain financing transactions.

The Company is satisfied that its treatment of the financing transactions is consistent with all relevant legislation and that no tax will become payable.

The dispute involves tax of NZ$48 million for the period up to 31 December 2012. The IRD is seeking to impose penalties of 50% of the tax in dispute and interest in addition to the tax claimed. In the event the Company is unsuccessful in the dispute the Company has tax losses available to offset any amount of tax payable to the extent of NZ$32 million.

These wouldn’t be financing transactions that resulted in a lower tax bill and hence was tax avoidance?

So does the Herald feel wretched about its own tax avoidance?

Will they apply their own moral standards to themselves and pay up the $48 million they owe the taxpayers of New Zealand, according to the IRD?

I look forward to both RNZ Mediawatch and the Herald own’s media column highlighting this flagrant case of total hypocrisy.

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Parental responsibility

January 13th, 2014 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

The parents or guardians of young people before the courts could have bail conditions imposed on them as well as their children, such as not drinking alcohol and having to reside at a particular address, under a private members’ bill in the name of Northland MP Mike Sabin.

I’d be cautious about this.

In many cases of a wayward youth, the parents are a contributing factor. But equally, there are some kids who go off the tracks despite the best parenting and family support possible. Having parents share some liability for what their kids do could set a dangerous precedent.

The Children, Young Persons and Their Families (Parent’s and Guardian’s Responsibility) Amendment Bill would allow the Youth Court to set bail conditions for parents and guardians in a bid to prevent re-offending.

Mr Sabin believed at least half of the responsibility for youth offending was down to adults making sure their children were being properly supervised.

Mr Sabin’s bills have been approved by the National Party caucus for support at first reading should any be drawn from the ballot.

I think it is a worthy debate to have, and if it goes to select committee, would be a good forum for hearing that debate. But the possible precedent does concern me.

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The absentee Mayor

January 13th, 2014 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Auckland Mayor Len Brown is lying low and refusing to say exactly when he will resume public duties after his sex scandal, undeclared hotel stays and censure by councillors before Christmas.

Mr Brown did not return calls yesterday and his team of spin doctors were giving little away about the movements of their boss, who has been on leave since December 21 – the day after councillors expressed their “profound disappointment and disapproval” of the mayor’s inappropriate behaviour and undeclared conflicts of interest.

Did the Herald try all six of them?

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Not realising it is satire

January 13th, 2014 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Joshua Drummond wrote a satirical anti-immunisation column (he is very much pro) and the comments are quite hilarious to read as some people did not realise it was satire.

Some highlights:

Vaccination is a lie. 

Plenty of people have tried to tell me different. But I know better.

When I was a child, I got measles and mumps. I’d been vaccinated for both. Oh, sure, some small, logical part of my brain tried to tell me that I’d probably recovered much faster from these illnesses than I would have had I not been vaccinated. But that’s the thing with logic. You can’t trust it. Science is based on logic and look where that’s got us. Genetically engineered centipedechickens from KFC. But I digress. You can’t trust logic. It’s intuition you have to trust. I have intuition coming out my ears. My aura is indigo. My mind is wide, wide open. Information pours in. Splash! Just between us: I’m a bit of a genius. I’ve got a real knack for medical knowledge. The sheeple need someone to free them. And I’ve spend enough time reading medical-sounding articles on various natural health forums to know I can be that person.

I would have thought pretty obvious at this point.

I first realised this when I discovered the Internet had a great deal of information on vaccines that they don’t want you to know. Who’s “they,” you ask? I’ll tell you. It’s them. Your nurse. Your family doctor. The National party. The Labour party. (Possibly not the Conservative party.) The Medical-Industrial-complex. The Great Vaccination Conspiracists. Unscrupulous electricity companies who generate power from the brains of autistic children. It’s all possible. Except for vaccination. Vaccination simply doesn’t work. Ignore the decades of scientific evidence. It’s all fraudulent. It’s all a lie. 

Sounds like the anti-fluoridation brigade!

Vaccination was, supposedly, first performed by Edward Jenner in the 18th century and further developed by Louis Pasteur, who discovered cures for smallpox and rabies, respectively (although I personally find this about as likely as the idea that humans walked on the moon.) Some hail these men as heroes, and their work as saving the lives of millions. The truth is that these men are mass-murderers. Want to know who else used vaccines? The Nazis. They also used fluoride to keep their prisoners docile. I bet the Nazis even fluoridated their vaccines. The banality of evil. 

At this stage, anyone who hasn’t twigged is very gullible!

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A NZ-Uk op-ed

January 13th, 2014 at 7:03 am by David Farrar

An op-ed in The Guardian by NZ Minister Chris Tremain and UK Minister Francis Maude on digital services:

At the Open Government Partnership (OGP) summit in London in November 2013, New Zealand became the 61st member of a rapidly expanding global movement.

The OGP is all about making governments more transparent, accountable and responsive to citizens. International co-operation and the exchange of ideas are essential to embedding openness and transparency across the world. In different ways Britain and New Zealand are already world leaders in transparency. They have a great deal to learn from one another. And we are already partners in the digital revolution that is helping to make open government an everyday reality for citizens. …

Both our countries have taken significant steps towards a new digital world. After the election in May 2010, the UK established the Government Digital Service (GDS) to drive a new “digital-by-default” agenda through Whitehall. In 2013, the New Zealand government launched a new ICT strategy and action plan focused on using technology to deliver better services. Whether in Britain or New Zealand, the cornerstone of digital transformation is a user-friendly domain for government information.

Until our governments embarked on a new digital push, neither country had a digital portal which met the acid test of really meeting users’ needs. Directgov in the UK was an entry point into a confusing maze of additional sites. It was hard to navigate, duplicated information and had confusing design, presentation and language. User research in New Zealand showed that the newzealand.govt.nz portal could also do a much better job of meeting the needs of users.

I didn’t even know we had such a portal!

New Zealand’s project to replace their portal is called Govt.nz. The site is now in beta stage, for public testing with real users at beta.govt.nz. As was the case with the groundbreaking GOV.UK, Govt.nz is being built through an iterated, user-tested design.

GOV.UK was built for sharing. Most of its code is open source so other countries can use it, rather than having to develop their own. The New Zealand team adapted GOV.UK’s basic design elements, saving time, money and resources.

At the same time, ideas and information are flowing back to the UK. Research in New Zealand corroborated similar studies in the UK which highlighted the need to simplify website design. The Govt.nz team routinely shares the results of its research with its counterparts in the UK, so they can learn from it as well. We know that there’s greater scope for co-operation as independent research and user testing often throws up the same challenges. We look forward to working together ever more closely.

After testing and feedback from the beta site, New Zealand expects the new Govt.nz site to go live in 2014, and by 2017 wants all new government services to be digital-by-default.

Sounds excellent, and good to see the two countries learning from each other rather than operating in silos.

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Hide rules out Epsom

January 12th, 2014 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Rodney Hide writes in the Hos:

Good and loyal friends have suggested that I put my name forward to be Act’s candidate in Epsom.

They have supported me over many years and therefore I have given their advice serious consideration.

It’s a crucial role. But for Act’s success in Epsom in 2008, Helen Clark would have remained Prime Minister. And its success in 2011 also kept Labour out of power.

That’s why the attacks on John Banks are so intense and sustained. Act’s success has proved the difference between a National-led Government and a Labour-Green one.

Very true. Without ACT both times, the Maori Party would have held the balance of power and may well have gone with Labour and the Greens.

Act provides a much-needed political counterweight to the other parties calling always for more government spending and ever-more regulation.

We need a champion for individual freedom and personal responsibility. Act is that champion.

Sadly, much bruised.

And now the position of Act candidate for Epsom is open again. I am very pleased Act has excellent candidates in prospect. I have concluded it can’t be me.

I now don’t have the necessary passion and enthusiasm to do the job well. Yes, I loved it and I gave it everything I had. And then some. But it’s gone now. I am not sure why that is. It just is.

There was a time when Winston Peters could rattle an entire government, bringing ministers to their knees. Now, even junior ministers get the better of him.

I think it’s sad. Peters appears like some aged rock star who has partied way too hard and is now up on stage trying to relive the glory days. Or perhaps a champion boxer who has stayed too long in the ring. I wouldn’t want that.

I thought the worst thing for Peters was getting dumped in 2008. No. The worst thing for Peters was getting back in 2011.

New MPs snigger at him. There was a time he would have swatted them down like flies.

Knowing when to go is important in politics.

I have a project under way in Christchurch. We have a third baby due in July. I have new and different challenges ahead.

Plus if Rodney stood again for Epsom, we’d lost him as a great columnist!

In a related story, Cameron Brewer (again) rules himself out for Epsom, but Matthew Hooton is listed as considering throwing his name in the ring saying ACT needs a generational change.

 

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Always about the money

January 11th, 2014 at 9:40 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Visitors to the Bay of Islands this week were handed leaflets on the wharf at Paihia urging them not to take the famed trip to the Hole in the Rock at Motu Kokako, Piercy Island. The Motu Kokako Ahu Whenua Trust complains that the boat operators are not telling tourists the correct history of the island and its significance to Ngapuhi.

That is a legitimate complaint.

The trust also wants a payment for the attraction.

That isn’t.

Our mana is being trampled on by these operators,” said chairman Rau Hoskins.

But $3 a trip will heal that mana.

If the three companies running boats through the Hole in the Rock do not enter negotiations, the trust says, it will block the entrance in some way. “The idea that anyone can claim ownership of a natural waterway is foreign to most people in New Zealand and to its law. But it is not foreign to Maori custom, as was evident in the foreshore and seabed claim and the challenge to the sale of hydro-power companies. It is an issue the country needs to resolve once and for all.

You can’t legislate away a difference of opinion. The legal status is clear however.

When Fullers had the attraction to itself, it agreed to pay a portion of each fare to the trust. When competition arrived, Fullers made common cause with the trust and took a rival operator to court on a claim of trespass. The case failed, the High Court ruling that access to open sea could not be impeded under maritime law. Fullers then stopped paying the trust.

Fair enough.

Rather than seeking rent from the resource, they could be running tours themselves. If none of the existing operators are giving visitors the island’s authentic story in the trust’s view, the trust has a golden opportunity. Not all tourists want an indigenous cultural experience but many do. The trust could obtain a suitable vessel and offer a trip clearly different from its competitors.

That is a good idea.

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Competition helps all

January 10th, 2014 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Eric Crampton writes:

A few years ago, Jerry Hausman showed that Wal-Mart does a lot to benefit even consumers who don’t shop there. When a Wal-Mart opens, competitor local supermarkets cut their prices to keep customers. And poor customers reap most of the benefits

Figlio and Hart, in the latest AEJ: Applied Economics, show a similar effect with school vouchersAn ungated version is here.

Suppose your worry about school vouchers is that low social capital parents’ stick with a local underperforming school while kids whose parents have better social capital all flee with their vouchers to the better private schools. And suppose further that you care way more about the potential losses to the former than about the gains for the latter. You might then oppose voucher systems.

Figlio and Hart show that public schools facing competitive pressure from private schools under a new voucher system provided stronger student score improvements. All that concern about kids left behind as the private schools cream off the best voucher kids? Not much of an issue if the public schools facing the competitive pressures perform better as consequence. They find the biggest positive effects in public schools facing strong financial incentives to retain low-income students.

There has also been studies showing that charter schools not only improve the performance of students at those schools, but neighbouring public schools improve their performance also.

For some strange reason, this is seen as a bad thing because it clashes with an ideology that competition is bad.

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Comparing oil and gas to munitions

January 10th, 2014 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Pete George blogs:

Dunedin City councillor Jinty MacTavish suggests oil and gas is unethical, and she wants council guidelines that rule out using staff time or resources on anything deemed to be unethical.

Her exact words are:

Working to attract unethical industry to our city (and expending ratepayers’ resource to do so) feels to me a highly dubious activity for Council to be engaged in. I would very much hope we wouldn’t do it for cigarettes or munitions – what’s the difference with oil and gas, when science tells us the fruits of that industry will also erode the livelihoods of, and cause misery for, millions of people?

I can only presume that Cr McTavish lives up to her noble principles and not only does she refuse to smoke or own guns, but she also refuses to travel on any vehicle that uses oil, and go to any house that uses gas.

It’s one thing to oppose a specific project, but McTavish says the entire oil and gas industry is akin to munitions and causes misery. Surely then she is not such a hypocrite that she allows herself to benefit from them?

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The battle for Epsom

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

Stuff reports:

A new beginning with a clean slate is the “best opportunity ACT has had in 17 years”, says David Seymour, who has all but confirmed he will put his hand up to be its candidate for Epsom.

Sole MP John Banks will stand down as the party’s leader in March and leave Parliament at this year’s election.

He is facing trial for allegations of knowingly filing a false electoral return.

Seymour, who has been living in Canada, had previously ruled out running for the position, but has confirmed his circumstances had changed and he was hoping to hand in his nomination by the end of next week.

He will be vying for the position against Jamie Whyte, who has also put his hand up to lead the party. But Seymour said it was his support for Whyte that played a role in him changing his mind.

“What’s changed is I’ve come back, I’ve met Jamie Whyte – I’m very impressed by him and I want to support him – but I’ve still got a few personal things to tidy up obviously.”

Seymour said he was not expecting to be leader, but would like to be the MP for Epsom.

“There’s a number of possible configurations, one is that a single person is the Epsom candidate and a leader of the party. Or those two roles could be split.

“Outside of those two roles, we’re hoping that ACT will actually get a number of MPs in [to Parliament] and so that’s the proposition.”

Whyte has also written to party members asking for their support to be Epsom candidate and leader. His letter reads:

Dear ACT member,

You will have read that I have put my name forward to be the leader of ACT and the candidate for Epsom, positions which need not be held by the same person. I am writing to you to introduce myself and explain why I believe I can be an effective leader of ACT.

ACT is a party of principle, not a lobby group for “rich pricks” or anyone else. It needs a leader who is a credible advocate of our principles and policies. Over the last 10 years I have consistently made the case for individual liberty under the rule of law in opinion columns for the Wall Street Journal and The Times (among other papers), in my recently published book Quack Policy and as a pundit on British radio and TV. On the basis of this work, in 2012 I was made a fellow of the Institute of Economic Affairs and a senior fellow of the Adam Smith Institute. To give you an idea of my ideas, I attach to this email a PDF of Free Thoughts, a collection of my columns published last year by the Adam Smith Institute.

The rest of my professional career also supports my credibility on economic and social policy. I began my post-student life as a philosophy lecturer at Cambridge University. I then moved to London to work as a management consultant with Oliver Wyman, a firm specializing in banking strategy.  I ended my third stint with the firm in 2013, having become Head of Research and Publications. My time in consulting means that, unusually for a philosopher, I know a lot about business, both its theory and its practice.

ACT has fallen to less than 1% support nationally. It needs renewal. Among other things, that requires new and younger faces. I am a sprightly 48, with a wife and two daughters, 10 and 6. My profile in New Zealand is now low. But given my experience in the British media, I am confident that I can quickly change that, especially if chosen to lead ACT. Below is a link to a TV3 News item on me.
http://www.3news.co.nz/Philosopher-contemplates-ACT-leadership-role/tabid/1607/articleID/324090/Default.aspx

Finally, there has been some mis-reporting of my nationality. For the record, I am not English. I was born in Auckland to Kiwi parents and lived here until finishing my BA at Auckland University. Since then I have lived in many countries but mainly England. My family and I lived in Auckland from 2004 to 2008 and we are now back for good. 

Regards,
Jamie 

His columns make excellent reading, and they are included below.

Free Thoughts

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Is Labour really saying what counts is the strength of the alcohol a 9 year old drinks?

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

Labour have said:

“There is something very wrong about any adult thinking that it’s fun, entertaining or appropriate to get a child drunk. This attitude is a wake-up call about the culture of drinking and youth drinking, that is going unchallenged right across New Zealand,” said Sue Moroney.

“The Labour Party challenges this damaging culture – we must change attitudes and support families to do their best for our next generation.

“It will also be a test of the Government’s alcohol law change of December 2013 which made an offence of supplying alcohol to a minor, without parental consent.

It never used to be an offence to supply minors with alcohol, only to sell it to them. The law changes should mean a very easy prosecution if the suppliers can be identified.

“Labour supported the Government’s alcohol law reforms, but criticised them for not going far enough.

“Amongst the amendments proposed by Labour was the outright banning of RTDs such as the one supplied to the Hamilton boy. Unfortunately, it was voted down by the Government, as were Labour’s other amendments to improve the law.

Is Labour really saying or implying that the problem is that the nine year old was drinking 7% RTDs instead of 5% RTDs? I mean, seriously? Isn’t that somewhat desperate. The nine year old shouldn’t be drinking any alcohol full stop.

Or are Labour saying that a 40 year old builder in West Auckland should be banned from drinking a 7% RTD because someone illegally supplied one to a nine year old? On that basis all alcohol in NZ would be banned.

“The Government failed to implement all of the recommendations of the Law Commission on alcohol law reform which Labour said were needed to challenge the damaging drinking culture in New Zealand.

Actually the proposal to restrict RTDs to 5% was not recommended by the Law Commission. One reason the Law Commission cited was substitution, and indeed the likely impact would be those who like 7% RTDs would then swap to self mixing their own drinks which tends to involve a strength of 13% to 20%.

“I am mindful that Fairfield is a community that wants more for its young people. While young people are still on holiday, parents must be vigilant. Greater access to youth programmes will go a long way to getting kids off the streets and finding productive ways to utilise their holiday time,” said Nanaia Mahuta.

So the problem was not enough local youth programmes. yeah, right.

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