Archive for the ‘NZ Politics’ Category

Greens want NZ Super Fund to divest from fossil fuels

February 18th, 2015 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

The Greens are calling on the New Zealand Super Fund to divest from fossil fuels, as it accuses its guardians of betting on a climate disaster. 

The fund currently has $676 million in fossil fuel companies – about 2 per cent of the fund’s assets under management.

The role of the Super Fund is to maximise the return on investment to help fund NZ Superannuation. It is not to reflect Green Party ideology. If you want a Green fund, then you can invest in one of the dozens around. But one of the huge risks in the Government having a large investment fund is that politicians will want to use it for their own pet projects. First they start excluding stuff they don’t like, and then they announce say $5 billion will be invested in wind farm companies, and bang the NZ Super Fund becomes a plaything for politicians.

“Getting out of fossil fuels is not only the right thing to do, it makes financial sense too.”

I wonder how many would die if in fact every fossil fuel company in the world had its funding turned off, and was unable to attract capital. I suspect it might be more than Mao managed!

I do agree that renewable energy needs to be a much larger share of the world’s future energy supply. But fossil fuels in countries like China currently provide heating and electricity to hundreds of millions. If you declared a ban on any future fossil fuel extraction, then there would be massive shortages.

Little the law breaker

February 18th, 2015 at 7:09 am by David Farrar

The Herald  reports:

The Green Party says Labour has broken the law by not consulting its co-leaders about a spot on the powerful intelligence and security committee.

The party pointed to the Intelligence and Security Committee Act, which said the Leader of the Opposition could nominate an MP “following consultation with the leader of each party that is not in Government or in coalition with a Government party”.

There is no doubt the Greens are correct and Little has broken the law. He failed to not only consult other parties over his nominations, but failed to even notify them – they found out by way of media release.

His nomination of David Shearer is illegal, and a judicial review would I am sure be successful. However a law suit would only force him to restart the process, not to ultimately make a different choice.

But his failure to consult, despite a statutory requirement to do so, should be alarming. He aspires to be Prime Minister, a role which has numerous positions he effectively appoints, some of which require consultation with opposition parties such as Governor-General, human rights commissioners, officers of Parliament, the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security etc. Will a Prime Minister Little be as unconcerned about breaking the law on consultation, as Opposition Leader Little is?

Stuff reports:

Little said he would “consult” with the Greens about the committee’s deliberations. That would fulfil his legal obligations.

No it doesn’t. The obligation is around the nomination of members. He is meant to be a lawyer, yet seems unable to read the statute.

His failure to follow the law also raises issue around his office. His staff should have been aware of the legal requirements, and advised appropriately.

He earlier said he chose Shearer because Norman was standing down as co-leader in May.

He had rejected appointing co-leader Metiria Turei because he wanted someone with “skills, understanding and experience.” 

While he has clearly broken the law in not consulting, his actual decision in not appointing a Green MP is the right one. The Greens are effectively opposed to the very existence of the intelligence agencies. Hence appointing them to an oversight committee means that their interest is just to find ways to discredit the agencies, not to play a constructive role in oversight.

However I do think it is regrettable that Labour kept both spots for itself. While I am not his biggest fan, I think it would have been quite suitable to appoint Winston Peters on the basis he is a former Minister of Foreign Affairs.

UPDATE: It appears from what Peter Dunne said on Twitter that he was not consulted by the Prime Minister of the Government’s nominees. If correct, this is also a breach of the Act and equally bad behaviour. It is also a bad way for a Government to treat a coalition partner.

There is no question that Dunne himself could not be appointed to the committee, after his leaking of the Kitteridge report to Andrea Vance (denied but not believed). But even though he could not be appointed himself, that doesn’t mean the Government is released from its obligations to consult him (and ACT and the Maori Party).

The Mana conspiracy infographics get more bizarre!

February 17th, 2015 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

HollowMen

The latest infographic from Mana News – once a political party, and now a source of nutty infographics.

I guess it didn’t occur to them that I blogged on the issue of whether Iwi should have law making powers because I’m against it!

Fisking QPEC

February 17th, 2015 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

John Minto writes:

When the Government changed the Education Act to allow for charter schools, it bet that a bunch of non-educators using their own untested theories of education could run schools for our most disadvantaged students and achieve better results than state schools.

Who are these non-educators that Minto claims are running charter schools in NZ? As far as I know they are all educators.

Not only that, it stacked the decks by deliberately removing the charter schools from the checks and balances that all state schools must face and gave them more money (as a series of set-up grants).

They actually get slightly less money than an equivalent new state school as detailed by the Ministry.

For example, these schools are exempt from making disclosures under the Official Information Act, despite the fact that they are government-funded.

The OIA applies to organisations owned by the Government, not funded by them. Personally I think it should apply to all bodies funded in whole or majority by the Government, but it doesn’t. All those NGOs that are 95% government funded should come under the OIA, as should charter schools. But I suspect John doesn’t want it extended to all bodies funded by the Government – just those he disagrees with.

The Quality Public Education Coalition (QPEC) has been tracking US charter schools daily for more than two years ago now, and not only are many of them an educational disgrace but they continue to contribute to the overall educational collapse of the US in world educational rankings. Per dollar spent, US schools are the world’s worst.

It is because the US school system is so bad, that charter schools have done so well there. And there have been numerous studies showing that they overall lift achievements rates for pupils. Also in some states, they have seen a lift in achievement rates for neighbouring public schools also.

There is no empirical research that supports this model of charter schools, and plenty of evidence against the model. It is being driven by the first-term, right-wing Act MP, David Seymour, who promises to support these schools through thick, thin and very expensive, success or failure – competition at all costs, and the taxpayer must pay.

There is a huge amount of empirical evidence. But the best empirical evidence will come from NZ. Minto and others want to close these schools before they can be given a chance to succeed. I say judge them on results. If a charter school produces bad results (as one looks to be doing), then close it down. But if they are producing great results, then support them. In the state school system a failing public school is never closed down – they are just given more money and a bigger zone!

Free feijoas for all

February 17th, 2015 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Five months on from her political party’s implosion Laila Harre had her thumb out on the roadside in Taranaki, hoping to find out how to make politics work for New Zealanders.

Former Internet-Mana Party leader Laila Harre and sister Niki are hitching around the North Island hearing what ideas the public have to make the world a better place. …

Ideas they’ve encountered include a basic living wage, schools putting more emphasis on teaching children to be part of the community, avoiding people falling into a debt-dependant lifestyle and, in Whanganui, the introduction of a feijoa festival.

“It’s free, we all share it and paying money for feijoas is just ridiculous,” Laila said.

Absolutely. Free feijoas is a human right. It is barbaric that people have to pay for them.

A confused article

February 17th, 2015 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

The Government is set to tighten up the rules around zero-hour contracts – the casual employment agreements that saw petrol station workers docked wages after customers drove off.

This article conflates two separate issues. Zero hours contracts and if an employer can deduct wages for staff actions or inactions which cause a loss. The latter issue could occur no matter how many hours you are contracted for, and it is misleading to conflate the issues.

I think deducting wages of petrol station workers for drive offs is wrong, and illegal in many cases.

It comes as a union campaign to outlaw the controversial contracts – which are widely used in the fast-food and service industries – gathers a head of steam.

The terms mean staff work and get paid only when they are needed and often at short notice. Shifts can be cancelled, without reimbursement for travel or other costs. Holiday, sick pay and other employment rights are not guaranteed and in some cases employees are penalised for losses.

Again this is wrong. The article lumps together a number of what you may call employment abuses and calls them zero hours contracts. This is useful to Labour and the unions who have a campaign against them, but it is again misleading.

Zero hour contracts do mean staff only get paid when needed and can be cancelled at short notice. But it does not mean holiday pay is not guaranteed – that is an absolute right. It also has nothing to do with penalising employees for losses. That is a separate issue.

Workplace Relations and Safety Minister Michael Woodhouse said he was motivated to act after it emerged Gull service station managers had billed staff when customers fled without paying for their fuel.

He has asked officials to look at a ban on practices “where there is no quid-pro-quo in the employment relationship”. It will form part of an ongoing review of employment standards that began last year.

Billing staff for drive offs is wrong and exploitative and may already be illegal. It is good the Government is looking into the law around that.

However, it is unlikely the Government will go as far as outlawing zero-hours contracts – because they suit students, part-time parents and the semi-retired. He rejected the ‘Certainty at Work’ legislation proposed by Labour last week, saying it was “blunt and unsophisticated and would make things worse for the workers”.

It could effectively be a ban on all casual work, which would devastate many employees and employers. As the article says, zero hours contracts suit many students who don’t want fixed hours.

My view is that zero hour contracts are absolutely fine – however if the employer does not guarantee a minimum number of hours, then the employee can’t be forced to work any particular hours – ie the employer has to persuade staff to work a particular shift – rather than just force them on, with no reciprocal obligation of minimum hours.

Kelly says current employment laws only provide for fixed-term or permanent employment.

“If someone is fixed term they have to be employed on genuine grounds. We think most casual employment is already illegal, it just requires enforcement.

So the CTU and their parliamentary wing want to abolish casual work. Nice.

This is what the protesters are calling a war on the poor!

February 17th, 2015 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Lindsay Mitchell summarises the war on the poor that some on the left are claiming the Government has:

  • Insulation of over 200,000 homes
  • increased access to GPs
  • an intensive campaign to reduce rheumatic fever
  • boosted budgeting advisory services
  • low cost procurement of household essentials like washing machines
  • low interest loans to combat loan sharks
  • partnering with charities providing food and clothing to poor children
  • home visitation programmes like Early Start
  • extended income-related rents to non-government social housing
  • Whanau Ora

Yeah that is a real war on the poor.

A good Green policy

February 17th, 2015 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

The Green Party is urging Parliament not to be the first in the world to vote on the practice of testing cosmetics on animals and choose to continue it.

Green MP Mojo Mathers has introduced proposed amendments to the Government’s Animal Welfare Amendment Bill,which is likely to come before the house this week. 

It would see the testing of cosmetics on animals completely banned, although animal testing does not occur in New Zealand anyway.

But the amendments would not extend to imported products that have been tested on animals overseas. 

I support this Green Party policy. Testing on animals for cosmetics is nasty. Testing for medical reasons or safety is a “necessary evil” but testing for cosmetics is different.

Quote of the week

February 17th, 2015 at 8:30 am by TaxpayersUnion

“Funded by the government just means funded by the people. Government, by the way, has no money. It only takes money from the people. Sometimes people forget that that’s really what occurs.”

– Elon Musk

The 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.

Analogy not quite right

February 16th, 2015 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

NBR reports:

“So, if the centre is now going to be 10% smaller, then obviously the concessions afforded to the casino should be 10% smaller. For example, the increased number of pokie machines should be about 205 instead of 230, the increased number of large tables should be 36 instead of 40, and the increased length of the gambling license should go down by about five years.”

I disagree. Because Sky City is still spending the same amount of money. The concessions were valued at around $400 million (net present value), which is what they will still spend.

In comments to NBR and on social media, convention centre critic Matthew Hooton mined a similar theme, posting: “If I contract to build you a five-bedroom house with a swimming pool for $2 million but then you agree I can build you a four-bedroom one with only a hot tub for the same $2 million, then I have come out better than you in the negotiations. Does our press gallery understand this? Do MPs? I bet @nztreasury does.”

Matthew’s analogy fails on a key point. If you are a building company and you build a smaller swimming pool, then it doesn’t affect you at all – because you do not benefit from the swimming pool when complete.

But what Matthew, and others miss, is Sky City will be the operator of the convention centre. They will be the one who benefits or loses from how well patronised it is.

If we get a couple fewer conventions coming to NZ because the centre is a bit smaller, then it is Sky City that will not get the convention rental, the room hires, the meals, the entertainment spending.

Sky City have an incentive to make the convention centre as attractive as possible to attract conventions, because they (not the taxpayer) have to pay for the ongoing operating costs.

A violent attack to protest Sky City – held hours after Govt announces no deal!!

February 16th, 2015 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Protesters have clashed with police at a National Party fundraiser, storming the yacht club the event is being held at. …

Another group of protesters tried to enter via a lower level, sparking further violent scenes. 

Bradford was carried out by police soon after.

Police quickly called for reinforcements and a cordon of about 30 officers was now protecting the venue, including maritime police who arrived on a boat. 

Protesters on loudhailers were alternating chants of “what’s the story, filthy Tory?”, “stop the war on the poor” and “John Key’s a millionaire, that’s why he doesn’t care”.

So original. I love how they hate the PM because he went from a state house to a successful business career!

The Herald reported:

AAAP coordinator Sue Bradford said the protest was spurred by the government’s involvement with SkyCity’s controversial convention centre development.

“National should not even be considering taxpayer funding to prop up a corporate giant like SkyCity, where everyday people are being denied even the most basic food, benefit and housing entitlements,” she said.

Earlier this afternoon Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce today announced that SkyCity had agreed not to pursue a financial contribution from the Government and would instead amend its design to ensure the facility could be completed without financial input from the Crown.

So these intellectual giants held a violent protest against a deal with Sky City – around two hours after the Government announced no deal. I guess they couldn’t think up another issue quickly enough to protest about!

A win for taxpayers

February 15th, 2015 at 2:09 pm by David Farrar

Steven Joyce has announced:

Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce today announced that the Government and SkyCity have reached agreement on the next stages of the International Convention Centre (NZICC) project.

SkyCity has agreed not to pursue a financial contribution from the Government and instead will amend its design to ensure the facility can be completed without financial input from the Crown.

“I welcome SkyCity’s agreement with the Government’s approach,” Mr Joyce says. “This clears the path for the project to continue.

“I have repeatedly stated since December that our least preferred option is for the Government to contribute funding for the project. I am pleased to confirm that will be the case.”

That’s a great outcome – both for taxpayers, and the Government. Also a great outcome for Auckland in that they will get the 800 jobs and $49 million economic boost from having an international convention centre. I’m pleased Sky City saw sense, and that the Government held firm.

The five nominees for National in Northland

February 15th, 2015 at 12:53 pm by David Farrar

3 News reports:

National says the nominees will go before Northland party members before the final selection on February 28.

The nominees are Mita Harris, Matt King, Grant McCallum, Mark Osborne and Karen Rolleston.

“While the Northland electorate has been held by the National Party for many years, by-elections traditionally see lower turnouts and smaller margins. We will not be taking Northland for granted,” party president Peter Goodfellow says.

Mita Harris is the Chair of the Northland Conservation Board. A member of Ngapuhi, he stood for National in 2008. He is involved in numerous heritage, recreation and conservation projects in Northland.

Matt King is a local farmer, businessman and former police detective. He sought the nomination in 2011, and runs a private investigations company.

Grant McCallum is a local diary farmer and an elected board member on National’s Board of Directors.

Mark Osborne is the general manager of the Te Ahu Trust.

Karen Rolleston has stood for National in previous elections. She is the CEO of 3P Learning, and lives in Kumeu.

I’d say Karen and Grant are the front runners but all five candidates are credible and strong, and it will come down to the 120 local delegates, as they meet them and hear from them over the next fortnight.

A Ngai Tahu charter school?

February 14th, 2015 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

A wealthy American businessman wants to set up charter schools in New Zealand that he believes could lead to an education “revolution”.

Marc Holtzman was pen-pals with his political hero Ronald Reagan and secured millions of dollars from Microsoft founder Bill Gates to found a charter school in his home state of Colorado.

He told the Herald that, while it was early days, he planned to see if Mr Gates and other acquaintances might help raise the $10 to $15 million seed money for a first New Zealand school.

The 54-year-old backpacked in New Zealand as a young man and has had his luxury Gibbston, Queenstown property on the market for $4.75 million for over a year, with plans to build again in the region.

The Hong Kong-based businessman contacted Ngai Tahu about the possibility of working together to open schools as well as Act Party leader David Seymour.

In January he took a delegation, including Ngai Tahu’s Sir Mark Solomon and Che Wilson, to the United States to look mostly at charter schools based around science, technology, engineering and mathematics (Stem). Among the schools visited was the successful Denver School of Science and Technology, which Mr Holtzman co-founded.

A Ngai Tahu charter school would be an excellent idea. I’d love to see Labour then campaign on scrapping charter schools!

Transmission Gully construction has started

February 14th, 2015 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

The Dom Post reports:

Almost a century after talk began about building an inland motorway north of Wellington, the first act of building Transmission Gully has started.

That first act has involved more dismantling than building, however. Just over a week ago, work began to remove 24 kilometres of high-voltage power lines that run through the gully, including 48 towers and 210 pole structures.

The lines are expected to be toppled by next month, clearing the way for construction joint-venture company Leighton-HEB to begin exploratory earthworks on the $850 million, four-lane motorway.

The project director, Michael O’Dwyer, said the demise of the gully’s titular transmission line was an exciting and important step in the motorway’s five-year construction.

He was all too aware the project had been nothing but hot air around Wellington for decades now. Many people he came across had told him they were not prepared to believe it was actually going to happen until they saw the finished product with their own eyes.

I still find it hard to believe that we have reached the point that it can’t be backtracked. It is happening.

A child obesity health target?

February 13th, 2015 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Health Minister Jonathan Coleman is looking at introducing a Health Target to control child obesity. …

Auckland University obesity expert Professor Boyd Swinburn, representing 40 public health specialists, is scheduled to meet Dr Coleman at his Beehive office today to discuss a child obesity target. “We want to show there’s substantial public health support if he wants to go down this track,” Professor Swinburn said.

He wants the Government to aim for reducing our rate of obese and overweight children from around a third at present to around a quarter – Australia’s current rate – by 2025.

It is not inappropriate for the Government to want to reduce the obesity rate with children. A lower obesity rate would be a very good thing.

But the Government does not have a huge influence of issues such as obesity. It can guarantee good outcomes for elective surgery, and ED waiting times because it funds the public health system and can put resources in to achieve the outcomes.

On other public health issues it can reasonably comfortably achieve a target such as x% of kids vaccinated, as getting parents to vaccinate their kids is not asking them to do something radically different. It is just getting them in to see a doctor.

But to try and have fewer obese kids is a different category. That requires parents (and kids) to quite radically change their behaviour. It means better parenting skills where parents take more care with what they feed their kids, and make sure they exercise more. And improving parenting skills is about as tough as it can get.

The NZ Medical Association has called for a broad front to tackle obesity, with measures such as a tax on sugary drinks, greater protection of children from the marketing of unhealthy foods, traffic light food labelling and a halt to fast-food outlets opening near schools.

Dr Coleman said the Government would not introduce a sugar tax because it wouldn’t work.

It is good that has been rejected. But we should be wary of some of the other proposals which all involve the state deciding what foods can be advertised and sold. That is a slippery slope. Any policies should be focused on supporting parents and kids to make healthier decisions around food and exercise. Not about new taxes and restrictions.

Paul Buchanan on Islamic State

February 13th, 2015 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Paul Buchanan writes:

There are three specific reasons why NZ has to join the fight, two practical and one principled.

The practical reasons are simple: First, NZ’s major security allies, the US, UK and Australia, are all involved as are France, Germany and others. After the signing of the Wellington and Washington security agreements, NZ became a first tier security partner of the US, and as is known, it is an integral member of the 5 Eyes signals intelligence network. It therefore cannot renege on its security alliance commitments without a serious loss of credibility and trust from the countries upon which it is most dependent for its own security.

Secondly, most of New Zealand’s primary diplomatic and trading partners, including those in the Middle East, are involved in the anti-IS coalition. Having just secured a UN Security Council temporary seat at a time when the UN has repeatedly issued condemnations of IS, and having campaigned in part on breaking the logjam in the UNSC caused by repeated use of the veto by the 5 permanent members on issues on which they disagree (such as the civil war in Syria), NZ must back up its rhetoric and reinforce its diplomatic and trade relations by committing to the multinational effort to defeat IS. Refusing to do so in the face of requests from these partners jeopardises the non-military relationships with them.

The third reason is a matter of principle and it is surprising that the government has not made more of it as a justification for involvement. After the Rwandan genocide an international doctrine known as the “Responsibility to Protect” (R2P) was agreed by UN convention to prevent future horrors of that sort. It basically states that if a defenceless population is being subject to the depredations of its own government, or if the home government cannot defend the population from the depredations of others, then the international community is compelled to use whatever means, including armed force, to prevent ongoing atrocities from occurring. There can be no doubt that is the situation in parts of Iraq and Syria at the moment. Neither the Assad regime or the Iraqi government can defend minority communities such as Kurds or Yazidis, or even non-compliant Sunnis, from the wrath of IS.

That, more than any other reason, is why NZ must join the fight. As an international good citizen that has signed up to the R2P, NZ is committed in principle to the defense of vulnerable others.

The best summary I have seen of why NZ should contribute. Buchanan continues:

Most of all, why has Andrew Little run his mouth about reneging on the NZDF contribution to the anti-IS coalition (which involves formal and time-constrained commitments)? Little has previous form in displaying ignorance of international affairs, but this level of hypocrisy takes the cake. Does he not remember that the 5th Labour government started the rapprochement with the US after 9/11, and that it was the 5th Labour government that initially deceived and misled about the real nature of the SAS role in Afghanistan as well as  the true nature of the mission in Southern Iraq (which is widely believed to have involved more than a company of military engineers). Is he not aware that a responsible country does not walk away from the security alliance, diplomatic and trade commitments mentioned above? Did he not consult with Helen Clark, Phil Goff or David Shearer before this brain fart (or did they gave him the rope on which to hang himself)? Does he really believe, or expect the informed public to believe, that on defense, security and intelligence issues Labour in 2015 is really that different from National? If so, it is he, not us, who is deluded.

All this shows is that Labour is still unfit to govern, or at least Little is not. If he does not understand the core principles governing international relations and foreign affairs, or if he chooses to ignore them in favour of scoring cheap political points, then he simply is unsuited to lead NZ before the international community.

Buchanan concludes:

Andrew Little should know that, and the Greens and NZ First need to understand that this is not about belonging to some exclusive “club” but about being a responsible global citizen responding to the multinational call for help in the face of a clear and present danger to the international community. Because if IS is not a clearly identifiable evil, then there is no such thing.

In any event the fight against IS is dangerous but cannot be avoided.

It is worth remembering that Dr Buchanan is from the left himself. This makes his criticisms all the more stinging.

Crone on small business and Labour

February 13th, 2015 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Xero’s Victoria Crone writes:

I recently attended Labour and Opposition Leader Andrew Little’s State of the Nation speech and heard first hand how the Labour Party is throwing its weight behind small business by placing a big emphasis on the small business agenda. …

There are a few areas where I think that they’re barking up the wrong tree, one being around starting a business. The World Bank Group already ranks New Zealand as the easiest place to start a business.

However, with small business firmly on Labour’s agenda, this bodes well for a great policy debate around small business for the next election.

I agree. I hope they come up with some innovative policy.

I see a few challenges for Labour’s small business policy:  

– Labour has a dilemma as it tries to encourage small business to create jobs. The first is the dilemma between what is essentially a nation of very small and often fragile businesses (remember 92 per cent of our small businesses employ less than five people and these businesses have the highest death rates), who will be taking on additional jobs which represents massive risk for them. A small business has to be able to sustain the extra cost of an additional employee over the long run. The average business owner is already wearing 20 hats. Adding managerial and employment policy to their already long list of day to day tasks will provide extra pressure.  Labour’s policy on encouraging job growth while minimising business risk could be challenging philosophically for the Party.

Most of Labour’s current policies are bad for small businesses. Their policy to scrap 90 day trials especially. But also their policy to massively hike the minimum wage, and make it illegal for a small business to gain Government work unless they pay a “living” wage.

Hague announces candidacy

February 12th, 2015 at 3:40 pm by David Farrar

Andrea Vance at Stuff reports:

In a move that won’t surprise anyone in politics, Green MP Kevin Hague has put his hand up to be the party’s co-leader.

The West Coast-based list MP is first out of the blocks, and rookie MP James Shaw was expected to follow, but this morning Shaw said it was “highly unlikely” because it was too early in his parliamentary career.

Nominations for the role don’t open until next month, ahead of the party’s annual conference in May, but Hague, an MP since 2008, explained: “I am certain to stand, and I thought it could be useful for Green Party members to know that.”

Without discounting who else might stand, it is fair to say that Kevin Hague is a very good potential co-leader, and he could do significantly better than his predecessor, if elected.

The strengths that Hague would bring to the Greens are:

  1. He is not a communist (or former communist)
  2. He has significant political skills, playing a key role in campaigns such as the marriage equality campaign
  3. He is trusted and respected with most MPs from both National and Labour
  4. He will generally put progressing an issue, ahead of point scoring, for example working behind the scenes with National MPs on adoption law reform rather than grand-standing on the issue such as a Labour MP did
  5. Has the ability to work with MPs from other parties, including National. Involved in many cross-party caucuses.
  6. Has been influential in the Greens in reducing the power of the anti-science brigade, and has moved the Greens away from blanket opposition to fluoridation and vaccinations to more balanced positions
  7. Has significant management experience, having been a CEO of a District Health Board

I think Kevin Hague would be an excellent choice by the Greens to replace Russel Norman as the male co-leader.

Hague said he had good relationship with both major parties – but said the Greens made the right decision in aligning with Labour.

“We are not a party that is going to throw away our core principles and our values or actually a very large number of our policies in order to make that political accommodation … it’s hard to see National providing the level of policy gains for the Green party.” 

But Hague found common ground with National over national cycleways and pest control. “I’ve got a track record … of finding ways of working with them. I look forward to doing that more.”

The Greens would never choose National over Labour, but a Hague led Greens would be more likely to be able to have a constructive relationship with National, where they can work together in a few areas. This would be a good thing.

Du Fresne on Islamic State

February 12th, 2015 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Karl du Fresne writes:

It’s hard to think of a more challenging conundrum than the one posed by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (Isis).

Labour leader Andrew Little was right last week to describe Isis as evil. It’s a word seldom heard these days because it implies a moral judgment, and moral judgments are unfashionable. But “evil” is the only way to describe men who coldly behead their captives, and then amp up the shock factor by burning one alive.

There is an element of gleeful sadism in their barbarism. Last week they pushed a gay man from the top of a tall building – reportedly the fourth such execution for homosexuality.

Sadistic is a good work for it. It is not just that they revel in killing people, but they revel in killing them in such sadistic ways. Being thrown off a building or burnt alive as examples.

Almost unnoticed in the background, Isis is proceeding with its grand plan to establish an Islamic caliphate, which means systematically slaughtering or enslaving anyone who stands in its way. No-one, then, can dispute that Isis is evil. The conundrum is what the rest of the world should do about it.

This is why it is not a fight one can ignore. This is not just a localised civil war in Iraq and Syria. They literally wanted to expand to as many countries as possible. Anyone who thinks they will be content with what they have is detached from reality.

Yet doing nothing is not an option. Either we believe civilised values are worth defending and that vulnerable people deserve protection from mass murderers, or we don’t. And if we do, we can’t just whistle nonchalantly while looking the other way and pretending it isn’t happening. …

This is not like the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, where the objectives were hazy (or in the case of Iraq, tragically misconceived). Isis is not some shadowy terrorist entity; it’s a functioning army, operating in plain sight.

That doesn’t make it easy to defeat, but neither is it an excuse to do nothing.

Unfortunately Andrew Little, while condemning Isis as evil, doesn’t think it’s our business to stop them.

It’s interesting that where Isis is concerned, the Left sharply deviates from its tradition of siding with the weak and vulnerable.

The Islamic State, it insists, is not our problem, no matter how many innocents die.

Labour’s policy is to do nothing but send out press releases.

I suspect the Left is unable to see past its antipathy towards America and can’t bring itself to support any initiative in which America plays a leading role. Its ideological blinkers blind it to the fact that on this occasion, America is on the side of the angels.

Most reprehensible of all is the craven argument that we should avoid antagonising Isis for fear that some deranged jihadist will strike at us in revenge.

That’s moral cowardice of the lowest order.

Prime Minister John Key is right to highlight the inconsistency in the Left’s stance, and I applaud him for saying that New Zealand will not look the other way.

It’s rare for Key to commit himself so emphatically, and commendable for him to do so on one of the pressing moral issues of our time.

Imagine if the 1st Labour Government was led by modern day Labour. Michael Joseph Savage and Peter Fraser committed NZ to fight against the Nazis. The Little led Labour would be insisting that we do nothing without the League of Nations okay.

Parliament 12 February 2015

February 12th, 2015 at 1:08 pm by David Farrar

The order paper is here and oral questions here.

Oral Questions 2 pm – 3 pm

  1. CHRIS BISHOP to the Minister of Finance: What recent reports has he received about what progress the Government is making to support more jobs and higher incomes?
  2. RICHARD PROSSER to the Minister for Primary Industries:Does he believe the Primary Growth Partnership provides value for money to taxpayers?
  3. Hon ANNETTE KING to the Minister of Finance: In light of his comments that a taxpayer bailout is his “least preferred” option, how much is he prepared to spend to save the SkyCity deal?
  4. DENISE ROCHE to the Minister for Economic Development:What advice did officials provide about how much more valuable to SkyCity the TVNZ land sold to it for the siting of a convention centre was, once that land was used as the site of a hotel?
  5. MATT DOOCEY to the Minister for Sport and Recreation: What benefits does he expect to be delivered by the Government’s support for the Cricket World Cup?
  6. Hon DAMIEN O’CONNOR to the Minister for Primary Industries:Does he have confidence in his department?
  7. ALFRED NGARO to the Minister for Social Housing: What recent commitments has the Government made to improving social housing?
  8. Dr KENNEDY GRAHAM to the Minister of Defence: Will he assure the House that no New Zealand troops will be engaged in active military combat in Iraq during the term of this Government?
  9. JACINDA ARDERN to the Minister of Internal Affairs: What are the expected savings per year as a result of the changes to the National Library curriculum topic loan service?
  10. MELISSA LEE to the Minister for Communications: What is the current status of the rollout of the Government’s Ultra-Fast Broadband and Rural Broadband initiatives?
  11. Hon DAVID PARKER to the Minister of Police: On how many occasions, if any, has he alerted the Prime Minister or his Office to a matter of significant public interest which he has been briefed on by his officials since his appointment?
  12. JONATHAN YOUNG to the Minister of Transport: What is the Government doing to support the development of urban cycleways across New Zealand?

National: Five patsies on the jobs, Cricket World Cup, social housing, broadband and cycleways

Labour: Four questions on Sky City, MPI, National Library and Mike Sabin

Greens: Two questions on Sky City and Iraq

NZ First: One question on the Primary Growth Partnership

Debate on PM’s Statement 3.00 pm to 6.00 pm

There are over five hours to go and three hours available today for further speeches.

Bills

It is possible the Government will delay the debate on the PM’s statement to advance legislation. The next bill on the order paper is:

Reserves and Other Lands Disposal Bill – second reading

The bill makes a number of changes to the status of parcels of land, land titles, and previous Reserves and Other Lands Disposal Acts.

  • Introduced: July 2008
  • 1st reading: March 2009, passed 113 to 9 with only Greens opposed
  • Select Committee report: September 2009, supported unanimously with amendments

Eminem vs National

February 12th, 2015 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

The publisher of United States’ rap star Eminem is taking the National Party to court, with a hearing set down for next week.

Last year it was revealed that Eight Mile Style LLC and Martin Affiliated LLC, the Detroit-based publishers of Eminem’s copyrights, intended to sue the The National Party.

They allege the National Party breached copyright by using a song that sounded similar to Eminem’s ‘Lose Yourself’ in its campaign advertisements throughout the 2014 election.

In its earlier statement, the party rejected allegations the library music used in its campaign advertisements was a copyright infringement of any artist’s work.

The party had purchased the music from production music supplier Beatbox, based in Australia and Singapore, the statement said.

“As with all works licensed by the Beatbox library music service, the National Party was assured the music in question did not infringe any copyright and was an original work,” last year’s statement read.

The music license and fee were arranged through the Australasian Performing Rights Association and Australasian Mechanical Copyright Owners Society (APRA/AMCOS), who act as agents for Beatbox in Australia and New Zealand, organisations which existed to protect the rights of artists, the party said.

 

It will be interesting to see how it goes in court. I would have thought the legal action should be between Eminem and Beatbox, as Beatbox is the company that was selling the music National used.

Regardless of whether or not the National Party purchased the music through what they considered a “reputable supplier” such as Beatbox, Eight Mile Style was within its rights to sue as the party had used the song in their campaign advertisement, Mr Hazel said.

“The reason they will be going after the National Party is because they are the ones that actually used the work.”

However, Mr Hazel said if the National Party was found liable it could go after Beatbox with a claim to help pay any remedies, depending on the details of their contract with Beatbox.

When you pay a reputable supplier for rights to a song, it is pretty tough if you are the one in the gun if another artist then alleges it infringes.

Dunne has a point

February 12th, 2015 at 9:09 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Mr Dunne also launched a stinging attack on comments made in New Zealand last week by British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond when he said: “Frankly we’ve got used to New Zealand being there alongside us, alongside the US, the UK, Australia, as part of the family.”

Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee said the training was made at the request of the Chief of Defence Force Lieutenant General Tim Keating.

Prime Minister John Key has already made it clear he wants to deploy up to 100 NZDF staff in a training mission with Australia which has 600 people in Iraq.

Mr Dunne, a minister and the leader of United Future, described Mr Hammond as a “patronising figure from abroad loftily telling us we are in the club, we are part of the family and it would be lovely to have you along for the next round of unmitigated slaughter”.

He said the debating chamber had plaques on the wall of other times “the family” had acted together.

“Gallipoli, the mindless slaughter of Australian and New Zealand troops in the pursuit of a British objective, Passchendaele and the Somme, so to come here and say to New Zealanders today ‘we love having you on board, you are part of the family but you’ve still got to queue up at the aliens gate at Heathrow’ is unacceptable in the extreme.”

I agree that any action should not be justified on the basis of being part of any family, or club.

It should be justified if it meets the criteria that it is morally the right thing to do, the risk are not too great, and the action will help improve the situation.

Mr Little, the Labour leader, said everybody felt the urge to do something but: “After 10 years of training of the Iraqi Army by the … best-resourced army in the world, what is it that we can do now that is going to make a difference?”

It’s a fair question, but the situation is not fluid. A number of things have changed.

  1. A new Iraqi Government is less divisive and more able to command army loyalty
  2. The rise of the Islamic State and their barbaric actions against native Iraqis being so much worse than the previous insurgency. This has changed the dynamic there, and greatly increased the motivations of the rest of Iraq to join together to defeat them.

It is rather more complicated that that, but the point is the situation is not static. Justifying doing nothing on the basis of a previous failure, only works if no variables have changed. And they have.

11 seeking National’s nomination for Northland

February 11th, 2015 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Have heard from reliable sources that 11 people are seeking National’s nomination for Northland. There are several great candidates and the pre-selection committee will have a tough job reducing them to a final five to go forward to the full selection.

The pre-selection is Saturday, so the names of the final five will be released after that.

Sign the petition against taxpayer money for Sky City

February 11th, 2015 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

The Taxpayers’ Union has a petition against any taxpayer funds going towards the Sky City convention centre, on top of the regulatory concessions that were agreed to.

The petition says:

Back in May 2013 when the SkyCity convention centre was announced, the Government promised a national convention centre suitable for between 3,500 and 5,000 attendees in return for allowing SkyCity to have more pokies and tables. Throughout the 2014 election, the Government told New Zealanders that we were getting a ‘free’ convention centre. The deal was done, the ink was apparently dry.

Now SkyCity are trying to rip us all off. They’ve filed plans for a convention centre for only 1,500 and 3,000. As a result, John Key and Steven Joyce aren’t ruling out dipping into our pockets and forking out for SkyCity.

Sign our petition to tell John Key not to use taxpayer money on SkyCity – we’ll deliver the signatures to Parliament later in this month.

Over 300 have signed in a couple of hours. It takes 20 seconds. And you won’t get any e-mail spam as a result of it (unlike certain political parties) unless you opt in to them.

On this issue it was interesting to hear Andrew Little on Larry Williams show on NewstalkZB tomorrow. I thought he did very well, for the following reasons:

  • He didn’t do the normal left rant about National just wants to look after its big business mates
  • He didn’t try and demonise Sky City because it has a casino
  • He focused on the issue of a deal is a deal
  • He focused on how it shouldn’t suddenly cost $130 million more barely a year later
  • He also didn’t say under no circumstances could the Government not put any money at all in, but $130 million is way too much – a couple of million could possibly be okay
  • This made Little sound reasonable, and not against a convention centre, just against a huge taxpayer contribution after a deal was signed which said there would be no contribution
  • Little also correctly analysed that while the Govt has a lot of political capital tied up this and doesn’t want it to fail, neither does Sky City want to have the deal not happen which means no centre, no licence extension and no more pokies. So the Govt should hold fast

Little’s performance was vastly superior to the previous Opposition Leaders because he sounded rational and flexible, not just sloganeering against the Government.

He has made mistakes such as the talking about Maori sovereignty, but his instincts generally are proving better than his predecessors.