But do you see what is missing? The cost of capital or construction. These costs are often the largest part of total costs.
Of course once you have a dam in place, or a wind turbine in place, the operating costs are less than having to keep digging up coal from the ground. But capital is not free (unless you print money!) and there is an ongoing cost to capital – either interest or opportunity cost.
So if you look at the graph I provided, it shows that solar has no operating costs (of course) but huge construction costs.
Now don’t get me wrong. I think renewables are the future. I think wind, hydro, solar and even tidal are part of our future energy supply. But they need to be cost effective. Blanket bans on coal and large hydro are not the way to go.
The ghost of Hugo Chavez is alive and thriving within the Labour Party as it turns its back on its free-market past to buy itself back into power courtesy of the taxpayers’ chequebook.
And not just nationalisation, but free electricity!
If David Shearer and Russel Norman muster enough votes to win the next election, they say they will toss us all the equivalent of a free 300KW block of electricity
Just as the Greens think you can print money, they and Labour also think you can just give electricity away for free, and somehow new generation will be built.
We are asked to believe this policy will also produce 5000 new jobs and generate $450 million worth of new economic activity because two pages of bare analysis on Berl’s equilibrium model tells us so.
I don’t think so. No one with any residue of grey matter left will believe Shearer’s protestations that the timing of this joint announcement has nothing to do with the pending Mighty River Power IPO.
This policy has all the signs of being rushed out with one aim in mind: To spook the private investors (including the many smaller shareholders who are being enticed back into a New Zealand sharemarket, which was on the verge of its own demise a few years back) who are lining up to buy shares in the forthcoming float.
But the decision to insert a state-owned monopsony – or monopoly buyer – called New Zealand Power between the supply and demand sides of the electricity industry without first undertaking any stringent analysis and submissions from existing privately listed companies like Contact Energy, TrustPower, Infratil and the privately owned Todd Energy really amounts to nothing more than effective renationalisation of the competitive sector.
And why are they nationalising them? Because they hope it will gain votes?
But what is really instructive from the BusinessDesk report (a good scoop, by the way) is Jones’ admission that not only do asset owners need dividends but “politicians need dividends as well”.
The report went on to note that to win the 2014 election, Labour needed to move about 5 to 7 per cent of the voting public to favour it.
Jones suggested energy analysts’ capacity to “make 5 to 7 per cent of the public hate us [because of this policy] is zero. Our capacity to impress that percentage [with this policy] is infinite”.
In other words, the sniff of power is so enticing to Jones that he is prepared to give away the return on state-owned assets to consumers to bribe his party’s way back to power.
Their next policy may be to announce that if you have more than one house, the government will confiscate it and give it to an aspiring home owner.
Labour MP Lianne Dalziel has asked the founder of Christchurch’s Student Volunteer Army, Sam Johnson, to stand together to challenge Mayor Bob Parker in this year’s local body elections, The Press understands.
Speculation has been mounting as to who will run against Parker in October. And The Press can now reveal Labour’s Canterbury Earthquake Recovery spokeswoman Dalziel has asked Johnson, 24, to be her running mate and would-be deputy mayor.
Johnson himself would have to be elected as a councillor to assume the deputy’s position, and Dalziel is believed to have sounded out other running mates too.
But Johnson’s reputation soared after he organised the much-celebrated student army to help quake-affected Cantabrians and in 2012 he was named Young New Zealander of the Year. He currently sits on the Riccarton-Wigram Community Board and in January indicated he could seek a seat on the city council .
Maybe Sam should stand for Mayor, rather than be Lianne’s deputy!
UPCOMING THIS WEEKEND 0930 SATURDAY – 0800 SUNDAY TV3
www.frontpage.co.nz will have all video and transcripts at 10:00 Sunday
Labour’s energy plan – David Parker
The Greens Energy plan – Gareth Hughes
NZ First’s energy plan (and why he’s supporting the GCSB legislation) – Winston Peters
Former Energy Minister, Max Bradford, on all the plans
Colin James on the politics of it all
On the Sunday Media Panel – Brian Edwards, Bill Ralston and guest, Investigate editor Ian Wishart on how the Christian media covered the gay marriage bill.
I think that is a step too far. I think bail is too easy to get, and far too many offences are done by people on bail. But if you are a first time offender, there is a presumption of innocence.
fewer chances to apply for bail having once been rejected
Not sure how many chances there are, but I agree they should be few.
appeals to carry a punitive cost if they fail, so offenders who appeal and lose go to jail for longer
I agree with the principle that there should be some incentive not to have appeals in cases where there is no chance of success – such as cases where they are caught red handed.
sentences for multiple crimes to be served end on end rather than together
I think cumulative sentences would be a step too far.
prior criminal convictions to be revealed as evidence in court and considered as adding weight to guilt
I don’t think they should be considered as adding weight but I think in the Internet age it will prove impossible to keep previous convictions hidden. I’d have them public, but Judges should warn to judge a case on the facts only.
performance reviews for judges and the ability to sack those who did not meet standards
I think collection of data on decisions of Judges is a good thing, but Judges should only be sacked for misconduct – not for making unpopular decisions.
simpler sentencing laws because the current laws have been developed to deliberately confuse the public.
As Building and Construction Minister, Maurice would be a very credible candidate standing on policies to make Auckland a more affordable place to live – in contrast to the policies of the left which are to make land as expensive as possible.
And as his speech becomes a global sensation, it is a reminder of what a formidable speaker and debater Maurice is. As an economic and social liberal he would be a very good fit for Auckland.
Wellington could save itself a truckload of money by getting rid of its mayor and 14 councillors and replacing them with teddy bears.
Would the quality of governance be affected? Not a jot. The council bureaucrats would continue to run things just as they do now.
Maybe someone should should set up a ticket of teddy bears to run?
Wellington is hardly unique. In local government, real power often resides with the managers. But in Wellington’s case, it’s a lot more obvious than usual.
Hence my suggestion that the council abandon the facade of participatory democracy and replace the councillors with stuffed toys. Meetings would be over faster, the petty bickering and point-scoring would cease, ratepayers would be saved more than $1.3 million a year – which is what they pay the mayor and councillors – and council officials would be free to get on unhindered with what they do anyway, which is running the show.
I am personally fond of koala bears – I had nine of them growing up!
In Wellington’s case, Helene Ritchie is the standout survivor, having first been elected in 1977. Other long-serving councillors are Andy Foster (1992), the mayor, Celia Wade-Brown (1994), Stephanie Cook (1995), Bryan Pepperell (1996), John Morrison and Leonie Gill (both 1998), and Ray Ahipene-Mercer (2000).
Admittedly, it can be useful to have councillors who have been around a while and know the ropes. Besides, some long-serving councillors are conscientious and hard-working. But there are others you couldn’t trust to feed your cat. The trouble is, voters often can’t tell which is which.
Wellington is a dynamic, creative city that deserves a council to match. Unfortunately many of the incumbents give the impression of having run out of ideas and energy years ago and now merely keep their seats warm.
There are some good incumbents. But they are a minority.
This graph is based on the data from Stats NZ for the electricity segment of the Consumer Price Index. It shows the annual increase in consumer electricity prices.
Labour are saying that it was the Bradford reforms that led to increased prices. in fact the four years after the reforms saw the smallest increases in 25 years.
Also worth noting that of the increases in the last four years, two of them were due to external factors – the GST increase (which had compensating tax cuts) and the introduction of the Emissions Trading Scheme.
UPDATE: David Parker is on record as saying a single buyer will increase the cost of power. Simon Bridges quotes from a 2006 cabinet paper by Parker:
“As Minister of Energy he said that “a single buyer would likely result in higher capital and operating costs”. He went on to say that: “The risks involved in changing arrangements could be significant. The resulting uncertainty could lead to investment proposals being put on hold. Direct implementation costs could be large.” And, he admitted that “The single buyer would be relatively poor at sustaining pressure on operational costs.”
“Not only asset owners need dividends,” said Jones. “Politicians need dividends as well.”
To win the 2014 election, Labour needed to move about 5 to 7 percent of the voting public to favour it.
He suggested energy analysts’ capacity to “make 5 to 7 percent of the public hate us (because of this policy) is zero. Our capacity to impress that percentage (with this policy) is infinite.”
Parker has admitted the policy will not reduce costs, and may in fact increase them.
Jones is basically saying we are doing this because we think some of the public will like the idea of the Government promising cheap power (even if it never happens).
Also this report makes clear that power generators are unlikely to invest in new generation under a state monopoly. Why would you risk investing hundreds of millions of dollars in extra generating capacity when a government department will unilaterally decide what price they will buy it off you for?
Contact Energy shares dropped almost 6 per cent in early NZX trading, with the company saying it was “hard to see” how it would have justified investing $2.5 billion in new power plants if the Labour-Greens electricity policy had been in place.
In a statement not issued to the NZX but received by BusinessDesk, Contact chief executive Dennis Barnes says “under the proposed model, it is hard to see whether such investment would be made viable and who would pay.”
“Competitive and efficient electricity markets attract investment and talent from companies like Contact,” said Barnes. “Over the past five years Contact alone has invested over $2.5 billion in building generation capacity to ensure the reliable, safe and secure supply of power to New Zealanders now and in the future.”
Maybe this is the master plan from the Greens? No new generation means no increase in greenhouse gas emission? We can become carbon neutral!
New Zealand’s abortion laws should be changed to reflect the real reasons women decide to terminate unwanted pregnancies, Christchurch researchers say.
New research from the University of Otago, Christchurch, suggests abortion does not reduce the mental health risks of unwanted pregnancy.
I’m not surprised. If you have an unwanted pregnancy, it is highly stressful to either have an abortion or to have an unplanned child.
The best outcome is to reduce unwanted pregnancies.
Currently, abortion can only be performed legally in New Zealand if there is a risk to the mother’s physical or mental health or if the baby would have a serious disability.
About 98 per cent of abortions are performed on mental health grounds.
Lead researcher David Fergusson told The Press the review did not suggest abortion should be completely illegal but that the current laws should be changed to reflect the real reasons women sought abortions.
“These issues could be addressed if the wording of the current law was changed from ‘continuation of the pregnancy would pose a serious threat to the woman’s health’ to something along the lines that ‘continuation of the pregnancy would pose a serious threat to the woman’s physical, mental, educational, family or financial wellbeing’,” he said.
I agree. The current law does not reflect the practice, and in this case I think the law should be changed to reflect the reality.
This is the sort of policy UK Labour would have had under Michael Foot in the 1970s.
At a stroke, Labour is proposing to dismantle the electricity market, ruin Contact Energy and Mighty River Power and decimate the Government’s share float plans for both MRP and Meridian.
Oh, and sell thousands of mum and dad investors down the Mighty River, since MRP’s share price would almost certainly plummet if the company was forced to retail only through a government department at whatever price it deemed to be fair.
Not just MRP and Contact. Also TrustPower and Todd Energy. Every single generator of electricity would effectively become nationalised as they would only be allowed to sell electricity to the Government at whatever price the Government unilaterally sets.
I’m no fan of high power prices – and I don’t own any Contact or MRP shares – but what Labour is proposing is essentially nationalisation a la Brazil or Argentina. This is Third World, funny-money stuff. Goodness knows what the fi
nancial markets will make of it. And what message does it send to overseas investors?
The impacts of this policy will be felt far beyond the electricity sector.
I’m tempted to see this as a last-ditch attempt to derail National’s plans to part-sell its electricity assets, but if that’s the case it’s going to seriously annoy a lot of investors who were poised to put funds into Mighty River Power.
It’s extremely rare that I agree completely with Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce, but his comment today that the plan was “a return to the 1970s-style monopoly provision of electricity…Only North Korea and Venezuela did not think such ideas are nuts” is pretty much spot on.
I agree with Joyce that Labour is virtually sabotaging the economy.
Earlier this week, a Herald editorial suggested people thinking of buying Mighty River Power shares had little to fear from David Shearer’s statement that the Labour Party planned to shake up the electricity market when next in power. That, however, was before it was known how far back in time Labour planned to travel and how errant its policy would be.
We need policies for the future, not attempts to turn the clock back.
This suggests nothing less than a return to central planning. It harks back to the situation that pertained before the electricity industry was transformed from a state monopoly into a market supplied by four main generating companies. Mr Shearer seems to be looking at that time through rose-tinted glasses, ignoring the inefficiencies and, most notably, the blackouts that were a feature.
Security of supply would become a real issue. Why would a generator invest in new generation capacity when the price for any power it produces will be unilaterally decided by a government department?
The most unfortunate aspect of Labour’s new policy is that it has identified the problem. “When markets are not truly competitive, excessive profits are extracted from consumers,” David Parker, the party’s energy spokesman, said yesterday. The most logical response, however, is not to return to a failed approach but to provide the setting for competition to flourish. Despite all the criticism of price rises, the market has succeeded to the extent that there has never been a power failure. It also has the framework that offers the best outcome for consumers.
The telecommunications market confirms as much. But making a market truly competitive generally requires a substantial amount of tinkering. Temporary government intervention may be required to facilitate the development of competition. But that is not Labour’s intention. In cahoots with the Greens, it proposes a move which, if implemented, would be every bit as damaging as some of the latter party’s monetary policy delusions.
More and more of the policies being put forward by Labour and Greens are 1970s policies.
Their monetary policy is to go back to pre 1980s reforms. Their welfare policies are to bring back universal child benefits such as we had in the 1970s also.
Revenue Minister Peter Dunne says he will vote against legislation establishing charter schools.
However, the Government still looks to have the numbers, with the Maori Party giving support at the Bill’s second reading. …
Dunne says he’s not convinced by the charter schools model and he is particularly concerned at proposals which will allow charter schools to employ teachers who are not registered or nationally certified.
The United Future leader is also worried the schools will not be compelled to follow the National curriculum.
“The current system already provides for a significant range of schooling opportunities, and I cannot see there is a need to introduce the partnership schools approach to achieve the level of flexibility the proponents of partnership schools are seeking,” he said.
The select committee recommended that charter schools be subject to investigation by the Ombudsman.
The independent schools will receive the same per-child funding from the Government but are less-tied to Education Ministry regulations.
Labour and the Greens have jumped the shark with a half-baked Soviet Union-style nationalisation “plan” for electricity in New Zealand, Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce says.
“This is truly wacky and desperate stuff obviously made up in the last minute in the Koru Lounge between comrades Norman and Shearer,” Mr Joyce says.
“Their crazy idea to have both a single national purchaser of electricity and to exempt Government-owned companies from both company tax and dividends would effectively demolish private investment in the electricity industry overnight. It would also raise real questions as to why any individual or company would want to invest in businesses in New Zealand.
I never thought we’d see parties in NZ advocating socialist nationalisation policies from decades ago. Stuck in a time warp.
Minister Joyce’s release on the Greens and Labour’s electricity announcement is full of basic inaccuracies: he says that NZ Power would exempt electricity companies from corporate tax and dividends, which is completely false and not backed by anything in the discussion document.
Council should give clear message to port company The Auckland port company is proving very slow to get a simple message: the Waitemata is not to be narrowed. The harbour is still wide enough between the wharves and Devonport to retain its visual splendour but it is not so wide that it can continue to accommodate wharf extensions without losing much its expansive character.
If the city is not very careful it could discover, too late, that yet another incremental reclamation (one is already underway) has reduced the harbour entrance to a shipping channel and Auckland, quite suddenly, is less scenic.
How hard can it be for the port company to understand this? Having failed to get extended reclamations written into the Auckland Council’s 30-year plan last year, the company has come back this year trying to get a smaller extension written into the council’s 10-year unitary plan.
But really the council is to blame. Instead of giving its wholly owned company a clear message the first time around that no further encroachment on the Waitemata can be contemplated, the council prevaricated. It promised to review a range of development options for the port.
I feel sorry for the current Ports of Auckland management. It is not their fault they have inherited the Port on the location it is in. But my view is that their current location is an awful place for a commercial port, as is Wellington’s Centreport location. The power of the status quo may mean that it is never economic to move them, but the reality is that trying to expand on their current locations is just a very bad idea.
Auckland’s port serves the country’s largest population centre. It is hardly going to disappear if its wharves are not long enough for the next generation of cargo ships. If those ships went instead to Marsden Pt or Tauranga fewer containers would be hauled into the city. But if Ports of Auckland wants to accommodate bigger ships it must find room within its present area. The council should say so.
Well, the debate finished at 9.30 pm last night, but the celebrations carried on much longer. I got home at 4 am and finished the night with a quarter pounder at McDonalds – my first one in around a year and a half! It was badly needed to soak up the alcohol – and oh yeah it tasted great! Fuck, I’ve missed them
It is hard to put into words how much joy and happiness there was last night. Many issues just impact people indirectly or abstractly, but this was an issue which had massive importance to many many individual New Zealanders. You can’t really understand the significance of this law change to those affected, unless you are in their shoes. I was privileged enough to have a huge number of people come up to me last night and share their stories and emotions about what this means to them. It often goes to the core of self-worth, aspirations for a happy future etc. Thank you to everyone who shared with me – it was also great to meet so many previously unknown readers. Some of the exchanges were surreal – such as the young woman at McDonalds who just patted me on the head as she walked past our table and said “marriage equality rocks”. No idea who she was.
Last night reinforced for me my total lack of doubt that this law change was a good thing to do. On most issues, I have some doubts. I think charter schools should provide some better educational outcomes for some students – but I am of course not certain. Likewise I think having private shareholdings in SOEs will be better for the NZ economy – but it is not guaranteed. Almost all issues have trade-offs.
People go into politics with a genuine desire to make their country a better place. I’ve spent a fair amount of time thinking about what is the meaning of life etc. We only get to have 80 – 100 years. Over the course of history all but a few individuals are pretty insignificant So what should life be about? Is existence a bit pointless? In the end my conclusions are that our aim should be to make ourselves happy, and make other people happy. Life is here to be enjoyed.
I accept some people are unhappy at a conceptual level that gay couples will be able to marry. But for me that unhappiness is absolutely dwarfed by the immense joy this law change brings to gay and lesbian (etc) New Zealanders. I saw it last night in the gallery at Parliament, in the Grand Hall afterwards, down at S&M and Ivys on Cuba Street. They were not celebrating it as a political victory, but a personal one. It wasn’t like the enjoyment you get when the political party you favour wins an election. It was that personal sense of gaining of rights and equality – the symbolism and hope that they as an individual could one day get married. While the law change was a political act, don’t think that the motivations of those in favour were political – it was for many very personal.
For me personally, it has no effect. I am heterosexual. But I’m glad I have a well developed enough empathy that just seeing and sharing other people’s happiness made last night very special to me. As I said, you get involved in politics to try and make NZ a place where more people have happy lives.
From 1840 to 1867, homosexual activity in NZ wasn’t just illegal but was punishable by death. 145 years later, same sex couples can marry. We have come a very long way as a country.
Now the campaign is over, I also want to touch on the political side of the issue. They say that success has many fathers and failure is an orphan. Well that is true but in terms of this issue there are in fact many people who played an important role, and I want to touch on some of them.
First and foremost are Louisa Wall and Kevin Hague. They ran an inclusive positive campaign that was focused on the issue, and left party politics to one side. It can be a bit strange at first working with people from parties you spend half you time criticising, but they were nothing but warm, focused and professional. I regard them both as very good people, and the bill would not have passed with the support it had, without their leadership roles. I’ve seen many a good issue fail, because the political management of the campaign was sub-standard. Louisa and Kevin made a great team and their quiet calm persuasive styles convinced a number of MPs to support the bill on its merits.
On National’s side, many MPs made significant contributions. Hutch, Auckie and Maurice provided the standout speeches for each reading. PM John Key’s support was of incalculable value. The tone of the debate and the margin would have been very different without his support (even though I thinki it would have still passed). I must make special mention of three National MPs who contributed so much behind the scenes – Tau, Jami-Lee and Nikki. The three of them put in a huge amount of work to make sure the bill passed last night. I won’t get into the details of all the issues around votes, proxies, amendments, calls, scheduling and the like.
Also on the National side, two non MPs deserve special mention. Megan Campbell and Shaun Wallis showed you do not have to be an MP to make a positive and significant impact on politics. Megan’s contribution was immense – from lobbying MPs, to speech notes, to fact sheets, rebuttal points, procedural advice and much more. She must be the most effective lobbyist around at the moment – and she was working for free!
Shaun Wallis, and many other Young Nats, also contributed a great deal. If you’re a young person and wondering if young people can have an impact. Well consider that Young Nats have had a significant role in getting the VSM law passed, stopping the alcohol purchase age increasing to 20, and helping with the numbers on this law. When I was a Young Nat I don’t think Shane Frith and I achieved anything much beyond annoying Jim Bolger on a regular basis
Also kudos to all the youth wings who took part in the joint press statement for first reading and the joint press conference for second reading. The unity of youth on the issue was very powerful, and had great resonance with the media and MPs.
Andrew Burns did an amazing job with social media on the campaign. I was staggered by the reach of the campaign’s congratulatory message on Facebook. Within an hour of the vote, I think the message had reached almost half a million people and been shared by over 5,000 to all their networks.
Also Conrad Reyners had a difficult job, which he did so well. In a campaign the challenge isn’t just to get your supporters to do things – often it is to also stop them from doing things. A few overly enthusiastic supporters who go over the top with their rhetoric can damage your own side significantly (as opponents found out). Conrad and the wider campaign team ran a very disciplined, positive on message campaign.
Amusing end to the night was in McDonalds with Conrad close to 4 am, when we realised it was all over, and he said that he can now go back to hating me as fascist scum, and vice-versa him as a pinko commie
Life now goes back to normal, and life goes on for the country also – except in four months time expect an increase in the number of couples getting married in New Zealand!
Legislation to create an extra public holiday when Anzac Day and Waitangi Day fall on the weekend has passed a Parliamentary vote.
The final reading of the Holidays (Full Recognition of Waitangi Day and ANZAC Day) Amendment Bill was completed this afternoon, with MPs passing it by a slim majority.
Labour MP David Clark, the sponsor of the legislation, was not in Parliament for the final vote as he is in New York on a study exchange with the Eisenhower Fellowship.
That saw Labour’s deputy leader Grant Robertson take over today’s passing.
He told Parliament that workers supported the legislation in large numbers, while many businesses also supported it because they saw the value holidays for their staff.
“The cost of this Bill is not huge. It’s already dealt with and budgeted for by businesses five out of seven years, and it’s simply a matter of making that seven out of seven years.”
Earlier this year Finance Minister Bill English elected not to use his veto to block the legislation, after it became clear that Labour had sufficient support to pass the legislation. However the party still voted against it.
The bill passed 61 votes to 60 with Labour, Greens, NZ First, Maori, Mana, United Future and Brendan Horan in favour and National and ACT against.
As I have said before, it is not a bad thing to have the Government lose the odd vote in Parliament, and for Opposition MPs able to use the members’ ballot to get laws through.
A an employer I have no problem with this law change. If we have 11 public holidays, I’m happy for it to be 11 public holidays every year, not just five out of seven years.
I can’t see the logic in Mondayising Christmas Day and New Year’s Day and not Waitangi Day and ANZAC Day.
So well done to David Clark and Grant Robertson at getting a law change from opposition.
Of course as someone who is self-employed, I won’t benefit – I work basically 7 days a week!
Labour is promising to cut the average Kiwi power bill by up to $330 a year if elected to government next year.
It plans to do so by setting up a single buyer, NZ Power, to purchase all electricity generation at a fair price.
Announcing the plan today, leader David Shearer said it would create 5000 jobs.
The Crown would forgo dividends and tax revenue from the power companies at a cost of $60-$90 million a year.
“I’m not prepared to sit back while power companies cream super-profits at the expense of households and the economy,” Shearer said.
As a single wholesale buyer NZ Power will set electricity prices ensuring power companies get a fair prices but not super profits.
The sums here look as dodgy as with Kiwibuild. A cost of $90 million a year is meant to translate into $330 for 2 million households? That’s a 500% difference.
Secondly the history of NZ is that state monopolies do the worse for consumers and prices.
I await the policy to make it illegal to sell houses, except through the state. I mean houses are just as essential as electricity.
What this effectively means is that politicians will set the price of electricity. Remember when Muldoon decided what the interest rates will be? And the Government decided what rents you could charge, and price and wage freeze? All decided by politicians.
A monopoly crown buyer of all electricity will get to unilaterally set the price of electricity and MPs will decide who sits on it and effectively tell them what price they want electricity to be at.
UPDATE: Readers should be aware that this policy is a de facto nationalisation of the privately owned Todd Energy and Contact Energy. it is almost a confiscation without compensation of their assets. Because Labour and Greens are saying we will pass a law to make it illegal for you to sell power to anyone except the Government, and only at the price we unilaterally set.
Think about that, and the precedent it is setting.
This is a policy out of the 1970s and some sort of socialist nirvana state.
Imagine you set up a business, and one day the Government came along and said we are going to make it illegal for you to sell your product or service any more – to anyone but us. And you get no say in what the price will be – we will unilaterally determine that.
This is akin to theft from the shareholders (and if you are in KiwiSaver you are probably an indirect shareholder) of Todd Energy and Contact Energy.
Two hours before the debate even started, there was a long queue of people lined up in the rain wanting to be able to see this bill passed into law. There were so many people, that the Legislative Council Chamber had to be used as an over-flow public gallery. I’ve never seen a bill before where people would turn up two hours early just to get a seat in the gallery.
The debate started at 7.30 pm to a packed House and gallery. David Carter was in the chair. That was unusual as the Speaker normally only presides over question time and general debate. Also unusual was that the bench reserved for former MPs was full up.
Marilyn Waring was there, the National MP for Raglan and Waipa from 1975 to 1984. She was “outed” as a lesbian in 1976, when she was just 23. Former National List MP Katherine Rich was there. Katherine was one of just three National MPs to vote for civil unions. Georgina Beyer was there. Her election as MP for Wairarapa in 1999 showed that her constituents didn’t care about the fact she was trans-gender – just that they thought she was the best MP for their electorate. And Tim Barnett was there, who played a crucial role in getting civil unions introduced in a very close vote.
Also noticeable in the House was a few MPs wearing bridal style fascinators, which was a clever way to get around the no hat rule. Metiria Turei and Holly Walker were both wearing very bright ones, as was journalist Laura McQuillan in the gallery. A nice touch of class and colour.
The other noticeable thing was one of the dozen or so opponents in the gallery. She was in the far corner, and every time an MP started to speak in favour here eyes would close, she would slump forward and hold her hands up high above her head in a form of prayer. I was unable to work out if she was trying to bring down lightning strikes on those MPs, or praying for their souls to be saved.
The debate started with Louisa Wall. She said:
In our society the meaning of marriage is universal. It is a declaration of love and commitment to a special person. Law that allows all people to enjoy that state is the right thing to do. Law that prohibits people from enjoying that state is just wrong. Those who celebrate religious or cultural marriage are absolutely unaffected by this bill. That has never been part of the State’s marriage law and it never should be.
Maurice Williamson then gave a hilarious speech. The House and galleries were in non stop laughter and applause. I’ve embedded it above as a few extracts can’t do it justice.
I have had a reverend in my local electorate call and say that the gay onslaught will start the day after this bill is passed. We are really struggling to know what the gay onslaught will look like. We do not know whether it will come down the Pakuranga Highway as a series of troops, or whether it will be a gas that flows in over the electorate and blocks us all in. I also had a Catholic priest tell me that I was supporting an unnatural act. I found that quite interesting coming from someone who has taken an oath of celibacy for his whole life. … I have not done it, so I do not know what it is about.
I also had a letter telling me that I would burn in the fires of hell for eternity. That was a bad mistake, because I have got a degree in physics. I used the thermodynamic laws of physics. I put in my body weight and my humidity and so on. I assumed the furnace to be at 5,000 degrees. I will last for just on 2.1 seconds. It is hardly eternity.
But he pointed out most opposition was sincere:
I found some of the bullying tactics really evil. I gave up being scared of bullies when I was at primary school. However, a huge amount of the opposition was from moderates, from people who were concerned, who were seriously worried, about what this bill might do to the fabric of our society. I respect their concern. I respect their worry. They were worried about what it might to do to their families and so on. Let me repeat to them now that all we are doing with this bill is allowing two people who love each other to have that love recognised by way of marriage. That is all we are doing. We are not declaring nuclear war on a foreign State. We are not bringing a virus in that could wipe out our agricultural sector for ever. We are allowing two people who love each other to have that recognised, and I cannot see what is wrong with that
Far from there being something wrong with that, there is something great about that.
Finally, can I say that one of the messages I had was that this bill was the cause of our drought—this bill was the cause of our drought. Well, if any of you follow my Twitter account, you will see that in the Pakuranga electorate this morning it was pouring with rain. We had the most enormous big gay rainbow across my electorate. It has to be a sign. It has to be a sign. If you are a believer, it is certainly a sign. Can I finish—for all those who are concerned about this—with a quote from the Bible. It is Deuteronomy. I thought Deuteronomy was a cat out of the musical Cats, but never mind. The quote is Deuteronomy 1:29: “Be ye not afraid.”
I loved his line about thinking Deuteronomy was a cat from Cats!
Jami-Lee Ross made a personal observation:
I want to briefly talk also about the question of children, because it is a common theme that some opponents have been raising. The prevailing wisdom seems to be that every child must have a mother and a father. I know that it is a touchy subject, but as someone who actually grew up without a mother and without a father, I think I am somewhat qualified to speak on the issue. A child does need both male and female influences in their life, but those influences do not necessarily have to come from their biological parents. What is most important is that a child is raised in a loving and caring environment. What is most important is that the people who are raising that child give them a home that is safe, warm, educating, and nurturing. If that environment just so happens to be a same-sex marriage, then that child is just as fortunate as every other loved and cared for child.
So absolutely correct.
Grant Robertson also spoke personally:
Well, in New Zealand in 1986 there was a 14-year-old young man sitting in Dunedin who read the newspaper about the law to decriminalise homosexuality, and he cut out of the newspaper the names of those who voted for and those who voted against the Homosexual Law Reform Bill. And that gave him—me—hope that maybe his life would be all right. There were 49 people in favour of the law that day. To Annette King, Phil Goff, Trevor Mallard, and Peter Dunne, who are still here today, thank you for giving me that hope.
I’m going to a seperate post on the wider issue, its meaning, and the celebrations last night. But let me say that what Grant said about the power of hope law changes like 1986 and 2013 give to younger GLBT New Zealanders can not be over-stated.
Winston Peters have a bizarre speech where he accused Louisa Wall of not even telling her own party about her bill and sneaking it past the whips and the Labour caucus. it was unintentionally hilarious. You have half the Labour caucus shouting out he was wrong, and Winston insisting that he know what happened in their party more than they do, and that they were covering it up.
Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: —I am coming on with the facts here—is for members’ bills to be taken to the Labour whip’s office for the Labour whip to lodge after the bill is approved by the Labour caucus. That is the process every party follows, and it has to be followed because the system will not operate without it. But Ms Wall did not. It is a fact. Make all the statements they like now, but the first the Labour leader’s office knew was seeing it on the list of bills lodged. That is a fact. So tell us why the Labour whip’s office was not told at caucus first, before the bill was lodged—
Hon Lianne Dalziel: It did go to caucus.
Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: I am getting it from the best of authority that that is what happened—
Hon Members: Ha, ha!
Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: Yeah, after the event. That is true—after the event.
Moana Mackey: We were there.
Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: So you were in the whip’s office? No, you were not, and that is a fact. My evidence is of somebody who was, and it suggests that the Labour Party was hijacked on this issue.
If you ever needed proof that Winston just makes shit up, this speech provided it. His conspiracy theories have no limits.
Peters also repeated his call for a referendum and cited how NZ First insisted on their superannuation policy in 1997 going to a referendum. However he was followed by Tau Henare who mauled him and all but called him a liar:
Hon TAU HENARE (National): I will be splitting my call with the Hon Nikki Kaye. I did have a speech prepared, but that speech shot it to bits. Here is the bona fides on the New Zealand First referendum of the 1990s. The National Party said no to a bill. That is why we went to a referendum, and when we went to a referendum, 82 percent of the country said: “No, Winston. We don’t believe in you any more.” That is what it said. It never went through caucus. It never went through caucus. And that speech that I heard tonight was the biggest shyster speech I have ever heard—the biggest shyster speech I have ever heard.
Tau is correct. It was National that insisted on the referendum. Winston did not want a referendum. And as Tau also pointed out Winston also never took things to caucus. He even expelled Brendan Horan without even discussing it with his caucus first.
Nikki Kaye gave a powerful speech:
There are so many stories that we have heard over the last 6 months of people desperate to marry, of young people taking their lives because they have never been accepted, and of people in relationships for 30 years desperate to have that properly recognised in law. This bill is not just about equality and freedom for people to choose whom they want to spend the rest of their life with. It is also fundamentally about human dignity, real acceptance, and good old-fashioned love. For people who are currently married, we have already heard that nothing will change. Weddings will still happen. They will still be expensive. There will still be honeymoons, cakes, and stag dos, dresses and rings, and the odd drunk uncle. But marriage is more than that. It is a huge commitment, and it is something so many young people want. Passing this bill actually means that young gay and lesbian New Zealanders can have the same dream that other young New Zealanders have.
Kevin Hague followed:
It is time. In one of the many messages that I have received on this Marriage (Definition of Marriage) Amendment Bill, one man said “My partner and I have been together for 30 years. It would be great to celebrate our anniversary with a wedding.” I mentioned in the first reading that I have been together with my partner Ian, who is here tonight with my son, Thomas, for 28 years—now nearly 29 years. And I could not help but reflect on our journey during that time. When we got together our relationship was against the law. The message sent by the law could not have been clearer. We were outsiders. We did not belong. The debate over Fran Wilde’s bill was extremely toxic. A lot of people said a lot of very unpleasant things about us and, of course, predicted that the bill would spell the end of New Zealand society. I will be eternally grateful to Fran and her colleagues, to George Gair, for standing up for what was right. I remember travelling to Auckland’s North Shore to protest against one of our opponents, Pastor Richard Flynn, who called publicly for homosexuals like me to be put to death.
It still astonishes me that less than 30 years ago it was illegal to have a gay relationship.
Those famous words of Shylock in the Merchant of Venice come to mind: “Hath not a Jew eyes? Hath not a Jew hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections passions; fed with the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject to the same diseases, healed by the same means, warmed and cooled by the same winter and summer, as a Christian is? If you prick us, do we not bleed? If you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you poison us, do we not die?”. And I would add: “And if we are not equal before the law, are we not lesser beings?” So I come at the issue of marriage equality simply on the basis of equality before the law.
John Banks rose to speak in support. He was a strident campaigner against homosexual law reform in the 1980s. He said:
I am one of a handful of members who was here in the very early days of these debates. After three decades and 10 Parliaments, I have had time to reflect—to reflect on what I said and to reflect on what I did. If I knew then what I have since learnt, I would have acted differently.
Nice. and further:
I see this as a debate more about human rights, predicated on the basis that we are all entitled to live our lives to the fullest extent of human happiness, while respecting the rights and beliefs of others. I believe all New Zealanders should be free to pursue their own happiness. … When making this decision, I had to ask myself: “Will New Zealanders have more freedoms as a result of this bill? Yes. Will freedom of religion be preserved? Yes. Will anyone’s freedoms be taken away by this bill? No. Would the God that I believe in think any less of me for voting for this bill? No.” That is why I support this legislation.
Te Ururoa Flavell:
Can I thank my Treaty partner “Hone” Banks for allowing me to have his final 5 minutes. …
This is not the first time that Māori have encountered controversy around the concept of marriage. In 1888 the Supreme Court of New Zealand made a decision that has been described as “doubtful legally and deplorable socially”. That doubtful and deplorable decision was to reject the customary marriages that had existed mai rānō, and to assume that the marriage law of England took precedence. In fact, the colonial law from another land was considered of such importance that the children of Māori customary marriages were then described as “illegitimate”, yet so significant was the status of customary marriages amongst our people that they continued to be recognised for the purposes of succession to Māori land until 1951. So when opponents of this bill criticise a change to the definition of marriage as contravening our sacred traditions, I would have to say “Whose traditions are we talking about?”
Chester Borrows spoke sort of for and against:
I want to say that today I was pleased to get a text from my good friend Gerard Langford, who texted me and said “Mate, I know this is a big day and I know we see these things differently, but all the best for today.” I said “Thanks, Gerard, you are the gay friend I cite most often.” The fact is that my good friendship with Gerard and his partner, Rangi, as led me along a line that has got me to change my view in respect of gay things. I believe that people who love one another should be with one another and should commit to one another publicly, because I believe that relationships between two people who love one another should be strong, should be publicly committed, and will enable our community to be stronger.
I’ve known Gerard for a long time also. Up until that speech I didn’t know he was gay, which just shows that I have crap gaydar
When Chester said he had changed his view there was huge applause from the gallery as they thought this meant he was now voting for the bill. But not quite:
I will be voting against this bill because I think we should be having the larger debate, and that debate is about what marriage is and what marriage is not. I believe very strongly, for instance, that two people who are married, who are in a heterosexual relationship, should be allowed to be able to do that. I do not believe for one moment that two people who are of the same gender and who commit to one another in any way at all detracts from the 34-year marriage that my wife and I enjoy.
Jonathan Young also spoke respectfully against:
In this House, disagreement is the air we breathe, but it is how we disagree that is important, and by and large this debate has been calmer than many other debates in this House. Tonight I expect that this bill will pass despite my vote, which some will know has not supported its transition through the House thus far. For a long time now I have been very supportive of civil unions, for all the reasons that people are perhaps now applying to the marriage debate. I can empathise with how a couple may want to have the legal recognition—or some institutional formality or support to their relationship—to give them that sense of, even, permanence it may bring, or support. On the occasion of that is a celebration that a wedding can bring. I believe that everybody wants to celebrate their relationships. Your relationship is your business, and I have been happy to support that. I think I was happy when the Civil Union Bill came through, because in a sense it was a new legal recognition that was a mirror of marriage but it perhaps also maintained the age-old institution of marriage. I do think that in societies, traditions are important and have a place. A tradition is a convention, a belief, or a behaviour that stands the test of time. A tradition is the institutional memory of a society. It is not to be cast off or cast away quickly or easily, because it is the touchstone of a value that perhaps younger minds may not fully understand, yet enter into, because it is there. Traditions are what we use to guide people, I believe, into the things of life that have been proven to work.
Kris Faafoi followed:
I am proud to support this bill. To me, it speaks to the heart of the values of what being Pacific in New Zealand is. Those are values of family, love, inclusion, equality, respect, and having pride in who you are. Our parents, grandparents, and great grandparents came to New Zealand to give their families a better life. Vital in that was that they came to these shores and got a fair go, were treated equally but not discriminated against, and were given the respect that every New Zealander deserved. As we know, that was not always the case. There were battles, battles were won, and the Pacific community is now proud and vibrant. Our gay community is also proud and vibrant. They too have battled, and, like all other Kiwis, they deserve the full enjoyment of the values of family, love, inclusion, equality, and respect. I know there are strong religious veins in the Pacific community, and I respect that and the views that they have, but many young, gay Pacific Islanders have found this debate difficult. Many have grown up and maintain strong religious beliefs. They have told me one of the hardest things in the public debate has been hearing that the God that they worship seems to see them differently. My God does not.
Mojo Mathers spoke next, as a mother:
My family has been fortunate to have a beautiful rainbow thread that has woven itself in and out of most of the generations on both sides, and it has created artists and teachers, dreamers and doctors, to name just a few. This wonderful rainbow thread has been continued in the youngest generation and is reflected in my beautiful, brave, loving daughter. Last year she went to her first formal with her girlfriend. They looked absolutely stunning in black and gold with gold make-up. It was with immense pride that I watched them walk into that formal hand in hand, openly declaring their love and affection for each other. They had a wonderful evening and we have many lovely photos to remember it by. For me, one of the highlights of being a mother is when my daughter snuggles up to me on the sofa and shares with me her hopes, her dreams, her aspirations for her future. Like countless other young women, she hopes for love, marriage, children, a good job, and a house with a white picket fence. All of these options are available to her older sister. When this bill passes tonight, which I hope it does, it will give both of my daughters the equal opportunity to marry the person they love.
Mojo’s speech was lovely, and her daughters are very lucky people.
Paul Hutchison followed:
When it comes to marriage, as Rev. Margaret Mayman puts it, the overriding message of Christian faith is that we are all called to practise justice and compassion and to welcome those who are marginalised and oppressed. The biblical call to love our neighbour as ourselves provides the mandate for marriage equality. The ethical criterion of a marriage relationship is to do with equality, not the orientation of the partners. In the first reading of this bill I said that despite trying hard, I could not construct a strong enough intellectual, moral, health, or even spiritual reason to vote against it. I am now quite convinced that, at the end of the day, the strength of any human union is about love, tolerance, giving, forgiving, sharing, inclusiveness, commitment, and fairness irrespective of gender. These are universal qualities that have no boundaries.
Then Chris Auchinvole:
As the former Republican governor and current United States ambassador to China, Jon Huntsman, wrote in an article outlining the conservative support for same-sex marriage: “Marriage is not an issue that people rationalise through the abstract lens of the law.” This debate that we have been engaged in has highlighted a divide in opinion amongst this nation; between young and old, and secular and spiritual, and even between members of the same faith and the same family. This type of divide is not new and it should not be something that we avoid or dismiss. We have faced many issues of conscience in our nation’s relatively short history, and I think we have grown stronger by facing them together, not always as adversaries but as fellow members of a small and empathetic nation that often gives fine examples to the rest of the world. It is because of this shared history that I have the faith that we can seize this opportunity to have discussions around the issues raised by this bill in our homes, our churches, and everywhere honest, thoughtful debate is respected. This bill is not a panacea, but it is an opportunity. If it is to pass—and we should pass this bill—that is just the beginning of a change process,
The last call was split between Ruth Dyson and Moana Mackey/ Ruth said:
The bill ensures that our religious freedoms for celebrants are maintained. We in the Government Administration Committee applied a belts and braces approach, to ensure that the law is beyond doubt in backing the rights of marriage celebrants to decline to marry a couple should such a marriage not be in accordance with their beliefs. The Marriage Act has since 1955 said that celebrants can do that, presumably to protect celebrants from being forced to marry heterosexual couples of different religions or—heaven forbid—marry somebody who was divorced.
And the final speaker was one of the best. Moana Mackey:
I am voting in favour because I cannot find any compelling reason why law-abiding, taxpaying Kiwis in committed, loving relationships should not be able to access the legal and social benefits of marriage purely based on something they cannot change: their sexual orientation. I am voting for this bill because I believe that it will do a lot of good. Just as important, I am voting for this bill because I am utterly and completely convinced that it will do no harm to marriage, to society, or to anyone else, regardless of how they may feel about the issue.
And a personal note:
My late grandmother always had a wonderfully uncomplicated approach to life. At one point she became quite taken with Brendan, the partner of one of my best friends from high school, Peter. She told me that she would not be at all disappointed if Brendan were to become her grandson-in-law. I said to her “But, Grandma, he’s gay.”, to which she responded “Well, your grandfather wasn’t the easiest person to live with, but you make marriage work.”
Lots of laughter at this, and then the vote.
77 MPs voted for the bill to become law and 44 MPs voted against. The same margin as second reading, but two MPs changed. National’s Hamilton East MP David Bennett went from a no to a yes. He explains why he votes yes on Facebook. And Labour Te Tai Tonga MP Rino Tirikatene went from yes to no. Not yet heard what led to his change.
The galleries rose in a standing ovation that went on and on and on, followed by a short waiata. As this was happening MPs were hugging each other, and also standing and applauding back at all the supporters in the gallery. Very nice scenes as Louisa Wall was hugged and congratulated by even some MPs who voted against the bill. With the exception of Winston, the debate amongst MPs was universally good and respectful. Parliament is at its best with conscience issue debates and it was great to witness it first hand.
As I mentioned above, I’m doing another post on the wider issue, the celebrations afterwards and some personal observations from me.
I’ve made Labour’s position on the future of charter schools very clear – there isn’t one. We will not guarantee on-going funding to any charter school established under the present government, nor will we necessarily offer them integration into the public system. The legislation allowing for their establishment will be repealed.
I’m glad Labour is so clear in stating that regardless of how well charter schools perform, how many under-achieving students they assist, how popular they become, that Labour will close them down regardless. Parents need to know that Labour will not let any amount of success, stand in the way of appeasing the unions.
The Harvard Business School found 19 of the 20 highest performing non-selective schools were charter schools and “The overall percentage of schools performing below the failing mark of 60 fell from 64% in 2005 to 36% in 2009″
82% of parents with children enrolled at public charter schools gave their children’s schools an “A” or “B”, though only 48% of parents of children enrolled in non-chartered public schools assigned A’s or B’s to the schools their children attended
The Cowen Institute finds significantly higher test scores in charter schools in New Orleans than non charter schools
That prior to charter schools, 96% of the city’s public school students were below basic proficiency in English and “In 2002, only 31 percent of fourth graders were deemed at or above basic in English/language arts. By 2009, that number had swelled to 59 percent.”
Businessman Jack Yan has announced he will stand for this year’s local body election, challenging incumbent Celia Wade-Brown.
He is the first to throw his hat into the ring in what has been a slow buildup to October’s election – by this time in 2010 there were already four declared mayoral candidates.
Mr Yan finished third then, with 7426 votes (12 per cent) against Ms Wade-Brown’s 24,881.
Six months out from this year’s election, councillor Jo Coughlan and concert promoter Phil Sprey have also indicated they may stand.
Mr Sprey said yesterday that he would make a call mid-next week, but he was “leaning probably more towards yes than no”. Ms Coughlan said she was still “considering her options”, including standing for mayor, but she would not indicate a time frame for making a decision.
I think there will be a number of candidates.
Both Upper Hutt’s Wayne Guppy and Lower Hutt’s Ray Wallace are standing again, and no-one has stepped forward to challenge either.
Meanwhile, in Porirua Nick Leggett will be challenged by Brian Collins who placed seventh out of nine last election, with 489 votes.
I don’t think Nick has much to worry about.
Kapiti Mayor Jenny Rowan is being challenged by Gavin Welsh, a farrier who was once in the Household Cavalry.
Further afield, Hastings Mayor Lawrence Yule is standing for the position for a fifth term and will be challenged for the third time by councillor Simon Nixon.
I doubt the result will be different to the last two times.
In Palmerston North, incumbent Jono Naylor is being challenged by Lew Findlay.
2532 (2013). Hon Trevor Mallard to the Minister for Economic Development (19 Mar 2013): Has he or any predecessor expressed a lack of confidence or indicated a relationship breakdown with any staff of any department, agency or ministry for which he has responsibility to the staffer’s Chief Executive or their officials since 19 November 2008; if so, on how many occasions, is he aware of or has he received any reports on what occurred, and if so, what did occur?
Hon Steven Joyce (Minister for Economic Development) replied: No. With regard to any predecessor in my portfolios, the only instances I am aware of relate to comments made by Hon Trevor Mallard, describing an official as incompetent.
That old saying about throwing stones in glasshouses.
Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee is welcoming today’s announcement that the NZ Transport Agency has shortlisted two consortiums to deliver the long-awaited Transmission Gully project. …
“This is another important step towards providing motorists and businesses in the lower North Island with a quicker, safer and more reliable route in and out of the capital, bypassing many of the bottle necks and hazardous areas that drivers currently have to deal with on this part of State Highway 1.”
The 27 kilometre long highway will form a key part of the Wellington Northern Corridor, one of seven key state highway routes being progressed by the Government as Roads of National Significance to reduce congestion, improve safety and support economic growth.
Mr Brownlee says the Wellington region has been waiting for Transmission Gully for over 70 years.
“Wellington is currently reliant on a two-lane highway that has trouble coping in peak times, and is vulnerable to closure in the event of crashes and natural disasters.
“Our capital city deserves better if it’s to reach its full economic potential, and the Transmission Gully route will help to unlock that potential.
I just hope a contract is signed before the next election so if there is a change of Government, the Greens can’t cancel it.