Archive for the ‘NZ Politics’ Category

Jackie Blue’s valedictory

May 16th, 2013 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Was in Parliament yesterday for Jackie Blue’s valedictory speech. It was a nice reminder that you can achieve things in Parliament as a List MP. Some extracts:

While I was a new MP in 2005, Herceptin became high-profile, with many countries funding a 12-month course for a particularly aggressive form of breast cancer. It was being used for treatment in metastatic breast cancer in New Zealand, but the trials were showing that it was reducing death in early stage, newly diagnosed breast cancer. I am grateful that Tony gave me the opportunity to advocate for 12-months’ Herceptin funding for women with breast cancer in New Zealand. I was extraordinarily proud when John Key made this a National Party election promise in 2008. One of the most marvellous memories from my time in Parliament was shortly after the November 2008 election, when I joined Tony, who was the new Minister of Health , and key officials from the Ministry of Health and Pharmac. The meeting was to work through the logistics of ensuring that the women who needed Herceptin had access to it by Christmas 2008. The timing was very tight, but it was a case of “Yes, Minister.” at its very best. Everyone worked together to ensure that the policy rolled out smoothly. With results of recent trials, time has proved that funding 12 months’ Herceptin was the right decision. Twelve months is considered to be the international gold standard.

A decision that has helped save lives.

Early in 2008 I met with a group of refugee and migrant doctors who were meeting regularly at the Auckland Regional Migrant Service , or ARMS, in Mount Roskill. The group had been struggling to get registration with the New Zealand Medical Council . They were frustrated that we did not have a bridging programme like Australia had. Over several years they had made successive approaches to health Ministers without making any traction. They were meeting regularly at the Auckland Regional Migrant Service to study and to support each other, and I would like to acknowledge the amazing support that Dr Mary Dawson and Anna Fyfe-Rahal from the service have been providing to this group. Without their support and encouragement, I am quite sure that this group would have disbanded long ago. My heart went out to these doctors. After the election I re-established contact with the group and began to meet with them each month. I went back to Tony Ryall and I said that we simply had to do something for them. Tony was very supportive and agreed that I could start investigating options, and I began discussions with the Ministry of Health and the Medical Council. However, when Professor Des Gorman, chair of Health Workforce New Zealand, got involved in the latter part of 2009, the project developed a momentum all of its own. The NZREX preparation placement programme began in 2011 and has been hugely successful, with 33 out of 38 migrant doctors passing the Medical Council registration exam. This programme has been truly life changing for those doctors and their families.

Stuff like this often flies below the media radar.

 It has been the work of these committees that has left me utterly convinced that society must back its women and girls. Women make up one-half of the world’s human capital. No society can achieve its full potential when half the population is denied the opportunity to achieve theirs. Empowering and educating women and girls is fundamental to succeeding and prospering in the ever more competitive world. This is particularly true in developing countries but it is also absolutely relevant in developed countries like New Zealand. As women progress, everyone in society progresses, including men and boys. Tapping into the potential of women and girls is not only the right thing; it is the smart thing. Sexual reproductive health and rights and education go hand in hand. When women have the opportunity to control their fertility and have access to reproductive health services they are more likely to stay in education, get employment, and provide for their family. Education leads to more choices and opportunities.

All true.

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Mitchell on gang patch bill

May 16th, 2013 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Mark Mitchell speaking on Todd McClay’s bill to prohibit gang patches being worn inside government buildings:

I would just like to talk about one of my first contacts with gangs. It was as a police dog handler working in Rotorua. For those who have lived in Rotorua, who are either in the police or even just as residents and members of the community, will be very aware of the old Mongrel Mob headquarters on Sala Street. When I first started there we had two young ladies come to the police station obviously in a terribly distressed state, and, in fact, one of them probably to this day has not recovered from what she had to endure at the hands of the Mongrel Mob at their pad on Sala Street. What had happened to them is that the Mongrel Mob had two young prospects and one of them was her cousin. As part of their initiation, as part of their pathway towards earning a gang patch, they had been instructed to entice these two young girls—15 and 16—down to the gang pad. Once they got them down there, they then proceeded to put them on what the gang members called the block, and they were gang-raped by patched gang members and the prospects were forced or encouraged to rape them also. So I just want to be very clear that when we are in this House and we are talking about gang patches, we actually understand clearly what a gang patch means and what it signifies. What it means is that when you see a gang member walking around patched up with a gang patch on, it is telling you, it is telling us, the rest of the people in the community, that they have committed crimes against us, and that they have probably committed violent crimes against us.

Gang patches are a form on intimidation. Now I didn’t support the law change for Wanganui District Council as that sought to prohibit patches in public anywhere – and that goes too far. But I think the Government has every right to ban them in buildings such as WINZ offices and courts.

Mr Goff got up and said that currently there are laws available to deal with gang members who decide to wear their patches and intimidate people. He quoted the Trespass Act . Well, what happens with the Trespass Act is that someone has to trespass a gang member. I am telling you now that people are intimidated. Who is going to stand up and say: “I am going to take a step and I am going to trespass someone.”? We are removing that from them. We are removing the intimidation and fear from that person with this piece of legislation.

I’d rather not be the person who has to trespass a gang member to their face.

There is one submission that I do want to refer back to. It was made by Jacob Te Kurapa from the Murupara Area School . Murupara, of course, is in Mr McClay’s electorate. Murupara has got social issues that it is constantly facing and tackling. It has a big gang presence down there with the Black Power , the Tribesmen , the Mongrel Mob . In his submission he said: “Children and students do not need to see gang insignia plastered about our school they need to be protected from it.

Gang patches should have no place in schools.

National, ACT, United Future and NZ First voted for the bill’s second reading. Labour, Greens, Maori and Mana voted against – defending the right of gang members to wear patches in schools etc.

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Is this why Labour attacked Mike Bush

May 16th, 2013 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Truth reports:

ONE OF Auckland’s top cops has been boasting about having Deputy Police Commissioner Mike Bush sacked when his brother, Labour leader David Shearer, becomes Prime Minister.

Alan Shearer is the former Manurewa Area Police Commander and used to work under Bush during the years he spent as Counties Manukau district commander.

It is understood some bad blood exists between the pair after Bush removed him as Manurewa Area Commander into a new job at Counties Manukau where he is responsible for “planning and ending family violence” in South Auckland. …

A well-placed police source confirmed that Shearer had been “running his mouth off around town” about having Bush sacked once his brother David became Prime Minister.

“He’s been badmouthing Mike Bush. He is bitter and telling police officers in Counties Manukau that when his brother is Prime Minister he’s going to get Mike Bush,” the source told Truth.

“Alan Shearer is pissed off about being removed from his personal fiefdom in Manurewa and holds Bush responsible.”

Truth attempted to speak to Alan Shearer but he did not return calls.

I couldn’t work out why Labour would declare Mike Bush unsuitable to be Commissioner just on the basis of some ill-judged comments at a funeral. Is there a personal feud involved?

MPs are not responsible for their family members – but if the family member is boasting of using their relatives influence for their own purposes, they need to clearly state their family member is not speaking for them.

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Fact checking fact checkers

May 15th, 2013 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Avik Roy at Forbes blogged a list of the 10 worst fact checks of the 2012 US election.

“The problem,” observes Ben, “is that a combination of ignorance and bias warps the perspective of fact checkers, and their focus ends up being on their own personal prism of what’s far as opposed to what’s accurate.”

It is true not all fact checkers are equal.

The one I prefer is Fact Check, as it is independent. It is not run as part of a newspaper, which can mean the editorial direction of the newspaper can influence it.

I think NZ would do well with a Fact Check type site – but again one not linked to any media outlet, and with staff that have no history of political involvement or support. It would need a benevolent non-involved funder – which is the difficult part.


Mike Bush

May 15th, 2013 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Trevor Mallard asked in Parliament:

Hon Trevor Mallard: Will she rule out supporting Mike Bush as a candidate for the soon to be vacant police commissioner’s position, in light of his appalling judgment in reading those comments out in that eulogy?

Hon ANNE TOLLEY: We currently have a commissioner, and it would be inappropriate for any politician, at any stage, to make any comments about the future employment of any of our outstanding police commissioners. I am amazed that that member would sully the name of the one of the top serving police officers in this country.

I am one of those who think Mike Bush made a mistake in reading out the comments from Bruce Hutton’s service record. But hell it was the man’s funeral. Of course you are going to say nice things at a funeral.

Labour seem to be saying that one error of judgement, not even directly related to policing duties, means Bush should not be eligible to be Commissioner.

Apart from the unfortunate politicising of the appointment, I think that is a woeful attitude. Bush is highly respected by rank and file officers, and had a great record as Counties-Manukau District Commander. On his watch (helped by extra police officers) crime fell significantly in Counties-Manukau.

An article on his record in the Police is here. It includes a fall in crime, busting major drug rings and 100% resolution rate for homicides. Labour would have all of that count for nothing because of a comment at a funeral!

Look at what has happened to crime in Counties-Manukau. It was once almost a no go area.

  • Total offences down from 56,041 in 2009 to 44,699 in 2012 – a 20% drop in three years
  • Violent offences down from 6,579 to 5,803 – a 12% drop
  • Robberies down 30%
  • Thefts down 22%
  • An increase in the resolution rate from 43.05 to 47.5%

As I said, I thought the funeral comments well ill-judged. But I believe you judge someone on their overall record of 30 years service, and Labour is not serving the public interest by trying to pressure him out of a job.


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Media reporting of Labour’s nationalisation policy

May 15th, 2013 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

An interesting blog post at media monitoring company iSentia. Some graphs from their blog post:



Interesting that initial media coverage was pretty positive, but as the ramifications became clearer, the negative articles increased.


Initially the focus was on the policy itself. Then more stories started to focus on the market impact and also on the overall political strategy.



This one is especially interesting. Basically any story that looks at the actual impact on the market is a negative story, but those that look just at the policy or the strategy are more positive than negative.


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The parties on MMP

May 15th, 2013 at 12:24 pm by David Farrar

15 May 2013_Party Positions on MMP

A useful table showing the total lack of consensus on the MMP recommendations.

I’d be careful concluding that retaining the status quo is beneficial to National. Neither United Future or ACT got any List MPs via the one seat threshold in 2011, and frankly I am dubious they would so in 2014.

If anything the party most likely to bring in a List MP might be Mana.

Also lowering the threshold from 5% to 4% is most likely to benefit the Conservative Party, which is a potential coalition partner for National. So again retaining the status quo is not really of much benefit to them – in fact could disadvantage them.

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4,000 new bedrooms for state housing

May 15th, 2013 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Nick Smith has announced:

Housing Minister Nick Smith today announced two initiatives which will result in the building of up to 3000 new state house bedrooms and 500 new homes.

Dr Smith said the first initiative is called Project 324&5 and is designed to convert three bedroom houses into four and five bedroom homes.

“Project 324&5 recognises that Housing New Zealand, and particularly Auckland, have an oversupply of three bedroom homes and a real shortage of larger ones,” Dr Smith said.

“The initiative is expected to deliver up to 3000 new state house bedrooms to 2000 properties over the next two years, with three quarters of them in Auckland.

Sounds very sensible. You get far more extra capacity by expanding current houses, rather than having to buy land and build new sections.

Dr Smith said the second initiative will see an additional 500 two bedroom state houses built over the next two years on large Housing New Zealand properties in Auckland.

“There is strong demand from Housing New Zealand tenants for more two bedroom homes in Auckland. This is a result of a shortage of supply and increasing demand for two bedroom properties, particularly for single people with caregivers, couples with children, and solo parents.

“The Simply Smart Homes infill project will see pre-fabricated modular homes, to minimise disruption to existing tenants, assembled on the sections of large Housing New Zealand properties in Waitakere, North Shore and Manukau.”

Also seems pretty sensible to me. By not buying more land, it means you get more actual houses for the amount of money you have.


Talk is easy

May 15th, 2013 at 10:19 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

The one thing alternative finance minister, Labour’s David Parker, won’t be criticising in tomorrow’s Budget is the Government’s confirmation that it is on track to return to surplus in 2014-15.

“I always thought it would; I’ve always said it should, and we would have too,” Mr Parker says.

That is unadulterated crap. Nothing Labour have done in the last five years suggests they would have done the same. Quite the opposite.

Labour left the incoming Government with not just a decade of deficits, but actually a permanent structural deficit. A deficit that would never have been plugged without policy changes. One so large that you could not just rely on economic growth and increased tax revenue to get back into surplus.

National has both frozen and cut spending. On every single occasion they have done so, Labour has attacked them for it. Labour has also consistently come up with massive new spending proposals such as extending paid parental leave and attacked the Government for not agreeing to it.

They also relentlessly criticised the Government what what they said was austerity measures, and said it was the wrong policy.

So to turn around now, and say “Oh yeah we would have got the Government back into surplus also” is just crap. They’ve spent years opposing every single spending cut and even explicitly saying that there is no rush to get back to surplus (I don’t regard six years as a rush!).

If you want an idea of what would have happened if Labour had been in power, just look at Labor in Australia.

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Labour on convention centres

May 15th, 2013 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Okay most of us know that when Labour was Government a deal was done with Sky City for 221 extra pokie machines in return for a $140 million convention centre. It seems that if you get a quango to negotiate the deal then it is a very good thing, but if a government department negotiates it is evil and bad.

But did you know Labour’s 2011 manifesto pledge a convention centre for Auckland? They said:

Business tourism is essential to NZ but we lack facilities to cater for large conferences.  If we want to be a true business tourism destination we need to have a world class conference centre and Auckland is the most practical place for it.”

Labour supports the concept of a world class Conference Centre and will work with Auckland Council in progressing such a project. “

So here’s my question? Is Labour going to announce that they will borrow $400 million to fund the convention centre directly? And will they pledge to have it Government owned and run, so that if it ever makes a loss then the taxpayer has to bail it out?

Also let us recall what Labour said about the existing convention centre, that also got funded by a gaming concession:

“The potential gains from this are widespread – not only for SKYCITY but for the Auckland city region, the tourism industry and the whole of New Zealand.”  

That was Tourism Minister Mark Burton at the opening of the SKYCITY Auckland Convention Centre on 3 August 2004.

So in summary:

  • Labour had a quango do a similiar deal (but for a centre one quarter the size) in 2001
  • They proudly opened the centre as a result of the deal in 2004
  • They committed to a convention centre in 2011

So again, isn’t it time for them to front up and announce how they would pay for it?

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No changes to MMP

May 15th, 2013 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

From Hansard:

HOLLY WALKER (Green) to the Minister of Justice: Does she intend to bring legislation to the House that will implement the recommendations of the MMP Review in time for the 2014 election?

Hon JUDITH COLLINS (Minister of Justice) : No.

Holly Walker: Why did she bother to hold the MMP review if she had no intention of implementing its recommendations in the time line intended?

Hon JUDITH COLLINS: Of course, I did not hold the MMP review; that was a matter that was undertaken by the Electoral Commission. But I can also say that I have made it very clear that we need consensus on these matters for any change, and there is no consensus for any change.

Hon JUDITH COLLINS: I believe that Dr Holly Walker was correct on this matter when she wrote: “There is a tradition of legislation making changes to the electoral system being passed unanimously in Parliament, and it would be great if all parties were able to put aside their own short-term political interests and build a consensus around the Electoral Commission’s report.” Dr Walker wrote that on 6 November last year in a little-read blog called Frogblog, and I agree with her.

This was entirely predictable.

I agree that significant changes to electoral law should not be made without wide-spread support from affected political parties. A policy Labour shattered with the malignant Electoral Finance Act, but one honoured by National in drawing up replacement legislation. In fact I actually think National compromised too much on that legislation by agreeing to third party spending limits.

I actually think National should have backed changes to both thresholds, namely reducing the party vote one from 5% to 4% and eliminating the one electorate seat threshold. But they have decided not to, and such a significant change should not occur without wide-spread parliamentary support.

I remain very nervous that when there is a change of Government, Labour and Greens will again abandon any commitment to not making significant partisan changes to the Electoral Act and will rewrite it to suit themselves. Time will tell.


Labour says early childhood centres are unsafe

May 14th, 2013 at 7:37 pm by David Farrar

In Parliament today:

Chris Hipkins: … but I am concerned about students’ safety from being in classrooms with unqualified, unregistered teachers …

Hon Nikki Kaye: Is the member saying that children in early childhood centres are unsafe? Is that what the member is saying? Is that what he’s saying to every single child in an early childhood centre.


Go read the full transcript but Chris Hipkins clearly says he believes early childhood centres are unsafe because they also can have unregistered teachers.

Is there no end to the scaremongering?

What is especially appalling is to make such claims when we’ve just had the case in Northland of dozens of kids abused by a registered teacher.

Hipkins would have you believe that charter schools will be staffed with pedophiles who have been sacked from state schools. Nonsense. The law allows them to negotiate a proportion of their teachers to be unregistered with the Ministry of Education – if there is a good reason for doing so. There will be the odd exceptional person who can be of great value who may not be a registered teacher. I expect once charter schools are up and running, the number of unregistered teachers will be very low.

Also worth recalling that organisations such as Teach for America send tens of thousands of top graduates into schools in low income communities to help inspire and improve learning outcomes. Their graduates are basically all “unregistered” yet many studies have shown they achieve better results.

Anyway back to the main point – Labour is telling parents that their kids are unsafe at early childhood centres. What horrific deplorable scaremongering.

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Gilmore farewell speech

May 14th, 2013 at 3:19 pm by David Farrar

A very dignified farewell speech from Aaron Gilmore. I tweeted that it was the political equivalent of a cock tease – led to expect fireworks, and you get a farewell hug :-)

Someone else tweeted that if he had made the first half of that speech last week, he may never have had to make the second half.


Q+A interviewer seeks to stand for Labour

May 14th, 2013 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Claire Trevett at NZ Herald reports:

Broadcaster Shane Taurima is considering a move into politics and has spoken to the Labour Party about running in the Ikaroa Rawhiti byelection next month.

Mr Taurima confirmed he had been approached about standing and was considering it, but was yet to make up his mind.

“It is a huge decision.” He is expected to raise it with his bosses at TVNZ this week.

He was promoted this year to head TVNZ’s Maori & Pacific Programming after working as a journalist and presenter on programmes including Te Karere, Marae and Q+A.

TVNZ seems to be a good recruiting pool for the Labour Party!

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Food prices

May 14th, 2013 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

The April Food Price Index is out.

  • Food prices down 0.2% on a year ago
  • Food prices up 7.4% since Dec 2008, over four and a third years.
  • Food prices increased 14.2% in the four years and four months to Dec 2008
  • Fruit and veges have increased only 4.3% since Dec 2008
  • Fruit and veges increased 20.6% in the four years and four months to Dec 2008

It seems the best way to keep the price of fruit and vegetables down has nothing to do with silly policies about removing GST on them.


An Ag Science blog

May 14th, 2013 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Bob Edlin is blogging on Ag Science at his Ag Science Blog.

A recent blog was on new generation GM crops:

The next wave of genetically modified crops is making its way to market—and might just ease concerns over “Frankenfoods”, according to a report in Nature reproduced in Scientific American (here).

Anastasia Bodnar, a biotechnologist with Biology Fortified, is quoted as saying that when the first genetically modified (GM) organisms were being developed for the farm, they were promoted as futuristic, ultra-nutritious crops that would bring exotic produce to supermarkets and help to feed a hungry world.

But the technology so far has bestowed most of its benefits on agribusiness, largely through crops modified to withstand weed-killing chemicals or resist insect pests. This has allowed farmers to increase yields and spray less pesticide than they might have otherwise.

Yet the Greens are still against.

Some of the new generation of GM crops now making their way from laboratory to market will tackle new problems, from apples that stave off discoloration to ‘Golden Rice’ and bright-orange bananas fortified with nutrients to improve the diets of people in the poorest countries.

The fiends. Monsanto must not be allowed to make money from improving nutrition in poor countries.


Budget spending

May 14th, 2013 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Vernon Small at Stuff reports:

Action on child poverty is set to be a surprise package in Bill English’s fifth Budget on Thursday as the Government seeks to make an impact with limited cash to spend.

Last week, Labour leader David Shearer predicted the Budget would be “for the boardroom not the smoko room”.

But early signals suggest it will address some of the recommendations in the report to the children’s commissioner by the advisory group on child poverty.

Oh dear. if correct, Labour will need a new slogan to use.

Never mind the socialist mindset that the board room and the smoko room are contradictory targets.

Yesterday, Prime Minister John Key would not rule in or out a move on food in schools but said National would not back Mana leader Hone Harawira’s “feed the kids” member’s bill.

However, he pointed to his state of the nation speech in 2007 and the Government’s support for KidsCan, Fonterra’s milk in schools programme and an extension to the fruit in schools scheme as signals he backed such moves in partnership with business.

Oh wait is this the same evil business that Labour is targeting?


Greens say they may legislate to over-turn the Auckland Convention Centre deal

May 13th, 2013 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Greens co-leader Metiria Turei said the deal was “disastrous” but she had not yet sought legal advice on the implications of rejecting the deal.

She said it could become a bottom line in future coalition discussions between the Greens and Labour and the Greens would want the legislation repealed.

“Whether we can negotiation that with them in the future – we will see. The Green Party does not accept being held to ransom like this and will repeal this legislation if we get into Government,” she said.

Another sabotage attempt. It is true Parliament is sovereign, and could legislate to break a contract the Government has signed without any penalties or compensation. Likewise Parliament could pass a law to nationalise supermarkets, confiscate your house without compensation or whatever it likes.

However it is a sure fire way to scare investment away from a country. A major reason why first world countries are first world countries is because of respect for property rights and the fact people can invest in a country without fear that a change of Government may result in their investment or property being confiscated.

The Greens seem to be positioning themselves to the left of Chavez, and Labour are trying to outflank them on the left.  That’s good news for National, but bad for New Zealand as eventually they will get elected.

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May 13th, 2013 at 1:59 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

MP Aaron Gilmore appears to have threatened ”revenge” on those who effected his downfall ahead of his valedictory speech in Parliament tomorrow.

After he resigned from Parliament last night, at least four people are understood to have received a text message from Gilmore this morning, including National Party members, advising them to learn the meaning of ”utu” – the Maori word for revenge.

Those who have received messages include Whale Oil blogger Cameron Slater and Christchurch lawyer Andrew Riches.

I’ll be glad when this is all over. In the last week the Government has been full steam ahead:

  • Unemployment down
  • Tax up and spending down
  • Economic growth and business confidence up
  • An Auckland Housing Accord
  • An international convention centre for Auckland
  • A $1.7 billion share float
  • 80,000 new shareholders on the NZX
  • Extra money for the Christchurch rebuild
  • Pre-Budget spending announcements

The last 10 days should have been 10 days of basically non-stop good news for the Government. Instead we’ve had this side-show. After the conclusion tomorrow, hopefully we can all move on.


Edgeler on Labour’s undeclared donation

May 13th, 2013 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Graeme Edgeler at Public Address blogs:

If these count as donations (and both Labour, and the Electoral Commission appear to accept they do), then each of the sums above created a separate obligation of disclosure, with 10 working days allowed after each to declare it. The failure to do so within that time period, on each of the four occasions is (unless the Party Secretary has a “reasonable excuse”) a separate offence, carrying a maximum fine of $40,000.

So what about the reasonable excuse? Labour claims it was unsure whether or not a bequest counts as a donation. Edgeler points out:

So I do not consider this is as clear as others believe. However, despite my doubts, I have no sympathy for the Labour Party.

I simply cannot accept “confusion” as an explanation. Being confused about this means you received the money and thought about it whether it had to be disclosed, and just couldn’t make up your mind for certain either way. In a situation like this, if you think you may have a legal obligation to do something, and are confused, the thing you do is check. If the reason the two Labour Party Secretaries involved (Chris Flatt at the time of the first three payments, and Tim Barnett at the time of the last payment) didn’t declare these payments as donations was because they were “confused” about whether it was required then what they’ve realised that what they’re (not) doing may be an offence, but have chosen to run the risk.

I call bullshit on the claim they were confused. If you are confused, then you seek advice. Graeme’s advice would have been:

I am happy to provide you with a legal opinion if you really want, but why do you care? Just file a disclosure anyway, and save yourself some money. At the very least, just call up the Electoral Commission and ask. If they say you a bequest doesn’t count as a donation, then don’t file a return, but otherwise, what’s the harm? 

All Labour had to do was e-mail the Electoral Commission and ask them.

Newstalk ZB’s Felix Marwick apparently has confirmation that the Electoral Commission won’t be referring these matters to the Police, which has disappointed a number of people. There is nothing to stop individuals laying complaints with the police, and I suspect a number will, although it seems unlikely police will pursue charges.

Someone should complain to the Police, and if the Police don’t act, then a private prosecution sounds a good idea.

I don’t know the reasons for the Commission’s decision, but the view that it would be wrong to hold an individual responsible for whatever failure happened in this case (when it may have been someone else’s fault) may factor. This possibility shows, I think, one of the flaws in our electoral law. For something like this, there will often be no reason to sheet responsibility to an individual for a failure like this. The law should allow political parties to be charged directly, not sheet home responsibility only to party secretaries.

I agree, it should be Labour facing a fine, not their former or current general secretaries.


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What will the Budget show?

May 13th, 2013 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Brian Fallow writes:

The economic forecasts underpinning Thursday’s Budget will need to differ substantially from those the Treasury offered in its half-year update six months ago.

The economy began this year with a lot more momentum than it (or other forecasters) expected. Gross domestic product growth in the December quarter was three times what the Treasury had forecast. But then the drought hit.

The exchange rate is a lot higher than expected, and inflation accordingly lower. Except for house price inflation: house prices are already higher than the Treasury expected them to be in four years’ time.

Unemployment is already down to the levels expected two years from now.

Which is good. However the latest HLFS came out after the Budget forecasts were finalised.

And the estimated cost of rebuilding Christchurch has climbed by a third to $40 billion.

All of these factors will affect the forecast track for revenue, in one direction or the other, and some will affect spending as well.

In March the Treasury estimated the drought would reduce real GDP this year by 0.7 per cent from what it would otherwise have been.

Hence I expect the projected surplus for 2014/15 to remain very slim.


14% fewer Comms staff

May 13th, 2013 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Audrey Young reports:

The number of public relations and communications staff in most government departments has dropped in the past four years – with some notable exceptions, including the Treasury – according to a Cabinet paper on public service staffing.

Overall, communications positions (full-time equivalents) have fallen by 14.34 per cent from December 2008 to last December, with some exceptions.

The number of Treasury communications positions increased from 2.9 to 4.9. The number of Statistics New Zealand staff increased heavily last year but that was in the build-up to the Census this year.

The Serious Fraud Office took on one position where it had none before, and the Department of Prime Minister and the Cabinet increased from one to two.

The Ministry of Women’s Affairs has had the biggest reduction in communications positions, from 5.2 to 0.9, a drop of 82.69 per cent.


* Women’s affairs 5.2 to 0.9
* Transport 9.4 to 3.5
* State Services Comm 5.7 to 3
* Environment 9.3 to 5
* Health 11.7 to 6.3
* Land Information 9.9 to 6
* Education 19.4 to 12.6
* Conservation 16.4 to 11


* Treasury 2.9 to 4.9
* Prime Minister and Cabinet 1 to 2
* Culture and Heritage 2.5 to 4

Overall a good trend. Government agencies of course have to have communications staff, but the growth in the 2000s was unsustainable.


The Auckland convention centre deal

May 13th, 2013 at 8:29 am by David Farrar

Steven Joyce has announced a heads of agreement with Sky City for construction of an international convention centre for Auckland. The details are:

  • Construction cost $402 million
  • Capacity will be 3,500 delegates
  • Projected economic benefit is $90 million a year
  • Jobs estimated to be 1,000 during construction and 800 once up and running
  • An extra 33,000 delegates a year expected
  • Renewal of casino licence from 2021  to 2048
  • An additional 230 pokie machines and 40 gaming tables
  • Four new measures to deter problem gambling and money laundering
    • a predictive modelling tool that analyses data to identify players at risk of problem gambling
    • a voluntary pre-commitment system where players can elect to restrict the amount of time they play or the amount they spend
    • doubling the number of Host Responsibility specialists
    • introduction of player identification requirements when amounts over $500 are being put onto, or cashed from, TITO tickets

This reinforces to me what a tough negotiator Steven Joyce is, as groups were talking the agreement could be as many as 500 new pokie machines. The number, at 230, is identical to those granted to SkyCity under the previous Government in 2001 for the development of the existing, and much smaller, Auckland Convention Centre.

This agreement in principle was announced before the 2011 election has been fully transparent and the legislation to enable it will go through Parliament to be debated.

It is also worth noting that the number of pokie machines in New Zealand will continue to decrease overall, just at a slower rate.

1,000 new jobs and an international convention centre bringing in an extra 33,000 high spending tourists a year is a very good thing. I hope Parliament backs the deal.

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Gilmore resigns

May 12th, 2013 at 5:49 pm by David Farrar

Aaron Gilmore has announced:

“It is with a heavy heart and great sadness that I announce my intention to resign from Parliament.

“After taking counsel from colleagues and family in recent days, I have decided that to stay on in Parliament would only serve to cause my loved ones more upset, and cause me undeserved further stress.

“I have made mistakes. I am human. But the attacks on my integrity have started taking a toll on those around me and this is unfair on them

“I also want to make clear my support for the National Party and Prime Minister John Key remains unwavering.”

“Finally, I want to apologise once again to all those people who I’ve let down with my behaviour. I’m determined to learn from those lessons as I continue my life with more grace and humility.

“I will seek to make a final statement in Parliament on Tuesday.”

It is the right decision for both himself and for the Government.

In the past week the Government has just had a successful float of Mighty River Power, a massive drop in unemployment, an improvement in the financial statements, a top 10 rating from Stand and Poors, an Auckland Housing Accord and this week have their Budget. It is intolerable that so much good news was getting drowned out by this issue.

Congratulations to Claudette Hauiti who will be joining Paul Foster-Bell as a new List MP later this month.


Is it time for UNITE to be struck off?

May 12th, 2013 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Whale blogs:

As at 31st May 2013 the Unite Union have failed to file their 2011 and 2012 Financial Accounts.

Observation by the Owl

This is a breach of the laws regarding being a Union and being registered with the Incorporated Societies Office.

Any employer could if they wish not negotiate with the Unite union until their status was confirmed.

Interesting question for the Registrar and lawyers to debate.

Unions have great legal privileges under the law. The requirements are few – mainly to be an incorporated society. This means obeying the Incorporated Societies Act.

Not only has UNITE acted like the worst of employers, taking PAYE off its own employees and failing to pass it onto the IRD, they have a pattern of non-compliance with submitting their annual accounts to the Registrar.

Their financial year is to 31 March, so you would expect annual accounts to generally be done, and accepted within six months, say 30 September. Instead this is how many months it has taken them to file recent accounts:

  • 2001 – 18 months
  • 2002 – 18 months
  • 2003 – not done
  • 2004 – 7 months
  • 2005 – not done
  • 2006 – 7 months
  • 2007 – 23 months
  • 2008 – 18 months
  • 2009 – 14 months
  • 2010 – 24 months
  • 2011 – 26+ months (not yet filed)
  • 2012 – 14+ months (not yet filed)

Surely is is time for the Registrar to strike them off for non-compliance?