Archive for the ‘NZ Politics’ Category

Cunliffe warned by Police

December 21st, 2013 at 10:01 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Labour leader David Cunliffe has been warned by police over a message he posted on Twitter on November 30, the day of the Christchurch East by-election.

Cunliffe’s tweet urged residents to vote for Labour candidate Poto Williams, breaching electoral laws which ban any campaigning on election day.

“If you are resident in Christchurch East don’t forget to vote today – for Labour and Poto Williams!” Cunliffe wrote.

The Electoral Commission referred the tweet to police, with Cunliffe revealing today he had been warned.

“It was an inadvertent mistake which I regret. I took steps to rectify the error by immediately deleting the tweet and Labour also notified the returning officer as soon as possible,” he said.

“I have taken the warning on board and will not repeat the error.”

Still incredible that a party leader could think it is okay to tweet “Vote for Labour” on an election day.

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Fairfax Political Awards

December 21st, 2013 at 9:55 am by David Farrar

Fairfax hands out it political awards. Here’s a few of them:

Quote of the Year: “One of the messages that I had was that this bill was the cause of our drought. Well, in the Pakuranga electorate this morning it was pouring with rain. We had the most enormous big gay rainbow across my electorate – Cabinet minister Maurice Williamson in his speech on the gay marriage bill for which he later became a YouTube hit with a 1.5 million views.

Look on the bright side award – to Gilmore. Everyone knows who he is now.

Titanic award for best performance as a sinking ship to State-owned coalminer Solid Energy for its dive from Cabinet darling to basket case.

Edward Snowden award for services to Big Brother – David Henry and Paula Rebstock who snooped on people’s private emails, phone and swipe-card records without even needing a warrant. Who needs the Government Communications Security Bureau?

Brendan Horan thick skin award – Auckland Mayor Len Brown who seems to be alone in believing people will have forgotten about his transgressions by the time the next election rolls around.

Nothing in life is free award – Kris Faafoi, Clayton Cosgrove, Annette King and Phil Goff whose enjoyment of SkyCity’s corporate hospitality at the rugby was in stark contrast to Labour’s vociferous opposition to “crony capitalism” and the SkyCity convention centre deal.

Maxwell Smart shoe-phone award – UnitedFuture leader Peter Dunne who despite his denials was fingered by the so-called Henry inquiry as the possible leaker of a sensitive GCSB report after it accessed his phone, swipe card and email records.

No man is an island award – Mana Party leader Hone Harawira who has managed to alienate just about everyone in Parliament.

Surprising Hone can alienate so many there, as he is so rarely there himself.

No tag for this post.

Greens trying their best to scaremonger and destroy the dairy industry

December 20th, 2013 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Milk from farms used as dumps for drilling waste will be tested for toxins, but the Green Party is calling for more widespread testing of Taranaki animal products.

The Green Party has previously called on Fonterra to stop taking milk from cows grazing on the farms in Taranaki where oil and fracking waste had been spread.

The party said the milk was unsafe and could threaten the reputation of New Zealand’s dairy industry.

The Taranaki Regional Council has previously dismissed the claims as scaremongering. The farms where the waste was spread were quarantined then underwent extensive testing before cattle were put back on them, it said.

One just has to hope that people overseas don’t take the Greens any more seriously than most people in NZ do.

I’m all for testing, but when a party claims that milk must be stopped even after testing has been done, they are just scaremongering.

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National up in latest poll

December 20th, 2013 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Labour’s poll support has slipped after an initial surge following David Cunliffe’s election as leader, the latest Herald-DigiPoll survey shows.

The Maori Party would hold the balance of power if the figures were translated to an election result.

With the left and right blocs fairly evenly split, it could be a close election next year.

Neither National nor Labour would be able to form a government without the Maori Party.

Labour has fallen 2.3 points in the survey to 35.4 per cent. In the September poll, it had a surge in support and could have formed a government with just the Greens and Mana.

National has risen 3.1 points and Prime Minister John Key has somewhat recovered in the preferred Prime Minister stakes, after taking a 9.4 point dive in the last poll.

He has jumped 6.1 points to 61.9 per cent, well ahead of Mr Cunliffe on 16.5 per cent.

Not a bad place to end the year. And David Cunliffe is polling below what David Shearer was as Preferred PM.

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Auckland Council scrutiny

December 20th, 2013 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Mayor Len Brown will forgo some executive powers as he sets out to rebuild his political career after a decision by councillors to keep him on.

A subdued Mr Brown yesterday accepted the unanimous decision by his colleagues to censure him with a warning from supporters Ross Clow and Chris Darby he would be on thin ice if any other skeletons came out of the cupboard.

Mr Brown gave an assurance there was nothing else out there and made a commitment to work closer with councillors on a common agenda in the new year.

Really?

In a blog written at the meeting, Metro editor Simon Wilson said if Mr Brown could not lead the council he needed to find the courage and grace to step aside. “He’s reached that stage,” wrote Mr Wilson, who said the subtext of the mayor’s supporters was they no longer had confidence in him.

“Len Brown will soon be gone. It’s hard to see him lasting past Christmas.”

He’s lost Metro! Wilson is as left as they come, so that is significant.

The Herald does another editorial:

If Len Brown declined to make a move yesterday, there was not going to be a move. That was the harsh reality for Aucklanders, the majority of whom clearly want the mayor to resign, and the councillors who met to publicly censure him. Mr Brown’s obduracy duly carried the day as he refused to acknowledge that the standing and influence he once enjoyed had been shredded by conflicts of interest and inadequate explanations and apologies arising from inquiries into his two-year extramarital affair. …

Auckland has a mayor who is politically reined in, reputationally damaged and personally unlikely to regain residents’ respect. It also has a mayor who must, one day soon, realise his diminished mana cannot allow him to speak for all in the region. At one level, a right-wing councillor, Sharon Stewart, reveals Mr Brown’s reputation so troubled schools and churches in her community they found it hard to have him present awards. At another, left-wing commentator Chris Trotter doubts Mr Brown’s ability to be taken seriously in Wellington.

The mayor’s failure to acknowledge the reality of his position was starkly apparent when, offered a “right of reply” to the councillors’ decisions yesterday afternoon, he offered a few perfunctory thoughts that came across as insufficient and offhand. The contrition that even his council supporters desired remained out of reach.

The manner in which Mr Brown has brazened it out with the council and the people this week shows he doesn’t, really, get that his tide has gone out. The city needs a new leader.

The reality will maybe set it, when Brown doesn’t receive any invitations to address businesses, schools, community groups and the like. No group will want him as a guest speaker.

Meanwhile scrutiny goes on other Councillors:

Auckland councillor Cameron Brewer, who has been baying for Mayor Len Brown’s blood for not declaring gifts, has admitted not declaring a four-day junket to the Gold Coast.

Mr Brewer yesterday admitted taking free air tickets and accommodation paid for by MediaWorks, which runs TV3.

The right-wing councillor said he made a declaration of interests in 2011, but not in 2012, which would cover the period he went to Queensland.

The 2012 declaration of interests shows that Mr Brown and just nine of the 20 councillors filed returns.

All Councillors should be filing returns, even if they are nil returns. Maybe the requirement should become a legislative one so there can be consequences for not doing so.

And why was Mediaworks paying for a Councillor to go to Queensland? Maybe he won a competition?

UPDATE: It seems it was to talk to a marketing and sales conference, in his role as a former head of Newmarket Business Association.

UPDATE2: The Pants Down Brown song is now the No 1 selling country song on iTunes for NZ. You can buy a copy for just $1.79, for endless fun.

UPDATE3: The Dominion Post also calls for him to go:

Len Brown is done. The sooner he and the councillors who slapped him over the wrist with a wet bus ticket yesterday realise it, the sooner Auckland can get on with its business.

Mr Brown’s crime is not his extra-marital affair with a woman 25 years his junior. It is the way he has dealt with the affair becoming public and what has been revealed by the investigation into his conduct.

His attempts to paint himself as a victim and to duck responsibility for his actions have damaged his credibility. His breaking of Auckland City Council rules has damaged the reputation of the council. Pleading ignorance of the rules or that he was distracted by other matters is not an excuse. As mayor Mr Brown had a responsibility to acquaint himself with the rules and to abide by them.

And:

He, and his remaining supporters on the council, need to realise that Auckland is bigger than him. His continuing presence is an embarrassment and a distraction to the city he claims to love.He cannot impart a sense of direction to the city while he is ducking the public and avoiding the media. He cannot uphold standards for councillors when he has lowered them himself. And while questions persist about his conduct, the council cannot turn its attention to matters that actually concern Aucklanders. …

”You have sat too long for any good you have been doing,” Oliver Cromwell famously told the Rump Parliament in 1653. ”Depart, I say; and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go!”

Mr Brown should heed the sentiment.He has broken the rules, lowered standards and lost the respect of the people he represents and the people he is required to deal with as mayor of the country’s largest city. He should resign.

Is there anyone at all saying he should stay? No, Brian Rudman doesn’t count.

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Competition and choice is great

December 20th, 2013 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Power customers are switching companies at the highest rate for more than two years.

Across all retailers in November, some 37,000 customers changed electricity company, according to a monthly report from Meridian Energy.

The 12-month average switching rate was 19.6 per cent at the end of November, the highest since the middle of last year.

A recent global report on household electricity prices showed New Zealand had the highest level of retail “churn” in the world, ahead of Belgium and Australia which are just under 18 per cent a year.

The VaasaETT report said New Zealand had some of the most efficient switching procedures anywhere, with “a good supply of competitors”.

The latest government survey of household prices estimates the average tariff as 28.5 cents a kilowatt hour, which would make prices about the fourth cheapest compared with European countries.

37,000 customers in one month swapped providers to get a better deal. That’s excellent.

Of course that will end with the Labour/Green nationalisation policy. All generators will be forced to sell at the one price to a state monopoly, which will then sell at the one price to retailers. This will mean no effective competition and effectively no choice. Everyone will be ultimately buying their power from a Government monopoly, and that’s batshit crazy.

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Greenpeace loses in court

December 20th, 2013 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Greenpeace has lost a bid to have the granting of Anadarko’s offshore drilling permit declared erroneous in the High Court.

Greenpeace’s case was based on Anadarko’s omission of annexes from the impact assessment it was required to submit to the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) to be granted a petroleum exploration permit for an area in the Taranaki Basin.

Anadarko is drilling an exploration well it began within the permit area on November 26. …

The High Court ruled the evidence did not indicate any error by the EPA, and said there was no evidence that resubmitting the impact assessment supplied in the discharge management plan would achieve any meaningful objective.

A “careful and proper consideration of the completeness of the impact assessment” has been undertaken by the EPA. In addition, the impact assessment was independently and internally reviewed, Justice Mackenzie found.

The EPA will be pleased with the ruling that it has done its job well. Oil drilling and prospecting is not without risk, but the probability of a major problem is very very low.

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Gower’s Politician of the Year

December 20th, 2013 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Patrick Gower writes:

English has had his hands on the purse-strings for five years now, and as expected, he signed off the year with the National Government on track to a sliver of a $86 million surplus in 2014/15 but growing to billions in the years after that.

In layman’s terms that means English is going to balance the country’s books – as National has promised.

By way of comparison, English’s Australian counterpart Joe Hockey opened his books too, and it was a shocker – $133 billion worth of deficits.

What a comparison.

English is an excellent economic communicator – his ability to talk “kitchen table economics” will be a real weapon for National in election year.

Key is 52, English is 51 – the prime of their lives in some senses. They are not going to hand over power lightly.

So English is “Bitter Bill” no more – it’s been “Raging Bill” this year.

Much is made of the fact that John Key is the totem pole that holds up the centre-right. The theory goes: take Key out – and take down National.

But that now applies to English too.

The political reality is that to take down National, the Opposition will have to knock out English too.

And that’s what makes Bill English Politician of the Year.

English vs Parker. I know who my money is on.

Patrick also rounds up the year in politics here.

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Economy grows 1.4% in last quarter

December 19th, 2013 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Stats NZ reports:

Rebounding dairy production drove a 1.4 percent increase in gross domestic product (GDP) for the September 2013 quarter, Statistics New Zealand said today. This increase in GDP is the largest since the December 2009 quarter.

The strong increase in dairy production was the main contributor to a 17.0 percent rise in agriculture, which makes up about 5 percent of the New Zealand economy.

Not bad.

People will recall how the future Labour/Greens/NZ First/Mana Government have been saying manufacturing is in crisis.

Manufacturing GDP also increased 1.5% in the last quarter.

Also recall how Greens/NZ First and Mana (not Labour) all opposed the FTA with China. Well also reported today:

For the first time, China has surpassed Australia as New Zealand’s top goods export destination on an annual basis, Statistics New Zealand said today. …

The trade balance for November 2013 was a surplus of $183 million (4.1 percent of exports). This is the first trade surplus for a November month since 1991. This follows a trade deficit in October 2013, which was the lowest deficit for an October month since the mid-1990s.

Things are looking good – if we keep the right policies.

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Dom Post on living wage

December 19th, 2013 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

The Dom Post editorial:

The stated aim of Wellington City Council’s living wage policy is to reduce poverty and lift workplace morale and productivity. If only life were that simple.

It is not. Poverty can no more be eliminated at the stroke of a pen than world peace can be delivered by a beauty contestant wishing for it.

Mayor Celia Wade-Brown’s council is not reducing poverty. It is simply taking money from one group of citizens – ratepayers – and giving it to another much smaller group – the 450 council staff who presently earn less than $18.40 an hour.

Exactly.

The gesture would be admirable if councillors were funding the $750,000 cost out of their own salaries, but they are not. It is easier to be generous with other people’s money than one’s own.

Even worse, at least one Councillor who voted for the living wage, refuses to implement it in his own business. He won’t pay it himself, but will vote to force ratepayers to do so. He is of course a member of the Labour Party.

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Final CIR results

December 19th, 2013 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The final results are here.

  • Not Vote 54.93%
  • Vote No 30.30%
  • Vote Yes 14.59%
  • Informal Votes 0.14%
  • Invalid Votes 0.05%
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Sell, sell, sell

December 19th, 2013 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

State-owned enterprises’ performance has been “mediocre” in the last year, the Treasury says.

The Crown Ownership Monitoring Unit (Comu) today released the annual report of its portfolio, which reviews the performance of 49 government-owned enterprises that have full or partial commercial objectives.

All up, the enterprises employ more than 40,000 people, holding $125 billion in assets and $52b in investment funds at the end of June.

While the performance of the investment funds, mainly ACC and NZ Superannuation was strong, returning over 25 per cent in the year to June 30, the report was less kind about the other companies.

“While some State-owned enterprises have performed well, overall performance of the Crown’s commercial portfolio has been mediocre, with poor performance by Solid Energy, KiwiRail and Learning Media,” the Treasury said in a statement.

“Total shareholder return across the wholly owned commercial priority companies was 3 per cent,” the Treasury said, adding that this did not include KiwiRail because of the change in its structure at the start of 2013.

The number of companies the Crown should own is very few – there is a case for the odd utility monopoly like Transpower, but the rest should be owned by he private sector who are better suited to balance the risks and rewards.

Solid Energy almost went bust, as it is highly vulnerable to the global coal price. Kiwirail is a dog. NZ Post is profitable but in a dying industry. TVNZ has a business model that will also disappear in the not too distant future. We should sell them all while we can get some money for them.

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No photo op please :-)

December 19th, 2013 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

The Prime Minister has listed an invitation to undergo bowel cancer screening as one of the most bizarre he has received in his role as Prime Minister – but he’s giving it a go anyway, saying it is important to highlight the issue.

Mr Key revealed he would go through the bowel screening process when he was asked on the Breeze radio station about the strangest things he had been asked to do for the cameras – although he was quick to add that he did not think it would come with photos.

“I thought in the end I’m 52 and I’m a male, it is a good thing to do and the second thing I thought was it will help promote men’s health awareness.”

I had a test for prostate cancer a few weeks ago, and also a lung x-ray for lung cancer (as I had some potential symptoms, even though I am a non-smoker, 15% of lung cancer patients are non-smokers). When you get into 40s and 50s it really is worth getting yourself checked out more regularly.

But I am glad to see the PM’s screening will not be a photo op :-)

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A successful challenge in Kaikoura

December 19th, 2013 at 9:47 am by David Farrar

Commiserations to Colin King and congratulations to Stuart Smith who won the Kaikoura nomination for National earlier this week. Kaikoura is a large electorate and you have to look after both the Marlborough area but also a lot of North Canterbury.

It’s very tough being an incumbent MP, and losing a selection battle. However it is also a useful reminder that National’s electorate selections are incredibly democratic. All 60 delegates were elected by local branches. Not a single one was appointed by Head Office or even the Region. A world of difference from Labour’s selection where the head office get around half the votes, and affiliated unions can stack the selection meeting with people who have never joined the Labour Party.

Colin has been a diligent MP for his electorate and a loyal National Party MP.  Stuart is a former head of the New Zealand Winegrowers Association and almost inevitably will become the MP for Kaikoura.

 

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Herald calls on Brown to go

December 18th, 2013 at 4:36 pm by David Farrar

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A front page editorial from the NZ Herald says what many others are saying – time to go.

The editorial is here.

When news broke of the Mayor’s two-year affair with Bevan Chuang, this newspaper suggested that if Len Brown’s family could forgive him then the city should, too.

Two months on, that sentiment is no longer sustainable. An issue far more important than the mayor’s private life is now at stake. Tomorrow, Auckland councillors will not only formally censure Mr Brown but begin a process designed to clip the wings of the mayoral office. If that happens, the Super City may no longer have a leader with the independent authority to drive things forward. The only means of avoiding that outcome is for Mr Brown to resign. He must go in the interests of Auckland and Aucklanders.

Also Brown now faces a motion of no confidence.

He also is unable to go out in public:

Earlier today TVNZ reported that Mayor Brown had been chased down the street by about 12 protesters, calling for his resignation.

“It’s not okay to root in the mayoral office,” “Where’s your dignity?” and “Shame shame shame,” the group chanted.

As the mayor was driven away the protesters ran after his car.

He can’t be an effective Mayor of Auckland. He is only hanging on for the perks.

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Submission to the 2013 local authority elections inquiry

December 17th, 2013 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

SUBMISSION OF DAVID FARRAR TO THE
INQUIRY INTO THE 2013 LOCAL AUTHORITY ELECTIONS BY THE JUSTICE AND ELECTORAL SELECT COMMITTEE

 About the Submitter

  1. This submission is made by David Farrar in a personal capacity. I would like to appear before the Committee to speak to my submission.

Management of Elections

  1. I submitted to the 2010 inquiry that the Government should be asked to look into the pros and cons of making the Electoral Commission responsible for local authority elections.
  2. My views have firmed up since then, and I now strongly believe that it is highly desirable that the Electoral Commission be placed in charge of local authority elections, acting as a legal and organization backstop to local returning officers.
  3. It is inevitable that there would be considerable cost savings from having one entity run the 90+ local elections, than having it done by 67 territorial authorities. The extra cost to the Electoral Commission could be funded by a levy on local bodies proportional to their population. This would save ratepayers money overall.
  4. The more important reason to place the Electoral Commission in charge is integrity and consistency of electoral law. 67 different returning officers may make many different rulings on how they interpret the Act. They have no ability to deal with complaints on law breaches short of referring them to the Police who have shown little interest in such things. Having the Electoral Commission in charge would mean consistency rules and decisions, and specialized legal resource that can be used to decide which alleged breaches should go to the Police.
  5. The other important issue is that local returning officers are generally staff members of their local Councils. They spend 33 out of 36 months having to work with Councillors in a “subservient” relationship and then three months as the arbiter of the election. That place them in an invidious position where they can damage their long-term working relationship by unfavourable interpretation to Councillors who are candidates.
  6. This problem is not just theoretical. I have spoken to a number of Mayors who have told me their returning officers have been bullied by Councillors who are candidates, and the results are confusing and inconsistent rulings which aim to appease a Councillor who can make their job difficult outside election time.
  7. I discussed the issue of having the Electoral Commission responsible for local authority elections with a conference of re-elected Mayors at a LGNZ conference. While there was no formal vote, there seemed to be very strong support from most Mayors there for having the Electoral Commission in charge of local authority elections. I think such a move would gain support from most local authorities, and even many local returning officers.
  8. With possible use of e-voting in the future, it makes even more sense to consider a central authority for local elections.
  9. A further advantage to having a central authority is that election results could be displayed on one central website, rather than the 67 different sites currently out there.
  10. A final point in favour of having the Electoral Commission in charge is it would make it easier for those on the unpublished roll to vote in local elections. I found out from one Mayor that if someone is on the unpublished rolls, then they do not get posted voting papers as the Electoral Commission isn’t authorized to share unpublished roll details with local authorities. That means those on the unpublished roll (such as domestic abuse victims, police officers) have to ring up, get authenticated and have a special set of ballot papers sent to them. Of course very few go to such lengths. If the Electoral Commission had overall authority they could post out ballot papers directly to those on the unpublished roll.

More informed voting

  1. I propose that ballot papers be required to be in random order so that no candidate gets an advantage based on their surname. There is considerable research showing ballot order affects votes, and we saw some candidates changing surnames in order to try and game the system.
  2. I also believe people would make better decisions (and have higher turnout) if there were fewer candidates to choose from or rank. A law change directing the Local Government Commission to implement single member wards (as Parliament has), unless there are strong reasons not to, would be beneficial.

E-Voting

  1. I’m pleased to see progress has been made on this issue since I submitted on it in 2011, and that the Government plans to trial this no later than 2016.
  2. An option to vote electronically is just that – an option. It is not proposed that it replaces postal voting –just to complement it. It will not be a silver bullet for low voting turnout, but it should make some impact as it makes it easier for those who want to vote, to do so.

Thank you for considering this submission. I would like to make an oral submission in support, and look forward to appearing.

 

David Farrar

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TVNZ loses BSA case re Colin Craig

December 17th, 2013 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

TVNZ has been ordered to broadcast an apology to Conservative Party leader Colin Craig over an item it ran on Seven Sharp.

The Broadcasting Standards Authority says an item from April 24 – a short skit “lampooning” Mr Craig over his threat of defamation against a satirical website – was “childish and unfair”.

The BSA says while it recognises the value of satire and free speech, the BSA found that the comments about his personal character and attributes went too far.

It says Mr Craig was given no opportunity to defend himself.

Seven Sharp is meant to be a current affairs programme. You can probably get away with what they did on 7 Days, but not on Seven Sharp.

The key paragraph is:

However, Mr Mulligan’s remarks, “I think Colin Craig is a nutcase; I feel Colin Craig is a doofus; I believe Colin Craig is a smarmy rich prick”, had no bearing on Colin Craig’s political views. These comments offered no constructive comment on the underlying issues, but were simply personal abuse masquerading as satire. The comments, combined with Ms Mau’s introductory statement that “most of us would like to have a go at Colin Craig”, the concluding remarks from Ms Mau and Mr Boyed about Colin Craig lacking a sense of humour, and the laughter from all three presenters, turned the item into a sustained personal attack against Colin Craig that was childish and unfair, in circumstances where he had no chance to defend himself.

Note Colin Craig was not one of the four complainants.

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Auckland house consents at five year high

December 17th, 2013 at 2:02 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Auckland house and apartment building is at a five-year high, with nearly 5700 dwelling consents issued in the year to October.

Geoff Cooper, Auckland Council chief economist, said this was the highest annual figure since 2008 and a 28 per cent increase over the year to October, 2012.

That’s a step in the right direction. You can only lower the pressure on prices by reducing the cost of land and construction, increasing supply and/or reducing demand. Ideally all three.

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Will petitioners be spammed?

December 17th, 2013 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Idiot/Savant blogs at No Right Turn:

Back when I was petitioning for the Keep Our Assets referendum, I discouraged people signing it from filling out the email address and phone number boxes because I did not trust the Labour Party (and specifically the Labour Party) not to abuse this information by using it for purposes other than the one it was collected for (“To keep up to date with the campaign”). 

I am not glad to have that suspicion confirmed.

To point out the obvious: this is a screaming violation of Privacy Principle 10, and possibly Privacy Principle 11 if you take the collecting agency as Roy Reid, the formal petitioner, rather than the parties who provided the footsoldiers. And it is grossly unethical. Quite apart from that, its also stupid, burning both potential supporters and their activist base (who may not be too keen on having their hard work perverted to violate people’s privacy).

As for what to do about it, firstly people have a right of access to information held about them by agencies – so if you gave the petition campaign your email address, you can always check with Labour to see if it has somehow migrated its way into their fundraising and supporter’s databases. And if the information is used, then I recommend lodging a complaint with the Privacy Commissioner. You should also publicise that complaint over social media (or, if you feel like it, by emailing a press release to Scoop – but social media is probably enough, because people like me will retweet it if we see it, and journalists will pick up an easy story like this). Political parties are (sensibly) afraid of bad publicity, and this is the best stick we have to enforce ethical behaviour on them. Sadly, it looks like we may have to use it.

Legally you will have no recourse as MPs are exempt from the definition of an agency under the Privacy Act, but you can publicly highlight any breaches.

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Will it be Whyte for ACT for Epsom?

December 17th, 2013 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Don Brash, the man who forced Rodney Hide out of his job as Act leader, approached him recently to urge him to return to the party leadership and to run for Act in Epsom.

Dr Brash told the Herald that Mr Hide was not interested at the time but the approach was made before current leader John Banks announced he would step down in February and would not stand at the 2014 election.

Mr Hide has been uncharacteristically silent on the issue, refusing to rule himself out or say whether he is considering it.

I doubt Rodney is that masochistic.

Act president John Boscawen said last night there had been only one nomination so far, that of Jamie Whyte, who has recently returned from Britain where he was a management consultant for Oliver Wymann and the Boston Consulting Group. He is also a former foreign currency trader and a former philosophy lecturer at Cambridge University.

A bid for the seat has been ruled out by Mr Boscawen, former president Catherine Isaac and former Auckland Central candidate David Seymour.

Trying to retain the seat without an existing public profile would be very challenging.

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Brown to be censured

December 17th, 2013 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Mayor Len Brown has lost a firm grip on the Super City after an unprecedented message from councillors yesterday to shape up or ship out.

Councillor Dick Quax went one step further and called for the mayor to resign immediately, saying Aucklanders had lost confidence in Mr Brown, who stood to be paid $750,000 over the next three years for a lame-duck role.

The Mayor is doing almost no public meetings or functions. I think he will be surprised at how hostile a reception he will get when he does try and resume them.

The vast majority of councillors, however, decided to censure the mayor at Thursday’s council meeting, discuss Mr Brown meeting some costs for a $100,000-plus review into his behaviour and clip the wings of the mayoral office.

This will include greater oversight and control by councillors of the mayor and his office, which has wide powers, a $4 million budget and up to six spin doctors.

Brown has more spin doctors than the entire Labour parliamentary party.

The censure is actually very beneficial for Brown. If the Council had done nothing, then resentment would continue to build. The censure means there is a possibility of that being the end of the matter.

However there are still unanswered questions over the secret trip to Hong Kong, other people who have provided unofficial translation services for the Mayor, related LGOIMA requests etc.

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Dom Post on referendums

December 17th, 2013 at 5:54 am by David Farrar

The Dom Post editorial:

The referendum on state asset sales was not the first held under the Citizens Initiated Referenda Act 1993. It was the fifth.

If opponents of partial privatisation believe the Government is now honour bound to reverse its position on state asset sales, then previous governments were presumably honour bound to give effect to the popular will expressed in referendums on firefighter numbers, the size of Parliament, tougher prison sentences and smacking.

Yes I look forward to Labour and Greens announcing that the first act of a Labour/Green Government will be to reduce the size of Parliament to 99. If they refuse to do so, then by their own rhetoric they are being arrogant and out of touch.

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Labour’s first selection

December 16th, 2013 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Labour have announced:

In the party’s first selection meeting for the 2014 General Election, Labour has endorsed Dr Deborah Russell as the candidate for Rangitikei.

Deborah Russell is a tax expert and left wing columnist, well known in New Zealand social media.

She was born in Taranaki and currently lives in Manawatu with her husband and three daughters.

I know Deborah and her family. She would be an excellent MP. Of course she has no chance in Rangitikei, so she will be relying on a good list ranking from Labour. Will they rejuvenate to make room for new blood?

I won’t spoil Deborah’s chances by pointing out that she recruited me into Young Nationals when she was the Otago University Chair of it :-) **

Dr Russell started her career as an accountant working for Deloitte and Treasury. She subsequently completed a PhD in Philosophy at the Australian National University. She went on to be a senior tax policy analyst for the IRD, and is now a senior lecturer in taxation at Massey University. Dr Russell chairs the Labour Party Economic Policy Committee.

Deborah is smart, a great debater, and a very nice person to boot. Labour will do much better with MPs like her in the House. Hence my saying such nice things about her which should doom her list ranking chances :-)

** – my memory may be faulty. See Deborah’s comment below.

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Labour is yeah, nah on SOE buy back

December 16th, 2013 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Labour leader David Cunliffe has given his strongest indication yet that his party would buy back state-owned assets if it became the Government.

He told Morning Report he “probably will” buy back the assets if Labour wins next year’s election, although stopped short of saying where the money to do so would come from.

Probably is the latest version of “Yeah, Nah”.  Doesn’t Labour has the courage of their convictions to just come out and say “We will borrow five billion dollars from overseas banks so we can forcibly purchase shares in some power companies and an airline”.

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Hone and Parliament

December 16th, 2013 at 2:35 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Prime Minister John Key has accused Mana leader Hone Harawira of taking a taxpayer-funded junket to South Africa after it appeared Mr Harawira did not attend Nelson Mandela’s funeral.

Harawira also refused to clarify if the taxpayer paid for his wife’s travel also:

Mana Party leader Hone Harawira won’t say whether his wife travelled to South Africa on the taxpayer dollar.

Mr Harawira has returned from a taxpayer-funded trip to farewell the late former South African president Nelson Mandela.

He told media at Auckland Airport this morning that it was a moving trip, which included performing a haka to Mr Mandela’s friends and family.

But he refused to say who paid for his wife’s trip.

“Come in with this kind of bullshit line about taxpayer funding when Hone Harawira goes, but nobody says boo about it when John Key goes.

“I’ll give you an answer when I hear his answer.”

Well that is easy. John Key changed the rules in 2009 so Minister’s no longer have their spouses travel with them at the taxpayers expense.  Rodney Hide was demolished for using his parliamentary funding to have his partner travel with him. Will Hone be held to the same standard.

UPDATE: Harawira has now said his wife was funded by private donors, not the taxpayer.

“This is a guy who has barely turned up to Parliament in 2013… He has spent a hell of a lot of 2013 doing anything other than actually taking his place in Parliament.

Hone has asked a total of three written questions in 2013. yes, just three. A disgrace. Three out of almost 17,000 asked by opposition MPs.

His contributions in the debating chamber have been almost non-existent.  In the last year his contributions have been:

  • Six oral questions (these are allocated so no issue there)
  • Spoke on the Budget debate, the financial review debate, the PM’s statement, two general debates, one urgent debate, one obituary, one local bill and one Treaty settlement. On average that is one speech ever six weeks!

So Hone Harawira has spoken on two bills in 2013. In the past year 145 bills passed into law, 57 had a first reading and 67 a second reading meaning 269 bills that he could have spoken on.

Hone Harawira has no interest or ability to be a parliamentarian. He is a very effective activist and protester. But he is a failure as a Member of Parliament.

 

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