Archive for the ‘NZ Politics’ Category

Agreeing with Gareth Hughes

June 18th, 2014 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Gareth Hughes blogs:

Today over in the US, John Key is drumming up support for a UN Security Council seat and Murray McCully is attending John Kerry’s Oceans conference but it seems no one in National has thought of joining the two issues up. I would love to see New Zealand sitting at the United Nations top table and I support our bid to be represented on the UN Security Council. I think the world needs our voice for peace and environmental protection around that table as it debates thorny issues like Syria, Ukraine and climate change. Facing intense competition from Turkey and Spain for the Council seat we need to put our best foot forward. The world knows us as a proud independent country at the bottom of the world that defied the odds and went nuclear free. The world knows us as stunning Middle Earth. This environmental image is our strategic advantage and building on it by creating the Kermadecs Sanctuary, the world’s largest marine reserve, strengthens our point of difference in the Security Council bid.

Marine conservation is heating up as a significant global issue and enhancing our credentials would be perfect as part of the UN campaign. We are known for our small size and tiny population but when it comes to our oceans we are a marine superpower. We have the fifth largest Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) in the world, at twenty times the size of our landmass. We have been leaders on stopping destructive driftnets, opposing whaling and protecting the waters around Antarctica. At a time when the world’s scientists are saying the oceans are in crisis with overfishing, acidification and pollution marine conservation could be an area where New Zealand can do more and lead.

Just imagine: if this week, New Zealand declares the worlds’ largest marine reserve around the Kermadecs. It would be met positively by the international media and would be a massive public relations victory. It would send the world the message we care about the challenges facing our oceans and are prepared to act to protect them. It could be what gets us over the line as various countries vote for UN Security Council seats. It would also be the right thing to do to protect this special part of New Zealand.

I agree the Kermadecs should be turned into one large marine reserve. There are a number of smaller marine reserves there, but we could make the entire area a unique marine reserve. There would be little economic loss in doing so (unlike in other areas), and considerable environmental gain.

The Kermadecs lie North East of New Zealand, halfway to Tonga, ‘in the midst of a prodigious ocean.’ The waters around the Kermadec Islands contain incredible natural diversity and include whales, fish, turtles, and seabirds. Beneath the surface is a series of undersea volcanoes and the world’s second deepest marine trench. National Geographic calls it “one of the last pristine sites in our oceans”. Our largest current marine reserve extends out to twelve nautical miles around the Kermadec islands but successive government’s lethargy in modernising our 1971 Marine Reserves Act to allow for reserves in the EEZ means it is stuck at its current size. I have a Private Members’ Bill in the ballot to extend the Kermadecs Reserve out to 200 nautical miles making it, at 620,000 square kilometres, the largest marine reserve in the world and New Zealand’s only reserve that protects an entire ecosystem.

I have applauded the Government’s recent creation of the Subantarctic Islands marine reserves but it is not enough to prove we’re a serious global champion of the oceans. While 4,300 square kilometres will be protected around the Bounty, Antipodes and Campbell Islands it only increases the percentage of our waters protected in marine reserves from 0.31 to 0.41%. Less than half of 1% protected looks laughable compared to the third of our land protected in National Parks. The creation of the expanded Kermadecs reserve would immediately take this to 15%.

There is incredible diversity there, and it is pristine.

Despite the enormous area that would become protected, only a minimal amount of fishing activity would be displaced. Between the 2007 & 2010 fishing years, an average of only $109,000 a year of fishing activity occurred. 

It’s really a no brainer. we should do it.

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Proof of a Liu donation to Labour

June 18th, 2014 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

A Labour Cabinet Minister presented a bottle of wine to the partner of businessman Donghua Liu at a fundraiser for the party.

The Herald has obtained a photograph of Rick Barker with Juan Zhang, who has two children with Liu, after he won an auction for the bottle at an Auckland restaurant in June 2007.

It is not known how much Liu paid for the wine – believed to be signed by then-Prime Minister Helen Clark – and Mr Barker said he presented auction prizes several times at Labour fundraisers.

He was the Minister for Internal Affairs at the time, and visited Liu in his hometown of Chongqing in China earlier that year, although he did not know Liu was a donor to Labour.

How can you say you did not know he was a donor, if you presented the bottle of wine to his partner?

Two sources have told the Herald that Liu paid $15,000 at an auction in 2007 for a book signed by Helen Clark.

Labour general secretary Tim Barnett said a check of the party’s records showed no donation from Liu under his name.

However, he said it was possible he made donations at the local electorate level and had not been recorded by the party’s central administration.

That’s no excuse. The party is responsible for its electorates. National asks its electorates to notify it of any donations above the disclosure limits, and I am sure Labour does the same.

The question remains is who banked the $15,000, which account did it go into and why was it not disclosed – or alternatively whose name was it disclosed under.

Mr Barker, now a regional councillor in Hawkes Bay, said he was a guest of Liu at the dinner in Chongqing and visited his cement company while on holiday in China. But he had not known Liu was a Labour donor and he was not in China on official business as a minister.

“I went to China to catch up with some friends of mine, see some sights … and I made a side trip to Chongqing – I had not been to the city before.

So who paid for the side trip? If Liu paid, and the cost was over $500, it should have been declared on the Register of Pecuniary Interests.

Labour leader David Cunliffe said yesterday he had nothing to do with the granting of Liu’s residency which occurred before he became Immigration Minister in 2006.

So Cunliffe is saying nothing at all to do with him.

This brings us back to the bottle of wine, that it is now proven that Liu paid for at a fundraising auction. If he paid more than $10,000 for the bottle of wine, that is a donation that also had to be declared by Labour. So how much did he pay for the bottle of wine? Surely someone in Labour knows. Was it $200? $400? $700? $1,500 or greater?

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Jones on Dotcom

June 18th, 2014 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Sir Bob Jones writes:

Anyone wrongly charged with a serious crime should be ultra-eager to get into a court and argue their innocence. Instead, Dotcom has wasted millions trying to avoid doing so.

So he has resorted to a final desperation measure, namely to spend millions attempting to buy a change of government, which he hopes will override a court-backed extradition order, an inevitable outcome once he’s used up all of his legal ploys.

He’s wasting his money as no government will do that, regardless of any undertakings from the soul-selling abysmal no-hopers he has garnered together to fund as a political party. If anything, his efforts will hugely harm the Opposition cause in Balkanising and confusing its message, thus presenting an electoral option with, on one side, a rabble of dissimilar, mutually antagonistic parties, all with unpopular leaders and wildly different messages, set against a stable governing party with the most popular leader in our history.

Can anyone really think that a Government of Cunliffe, Norman, Turei, Peters, Harawira, Harre and Dotcom would be stable.

This is the fifth party Dotcom’s new leader, Laila Harre, has belonged to, which speaks volumes. Laila will always be remembered for the funniest political gaffe in our history when she explained her 2002 defeat by lamenting on television that voters had voted with their heads rather than their hearts.

I’d forgotten about that!

 

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Having to prove your innocence ruled out

June 18th, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Justice Minister Judith Collins has ruled out reversing the burden of proof in domestic violence cases – one of the key recommendations in the first report of the Glenn Inquiry.

It was a suggestion, not a recommendation, but still good to have it ruled out.

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Danyl on the polls

June 18th, 2014 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Danyl Mc blogs:

What jumps out at me here is the comparison with the last election. Labour are trending down, just like last time – but now their votes are (mostly) going to National, not the Greens. Which makes sense to me: we have no idea what National plans to do in its third term, but that lack of vision is still preferable to being governed by a collection of left-wing parties who all hate each other but want to run the country together.

Nicely stated.

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Labour candidates spray paints wrong Facebook address on his van

June 17th, 2014 at 7:09 pm by David Farrar

Matthew Beveridge blogs:

Labour’s candidate for Botany has already been talked about in relation to his social media at least once today. Jami-Lee Ross has also talked about this. However, upon seeing this, I did a little digging to try and find Tofik’s social media accounts. When you search for him on Facebook, the first return that comes up is his personal profile, that is pretty locked down. Normally if you are going to do that, somewhere on that profile, that wasn’t locked down, you would have a link to your page, so people could find it easily. On that note, there was a photo of Tofik’s new campaign van, which had a Facebook logo and address on it.

Great I thought. That will make finding his facebook page easy. So I typed it in,www.facebook.com/Mamedov.Botany But no, it redirects to my timeline. I asked a number of friends to try the link, and it redirects to their timeline as well. So the address that Tofik has printed on the side of his van is incorrect.

I did manage to find his Facebook page in the end, www.facebook.com/pages/TOFIK-Mamedov, which is nothing like what he has written on the side of his van. I am not sure how this could have happened. Surely it would have been checked before sign-writing it on to the side of his van?

I can’t work out how you could possibly spray paint a Facebook address on your van, and not actually have the right address.

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The Coalition for taxing the Internet

June 17th, 2014 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

There’s a group called the Coalition for Better Broadcasting, but a better name would be the Coalition for Taxing the Internet.

They want to tax Internet users, through our ISPs, to fund their pet projects. Their argument is that people should be forced to fund content they don’t like:

Internet Service Providers (ISPs) have a double obligation – they profit in the culture space and they pay nothing for the content (websites, apps etc) they provide access to. In NZ there are many websites, videos and blogs made on the smell of an oily rag. Audiences flock to these sites but their money goes to the ISP. A levy on ISPs would close the loop creating an online eco-system that actually benefits everyone.

So remember this if you hear the CBB advocate for something. They are advocating to tax the Internet to pay for their pet projects. Think of the awful precedent it would set. Why stop at broadcasting. Let’s tax the Internet to pay for bookstores. Let’s tax the Internet to fund bands. Let’s tax the Internet to fund theatre and plays.

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Latest poll

June 17th, 2014 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

The Internet-Mana Party would get two seats in Parliament based on the first major poll since the two parties cut a deal to stand together.

But, three months shy of the election, Labour is still struggling and the left bloc is well adrift from National, which could easily govern alone based on theHerald-DigiPoll survey.

The results for the Mana Party, Internet Party and Internet-Mana Party totalled 1.4 per cent in the survey – a modest start for the newly launched party which was the centre of attention in the lead-up to the polling period.

That is enough to get new Internet Party leader Laila Harre into Parliament if Mana leader Hone Harawira holds his Te Tai Tokerau electorate.

But the votes appear to have been at the expense of the Green Party which dropped to 11 per cent, down 2.5 points since the last Herald-DigiPoll survey in March.

One extra MP for Mana, and three less MPs for the Greens. I’ll take that!

That will worry the Greens, especially if Internet-Mana, bankrolled with $3 million from Kim Dotcom, starts to pick up more momentum.

Yep.

With a party vote based on the poll of 50.4 per cent, National maintains a strong lead and is 20 points ahead of Labour which is up one to 30.5 per cent. National would have 64 seats, enough to govern without any support partners and 10 more seats than the left bloc of Labour, the Greens and Internet-Mana.

95 days to go.

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Parliament Today 17 June 2014

June 17th, 2014 at 12:36 pm by Jordan.M

Questions for Oral Answer.

Questions to Ministers 2.00PM -3.00PM

  1. Dr RUSSEL NORMAN to the Prime Minister: Does he stand by all his Government’s policies?
  2. Hon DAVID CUNLIFFE to the Prime Minister: Does he stand by his statement relating to an increased level of household saving that it “is a necessary foundation for more sustainable growth in the medium and longer terms”?
  3. Hon KATE WILKINSON to the Minister of Finance: what recent reports has he received about the outlook for the New Zealand economy?
  4. Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS to the Minister of Immigration: Is he satisfied with the current immigration policy settings?
  5. Hon DAVID PARKER to the Minister of Finance: Does he stand by the Cost to the Crown of the Canterbury Rebuild presented in Budget 2014?
  6. DAVID BENNETT to the Minister of Transport: What recent announcements has he made on funding for transport?
  7. SUE MORONEY to the Minister for Social Development: Will she agree to establish a cross-party taskforce to address the rates of child abuse and domestic violence in New Zealand as described in The People’s Report: ?
  8. JAN LOGIE to the Minister for Social Development: Will she support a Child Poverty Act that sets out targets and measures for eliminating child poverty as recommended by the Tick4kids campaign; if not, why not?
  9. MARK MITCHELL to the Minister for Economic Development: What announcements has he made about the future direction of the Government’s Business Growth Agenda?
  10. GRANT ROBERTSON to the Minister for Economic Development: Does he agree with the Minister of Finance that workers “have a right to expect to see some of the benefits” of growth in the economy?
  11. JONATHAN YOUNG to the Minister of Consumer Affairs: How will consumers benefit from the improvements to consumer law that come into effect today?
  12. PHIL TWYFORD to the Minister of Housing: Will New Zealand return to its historic average levels of house prices to incomes and house prices to rents under his Government’s housing policies; if so, how long will it take for this to occur?

Today Labour are asking about household savings, the cost of the Canterbury rebuild, establishing a cross party taskforce on child abuse, workers and the benefits of economic growth, and house prices. The Greens are asking about whether the Prime Minister stands by all his statements and child poverty legislation. New Zealand First is asking about immigration.

Patsy question of the day goes to Mark Mitchell for Question 9: What announcements has he made about the future direction of the Government’s Business Growth Agenda?

Government Bills 3.00PM – 6.00PM and 7.30PM-10.00PM.

1. Appropriation (2014/15 Estimates) Bill -Consideration in Committee

2. Taxation (Annual Rates, Employee Allowances, and Remedial Matters) Bill – Committee Stage

3. Vulnerable Children Bill – Committee Stage

The Appropriation (2014/15 Estimates) Bill is being guided through the house by the Minister of Finance, Bill English. This bill seeks parliamentary authorisation of the individual appropriations contained in The Estimates of Appropriations for the Government of New Zealand for the year ending 30 June 2015 .

The Taxation (Annual Rates, Employee Allowances, and Remedial Matters) Bill is being guided through the house by the Minister of Revenue, Todd McClay. This taxation omnibus bill introduces amendments to various Inland Revenue Acts.

The Vulnerable Children Bill is being guided through the house by the Minister for Social Development, Paula Bennett. This is an omnibus bill that proposes establishing the Vulnerable Children Act and the Child Harm Prevention Orders Act. The purpose of the proposed amendments is to protect and improve the well-being of vulnerable children.

 

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Does a sugar tax work?

June 17th, 2014 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Miek Yardley writes at Stuff:

Interestingly, one of the first governments in the world to impose a tax on soda drinks was the State of Arkansas, in 1992, just as Governor Clinton was packing his bags for the White House.

Two button-busting decades on, has the tax helped turn the tide on obesity in Arkansas?

No, the state’s obesity rate has doubled to 34.5 per cent, the third highest in the United States.

A tax would have to be at massively high levels to significantly change consumer behaviour.  The history of such taxes tends to be they just raise revenue for the Government, but have little impact on consumption. The exception is tobacco – but as I said, the tax has to be at a massively high level – which tobacco excise tax is.

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Espiner on Alan B’Stard

June 17th, 2014 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Colin Espiner writes:

Mayall’s character Alan B’Stard in The New Statesman was so close to privileged Tory truth that it was practically a documentary. B’Stard’s promises on the hustings; abolish taxes, free housing, free tuition fees, and free electricity don’t seem so very far away from what our own parties are promising in the upcoming general election.

Neither, incidentally, does B’Stard’s frank admission that none of his promises will ever happen: “We just say we’re going to make these changes, then when we get in we just blame the other lot and say they stopped us doing it.”

And B’Stard on the beauty of proportional voting: “Even if they don’t vote for me I’ll probably still get in.” The secret of great comedy may be timing, but good satire needs also to be uncomfortably close to the truth.

He must be a Labour campaign strategist! We may only get 29%, but if we can get Greens, Winston, Hone and Kim Dotcom there also, we might beat the guys on 48%!

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The trade offs of urban form

June 17th, 2014 at 10:30 am by David Farrar

The NZ Initiative has published a major research report which examines the trade offs of urban form.

A report summary states:

  • zoning restrictions, such as urban limits, have been quantifiably shown to increase land supply shortages and dramatically reduce housing affordability. According to Demographia, the three least affordable cities in the world are the compact cities: Hong Kong, Vancouver and San Francisco
  • New Zealand’s main cities are characterised by severely unaffordable housing markets, with Auckland particularly unaffordable due to urban growth constraints and inner-city height limits. 
  • high land costs in ‘superstar cities’ have been shown to create a property inflation cycle where prices exceed wage growth, only affordable for wealthy residents, forcing lower income residents from the inner city. 
  • all urban residents share the cost of land prices in rent and mortgage costs, not just property owners, as businesses have to pass on higher operating expenses through prices. 
  • far less restrictive planning regimes in the United States and Europe have consistently nurtured affordable housing markets for decades.

The conclusions are no surprise. The Productivity Commission has also concluded that the artificial scarcity of land for housing is the largest factor in house prices. There is a wealth of evidence that this is the biggest single factor.

They also look at the claims that compact cities have less congestion:

  • US cities that have chosen to pursue compact development strategies tend to be more congested than dispersed urban environments (urban areas in North America most resemble New Zealand cities). 
  • research by the Reason Foundation, which quantitatively analysed 74 US metros over a 26-year period, found investments in public transit systems had little impact on overall traffic congestion. 
  • public transit, such as buses and trains, cannot replace the utility of cars for groups in society who have needs that extend beyond public transport routes, such as young families, working mothers and those who don’t work in the CBD (87 per cent of Auckland’s working age population are not 
  • employed in the inner city).

They also look at the claimed health benefits of compact cities:

  • there is a weak relationship between high population densities and low obesity rates. 
  • some of the world’s most dense and compact cities in Asia are struggling with obesity epidemics similar to that of their Western counterparts, despite high levels of walking, cycling and public transit 
  • landscape and climate have a bigger influence over walking and cycling activity levels than urban form. 
  • quantitative research in Vancouver, a compact city, shows urban areas with high walkability are exposed to significantly higher primary pollutants than suburban areas. 
  • green spaces and vegetation within cities, proven to provide health benefits, are likely to decline as population densities increase, particularly gardens, parks and playgrounds.

Central planners tend to have a holy zeal to try and regulate a city so it is compact. That makes the job of the local authority easier. But it doesn’t make it better for residents.

My belief is that cities such as Auckland need to be able to build both up and out. You need both. Building up is great for younger people without kids who like inner city living. But many families don’t want to live in an apartment block, and are quite happy to live some way from the CBD. As the Initiative points out, only 13% work in the CBD.

Many will attack this report simply because they don’t like the conclusions. But will they be able to back up their beliefs with actual data that refutes these findings?

The full report is only 48 pages, well references and documented, and a good read.

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Pebbles on who she isn’t

June 17th, 2014 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Pebbles Hooper in 12 questions says:

I could be a feminist, hippie, left-wing, John-Key-hating, never-washing person that lives off the Government and as much as that would make my Dad unhappy, he wouldn’t care as long as I was good to people and trustworthy.

I didn’t know Pebbles had been to a Green Party conference :-)

She also says:

With the synthetic marijuana stories and the guy who was hooked on it and wanted the Government to help him … I don’t want to pay my taxes because you made a really stupid choice.

Indeed.

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Has Labour made false returns like John Banks?

June 17th, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Labour says it has no record of receiving money from the businessman and National Party donor surrounded in controversy.

The Herald yesterday revealed that Donghua Liu – who received citizenship after lobbying from National minister Maurice Williamson – also paid $15,000 at a Labour Party auction in 2007 for a book signed by Helen Clark, the Prime Minister at the time.

Labour leader David Cunliffe yesterday also said Liu may have made another donation through the purchase of a bottle of wine. However, he was only aware of Liu’s potential donations through media reports.

Labour general secretary Tim Barnett said a check of the party’s records showed no donation from Liu under his name.

Well why not? Is Labour denying the donations?

However he said it was possible he made donations via a company or family trust, which was allowed under electoral finance rules at the time, or that donations were made at the local electorate level, details of which were not recorded by the party’s central administration.

The 2007 return doesn’t show any donations from a family trust, and the company donations are large known companies.

If it was made at a local electorate level, then the party is still responsible for disclosure. The head office gets notified of any significant donations.

If it was made to a candidate’s campaign, the the candidate has to disclose, and the threshold back then was $1,000.

Former Labour Government Internal Affairs Minister Rick Barker, who attended a dinner in China as a guest of Liu in 2007, yesterday said it was possible Liu made a donation through the purchase of one of several auctioned bottles of wine.

So how much was the donation, and who was it made to in Labour, and why wasn’t it disclosed?

If it was over $1,000 to a candidate or $10,000 to the party – then they are legally obliged to report the donation.

John Banks has just been found guilty of submitting a false election return.  Labour’s 2007 return looks very suspect unless they can answer the question of who was the donation made to in Labour, and was it declared – and if so, under what name.

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Winston forgets his own scheme?

June 17th, 2014 at 6:47 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Winston Peters has called out Dame Jenny Shipley over the superannuation debate but said she’ll never do it because he will make a mockery of her.

The veteran New Zealand First leader had immigration and the super scheme high on his agenda at a Grey Power meeting in Hamilton, where he promised members free GP visits and discounted power bills for SuperGold card holders.

More than 100 over-50s packed the Age Concern headquarters in Hamilton yesterday to hear Peters go on the attack against “so-called retirement experts” who wanted to lift the age of entitlement, reduce pensions and cut back health and home help.

He said Dame Jenny, chair of the Financial Services Council, wanted to privatise the retirement system and issued her with the challenge.

This is one of his bigger hypocrisies.

It was Peters who in 1997 proposed a scheme to effectively privatise the retirement system and have compulsory individual finds for everyone. It was Shipley who campaigned against the scheme – and won.

He told Grey Power members more than $22 billion in fees would be siphoned off Kiwisaver over the next 30 years to many offshore accounts and said he would start a “Kiwifund” after the election.

“It will be a state-owned and run alternative but run by you and owned by you because those people in your age will be saving in that plan.”

KiwiBank already has a fund, so Peters is promising something that already exists.

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Proving your innocence – get f***ed

June 16th, 2014 at 3:37 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Sir Owen Glenn’s independent inquiry into family violence suggests shifting the burden of proof in “domestic” cases so that alleged perpetrators are considered guilty unless they can prove they are innocent.

With respect – get fucked.

I am a big supporter of doing more to prevent domestic violence. I believe protection orders are inadequate and blogged support a few days ago for the idea of tagging people who have broken a protection order or have previous domestic violence convictions.

But shifting the burden of proof, so that the accused has to prove they are innocent is repugnant and if that is the quality of what they are proposing, then the report is a waste of time.

But it offers “ideas for change” from those who gave evidence, including “a major review of the court system”. Ideas include:

• “Revisit the burden of proof so that it lies with perpetrators not victims.”

• Review the adversarial system which “places an excessive burden of proof on victims”, replacing it with “a more collaborative system where the burden of proof is on the perpetrator”.

That’s alleged perpetrator.

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Backbenches 18 June 2014

June 16th, 2014 at 2:44 pm by David Farrar

Backbenches announces:

THIS WEEK ON PRIME TV’s “BACK BENCHES”: Watch Wallace Chapman, Damian Christie, the Back Benches Panel and special guests discuss the week’s hottest topics!

A LICENCE TO TICK OFF A LOT OF PARENTS: A liquor store has opened across the street from a school in Mangere. The school and local board are considering their legal options while restrictions are in place for the liquor store owners such as closing between 3-4pm on school days and prohibiting the sale of RTDs. But do these restrictions go far enough? Should we put more restrictions into where liquor outlets are allowed go? Is alcohol far too available? Especially in poorer communities? Should this be up to local councils or the Government?

THE TOP 10%: Oxfam NZ reports that our top 10% are wealthier than the rest of the population combined. Is inequality worsening in New Zealand? The Government says it has not worsened over the last decade and says they spend billions on support for low income kiwis. How do we combat inequality? Is it about throwing additional money at the problem? Or is it about targeted support? And will the upcoming G20 summit in Melbourne have any solutions?

There are two ways to get in on the political pub action:

First, you can join the live audience in Wellington’s iconic Backbencher Pub on Wednesday, 18th of June at 6pm. Filming begins around 6:15pm.

Or watch us that night on PRIME TV at 10:30pm! http://www.primetv.co.nz/

Plus, Follow us on Facebook (BackBenchesTV) or on Twitter @BackBenchesTV.

Our Panel: Labour MP Jacinda Ardern, National MP Jacqui Dean, Maori Party Co-Leader Te Ururoa Flavell, and Independent MP Brendan Horan.

 

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Live-streaming Council meetings

June 16th, 2014 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

A trial proved a ratings flop, but the Wellington City Council is pressing ahead with plans to live stream its meetings.

The council spent about $5000 on a live broadcast of October’s inauguration ceremony for the new council on YouTube, with hopes of getting viewers “in the thousands”. As of yesterday, the video clip had gathered 782 views. …

Last year, the cost of live streaming all full council meetings was put at about $30,000 a year.

Deputy Mayor Justin Lester said he did not share Ritchie’s concerns.

“I don’t know what she’s on about really. People have been asking for this for a long time.”

Taupo District was the first council to start broadcasting meetings in 2010.

In 2012 it had an average of 15 viewers per meeting.

In principle this is a good thing to do – allowing people to see their elected representatives debating issues and making decisions.

In Canada many local authorities have their meetings covered on a local channel, and quite a few people actually watch them.

However it looks like the demand is not enough to justify the expense. 15 viewers per meeting for Taupo tells us something, and many of them may be bots!

InternetNZ used to record its meetings, as it wanted to show how transparent they were. So every meeting would be miked up with a dozen mikes, recording equipment and the like. A review a few years back found that the only people who had ever accessed the audio files were staff (off memory), and so it was dropped.

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Now they want wealth equality as well as income equality!

June 16th, 2014 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

The richest 10 per cent of New Zealanders are wealthier than the rest of the population combined, according to figures cited by Oxfam NZ.

Oxfam says data from the 2013 Credit Suisse Global Wealth Databook also shows that the top 1 per cent of Kiwis hold more wealth (25.1 per cent) than the bottom 70 per cent.

First of all, the data shows the top 10% have 48% of the wealth. And you know what, who cares? It’s is their wealth – not ours. What matters is whether the composition of the top 10% changes (social mobility), bot that the top 10% have more wealth. By definition the top 10% of anything always have more of whatever you measure.

But let us look at what countries have a greater share of wealth in the top 10%. We’re at 48%. Higher than us include:

  1. US 74%
  2. Switzerland 71%
  3. Denmark 69%
  4. Sweden 67%
  5. Indonesia 65%
  6. Norway 65%
  7. Austria 62%
  8. Germany 59%
  9. Cyprus 57%
  10. India 53%
  11. Portugal 53%
  12. Luxembourg 51%
  13. Canada 50%
  14. France 50%

So countries with higher “wealth inequality” include Denmark, Sweden and Norway. Even Canada and France.

But let’s do what Oxfam wants and make sure we have less wealth with the top 10%. What countries have managed this best:

  1. Slovakia 32%
  2. Japan 34%
  3. Slovenia 36%
  4. Greece 39%

That is the Oxfam vision for NZ – Slovakia and Greece!

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Land transport funding

June 16th, 2014 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

The Government has published its long term policy statement on land transport funding. This includes the range of future likely expenditure.

Now it is worth recalling that the land transport fund is funded pretty much 100% by motorists through petrol tax and road user charges. Motorists fund not just the roads for themselves, but also a significant proportion of public transport and cycle and walking ways. That’s fine, as there are benefits to motorists in having fewer people driving – but’s remember that they are the funders. So what the expenditure ranges for the next three years. I’m going to take the midpoints of the ranges

  1. Improve state highways $3.75 billion
  2. Maintain state highways $1.58 billion
  3. Maintain local roads $1.49 billion
  4. Public transport $1.03 billion
  5. Road policing $915 million
  6. Improve local roads $593 million
  7. Regional improvements $225 million
  8. Investment management $171 million
  9. Road safety promotion $103 million
  10. Walking/Cycling $75 million

There’s also an additional $220 million for Auckland transport, which is being treated as a loan.

I’ve often said that you need spending on both roads and public transport. The problem is some extremists who are against any new roads anywhere because basically they hate cars.

The good thing with this level of transparency, is that political parties promising to spend more on public transport, have to now point to where they will spend less (or say they will increase petrol tax). Would Labour and the Greens reduce maintenance for state highways or local roads to pay for more trains? Hopefully they will put out detailed policies showing how they would allocate the funds available, so people can judge on which mix they most agree with.

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Labour condemns tactical voting yet also practices it!

June 16th, 2014 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Labour has issued its clearest sign so far that it will mount its own tactical voting strategy in the Epsom electorate by encouraging its voters to give their electorate vote to National’s candidate, Paul Goldsmith, to try to edge out Act.

Labour candidate Michael Wood has produced a pamphlet that encourages voters to give their party vote to Labour, but does not carry a similar encouragement to vote for Mr Wood as electorate MP. Instead, it urges them to “vote to end the Act Party rort in Epsom” – effectively a code to vote for Mr Goldsmith in the strong National seat.

MMP is designed to give voters two votes. It is no surprise voters will vote tactically in a way to maximise the chance of their party making it into Government.

Labour tactically voted in Coromandel in 1999. Greens tactically voted in Ohariu, West Coast and Auckland Central where their candidates urged a tactical vote for the respective Labour candidates. And in Epsom they tactically vote to try to keep ACT out.

I’ve got no problem with that, but the hypocrisy of denouncing tactical voting as a dirty deal, yet advocating it yourself is, as always, more hypocrisy.

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Who have the parties selected in seats they currently hold?

June 16th, 2014 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

I thought it would be interesting to look at who has been selected as new candidates by political parties in seats they currently hold. The selections are:

National

  1. Bay of Plenty – Todd Muller, former Fonterra Group Director, Apata Chief Executive and Zespri General Manager
  2. Clutha-Southland – Todd Barclay, former ministerial staffer and Corporate Affairs Manager for Philip Morris
  3. Hunua – Andrew Bayly, charted accountant, merchant banker, company chair, former British Parachute regiment, dragged a sled to the South Pole
  4. Invercargill – Sarah Dowie, lawyer, former DOC manager, deputy chair of a conservation trust
  5. Kaikoura – Stuart Smith, wine grower, former Chair NZ Winegrowers, Chair of an irrigation scheme
  6. Napier – Wayne Walford, CEO HB Chamber of Commerce and previously Waikato Chamber of Commerce
  7. Taranaki-King County – Barbara Kuriger, farmer, 2012 Dairy Woman of the Year, Director of DairyNZ
  8. Waimakariri – Matthew Doocey, Canterbury DHB Manager, Healthcare manager
  9. Wairarapa – Alastair Scott, wine maker, Chairman of a cage free egg farm, Irrigation trustee, Transpower director, charity trustee
  10. Whangarei – Shane Reti, medical practitioner, Harkness Fellowship to Harvard, Northland DHB member

Labour

  1. Kelston – Carmel Sepuloni, CEO of a Pacific NGO supporting diabled and elderly, forrmer teacher
  2. Manukau East – Jenny Salesa, policy analyst, Chair of a Tongan Youth Trust

Maori Party

  1. Tamaki Makaurau – Rangi McLean, winner NZ Maori Business Award, public health adviser,
  2. Te Tai Hauauru – Chris McKenzie, former ministerial staffer, treaty negotiator, education manager, teacher

ACT

  1. Epsom – David Seymour, former think tank staffer, ministerial staffer

The 10 new National Electorate MPs (if they retain the seats) are a good variety of business, health, law, conservation and agriculture in my opinion.

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Why did Labour not declare Liu’s donation?

June 16th, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

A wealthy Auckland businessman, whose links to the National Party led to a minister’s resignation, also made a secret $15,000 donation to the Labour Party – and hosted a Cabinet minister at a lavish dinner in China.

The Labour Party has previously accused the Government of “cash for access” deals with Donghua Liu, who received citizenship after lobbying from National minister Maurice Williamson and whose hotel was later opened by Prime Minister John Key.

But the Herald can reveal Liu, 53, also paid $15,000 at a Labour Party auction in 2007 for a book signed by Helen Clark, the Prime Minister at the time, according to a party source.

The source said Liu also hosted Rick Barker, the then Internal Affairs Minister, at a dinner in his hometown of Chongqing.

Mr Barker, who is now a regional councillor in Hawkes Bay, confirmed he was a guest at the dinner and also visited Liu’s cement company while on holiday in China.

But he said he was not aware Liu was a Labour donor and he was not in China on official business as a minister.

“I went to China to catch up with some friends of mine, see some sights … and I made a side trip to Chongqing – I had not been to the city before.

“I was in the city a short time. Mr Liu showed me his business and that night, I attended a dinner which seemed to be a dinner he had put on for all his staff.”

However, Mr Barker could not remember how he came to be invited to visit Liu in Chongqing.

He said it was “probable” he also had dinner with Liu in New Zealand.

“I am trying to recall events of over seven years ago, so it’s a little challenging. But it can’t have been a regular event, because if it was I would recall that. In fact my contact with Liu fell away quite quickly.”

Political donations made at fundraising auctions or dinners are not recorded individually, but the total amount raised is declared.

That statement is not correct.

If a donation at an auction or dinner is larger than the disclosure threshold it must be declared with the identity of the individual who made it.

The disclosure limit in 2007 was $10,000. Liu donated $15,000 to Labour. The party should have declared him as a donor.

Also the article says the total amount raised at the dinner was declared? Where? In Labour’s 2007 return the only donors listed are:

  • MPs
  • three law firms on behalf of anonymous donors
  • four corporates
  • Chhour Lim Nam for $25,000
  • Steven Wong for $19,000

So was the $15,000 part of the last two?

National declared its donation from Donghua Liu, which is the correct thing to do. The transparency of revealing significant donors allows the scrutiny which has occurred. However once again Labour is exposed as concealing the names of its donors.

Why did they not disclose Liu as a donor in 2007? The threshold was $10,000.

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Former Mana candidate also standing against Harawira

June 16th, 2014 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Pete George blogs that Clinton Dearlove is standing in Te Tai Tokerau as an independent against Hone Harawira. Dearlove was Mana’s candidate in 2011 in te Tai Tonga.

I can’t recall if we’ve ever had a candidate from one election then stand against their own leader the following election. It suggests not all is well in Mana.

This should help Davis, as Dearlove will take votes off Harawira, if anyone.

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Winston’s $158,000 and the Susan Couch trust

June 15th, 2014 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Readers will recall that after the illegal spending by most parliamentary parties in 2005, all parties repaid the taxpayer except NZ First who did not repay the $158,000 identified by the Auditor-General as illegal.

NZ First said they would donate the $158,000 to charity, but almost every charity turned their donations down on the grounds it was money owed to the taxpayers.

Finally Winston said most of it had been donated to the Susan Couch Trust.  Couch was the poor woman almost killed at the Mt Wellington-Panmure RSA by William Bell.

The curious thing with the trust is that two of the four trustees were Winston’s lawyers, and the trust deed didn’t say it was specifically for Susan Couch – it was just named after her.

So what has happened to the trust. Well the charity register gives us some details.

The transactions have been:

  1. $86,593 donated in 2009
  2. $53 donated in 2010
  3. $1,151 given to Susan Couch in 2010
  4. $2,859 donated in 2011
  5. $907 given to Susan Couch in 2011 and $710 to a L Stephenson
  6. $600 donated in 2012
  7. $968 donated to Susan Couch in 2012

So good to see some money is going to Susan Couch, but still several questions.

  1. Where did NZ First donate the other $72,000 – if anywhere
  2. Why does the Trust not earn any interest on the principal?
  3. Why is it paying out only 1% or so of capital?
  4. Why have the accounts for 31 March 2013 not been filed, as required to by law
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