Archive for the ‘NZ Politics’ Category


March 4th, 2014 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

The Cato Institute is a libertarian free market think tank in the US that is very pro free trade.

However they have string reservations around the TPP, specifically the intellectual property chapter. The fact these come from normal champions of free trade agreements makes them harder to rebut.

They have a webinar on the TPP on Thursday morning for those interested.

The blurb is:

 Intellectual property has been a focus of U.S. trade policy for many decades, and the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations include an especially ambitious effort by the United States to strengthen international intellectual property laws. At the same time, however, there is serious debate within the United States over the proper scope and level of intellectual property protection. Is it in the interests of the United States to seek to harmonize intellectual property rules around the world, or is the U.S. position overly influenced by special interests hoping to export bad policy abroad and to lock it in at home? Come hear our panel of experts discuss why trade agreements cover intellectual property law, whose interests are served, and what, if anything, should be done about it.

Hopefully the NZ negotiators will maintain their position of opposition to the proposed US text for the intellectual property chapter.

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Stopping the double dippers

March 4th, 2014 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

MP Maggie Barry is labelling a Shore politician’s claims she is trying to remove him from office as “ridiculous”.

But Devonport-Takapuna Local Board member Grant Gillon says it’s no conspiracy theory.

Ms Barry, National MP for North Shore, had her bill to stop people serving on two or more Auckland local boards drawn from the member’s bill ballot.

Very sensible. You can’t be the MP for Wellington Central and say the MP for Mana. Your job is to represent one locality.

Among the few politicians this would affect is Mr Gillon who serves on both Devonport-Takapuna and Kaipatiki local boards.

Mr Gillon believes it’s motivated by his support for stopping housing at Bayswater Marina and opposition to closing Takapuna Beach Holiday Park to make way for a national sailing centre.

“There can be no other reason why the local MP considers removing me from office as the most important issue for the North Shore in an election year.”

He says the bill is poorly drafted and will force at least six costly by-elections across Auckland.

There is an SOP with the bill to clarify it is not retrospective. There will be no by-elections. The issue is whether politicians such as Gillon should be allowed to serve on two or more local boards concurrently.

Ms Barry says double dipping opens up the “real potential for conflicts of interest”.

“This has allowed local board power to be concentrated in the hands of a few people, many of whom don’t even live in the area they represent.”

The idea of local boards is that they are, well local.

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March 4th, 2014 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

A guest post by Kiwi in America:

The left are totally invested in big government. The power of the state is the mechanism that they use to bring about a just and equitable society. Their goal is to tax the productive sector as much as possible to pay for ever more costly social programmes that they hope will create equality and thus a fairer and happier society. When they run up against the reality that the owners of capital are intelligent and seek the best returns on their assets and that a good percentage of capital is mobile and can be moved to jurisdictions less hostile to enterprise, they show their utter ignorance of how the free enterprise economy works.

A game I love to play with lefties who are employed in the government sector is to ask them who pays their salary. The conversation goes like this:

Me       Who is your employer?

Lefty   The University

Me       Who funds the university?

Lefty   The government

Me       Who funds the government?

Lefty   The tax payers

Me       Who employs the taxpayers who pay the taxes who fund your salary?

Lefty   Pause ….employers

Me       What percentage of employers are private sector companies?

Lefty   Cottoning on to where I am heading – “well the taxes from the employees of the government sector pay as much tax as the private companies and anyway all private company owners do is try to avoid tax”

Me       Actually 85% of the total government tax take comes from the taxes paid by private sector companies, their employees and the self-employed – the productive non-government sector of the economy

Lefty   That’s absolute rubbish and right wing propaganda

If any of you have had this discussion, here are the statistics to back up the claim – that 85% of all tax receipts source from the private sector activity in the economy. Almost all the money that governments expend on government services and benefits come from the pockets of hard working New Zealanders who own, or are employed by, evil capitalist companies. The chart below is a summary only and each line is footnoted – some to government department websites and the rest to supplementary charts that are available below the fold for those interested in seeing how I arrived at the total numbers. Note that the staff numbers for government entities were lifted from the statutorily required Annual Reports that each file in Parliament or from the entity’s own website.

The table provided is embedded below.



Public vs Private Sector


Parliament Today 4 March 2014

March 4th, 2014 at 1:51 pm by Jordan.M

Questions for Oral Answer.

Questions to Ministers 2.00PM -3.00PM.

  1. Hon DAVID CUNLIFFE to the Prime Minister: Does he stand by his statement “our approach is to put everyday New Zealanders at the heart of everything the Government does, so we organise services around them”?
  2. IAN McKELVIE to the Minister of Finance: What reports has he received on momentum building in the economy – particularly trends in jobs, wages, and business confidence?
  3. Hon DAVID PARKER to the Minister of Finance: When did he first become aware that Treasury had miscalculated estimates of household disposable income?
  4. TE URUROA FLAVELL to the Minister for the Environment:Will she continue to protect the concept of cultural impact assessments as a key tenet of the Resource Management Act 1991 and does she agree with David Taipari, Chair of the Māori Statutory Board for Auckland Council, that, like built heritage, it was important to protect archaeological sites or sites of significance to mana whenua?
  5. JACINDA ARDERN to the Minister for Social Development:When was she first advised about the miscalculation affecting “estimates of disposable income”, and how was this advice received?
  6. TIM MACINDOE to the Minister of Science and Innovation:What announcements has he made to encourage further investment in research and development by tech-savvy firms?
  7. METIRIA TUREI to the Prime Minister: Does he have confidence in all his ministers?
  8. Dr JIAN YANG to the Minister of Health: What progress can he report on the Government’s health targets for district health boards?
  9. BRENDAN HORAN to the Minister of Energy and Resources: Does he stand by all his statements regarding iron sand seabed mining; if so, why?
  10. NICKY WAGNER to the Minister of Education: What recent announcements has she made on the Greater Christchurch Education Renewal Programme?
  11. DARIEN FENTON to the Minister of Transport: Does he have confidence in KiwiRail following the discovery of asbestos in DL locomotives?
  12. JONATHAN YOUNG to the Minister of Commerce: What decisions have been made on crowd funding following the passage of the Financial Markets Conduct Act 2013?

Today Labour are asking four questions. These are about services provided by the Government, accuracy of Treasury estimates, household income, and asbestos in Kiwirail locomotives. The Greens have one question, to the Prime Minister about whether he has confidence in all his Ministers. Brendan Horan is asking about seabed mining.

Patsy of the day goes to Jian Yang for Question 8: What progress can he report on the Government’s health targets for district health boards?

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

1. Appropriation (2012/13 Financial Review) Bill – Committee Stage

2. Electoral Amendment Bill – Committee Stage

3. Border Processing (Trade Single Window and Duties) Bill - Committee Stage

4. Building (Earthquake-prone Buildings) Amendment Bill – First Reading

The Appropriation (2012/13 Financial Review) Bill is being guided through the house by the Minister of Finance, Bill English. The purpose of this bill is to confirm and validate financial matters relating to the 2012/13 financial year.

The Electoral Amendment Bill is being guided through the house by the Minister of Justice, Judith Collins. This bill proposes amendments to the Electoral Act 1993 to implement recommendations made by the Justice and Electoral Committee in its Inquiry into the 2011 General Election. The purpose of the amendments is to improve services to voters, candidates, and political parties.

The Border Processing (Trade Single Window and Duties) Bill is being guided through the house by the Minister of Customs, Maurice Williamson. This bill proposes amendments to support the implementation of the Trade Single Window component of the Joint Border Management System.

The Building (Earthquake-prone Buildings) Amendment Bill is being guided through the house by the Minister of Building and Construction, Maurice Williamson. This bill amends the Building Act 2004 to improve the system for managing earthquake-prone buildings.

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The Press on Labour

March 4th, 2014 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

The Press editorial:

Labour leader David Cunliffe perhaps scored one or two electoral points last week when he visited – in her damaged home – an 85-year-old widow who told him she had been “pushed from pillar to post” in her dealings with EQC. …

Unfortunately, it was no substitute for a cohesive and well-articulated earthquake recovery policy from Labour, which continues to look lacklustre when it comes to explaining how it would handle the rebuild.

Cunliffe followed up his photo opportunity with a pledge to set up, if elected to Government, a $2 million fund to help individuals bring test cases against EQC and insurance companies, to “clarify the law, remove blockages and help get things moving”.

There is an immediate perception problem with the amount, which seems almost insignificant given the scale of the problem.

While Cunliffe talks of millions, the Government in election year is bound to keep repeating its mantra that it is funding $15 billion of a $40b rebuild.

Cunliffe’s rhetoric almost invites critique. If elected to Government, it would be better for Labour to clarify the law itself, even if that involves seeking its own declaratory judgments from the courts, rather than relying on citizens bringing test cases.

Paying people to take EQC and insurance companies to court might also create blockages, rather than remove them, at least in the cases of those who become involved in litigation.

It seems to be one of their more stupid policies. We’ll pay people to take our own insurance company to court.

And, given the length of time such cases take to be heard and adjudicated, then potentially appealed, it is hard to imagine how this scheme will help to get things moving to any significant degree.

A great way to delay things. Will they fund cases all the way to the Supreme Court?

It would be inviting them, in some cases, to sue EQC, a government department. What Cunliffe is saying, essentially, is that “if elected to govern, we will give you some money so that you can take our own officials to court, so that they can have a better idea of how they should be handling your case file”.

This is not what electors are looking for in a credible opposition party campaigning in election year.

It sounds like a policy a 22 year old staffer dreamt up the day before the visit. The key word in the editorial is credible. The policy is not credible, and neither is the party promoting it.

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Cunliffe’s secret trust

March 4th, 2014 at 12:58 pm by David Farrar

Just imagine the howls of outrage from left wing commentators if the successful winner of a National Party leadership race was found out to have used a secret trust for donations from businesses to fund their leadership campaign. Their outrage would be massive. As far as I can see, No Right Turn is the only left commentator to have said anything at all on Cunliffe’s secret trust.

The Herald reports:

David Cunliffe has admitted a trust was used to take donations for his leadership campaign, allowing him to sidestep the obligation to disclose donations in the MPs’ register of financial interests.

So the public will never know who funded his successful leadership campaign. These donations were not to a political party, but effectively to the MP personally to pay for their leadership campaign.

Mr Cunliffe said his campaign team opted to use a trust because the Labour Party’s rules for the contest specified donations would be confidential. “That is a decision we made as a campaign team at the time, pursuant to the rules which meant donors could have an expectation of confidentiality.”

Asked if he was trying to hide something he said “not at all. That has been common practice in New Zealand.”

Neither Grant Robertson or Shane Jones used a trust. And while trusts have been used previously in wider political terms, they have been outlawed for general elections and local body elections (can still be used but donors to the trust must be revealed so donor identities can not be hidden). And the party that has campaigned loudest and strongest for outlawing these trusts – Labour. Cunliffe himself has railed in Parliament against the use of secret trusts, yet here he is defending his own one/

By deadline, Mr Cunliffe had not responded to further written questions about whether he knew the names of donors who had given to the trust, or whether he had included individual donations in his return to the Labour Party under its rules.

That’s a fascinating question. I suspect that Cunliffe does know the donors (especially if family members are trustees of the trust, which is what I have heard) and has revealed them to the party. He is just refusing to reveal them to Parliament despite the requirement in Standing Orders to do so.

What surprises me about this is the political idiocy in using a trust to hide donations. When he decided to run for leader and someone proposed setting up a secret trust to launder the donations through, did none of his advisors think or say “Hey, that may not be a good idea, we could look a bit hypocritical”.

Equally surprising is Labour’s response to this is to focus on the legality, not the politics. The brand damage to Cunliffe from having a secret trust for his donations is considerable. It neuters Labour on any issues of transparency. If I was an advisor to Cunliffe I’d be saying “Why don’t we ask the donors if they are happy to be named”. I imagine most donors would be happy to do so. Shane Jones received donations and he has stated his are included in his Register of Pecuniary Interests.

Getting permission from the donors seems the obvious thing to do, to defuse this. The fact they are refusing to do so, despite the political cost, makes you wonder why. I can only conclude that they believe revealing the identities of the donors would do more political damage than keeping them hidden.

UPDATE: Labour are in full retreat now. Cunliffe now says using the trust was an error in judgement. No shit Sherlock. Why did it take so long to work that out. Two donors are refusing to be named, and their donations are being returned. Named donors include Selwyn Pellett (owner of “independent” Scoop News), Tony Gibbs and Perry Keenan. Keenan appears to be a colleague from Boston Consulting Group now based in Chicago. I presume Tony Gibbs is the company director.

UPDATE2: Just returning the anonymous donations doesn’t avoid the need for transparency. Maybe they’ll just donate the money to Labour now instead. At the end of the day the donations were made in the last calendar year and should be disclosed in his Register of Pecuniary Interests – even if refunded this year. And you have to wonder why those two donors are so desperate not to be named? How embarrassing would it be if their names were disclosed.I can only assume the answer is greatly, if they are being refunded.




This is hilarious. Attack National for secret trusts (which were wound up in 2007 by the way) and then go and set up a secret trust for your own leader to hide the donations to his leadership campaign. Again, how did no one think this was a bad idea?

The number of “errors” by David Cunliffe is growing. Off memory it includes:

  • The secret trust for donors
  • Getting the details wrong for the baby bonus and a false advertisement
  • Claiming he had  a”middle range existence”
  • Breaking the law by encouraging people to vote Labour on the day of Chch East by-election
  • Including details in his CV that were inaccurate

I leave the last word to Danyl Mclauchlan:


Imagine what it would be like if they were running the country!

UPDATE4: Idiot/Savant at no Right Turn quotes Cunliffe:

“I don’t think in hindsight that a trust structure fully represented the values I would like to bring to this leadership. Decisions that were made to set up the trust could have been better. I have learned form that and am now making sure I do whatever I can to ensure transparency.”

Idiot/Savant comments in turn:

Which is just sociopathic “sorry I got caught” bullshit. The thing about values is that you live them, and they’re instinctive. Cunliffe’s aren’t. When faced with a choice between transparency and corruption-enabling secrecy, he chose the latter, and then tried to cling to that choice when it was questioned. These are not the actions of an ethical man who believes in open politics – they are the actions of someone trying to get away with something they know is wrong. 

I’m sorry I got caught!

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Returning the DVDs

March 4th, 2014 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff has an extract from the the women’s mags about the 30th anniversary of John and Bronagh Key’s marriage. Had a wee chuckle about John learning that he’s learnt answering back is not a good strategy, and also how Bronagh had set a time limit on how long he can use his new waterblaster for (they are so fun to use!).

What struck me was this line:

He also dropped off his own dry-cleaning and returned DVDs.

It’s just such a normal thing to do – both hiring DVDs for family viewing, but also dropping them back. What I mean by that is that when you are Prime Minister it is very easy to get caught up in your own importance. You have an entire country to run. You work 80+ hour weeks. You need to prioritise your valuable time to the areas where you can make the most difference. So it would be very easy to have a view that it is ridiculous for you to be the family member who pops the DVDs back to the video store.

But the fact he does, I think says a lot about why he is still so popular. He has stayed remarkably down to earth, ranging from beer pong to delivering pizza to his son to dropping back the DVDs. Some will say nah it is all an act, but with respect I disagree entirely. You can’t fake that.

I’m not saying that is a reason to vote for him – absolutely not. I’m saying it is part of why he has remained very popular.

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Pokie numbers down 13% since 2008

March 4th, 2014 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

DIA has the latest stats on the number of pokie machines in New Zealand.

Since 2008 the number of pokie machines in New Zealand has dropped by 2,613 and in Auckland by 612. These are relative declines 13%.

The convention centre deal with Sky City allows them 230 additional pokie machines. This is around half of the annual drop nationwide, so even when implemented there will be fewer pokie machines than the year before, if this trend continues.


Craig proceeds with defamation suit against Norman

March 4th, 2014 at 10:39 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Conservatives’ leader Colin Craig hopes to fast-track a defamation claim against Greens co-leader Russel Norman so a court hearing can be held before this year’s election.

Mr Craig had given Dr Norman a deadline to apologise over comments he made in a speech at the Big Gay Out, but Dr Norman refused to do so.

The Conservatives’ leader today said his defamation claim against Dr Norman would be split into two stages in the hope of fast-tracking a court hearing.

“After extensive discussion and advice from my legal team, I’ve decided to proceed immediately against [Dr] Norman regarding his claims about the place of women.”

I think this is unwise. In defamation cases both sides tend to lose out. Craig looks thin-skinned by resorting to defamation. Norman i associated with personal attacks that go against the Green principles. It’s a lose lose.

Conservatives’ leader Colin Craig hopes to fast-track a defamation claim against Greens co-leader Russel Norman so a court hearing can be held before this year’s election.

Mr Craig had given Dr Norman a deadline to apologise over comments he made in a speech at the Big Gay Out, but Dr Norman refused to do so.

The Conservatives’ leader today said his defamation claim against Dr Norman would be split into two stages in the hope of fast-tracking a court hearing.

“After extensive discussion and advice from my legal team, I’ve decided to proceed immediately against [Dr] Norman regarding his claims about the place of women.”

By narrowing the claim, the job is harder for Norman. He has to defend it on the basis that Craig has expressed views along the lines of women should be in the kitchen.

As I understand it, Craig is not suing for damages, just a declaration that Norman defamed him (and costs). If Craig wins he will have seriously damaged Norman and the Greens (how do you have a co-leader who has been found to be a liar by a court) but he will also have damaged himself by looking litigious. If he loses, then it is all bad for him.

Mind you Winston has sued several people for defamation, and he still makes 5%!

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Dann on Labour’s monetary madness

March 4th, 2014 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

NZ Herald business editor Liam Dann writes:

Cunliffe and his quietly spoken deputy David Parker seem determined to turn away a large and valuable chunk of the electorate – the business community.

Positioning yourself so far to the left that you don’t think business is worth fighting for is not a strategy that has worked for Labour since Norman Kirk. The Lange government took business with them, the Clark government at least convinced business that it represented a tolerable and temporarily necessary change.

A begrudging acceptance of change from the business community, even if most won’t change their vote, is something that reassures the nervous middle classes who do swing their votes.

Helen Clark talked knowledge-wave and delivered a free trade deal with China that has ultimately been our lifeline through the global financial crisis.

What is David Cunliffe offering? A dramatic experiment with a winning formula? A worrying fix for something that isn’t broken?

Labour’s embrace of Green Party policy to reform the Reserve Bank Act is a big stumbling block for the party if it wants mainstream acceptance from the business community.

In almost every policy area, Labour is moving to the left and embracing Green party policies. They’ve done it on tax, on welfare, on monetary policy, on electricity, on housing and almost on mining.

Helen Clark ran a pretty left wing Government. She was replaced as leader by Phil Goff, a former Rogernome. He came out with policies to the left of Clark, such as paying beneficiaries the in work tax credit.

Goff was replaced as leader by David Shearer, a man who once wrote approvingly about the role the private sector could play in defence and security. he went even more left than Clark and the new Goff and proposed effective nationalisation of the electricity generation sector and setting up a massive Government building programme.

Shearer was replaced as leader by David Cunliffe, who was often seen as one of the most centrist or right leaning members of Clark’s cabinet. Just like Goff and Shearer he abandoned his previous beliefs and tried to go further left than Clark, Goff and Shearer by proposing extending welfare payment to families earning up to $150,000 a year.

Each Labour party leader is trying to be more left wing than the one before. That’s great for National, but not great for New Zealand if they ever finally get elected and start implementing policies which nine years ago they decried as lunatic Green Party policy.

Dann focuses again on monetary policy:

The monetary policy reformists are full of ideas about the magic a broader definition of the Reserve Bank Act might achieve. But they ignore the extent to which having one target – inflation – has worked. And just how fundamental controlling inflation is to creating a stable economy on which growth can be built.

Why, when the act has just seen us through such an enormous global downturn so efficiently, would you change it. In the hope it might bring the dollar down?

Well, if you damage the economy the dollar will certainly fall. But it seems a brutal path to take.

And why, if you were going to make changes, would you loosen the shackles during the growth phase of the economic cycle – just when inflation starts to become a serious risk.

We should be grateful we don’t have to make radical changes to our economy. We’ve come through the downturn well, and while National can take some credit for steering the ship, so too can the last Labour Government for the healthy growth it oversaw.

Radical change is for those nations that have run out of options. Let’s leave it to the Greeks.

Some will sneer that Labour should not worry at all about business opinion, as most business people will not vote Labour, and they are not a large proportion of the population. This is true. But Helen Clark found out the hard way in 2000 what happens when you treat the sector that generates pretty much 100% of the tax take as mortal enemies. They plunged in the polls.

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Only one Labour MP facing a challenge

March 4th, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

I’ve not seen the full list, but based on tweets by NZ Herald deputy political editor Claire Trevett, there is only one Labour MP facing a challenge for his or her party’s nomination.

So just one challenge to a caucus brimming with deadwood. So it must be to an MP who is really low profile, has no public appeal, never lands any hits in public. Right?

Well in a sensible party yes. But this is Labour. It seems that the only MP facing a challenge for an electorate nomination is Shane Jones!

The one MP actually achieving positive headlines for Labour, and the only MP being challenged. Its hilarious.

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Titewhai says time to settle

March 4th, 2014 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

NBR reports:

The 80 year-old Ngapuhi iwi kuia, Titewhai Harawira, says now is the time for the country’s largest Maori tribe to settle its claim with the Crown to redress grievances under the Treaty of Waitangi.

In the latest sign that the 125,000-strong iwi may settle ahead of this year’s general election, Harawira issued a two-page statement under the letterhead of Tuhornuku, the independent authority mandated to settle the claims after years of friction that have not fully subsided between competing elements of the tribe.

Most members of Ngapuhi who voted, voted to settle and recognise the mandate of the negotiators. A small minority are opposed, but it is very significant that Titewhai is not one of them, and even she is in favour of the settlement occurring.

An extract from her release:

Ngāpuhi are ready to talk to the Crown about settling, says Ngāpuhi Kuia and leader Titewhai Harawira.

“I have travelled and talked to Ngāpuhi from Hokianga to Invercargill and all stops in between. And I’ve heard what our people want. They want to get on with settlement.

“We are by far the biggest Iwi and we should be having input and influence over everything that is happening in our country”. …

Overwhelmingly, our people want to settle. We want to put the grievances behind us so we can become strong again as a people, as we were before colonisation.

“It is time for Ngāpuhi to take its rightful place in the leadership of our nation. Settlement will do this – it will advance our people in every way, in education, health, economically and culturally.

Said Mrs Harawira: “A Treaty settlement for all Ngāpuhi will transform Northland’s Iwi into an economic powerhouse, in a way other tribes have done for their regions further south.

There’s a fair amount I don’t agree with Titewhai on. But when she says it is time to settle and use the money to improve the economy, health and education of the Ngapuhi people, she is right. They are the only remaining major Iwi to settle, and it will be great if it does occur in the next couple of years.


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A threat is not a policy

March 3rd, 2014 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

A couple of months ago Labour announced they would use any means possible to force the shareholders of Pike River to pay damages owed by the company.

Today they’re done similar and have said:

“A Labour government will clean the reef up. We will make the Rena’s owner pay through any means possible.”

That is not a policy. It is a threat or rhetoric posing as a serious statement.

Governments are not tyrants that can wave a wand and force a private company to pay money they are not legally obliged to pay. Regardless of your view on what the owners should do, the reality is Governments can’t force a company to pay money anymore than King Canute can keep back the tide.

The only thing a Government could attempt to do is pass a retrospective law forcing a company to pay money. The precedent of such an act would be hideous, but possible. Is this what Labour is saying it wiil do? If so, they need to come out and be explicit.

Just saying we will make the owner pay through any means possible is not a policy. It isn’t even a promise. It is meaningless rhetoric. If Labour can’t say what specific action they would take to make the owner pay, then their policy is as opaque as their leader’s secret trust fund.

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Exports soar

March 3rd, 2014 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Stats NZ reports:

In the December 2013 quarter, seasonally adjusted dairy export values rose 27 percent, Statistics New Zealand said today. Dairy volumes, after adjusting for seasonal effects, rose 23 percent while actual prices fell 1.1 percent.

Total export volumes rose 9.7 percent in the December 2013 quarter while total export prices fell 0.5 percent. Both movements were strongly influenced by dairy, which accounted for 39 percent of the value of goods exported in the December quarter – twice as much as meat and forestry combined.

“Export volumes are at their highest level since the series began in 1990, reflecting higher dairy volumes in the December quarter, after adjusting for seasonal effects,” prices manager Chris Pike said. 

A 25 year (or more) high.

The merchandise terms of trade rose 2.3 percent. This is the fourth consecutive rise in the terms of trade, which is at its highest level since the December 1973 quarter and 3.5 percent below the all-time peak in the June 1973 quarter.

Now which party in New Zealand has a policy to reduce the dairy herd by 19%? Guess what that will do to exports and economic growth?


February polls

March 3rd, 2014 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar



As one can see, February saw significant movement in the polls, as shown in the above average of the public polls.

The monthly newsletter is out today. The executive summary is:

There were four political polls in February – a One News Colmar Brunton poll, a Fairfax Ipsos poll and two Roy Morgan poll

 The average of the public polls has National 17% ahead of Labour in January, up a large 6% from January. The current seat projection is centre-right 65 seats, centre-left 55 which would see National form a Government.

Tony Abbott’s approval ratings has plunged in Australia.

In the United States President Obama’s numbers continue to slowly recover from his terrible end to 2013.

In the UK David Cameron’s ratings also drop after a poor Government response to recent floods.

 In Canada the Conservatives are static with the Liberals remaining in the lead.

The normal two tables are provided comparing the country direction sentiment and head of government approval sentiment for the five countries. The mood in Australia has dropped significantly in the last month, while New Zealand improves.

We also carry details of polls in New Zealand on the NZ Flag, religion in schools, Winston Peters, the most important issues, Labour’s baby bonus, higher taxes plus the normal business and consumer confidence polls.

 This newsletter is normally only available by e-mail.  If you would like to receive future issues, please go to to subscribe yourself.


Jones v taniwha

March 3rd, 2014 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Another good quote from Shane Jones:

A couple have been told to apply to 14 different iwi to keep the water running to their home.

Brent and Jennifer Tassell will need approval to renew resource consent on a bore hole that has been operating for 10 years, supplying water to eight Puhoi homes.

The bore draws water from 305m underground and is the only source of water for the properties in Slowater Lane, on the northern outskirts of greater Auckland.

“It’s a hole in the ground that’s been there for 10 years,” said Jennifer. “It’s completely over the top for our situation.”

Under the draft Auckland Unitary Plan, all applicants for resource consent for new or existing developments must apply to iwi for them to assess whether it would have an adverse effect on mana whenua.

Taking or using groundwater is on the list of activities that could have a cultural impact, so iwi may insist on a cultural impact assessment – at the applicant’s cost.

Applicants may also have to foot the bill for the “costs of engagement” in the process.

The Tassells will meet Labour MP Shane Jones, who has been vocal in his disagreement with iwi approval rules.

He warned the new Auckland Council lacked safeguards.

“Maori heritage, while it’s important, it must never be used as a basis for divisiveness – and I fear that’s a consequence in this case,” he said.

Iwi should not be allowed to intervene to “test whether there’s a taniwha down a 10-year-old bore”.

What a great quote. Any other MP saying it would probably get bashed, but Jones can get away with it.

Jones has transformed himself from one of the laziest Labour MPs to one of the most effective. It is great to see.

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Three new marine reserves

March 3rd, 2014 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Three new marine reserves, covering 435,000 hectares of ocean, have been set up in the subantarctic today.

Conservation Minister Nick Smith said the reserves would be formally established in sea surrounding the Antipodes, Bounty and Campbell Islands from Perseverance Harbour, Campbell Island.

“The New Zealand Subantarctic Islands are one of the most pristine places on earth and these marine reserves are about keeping them that way,” he said.

“The marine reserve status that takes effect today means there can be no fishing, no mining, no petroleum exploration and no marine farming in these waters.”

The reserves will ensure the protection of an “incredible diversity of wildlife”, he said.

Excellent news.

These new marine reserves mean New Zealand now has “complete ecosystem protection” covering the land and the sea of its Subantarctic Islands, Dr Smith said, and brings New Zealand’s total number of marine reserves to 37.

“The area coming under protection is thirteen times larger than the total area of all the reserves on New Zealand’s three main islands. It will expand the proportion of our territorial sea that is protected to 9.5 per cent, close to the target of 10 per cent recommended by the United Nations.”

Just as we lock some land up as conservation land, it is sensible to protect some marine areas also as reserves.


Will Cunliffe’s donations be revealed?

March 3rd, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Labour leader David Cunliffe used an “agent arrangement” to take donations to his leadership campaign last November and is refusing to say whether he has disclosed individual donors in the MPs’ register of financial interests or whether they were disclosed as being from a trust.

This sounds too ironic to be true. Surely the “agent” wasn’t one of those secretive trusts that Labour has spent almost a decade railing against and legislated against?

The returns for the Register of Pecuniary Interests were due last Friday, and Mr Cunliffe said his return met both the rules of the register, which requires disclosure of donations of more than $500, and those of the Labour Party, which said all donations would be confidential.

He refused to say how he had met both rules, or whether he had declared donations as being from a trust rather than the original donors.

But he confirmed his campaign was run through an “agent arrangement” rather than taking donations directly. He sought a legal opinion before filing his return and defended the use of trusts.

What this means is that the Leader of the Labour Party used a trust so that we will never know who paid for his leadership campaign – despite Parliament’s Standing Orders requiring all donations of over $500 to be disclosed.

The stench of hypocrisy is massive.

“In the event donations are made to a trust, the trustee will have information about donations which a candidate or campaign team won’t have. So [if] there is a trust involved, it will be the donations of the trust to the campaign that are declared, as per the rules. If there is a trust, trustees owe obligations of confidentiality.”

But who decided to set up a trust? The purpose of the trust was to defeat the transparency requirements of Parliament’s Standing Orders.

I’m also not convinced that Cunliffe can refuse to name his donors, eve if it went through a trust. If he is aware of the ultimate source of the donations, you can argue Standing Orders require him to disclose – or risk a privilege complaint.

Of his rivals for the job, Shane Jones said he had disclosed all donations of more than $500, and the donors, and Grant Robertson said he did not receive any individual donations of more than $500.

So Jones and Robertson have disclosed – it is only their leader hiding behind a trust to protect his personal donors.

In 2005, Labour changed electoral finance rules to stop National filtering large anonymous donations through trusts. Grants made through a trust must now be disclosed separately if larger than the disclosable limit of $15,000 to a party or $1500 for an individual candidate.

Mr Cunliffe said there was “nothing at all” to embarrass him in his return.

That’s because it seems the return will just reveal the trust, and not the actual donors.

Mr Cunliffe also said Labour was likely to raise the issue with the standing orders committee, a cross-party group of MPs which decides on the rules for the register.

“It’s quite clear that having primary-style elections is new and not something that has been explicitly foreseen before in the register rules. It does raise a number of legal technicalities over the match between internal party rules and the rules of the standing orders.

“It would be better for everybody if they were aligned.”

The party can align its rules with standing orders if it so wishes, and drop the confidentially clause around donations. I can only presume that what Cunliffe is proposing is that standing orders be amended to allow Labour leadership candidates in future not to reveal donations to their leadership campaigns.

If any Labour MP or candidate now tries to campaign on better electoral finance transparency laws, they’re going to be laughed at.

UPDATE: Idiot/Savant at No Right Turn comments:

So, as usual, he’s claiming that it was All Within The Rules. But that’s not enough – his behaviour needs to be ethical as well. And by failing to tell us who he owes political debts to for financing his leadership ambitions, David Cunliffe has clearly failed that test and is unfit to be in Parliament, let alone a party leader.

UPDATE2: In 2008 Cunliffe said in Parliament:

Gee, the irony of that man impugning this Government on money issues will not be lost on Kiwis. He is the millionaire that Merrill built, the son of the “Hollow Man”, taking on the Government about transparency. Why does he not tell that to the millionaire brokers of the Waitemata Trust or the millionaire sponsors of the Exclusive Brethren? We believe in one person, one vote; not one dollar, one vote. We do not believe that elections should be bankrolled by big business, which is why the Electoral Finance Act is in place.

So he attacks people using trusts to hide the source of their donations in Parliament, yet uses the same device himself to hide the source of personal donations to his leadership campaign.

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A resignation offence

March 3rd, 2014 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

An Auckland politician has admitted making threatening comments about getting a restaurant’s liquor licence pulled after being refused a free bottle of wine.

Howick local board member Steve Udy faces a formal complaint, after the incident last week at the Porterhouse Grill, a popular new family-owned restaurant in Pakuranga.

Resident Peter Barclay, who is related to one of the staff, has lodged a complaint with Auckland Council chief executive Stephen Town, demanding Udy be censured for using his position to solicit a gift.

“When this was politely refused by management he became abusive and claimed that because of his position as a Howick board member he had the power to close the restaurant down,” the complaint alleges.

That’s so far beyond acceptable behaviour that I think it is a resignation offence. You should not hold positions like that, if you think it allows you to bully local restaurants.

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Golf course owner wants more taxpayer funding

March 2nd, 2014 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

The Government needs to significantly up its investment if the New Zealand Open golf tournament is to boom to the levels Sir Michael Hill dreams of.

Hill, who owns the tournament’s home course, The Hills, said the event was on the verge of being something “truly extraordinary” and he expected its popularity, growth and contribution to New Zealand’s tourism market to snowball.

But for the event to take off it needs television coverage and Hill thinks the taxpayer should foot the bill.

One of the tournament’s main drawcards is Hill’s course and the breath-taking Arrowtown surrounds.

Without television coverage, their impact is obviously reduced.

The Government already puts in $900,000 to the event, which offers a $900,000 purse but costs closer to $1.8m to run.

Television coverage would cost about $600,000 and the highlights package and live streaming the event organisers are already springing for costs $200,000.

Hill said the $400,000 shortfall should be covered by the Government, but he also said organisers were grateful for the contribution they already received.

I can think of many better things for my taxes to be spent on than televising a golf tournament. The taxpayer is already funding half the costs of the tournament, and now they want us to pay for the broadcasting costs also!


Three strikes for burglaries

March 2nd, 2014 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Audrey Young reports:

Burglars will be sent to prison for a minimum of three years without parole on the third burglary conviction under new policy announced today by Act leader Jamie Whyte.

A lot of people may be surprised to know that a very similar policy is the law of the land in the United Kingdom, and was passed by a Labour Government.

Under the UK law an adult burglar convicted of their third burglary must be given a sentence of at least three years in prison unless the court considered there to be “exceptional circumstances”. I’m unsure if the UK law is also without parole, but that appears to be the only possible difference.

So this proposal isn’t some far right extremist policy. It is a law put in place by a left-wing Government in the UK – just one that was hard line on law and order.

It is unclear how many people would be affected in New Zealand by such a law, and what the cost would be. ACT deserve some criticism for not having any estimates at all about impact and cost, but the UK experience suggests it may not be that great.

In 2012 there were 2,693 convictions for burglary (as the primary offence). Around 40% of them or 1,055 received a custodial sentence. That suggests repeat burglars are already mainly getting prison sentences.

How long is the average sentence for burglary, if custodial? A report to 2006 found an average sentence of around 15 months. This is for all custodial sentences for burglary. I imagine it is longer for those on their third conviction.

So there would be some costs associated with this policy, with more burglars in prison and for longer. The potential benefits though are that while in prison, recidivist burglars are not robing people’s homes, and also that the law may discourage recidivist burglars from carrying on.

A report in the Daily Telegraph found that from 2000 to 2008, only 3,018 people had been convicted of a third burglary. The burglary rate halved in the decade to 2010.

So what would be the expected number of third strike burglars in NZ, based on respective populations. They have around 15 times our population so one might expect over an eight year period 200 recidivist burglars to get a third strike. That suggests the costs of such a policy could be relatively modest.

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Is the Maori Party calling Shane Jones racist?

March 2nd, 2014 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The Maori Party have said:

The Maori Party say a cultural impact assessment clause in Auckland’s Draft Unitary Plan is a good idea, and that people focusing on race and cost are missing the big picture.

Te Ururoa Flavell, Maori Party Co-leader says “the provision in the plan to seek a cultural impact assessment from mana whenua on certain sites tagged for development is a good thing. It’s good because Maori have knowledge, history and a unique cultural perspective that can and will add value to our resource management decisions.”

“We are, however, shocked and disappointed with some of the reactions to the proposal. It tells us that our Maori culture, our knowledge, and our history are still treated as second class here in Aotearoa.”

Shane Jones is opposed. Does this mean they are saying Shane Jones is treating Maori as second class citizens? Surely not.

I’m with Shane on this one. But am still waiting to hear if even a single other Labour MP agrees with Shane.

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Paul Little calls for protesters to be silenced

March 2nd, 2014 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Leftie HoS columnist Paul Little writes:

It’s time to shut down – or rather shut up – the ragtag bunch of malcontents who are giving their lives meaning by hounding silly old Len Brown every time he appears in public. These shrieking, self-righteous harpies are one length of rope away from full-blown vigilantism.

Protesters are now vigilantes, who should be (presumably) forcibly removed or arrested for the crime of protesting. Such a tolerant person Mr Little is.

If the Mayor of Auckland was, for example, John Banks and he had protesters turn up to most of his events – would Mr Little be calling for them to be silenced?

More importantly they are disrupting the democratic process by trying to prevent an elected official from getting on with his job. 

I doubt Len Brown would be Mayor of Auckland if voters had known about his undisclosed free hotel stays and the like before the election.

But such a fascinating view that protesting an elected official is antidemocratic.

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36 off shore wells under Labour

March 2nd, 2014 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Amy Adams pointed out:

David Cunliffe latest attempt to rewrite history on oil and gas exploration highlights an on-going, casual relationship with the truth, Environment Minister Amy Adams says.

“As a minister in the previous Labour Government, David Cunliffe knows there was no environment oversight and certainly no public involvement in the exploratory drilling process under his watch,” Ms Adams says.

“Once again he has been caught out being tricky with the truth. He is trying to create a distraction from Labour’s woeful environmental credentials.

“Under his government, 36 wells were drilled in the EEZ between 1999 and 2008 with no legislation in place to protect the environment.

“In fact, the Labour regime only required the Minister for Energy and Resources to sign a permit and required no formal environmental assessment at all. That’s it – no public comment, no submissions, no consideration of environmental effects.

Not enough people know this. Labour signed off on 36 oil wells, with no requirement at all for a formal environmental assessment. The law passed by National requires the EPA to do an independent assessment.

“The ridiculous thing about David Cunliffe’s argument is that the EEZ Act introduced by this Government actually replaces a non-existent environmental regulatory regime for drilling in the EEZ, where the public had no say.

“Under this Government, the public will for the first time get a chance to have a say. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) can call for submissions from the public prior to granting a consent for exploratory drilling, if the EPA feels it is required. And before any production drilling can take place, a full public process must be held.

As always Labour is do what we say, not do what we did.

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Dowie for Invercargill

March 1st, 2014 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

National has announced:

The National Party has announced local legal professional Sarah Dowie will be its candidate for the Invercargill seat at the 2014 general election.

Ms Dowie was endorsed by a meeting of local party members in Invercargill tonight.

“National is taking nothing for granted in Invercargill this year, and the selection of a candidate of Sarah’s calibre reflects that,” says National’s Southern Region Chair, Ele Ludemann. 

Eric Roy won it in 2011 with a 6,263 majority so it is comfortable, but not absolutely safe. Eric got 55% of the candidate vote and National got 50% of the party vote.

Sarah Dowie is an Invercargill-based solicitor. As the daughter of two police officers, justice and law and order issues are part of her DNA.

After graduating from Otago University and being admitted to the Bar in 1998, Sarah established a successful career practicing commercial and environmental law.

39-years-old, Sarah lives in Invercargill with husband Mark Billcliff and their two pre-school children. Mark is a former first class cricketer and Southland representative, who now gives back by coaching local youth.

Sarah is an appointee to the Otago-Southland Lotteries Board. Instinctively community-minded, she also provides free legal services to community groups.

She is a former manager for the Department of Conservation in its tourism and concession wing and is now a trustee and Deputy Chair of the Dog Island Motu Piu Conservation Trust, which is working to eradicate pests on the island and restore it as a viable habitat for tuatara.

It’s good to see candidates of Sarah’s calibre get selected. She’s had a successful professional career and is very involved in the community.

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