Archive for the ‘NZ Politics’ Category

Parliamentary catering

September 26th, 2013 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Isaac Davidson at NZ Herald reports:

MPs may soon no longer have access to an inhouse pub or room service if proposals to cut costs within Parliament go ahead.

Parliamentary Service, which manages the Beehive and Parliament Buildings, is reviewing its food and drink services and has put many options including a 140-year-old restaurant on the chopping block.

In an email sent to Parliamentary staff, it proposed closing Pickwicks bar on the third floor of the Beehive, the ministerial dining room and the members only dining room. It also suggested closing Bellamy’s, a fine dining restaurant which MPs and their families have used since 1867.

Pickwicks (almost always referred to internally as 3.2 after its room number) used to be a hub of activity every night, and could really go off on urgency nights with midnight sittings. Sadly it is now sparsely attended and I am not surprised it may become unfinancial.

The Bellamy’s dining restaurant is divided up into two sections – members and guests (open to MPs, staff and guests) and members (open to MPs and families only). However they are the same restaurant and just have a dividing wall between them. Not sure you save much by removing the separation.

Wine and beer would still be available at Copperfields Cafe in Parliament Buildings. However, the breakfast buffet could be cut.

National staff had a tradition for well over a decade of a breakfast gathering at Copperfields on a Friday morning. It was a great team builder, and made working there so much more bearable. Would be sad to see an end to breakfasts there.

However I have long submitted that Copperfields should be replaced with a mini food court. Allow three or four operators to set up there and compete on price and variety and quality. Have a sushi bar, a sandwich bar, a grill and even a McDs if they think they’d get enough business.


Falsely promising cheap fares

September 26th, 2013 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Salient reports:

VUWSA Presidential candidate Thomas Maharaj has been falsely implying that his connections to Snapper would make him better placed to achieve fare discounts for tertiary students.

A number of students reported to Salient Thomas Maharaj had told them that “just between you and me” he had connections at Snapper which would help him to introduce student fares. On his campaign Facebook page, one comment suggests Maharaj’s father owns Snapper.

The companies register reveals Maharaj’s father, Noel Maharaj, is CEO and owns 25 per cent of HTS Group Limited (HTS). HTS are contracted by Snapper to provide services and maintenance. Maharaj has admitted he worked for his father’s company in the past—most recently in January this year—providing installation services for electronics on buses.

A representative of HTS told Salient the company did not have any influence on fares for any group, including for tertiary students.

“It has to do with the equipment, the installation, the maintenance of the card… it’s not to do with fares and stuff,” they said.

Oh dear, he is telling students that if they vote for him, they’ll get cheaper bus fares because he is “connected”. He must be a member of the Labour Party! (to be fair to Young Labour, I understand he is not endorsed by them)

When asked by Salient on his plans to achieve fairer fares given the absence of influence HTS has on fare structures, Maharaj stated the importance of connections with councillors and central government. Maharaj has worked with Labour MP Trevor Mallard as a community organiser, and also with Greater Wellington Regional Councillor (GWRC) Paul Bruce.

So he thinks having worked for Trevor Mallard (and was his Youth MP), this will somehow result in the Government next year lowering bus fares just for Vic Uni students!

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Herald on Labour’s home loan policy

September 26th, 2013 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald editorial:

Labour’s new leader appears to think he can manage New Zealand’s financial system better than the Reserve Bank. If he was in power now, he says, he would not allow the bank to include first-home buyers in its mortgage lending restriction to take effect from next week.

The bank is about to limit the amount of lending that retail banks can do on deposits of less than 20 per cent of the price of the house. It is acting out of concern that banks are becoming too exposed to the risk that another house price bubble will burst, causing prices to fall. If that were to happen, the consequences for banks might be costly but for low-equity first-home owners it could be catastrophic.

The little equity they have amassed could be wiped out, leaving them owing the bank more than their house is worth.

If that sounds bad enough, other policies espoused by David Cunliffe would make their position even worse. If elected, he says, Labour would exempt first-home buyers from the new lending limits until its capital gains tax took hold and its low-cost house building programme took effect.

Nothing would be more likely to bring about a fall in house prices than a capital gains tax and an increase in state housing. If Mr Cunliffe had the interest of first-home owners at heart he would not only limit their access to low equity loans, he would do so well in advance of his other proposals.

So Labour is joining the Greens in promoting policies to leave home owners with negative equity!

When it announced the proposed restriction the Prime Minister made it known the Government wanted an exemption for first-home seekers. The bank was unmoved, pointing out that first-home buyers were about 30 per cent of low-deposit borrowers and they had to be included if the measure was to be effective.

John Key gave way, deferring to the bank’s expertise in its statutory jurisdiction. The bank’s so-called independence in these matters has been in the bedrock of New Zealand’s economy for nearly 30 years. In that time its independence has been respected by both major parties in government and when they were in opposition.

Labour’s finance spokesman, David Parker, believes the party could exempt first-home seekers without removing the Reserve Bank’s independence; his new leader appears not to care whether the bank’s role is compromised or not.

The independence of the Reserve Bank has been a critical element of our economy. We should be very worried about promises to over-ride its decisions by politicians.

Mr Cunliffe needs to be very careful in this area. As the leader of one of the main parties, his utterances could be damaging to long-term confidence in the economy well before he threatens to be in any position to act.

It is hard to believe he would carry out the promise to over-ride the Reserve Bank’s independence to exempt first-home seekers, if only because of the obvious risk to their equity. He was looking to score an easy political point.

Anything that makes it harder for first-home seekers to get finance is bound to be superficially unpopular, as proven by a poll at the weekend. Political leaders who withstand this pressure and respect the Reserve Bank’s independence deserve more credit for it than Mr Key has received.

Governments are all-powerful in this country, it would be easy to weaken the bank’s legislated jurisdiction and do untold damage to our economy.

Mr Cunliffe’s stance is a worry.

Basically Labour are campaigning on cheap and easy credit – the very thing that caused the global financial crisis. We should be very wary.

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Sam Johnson on Christchurch elections

September 26th, 2013 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Sam Johnson has blogged his picks for Christchurch City Council:

  • Christchurch City Mayor: Lianne Daziel 
  • Shirley-Papanui: Ali Jones
  • Fendalton-Waimairi: Raf Manji (I would like three votes here as Jamie + Claudia are both good. It is important to me to have someone like Raf on CCC though, so he is my first vote). 
  • Burwood-Pegasus: Glenn Livingstone, Robyn Nuthall 
  • Riccarton-Wigram: Vicki Buck, Peter Laloli
  • Hagley-Ferrymead:Paul Lonsdale, Yani Johanson (updated)
  • Spreydon-Heathcote: Erin Jackson, Tim Scandrett
  • Banks Peninsula: Paula Smith

Now I don’t agree with Sam on all his choices. I think Paul Lonsdale would make a very good Mayor, who has already done a lot for the city. I’d also endorse John Stringer for Shirley-Papanui.

But Sam has spent three years on a community board and through his SVA work knows many of the candidates, so I think his picks will be of interest to many. He also names people worth supporting for local boards.

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The monorail route

September 26th, 2013 at 9:00 am by David Farrar



Stuff has this image and a story. As one can see the route doesn’t go into Fiordland National Park itself. I think this shows that the opposition is motivated mainly by the fact it bypasses Te Anau. But just as I don’t think one should not build Clifford Bay to protect Picton, neither should you decline consent for this project to protect Te Anau.

I think many tourists would love to travel via catmaran, ATVs and monorail through the farm and conservation land there. Competition is good, providing a choice of routes.

Patrick Smellie writes on the proposal:

To recap: for $179, the Fiordland Experience would ferry 160-plus passengers 40 minutes from Queenstown up Lake Wakatipu to Mt Taylor station. There, they’d board a bus for a 40-minute jaunt up a farmed valley flanked by bare or beech-covered ranges. There are some farm buildings, the occasional car, and some prized angling spots up here, and a sense of the back country emptiness that lies just beyond the bustle of Queenstown. This is all either on public roads or involves concessions from private landowners.

The next part is trickier. From the buses, tourists would be decanted into the carriages of a rubber-wheeled, electric-powered monorail for a 41-kilometre trip terminating at the ageing Fiordland Lodge.

With a 6-metre-wide corridor and up to 2m off the ground, the monorail will be narrower than a roadway, its promoters claim, and won’t affect forest canopy during the 29km of this trip that crosses government-owned conservation land in the Snowdon Forest Park.

The Department of Conservation and the Fiordland Experience have spent years working out a low-impact route, which does – let’s face it – put a monorail through a forest. DoC will charge for the privilege.

A forest park is not a national park. Its legal and conservation status is much lower and, therefore, potentially more acceptable – at least on paper.

While the monorail also cuts across a corner of the Unesco-designated Fiordland World Heritage Area, that designation has no legal standing and also covers a vast swath of the West Coast, including townships and other existing tourist hotspots.

If anything, the area lacks the grandeur in less reachable parts of the region and the only encroachment on the highly protected Fiordland National Park is the lodge site itself.

So the monorail will be in the Snowdon Forest Park, not the Fiordland National Park. How many people had even heard of Snowdon Forest Park before today?

Smellie (who had his trip down there paid for by the promoters) has a useful suggestion:

Assuming Smith can get himself over the environmental, commercial and political hurdles – and that’s a big “if” – he should only contemplate permission subject to cast-iron commitments on both project funding and the removal of infrastructure in the Snowdon Forest Park in the event of its disuse. 

I think that is fair enough. No one wants a dis-used monorail sitting somewhere. But I think the proposed route would attract many tourists domestically and internationally, and if investors are prepared to spend $200 million of their own money making it happen they should be given the chance.

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Key wanted to vomit on the press gallery

September 25th, 2013 at 5:35 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Prime Minister John Key says he wanted to vomit on the press – literally – but managed to keep his stomach down.

John Key is probably not the only Prime Minister who has wanted to do that! :-)

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The most unusual candidate statement

September 25th, 2013 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Tubby Hansen is standing for Mayor of Christchurch, the local City Council and the local DHB. His statement reads:

At the start of the 3rd Labour government, I urged people not to vote for a pro-Labour union delegate. My house that I rented was bugged with a two-way bug and I was nagged by an American woman.

Must have been the GCSB  and NSA working for Labour!

I turn on my tape recorder when I go out, on one day tape recorded them nagging me.

The police refused to listen to the tape and insisted I was hearing voices. I asked the Hereford St Duty Sergeant if I could speak to the Commander. I was refused. We now bug the bugs onto the police car frequency, so they can ask on TV2 Police 10/7 programme, for people to identify the voices. There is no such thing as Schizophrenia or aural dysfunction it is a left wing political racket.

All schizophrenics should be released from hospital, and paid $4000 in compensation, and given some sort of pardon. Cheers.

His 2013 statement is only exceeded by his 2010 one:

There’s no such thing as “schizophrenia”. It’s all done with two way transmitting bugs to talk to mainly young people with potential. If the “talking” is ignored, they are stung with an electronic cruelty machine. 


Major heart surgery may be a thing of the past if experiments I have done by flushing veins through with sulfaric (not sulphuric) acid with the registered CLR (Calcium, Lime, Rust) chemical, to get rid of lime, waterstone and cholesterol by making an insertion at a wrist vein. I can’t go any further, and need 2 medical students to continue this. 

A perfect candidate for the DHB!

We spend money on wars, football stadiums grand projects, while women with breast cancer only get 9 months “Herceptin”. I will speak on this, even if we have to fund “generic Herceptin” from India. 

Genetically modified fat tomatoes etc, result in genetically modified fat people. Exercise is not much help. Watch what you eat. 

Sage advice!

Mr Hansen got 1,108 votes in 2010!

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Peters aims, fires and misses again

September 25th, 2013 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

In Parliament yesterday:

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS (Leader—NZ First) to the Minister for Whānau Ora: Does she have confidence in the Whānau Ora scheme?

Hon TARIANA TURIA (Minister for Whānau Ora) Tēnā koe, Mr Speaker. Yes.

Rt Hon Winston Peters : Has she ever offered resources and staff, such as report writers, to prepare Whānau Ora commissioning agency bid documentation; if so, why?


Rt Hon Winston Peters : Did she give $500,000 plus expert help to the National Hauora Coalition to prepare its bid for Whānau Ora money; if so, why?


Rt Hon Winston Peters : You will not be laughing shortly, gentlemen. Did she give $3 million to the Iwi Leaders Forum to prepare its Whānau Ora commissioning agency bid; if so, why?


Rt Hon Winston Peters : So is she saying that a document that came to her at Parliament on 8 August at 3.26 p.m., setting out these matters and detailing the matters I am talking about, was just made up?

Hon TARIANA TURIA : I have no idea what the member is talking about.

The Herald has details:

Emails produced by Mr Peters showed Mr Tau had some discussion with Whanau Ora Minister Tariana Turia about funding the forum’s application but yesterday she showed media her response, making it clear such funding was unavailable.

So Peters got hold of a request for funding, just assumed that meant it had been successful, didn’t try to verify anything, and made wild allegations in the House that blew up in his face.

John Armstrong highlights it:

When Peters finally got the call, he asked Turia, as Minister responsible for Whanau Ora, whether she had ever offered resources and staff, such as report writers, to prepare Whanau Ora commissioning agency bid documentation. “No,” Turia replied.

Had she given $500,000-plus expert help to the National Hauora Coalition to prepare its bid for Whanau Ora money? Again, the reply was an emphatic “no”.

It was beginning to look like this was not going to be a winebox moment for Peters. Government MPs were enjoying the extremely rare sight of him firing what seemed to be blanks.

“You will not be laughing shortly, gentlemen,” he warned. He tried again. Did Turia give $3 million to the Iwi Leaders Forum to prepare its Whanau Ora commissioning agency bid? Again, “no”.

Peters’ voice by now carried more of a hint of disbelief coupled with bewilderment. “So is she saying that a document that came to her at Parliament on August 8 at 3.26pm, setting out these matters and detailing the matters I am talking about, was just made up?”

This time the answer was longer – but no less dismissive. “I have no idea what the member is talking about.”

That statement brought the House down. Peters had to sit down, having seemingly run out of ammunition, blank or otherwise. …

Turia later called a press conference at which she once again vigorously denied Peters’ claims and released an email from her staff last month to various Maori identities saying it would not be appropriate for the minister to divert resources to help any group prepare its bid to administer and allocate funding of Whanau Ora contracts.

An allegation from Winston is like a stopped clock – he hits the mark by accident twice a day, but generally it is all crap.


A third case of padding?

September 25th, 2013 at 2:30 pm by David Farrar

Andrea Vance at Stuff reports:

Questions have also surfaced about Cunliffe’s time at Harvard in the 1990s.

Cunliffe left the foreign service to pursue his studies after winning a coveted Fulbright Scholarship.

Cunliffe said this morning that he spent some time studying at both departments.

“I hold a Masters in Public Administration from the Harvard Kennedy School,” he explained.

“It’s a flexible course, almost half of which was studied at the Harvard Business School, some at Harvard Law School, and some at the Kennedy School.

“To my knowledge, no CV that I’ve put out has claimed that I hold an MBA [Masters of Business Administration] from Harvard Business School. I’ve always said I hold an MPA from the Harvard Kennedy School, sometimes called the John F Kennedy School.”

A biography posted on the Labour party website until recently said: “He was a Fulbright Scholar at Harvard University’s John F Kennedy School of Government and Harvard Business School, where he graduated with a Master of Public Administration.”

That clearly implies the MPA is from both the School of Government and the Harvard Business School. If you do a couple of law papers as part of your commerce degree you don’t claim to have a degree from the faculty of commerce and faculty of law.

His CV has been widely interpreted as meaning he was as the Harvard Business School. Just a few days ago Stuff reported:

His first posting was Canberra. Washington DC followed. He left the foreign service after eight years, winning a Fulbright Scholarship to Harvard’s School of Business.

So the number of exaggerated or padded claims is now around half a dozen. Three or four around community and union activities, one around Fonterra and this one around Harvard Business School.

The silly thing is Cunliffe doesn’t need to exaggerate. He has a CV that is superior to probably every single one of his colleagues.  Working for Boston Consulting Group is a huge achievement, regardless of whether or not to claim to have helped form Fonterra. Likewise a Fulbright Scholarship to Harvard’s JF School of Government is a huge achievement without implying you also graduated from Harvard Business School.

But there is a clear pattern of padding or exaggeration. This is not uncommon with job seekers, but politicians need to be much more careful. I know one MP who would e-mail a newspaper when they claimed he or she had a qualification they didn’t yet have. They did this even though the mistake was 100% the newspapers and not in any way based on what their CV stated, or anything they had said. This is a degree of prudence that would be wise for David Cunliffe to have followed.

The article also deals more with the Fonterra claims:

This morning he provided documents to Fairfax Media which show he carried out work for the Dairy Board in the late-1990s. It appears on the electronic records under the new client name Fonterra Co-operative Group.

His timesheets, from BCG, show he worked on a number of projects including “industry structure” from October 1997 to January 1999.

Hooton refused to apologise.

He doesn’t want to get into a prolonged argument with Cunliffe, but said: “I just don’t think that doing a paper on research and development in the dairy industry can be described as helping with the formation of Fonterra.

“He obviously thinks that the paper he wrote … was in some way crucial to the creation of the company but I don’t think it would be a view shared by the industry leaders who lead the creation of Fonterra in 2000/2001.”

There is no doubt Cunliffe did work for BCG on the dairy industry structure. As I understand it there was eight hours of work in 1999 and around a month’s work in 1997 on industry structure. Whether or not it is fair to claim that was helping with the formation of a company some years later is more than debatable. My views is that it is not false, but again a pattern of padding or exaggeration. Just like claiming to have worked for a City Mission on a CV, when you did a couple of small things for someone who did something for them 20 years ago.

Aaron Gilmore had similiar issues with his CV a couple of years ago. That generated not just a couple of stories with Fairfax, but a total of 26 stories in different mediums, and Gilmore was just an obscure backbencher – not an aspirant Prime Minister. In both cases I don’t think there was any deliberate attempt to mislead, just a desire to sound more impressive.

As I said at the beginning, David Cunliffe’s record in business and academia is impressive enough on its own. It doesn’t need padding.

On Monday the website was refreshed. The biography now reads: “He held a Fulbright Scholarship at Harvard University’s John F Kennedy School of Government in 1994-1995, earning a Master of Public Administration.”

In hindsight I think David Cunliffe would agree that would have been the better wording to use all along. Harvard Business School is more globally impressive and known that the JFK School of Government, but the JFK School of Government degree is impressive in its own right.

UPDATE: There has been a huge amount of reporting (never corrected) over the claim to have studied or graduated from Harvard Business School:

And this cache of his Facebook page:

I was a Fulbright Scholar at Harvard University’s John F Kennedy School of Government and Harvard Business School, where I graduated with a Master of Public Administration.

UPDATE2: Whale has some questions about how the BCG timesheets in 1997 were using the name Fonterra, when the name was only devised and used in 2001.


Parliament – 25th September 2013

September 25th, 2013 at 1:08 pm by Scott Miller

Questions to Ministers – 2pm to 3pm 

  1. JAMI-LEE ROSS to the Minister of Finance: How is the Government supporting New Zealand families through the economic recovery?
  2. Hon DAVID CUNLIFFE to the Prime Minister: Has he or his Office sought an assurance from the Minister of Conservation that he did not know about the existence of the draft submission prepared by the Department of Conservation in early July relating to the Ruataniwha Dam, before 17 September 2013; if not, why not?
  3. ALFRED NGARO to the Minister of Justice: What recent Better Public Services results for the Justice Sector has she announced?
  4. Hon ANNETTE KING to the Minister of Health: Has the increase in health funding for 2013/14 been sufficient to stop cuts in health services and staffing?
  5. Dr RUSSEL NORMAN to the Minister of Conservation: What did he say in his meeting with officials on 29 July that led Department of Conservation Deputy Director-General Doris Johnston to write in an email later that day that he is “… likely to query whether we leave it all to the EPA to consider”?
  6. Hon SHANE JONES to the Minister of Finance: Does he agree with the Productivity Commission that the “growing gap in labour productivity has been the main driver of an increasing disparity in GDP per capita between the two trans-Tasman economies,” and given double-digit house price inflation in Auckland, doesn’t this show the Government’s efforts to rebalance the economy towards productive exports and jobs has failed?
  7. Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS to the Minister for Whānau Ora: Does she stand by her answers to Oral Question No. 4 yesterday?
  8. PHIL TWYFORD to the Minister of Housing: What does he say to the almost 80 percent of people looking to buy their first homes who say they cannot afford the 20 percent deposit or will need family help because of LVR lending limits?
  9. Dr PAUL HUTCHISON to the Minister of Health: What progress is the Government making on its rheumatic fever programme?
  10. Hon RUTH DYSON to the Minister of Conservation: Did he receive the draft submission on the Ruataniwha Dam proposal, which was requested by Doris Johnston, Deputy Director-General at the Department of Conservation, to be delivered on Tuesday 30 July 2013; if so, on what date?
  11. Hon TAU HENARE to the Minister of Customs: What is Customs doing to stem the tide of illegal psychoactive substances?
  12. DENISE ROCHE to the Minister of Finance: What is the expected value of the dividends from TVNZ that the Crown will forego as a result of the dividend relief agreement related to the SkyCity deal?

Questions today are 5 Labour, 4 National, 2 Greens and 1 New Zealand First.

Labour will be asking about Nick Smith’s handling of the DOC submission on the Ruataniwha Dam, health funding, productivity, LVR limits for housing and a further question from Ruth Dyson on the Ruataniwha Dam. National will be asking questions on issues such as the economy, justice sector targets, rheumatic fever and customs handing of drugs. Green’s will be asking about the DOC submission and TVNZ dividends, with New Zealand First asking a question about their favorite topic, Whānau Ora.

Pasty Question of the Day 

Question 9 from Dr Paul Huntchison to the Minster of Health on the rheumatic fever programme is today’s winner of pasty question of the day.

General Debate – 3pm to 4pm 

12 rounds of 5 minute open speeches from Members of Parliament.

Private and Local Orders of the Day – 4pm to 5pm

1) New Zealand Mission Trust Board (Otamataha) Empowering Bill - Te Ururoa Flavell  - First Reading

This bill is designed to allow for the transfer of land in Tauranga from the ownership of the New Zealand Mission Trust to the Otamataha Trust. The land was acquired in 1896 by the Church Mission Society and handed over to the New Zealand Mission Trust for the spiritual benefit and spiritual instruction of Maori people in the North Island. The original owners of the land where Ngati Tapu and Ngaitamarawaho and the trustees of the New Zealand Mission Trust have created the Otamataha Trust in order to help the iwi members of Ngati Tapu and Ngaitamarawaho in the future.

Members Orders of the Day – 5pm to 6pm and 7.30pm to 10pm

1) Conservation (Natural Heritage Protection Bill) - Jacqui Dean – Committee Stage

This bill is designed to encourage compliance with enactments administered by the Department of Conservation by increasing penalties to better protect natural and historic resources and protected wildlife. The main changes the Bill makes to the existing law are to both increase the penalties, and implement a consistent approach to penalties across the main enactments administered by the Department of Conservation.

At the last reading of this bill it passed without objection.

2) Summary Offences (Possession of Hand-held Lasers) Amendment Bill - Dr Cam Calder – First Reading

This bill is designed to ban the possession of a Hand – held Laser in public areas without a reasonable excuse. In addition, the bill gives additional powers to the police to be able to confiscate lasers from people if they are found in a public place. Currently section 270 of the Crimes Act gives the police some powers to stop people from using a Hand-Held Laser on objects such as moving cars and airplanes but this goes one step further.

3) Sentencing (Protection of Children from Criminal Offending) Amendment Bill - Le’aufa’amulia Asenati Lole-Taylor – First Reading

This bill is designed to amend the Sentencing Act 2002 so that if a offence is committed in the presence of a minor, then it should be considered as a aggravating factor at the sentencing of the offender. In addition, the bill expresses the view that if any offense committed in front of a minor has any potential adverse effect on them, then the sentence should reflect that at the time.

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More painful bureaucracy

September 25th, 2013 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Nicola Stables says a move that would require holiday homeowners like herself to obtain a resource consent to rent their properties out to six or more people could result in visitors going elsewhere for their holidays.

Resource consents for holiday homes! What next.

Ms Stables said she was perplexed by the Thames Coromandel District Council draft district plan, which recommends that visitor accommodation, such as hers, that caters for more than six paying guests obtain resource consent.

I would have thought Coromandel is the last district that wants to make it harder to have people have holiday homes available for hire.

What problem is the Council trying to solve by requiring resource consent?

It seems this move is being driven by the Motel Association. How very sad they are trying to impose extra costs on holiday homes. There is a world of difference between staying in commercial accommodation and renting a holiday home.  A holiday home is just a home. It should be of no matter to anyone but the owner whether they stay in it, lease it out long-term, or rent it out short-term.

Mr Baines said private accommodation was undercutting moteliers during the high season from mid-December to the end of March.

So it is economic protectionism.

I would never ever stay in a motel in a location like Coromandel. It is not price that determines I go to holiday homes instead of motels. It is that I want to relax in a house. I stay in motels when travelling on business, or attending conferences etc.

UPDATE: I understand the situation is slightly different to that reported. The current plan already says a resource consent may be needed for properties that can take six or more people. I don’t think it is widely enforced. The Council looked to increase the limit to 12, but has now said it will stay at six. So not a change at this stage. I do have to say though that I think six is too low a number.


The warming pause

September 25th, 2013 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

A slowdown in warming that has provided fuel for climate sceptics is one of the thorniest issues in a report to be issued by United Nations experts on Friday.

Over the past 15 years, the world’s average surface temperature rose far slower than many climate models have predicted.

According to projections, global warming should go in lockstep with the ever-rising curve of heat-trapping carbon emissions. But in recent years, warming has lagged. So, where has the missing heat gone?

For climate sceptics, the answer is clear. Either the computer models used to project temperature rise are flawed, or man-made global warming is just a green scam, they say.

I don’t buy into any nonsense that there is some global conspiracy involving thousands of scientists. But I think it is clear that the models to project future temperature increases are imperfect. This is no surprise. The global ecosystem is hugely complex and there are many factors which will take decades or even longer to fully comprehend. We may never fully understand how all the different aspects interact.

But that is not to say it is in the too hard basket. First of all there clearly is still warming over the medium term. The direct impact of increased levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is relatively simple to calculate, and there is no real scientific dispute over the direct impact.

Where we have uncertainty is how the rest of the climate ecosystem responds to the warming caused by greenhouse gases. The models in the past have projected a multiplying impact, where temperatures increase quite rapidly. It may turn out to be that in fact the rest of the ecosystem will actually mitigate the impact of greenhouse gases. Note mitigate does not mean reverse.

Over the past 50 years, the mean global temperature rise was 0.12C per decade, slowing to an average 0.05C per decade over the past 15 years.

Half of the slowdown could be attributed to volcanic eruptions, whose particles reflect sunlight, and a bigger-than-expected drop in heat from the sun’s changing activity cycle, said a summary of the report.

The other half is attributed to a “cooling contribution from internal variability”.

Laurent Terray with the French computer modelling agency Cerfacs said the term is used to explain a shift in the way heat is distributed between land, sea and air.

Still unclear is what causes the variation or determines its duration.

“We know that this kind of episode, of a decadal length or thereabouts, can occur once or twice a century,” said Terray. “If it continues for two more decades, we may start to think that the computer models are underestimating internal variability.”

New research by Britain’s Met Office suggests the “missing” heat, or some of it, is being transferred from the ocean surface to the deeps.

Temperatures at depths below 3000m have been rising since the 1990s, implying a source of heat-trapping today will contribute to warming tomorrow.

As one can see the ecosystem is very complex, and there are multiple ways different parts can interact.

I am looking forward to seeing the IPCC update when it is released.


Sanctions working

September 25th, 2013 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Michael Fox at Stuff reports:

Threats to sanction beneficiaries on the run from the law are leading to the clearance of more outstanding arrest warrants, the Government says.

One change revealed in the Government’s welfare reforms this year was the ability to stop payments to beneficiaries if they were subject to an arrest warrant.

Social Development Minister Paula Bennett said it had resulted in 161 arrest warrants being cleared within six weeks of operation. …

Bennett said the police were notifying Work and Income after their own efforts to track down those beneficiaries had failed.

Work and Income staff were then contacting the beneficiaries to tell them they needed to contact police or have their benefits slashed.

 The new rule affects those who have had an outstanding criminal arrest warrant for 28 days or longer.

Those people get another 10 days to clear the warrant. If they don’t their benefit is stopped if they have no children or halved if they do.

Not bad for just the first six weeks.


Latest polls

September 25th, 2013 at 8:01 am by David Farrar

I’ve got details of the two latest polls at Curiablog. Sunday night’s One News Colmar Brunton poll and this morning’s Herald Digipoll. The former had little movement while the latter has a large swing to Labour.



The time and size weighted average of all the public polls has it almost neck and neck with the CR bloc on 60 seats, CL on 62 seats and the Maori Party holding the balance of power on 3 seats. This assumes no changes in electorate seats.


Forestry injuries

September 24th, 2013 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

The CTU has a campaign underway calling for an inquiry into the forestry sector, due to its high accident and fatality rates. There certainly are an unacceptable number of deaths (any preventable death is of course unacceptable), but I have been unsure if there has been a sudden deterioration in the safety record in the forestry sector. So I asked ACC and MBIE for their data on forestry related deaths and injuries going back to 1990.

ACC has data back to 2002. Their data is:

  • 2002 – 2,340 claims (4 fatal)
  • 2003 – 2,046 (5 fatal)
  • 2004 – 1,642  (1 – 3 fatal)
  • 2005 – 1,543
  • 2006 – 1,259 (4 fatal)
  • 2007 – 1,233 (1-3 fatal)
  • 2008 – 1,142 (1-3 fatal)
  • 2009 – 1,229 (4 fatal)
  • 2010 – 1,374 (1 – 3 fatal)
  • 2011 – 1,384 (6 fatal)
  • 2012 – 1,402 (1 – 3 fatal)
  • 2013 – 858 for 8 months (1,287 pro-rata) (1- 3 fatal)

So the level of ACC claims in the sector is well down on a decade ago. However fair to note that it does appear to have been trending up since 2008. However 2013 may end up below 2012.

The number of claims involving a fatal injury varies, with it ranging from 0 to 6. Note that the data ACC has is based on occupations supplied, so if a truck driver was killed in a forestry accident, they would not record that as forestry sector. However MBIE does, and we’ll now look at their data:

MBIE also has data back to 2002 only. They get notifed of any accidents which involve serious harm, which is of course more seriious that just an ACC claim for minor accidents. So their data set is probably more important and useful.

  • 2002 – 259 serious harm notifications (4 fatalities)
  • 2003 – 214 (6)
  • 2004 – 193 (6)
  • 2005 – 192 (0)
  • 2006 – 166 (7)
  • 2007 – 174 (3)
  • 2008 – 179 (4)
  • 2009 – 161 (5)
  • 2010 – 170 (4)
  • 2011 – 182 (3)
  • 2012 – 188 (6)
  • 2013 – 111 (7) – pro-rata would be 167 (10)

So this also shows serious injuries are lower than a decade ago, but an upwards trend from 2009. However again 2013 may end up lower.

The level of fatalities also appears fairly consistent over the last decade, except of course the horribly high level for the first eight months of 2013.

So is an inquiry the answer? I certainly share the concern of the CTU and others that the level of serious injuries and fatalities is too high.

There is a plan for reducing deaths and injuries in the sector, that was published in August 2011. Also starting from last month the new health and safety inspectorate has started a workplace assessment programme of site visits to all 330 forestry operators. I think the pro-active approach is welcome.

It’s good that the CTU are focusing on a sector with too many accidents. I’m not persuaded an inquiry would be greatly beneficial, and I think the initiatives underway will hopefully make an impact. The level of serious injury is still below that of a decade ago (when no inquiries were being demanded) but the upwards trend is unacceptable and hopefully over the next 12 months that trend will reverse.



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Future Green Ministers

September 24th, 2013 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Eddie at The Standard thinks Cunliffe has assigned portfolios in such a way to leave some of them free for the Greens in a future Labour-Greens Government.

I agree that this does appear to be the case, and is quite smart in terms of coalition relations. So what does this suggest Cunliffe has in mind for Green Ministers:

  • Russel Norman – Economic Development, Energy
  • Kevin Hague – Health
  • Kennedy Graham – Climate Change
  • Eugenie Sage – Conservation
  • Julie Anne Genter – Transport

Eddie think thanks Turei could be better to remain a non-Minister so she can concentrate on being a co-Leader who is not tied down with Ministerial portfolios. Not sure she would be so keen on that.


Parliament 24 September 2013

September 24th, 2013 at 1:10 pm by David Farrar

Questions to Ministers 2 pm – 3 pm

  1. Hon DAVID CUNLIFFE to the Prime Minister: Does he stand by his statement regarding first-home buyers “I don’t want to see tools implemented that lock them out of the market”?
  2. DAVID BENNETT to the Minister of Finance: What recent progress has the Government made in its share offer programme – and particularly putting everyday New Zealanders at the front of the queue for shares?
  3. TE URUROA FLAVELL to the Minister for the Environment:Does she agree with the former Prime Minister and architect of the Resource Management Act 1991, Sir Geoffrey Palmer, that taken as a whole the proposed amendments to the Resource Management Act 1991 will seriously weaken the level of protection given to New Zealand’s natural environment under the Act, and how will she address the concerns in particular related to the merging of sections 6 and 7?
  4. Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS to the Minister for Whānau Ora:Does she have confidence in the Whānau Ora scheme?
  5. SCOTT SIMPSON to the Minister of Justice: What conviction and sentencing statistics has she received for the 2012/13 financial year?
  6. Hon DAVID PARKER to the Minister of Finance: Did the July 2012 Treasury report Project 14: Initial advice say that the closure of the Tiwai smelter would reduce the market price for electricity by “roughly 10 percent” and why in his answer to Primary Question No. 4 on 21 August 2013 did he not disclose that advice to the House?
  7. MELISSA LEE to the Minister for Social Development: How is the Government’s new warrants to arrest policy for those on benefits ensuring a fairer welfare system?
  8. PHIL TWYFORD to the Minister of Housing: Has Housing New Zealand been referring people to live in campgrounds?
  9. PAUL FOSTER-BELL to the Associate Minister of Health: What initiatives has she announced to showcase aged care nursing?
  10. EUGENIE SAGE to the Minister of Conservation: When was he made aware that the Department of Conservation was preparing a submission that would address the potential effect of the proposed nutrient limits of the Tukituki Catchment Proposal?
  11. Hon RUTH DYSON to the Minister of Conservation: Does he still stand by his statement on the Department of Conservation submission on the Tukituki Catchment Proposal that “I did not give the Department an indication of what that submission would be”?
  12. NICKY WAGNER to the Minister of Conservation: What benefits have been achieved for conservation and recreation from DOC’s partnership with Air New Zealand?

Questions are National 5, Labour 4, Maori 1, NZ First 1 and Greens 1.

Labour is asking about housing affordability, Tiwai Point smelter, homelessness and DOC’s submission on the Tukituki Catchment Proposal. Greens are asking about the Tukituki Catchment Proposal also, NZ First is on his favourite topic of Whanua Ora and Maori Party on the RMA reformss.

The patsy of the day is No 9 by Paul Foster-Bell on showcasing aged care nursing.

Government Bills 3 pm – 6 pm and 7.30 pm to 10 pm

  1. Marine Legislation Bill – Committee Stage
  2. Copyright (Parallel Importing of Films) Amendment Bill – Committee Stage
  3. Local Government (Auckland Council) Amendment Bill (No 2) – Committee Stage
  4. Arts Council of New Zealand Toi Aotearoa Bill – Committee Stage
  5. Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga Bill – Second Reading (continued)

The Marine Legislation Bill was introduced by Gerry Brownlee in August 2012. It would amend the Maritime Transport Act and  Exclusive Zone and Continental Shelf (Environmental Effects) Act to clarify port and harbour safety, and transfer the regulation of offshore discharges from Maritime New Zealand to the Environmental Protection Authority. A further Government SOP (347) allows certain marine activities to be non-notified if it has a low probability of significant adverse effects on the environment or is routine or exploratory in nature.

The Marine Legislation Bill passed unanimously on its first reading, was reported back unanimously by the Transport and Industrial Relations Committee with amendments and also passed the second reading unanimously. However SOP 347 is opposed by some parties.

The Copyright (Parallel Importing of Films) Amendment Bill was introduced by Craig Foss in July 2013. It would amend the Copyright Act to continue the ban on the parallel importation of films for three more years but to reduce the ban from 9 to 5 months.

The Copyright (Parallel Importing of Films) Amendment Bill passed its first reading 96 to 1, with Brendan Horan voting against and Greens, NZ First and Mana abstaining. It was reported back by majority vote without amendment by the Commerce Committee. Labour supported the bill with reservations and Greens opposed it. It passed its second reading by 104 votes to 14 with Greens, Mana and Horan opposed.

The Local Government (Auckland Council) Amendment Bill (No 2) was introduced by Chris Tremain in May 2013.  It would amend the Local Government (Auckland Council) Act to enable local boards to delegate responsibilities, duties, or powers conferred or allocated to them.

Local Government (Auckland Council) Amendment Bill (No 2) passed its first reading unanimously, was reported back unanimously without amendments by the Local Government and Environment Committee and also passed its second reading unanimously.

The Arts Council of New Zealand Toi Aotearoa Bill was introduced by Chris Finlayson in June 2010 and would replace the Arts Council of New Zealand Toi Aotearoa Act, simplifing structure of arts administration in New Zealand.

The Arts Council of New Zealand Toi Aotearoa Bill passed its first reading unanimously and was reported back with amendments by majority vote from the Government Administration Committee. Labour opposed the report back on the grounds that Pacific Island, Māori, ethnic and other marginalised groups such as those with a disability and children’s voices will be overwhelmed by the new structure of the proposed streamlined council. It passed its second reading by 72 votes to 49 with Labour, Greens and Mana voting against.

The Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga Bill was introduced by Chris Finlayson in October 2011. It would replace the Historic Places Act and make changes in the governance structure of the Historic Places Trust, adjust competing values, introduce new archaeological provisions and new emergency provisions.

The Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga Bill passed its first reading unanimously, and was reported back unanimously with amendments by the Local Government and Environment Committee.

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The Wellington City Council candidates

September 24th, 2013 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

While I don’t agree with all their views, I think Wellington City is well served by having a dedicated blog covering Wellington local government issues, WCC Watch. I do wish they were transparent on who runs the site (even if they with-hold names, they should disclose some information about who they are, their affiliations and motivations), but I find them reasonably balanced and less left-leaning than they were in 2010 (maybe different people in charge now).

Anyway they make it easier for me to review the Council candidates, as they have done it for me. So I can point to their reviews, and add in my own comments.

Let’s start with my ward – Lambton Ward.

I had previously said I would be voting for Nicola Young and Rex Nicholls and was undecided between John Dow and Iona Pannett for my third preference. Since then I’ve met John Dow and have to say am hugely impressed with what he has already achieved for Wellngton. He’s been involved in over a dozen major events and activities for Wellington ranging from the Wellington Gold Awards for business, the NZ International Arts Festival, the Wellington Phoenix, to events such as the a Vietnam Commemoration. He’s also worked on attracting businesses and visitors to Wellington.

While Iona has been a hard working Councillor, I reflected after meeting John that Iona’s list of achievements will probably include a fair number of things she has tried to stop such as better roads. I think there is a real contrast there.

So I’ll be ranking Nicola Young 1, and my top three preferences will go to Nicola Young, Rex Nicholls and John Dow. If you want a team of Councillors who can make things happen, rather than stop things happening, I’d urge people to give them your top three preferences.

I will still give Iona my fourth preference, which may still help her if one of the others does not make it.

Ian Apperley at Strathmore Park has also endorsed Young, Dow and Nicholls.

Next, we have Onslow-Western Ward.

Incumbents Jo Coughlan and Andy Foster should get returned. I think Jo is excellent, and she has done a huge amount around the Council’s economic strategy. Andy’s politics seem rather flexible at times, but one can’t deny he is hard working and effective.

WCC Watch suggests the third place is between Labour’s Malcolm Aitken, Simon Woolf and Hayley Robinson.

I prefer to keep party politics out of the Council. Those who stand on the Labour ticket are constitutionally bound to vote in accordance with directions of the Labour Party – either their policy manifesto, or their local body caucus/committee decisions. I don’t want Councillors who place the interests of their party ahead of the community they serve. Party politics is a necessary part of central Government, but is best kept away from local Government in my view.

I don’t really know Woolf or Robinson, but Woolf business background (the iconic Photography by Woolf) appeals to me, along with his very significant service to charities and sports.  I know little about what Robinson has done or even her current job if she had one. However Ian Apperley has endorsed her as “Sweet and a little nutty” but genuinely caring.

He has also endorsed Phil Howison, and I share that endorsement. I know Phil, and think he would be very fiscally responsible Councillor. A very smart guy who would be able to deal with pretty much any portfolio area.

Third is Northern Ward.

WCC Watch thinks the likely winners are Lester, Ritchie and Sparrow with Toner and Gilberd being contenders.

Justin Lester has generally been a good Councillor, and deserve re-election.

Helene Ritchie first got elected to Wellington City Council in 1977, the same year I believe Apple Computers was formed. I think it is well and truly time for some fresh blood there.

Malcolm Sparrow has a strong background with the Tawa Local Board and I agree is likely to win a place.

My pick for a new Councillor, and the one I would rank No 1, is Jacob Toner. Jacob has the benefits of youth and enthusiasm and as well as being sound on the core stuff such as keeping rates affordable, being job-friendly, has some nice lateral ideas such as the proposed hitching posts which I have previously covered.

Ian Apperley endorses Jacob Toner as No 1 and Malcolm Sparrow as No 2.

Fourth is Eastern Ward.

All three incumbents are standing again. I know Simon (Swampy) Marsh and Ray Ahipene-Mercer and endorse both of them as 1 and 2. Ray is a left-winger but a great example of someone who can work with people of different political persuasions. WCC Watch labels Simon as active and accessible and I think that are spot on.

The third incumbent is Leonie Gill. A very nice person who has been active in many campaigns in the past. She is standing for Labour though which as I say above, I don’t see as useful in local body politics. I think with her health challenges, retirement could be a blessing in disguise for her, but if she wins again am sure she will work as hard as she can.

Karuna Muthu is standing for Mayor also, and may get a boost from the profile associated with that, as is Rob Goulden. Muthu is very engaged with ethnic community groups, but also has a good business background.

Sarah Free is running an active campaign, and is standing for the Greens. I don’t object to their being Green voices in Council but if Labour and Greens get anywhere near a majority I think we’d become a backwater. However Ian Apperley endorses Free as well-balanced and pragmatic.

John Coleman looks quite promising also and WCC Watch rates him as in with a chance. He has been involved in the Wellington Wine and Food Festivals and is a well known restaurateur.

Finally we have Southern Ward.

Paul Eagle is one of their two Councillors, and gets great reviews from almost anyone Despite the Labour affiliation he should be returned. He will no doubt in time turn as as the next MP for Rongotai.

My main priority is getting rid of Bryan Pepperell who seems unable to play a constructive role in anything, and is quite ineffectual as a Councillor (rated lowest by the Wellingtonian). He also describes fluoride as poison.

So it is a choice between Ginette McDonald and David Lee from the Greens.

I would vote for McDonald. No, not because she was Lyn of Tawa and has a high profile (ut that will help her). But she is a very active member of the Southern community has done more fundraisers etc than probably anyone else who lives there. Her heart is clearly in the right place. There are concerns over how good a fit she will be in a Council that can spend hours on complex regulatory hearings and the like and Ian Apperley thinks she’ll hate it if she gets in.

I’d rank them Eagle 1, (Ginette) McDonald 2, and Lee 3 and Pepperell last or not ranked at all.

I will do separate posts on the Mayoralty, the DHB and the Wellington Regional Council.

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Ballot paper order

September 24th, 2013 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Brian Rudman writes:

Having failed to get elected in two earlier campaigns, the candidate previously known as Cheryl Talamaivao has wisely rethought her tactics. But deciding to elevate her position on the ballot paper by tacking her great-grandfather’s surname in front of her own may turn out to be something of an own goal in her bid for election to the Henderson-Massey Local Board.

As Brown-Talamaivao, she is now number six on the ballot paper, instead of the second-to-last at number 27 she would have been as plain Talamaivao. But the experts, in what in Australia is referred to as the “donkey vote” advantage, reckon that being second to bottom is a good place to be, and argue that candidates at the tail end of a long list of contenders share a similar advantage to those at the beginning, over the poor suckers stranded in the middle. …

The unfair advantage, in particular to those at the top of the ballot paper, is well studied and proven. The Local Government Commission examined the outcome of the 2007 New Zealand local elections and found that those listed alphabetically at the top of the ballot papers and candidate profile booklets “were up to 4 per cent more likely to be elected than those whose names were later in the alphabet”. Names like Anae, Brown, Brewer, Casey and Coney.

The commission also noted “a significant bias in favour of candidates in the left column of voting documents”.

A similar effect was found in an analysis of the 2010 Greater London local elections by City University researchers. After examining the fate of 5000 candidates, they found that “ballot position did indeed strongly influence the number of votes received by candidates”. There was evidence that “the strength of this effect is sufficient to overcome voter preference for party …”

I strongly support random ordering on ballot papers, and note that the online voting option to be trialed in 2016 may allow random ordering also, which would be beneficial.

Sadly far too many of our local body elections are not truly informed democratic votes. We need more wards, with fewer candidates per ward. I’d have every ward as a single Councillor ward so people are voting for just one Mayor and one Councillor.

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The PM and the Queen

September 24th, 2013 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

I’ve been trying to think of the last time a NZ Prime Minister (and their family) was invited to stay at Balmoral, and I can’t recall it ever happening before.

The Queen has had 14 New Zealand Prime Ministers during her reign, and according to media reports Key is the first to ever be invited. He even had the 87 year old Monarch drive him around the estate!

The UK PM does get invited regularly, but it is a first for a NZ PM, and I think possibly for an Australian or Canadian PM also.

The question is why was Key invited, when no other NZ PM has been? He is not the longest serving.

I think it is purely the strength of their personal relationship. I recall when in 2008 the Herald profiled Key and spoke to former colleagues and competitors. Despite working in a cut throat industry, no one had a bad word to say about him. Likewise in the job as PM, he has struck up warm personal (on top of the purely professional) relationships with Julia Gillard, David Cameron and it seems the Queen (and Prince William).

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More CV padding claims

September 24th, 2013 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Andrea Vance at Stuff reports:

The work history of new Labour leader David Cunliffe has come under scrutiny after claims from National party-aligned lobbyist Matthew Hooton.

In an interview with Fairfax Media this weekend Cunliffe said that as a business consultant he had “helped with the formation of Fonterra”.

However, Hooton, who was a communications consultant working on the merger, angrily rejected this, saying: “That was untrue.”

“David Cunliffe had nothing to do with the foundation of Fonterra.”

Cunliffe responded to the allegations this morning by tweeting: “Bollocks.”

So when was Fonterra formed?

The multinational corporation was formed in 2001 from the merger of New Zealand Dairy Group, Kiwi Co-operative Dairies, and export agent New Zealand Dairy Board.

Before entering politics in 1999, the New Lynn MP worked for Boston Consultancy Group in Auckland.

Hooton conceded the firm was involved in the early stages: “It is true that Boston Consulting had a supporting role.”  He claims it is “deeply implausible” Cunliffe was involved.

However, he said: “It’s absolutely true that sometime earlier in the 1990s, he might have done some dairy industry analysis. That’s entirely plausible, but to say that he helped with the formation of Fonterra is quite obviously a lie.”

Announcements about deregulation and reform of the dairy industry were made in the 1998 Budget.  There were secret negotiations throughout 2000 at a hotel in Auckland airport before the Fonterra proposal was made public.

“By that time David Cunliffe had been in Parliament for more than a year…and he’d been a Labour candidate for two years,” Hooton pointed out.

An industry player close to the deal, who did not want to be named, said that BCG had carried out early work for the dairy board in 1998 around creating a single company and Cunliffe may have been involved in that. 

But he said they were “shunted to one side” after that and were not involved in the 2000 talks. He said it was “embellishing” to say that Cunliffe was involved in the formation of Fonterra.

NBR also has some details (paywall) and says that any work done on models in the 1990s was quite different to the Fonterra model decided upon in the 2000s.

On the face of it, it looks like another case of padding. This is not where a claim is false, but exaggerated to make yourself look better. Many people of course do this on their CVs, but when you are auditioning to become Prime Minister of New Zealand, you face additional scrutiny.

Some people have suggested that the scrutiny is unfair and part of an attempt to knock Cunliffe down. I think they forget that John Key went through exactly the same thing in 2008.

The NZ Herald had reporters spend months investigating John Key’s background. They talked to former colleagues and acquaintances of Key’s from around the world. They eventually published their findings in a multi-page feature.


The portfolios

September 23rd, 2013 at 7:06 pm by David Farrar
  • ICT/Comms – Cunliffe has taken this himself which signifies he sees this as a major issue. As a former Minister he will bring his experience and knowledge to this area and will place pressure on the Government in areas such as the copper pricing review.
  • Tertiary Education – Grant Robertson gets this again, I think for the third time.
  • Police/Corrections – an unusual move giving these to Jacinda Ardern. Labour is perceived by most people as weak on law & order and hence they try to compensate by having tough speaking (if not acting) spokespersons such as Goff and Cosgrove. Will be interesting to see if Ardern makes more headway vs Tolley than she did with Bennett.
  • Social Development – Moroney got this off Ardern. She’ll be up against Bennett which will be a challenge for her
  • Foreign Affairs – Shearer takes this off Goff. Shearer will do very well in the portfolio, while Goff is sent a clear signal to retire.
  • Broadcasting – Faafoi picks this up off Curran. As a former TVNZ employee should do relatively well in the portfolio
  • Transport – given to the 25th ranked Fenton. I presume they are leaving this portfolio open for the Greens to run in a future Government
  • Arts, Culture and Heritage – this vital portfolio retains three Ministers – Ardern, Robertson and Fenton. So many functions to attend!
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The full Labour rankings

September 23rd, 2013 at 5:45 pm by David Farrar

Okay, here’s the full list, with the changes from current rankings:

MP Rank Change
Cunliffe 1 +23
Parker 2 +1
Robertson 3 -1
King 4 +2
Jones 5 +2
Ardern 6 -2
Cosgrove 7 -2
Hipkins 8 2
Mahuta 9 +2
Moroney 10 +3
Twyford 11 -3
Street 12 -3
Shearer 13 -12
Sio 14 0
Goff 15 0
Wall 16 +15
Little 17 +2
Mackey 18 +7
O’Connor 19 -2
Clark 20 -8
Lees-Galloway 21 +5
Faafoi 22 +7
Beaumont 23 +7
Woods 24 -4
Fenton 25 -9
Robertson 26 +7
Mallard 27 -6
Dyson 28 -5
Curran 29 -11
Prasad 30 -2
Huo 31 -4
Tirikatene 32 +0
Whaitiri 33 +1
Dalziel -12

Okay so who are the winners and losers.


  • Louisa Wall up 15 places to No 16. Well deserved. She did an excellent job getting a controversial bill through Parliament without great rancor.
  • Moana Mackey up 7. Also well deserved. Mackey has never been given a significant role and I rate her as an effective MP. Will never be a star but is solid,
  • Lees-Galloway up 5. As Junior Whip may end up senior whip if they make Government.
  • Sue Moroney up . As Senior Whip will be a key advisor to Cunliffe.


  • Clare Curran, down 11 to 29. Has lost her prized Comms/ICT portfolio but remains an Associate as consolation. However hard to see how she can hope for better than a Select Committee Chair if they win
  • Darien Fenton down 9 to 25.  Little Ministerial prospects for her also.
  • David Clark, down 8 from 12 to 20. This one is the shocker. Clark has been seen as one of the most promising of the 2011 intake and it is hard to work out why he got demoted so far, except presumably backing the wrong person.
  • Jacinda Ardern, demoted from 4 to 6 and no longer the highest ranked woman. Also lost Welfare/Social Development.

Overall not a huge shakeup in terms of rankings. Four biggish winners, four losers and a few move about a wee bit.

I’ll do a separate post on the portfolio changes.

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Cunliffe’s reshuffle

September 23rd, 2013 at 3:20 pm by David Farrar

The full list is not online, but here’s what I have as the major changes:

  • Ardern drops 2 to 6, loses Welfare
  • King up to to 4
  • Jones up 2 to 5
  • Twyford off front bench, from 8 to 11
  • Street off front bench from 9 to 12
  • Hipkins up from 10 to 8, keeps education
  • Mahuta from 11 to 9
  • David Clark massively demoted from 12 to 20
  • Moroney up from 13 to 10
  • Fenton dropped from top 20
  • Curran dropped from top 20, loses ICT to Cunliffe
  • Little up 2 from 19 to just 17
  • Mackey promoted to No 18 from 24
  • Wall shoots up from 30 to 16

Will do a more detailed post tonight.

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Corkery on drugs

September 23rd, 2013 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Pam Corkery writes:

The full horror of the Psychoactive Substances Act has landed.

More than 100 retailers are selling 28 brands of synthetic highs – with the blessing of 119 MPs who voted for insane legislation now implemented by the Ministry of Health.

This makes it sound like no retailers were selling no synthetic highs before this law change. Every drug being sold, was available with basically no restrictions prior to the law change.

Bowden has been allowed to buy a temporary licence to retail, import and manufacture synthetic highs, and is planning a pioneering factory on Auckland’s North Shore to keep them coming.

The rationale behind the interim legitimacy of the drugs is that working with Bowden and his fellow travellers will be more effective than prohibition at reducing harm.

No the rationale is that you just need to allow some time to get the testing done. Any new drug can not enter the market until tested, but those drugs which had already been selling legally for the last few years have a few months in which to get tested. This is much more preferable to the old law which meant they never ever got tested.

Some may argue we should have had a period of total prohibition before the testing regime starts, but consider that it is the fact that cannabis is prohibited that has led to demand for synthetic highs. Try banning those also, and God knows what you will end up with people using.

I firmly believe that the 119 MPs who voted for this law did so to show that they were liberal-minded, well-adjusted, down with the peeps, almost groovy.

How ridiculous. They voted for the law as they thought a law which decided if a drug was safe based on scientific testing was better than a law where whether a drug is banned is dependent on how many media headlines it generates.

They’re not. New Zealand doesn’t want these drugs. We’ve got more than enough already.

Who is this we? The fact there is such demand for them suggests there is a market for them. Now the irony is that it is because drugs like cannabis are banned, that you have created a demand for synthetic highs.

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