Labour members quit over “dirty” deal in Nelson

TVNZ report:

Eight Labour members have quit the party in protest over a proposed electorate deal with the Greens in Nelson.

It includes one supporter who held membership for 30 years and the campaign’s coordinator is also understood to have walked away.

One of those who quit said the members had emailed in their resignations – and the reasons – to the party.

“They were eight core people and they’ve walked away. They expected us to help the Greens… we’re not going to work for the Greens, bugger that.”
The ex-member said supporters were unhappy about how they learned about the proposed deal.

“It leaked out at the [annual] conference. One of the candidates was told by Andrew Little… people here are really angry.

“It doesn’t make any sense, the numbers don’t stack up. NZ First will just suck up all our numbers.”

National learnt in 1999 that local members really don’t like it if you don’t stand a candidate. They can tolerate a campaign focused on the party vote only, but they really feel aggrieved if there is no candidate at all to support.

If Labour does stand aside in Nelson, I expect they’ll get more resignations.

Is Key the bulwark against a Trump effect?

Geoffrey Miller and Mark Blackham write:

Our research in April this year into the working experiences of our Parliament revealed that the political class is increasingly estranged from ordinary voters.

We commented presciently at the time that the success of Donald Trump owed a lot to voter dissatisfaction with the staid politics of professional politics. We predicted that his brand of rabble-rousing and pomposity-pricking would find healthy support.

It looks to us that the New Zealand political environment holds the same conditions that had led to Trump’s success. The only difference is John Key.

Mr Key is the exception that proves the rule. New Zealand’s political environment is now largely a professionalised machine. A whole generation of MPs can no longer truly emphasise with many New Zealanders.

A third of New Zealand’s MPs have only ever worked inside the government system. Another third built no real career before they tried to get into Parliament.

The common path for many is student politics, backbench MP staffer, ministerial staffer, a spell in a union and then become an MP!

When Mr Key leaves, the inadequacies in Parliament will become clearer to voters. His common touch and relative frankness have been a buffer between Parliament and the public.

Mr Key is our own populist politician. Like Trump, he is wealthy and not a career politician.

Mr Key’s inherent anti-political nature frequently motivates him to behave in ways which we would not previously have expected from a prime minister. Examples of this include mincing down the catwalk in a Rugby World Cup uniform, dancing along to Gangnam Style and last year’s unsavoury ponytail incident.

In some cases, such as in the ponytail affair, MrKey has gone too far and ended up apologising for his actions. But generally, his non-conventional style and willingness to make fun of himself have helped him to stay astonishingly popular – despite being eight years into the top job.

Moreover, Mr Key appears to enjoy a particularly enduring appeal with New Zealand’s “Waitakere man” working-class voters. These voters feel Mr Key is one of them.

When Mr Key leaves, his populist touch will go with him, exposing the public to a parliament awash with careerist politicians who play it safe, deal in slogans and spin and have no way to forge a genuine bond with voters as Key has done.

Maybe Key should go for a 5th term after all then!

Greens don’t really get property rights

This exchange is very telling. The Greens seem to think that a tenant should have greater rights to a property than the owner and his or her family.

For the avoidance of doubt yes a tenant does have less rights to a house than the person who actually owns it. That is why it is called ownership!!!

No young people are not abandoning democracy in droves

This graphic has been going around and generating a lot of angst. A typical story is here at Stuff.

I was interested enough in this to download the raw data into SPSS and look at it. Lots of fascinating results which I might come back to. But two interesting things on this graph which the reports do not highlight.

The stories just report how many saying it is is essential to live in a democracy. But what were the other options? Is it a binary question of essential and not essential?

In fact it was a 10 scale question where people pick a number from 1 (not at all important) and 10 (absolutely important). So those not saying 10 may still be saying 8 or 9 which is still saying very important. What happens if you group those saying 8, 9 or 10 together?

  • 1930s – 94%
  • 1940s – 95%
  • 1950s – 87%
  • 1960s – 79%
  • 1970s – 75%
  • 1980s – 64%

So still a decline but not as dramatic as the graph shows.

The more important figure may be how many are saying 1 to 4 – that democracy is not important?

  • 1930s – 0%
  • 1940s – 2%
  • 1950s – 3%
  • 1960s – 4%
  • 1970s – 5%
  • 1980s – 6%

And the other thing to remember is the age breakdowns have a high margin of error. There were 89 respondents born in the 1980s. That is a 10.4% margin of error (for a result of 50%).

So yes younger people are less likely to say democracy is essential, but I don’t think the represents some massive disillusionment that has infected younger generations. I think it just reflects that few younger people vote until they get older, settle down, have a family etc.

UPDATE: I’ve now gone back and looked through their 1998 data from an older survey (the latest data is from 2011). This shows much the same pattern – that young people then were less positive on democracy. So this is not a trend, just an established pattern I’d say. The question in 1998 was a four point scale that having a democratic political system was very good, fairly good, fairly bad or very bad.  Those saying very good were:

  • 1930s 64%
  • 1940s 56%
  • 1950s 55%
  • 1960s 56%
  • 1970s 34%

Those born 1970s were roughly in their 20s in 1998 so comparable to those born in the 1980s in 2011. Again there is possibly some change from 1998 to 2011 but it looks to be minor at best.

In the 2011 survey 30% of those aged in their 20s said democracy was essential on a 10 point scale, choosing 10/10. In the 1998 survey 34% of those in their 20s said democracy was very good on a four point scale. Not much change.

Little on brink of losing his own seat

I’ve blogged the latest Roy Morgan poll at Curia.

It has Labour at 23% which would see them get just 28 MPs in a House of 120. As they hold 27 electorates it means on that poll they would get just one List MP – their leader Andrew Little. If they drop just 1% more, then Little loses his seat. Alternatively if they pick up one more electorate seat then again Little loses his seat.

Other List MPs such as Jacinda Ardern and David Parker are toast on this result.

It is always useful to compare polls to the same time period in the previous election cycle. So how are National and Labour placed in November 2013 and November 2016?

  • November 2013 – National 44.5% and Labour 34.0% for a 10.5% lead
  • November 2016 – National 49.5% and Labour 23.0% for a 26.5% lead

A huge difference. This is the second lowest poll result ever for Labour in the history of the Roy Morgan poll.

Leggett to stand for National

Tracy Watkins reports:

Former Porirua Mayor Nick Leggett has quit Labour for National and is putting his hand up to run against his former party in Mana at the next election.

Leggett was controversially slated by Labour leader Andrew Little during the Wellington mayoralty after he ran as an independent against Labour’s handpicked candidate, Justin Lester.

Leggett told Fairfax on Wednesday Labour had moved away from its loyal voting base and was no longer in touch with working Kiwis.

He will seek selection as National’s candidate in the Porirua seat of Mana, a Labour stronghold for years.

Labour is slowly getting rid of all the moderates. Shane Jones quit Labour as he no longer felt home there. Labour is now operates much the same spectrum as the Greens.

There are reports a deal with the Greens to stand aside in Nelson has fractured the local electorate, with as many as eight people said to have quit the party in protest.

Labour sources suggested to Fairfax there were more.

A Labour -Greens memorandum of understanding earlier this year opened the door to electorate deals and has caused deep disquiet within parts of the caucus and wider party.

Some see it as dragging Labour further to the left and opening the door to rivals NZ First in heartland New Zealand.

Three years ago in the TVNZ poll National was at 45% and Labour 34%. Today National is at 50% and Labour 28% as Labour continues its move to the left. But their support has not gone to the Greens who are 2% below where they were three years ago. The winner is Winston who has gone from 4% to 10%.

So Greens are losing support to Labour and Labour is losing support to National and NZ First. Great strategy.

Leggett had a high profile as Porirua mayor and has long links with the Labour party. He had been touted as a potential future leader previously.

He said he grew up “with Labour burned deep into my DNA” and both sides of his family were supporters.

But the party’s activists, staffers and MPs had become distant from the party’s voting base.

“They take their heartland for granted and sadly fail to understand the ambitions and challenges of working New Zealanders,’ Leggett said.

The deal with the Greens had finally convinced him the party was moving in a different direction to him.

As a social liberal, he now considered that National’s policies and values better reflected his own.

There’s quite a few issues where I disagree with Nick. He supports the living wage for local government etc. He is not in any sense of the word a right winger as Andrew Little calls him. But unlike Labour which seems to take joy in evicting people who are not ideologically pure, I think Nick would make a good contribution to a National caucus and Cabinet. You don’t have to agree with someone on every issue to want them on your team.

Lusk praises Labour MP

Simon Lusk writes in HB Today:

Subscription political service Trans Tasman gives MPs an annual rating. It weights the way MPs work in Parliament, often ignoring the hard work electorate MPs do in their electorates.

It also struggles to understand that MPs are whipped. No matter how much they want to raise their own profile, the party leader gets all the publicity, sharing a little with a few of the other front benchers. Back benchers are not permitted to grandstand at the expense of their leader.

These two realities mean that Ikaroa-Rawhiti MP Meka Whaitiri’s rating of 2/10 and comments show exactly how out of touch Trans Tasman is.

“Many outside of Parliament have never heard of her. Needs to change this, or she’ll be forgotten inside Parliament as well”.

Anyone who follows Meka on Facebook knows she travels huge distances in her electorate, which stretches from East Cape to Wainuiomata. She does the hard work in the electorate, meaning that her crucial constituency, her own voters, know her well. …

In world where Facebook is increasingly dominating as a news source, and may be the only news source many voters access that includes politics Meka is well known. She deserves credit for her hard work, advocacy for her constituents and her constant travel all over the electorate.

Even the briefest conversation with Meka shows she is a rare politician who thinks more than 36 hours ahead. She is well positioned for important portfolios the next time Labour is in Government, based on careful thought about the future.

Meka is a fine MP, doing the work many MPs shirk in her electorate.

Trans Tasman needs to get out into the real world a bit more to understand what makes a successful MP. It is doing the hard yards that gets you re-elected in your electorate. Meka has done this, and deserves the respect that comes from hard work in a large electorate.

There are not many MPs, let alone Labour MPs, that Simon would praise.

Vote Parmjeet and get Fia

Stuff reports:

A politician who believes in stigmata and thinks Donald Trump was “anointed” by God could have the most to gain from the Mt Roskill by-election on Saturday.

Labour’s Michael Wood and National’s Parmjeet Parmar will vie for the seat recently vacated by new Auckland mayor and Labour stalwart Phil Goff.

If Wood wins the seat, party numbers will remain unchanged in Parliament.

However, Parmar is already a list MP – so a win for her as an electorate MP means the next National list MP also enters Parliament. She is Mangere’s Misa Fia Turner.

National Party president Peter Goodfellow backed Turner and her beliefs as being suitable for Parliament.

In a statement, he said: “While Labour likes to attack people based on Chinese sounding names or exclude people with proud religious beliefs, like a lot of our friends in the Pacific community, National welcomes people of all ethnicities and cultures.”

Fia has strong religious beliefs, but National is a party that has wide diversity from devout Christians to staunch atheists.

Fia’s background is here:

Misa Fia Turner was born and raised in Samoa, and has lived in Mangere for nearly twenty years. She is a mother of four and grandmother of three.

She is the co-founder and Clinical Manager of ‘Malu I Uo Faatuatua Family Relationship Services, providing counselling, family therapy, clinical and cultural supervision, facilitation and mediation, training and mentoring. She is also Clinical Practice Manager for Genesis Youth Trust, a Police Youth Development Programme working with youth at risk and families with a focus on reducing youth crime and re-offending.

Amongst a wide range of community activities, Ms Turner is an active church leader and a member of the South Auckland Family Violence Prevention Network.

Another Labour e-mail gathering scheme

A reader e-mails:

Labour have started a petition for the 24/7 staffing of Geonet and Tsunami alert system.

What they don’t realise, and GNS were specific on this on the Radio, is that Geonet is already automated, and that the Tsunami Alert system is currently already 24/7, but a very manual task which is causing the confusion. What GNS want is to automate the Tsunami Alert system which ties it all together.

On top of that, Labour’s petition seems to be an email gathering scheme (again), where they make the “Hear more from Labour” really small and opt-out, which (again) is not standard best practice which should be opt-in.

So the petition misrepresents what the issue is!

Guest Post: You Just Don’t Get It, Do You?

A guest post by Mike Kirk:

The nice liberal minded commentariat just don’t get it.
Trump won because his voters (all 27% of the USA electorate) don’t care what respectable opinion says and they don’t bother with outraged, nancy-fied analyses of how terrible his rhetoric is. Trump voters felt that the Republican and Democrat parties had delivered bugger all to them, in terms of income gains, in the last 24 years.

The Democratic Party in particular suffered with “middle America” firstly because Clinton is unlikeable and also because they promise to support the working class (Americans call anyone not rich “middle class”) whilst undermining them by adherence to the same free market theocratic oath of the Tea Party. Globalisation ain’t popular any more.

The reality is, it never has been with most voters, most of whom would not be able to define what it means. People who don’t support free trade (read: free movement of capital across national borders plus Corporations right to move money and jobs to cheap labour spots with profits safe from nasty National taxation) are thought of as dinosaurs or called “populist.” Presumably this is because they appeal to the great majority in the USA (and Europe for that matter) who have seen the real value of their post inflation take home pay shrink for a generation.

The consequent deficit in consumer demand is the reason the Western world cannot break out of the post 2007 depression or what is referred to as “secular stagnation.” The gradual dawning on large swaths of the voters who find Trump appealing of the fact that the “system” is not working for them, has been a while coming. Trump ascribes blame to professional politicians, Corporations exporting jobs, Chinese cheating etc. But the reality is that governments in the USA have followed a consistent agenda favouring accumulation by Wall Street financialisation. Wage deficits have been filled by debt, and growth has become a function of ever growing debt.

Lots of Trump, Le Pen (in France) and UKIP voters (UK) are angry at what they see as governments favouring foreigners over natives, and political correctness.

Listening to my neighbour 18 months ago in the UK explain to me why she was going to vote Conservative, taught me a salutary lesson in why Left wing Parties no longer cut it. She complained bitterly about fellow workers shirking and benefit recipients who get help from the government when she was working her butt off. Notably, she did not complain about “the rich.” She had no ‘politics of envy.’
Trump won because he speaks plain English.. People in USA and Europe are sick of hearing nothing from politicians. “Nothing” meaning instantly forgettable, reasonable, evasive statements, a card-width different from what other parties say. The respectable Party spokesman are afraid to be honest and are totally out of touch with what 50% of their electorate believe. They have a code of having to be “correct” in relation to immigration, foreigners, Gay rights,etc. Many White folks are sick of being lectured on what is fair (equal opportunities etc) by those who are not competing with immigrants for work and not living in the same neighbourhoods. They feel that politicians favour the “other” over them and that when they complain, they are called racists. White male voters over 45 especially notice this: but remember Trump got 43% of white female voters too, despite media hoopla over his misogyny.

Trump is anti anyone who opposes whatever he is feeling from one day to the next. But he has an instinct for what the common man feels. No doubt he will do some flip-flopping in office. But he will spend more and tax less. USA debt will rise exponentially. This will (and has already ) raise interest rates in USA and world wide as more borrowing means more competition for debt funding . NZ rates were already rising before Trump won (not the OCR but what banks have to pay on the open market.) They are heading higher daily and stand 40% above where they were 3 months ago. The Reserve Bank cut the OCR last week (very bad timing.) The big 4 Aussie banks refused to follow and have been raising fixed rates for weeks. So the NZ Ponzi Auckland mortgage market will take the hit, whatever the soothsayers maintain.

However, the good news is that Trump will break the stagnation in the Western world economies and induce inflation, which of course is great for eroding debt (a subtle means of national default of course.) He might also decide to dethrone the Federal Reserve, which will no longer enjoy the obeisance of a US President who claims to represent voters. Trump wants to tear up-trade agreements. This will hurt China exports and knock NZ in turn. The nice commentators seem to think Trump will moderate in office. But Trump’s priority is the USA and stuff anyone else. Dictators don’t do moderation. Things are about to get very interesting.

GWRC wants taxpayer bailout!

Stuff reports:

Greater Wellington Regional Council (GWRC) chairman Chris Laidlaw has vowed not to let CentrePort fail and warned the government may be asked to invest money into the quake damaged port.

CentrePort saw extensive damage to its wharf assets in the November 14 earthquake, while the future of one of its major commercial properties, Statistics House, is unclear, after two floors partially collapsed.

No, no and no.

First of all the port company has not been concentrating on core business but has set itself up as a CBD rival landlord. Why should one landlord get a bailout over all the others?

Secondly there is no reason the port needs to be owned 100% by GWRC and Horizons Regional Council. Port of Tauranga is hugely successful without being fully Council owned.

If Centerport has made some bad decisions, then that is a matter for Centreport and their shareholders. If it needs more funding, then they should seek debt or equity from the private sector, not come running to taxpayers for a bailout.

A tale of two candidates

Interesting to compare the backgrounds of the two main candidates in Mt Roskill.

Parmjeet Parmar’s background is:

  • Bachelors and Masters in Biochemistry
  • a PhD in neuroscience
  • Scientist with published papers
  • Operations Director of a confectionery and natural health product manufacturing enterprise
  • Business owner
  • Worked as a broadcaster for 16 years
  • Chair of  NZ Sikh Women’s Association

Michael Wood’s background is:

  • Young Labour President
  • Labour local Campaign Manager
  • Labour candidate in Pakuranga, Botany and Epsom
  • Member of Puketāpapa Local Board
  • Member Labour Policy Council
  • Negotiator for Finsec union and Amalgamated Workers Union

Quite a contrast I thought.

What will the Maori Mana pact mean?

Richard Harman writes at Politik:

The Maori Party – Mana Party pact announced yesterday looks set to pave the way for Hone Harawira to return to Parliament.

At the same time the deal may threaten two of Labour’s brightest Maori stars — Kelvin Davis and Peeni Henare. …

Talking to POLITIK, Morgan said the aim of the two parties was to wrest all of the Maori seats off Labour.

That would involve each standing aside for the other in some seats.

He named Tamaki Makaurau and Te Tai Hauauru as two seats he believed the deal would bring to the Maori party while att he same time it is probable the Maori Party would not oppose Harawira in Te Tai Tokerau.

If that had been he case at the last election, and everybody who voted for the Maori Party instead votes for Harawira, he would have beaten Labour front bencher, Kelvin Davis, with an 1836 majority.

Similarly, if Man stood aside in Tamaki Makaurau where Peeni Henare is the MP and Te Tai Hauauru, then the Maori Party would have won both seats.

I’d be cautious of assuming that everyone who voted for the Mana Party candidate would have then voted for the Maori Party candidate and vice-versa. The Labour candidates would pick up some of those votes if one of the M parties was not standing.

I’d be surprised if Davis was at risk as he has had a high profile since returning to Parliament. But Labour could face issues in the other two seats.

Tony Alexander on if we have a NZ Trumpit

Tony Alexander from BNZ writes:

Could we see next year’s general election produce a very unexpected outcome, with voters gravitating strongly toward a party or candidate quite different from the incumbents and usual competitors?

Here are some arguments in favour of this not being the case in New Zealand. These are simply the thoughts of a macroeconomist and there are bound to many more points for and against an NZ parallel with Brexit and Trumpit that skilled sociologists, historians and political analysts could make.

Our labour market is strong with plenty of job opportunities. Not only is the proportion of the traditionally defined 15-65 working age population in work at a record high of 70.1%, it is massively above the US rate of 62.4% and the employment rate for Kiwis 65+ has jumped from 5.8% to 23.6% since 1998. Many people in the United States feel there is so little chance of getting a job that they are not even making themselves available for work. They are no longer part of the labour force. They have given up hope of advancement for themselves and their families and have felt disenfranchised by a leadership more focussed on issues of social equity than the economy.

That is a big difference – an extra 8% in the labour force.

We have a strong welfare system. In the United States they have food stamps, time-limited unemployment insurance, and minimum wages which range from $5.15 an hour to just over $10. The NZ minimum adult wage is $15.25. New Zealanders got rid of their perceived “nanny-state” government in the 2008 general election. Our MMP system for electing parliamentarians means disaffected voters can already gain representation. We do not have a society displaying the same depth of concern about immigrants – whether legal or not – as in the US and UK. It is virtually impossible for anyone to turn up in NZ unannounced.

There are some concerns over immigration settings, but unlike the US and EU we do have secure borders.

National’s Northland candidate

National announced:

Matt King has been selected by National to contest the Northland electorate at the 2017 General Election.

Mr King has lived in Northland most of his life. He is a farmer, fraud investigator, volunteer firefighter, and was previously a NZ Police Detective.

“I’m a proud Northland boy who has always called this place home, so it’s a thrill to be chosen. Now I’m looking forward to hitting the campaign trail and earning the right to be the strong, local voice Northlanders deserve,” Mr King says.

“I’ve been a tradesman, a police officer, a farmer and a businessman. Whether you’re running a small business in Kerikeri, farming in Kaeo or showing visitors around in a stunning spot like the Bay of Islands, I know our local communities and their needs well.

Meanwhile the MP for Northland continues to live in Auckland Central and just visit Northland from time to time.

The Red Pill – Wellington Screening

16From Warren Preiss:

I am part of a small group of people who believe the recently released documentary on the Men’s and Boy’s Human Rights Movement ‘The Red Pill’ by filmmaker Cassie Jaye is an important film for New Zealand screens.  Sadly it hasn’t been taken up by our cinemas, while at the same it is now selling out in cities such as London and Melbourne.   A group in Melbourne (who had yet to even see the film) attempted to prevent the film being shown there.

I created a givealittle project to fund a screening in Wellington in December.  Currently we are a third of the way to target.

Would you be interested in putting an entry on your blog about the film and our givealittle project to screen it in Wellington?

Posted for those interested.

Trotter on populism in NZ

Chris Trotter writes:

BRYCE EDWARDS AND JOHN MOORE have taken the country-and-western melodies of populism and over-dubbed them with their own revolutionary lyrics. But, the resulting songs will never be sung by populists. Revolutionaries, too, are unlikely to find the Edwards/Moore mash-up inspirational. In the final analysis, revolution should be about overturning and replacing the existing order. Populism, in almost every instance, is about restoring the old one.

This is a good point. Populists such as Peters and Trump love to hark back to the past.

Which brings us, of course, to New Zealand’s present prime minister, John Key. For Edwards and Moore, Key’s National-led Government is the establishment against which the flaming-torch-bearers and pitchfork-shakers of populism are massing menacingly. But in this they are, I believe, entirely mistaken.

Key and his government remain preternaturally popular because they represent, for a substantial plurality of New Zealanders, the most persuasive attempt, so far, at describing what the national community of twenty-first-century New Zealand looks like.

Key’s version of the national community is animated by the same virtues of resilience, hard work and self-sufficiency that characterised its earlier iterations. Wrapped around these core attributes are the traditional benefits of a happy family life, a “good” education, gainful employment and home ownership. Ethnicity, gender and sexuality only matter on “Planet Key” when they become a barrier to accepting the values and aspirations of the “average New Zealander”.

It was John Key’s promise to make the nation once again recognisable to the average New Zealander that propelled him and his party into office in 2008. Like another extremely wealthy businessman-turned-politician we are all learning to live with, Key’s message was one of restoration.

Helen Clark’s politically-correct, nanny-state establishment would be dismantled and replaced by the old order (tricked out for the punters in the glad rags of “a brighter future”). Busy-body public servants and the undeserving poor would be firmly but fairly put back in their proper places, and New Zealand’s “rightful rulers” would return to MAKE NEW ZEALAND [a] GREAT [place to bring up kids] AGAIN.

This is what Edwards and Moore cannot seem to see. That an “anti-establishment”, “authoritarian” and “nativist” government actually took office more than eight years ago. That the national/National community is an accomplished political fact. That Populism has already won.

Not sure I entirely agree, but an interesting analysis.

Seymour makes the case for tax cuts

Stuff reports:

Inflation is pushing people into higher tax brackets, stealthily boosting the Government’s revenue streams by over $2 billion since the last round of tax reforms.

The top tax rate now kicks in at $70,000.  Earning that much does not make you rich, indeed nearly half of New Zealand taxpayers will soon be taxed at the top rate. It’s no wonder the Government, having got past the recession and Christchurch earthquakes, is now forecasting fat surpluses over the coming years.

The Government boasts about its budget surplus, but ACT takes a different view. A surplus means the Government is overtaxing – taking more from taxpayers than it delivers in return. Yet that’s what’s happening – the $1.8 billion surplus for Government is a $1.8 billion deficit for taxpayers.

Clearly the Kaikoura earthquake recovery will require spending. We also need to start paying down government debt. But there is still plenty of room for tax cuts.

We could make sure the top tax rate only applied to truly high incomes – people earning over $100,000. That change would reduce the total surplus by $300 million, that is to say, barely put a dent in it.

An even better solution would tax cuts for every worker.  The truth is, we can afford to do this while maintaining (or even increasing) spending on core services.

I agree tax cuts are clearly affordable. It is not a case of “spending” all of the surplus on tax cuts, but at least having a portion of the surplus go on reducing the tax burden on families and businesses.

New parliamentary buildings proposed


Stuff reports:

NZ First has broken ranks over plans for a new office block to house government ministers and their parliamentary staff.

Parliament’s Speaker David Carter says Cabinet has approved in principal plans for a $100 million building to rehouse MPs and staff once the lease on Parliament’s Lambton Quay offices expires.

The lease is costing $6 million a year and Carter says it’s more  cost effective to build new premises.

NZ First would rather have the taxpayer pay $6 million a year rent to a foreign landlord rather than have Parliament own its own buildings!!

The current interest rates on Treasury bonds is just over 3% a year so the effective cost of the new buildings is $3 million a year. There will be operating expenditure also but looks like it will clearly be cheaper.

The plan involves the construction of a $100 million five storey, 8500 square metre building for MPs on the carpark behind Parliament House. There will be an air-bridge linking the new building to Parliament House.

The existing Press Gallery building, which is earthquake prone, will be demolished and rebuilt with two extra storeys added to it to house ministers.

Will the gallery go into the new building or will they regain their long ago treasured offices in Parliament House itself?

The Keytruda deal

A very good article by Stacey Kirk at Stuff on the negotiations between Pharmac and Merck over Keytruda. Well worth a read to see how vigorous the negotiations are, and how Pharmac gets good deals for the taxpayer by playing one drug company off against another.

What stuck me reading the article is how important it is that politicians don’t give in to lobbying campaigns to undermine Pharmac negotiations by promising to fund a drug regardless. Not only does it result in a bad outcome for that particular drug (taxpayers pay more for it than otherwise), but it undermine Pharmac’s ability to hang tough in other negotiations and incentivises more drug companies to focus on wining and dining MPs rather than negotiating with Pharmac.

The right to be forgotten

Article 19 writes:

Today, 23 November 2016 – ARTICLE 19, together with Human Rights Watch, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Open Net Korea, Derechos Digitales, Reporters sans Frontières, the Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic, the Center for Democracy and Technology, and PEN International, intervened in a case at the Conseil d’Etat, France’s highest administrative court, concerning the worldwide application of a national concept of “the right to be forgotten”. We urged the Court to consider international standards on freedom of expression when reviewing the case.

The so-called “right to be forgotten” usually refers to the possibility of having certain results, produced from an online search of one’s name, delisted from search engine results pages. In its 2014 decision, the European Court of Justice stated this should be done when such search results are ‘inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant’. Subsequently, Google adopted a practice of removing the contentious results from the European versions of their search engine, when they accepted delisting requests from users based in the EU. More recently, after the French regulatory authority for data protection (the CNIL) approved complaints from web users that the delisting was not sufficiently effective, Google decided to make contentious search results inaccessible to all web users located in French territory.

In a decision of 16 March 2016, the CNIL found the geolocation-based solution to implementing accepted delisting requests to be insufficient, and imposed a €100,000 fine on Google for restricting the removal of contentious results to only those web users based in France. In the CNIL’s view, the effective application of the “right to be forgotten” would require that the contentious search results be rendered unavailable to all web users, regardless of their location. In essence, this position is tantamount to having the French data protection authority determine what can be found on search engines worldwide.

The French decision is the worst in a long line of decisions.

First the European Court of Justice invented this right to be forgotten, which means the right to hide material on the Internet.

At first it applied just to European versions of Google – such as

Then they expanded it to all versions of Google, if someone is using a European IP address.

And finally the French authority declared that Google must remove mention of the material in every version of Google in every country.

Must be tempting for Google to just announce they are banning everyone in France from using any Google product until such stupid directives are repealed.

Key rejects gender quotas

Newshub reports:

Prime Minister John Key has dismissed calls for a gender-balanced Cabinet, calling the idea “stupid”.

Equal Employment Opportunities Commissioner Jackie Blue has called on Mr Key to follow in the footsteps of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who last year unveiled a Cabinet which was half female.

When asked why, Mr Trudeau simply replied: “Because it is 2015… The fact is, men should be lucky I only made it a 50 percent women Cabinet.”

Writing in the New Zealand Herald earlier this year, Dr Blue – herself a former National Party MP – said: “Until gender equality is normalised and becomes part of our DNA, unless women are intentionally included, the system will unintentionally exclude them.”

But her former boss disagrees, telling The Nation on Saturday “it would be stupid” to promise a gender-balanced Cabinet.

“I think if you went to our female ministers, of which we’ve got a tremendous group of talent – from Paula to Amy to Judith, you name them, Hekia, Anne Tolley, there’s just a bunch of very talented women in there.

“They are there because they’re immensely talented. Yes, it’s great that they’re women, and I think there should be balance.”

He told host Lisa Owen she didn’t get her job “because you’re a woman”.

“You’re here because you’re a good interviewer and you run a good show.”

Nice to reflect it back on the broadcaster and point out they don’t use gender quotas either.

You can be all for having greater diversity but also totally against having quotas which just reduce people to a single identity.