Business groups on the TPP

February 3rd, 2016 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Business and industry group leaders have lent their support to the Trans Pacific Partnership free trade agreement in an open letter to Prime Minister John Key.

In the letter they make the point:

NZ stands to gain significantly from TPP, which links 36% of global GDP, 812 million consumers and includes markets taking 40% of our exports …

It is inconceivable that NZ would allow our access to markets to be impaired and our competitiveness to decline by standing outside such an important agreement when our competitors are part of it.

Yet that is now official Labour Party policy.

The letter was signed by:

  • BusinessNZ
  • ExportNZ
  • NZ International Business Forum
  • Federated Farmers
  • Auckland Chamber of Commerce
  • EMA
  • Food & Grocery Council
  • Dairy Companies Assn
  • NZ Winegrowers
  • Horticulture NZ
  • American Chamber of Commerce in NZ
  • Beef + Lamp NZ
  • Medical technology Assn
  • ManufacturingNZ
  • Wellington Employers Chamber of Commerce
  • NZ US Council
  • NZ Port Company CEO Group
  • NZ Shippers Council
  • Employers Otago Southland
  • Health IT
  • ASEAN NZ Business Council
  • Japan NZ Business Council
  • Canada NZ Business Council
  • Latin America NZ Business Council

General Debate 3 February 2016

February 3rd, 2016 at 1:52 pm by Kokila Patel

Apologies for lateness

The limit for free speech

February 3rd, 2016 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

New Zealand’s “good character” requirements could stop the head of a pro-rape group entering the country.

The US-based head of a “neomasculinist” group – who has expressed support for Roast Busters in the past and advocates for legalising rape on private property – is setting up meetings for like-minded men across the globe on Saturday, including in New Zealand.

Advocating rape is when I think it crosses the threshold.

Technically he is advocating the legalisation of rape, rather than raping when it is illegal. But that is a very fine line.

I’m generally for allowing very offensive views to be aired in NZ – such as David Irving’s holocaust denial.

But just as you can’t yell “Fire” in a crowded theatre, advocating for rape crosses that threshold.

Unemployment drops to seven year low!!!

February 3rd, 2016 at 12:32 pm by David Farrar

Stats NZ reports:

The unemployment rate fell to 5.3 percent in the December 2015 quarter (from 6.0 percent), Statistics New Zealand said today. This is the lowest unemployment rate since March 2009. There were 16,000 fewer people unemployed than in the September 2015 quarter.

Unemployment fell for both men and women over the latest quarter, with the unemployment rate for men falling 0.5 percentage points (to 5.0 percent) and that for women falling 0.8 percentage points (to 5.7 percent).

“Although the number of employed people has risen, there was also growth in the number of people not participating in the labour market,” Ms Ramsay said. “This has contributed to labour force participation falling for the third quarter in a row.”

Over the December quarter, employment grew 0.9 percent, after falling in the previous quarter. This has resulted in annual employment growth of 1.3 percent.

This is good news for everyone except Andrew Little!

It’s probably a bit too good. The HLFS is a survey of 30,000 so has a margin of error. It is quite possible next quarter will see it rise up a bit again. But regardless still a great drop.

Annual wage inflation, as measured by the labour cost index, eased to 1.5 percent, the lowest since the year to the March 2010 quarter. This compares with low annual consumer price inflation of 0.1 percent.

So real wages have gone up 1.4%. Excellent.

The changes from a year ago are:

  • 32,000 more jobs
  • 35,000 more full-time jobs, 3000 fewer part-time
  • 10,000 fewer unemployed
  • Unemployment rate down 0.5%
  • Maori unemployment rate down 1.6%
  • Pasifika unemployment rate down 1.7%
  • 1,200 more manufacturing jobs (recall the manufactured crisis!)
  • 2.1% increase in hours worked
  • NZ has 10th= lowest unemployment rate in OECD, 1.3% below OECD average

O’Sullivan lashes Little

February 3rd, 2016 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Fran O’Sullivan writes:

It is difficult to understand why Little prefers the judgment of NGO activists over that of a former NZ Trade Minister who not only negotiated the ground-breaking bilateral China free trade deal but also finalised the Asean deal with New Zealand and Australia.

Frankly there is nothing responsible in Little’s positioning.

Successive New Zealand governments – and their negotiators – have worked hard indeed to bring global economic giants like the United States and Japan and frankly protectionist nations like Canada into an Asia-Pacific agreement.

This is no mean feat.

New Zealand vision and leadership has been to the fore in securing TPP.

The reality is it had earlier proved impossible for New Zealand to forge separate bilateral agreements with these three countries as NZ was simply too small, too insignificant and not of sufficient strategic importance for these much bigger nations to bother.

This is a trade agreement that we initiated. It was not pushed on us. We managed to get the US to come on board, and also now Canada and Japan. It is a significant achievement. The TPP is far from perfect but it is clearly a net gain for NZ to be part of it, and we’d lose out badly if we were not part of it.

Labour MPs like Clayton Cosgrove and Stuart Nash will also be seething at their leader’s stance. Sure, they will cover it up in public – no-one wants to be dumped down the greasy pole of Labour’s political rankings by taking issue with their leader publicly.

There are a number of very unhappy MPs in Labour over this.

New Zealand has a proud record of bipartisanship when it comes to pursuing our advantage on the world stage: not just the many preferential trade agreements which successive National and Labour Governments have negotiated; but also our role in deepening global trade by taking a pro-active role in promoting major giants like China and Russia to successfully join the World Trade Organisation; promoting leaders like Helen Clark, Don McKinnon and Mike Moore to achieve high international office, and, securing NZ’s role on the Security Council.

NZ in opposition has always stuck to this bipartisan record, and up until recently so had Labour.

Watkins on Waitangi

February 3rd, 2016 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Tracy Watkins writes:

Remember when Titewhai Harawira used to be one of the reasons politicians stayed away from Waitangi?

You reap what you sow, as they say. On Tuesday, Harawira phoned with a personal appeal for Prime Minister John Key to attend the traditional Waitangi Day commemorations at the trouble-plagued Te Tii Marae.

But if Key stays away it will be because he’s sniffed the winds of public opinion as Waitangi threatens once again to descend into conflict and acrimony  – and judges that voters have had a gutsful of the annual Te Tii Marae sideshow setting the tone for our only national day.

No, if he stays way it will be because they voted 38 – 14 not to invite him.


Winners and Losers in Iowa

February 3rd, 2016 at 7:36 am by David Farrar

The Washington Post looks at the winners and losers in Iowa:


  • Ted Cruz – won despite 2nd in polls
  • Marco Rubio – came close to beating Trump and now leading “establishment” candidate
  • Clinton – needed to win, and did – just
  • Sanders – lost by only 0.2%, shows he is in for a longer game


  • Donald Trump – his campaign is based on he is a winner, and he lost
  • Martin O’Malley – withdrawn after a humiliating 1%
  • Jeb Bush – a pitiful 2.8% after so many millions spent
  • Jim Gilmore – got 12 votes!!

We should start to see the Republican field narrow soon – maybe not before New Hampshire but probably before Super Tuesday.

Cruz and Clinton leading

February 2nd, 2016 at 3:54 pm by David Farrar

Hillary Clinton has a narrow lead of 51% to 49% over Sanders in Ohio with 67% reporting. That gap has been closing but I’d say she’ll hang on.

On the Republican side Cruz is 29%, Trump 25% and Rubio 21%. Cruz’s lead has been expanding. Only 57% reporting.

How is this compared to the polls:

  • Clinton 51% vs 48% in polls
  • Sanders 49% vs 45% in polls
  • Trump 25% vs 31% in polls
  • Cruz 29% vs 24% in polls
  • Rubio 21% vs 17% in polls

If Clinton holds on, then she’ll lose New Hampshire but start winning all the stats after that.

The GOP side is more interesting.

Trump’s whole campaign has been about he is the best and is beating everyone and everyone else is stupid. How he copes with a loss will be fascinating.

Cruz will be delighted with a win and will try and win over anti-establishment votes from Carson and eventually Trump.

Rubio will be pleased to do better than polling, and I suspect we will see some candidates drop out in the next month and endorse him.

UPDATE: Cruz has won on 28%, Trump 24% and Rubio 23%. One the Democratic side it is a squeeker – Clinton is ahead 629 to 626 (equivalent state delegates) with 10% still to report. Sanders may beat her yet.

Day off for the PM!

February 2nd, 2016 at 3:18 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Prime Minister John Key will be blocked from going on Te Tii Marae.

Marae elder Kingi Taurua has confirmed the final decision was made not to invite Mr Key onto the marae at a hui today.

“They put it to the vote and the vote decided it, not to allow him on.”

Excellent. PM gets a day off.

As the marae has decided they no longer want the Government to attend, I presume they no longer want money from the Government for any activities at the marae!

UPDATE: Radio NZ is reporting that he has been invited on. But possibly not allowed to speak. I guess all will become clear in time! It may be that Ngapuhi have voted one way, but the marae the other.

If I was the PM, I’d not turn up. He has said he’ll attend whenever invited, but they appear to have voted that they don’t want him there. There are thousands of others places in NZ that do welcome him, and welcome the opportunity to debate issues with him.

UPDATE2: TVNZ reports:

Ngapuhi representatives spent the day locked in talks at Waitangi.

A vote was held this afternoon on whether Mr Key should be blocked. The result was an overwhelming 38-14 in favour of stopping him from coming on to the marae.

But Te Tii elder Emma Gibbs then told ONE News those from the marae had overruled the decision and he would be welcomed on – but wouldn’t have speaking rights.

Ngapuhi elder Kingi Taurua reacted angrily to that claim and said in fact Mr Key would be blocked.

Ms Gibbs says as locals, they will continue to welcome anyone on to the marae, even if others disagree.

Again, there are many other places you can go.

Rhodes stays

February 2nd, 2016 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Dan Hannan writes in The Telegraph:

With some embarrassed throat-clearing, Oriel College has announced that it won’t, after all, be tearing down the statue of its controversial Victorian benefactor, Cecil Rhodes. A small knot of angry students had been demanding that the offending stonework be removed, because they suffered “violence” every time they had to walk past it. Rhodes, they said, was a racist, an imperialist and a symbol of colonial oppression.

Unbelievably, instead telling them to mind their own business, the authorities at my former college launched a consultation exercise about what to do with the statue. The wholly unsurprising answer came back, from students and former students of all ethnic backgrounds, that the statue should stay. Most Orielenses understood, even if the protesters didn’t, that accepting a bequest in 1902, and honouring the benefactor, doesn’t mean endorsing his opinions today.

Exactly. Should we tear down the statues of George Washington because he owned slaves?

James Delingpole also writes:

The #RhodesMustFall campaign by loony entitled race hustlers to topple a statue of Cecil Rhodes at Oriel College, Oxford,  of one of the university’s most generous benefactors has failed.
Donors were so furious at Oriel College’s cowardice in the face of this student activism that they threatened to withdraw millions of pounds in bequests.

Right decision; wrong reason.

The Oriel College authorities could have said no to #RhodesMustFall because it was orchestrated by a bunch of chippy, ungrateful, politically correct, spoilt, vexatious, posturing bullies with connections to some of the most viciously unpleasant elements in the cess pool of South African politics.

They could have argued that Cecil Rhodes was a man of his time and that it’s quite ludicrous to judge a hero of the Great Imperial Age by the standards of the age of safe spaces, “Islamophobia” and Caitlyn Jenner.

They could have stood up for the principle that students may come and go but the fabric of the University and the generosity of its benefactors must remain inviolate from wanky posturing by early twentysomethings whose frontal lobes haven’t been properly formed.

Instead, though, Oriel College’s decision was motivated not by high principle but by terror and desperation at losing so much money.

Oxford University is no the institution it once was. They should have just ignored the radical activists, rather than give them legitimacy. The end result is Oriel College looks silly.


Herald backs Greens costing policy

February 2nd, 2016 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald editorial:

Amid the fanfare surrounding Labour’s education policy release at the weekend, it should also be acknowledged the Green Party has made a good start to the year, with a proposal that is reasonable, moderate and financially responsible.

The suggestion an independent unit should be set up within Treasury to provide costings of each party’s election policies is one the Government will find tough to turn down.

Much as it might like to, social policy initiatives from the Opposition can easily be dismissed as fearfully expensive without reliable figures – Labour’s free tertiary plan being a timely case in point.

Labour have a long history of under-estimating the costs of policies – interest free student loans and KiwiSaver ended up costing many times more than they originally said it would.

I support an independent costing agency, but one has to realise that there will always be assumptions which are debatable.

To cost Labour’s education policy, the first step is to work out what would be the cost if the Government paid all the tertairy fees for current students, instead of lending them money for them. That is quite easy to do, and uncontroversial.

The harder part is calculating how many more people will enrol if tertiary education is free. Labour say they think there will be a 15% increase. I think this is massively low. Tertiary providers will be able to earn $15,000 or so if they can sign up any adult who has never been to university (or other tertiary). They’ll be going through rest homes convincing retirees to enrol in courses.  It could well be a 100% increase.

An independent costing agency will have to try and make a “best guess”. This may be based on what has happened in other areas when something is made free – for example what increase has there been in public transport use by retirees since they got free travel. They may be able to look overseas. But even Treasury in the past has vastly under-estimated the cost of policies such as Kiwisaver and interest free loans. Humans respond massively to incentives, and this policy provides huge incentives to providers to sign people up.

The public would be best served if once a policy was submitted to the unit its findings were automatically made public.

Parties might not welcome the risk, and might withhold some proposals from an evaluation, but that would do nothing for their credibility.

The agency should be subject to the OIA.


Maori businesses see TPP gains

February 2nd, 2016 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Some Maori business leaders say there are risks with the Trans Pacific Partnership, but people should look at it again to see the benefits it offers for the Maori economy. …

The Maori economy has been estimated at $40 billion and Auckland lawyer Paul Majurey, chair of the Hauraki Collective, said Pare Hauraki’s fishing and aquaculture assets would benefit and the trust was supportive of the deal.

It already exported to China and Japan and the TPP would open access to Japan where fish products faced stiff tariffs.

The agreement would also allow Maori to form partnerships with investors from those countries, as happened under the China FTA.

He said there were risks and it was natural Maori would be concerned about sovereignty and the erosion of Treaty of Waitangi rights.

“There are issues and question marks with any international agreement that involves our sovereignty.”

He said the TPP protected the Treaty and reserved the right to protect rights to traditional knowledge and plants, according to the Wai 262 finding. …

Traci Houpapa, the chair of the Federation of Maori Authorities (Foma), said the TPP had obvious benefits for Maori exporters and businesses and that would flow through to communities.

She said New Zealand could not miss the chance to sit with global heavyweights such as the US and Japan, and hoped consultation on the agreement over coming months would provide Maori with assurances about the Treaty partnership.

“People are wanting assurances that partnership is in place and isn’t impacted by the TPP.”

She was comfortable that other trade agreements had upheld the Treaty.

“And our expectation is this Government will do the same,” she said.

She said New Zealand was the only country with protections for indigenous rights in the trade agreement.

Yep as I previously blogged, NZ is the only country that got indigenous rights protected in TPP, and the wording in TPP is near identical to the China FTA that Labour signed.

Clark vs Rudd

February 2nd, 2016 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Malcolm Turnbull’s Australian cabinet may overturn a commitment given by former Prime Minister Tony Abbott to back Helen Clark for Secretary General of the United Nations if she becomes a candidate, according to The Australian newspaper.

The paper revealed that Mr Abbott and Prime Minister John Key committed in letters to conduct a joint strategy to promote Ms Clark as the successor to Ban Ki-Moon whose term ends at the end of this year.

But that commitment looks set to be compromised by two factors: Mr Abbott did not consult his Foreign Minister, Julie Bishop, before giving the undertaking to Mr Key.

And former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has made it known he is interested in the job.

Ms Clark has not publicly expressed her interest in the job but it is an open secret she would like it and Mr Key would not have been seeking Australia’s help without her consent and private ambition for the post.

Mr Key has publicly expressed strong backing for her, should she put up her hand.

I think it is good that the NZ Government will back Clark for the job. I do wonder though whether a Labour-led Government would be so supportive of a former National PM. I suspect not.

According to The Australian, the letter Abbott wrote to Mr Key said Ms Clark would prove “a strong voice at the top of the United Nations” and that she had “the leadership, management skills and purpose to drive the United Nations forward for the benefit of the entire international community.”

If Mr Rudd sought the post, Australia would be obliged to support him.


Kevin Rudd was sacked by his own caucus and colleagues because he was impossible to work with. Why on Earth would the Australian Government think he could be Secretary-General of the UN – a job where good relationships are critical.

Sure it was a “friend’s” bike

February 2nd, 2016 at 10:57 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Cycling was being forced to confront a new controversy on Sunday after the sport’s head confirmed the first top-level case of “technological fraud” with a hidden motor being found on a Belgian cyclist’s bike.

You have to admire the ingenuity of the cheats, if not their ethics.

Yet the 19-year-old Van den Driessche denied suggestions she had deliberately used a motorised bike in the women’s under-23 race and was in tears as she told Belgian TV channel Sporza: “The bike was not mine. I would never cheat.”

Not yours, but you rode it in a competition.

Van den Driessche said the bike looked identical to her own but belonged to her friend and that a team mechanic had given it her by mistake before the race.

Most cyclists know their bikes as well as themselves. What is the chance of a genuine mistake? Around the same as the chance that there just happened to be a bike around that was identical to her bike in looks, but had a secret motor inside.

Why would anyone but a professional cyclist have a secret motor in a bike?

“It wasn’t my bike, it was my friend’s and was identical to mine,” Van den Driessche told Belgian TV channel Sporza.

“This friend went around the course Saturday before dropping off the bike in the truck. A mechanic, thinking it was my bike, cleaned it and prepared it for my race.”

Can she name the friend? And again the only reasons you have a secret motor in a bike is to cheat. There is no real innocent reason for one.


Why the Sevens are dying

February 2nd, 2016 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Westpac Stadium’s boss is defending the enforcement of drinking rules at this year’s rugby sevens, after claims security was heavy-handed.

Some of a group attending yesterday’s first day were turned away at the gate by security staff, after they were breath-tested.

They’re breath-testing people coming into the stadium. And you wonder why no one wants to go. It used to be fun.

Stuff also reports:

Wellington Mayor Celia Wade-Brown said the weekend’s event had been “excellent”, and she judged the increased family focus a success.

Organisers had tried to boost crowd numbers by moving the event to earlier in the year, offering cut-price tickets and incentives for families to bring children, she said.

Bringing kids?? It’s a two day event. I doubt many parents want to have tired and grumpy kids with them at the Sevens.


The Sevens is dying, and it is self-inflicted. What was a legendary Wellington event has been killed by the fun police.

Socialism working well

February 2nd, 2016 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

The Washington Post reports:

The only question now is whether Venezuela’s government or economy will completely collapse first.

The key word there is “completely.” Both are well into their death throes. Indeed, Venezuela’s ruling party just lost congressional elections that gave the opposition a veto-proof majority, and it’s hard to see that getting any better for them any time soon — or ever. Incumbents, after all, don’t tend to do too well when, according to the International Monetary Fund, their economy shrinks 10 percent one year, an additional 6 percent the next, and inflation explodes to 720 percent. It’s no wonder, then, that markets expect Venezuela to default on its debt in the very near future. The country is basically bankrupt.

Chavez, the hero of the left is dead but his legacy lives on.

That’s not an easy thing to do when you have the largest oil reserves in the world, but Venezuela has managed it. How? Well, a combination of bad luck and worse policies. The first step was when Hugo Chávez’s socialist government started spending more money on the poor, with everything from two-cent gasoline to free housing. Now, there’s nothing wrong with that — in fact, it’s a good idea in general — but only as long as you actually, well, have the money to spend. And by 2005 or so, Venezuela didn’t.

Spending money you don’t have.

Why not? The answer is that Chávez turned the state-owned oil company from being professionally run to being barely run. People who knew what they were doing were replaced with people who were loyal to the regime, and profits came out but new investment didn’t go in.

A good reason for Governments not to own businesses.

Even triple-digit oil prices, as Justin Fox points out, weren’t enough to keep Venezuela out of the red when it was spending more on its people but producing less crude. So it did what all poorly run states do when the money runs out: It printed some more. And by “some,” I mean a lot, a lot more.

The policy Russel Norman was promoting – just print more money.

It turns out Lenin was wrong. Debauching the currency is actually the best way to destroy the socialist, not the capitalist, system.


There’s a good reason for that. Venezuela’s government has tried to deny economic reality with price and currency controls. The idea was that it could stop inflation without having to stop printing money by telling businesses what they were allowed to charge, and then giving them dollars on cheap enough terms that they could actually afford to sell at those prices. The problem with that idea is that it’s not profitable for unsubsidized companies to stock their shelves, and not profitable enough for subsidized ones to do so either when they can just sell their dollars in the black market instead of using them to import things. That’s left Venezuela’s supermarkets without enough food, its breweries without enough hops to make beer, and its factories without enough pulp to produce toilet paper. The only thing Venezuela iswell-supplied with are lines.

This is the NZ under Muldoon that some people think were the good old days.

And it’s only going to get worse. That’s because Socialist president Nicolás Maduro has changed the law so the opposition-controlled National Assembly can’t remove the central bank governor or appoint a new one. Not only that, but Maduro has picked someone who doesn’t even believe there’s such a thing as inflation to be the country’s economic czar. “When a person goes to a shop and finds that prices have gone up,” the new minister wrote, “they are not in the presence of ‘inflation,’ ” but rather “parasitic” businesses that are trying to push up profits as much as possible. According to this — let me be clear — “theory,” printing too much money never causes inflation. And so Venezuela will continue to do so.

Looks like Venezuela is going to go the way of North Korea.

Quote of the week

February 2nd, 2016 at 8:00 am by TaxpayersUnion

“Congress can raise taxes because it can persuade a sizable fraction of the populace that somebody else will pay.” 

– Milton Friedman

The quote of the week is brought to you by the New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union. To support the Union’s campaign for lower taxes and less government waste, click here.

General Debate 2 February 2016

February 2nd, 2016 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel

Young on Little’s worst week

February 2nd, 2016 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Audrey Young writes:

This past week, without doubt, has been Little’s worst week as leader.

It began with uncertainty over Labour’s TPP position and ended in disunity.

I wrote last week that this will be the year we see whether Little has merely papered over the cracks in Labour or if he has plastered over them to make them watertight.

I didn’t realise we’d get the answer so quickly. It’s definitely a paper job so far.

When Labour staffers or MPs start leaking e-mails to Matthew Hooton, you know there is serious dissent.

It means his party has ended the bipartisan approach to free trade that has effectively operated since the fourth Labour Government started removing tariffs.

Labour has taken a gamble in dispensing with the prevailing orthodoxy.

With four of the last six Labour leaders supporting TPP, it makes Little’s sales job to the public all the harder.

Yes tell us Andrew why Helen Clark is so wrong when she said it would be unthinkable to not be part of such a huge trade agreement?

Air NZ’s Luxon on the flag

February 1st, 2016 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Luxon spent 16 years living overseas and several years in Canada during the Canadian flag referendum.

In 1965 when they changed their flag, there was a lot of the same debate that was now happening in New Zealand.

“One of the things was, is the maple leaf and in our case, the silver fern, an overused logo or emblem. The reality is it has become a singular identifier of Canada and all Canadians and I think in many ways the silver fern will work like that for us here as well.”

Luxon said Canada’s transition was quite messy but that was the nature of such debates.

Countries like Canada with its maple leaf and Japan with its rising sun were easily identified by their iconic flags and Luxon said the fern was on par with those global icons.

“We’re in a world of 196 countries, 7.3 billion people. As a person who has spent 16 years living overseas and leads a company that does a lot of export business, I just think it helps us stand out a little bit better,” he said.

I doubt 1% of the world could recognise the NZ flag as representing New Zealand. However I’d say the maple leaf flag and rising sun flags have massive recognition globally as the flags of Canada and Japan. We have a chance to have our national symbol of the silver fern fly on our flag around the world. Or we can stick with a flag that like 30 others has a union jack on it.

Garner on Key and Labour

February 1st, 2016 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Duncan Garner writes:

How on earth can Labour beat John Key?

This thorny question must have totally consumed Labour’s MPs at their recent caucus retreat.

I can’t imagine any back-slapping took place. More back-stabbing. After all, what is there for them to celebrate?

A sunny January?

Whether you like Key or not you have to concede that he’s one smart, pragmatic holder of the vast but crucial Centre ground.

And Labour’s only helping him by looking divided and hopelessly confused over the controversial trade pact, the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement.

No less than four former Labour Party leaders support the TPPA: Phil Goff, Mike Moore, Helen Clark and David Shearer.

They’re in the prime minister’s camp as leader Andrew Little takes his caucus towards the Greens.

Yep Labour once again shifts left.

The truth is, if John Key is a rabid Right-winger he’s disguised it well. He just wants to stay in power.

And Labour’s doing its best to help him by looking shabby, confused and divided.

This belated anti-TPPA posturing – too feeble and too late in the game – feels contrived and lacking in conviction.

I don’t know what Labour really stands for these days, and I’m sure, Goff, Moore, Shearer and Clark are struggling to answer that question too.

Labour is the gift that keeps on giving. Especially for Key.

Helen Clark must shake her head and wonder.

Dispelling TPP myths

February 1st, 2016 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Both Charles Finny and Stephen Jacobi dispel some TPP myths.

Finny in the Herald looks at the false information abut TPP and the Treaty:

Former MP Hone Harawira has stated some complete falsehoods about Trans Pacific Partnership, Maori and the Treaty of Waitangi.

This coincided with publication of a paper by “experts” Dr Carwyn Jones, Associate Professor Claire Charters, Andrew Eruti and Professor Jane Kelsey on “Maori rights, Te Tiriti O Waitangi and the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement”.

Days later several Maori elders spoke negatively about the TPP at Ratana and were joined by a bevy of political leaders.

This criticism of the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) forced me to reread a big chunk of the TPP and previous free trade agreements and to study every element of the criticisms being levelled against the TPP and Maori.

My conclusions are radically different from the critics’. I believe that rather than being inadequate in its protections for Maori, TPP is if anything a taonga in the way it protects the rights of the New Zealand Government to discriminate in favour of Maori.

This in turn, I think, adds enormous mana to Maori.

Finny has actually read the TPP, and he makes the point NZ is unique in getting protection for the indigenous people in there:

TPP is an agreement between 12 countries. Pretty much all the 12 jurisdictions are home to indigenous minorities – for example, the First Peoples of the United States, Canada, Mexico, Peru, Chile, the Aboriginal people in Australia, the Malays in Singapore and Malaysia, and the Ainu in Japan.

Yet none of these peoples is mentioned in the main text of the deal and none of their Governments has secured agreement from the other members that they should be allowed to discriminate in favour of them.

And further:

TPP’s protection of the Treaty goes even further than earlier FTAs. It states “the parties agree that the interpretation of the Treaty of Waitangi, including as to the nature of the rights and obligations arising under it, shall not be subject to the dispute settlement provisions of this agreement.” This means it is entirely up to New Zealand to determine if any discrimination has occurred because of the treaty (so long as this is not a disguised restriction on trade).

I am frankly amazed the US and others have agreed to this provision. Our ministers and officials have done a great job achieving this. All Maori should be saying: “Well done!”


This image shows the China FTA Treaty clauses and the TPP Treaty clauses.  Again the difference is Labour are just sulking because they didn’t conclude the TPP.

And on the wider TPP issues, Stephen Jacobi responds to Andrew Little’s letter on the TPP:

I agree that the dairy aspects of TPP are not as good as they could have been and as we had hoped. But they are in the view of the negotiators and the dairy industry the best that could have been achieved in the circumstances. Dairy still benefits more than any other sector from tariff cuts in key markets and the establishment of new tariff quotas. The meat deal – specifically beef to Japan – is a significant market opening about which the industry has welcomed. Without this we will not be able to compete with Australia which already has an FTA with Japan. To call the rest “not much” is a serious underestimation – tariff reductions and/or elimination for horticultural products including kiwifruit, wine, wood products and seafood cannot so easily be dismissed. Addressing tariff and non-tariff barriers for manufactured products such as health technologies and agricultural equipment is also significant.

And he deals with Little’s claim one of their bottom lines was not met:

Labour’s clearly signalled “bottom-line” for TPP was it should provide for restrictions on land sales to non-resident foreigners. This is possible under TPP: a future Government could if it wished apply a stamp duty or other tax to restrict these sales. Opinion is divided on whether an outright ban could be introduced, but there is a ready alternative to meet Labour’s policy position.

Labour could set 100% stamp duty of sales to foreigners. They could set it at 10000%. It’s a different method to achieve the same result.

TPP does provide for our partners to make their views known on any measure which may be introduced that could have an impact on trade. But these provisions are far from “unheard of”. They are already enshrined in the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and other FTAs concluded by Labour including the China FTA. They are what make it possible for New Zealand to be consulted on changes affecting our exports to other markets such as subsidies under the Farm Bill or a discriminatory labelling or levy system. Importantly these provisions retain the right of the Government to continue to regulate: the Government may have to listen to the views of trading partners but not necessarily heed them. Bottom line is we do this already and have been doing so for years now.

Almost every international agreement has a provision about consultation, such as the Antarctic Treaty.

Little- “For instance we would have to let Carlos Slim, the wealthy Mexican telecom company owner, vet any regulation of our telecommunications industry.”

Not quite. The Government is required to publish notice of its proposed changes as it does in the Official Gazette, but not advise everyone personally. Mr Slim may offer comment if he wishes. The Government still decides.

So basically the requirement is to publish things in the Official Gazette. This is so trivial, I can’t believe Labour are seriously citing this as a major issue.

The reality is Labour are only against TPP because National concluded the negotiations. If they had been Government they would have got the same deal (or worse) and would be proclaiming it as a great success, as they did with the China FTA (which they did and was). They’re just sore losers because they’re in opposition.

Aussies still flowing in

February 1st, 2016 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Stats NZ reports:

Annual net gains from Australia continued to increase, with 800 migrants in the December 2015 year. This was the highest net gain since the October 1991 year, and the third month in a row to show an annual net gain of migrants from Australia.

That’s net migration inwards of 27 people a day from Australia. It used to be net migration outwards to Australia of 110 a day.


As you can see we have both twice as many people migrating from Australia, but also only half as many migrating to Australia.

My submission to the euthanasia inquiry

February 1st, 2016 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar


About the Submitter

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

Status Quo

  1. At present it is legal for people to end their lives, but illegal for anyone to assist with this.
  2. While active euthanasia (an active step to end life) is illegal, passive euthanasia (withholding treatment that could prolong) is legal and not uncommon

Quantity of life vs Quality of life

  1. It is a general aim of individuals, society and government for life to be as long as possible, and as happy as possible. We only live once, so it is absolutely normal to try to have both good quantity and quality of life.
  2. The issue is when quantity and quality of life come into conflict. There are frequent situations where the quality of life can become so intolerable, that decisions have to be made about trade offs.
  3. As a general principle I believe that if someone is of sound mind, they are best placed to decide for themselves whether to trade quantity of life for quality of life. The quantity traded may be just a few days, or it may be longer.


  1. If someone of sound mind has decided for valid reasons to end their life, it should not be a criminal offence to assist them, so long as a proper process is followed.


  1. Any law to allow assistance should regulate a process to ensure that the person wanting to die is of sound mind, and that this is verified.
  2. Currently passive euthanasia occurs with no regulatory oversight. Based sometimes on just verbal discussions, decisions are made to with-hold treatment that could extend life. I in no way suggest this has ever been abused, or doctors not acted in the best interest of their patients. But having no regulation in this area means that we can’t be certain.

Advanced Directives

  1. While euthanasia is generally associated with those terminally ill, it also has relevance for others who have degenerative conditions.
  2. For example, those who have Huntington’s Disease. HD has no cure and destroys both the mind and body until the person can’t move and has dementia.
  3. The awful choice for people with Huntington’s Disease who wish to avoid being unable to move or think can be to kill themselves at a relatively early stage unaided, as they may lose the ability to do at a later stage.
  4. The result of our current law is that they may (and do) end up killing themselves many years before they start to lose quality of life. A law allowing them to know they can be assisted to die when their quality of life diminishes unacceptably may actually extend their life by many years.

Possible Abuse

  1. Many people are concerned about the potential for abuse of a law which allows people wanting to die to have assistance.
  2. Ideally any system would have safeguards so there are no false positives – that there is no chance of someone being assisted to die, who genuinely doesn’t want to and it isn’t a result of pressure or manipulation.
  3. But there is no system that can give 100% assurance. Just as there is no system that gives us 100% assurance with food safety, with successful operations, with car safety etc.
  4. We have a criminal justice system based on the belief that it is better to let 100 guilty people go free, than one innocent person go to jail. However, we know that sometimes an innocent person is sent to prison. This is not an argument for having no criminal justice system – it is an argument for having rigorous safeguards.
  5. A sensible analysis should look at the risk of abuse vs the benefits a law change will have on those who are genuinely suffering and would welcome assistance if they wish to die.

January Public Polls

February 1st, 2016 at 11:00 am by David Farrar


The January Curia newsletter is out. The summary is:

Curia’s Polling Newsletter – Issue 93, January 2016


There was one political voting poll in January – a Roy Morgan.


The average of the public polls has National 19% ahead of Labour in January, down 1% from December. The current seat projection is centre-right 59 seats, centre-left 51 which would see the Maori Party hold the balance of power.

We show the current New Zealand poll averages for party vote, country direction and preferred PM compared to three months ago, a year ago, three years ago and nine years ago. This allows easy comparisons between terms and Governments.

In the United States as voting in primaries is about to start Donald Trump leads by 7% in Iowa, 215 in New Hampshire, 16% in South Carolina and 14% in Nevada.

On the Democratic side Clinton leads by 4% in Iowa, Sanders by 13% in New Hampshire and Clinton by 30% in South Carolina.

In the UK there is only a 6% chance of a Labour-led Government.

In Australia since the accession of Malcolm Turnbull, the Coalition has maintained a strong lead over Labor, with an election due within the year.

In Canada despite gloomy economic news, a plurality of Canadians think Canada is heading in the right direction.

We also carry details of polls on US ship visits plus the normal business and consumer confidence polls.

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