Labour abandons 20 years of support for free trade

March 26th, 2015 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

NewstalkZB reports:

Labour is set to initially back a New Zealand First Bill that would legislate against a potential crucial clause in the Trans Pacific Partnership free trade deal.

Fletcher Tabuteau’s Bill would negate the ability of foreign companies to sue Governments over law changes that harm their business.

Labour Leader Andrew Little says they will support the legislation at its first reading as they have concerns about investor state dispute proceedings.

This is a massive shift in policy for Labour, putting them firmly on the extreme left. They have a proud legacy of supporting trade agreements but they are saying they will vote for a bill which would basically guarantee NZ would never ever get to sign another free trade agreement.

This is not just about the proposed TPP. Investor state clauses are now very standard in trade agreements. And they are about protecting NZ companies also. You may recall that the NZ Super Fund is suing the Portugal Government over the fact they treated the money invested by the NZ Super Fund differently to other investors in a bank. Without such provisions, then NZ companies can get treated differently.

The reality is Labour has signed trade agreements with investor state provisions. They are now voting for a bill that would have made such agreements impossible. This is again not a minor shift – this is a major reversal of 20 years of pro-trade policies from Labour.

The ASEAN FTA was negotiated by Labour and concluded in August 2008 and has investor state provisions.

The China FTA negotiated by Labour has investor state provisions.

The Thailand FTA concluded by Labour in 2005 has investor state provisions.

The Singapore FTA concluded by Labour in 2000 has investor state provisions.

So Labour signed FTAs with these provisions from their first year in office to their last year in office. They are totally standard in FTAs.

Their new policy to support a bill banning any trade agreements with them, is a de facto policy to never again sign a free trade agreement, and to walk away from all the trade agreements they concluded in Government. It’s pathetic pandering to the far left.

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Northland poll

March 25th, 2015 at 9:40 pm by David Farrar

I have details at Curiablog of the 3 News Northland poll. Key findings are:

  • Peters 54%, Osborne 34%
  • National’s bridge upgrade pledge – 74% say it is a bribe but 58% want the bridges
  • 48% say Peters can’t be trusted and 43% say he can be

So two lots of semi-contradictory results. Most Northlanders say they don’t trust Peters but they will vote for him.

And most Northlanders say they think the proposed bridge upgrades are a bribe, but nevertheless they want them.

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Overseas driver crash data

March 25th, 2015 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

To try to find out, we compared the percentage of fatal and serious crashes where overseas drivers were at fault with the percentage of all New Zealand vehicles that were rental cars driven by tourists.

The analysis found that overseas drivers show up in crash numbers during the tourist season at about nine times the rate they show up on the road.

This is slightly useful data, but limited.

The better comparison would be crash rates per million kms travelled.

Many NZ drivers only use their car for driving to work, so drive perhaps 10 kms a day, and at relatively slow speeds which almost by default can not result in a serious or fatal accident.

On the other hand tourists may be driving 200 to 300 kms a day, on open roads.

I suspect that even if you adjust for this, the tourist crash rate would be higher. The better you know the roads you drive on, the safer you tend to be.

However I doubt it would be anything as dramatic as the 9:1 the Press has calculated.

Comparing crash rates for people driving from one end of NZ to the other, with people driving across town to work is not that useful.

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Food in Schools

March 25th, 2015 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Minister of Local Government Paula Bennett says she expects parents to send their children to school with lunch.

National, ACT and United Future parties have voted down the Feed the Kids bill by 61-59 which sought to feed 20 per cent of New Zealand’s lowest decile school children.

“It absolutely is the right thing to do. We provide breakfast into any school that wants it and this is being taken up which is great, but we believe in parental responsibility and I stand by the decision we made,” Bennett says. 

Meanwhile Labour Justice Spokesperson Jacinda Ardern says of course it’s the role of parents to feed their kids but some parents cannot afford to feed their families.

We have a very generous welfare system. We pay benefits to people not in work, we give support to families with children, we help with childcare and we even have emergency grants for unexpected expenses.

The vast majority of low income families manage to send their kids to school with lunch. A couple of sandwiches is a very low cost – a dollar or so. If kids are being sent to school without lunch, it is far more likely an issue of parenting.

“Food in schools is not the answer to poverty, but it is a short term solution that means kids will at least be guaranteed a meal at school, which will help with their learning. Surely that means it’s the the right thing to do,” she says.

It would not be a short-term solution. Beyond doubt it would become entrenched, and never ever cease. In fact beyond doubt more and more families would stop sending their kids to school with lunch (as taxpayers are paying for a free lunch at school), and this would be seized on as proof it is needed more and more.

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A rare judicial review application by the Govt

March 25th, 2015 at 2:02 pm by David Farrar

Normally private sector bodies take judicial reviews against the Govt, but in a rare move the Government is seeking a judicial review against the  Institute of Professional Engineers of New Zealand (IPENZ).

Stuff reports:

The Government has lodged a legal challenge against a decision not to investigate the Christchurch engineer involved in the failed CTV building design.

The Government has applied before the High Court to seek a judicial review of the decision by the Institute of Professional Engineers of New Zealand (IPENZ) to drop its investigation into Alan Reay’s role in the design of the CTV building.

Building and housing minister Nick Smith said the decision to drop the investigation into Reay after he resigned from IPENZ was flawed. 

“We want the decision overturned and IPENZ to complete the investigation into the professional conduct of Dr Reay’s role in the design of the CTV building.”

“We owe it to the memory of those who lost their lives to hold those responsible to account for the building’s flawed design, and to ensure every possible lesson is learnt by the engineering profession to minimise the future risk.”   …

“It is important that we clarify the law as to whether a professional can avoid disciplinary proceedings by simply resigning. Completing the IPENZ investigation will also be important in clarifying the professional standards expected of a senior engineer supervising the work of a more junior engineer,” Smith said.

Resigning to escape a disciplinary hearing is a cop out, especially when the issue at hand was the collapse of a building killing scores.

Good to see the Government taking action on this.

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Paid lunch breaks?

March 25th, 2015 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reported:

Cotton On appears to have backed away from plans to strip workers at its Auckland distribution centre of their tea breaks, but their union says it is not yet convinced the war has been won.

Don’t you love the emotional term “strip”.

All that happened is the employer put forward a proposal. Unless the union agreed to it, it couldn’t occur.

The union wanted to preserve the current entitlement to a 15 minute paid tea break and a 30 minute paid lunch break and he was not clear from Cotton On’s statement that both would be retained.

Staff get a paid lunch break??

This is a first for me. I don’t know of any other employer that pays you over your lunch break. Tea breaks yes, but not lunch breaks.

The union ran screaming to the media about the employer’s proposal. Ironically if the employer did the same, they’d be fined by the Employment Court for a breach of good faith. But do you note we were never told exactly what the employer proposed. Just emotional rhetoric over stripping breaks.

If Cotton On employees are getting paid lunch breaks, they’re doing better than most employees. Have you ever worked for an employer that pays your wages over your lunch break? I’d be genuinely interested to hear.

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Parliament 25 March 2015

March 25th, 2015 at 12:09 pm by David Farrar

The order paper is here.

Oral Questions 2.00 pm – 3.00 pm

  1. PHIL TWYFORD to the Minister for Social Housing: What reports, if any, has she received about the Salvation Army saying it felt pressured into carrying out expensive, time-consuming research on buying unwanted state houses because the Government repeatedly referred to the charity as a likely buyer?
  2. DARROCH BALL to the Minister for Social Development:Does she stand by her statement, “Every child has the right to be safe from abuse and neglect and these guidelines will help us build a stronger culture of child protection across New Zealand where the safety and security of children is paramount.”?
  3. JAMI-LEE ROSS to the Minister of Finance: What reports has he received on progress the New Zealand economy is making in reducing its external debt position?
  4. JACINDA ARDERN to the Minister of Internal Affairs: How will his decision to cut funding by $392,000 a year to the specialist non-fiction service provided by the National Library affect access to educational resources for rural schools?
  5. Dr PARMJEET PARMAR to the Minister for Social Housing:What are the next steps in the Government’s social housing reform programme?
  6. Dr RUSSEL NORMAN to the Minister for Climate Change Issues: Does he stand by the Prime Minister’s answer that it is “misinformation” that New Zealand’s net greenhouse gas emissions have increased by 20 percent between 2008 and 2012; if so, by what percentage did New Zealand’s net greenhouse gas emissions increase between 2008 and 2012?
  7. SIMON O’CONNOR to the Minister of Health: What reports has he received in relation to the increased funding for cochlear implants announced in Budget 2014?
  8. Dr DAVID CLARK to the Minister for Economic Development: When did his officials first learn of SkyCity’s desire for a public funding top-up in order for the International Convention Centre to meet the Preliminary Design specifications?
  9. MATT DOOCEY to the Minister for Small Business: How are small businesses benefiting from the Better for Business – Result 9 Programme?
  10. Hon RUTH DYSON to the Minister of Education: What further advice, if any, did she receive that led to her decision to consult on the closing of Redcliffs School, following the advice she received from geotechnical experts in September last year that “with the mitigation measures in place, the risk from rockfall is considered to be no higher on the school grounds than on any site remote from the Port Hills”?
  11. JAN LOGIE to the Minister for Workplace Relations and Safety: Does he agree with the previous EEO Commissioner Judy McGregor’s statement on aged care that “The sense of crisis that surrounds aged care is partly a reflection of our collective knowledge that we are not being fair and that a large group of workers is being discriminated against.”?

One missing question, which means a party failed to put in a question.

National: Four patsies on NZ debt, social housing, cochlear implants and and small business.

Labour: Four questions on social housing, National Library, Sky City and Redcliffs School

Greens: Two questions on climate change and aged care

NZ First: One question on child abuse

Government Bills 3.00 pm to 6.00 pm and 7.30 pm to 10.00 pm

Taxation (KiwiSaver HomeStart and Remedial Matters) Bill – committee stage

The bill amends the KiwiSaver Act 2006 and the Income Tax Act 2007 in relation to withdrawal of member tax credits for KiwiSaver members purchasing their first home and “corrections” to the tax, social policy, and KiwiSaver treatment of income replacement payments for some veterans and other claimants.

Introduced: December 2014
1st reading: December 2014, passed without dissent
Select Committee report: March 2015, supported without dissent
2nd reading: March 2015

There is no time limit for the committee stage but as an uncontroversial bill, is unlikely to take long.

Social Security Amendment Bill (No 3) – committee stage

The Bill corrects the effects of a Social Security Appeal Authority decision that weekly compensation payments made by employers accredited under the Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) accredited employer schemes do not count as ACC payments, and hence a deduction.

  • Introduced: November 2010
  • 1st reading: April 2011, passed 110-10 with Greens and Chris Carter against
  • Select Committee report: May 2011, supported without dissent or amendment
  • 2nd reading: February 2015, passed 95-25 with Greens and NZ First against

There is no time limit for the committee stage. It is unlikely the debate would be greater than three hours.

 

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Clarkson to be sacked

March 25th, 2015 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

The Telegraph reports:

Jeremy Clarkson is to be sacked as Top Gear presenter after a BBC investigation concluded he did attack a producer on the programme.

Lord Hall, the Director General of the BBC, is expected to announce his decision on Wednesday after considering the findings of an internal investigation.

Clarkson, 54, will be thanked for his work on the hugely popular motoring show, but will be told such behaviour cannot be tolerated at the Corporation.

That’s $150 million they are waving good bye to.

I suspect there will be huge bidding from other TV channels to hire Clarkson (and May and Hammond) for a new motoring show.

An idea of how popular Clarkson is, is reflected in this story:

But, unlike the great Indian leader or votes of women campaigners, her protest isn’t to do with the British occupation or gender injustice, but to get Jeremy Clarkson back on Top Gear.

Presumably missing sections of the show such as ‘Star In A Reasonably Priced Car’, Cameron is promising she won’t eat until the suspended host is brought back.

“Nancy has threatened to go on hunger strike unless Jeremy Clarkson is restored,” David Cameron told the BBC.

Nancy is 11 years old and obviously a devoted fan.

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The NZ-Korea FTA

March 25th, 2015 at 11:19 am by David Farrar

Some details of the recently agreed free trade agreement between Korea and NZ:

  • New Zealand exporters to that market currently pay NZ$229 million a year in duties.  Tariff reductions under the FTA mean New Zealand exporters will save an estimated NZ$65 million in duties in the first year.
  • Duties on New Zealand’s current exports will largely be eliminated within 15 years of entry into force.
  • Kiwifruit exporters currently face a tariff of 45 percent on their exports
  • Beef exports face duties of 40 percent
  • At the end of the FTA phasing period around 98 percent of New Zealand’s exports will enter duty and tariff free

Note that New Zealand First are promoting legislation that would stop the FTA with Korea. NZ First have opposed almost every major trade agreement NZ has signed.

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Harmful Digital Communications goes to committee stage

March 25th, 2015 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

A new law to stamp out cyber bullying has passed through another parliamentary stage.

MPs debated the second reading of the Harmful Digital Communications bill on Tuesday night. It will create a new offence of sending messages or posting material to cause harm, punishable by up to two years in jail or a $2000 fine. 

Inciting someone to commit suicide will carry a maximum three-year jail sentence.

National and support partners United Future, ACT and the Maori Party voted for the legislation. 

But the bill has critics – including Labour and NZ First. There are concerns the new law will limit free speech, and may criminalise teenagers with harsh penalties.

The law also goes much further than proposals in Australia and the UK, which are less punitive.

Labour’s Clare Curran says she supports the intent of the bill – and cyber bullying is “horrible.”

But the legislation is poorly drafted and there was no input from young people, she added.  Labour are willing to work with Justice Minister Amy Adams with any amendments at the next committee stages.

United Future leader Peter Dunne said he had raised “major concerns” about the bill with Adams and cannot guarantee his support at the next Parliamentary stage.

He said there may be some amendments from the Government which will allay fears, but won’t confirm his vote until he has seen them.

“I have given no commitment to support the Bill beyond the second reading, in view of the concerns that have been expressed, and pending the government’s response to those concerns,” he said.

His concerns centred on “criminalisation and law of unintended consequences…concerns about scope of coverage, and enforceability.”

The bill as currently drafted is quite flawed, and I hope the Government does make changes at the committee stage.

The bill addresses a very real problem, but sometimes the cure can be worse than the problem.

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Another panelist quits

March 25th, 2015 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Another member of the Auckland Council Ethnic People’s Advisory Panel has resigned, and the Herald understands at least two of the nine remaining panellists are on the verge of quitting.

Kafeba Pergoleze Alvis Mundele, one of only two on the panel who also served in the previous term, tendered his resignation at the weekend.

His resignation follows that of panel chairman Feroz Ali, who quit last week saying the panel was a “token” body, had no real status and that he was unhappy about what it was costing ratepayers.

Excellent. If they all quit, then easy to abolish the costly panels.

“As a pastor and someone who works with the refugees, he was very concerned about how much money the council was wasting on running this panel … which is pretty much just a joke, really.”

Abolish the panel, and split the money saved 50/50 into rates reduction and a community project.

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General Debate 25 March 2015

March 25th, 2015 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel
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Medals saved

March 25th, 2015 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Maggie Barry has announced:

Arts, Culture and Heritage Minister Maggie Barry is pleased Dambuster Les Munro’s medals and other items will be staying in New Zealand.

Mr Munro has accepted the generous offer of British philanthropist Lord Ashcroft to donate £75,000 to the Bomber Command memorial in London, in return for Mr Munro gifting the medals and logbooks to the Museum of Transport and Technology (MOTAT) in Auckland.

The UK auction house which was to have sold the medals, Dix Noonan Webb, has also generously waived all fees and expenses on the understanding the MOTAT will pay £10,000 to the Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund, which is caring for the memorial.

“I’m delighted Mr Munro has accepted Lord Ashcroft’s offer, which is a win-win for all concerned, with extra funds available to ensure the memorial in London is well looked after,” Ms Barry says.

“Mr Munro is a true New Zealand hero and I congratulate everyone involved in safeguarding this heritage for future generations of Kiwis who can remember the bravery of the men of the Dambusters and Bomber Command.”

Les Munro is indeed a hero, and a very selfish selfless one.

We owe out thanks to him, and also to Lord Ashcroft whose generous donation meant the medals stay in NZ, and the Bomber Command Memorial gets a larger donation than would have been the case if the medals were auctioned.

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What a game!

March 24th, 2015 at 11:31 pm by David Farrar

The last 15 overs were not enjoyable but that second to last ball was!

The score the Black Caps needed was equivalent to around 350 in a 50 over game which is huge for a follow on. They played so well.

But credit to South Africa and their fielding. Some magnificent saves, but thankfully also a missed catch or two.

It was a clash of titans, and would have been a worthy final.

Talking of the final, if we win on Sunday I reckon Monday should be declared a public holiday!

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Rakiura Track Day 2

March 24th, 2015 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

RAK0020

Saturday is a 13 km inland walk from Port William to North Arm.

RAK0021

Around an hour into it, there is a site which has two old log hauling machines at it. They were abandoned around 100 years ago.

RAK0022

One of the downwards sections on the track. Not much walking on the flat, but nothing too steep. Maximum climb in any one section is 200 metres.

RAK0023

Crossing a stream.

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The halfway tree is where we stopped for lunch.

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The woods reminded me of the movie “Into the Woods” I saw in January.

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The back balcony for North Arm Hut.

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The main entrance. Two bunkrooms and a dining area.

RAK0027

And once again a spectacular view from outside the hut. We got there around 2 pm (five and a half hours) so enjoyed several hours in the sun. The only hassle was the bumble bees!

 

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Winston promises a cannabis referendum – for around five minutes

March 24th, 2015 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

NZ First leader Winston Peters promised to hold a referendum on legalising marijuana while campaigning for the Northland byelection, but rapidly backtracked on it straight afterwards.

Mr Peters was holding a street meeting in Kaikohe when a man asked whether he would legalise marijuana.

Mr Peters replied: “you want to legalise marijuana? I’ll tell you what I’ll do. I’ll give you a referendum and if the answer is yes, the answer is yes. I’ll give you a vote on the referendum and if the answer is no, it’s no. Yes if you’ve got the majority, no if you haven’t. That fair enough? Wonderful.”

Asked about it later he denied he was supporting any such proposal or putting up a referendum himself, saying his comments were simply the shorthand required on a campaign trail. “I didn’t say ‘I’m going to give you the referendum. I said our policy is a referendum and if you want one, you’ve got to go and get one.”

Pretty clear what he said. Peters is a master of saying and promising pretty much anything.

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NZ vs SA

March 24th, 2015 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Like (hopefully) most of NZ, I’m watching the world cup semi-final against South Africa. Use this thread for updates and discussion.

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1 pm 30 March 2015

March 24th, 2015 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

If you currently have a third level .nz name such as kiwiblog.co.nz please be aware that if you have preferential rights to that name at the second level (ie kiwiblog.nz) then you ONLY have until 1 pm on Monday 30 March to register or reserve that name with your preferential rights.

After 1 pm, ANYONE can register your name at the second level, if you have preferential rights to it and do not exercise them.

I have registered kiwiblog.nz, but if I had not then ANYONE else could register it after 1 pm on Monday 30 March.

If you wish to check the status of any names you have, go to anyname.nz. Just enter in your current names and it will tell you whether or not you have preferential rights to the second level version. If you do, you can then either reserve that second level name free of charge for two years at that site – or you can register it for use through your registrar.

But again you only have until 1 pm on Monday the 30th to reserve or register it with preferential rights. After that time it is first in and first served.

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Parliament 24 March 2015

March 24th, 2015 at 12:19 pm by David Farrar

The order paper is here.

Oral Questions 2.00 pm – 3.00 pm

  1. TIM MACINDOE to the Minister responsible for HNZC: What are the objectives of the Government’s social housing reform programme?
  2. ANDREW LITTLE to the Prime Minister: Does he stand by his statements that his plan to sell state houses “is not about selling to developers” and he would be “amazed” if the likes of the Salvation Army were hesitant to get involved?
  3. METIRIA TUREI to the Minister responsible for HNZC: Can he rule out selling Housing New Zealand-owned homes to private developers; if not, will any sale be contingent on developers housing low-income or vulnerable tenants in those homes?
  4. ALASTAIR SCOTT to the Minister of Trade: What progress has the Government made in opening up export markets for our regional economies?
  5. DENIS O’ROURKE to the Minister for the Environment: Does he agree with the Northland Regional Council’s 2012 State of the Environment Report that “large areas of land with prime soils suited for agriculture and horticultural production continues to be subdivided for lifestyle blocks and urban development”; if not, why not?
  6. GRANT ROBERTSON to the Minister of Finance: What advice, if any, did he receive from the Treasury on the Government policy to double-lane ten Northland bridges?
  7. SARAH DOWIE to the Minister of Transport: What progress has the Government made on its Accelerated Regional Roading Programme?
  8. DAVID SHEARER to the Prime Minister: Does he stand by his quote regarding Hon Tim Groser’s bid to be Director-General of the World Trade Organisation that if “he decided to put his name in the ring then the New Zealand Government would give him 100 percent support”; if so, precisely what support did the Government provide to Mr Groser?
  9. STUART SMITH to the Minister for Communications: What are the latest towns to be fully fibred under the Government’s Ultra-Fast Broadband programme?
  10. SUE MORONEY to the Minister for Workplace Relations and Safety: Does he agree with the Prime Minister’s assertion that we will “absolutely not” see thousands of workers denied their tea breaks under his changes to the Employment Relations Act 2000?
  11. Dr KENNEDY GRAHAM to the Minister responsible for the GCSB: Is the spying on candidates vying to be the Director-General of the World Trade Organisation an appropriate use of the Government Communications Security Bureau?
  12. JONO NAYLOR to the Minister of Commerce and Consumer Affairs: What is the Government doing to help small businesses raise funds?

National: Five patsies on social housing, exports, roading, fibre, and small business.

Labour: Four questions on social housing, Northland roads, GCSB and workplace relations

Greens: Two questions on social housing and GCSB.

NZ First: One question on Northland.

Government Bills 3.00 pm to 6.00 pm and 7.30 pm to 10.00 pm

Statutes Amendment Bill (No 4) – third reading continued

The bill makes changes to 34 Acts.

  • Introduced: May 2014
  • 1st reading: April 2014, passed without dissent
  • Select Committee report: July 2014, supported unanimously with amendments
  • 2nd reading: March 2015, passed without dissent

A provision relating to travel perks for former MPs has been dropped, following objection from the Green Party.

The debate has up to 80 minutes remaining.

Taxation (KiwiSaver HomeStart and Remedial Matters) Bill – second reading

The bill amends the KiwiSaver Act 2006 and the Income Tax Act 2007 in relation to withdrawal of member tax credits for KiwiSaver members purchasing their first home and “corrections” to the tax, social policy, and KiwiSaver treatment of income replacement payments for some veterans and other claimants.

Introduced: December 2014
1st reading: December 2014, passed without dissent
Select Committee report: March 2015, supported without dissent

The debate can be up to two hours

Harmful Digital Communications Bill – second reading

The Bill aims to “mitigate the harm caused to individuals by digital communications and to provide victims of harmful digital communications with a quick and efficient means of redress.” by creating a new civil enforcement regime to quickly and effectively deal with harmful digital communications; creating new criminal offences to deal with the most serious harmful digital communications and making some small amendments to existing legislation to clarify their application to digital communications and cover technological advances.

Introduced: November 2013
1st reading: December 2013, passed unanimously
Select Committee Report: May 2014, supported unanimously, with amendments

The debate can be up to two hours.

 

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2 degrees buys Snap

March 24th, 2015 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

2degrees is on a better footing to compete with giants Spark and Vodafone with the purchase of smaller telco Snap, and the addition of home phone lines and home broadband to its mobile service.

No price was disclosed for the purchase of the telecom and internet service firm, although an industry report has said 2degrees had agreed to buy Snap for $26 million.

2degrees first announced it planned to move into the fixed-line market in August 2012.

The two will combine under the 2degrees brand, delivering broadband and mobile service to consumers, businesses and enterprise customers nationally.

This is a good thing for consumers. A third full service telco will be good for competition. 2 degrees has been a real success story in the mobile space, and hopefully they’ll do well in other areas.

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The St Bede’s Rowers

March 24th, 2015 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

The St Bede’s College rowers axed from their Maadi Cup rowing team for breaching airport security say they took court action due to concerns over the school’s decision-making process and have questioned whether the punishment was fair.

Or they just think the school’s discipline policy and code of conduct doesn’t apply to them.

Teen rowers Jack Bell and Jordan Kennedy were removed from the school’s Maadi Cup rowing team after being given formal warnings by police and the Aviation Security Service for jumping on a baggage conveyor at Auckland Airport on Friday.

The pupils, who had just arrived on a domestic flight from Christchurch, rode the carousel through rubber curtains and into a restricted baggage area, the Civil Aviation Authority said.

Lucky not to be arrested.

The school ruled the pupils should be sent home. However, their parents, Shane Kennedy and Antony Bell, were granted a High Court injunction allowing their sons to stay and compete in the Maadi Cup.

A statement, released by the boys and their families on Monday afternoon, said the court action was never intended to justify their actions or to suggest the school was not entitled to take disciplinary action.

“The only reason for the court action was due to concerns over the school’s decision-making process and over whether or not the decision as made was proportionate to the misbehaviour. The court action was certainly not taken lightly,” the statement said.

I’m sure the lawyer fathers knew that the court would almost inevitably have to grant an injunction. Regardless of the merits, if there was even an arguable case they would have to injunct as relief afterwards could not reverse the impact of not participating.

St Bede’s College rector Justin Boyle said he decided the boys, aged 16 and 17, were in breach of the school’s code of conduct and banned them from competing at the regatta, which starts on Monday.

The school would not have withdrawn them lightly. They want to win sporting events. But they no doubt knew that its is important for students to see actions have consequences.

Now the lesson for students may be that actions don’t have consequences, if Daddy has a good lawyer. A shame.

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Devoy on Refugees

March 24th, 2015 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

A reader e-mails re this story:

A few points on this:
 
Firstly, the Race Relations Commissioner should not involve herself in matters of public policy outside the scope of her responsibilities. She is in a public service role and should keep her opinion on these matters to herself, and not engage in activist issues.

I agree. 

In respect of her view that the quota should increase to at least 1,000 per annum:
 
We have a generally successful refugee resettlement programme.  Largely because we take a number of refugees that we can handle and work closely with to settle successfully.  We want refugees to make a solid contribution to their new country and do well.  In turn, that underpins public support for the annual quota which is crucial.  Excessive numbers with unsuccessful settlement outcomes is not helpful.
 
In effect, we already accept 1,050 per annum as we take a further 300 in the Refugee Family Support category.  This allows refugees to ‘sponsor’ their family members and bypass the usual migration process with its requirements for high education and skill levels etc.
 
I prefer quality of settlement outcomes for those we take, rather than a quantity we cannot successfully settle.  Many refugees have serious educational, health, mental health, language and other challenges that are costly and intensive to address.  We should seek to do that well rather than spread the limited funds too thinly over too many.
 
Could we take more refugees within the annual quota from Syria?  Perhaps.  Worth exploring and it may well be on the radar of officials already.
 
New Zealand is one of just 19 or so countries that takes an annual quota of refugees.  That is the number that needs to increase substantially to address the global refugee issue.  Like climate change, New Zealand can only ever have a minimal effect without the contribution of other nations.

I am sympathetic to calls for a modest increase in our quota. Maybe have it as a proportion of our population, so it rises a bit over time. But this is not a good time to increase it. Net migration is at a record high and infrastructure is going to start to feel some real strains. If anything, we need to temporarily reduce the level of net migration for a year or two – not because we don’t still want migration, just that it needs to be at a level our infrastructure can handle.

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Quote of the week

March 24th, 2015 at 9:00 am by TaxpayersUnion

“Every dollar released from taxation that is spared or invested will help create a new job and a new salary.”

- John F. Kennedy

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Salmond on GCSB

March 24th, 2015 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Rob Salmond blogs:

I am not a serial apologist for the GCSB. I think,f or example, that their recently-uncovered trick for feeding New Zealanders’ information to the NSA is entirely too cute. I think this morning’s New Zealand Herald story, however, about the GCSB spying for Tim Groser is somewhat overblown.

The most critical question is whether trying to help Tim Groser’s, ahem, optimistic bid to become WTO Director-General falls within the GCSB’s legal mandate. I say it does. Here’s section 7 of the GCSB Act, which gives the Agency’s objectives:

The objective of the Bureau, in performing its functions, is to contribute to—
(a) the national security of New Zealand; and
(b) the international relations and well-being of New Zealand; and
(c) the economic well-being of New Zealand.

I can readily see the argument that having our own person at the head of the governing body for world trade, however unlikely he was to actually get the job, would be good for the economic well-being of New Zealand, therefore falling under subsection (c). You could make an argument for (b), too.

If the activity was illegal, then I’m sure the Inspector-General would say so. We have a system of checks and balances to make sure any foreign intelligence gathering occurs within the law. Hager may not like what is done, but that does not make it illegal.

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General Debate 24 March 2015

March 24th, 2015 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel
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