Pollution taxes

June 26th, 2015 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Environment researchers have made fresh calls for a tax on polluters on the back of an OECD report highlighting rising pressures on our green backyard.

Through its new book, Vanishing Nature, the Environmental Defence Society has put forward an environmental consumption tax and rebate as a key reform, which it argues has the potential to tackle environmental degradation while broadening and rebalancing New Zealand’s tax base.

The lead author, EDS senior policy analyst Dr Marie Brown, said it would also help to reduce wealth inequality, could be designed to cut growth-limiting income and company taxes, and fund climate change mitigation.

My first reaction to any proposed new tax, is I’ll consider its merits if it is proposed not to increase the overall level of taxation, but as an alternative revenue source, which would allow income and company taxes to be reduced. It is good to see that this is the case here, even though they seem to be suggesting only a partial offset.

Dr Eric Crampton, head of research at the New Zealand Institute, said that in principle, taxes on pollution were far better than taxes on income so long as they were set properly – but this was very hard to do.

Simplicity is important – as we have with GST.

Taxes tend to reduce whatever you tax. So if you tax income, you reduce labour. If you have a GST you reduce consumption. If you have a CGT, you reduce capital. So a pollution tax can reduce pollution.

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A sad case

June 26th, 2015 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Tony wall at Stuff reports:

At her parents’ house at least, it’s as if Rachal Cleaver has been erased from history. A hand-written sign on the door of her old bedroom says simply: “spare room”.

“We burnt everything of Rachal’s, from the smallest to the greatest,” says her father, Stephen Cleaver, a self-styled prophet who claims to hear the word of God.

“We do not discard her, but we have to walk the path of the Lord. If we are moping over the dead, we are going backwards, we have to look ahead.”

There’s a sign on the gate of the ramshackle farm property Cleaver and his wife, Carla, rent near Kaiwaka that says “Get your own toilet”.

They say that Christ will soon return in a blaze of fire and God’s angels will kill everyone who hasn’t made it to their place – but you have to take care of your own body waste.

“The war will start right here,” Stephen Cleaver says.

The couple says the Government is spying on them and that Prime Minister John Key himself buzzed their house in a helicopter.

And they say it was Key and American president Barack Obama who were behind Rachal’s death.

When I first starting reading this article, I wondered why the mad beliefs of these parents were being given prominence. But sadly as you read on, you realise they may have played a role in the death of Rachal.

Rachal, 20, died in Whangarei Hospital on June 10 after suffering a severe asthma attack at home. She was eight-and-a-half months pregnant. Her baby was delivered by caesarean section while she was in a coma, but he died in Starship the following day. He was named Robert. …

Rachal was in the care of the Dingwall Trust, a care and protection facility in Papatoetoe, South Auckland, from nine until she turned 17.

The trust’s director, Tracie Shipton, says staff had serious concerns about what would happen to Rachal if she returned home. It was also feared she wouldn’t get the medical treatment she needed for her asthma and eczema.

Shipton says Rachal’s death was “highly preventable. Asthma is a manageable disease.”

There would have been a reason she was in care, but once she was 17 she could choose where to live.

On the day of her asthma attack, Cleaver says, Rachal was outside filming aircraft that were flying low over the house.

He claims they were Government planes, and they dropped poison.

Oh dear.

He says every three hours Rachal was being “stabbed” with what he was told were steroids. He believes otherwise.

“I think they were giving her a paralysing injection to kill her. I voiced many times that she was murdered.”

The parents obviously need psychiatric help, but it may be too late.

An autopsy was carried out, and the bodies of Rachal and her baby were released to the Dingwall Trust, where a funeral service was held on Wednesday. The parents didn’t attend.

Shipton says it was a beautiful service. Staff were devastated by Rachal’s death. 

“She was a beautiful young girl with lots of potential. What I’m most stressed about is it was a highly preventable death of a pretty awesome kid.”

Rachal was returned to a situation where her safety could never be guaranteed, Shipton says.

When Rachal turned 17, she immediately returned to her parents in Northland. There was nothing Dingwall could do, even though they believed she was not mature enough to make a sensible decision.

Sadly you can only protect people so much.

Shipton has wider concerns about the law.

The trust has been campaigning for a change to extend custodial responsibility and ongoing care provision for vulnerable young people into their 20s. An expert government panel is considering the changes and Shipton says it should be a priority.

“Some young people are leaving care to return to highly dysfunctional families that are just as unsafe as they were when the children were removed from their parents care, the only difference is the child’s age.” 

I sympathise but unless the person is mentally incompetent, it is hard to justify them not being able to make their own decisions once they are 18.

People who saw Rachal before her death say she was completely different to the vibrant, happy girl she’d been at Dingwall. She quoted scripture at people and questioned their morality.

Facebook gives a clue to her mindset. She talks about brussels sprouts being “evil and demonic” and writes “the reason why I stand in the sun every day is because I don’t want you to see how many tears I shear”.

All that’s left on her bedroom wall is a small scrap of paper with some writing – something about helicopters flying low over her house last December. By the end, she well and truly shared her parents’ paranoia.

Actually those brussels sprouts can be pretty evil!

So sad to read of a young life that died, and was probably preventable.

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Global inequality dropping

June 26th, 2015 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Noah Smith writes:

Tomas Hellbrandt of the Bank of England and Paolo Mauro of the International Monetary Fund show in a new working paper that global inequality is falling, as poor countries power ahead. The global Gini coefficient – a standard measure of income inequality – is falling fast. In 2003 the coefficient was 69 (with 0 being perfect equality and 100 being perfect inequality). In 2013 it was down to 65. If current trends continue, it is on course to reach 61 by 2035.

So inequality may be increasing within some countries, but over humanity as a whole, the gap between rich and poor is closing.

The reason for this is what free trade and capitalism have done to countries like China and India, with hundreds of millions rising out of poverty.

So around the world, a rising tide is lifting all boats, and it’s lifting the boats at the bottom faster than the boats at the top. This is really an extremely good, successful outcome (though it would have been nice to see this happen without the increase in inequality within some countries).

A nice break from the gloom and doom.

It’s important to realise is that this is a recent phenomenon. For a long time, the opposite was happening. In 1988, for example, economic historian Brad DeLong showed that the poor countries of the world had mostly failed to catch up to the rich countries since 1870. The former colonial powers of Western Europe, the US and Japan were zooming ahead, with the former colonies either being left in the dust or struggling just to keep pace.

So we may be seeing something like a global Kuznets Curve. In the early stages of global growth, rich countries – and the rich people in them – zoom ahead of the pack, but eventually the masses catch up. If the forces that move inequality really are global in nature, then it means that capitalism and trade really are a force for good. It means that we don’t really face a tradeoff between wealth and inequality in the long run. And it implies that once the poor countries have done some more catching up, inequality will begin to fall within countries, too.

The new data, and the global Kuznets narrative, also destroy the idea that the wealth of rich countries is based on the exploitation of poor countries. Capitalism is not colonialism after all. Most of our global wealth is created by trade and industriousness, not plundered or extracted by force. The world isn’t a zero-sum game.

That is the most vital thing to remember.

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$333 million for cycleways

June 26th, 2015 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Telling the Prime Minister to get on his bike might normally get a minister sacked. 

But on Thursday Prime Minister John Key and Transport Minister Simon Bridges visited Rotorua to announce a $333m cycleway investment programme that Bridges says will change the face of cycling in New Zealand.

That’s a huge investment. I doubt any other Government has ever done so much to promote cycling.

National is balanced when it comes to transport – it invests in roads, bus lanes, rail and cycle. Some one the left promote is as either or – they want next to no funding for roads because they hate cars. But the reality is the different systems are complementary, not substitutes. Sometimes I bike, sometimes I bus, sometimes I walk and sometimes I drive. I want investment in all the modes of transport.

Bridges says that as well as the 13 cycleway projects announced in January, an additional 41 will receive funding as part of the Urban Cycleways Programme.

“This is the single biggest investment in cycling in New Zealand’s history,” Bridges says.

“This will make cycling a safer and more attractive option.”

The safer it is, the more people will do it.

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Four new members’ bills

June 26th, 2015 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Four bills were drawn from the ballot yesterday. They are:

Local Government Act 2002 (Greater Local Democracy) Amendment Bill – Labour MP Stuart Nash

This bill would mean any poll on amalgamations of local government will be unsuccessful unless it gains not just a majority over the affected area, but also a majority in each and every district within.

Public Collections and Solicitations (Disclosure of Payment) Bill – National MP Matt Doocey

This would require people soliciting donations, signatures or the like to disclose whether they are paid collectors.

Financial Assistance for Live Organ Donors Bill – National MP Chris Bishop

This would allow people who can not work due to having donated organs, to get income assistance equivalent to ACC (80% of lost earnings) for a maximum of 12 weeks, compared to the current sickness benefit only.

New Zealand Superannuation and Retirement Income (Pro Rata Entitlement) Amendment Bill – NZ First MP Denis O’Rourke.

This would reduce the level of NZ Superannuation on a pro-rata basis to people who have not been or remained in NZ between the ages of 20 and 65.

My thoughts on each are:

  • Nash bill – just seeks to reverse a law change from a few years ago. Would vote against at first reading
  • Doocey bill – a useful concept and enhanced transparency is good but current wording may be too draconian. Support at first reading, and review after select committee
  • Bishop bill – strongly support
  • O’Rourke bill – is worth having a debate on the issue, and the principle of less NZ Super for those who spent less time in NZ is not a bad one. But don’t want to punish people for doing their OE for a few years. Worth supporting at first reading to get submissions
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General Debate 26 June 2015

June 26th, 2015 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel
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The guilty 10

June 26th, 2015 at 7:00 am by David Farrar
  • Arthur Anae
  • Len Brown
  • Bill Cashmore
  • Linda Cooper
  • Chris Darby
  • Alf Filipaina
  • Mike Lee
  • Calum Penrose
  • Wayne Walker
  • Penny Webster

You now know who not to vote for Auckland.

Special attention must go to Mike Lee who correctly labels the 9.9% rates increase as odious and deeply flawed, yet votes for it.

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Story

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

The Herald reports:

Heather du Plessis-Allan and Duncan Garner will host Story, TV3’s new 7pm current affairs show, MediaWorks has announced.

MediaWorks group head of news Mark Jennings said Story would be a “smart, fun and thought-provoking show that will lead the way in daily current affairs”.

“Story will focus on the issues that are relevant and important to all New Zealanders. We will be looking for the best stories, the most interesting stories and the stories New Zealanders are talking about,” he said.

It looks like it will be somewhere between Campbell Live and Seven Sharp. Campbell Live’s problem was it was so relentlessly negative on everything it drove viewers away until it was on life support, while Seven Sharp is entertaining but often has little focus on current affairs.

Garner said he expected fun, laughter and entertainment.

“I see this as a great chance to be part of a programme that will reflect our country and our lives – no matter where we live.

“And when those in power in Wellington, or in your own community, make bad decisions, mislead you or are hypocrites, I promise – you can rely on us to keep them honest – simple.”

Excellent.

Du Plessis-Allan said she was excited to be part of TV3’s “new chapter”.

“Duncan is one of the best journalists around so I’m stoked to be able to learn from him. But Duncan, if you’re reading this; don’t let it go to your head. I’m not your sidekick. In fact, they told me, you’re my sidekick.”

MediaWorks chief executive Mark Weldon said du Plessis-Allan and Garner were two of the most engaging and talented journalists in the country.

“Together they represent a major investment by MediaWorks in the future of current affairs leadership in New Zealand.”

I think this could be a very good show. Duncan and Heather are indeed both engaging, but they are also very skilled interviewers. They can do light and fluffy, but they can also go for the jugular when it is warranted.

Heather’s comment about Duncan being her sidekick is one of the reasons it should work – they’ll spark off each other.

I have not watched any of the 7 pm “current affairs” shows regularly for years. I plan to put Story onto series record, and watch it regularly.

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Abbott vs the ABC

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

News.com.au reports:

TONY Abbott has continued to apply pressure on the ABC this morning, as the furore over its decision to allow a former terrorism suspect on Q&A shows no signs of dying down.

During an interview on Today, the Prime Minister was unrelenting in his criticism of the ABC, which yesterday said it “made an error in judgement” for allowing Zaky Mallah to confront federal MPs on Q&A without any security checks.

That admission does not seem to have satisfied the ABC’s critics. According to The Australian, Mr Abbott has told the Liberal partyroom he will consider a government-wide boycott of Q&A.

“We all know that Q&A is a lefty lynch mob and we will be looking at this and we will bring something back when we return,” he reportedly told angry MPs.

The Australian Q&A is extremely biased, and good to see MPs calling it out.

Mallah was charged in 2003 of planning a suicide attack. He basically got off on a technicality but was convicted of threatening officials. He has been in Syria, and has published guides on how Australians can help the war in Syria. There has been a huge backlash to them having him in the audience for Q&A, in which he said because of the Liberal Govt, people should go and join ISIL.

When asked about the report on Today this morning, Mr Abbott repeated his concerns that the broadcaster had given a national platform, and even a global platform, to Mallah.

He said it was interesting that when Mallah was sentenced in 2005, the judge was critical of the platform the media had given to him.

“Now of course our supposed national broadcaster is giving a platform to someone who hates us, who hates our way of life, supports the terrorists that would do us harm,” he said.

“The issue for the ABC, our national broadcaster, is whose side are you on?

“Because all too often the ABC seems to be on everyone’s side but Australia’s.”

The fact taxpayers are forced to fund the ABC is galling for many Australians.

As a contrast read this account from Tim Blair:

A couple of years ago the Daily Telegraph‘s Miranda Devine was invited to be a particular week’s token conservative on the ABC’s Q & A program.

Concerned she would face the usual anti-conservative hostility from the show’s live audience and fellow guests, Miranda called to ask if I might join the audience to offer some support.

Naturally, I agreed. As did another friend, Caroline Overington, then working for The Australian. So Miranda contacted Q & A‘s producers to tell them she had a couple of mates coming along, and asked if tickets could be provided.

That’s when the trouble began.

Q & A insisted Overington and I could only watch the show from the secure confines of the ABC’s backstage green room, where we would presumably be monitored for any signs of rebellion. Apparently the show was worried that if we were left unattended in the crowd, we might cause an insurgency.

It took several assurances from Miranda that we wouldn’t provoke an uprising before the ABC relented and allowed us to quietly view the program among other Q & A audience members.

Of course, as we now know, the entire issue could have been avoided if instead of being dangerous conservatives we had previously pleaded guilty to threatening to kill ASIO officials, supported an Islamic caliphate and believed in martyrdom for the Muslim cause.

Such double standards.

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Swney gets 67 months

June 25th, 2015 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Alex Swney stole more than $4 million because he felt he was being underpaid for his work to improve Auckland, a court has heard.

Well that’s okay then.

The 57-year-old former Heart of the City boss was jailed for five years seven months in Auckland District Court this morning after pleading guilty to charges laid by the Inland Revenue and Serious Fraud Office covering “sophisticated” offending over more than a decade.

That is quite a decent sentence. Good.

Question remain about how he got away with it for so long. One can never be fraud-proof, but the Auckland Council and HOTC Board need to take a strong look at what systems were in place.

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Should the parents be accountable?

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

The Herald reports:

One boy has been found guilty of manslaughter in the death of a West Auckland shopkeeper but a second has been cleared of the same offence. …

The 14-year-old is one of about 10 children. It is understood his mother gave birth to her youngest child weeks ago.

A source close to the family said the children had a tough upbringing and most had been in and out of Child Youth and Family care.

She’s obviously not a capable mother. If some of her kids are in CYFS care, why has she just given birth to her 10th?

I know we probably shouldn’t sterilise anyone against their will, but don’t CYFS now have the power to get an order from a court that any future children will be automatically removed from her? Shouldn’t this be done, as it may incentivise her to stop having children.

A previous story reported:

The court heard the sad history of these families. The eldest of the boys lived in a “drug house,” his brother said. Mum would sell cannabis and synthetics and people would come and go frequently. …

Eventually he began speaking of suicide and acting up at school. He smoked synthetic drugs to cope. 

Again, she should not be having more children, let alone the 10 she has currently had – most of whom will sadly end up with huge challenges ahead of them.

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Clerk argues for satire

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

Stuff reports:

Parliament’s top official has urged MPs to “grow up” and allow the official television feed to be used to mock them.

Mary Harris, Clerk of the House, told the Privileges Committee a ban on using footage of Parliament for satire may need to be relaxed “in this day and age”. …

Harris, whose seven-year term as Clerk ends on July 3, said the rules around satire were developed at a time when television was among the only ways of viewing Parliament, but with the proliferation of media the concerns had changed.

The rules have “been lifted in Australia [and] we borrowed our rules from Australia, and we maybe need to grow up,” Harris told the committee on Wednesday.

“I don’t think there’s a need to shelter Members [of Parliament] any longer.”

“It’s difficult to police. Once or twice Speakers have brought people in and given them a bit of a lecture about it but I think it’s a bit like slapping people with a wet bus ticket.”

I agree. The rule is ignored anyway, and satire is a good thing!

Harris said the committee may want to consider other changes, including expanding rules around photography to cover MPs taking photos in the House, as standing orders related only to footage taken from the public and press galleries.

Official footage of Parliament should also be allowed to show MPs misbehaving, Harris said.

“If members are going to be disorderly, they should be seen to be so.” …

Press Gallery chairwoman Claire Trevett told the committee the gallery backed the lifting of rules around disorder in the House, signalling that if there was an episode such as MPs brawling, the chances were media outlets may simply ignore the rules.

The idea behind that rule is to discourage MPs deliberately misbehaving so they get on TV, but they’re not really discouraged anyway. Another rule that can go.

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Mana Party AGM heals woman, so she can walk

June 25th, 2015 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Our favourite political party offical new site reports:

Kaylee Teree Ngarimu has been wheel chair ridden for months, doctors couldn’t diagnose her condition. What Kaylee was suffering from is often referred to as Maori sickness a condition that modern medicine has no solutions. Tuta and Kaylee went to many experts until whanau at the Mana AGM referred Kaylee to alternative healing. Nothing was working until she decided to attend the Mana AGM. After speaking to a Maori Healer Kaylee was able to stand then walk away from her wheel chair and hasnt used it since.

This is great news. Attend a political party AGM and your sickness will be cured and you can walk again.

Imagine all our people who are reliant on western medicines and end up that way for years with no real cure,if our people went back to OUR way of healing, our iwi would be better off.

I encourage all Mana Party members to abandon this evil subsidised Western medicine.

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Members’ bill ballot 25 June 2015

June 25th, 2015 at 10:16 am by David Farrar

There will be a whopping four bills drawn from the ballot of 73 at midday today. Bills in the ballot are:

  Bill Title Member Name
1 Accident Compensation (Recent Migrants and Returning New Zealanders) Amendment Bill Melissa Lee
2 Affordable Healthcare Bill Barbara Stewart
3 Age of Majority (Attainment at 18 Years) Amendment Bill Brett Hudson
4 Better Public Service Target Results Independent Audit Bill Tracey Martin
5 Births, Deaths, Marriages, and Relationships Registration (Preventing Name Change by Child Sex Offenders) Amendment Bill Dr Jian Yang
6 Buy New Zealand (Procurement) Bill Richard Prosser
7 Care of Children (Adoption and Surrogacy Law Reform) Amendment Bill Kevin Hague
8 Charter Schools (Application of Official Information and Ombudsmen Acts) Bill Hon Nanaia Mahuta
9 Child Poverty Reduction and Eradication Bill Jacinda Ardern
10 Children, Young Persons, and Their Families (Parent’s and Guardian’s Responsibility) Amendment Bill Barbara Kuriger
11 Climate Change (Divestment from Fossil Fuels) Bill Dr Russel Norman
12 Commerce (Supermarket Adjudicator and Code of Conduct) Amendment Bill Steffan Browning
13 Credit Contracts and Consumer Finance (Break Fees Disclosure) Amendment Bill Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi
14 Crimes (Corporate Manslaughter) Amendment Bill Hon Damien O’Connor
15 Crimes (Non-fatal Strangulation) Amendment Bill Kelvin Davis
16 Criminal Procedure (Removing Paedophile Name Suppression) Amendment Bill Pita Paraone
17 Crown Minerals (Protection of World Heritage Sites) Amendment Bill Hon Ruth Dyson
18 Customs and Excise (Prohibition of Imports Made by Slave Labour) Amendment Bill Peeni Henare
19 Domestic Violence—Victims’ Protection Bill Jan Logie
20 Education (Charter Schools Abolition) Amendment Bill Chris Hipkins
21 Education (Charter Schools Curriculum) Amendment Bill Hon Phil Goff
22 Education (Charter Schools Teacher Quality) Amendment Bill Louisa Wall
23 Education (Public Good not Profit from Charter Schools) Amendment Bill Dr David Clark
24 Education (Restoration of Democracy to University Councils) Amendment Bill Hon David Cunliffe
25 Electricity Industry (Energy Efficiency) Amendment Bill Rino Tirikatene
26 Electricity Industry (Small-Scale Renewable Distributed Generation) Amendment Bill Gareth Hughes
27 Electricity Transparency Bill David Shearer
28 Employment Relations (Allowing Higher Earners to Contract Out of Personal Grievance Provisions) Amendment Bill Scott Simpson
29 Employment Relations (Certainty at Work) Amendment Bill Iain Lees-Galloway
30 Employment Relations (Restoring Kiwis’ Right to a Break at Work) Amendment Bill Jenny Salesa
31 Employment Relations (Safe and Healthy Workplaces) Amendment Bill Alastair Scott
32 Energy Efficiency and Conservation (Warm Healthy Rentals Warrant of Fitness) Amendment Bill Metiria Turei
33 Environment Canterbury (Democracy Restoration) Amendment Bill Dr Megan Woods
34 Equal Pay Amendment Bill Mojo Mathers
35 Family Proceedings (Paternity Orders and Parentage Tests) Amendment Bill Jacqui Dean
36 Financial Assistance for Live Organ Donors Bill Chris Bishop
37 Healthy Homes Guarantee Bill (No 2) Andrew Little
38 Immigration (Refugee Quota) Amendment Bill Denise Roche
39 Independent Prison Inspectorate Bill David Clendon
40 International Non-Aggression and Lawful Use of Force (Implementation of Amendment to Statute of Rome) Bill Dr Kennedy Graham
41 Keep Kiwibank Bill Hon Clayton Cosgrove
42 Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary Establishment Bill Eugenie Sage
43 Land Transfer (Foreign Ownership of Land Register) Amendment Bill Mahesh Bindra
44 Land Transport (Vulnerable Road Users) Amendment Bill Julie Anne Genter
45 Legislation (Climate Impact Disclosure Statement) Amendment Bill James Shaw
46 Life Jackets for Children and Young Persons Bill Alfred Ngaro
47 Local Government (Four Well-beings) Amendment Bill Su’a William Sio
48 Local Government (Freedom of Access) Amendment Bill Paul Foster-Bell
49 Local Government Act 2002 (Greater Local Democracy) Amendment Bill Stuart Nash
50 Marriage (Court Consent to Marriage of Minors) Amendment Bill Joanne Hayes
51 New Zealand Superannuation and Retirement Income (Pro Rata Entitlement) Amendment Bill Denis O’Rourke
52 Nurse Practitioners Bill Hon Annette King
53 Oaths and Declarations (Endorsing the Principles of the Treaty of Waitangi) Amendment Bill Marama Fox
54 Oaths and Declarations (Members of Parliament) Amendment Bill Meka Whaitiri
55 Official Information (Parliamentary Under-Secretaries) Amendment Bill Adrian Rurawhe
56 Overseas Investment (Protection of New Zealand Homebuyers) Amendment Bill Phil Twyford
57 Parental Leave and Employment Protection (Six Months’ Paid Leave and Work Contact Hours) Amendment Bill Sue Moroney
58 Private International Law (Choice of Law in Tort) Bill David Bennett
59 Public Collections and Solicitations (Disclosure of Payment) Bill Matt Doocey
60 Public Works (Prohibition of Compulsory Acquisition of Māori Land) Amendment Bill Catherine Delahunty
61 Radiocommunications (Enhanced Public Broadcasting Provision) Amendment Bill Kris Faafoi
62 Receiverships (Agricultural Debt Mediation) Amendment Bill Ron Mark
63 Sentencing (Domestic Violence) Amendment Bill Poto Williams
64 Sentencing (Livestock Rustling) Amendment Bill Ian McKelvie
65 Shop Trading Hours Act Repeal (Shopping Centre Opening Hours) Amendment Bill Hon Trevor Mallard
66 Social Security (Apprenticeship Assistance for Youth) Amendment Bill Grant Robertson
67 Social Security (Stopping Benefit Payments for Offenders who Repeatedly Fail to Comply with Community Sentences) Amendment Bill Mark Mitchell
68 Social Workers Registration (Mandatory Registration) Amendment Bill Carmel Sepuloni
69 Summary Offences (Drink or Drugs Affecting Behaviour) Amendment Bill Clayton Mitchell
70 Summary Proceedings (Warrant for Detention Conditions) Amendment Bill Jonathan Young
71 Telecommunications (Interception Capability and Security) Amendment Bill Clare Curran
72 Vulnerable Children (Mandatory Social Worker Registration) Amendment Bill Ria Bond
73 Waitemata Harbour Protection Bill Rt Hon Winston Peters
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Even Rudman is lashing the Councillors

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

Brian Rudman writes:

Tomorrow, for example, even though only seven of 20 councillors support the mayor’s proposed 10-year budget, it is likely to be adopted, because possibly five opponents will look the other way and abstain.

Chamber of Commerce chief executive Michael Barnett calls this abstaining “a total nonsense” and “a breach of trust with ratepayers”, and I agree.

In a democracy, if the executive can’t get a majority to support its plans, the accepted course is for the rulers to go away and prepare a budget the majority will support.

Exactly.

The Auckland Ratepayers Alliance has said:

The Auckland Ratepayers’ Alliance is pledging to hold to account those who support Len Brown’s proposed Auckland Council budget tomorrow, including those who allow it to pass by abstaining. The Alliance, which launched in April, has nearly ten thousand members and is growing every day.

Ratepayers’ Alliance spokesperson, Jo Holmes, says:

“Make no mistake, this is a bottom line for our members and activists. Any councillor that votes for, or abstains tomorrow will be a target in the lead up to next year’s election.”

“We are now confident that the Ratepayers’ Alliance will have enough financial support to conduct a mailout to every Auckland household. We will ensure that all voters know who the guilty Councillors are. There will be billboards, radio ads and even ringtones naming those who allowed Len Brown to hike rates at 99 times the level of inflation.

“Those who fail to vote tomorrow to stop the Mayor’s rates hike will not get away with it.”

The 9.9% rates increase is just an an average. In some low income areas it is as high as 17%!!!

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Thresholds bill fails

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

Stuff reports:

Parliament has voted down a bid to close the loophole that allows MPs to enter Parliament on the coat tail of someone who wins an electorate seat.

A bill promoted by Labour MP Iain Lees-Galloway would have implemented the recommendations of the Electoral Commission following a review which called for the removal of the single electoral seat threshold and a corresponding reduction in the party vote threshold from 5 per cent to 4 per cent. Lowering the party vote threshold would make it easier for smaller parties to win seats in Parliament because they would only need to win 4 per cent of the vote, not 5 per cent, the current threshold. 

Ironically if this had been implemented at the last election, as Labour wanted, Colin Craig would almost certainly be an MP and hold the balance of power. The Conservatives got 3.97% and it is inevitable they would have got 4% if voters had seen them so close to the threshold.

The coat tailing rule is seen as unfair because it means parties that win only a small number of votes can still get a number of MPs in Parliament so long as they win an electorate seat.  It also can allow larger parties to do deals that would help smaller parties into Parliament, which happened with ACT and National in the Epsom seat in Auckland. In 2008 ACT won just 3.6 per cent of the vote after then-leader Rodney Hide won Epsom, in contrast with NZ First which got voted out of Parliament with 4.1 per cent of the vote.

I think the coat tailing rule should go, on balance, but point out that in 2011 there were no “coat tail” MPs and in 2014 there is only one.

But ACT leader David Seymour said the Opposition were “so wrong on every count” about the coat-tailing rule.

He said the only benefiting from the coat tailing rule in the current Parliament was the Maori Party, which got an extra MP thanks to Te Ururoa Flavell winning the Wairiki seat.

Other parties had benefited in other Parliaments including the Greens, NZ First and the Alliance.

“If you take the entire history of MMP, for a period the coat tailing rule benefited the Left and then it benefited the Right.  There is no more to it than that; there is no more sincere motivation than that it has politically disadvantaged [Labour] recently. I’ll be opposing this bill because there is no sound principle, only self-interest.”

Labour, the Greens and NZ First voted for the bill, but National, United Future, the Maori Party and ACT voted against.

Seymour has that dead to rights.

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General Debate 25 June 2015

June 25th, 2015 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel
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Latest poll

June 24th, 2015 at 10:46 pm by David Farrar

I’ve blogged the latest poll at Curia.

On it National would have 62 seats, Labour 32, Greens 16 and NZ First 8.

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Abortion and Downs

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

Renate Lindeman writes at Stuff:

Upon delivering my first child 11 years ago, I heard the words “Down syndrome”, and my world collapsed. Visions of children sitting passively in a corner watching life go by, not participating, kept me awake those first nights as a mum.

It didn’t take me long, though, to figure out that my ideas were based on negative, outdated information that had nothing to do with the reality of life with Down syndrome today.

My daughter April is an active, outgoing girl. She’s my nature child, wildly passionate about anything with four legs. Although April uses few words, she’s a master communicator. Through her, I’ve learned that Down syndrome is not the scary, terrible condition it’s made out to be.

But while governments (rightly) ban gender selection, selective abortion continues to be encouraged for children with Down syndrome. In the United States and abroad, screenings are a routine part of healthcare programmes, and the result is the near-elimination of these children.

When pregnant with my daughter Hazel, tests showed she, too, would be born with Down syndrome. I was shocked when an acquaintance asked me why I did not choose abortion – as if she were a mistake that could be easily erased.

Although my personal prejudices have radically changed since the birth of my first daughter with Down syndrome, I realised that negative attitudes about the condition remain deeply rooted.

To many, my children and their cohort are examples of avoidable human suffering, as well as a financial burden. Knowing that individuals look at my daughters this way hurts, but seeing governments and medical professionals worldwide reinforce these prejudices by promoting selection is horrendous.

I think it is entirely a good thing if parents know in advance if the foetus, once born, will have Down syndrome. It allows them to make an informed decision.

That decision would be a very difficult and torturous one. I wouldn’t judge any people in this situation who have to make such a decision.

The unspoken but obvious message is that Down syndrome is something so unworthy that we would not want to wish it for our children or society.

I don’t read it like that. It is one of many conditions that can make life very very difficult for both the future child, and parents. Just like if you knew someone would be born with no limbs.

A 2013 study reports that parents are 2.5 times more likely to have a negative experience on receiving the initial Down syndrome diagnosis than to have a positive one.

Umm, would anyone have a positive experience?

The irony is that for a baby with Down syndrome born today, the outlook has never been better. Medical and social advances have radically changed what it means to live with Down syndrome.

Most people with Down syndrome are included in schools and communities. They live healthier, longer lives, and many adults live independently, have jobs and enjoy a rich social life. In 2013 a young woman with Down syndrome became Spain’s first councillor.

One study showed that the majority of people with Down syndrome report being happy and fulfilled, regardless of their functional skills.

This is why Downpride is calling on the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to stop systematic screening for Down syndrome as part of public-health programmes and to regulate the introduction of prenatal genetic testing – testing should be used to enhance health and human wellbeing instead of discriminating against people based on their genetic predisposition.

 

I disagree respectfully.  I think an informed choice is a useful thing.

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Electricity Prices

June 24th, 2015 at 3:11 pm by David Farrar

Backbenches have said a topic for Wednesday is electricity prices:

POWER PRICES-A SHOCKER?:  Nearly 80% of our electricity comes from renewable energy sources, primarily hydropower. Power prices have more than doubled since 2002. So, why are our monthly power bills so dear? And why can your power costs vary so greatly from power company to power company. Labour says we are paying far too much. But what is the solution to lower prices? Do we need to nationalise the power companies? Do we need to change how much lines companies charge? Their tarrifs can make up to 40% of a monthly powerbill? Or is this just the price of doing business?

Yes they have doubled since 2002, but the increase has not been consistent. To help, here is a graph of annual electricity inflation.

electcpi

Quite a difference, although price increase of over 3% are still too high.

In the seven years from 2001 to 2008 inclusive electricity prices increased 63.5%. Since 2008 they have increased 24%.

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TPP and Dairy

June 24th, 2015 at 2:06 pm by David Farrar

Richard Harman at Politik writes:

Prime Minister John Key has confirmed that New Zealand has yet to see any major concessions on dairy exports to Japan and Canada from the Trans Pacific Partnership trade agreement negotiations.

That’s because both Japan and Canada, the negotiating countries with the highest barriers against dairy imports have yet to begin the “hard” part of their negotiations.

But it leaves a huge hole in the negotiations which Mr Key admits is not what New Zealand wants. …

Speaking at his weekly post Cabinet Press Conference, the prime Minister described the situation in Washington as “a game of chess” between the Senate and the House.

He said there was a deal on dairy products “but it’s not at the level we would currently like.

“There are more negotiations to be undertaken”

Asked what advantages New Zealand would gain, if the dairy agreement could not be reached he said: “What I’ve seen at the moment is if we froze time and concluded the deal, as I see it it’s a net positive for New Zealand.

“But it wouldn’t be nearly enough for dairy for us to be comfortable and we’d like to see more.”

 

The TPP was meant to be a gold standard trade agreement. It won’t be that if there is no meaningful dairy access.

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Parliament 24 June 2015

June 24th, 2015 at 12:02 pm by David Farrar

The order paper is here.

Oral Questions 2.00 pm – 3.00 pm

  1. ANDREW LITTLE to the Prime Minister: Does he stand by his statement, in question time yesterday, he would “absolutely” retain confidence in a Minister who authorised a multi-million dollar payment to a disaffected businessman to unlock a free-trade deal?
  2. JAMES SHAW to the Prime Minister: Does he still have confidence in the Minister of Foreign Affairs?
  3. ANDREW BAYLY to the Minister of Finance: What reports has he received showing why more housing is needed as part of supporting a growing New Zealand economy?
  4. Hon ANNETTE KING to the Minister of Health: What advice, if any, did he give to Cabinet on the risks of the Social Bonds Pilot announced on 1 June 2015?
  5. Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS to the Minister for Māori Development: Does he stand by all his statements?
  6. ALASTAIR SCOTT to the Minister of Revenue: What recent announcements has the Government made around tax rules on property transactions?
  7. Hon DAVID PARKER to the Minister of Foreign Affairs: Did he meet with David Brownrigg and George Assaf in Auckland on 18 October 2011 “to discuss trade between New Zealand and the Middle East and, in particular, the resumption of a specialised live export sheep trade with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia” and was that meeting the subject of a letter to him dated 2 November 2011 from Brownrigg Agriculture on behalf of Mr Al Khalaf and Mr George Assaf?
  8. KANWALJIT SINGH BAKSHI to the Minister for Communications: What recent announcements has she made on a new emergency response system for mobile 111 calls?
  9. FLETCHER TABUTEAU to the Prime Minister: Does he stand by all his statements?
  10. CLARE CURRAN to the Minister for Māori Development: Why did he tell Radio New Zealand yesterday he did not discuss programming content with Paora Maxwell on 20 May, when Paora Maxwell said in an email to staff on 22 May that “We talked about … content”?
  11. JACQUI DEAN to the Minister for Small Business: What steps are the Government taking to improve the way we collect data from rural small businesses?
  12. KEVIN HAGUE to the Minister for Climate Change Issues: Does he agree with Lancet Commission co-Chair Professor Hugh Montgomery that “climate change is a medical emergency” but “tackling climate change could be the greatest global health opportunity of the 21st century”?

National: Four questions on the economy, property tax rules, 111 calls and small businesses

Labour: Four questions on the Saudi Arabia farm x2, social bonds, and Maori TV

Greens: Two questions on the Saudi Arabia farm and climate change

NZ First: Two questions on Maori Affairs Minister and PM standing by their statements

General Debate 3.00 pm to 3.00 pm

The general debate consists of 12 speeches of up to five minutes each, so a maximum of one hour.

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Global Mode lawsuit settled

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

NBR reports:

The “Global Mode” case has been settled in favour of the big media companies.

A notice posted this morning to the NZX by Sky TV reads, in full: “The legal proceedings against “Global Mode” service providers have been settled. As a result, from 1 September 2015, the “Global Mode” service will not be available to any person for use in New Zealand.”

This is a pity, as it would have been great to have got a court ruling on whether circumventing geo-blocking technology is illegal. It would have had global ramifications.

My take: this is a victory for the old media companies but really only a moral one. Global Mode was unique worldwide in that it covered every CallPlus and Slingshot customer, without them having to do anything but there are still lots of easy ways for people to access geo-blocked sites. …

And perversely, had they lost, at least the big media companies would have had a legal decision confirming what everybody already knows: that in the age of streaming video services, there’s no such thing as an exclusive local license any more – and that the price Sky TV and others pay for local rights should reflect that.

I agree that this is not much of a victory for the broadcasters. It takes around 20 seconds to install a plugin to get around geoblocking, so people will still circumvent. And as Keall says, if they had lost in court, they could negotiate lower fees from rights holders. Now they will still pay inflated fees for theoretically exclusive content, but still have people directly accessing it from overseas sites.

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Herald says Councillors should vote not abstain

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

The Herald editorial:

Fairly or not, politicians are expected to have solid, unambiguous positions on every issue. Not for them the shades of grey that influence the decision-making of most people in everyday life. Consequently, it is unsurprising that the Auckland councillors who are thinking of abstaining to allow the council’s 10-year budget to pass are being strongly criticised. Yesterday, Michael Barnett, of the Auckland Chamber of Commerce, added to the pressure by saying taking that course would be “a total nonsense”.

They are elected to govern. If they can’t handle the responsibility, they should resign and allow in someone who can.

But ringing in their ears are the dire warnings of the council’s chief executive and chief finance officer, who have told councillors if the budget is not adopted, the council will not be able to set or collect rates, refinance loans or meet stock exchange requirements.

If they vote down Len’s budget, then Len has to put up an alternate budget which can get a majority. That is how it works.

It would surely not be catastrophic if the budget was not adopted. Any difficulties could be worked through as the budget was modified to meet the concerns of Mr Clow and others. This could see the rates impost reduced significantly through a variety of measures, including staff minimisation, enhanced efficiencies, and the selling down of council assets, such as port and airport shares and carparking buildings.

It is not a choice of Len’s budget or no budget. If they vote down Len’s budget, then a revised budget gets put up.

The issue is too important for any councillor to choose not to choose. They were elected to provide a voice for the citizens of their ward. That should not be lost when they are so adamant about the budget’s shortcomings.

Any Councillor who votes for the 9.9% rates increase budget, or abstains on it, will face a vigorous and effective campaign to stop them being re-elected.

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Corporate manslaughter

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

Stuff reports:

The Government has confirmed plans to insert corporate manslaughter provisions into the health and safety reform law currently before Parliament.

The measure allowing firms to be prosecuted and fined for workplace deaths has been under consideration since the Pike River mine tragedy. Labour leader Andrew Little has been a strong supporter, but the Government has dragged its feet until now.

Justice Minister Amy Adams on Tuesday said the most appropriate place for the provision, which would address the concerns of those who lost loved ones to the actions of corporates, was in the health and safety law.

She had asked Workplace Relations Minister Michael Woodhouse to add the provision, and he had said he would look at it.

“There’s already a strong sanctions regime, but I’m certainly open to having a look at the suggestion around corporate manslaughter,” Woodhouse said.

There may be just cause to have such a law, but I fear it may become very politicised with calls for employers to be found guilty of manslaughter in relation to all workplace related deaths. The test should be gross negligence at a minimum.

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