Food stupidity from Labour

April 12th, 2013 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Patients could be fed week-old food under Government plans for hospitals, leaked documents have revealed.

A report obtained by TV3 News yesterday showed food would be made in two hubs, in Christchurch and Auckland, and then transported to hospitals across the country, saving $10 million.

Some of the food could be chilled for up to a week before being served. …

Labour Health spokeswoman Annette King said the move was ‘‘a shocker’’.

‘‘I’m trying to imagine what a silver beet looks like after six and half days in the chiller,’’ she said.

‘‘It can’t be good for patients to be fed food cooked and chilled for up to seven days.’’

A Health spokesperson should be more responsible that suggesting chilled food is unsafe.

Millions of NZers eat food that has been chilled and then reheated.

It really is pathetic, this type of mindless opposition.

Tags: ,

Complaining over competent political management

April 8th, 2013 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports Annette King:

The Ministry of Health process for handling Official Information Act requests has been called “laundering” after different ways of treating requests from the public, media and politicians were revealed. …

The Herald sought the ministry process showing warnings for officials about releasing “politically sensitive or controversial” details to the public. It has six possible checks for releasing information before it was sent to Mr Ryall’s office, where the minister and staff were given five days to review it.

When people from Parliament sought information, the number of steps increased to eight, and to nine when the OIA request came from media. …

Opposition health spokeswoman Annette King has labelled the scheme an “OIA laundering process” designed to keep information from the public.

Oh this is silly, Keeping the Minister’s office in the loop when Opposition MPs or media file OIA requests is a no brainer. There is a world of difference between an OIA request from Mrs Smith-Jones wanting to know how much something about her local hospital and from say the Opposition Spokesperson asking for a copy of a briefing paper to the Minister.

What matters is not the process,, but the outcomes. Does keeping the Minister in the loop mean the Ministry of Health is not meeting the 20 day deadline for responding?

No Right Turn compiled OIA stats in 2012, and 85% of Ryall’s OIA responses are done within 20 days, with an average of 16.5 days. Now this is for OIAs to him, not the Department, but it suggests a good compliance regime.

If Annette wants to score some points against Ryall, she needs to do far better than complaining about internal processes which are simply competent political management.

What I’d be interested in is what the compliance rate is for the Ministry of Health in terms of the 20 day deadline, and how often do they decline information and get over-ruled by the Ombudsman? That *might* help her to make a case, but this silly story just highlights how competent Tony Ryall is.

 

Tags: , ,

A Standard strategy

February 5th, 2013 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

I was fascinated to see Annette King commenting on The Standard several times, in different threads. In one comment she said:

I hope more colleagues engage on the Standard, a must read for me. Constructive comment and exchange of ideas would be of two way benefit.

This is quite remarkable considering David Shearer has said how he never reads the blogs, and his caucus and office have tried to poo-poo any influence they have.

I joked on Twitter:

The really impt vote in caucus was to select who would be sacrificial MP to post on The Standard. Annette got short straw :-)

But I think there is substance behind the joke. Smart people in Labour know they can not afford to have the most read blog on the left remain a cesspit of anti-Shearer hatred. So they obviously decided on a strategy of waiting until Shearer wins the leadership vote and then do two things.

  1. Have Labour-friendly authors post how it is time for people to accept the leadership is settled, and that it is time to focus on defeating National
  2. Send caucus members into The Standard to make them feel less alienated and constructively engaged

It’s a pretty smart strategy. I could guess who came up with it. It won’t be a silver bullet as the depth of ill-well runs very deep. It isn’t just against Shearer, but also Mallard, Curran and more generally the old guard (which makes the choice of Annette to engage with them a very smart one). But I do think it will work in reducing the level of hostility and bile.

Tags: ,

Next Welington Mayor

October 17th, 2012 at 7:53 am by David Farrar

Katie Chapman at Stuff reports:

A year out  from the next local body election, it’s already a hot political talking point: who will face off in the race to be Wellington’s mayor?

Incumbent Celia Wade-Brown is definitely standing again, and the names doing the rounds of those likely to oppose her include Fran Wilde, Annette King, and councillors Paul Eagle, Jo Coughlan and Justin Lester.

Annette and Fran are the two heavyweight contenders, both with significant profile, and both being former Labour MPs. I suspect one of them will stand, but probably not both.

Paul Eagle is more likely to seek Annette’s Rongotai seat in a by-election, if she stands – despite what he says. He will not stand against Annette if she stands.

Jo Coughlan has been an excellent Councillor, with her main focus being on economic growth and jobs. Lester is too new to rate, but seems sound so far.

Tags: , ,

Labour on housing

July 16th, 2012 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

John Hartevelt at Stuff reports:

Labour is urging a “hard look” at the accommodation supplement, amid claims landlords are pocketing a $1.2b “subsidy” despite providing substandard housing.

Housing spokeswoman Annette King said the Salvation Army had warned in the 1990s that the supplement to support low-income people would turn in to a subsidy for landlords – and that had happened.

Where is the proof for this claim that it has turned into a subsidy for landlords? Is Annette King saying that landlords are charging more to someone who is eligible for the accommodation supplement?

“It is a major subsidy for landlords but it hasn’t produced better housing or more access to housing or an ability for people to buy housing,” Ms King said.

It is not a subsidy for landlords. It is a subsidy for low income tenants who are renting.

“If we just let it keep growing year after year as more and more people struggle to pay rent, then we are doing nothing in terms of changing the ability to house people and it’s time that we had a highly focused look at how do you turn that into something that is a whole lot better.”

The supplement is paid in addition to other welfare payments at varying rates, depending on circumstances. It is meant to help cover rent, board or home ownership costs.

In 2007, the Government paid $877m through the supplement, but it is expected to top $1.2b this year.

If Labour is proposing abolishing the accommodation supplement, then they should say so. You could divert the $1.2b a year into new state homes through Housing NZ, which are then provided at 25% of people’s incomes. I suspect this is what they want to do.

The problem with this though is those low income families who get into a Housing NZ home get massive state support, while those low income families who do not get into a Housing NZ home would get zero, nil, nothing.

Ms King said the supplement supported people in rental accommodation but a lot of the houses were “incredibly poor quality”.

“Some of it is absolutely appalling housing and landlords take whatever the accommodation supplement is and add it to their rent,” she said.

Again, proof? Labour are smearing tens of thousands of landlords with this allegation.

“I think we need to take a hard look at how we could turn some of that accommodation supplement into providing affordable, decent, warm housing and how we could turn some of it into people being able to own their own housing.”

She did not know exactly how that might work but said it should be discussed.

So Labour actually has no alternative. They just wanted to smear evil landlords.

Tags: ,

The four members’ bills

June 29th, 2012 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

My column in the Herald (now published Thursdays) was on the members’ bill ballot. This was timed with four bills being drawn from the ballot. They are:

50 Overseas Investment (Restriction on Foreign Ownership of Land) Amendment Bill Dr Russel Norman
24 Habeas Corpus Amendment Bill Chris Auchinvole
35 Local Government (Salary Moderation) Amendment Bill Hon Annette King
52 Prohibition of Gang Insignia in Government Premises Bill Todd McClay

Dr Norman’s bill would ban foreign ownership of “sensitive land”. This is any non-urban land greater than 0.05 square kilometers!

Chris Auchinvole’s bill implements some recommendations from the Law Commission on  habeas corpus applications. Mainly seems to be giving Judges slightly more discretion in dealing with them.

Annette King’s would require the State Services Commissioner to approve local authority CEO remuneration packages, as they do for government departments. Technically a bit of a breach of the independence of local bodies, but worth supporting at least for first reading as may be a useful tool for keeping relativity between central and local government.

Todd McClay’s would ban gang insignia being displayed within government (central and local) premises.

Tags: , , , ,

Dalziel rules out Mayoralty

May 12th, 2012 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The Press reports:

“I want to be the minister, not the mayor.”

With that sentence, Christchurch East Labour MP Lianne Dalziel wants to lay to rest one of the city’s most persistent rumours since the February 2011 earthquake.

Dalziel, Labour’s earthquake recovery spokeswoman, said there were several reasons why she was not interested in standing for the mayoralty late next year.

One was that she had Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee’s job in her sights if Labour was able to govern after the 2014 general election.

This seems to be confirmation that Dalziel will stand for a 9th term as an MP. This doesn’t help Labour with their rejuvenation, but if they do get to win Government it would be appropriate for Dalziel to become the CERA Minister as it would be karma. I think she would discover how incredibly difficult it is to do the job and please everyone. It is very easy to scratch every itch, and far more difficult to actually make the hard decisions.

Of course by 2014, most of the hard decisions will have been made.

In Wellington however, it is looking more likely Annette King will stand for Mayor, as she has now said she is actively considering it.

This opens up a Rongotai by-election in 2013, if so. If Labour loses the seat to the Greens it will be a big blow to them.

Tags: ,

Paul Buchanan on King’s claims

March 26th, 2012 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Paul Buchanan blogs at Kiwipolitico:

Former Police Minister Annette King says that she and her cabinet colleagues were not informed about Operation 8 until the night before the dawn raids. …

Annette King expects us to believe that she, as Police Minister, had no clue about a police operation that was going to invoke the TSA for the first time, not against foreign terrorists but against a collection of well-known domestic dissidents with long histories with the Police. She expects us to believe that Helen Clark, the micromanaging, all-knowing Prime Minister and Minister for Intelligence and Security, had no clue about Operation 8 even though the TSA was used to justify the electronic surveillance of the suspects a year before the raids, that SIS assets were used to that end, and that the raids would be carried out on Tuhoe land as well as in cities (a delicate political issue, to say the least). 

Paul raises some interesting points. Maybe they were only told that the exact operation was occurring the next day, but I suspect some Ministers would have known of the overall investigation for much longer than that.

She wants us to believe that then-Police Commissioner Howard Broad, well known for his ties to the the Prime Minister, did not utter a word about who was targeted and why until less than 12 hours before the cops rolled.

She would like us to believe that with the possible exception of the PM, no one in the 5th Labour government was aware of Operation 8 until October 14, 2007. This, even though multiple agencies were involved and the lead-up  to the raids was over a year in the making.

Yeah Right.

King’s interview has raised more questions than it has answered.

Tags: , ,

King for Wellington?

December 14th, 2011 at 9:30 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Her parliamentary ambitions are over, but Annette King may now turn her thoughts to the Wellington mayoralty.

Mrs King scotched suggestions last year that she would run for mayor, when Celia Wade-Brown narrowly defeated Kerry Prendergast, but is not ruling out standing in 2013.

If Annette runs, I can’t imagine she would lose. Would be fascinating to have a Labour MP challenge an incumbent Green Mayor.

Tags: ,

A Ministry for children?

June 20th, 2011 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Annette King proposed on 21 May that NZ should set up a Ministry of or for Children. However she is not the first MP to propose this.  She got beaten to it by 23 years by Ross Meurant. In a high profile column in Truth, Ross Meurant said he did not want to be Prime Minister or Police Minister, but wanted to be Minister of Children’s Affairs.

Now just because Meurant first proposed it, doesn’t mean it is a bad idea. Mind you statistically there could well be a correlation!

But what happened to his idea back in 1988. Did anyone oppose a Ministry for Children? Yes a Government Minister did.

Which Minister – well Annette King by coincidence.

Hansard records Meurant responding to Annette King:

“A while ago, when I floated the concept of a children’s ministry, I recall that the member … castigated me,”

In his book Beat to the Beehive, Meurant also noted that Annette King had ridiculed him for his proposal.

So Labour’s big new policy idea, is one taken from Ross Meurant 23 years, which was ridiculed by their spokesperson at the time. Can’t wait for their next policy – I guess it will be something else they have ridiculed in the past like bringing in certain food exemptions for GST – oh wait ….

Tags: ,

King v Farrar

June 14th, 2011 at 3:30 pm by David Farrar

Am very amused by this story on Stuff:

In the spotlight over whether the taxpayer has funded Labour’s party activities, deputy leader Annette King has taken a pot shot at right-wing Stuff blogger David Farrar. …

King said Labour was very careful about what its staff did during paid time at Parliament.

”We have looked at it and we have made sure they are doing what is appropriate for them to do.”

Other parties should also check their staff, she said.

”Because I have no doubt that in the past someone like David Farrar setting up his blog, a lot of it was done within Parliament.

”I’m not accusing him of using Parliamentary time but every party has to be careful of what they do in their own time, in their own equipment and in Parliamentary equipment.”

Farrar admits he was working at Parliament when he set up the blog in 2003, and over the nine months he spent working in the National Party’s leader’s office he occasionally blogged from Parliament.

”But the blog was hosted on the NZ Pundit server in Dunedin. No Parliamentary resources were used.

”I worked an 80 hour week, they were getting free time from me, so the taxpayer didn’t pay for my time.”

I literally laughed out loud when I heard Annette was talking about eight years ago in 2003. And as I told Danya, my blog was never hosted on servers paid for by Parliament. Gordon King from NZ Pundit hosted it back then.

I definitely did blog from Parliament during the nine months cross-over with working there, but did this openly and under my own name. I actually think parliamentary staff should be encouraged to blog – so long as they do it openly like with Frog Blog.

But with me, it was very much as an individual. I did not seek permision from, or even inform in advance, any MP or staffer that I was starting a blog. For me it was just continuing on the debates I had been having in Usenet since 1996.

Tags: , ,

A Ministry for Children

May 22nd, 2011 at 9:14 am by David Farrar

Annette King said:

After the 2011 Election, a Labour-led Government will have a Minister for children.

It still astounds me that in New Zealand we have a Minister for Race horses; a Minister for the Rugby World Cup; a Minister for Senior Citizens but no Minister for the most vulnerable in our community, our Kids.

Labour will establish a Ministry for Children. Its job will be to make sure children are a priority, not just in theory, but in practice.

If the lack of a Minister for Children amazes Annette, why didn’t she call for one sometime in the last 30 years she has been an MP? How about when she was Minister of Youth Affairs in 1989?

And I agree it is silly we have a Minister for race horses. But I was not a member of the Cabinet which massively increased funding for race horses, against official advice, to placate Winston – whose major secret funders happen to all own race horses.

Heather Roy notes:

“New Zealand already has a small army of Ministers and departments to deal with child welfare; the Ministry of Social Development, the Children’s Commissioner, the Families Commission and the Ministry of Youth Development, and yet too many of our vulnerable children are still subject to terrible abuse and poverty.

I have no doubt that Annette is absolutely sincere in wanting to reduce child abuse and the like. But I am very cynical about the notion that another Ministry is the answer.

Tags: ,

Goff to strengthen leadership further

April 1st, 2011 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Phil Goff announced on Tuesday that his handling of the Hughes affair had in fact strengthened his leadership. In a bid to close the 20+ point gap with National, in the polls, the front bench signed off a series of further initiatives to strengthen his leadership and public appeal.

  • Trevor Mallard to be arrested for the Crewe murders and Phil Goff to reveal he planted the bullet that framed Arthur Allan Thomas
  • Clare Curran to be exposed as also having had a paper run in Andersons Bay, and that on the day of the Bain murders she delivered David’s papers for him. Goff to reveal he supressed this information from the public, to protect the innocent Bain
  • Annette King to confess she ran an illegal brothel in her office,while Minister of Health. Evidence to be produced that four of her staff married MPs, for which King got a commission on each marriage. Goff was in on the scam as the marriage celebrant
Tags: , , , , , ,

Small on Labour

March 29th, 2011 at 2:02 pm by David Farrar

Vernon Small also provides advice for Labour:

Phil Goff’s leadership may not be on the line today at the shadow cabinet meeting in Dunedin, but no change is no longer an option.

That’s also a big call.

Looking again at the wider leadership team including Annette King and David Cunliffe and making a change there may be the answer.

Helen Clark did it in 1996 to shore up her leadership.

At the time her rivals did not have the numbers to roll her, but she recognised the concern in the party at its poor poll rating and knew she needed to act.

The result was her deputy and finance spokesman David Caygill hit the cutting room floor in favour of Michael Cullen, creating the leadership team that was so effective for Labour during nine years in office.

Politically that might work, even though it would be quite unfair. Goff is the one who has ballsed up so badly, and I don’t think King has done anything much wrong – we don’t know what she advised Goff. And the fact the incident happened at her house is not a reflection on her. There’s nothing wrong with having a colleague stay with you – in fact probably saves the taxpayer money.

But Annette is very loyal to Labour, and it is possible she could walk, to save Goff.

There is clearly a split between Goff and the party or at least president Andrew Little over the handling of the issue and the lack of communication. It goes deeper than the papering over of the cracks that occurred late on Sunday when the two finally talked about the issue.

Labour is in full fund-raising mode, made difficult by the current controversy. Its activists on websites and blogs are openly questioning the party’s direction and Mr Goff’s judgment. Its union backers and foot soldiers need to be motivated but are in danger of being demoralised.

Business as usual is simply not an option.

Meanwhile in a seperate galaxy, located well beyond the Andromeda Galaxy, Stuff reports that “Phil Goff has said the Darren Hughes affair has ‘strengthened’ his leadership”

You can’t make shit this good up.

Image courtesy of Iidiot/Savant.

Tags: , , , ,

Press Freedom Debate

May 3rd, 2010 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

To mark Press Freedom Day, there is a debate tonight (7 pm) at the Backbencher on the moot “That politicians pay the price of a free press”.

The cost is $25, which includes finger food. Proceeds go to the Asia-Pacific Solidarity and Safety Fund which basically provides welfare to the families of journalists killed doing their job.

The debaters are:

Affirmative

  1. Annette King
  2. Darren Hughes
  3. Simon Bridges

Negative

  1. Tom Scott
  2. Jane Clifton
  3. Barry Soper

They are all very amusing speakers, so should be a fun evening.

You can pay at the door, but if you do plan to go, it is useful to e-mail Brent Edwards so they can cater for the right numbers.

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Little for New Plymouth?

March 15th, 2010 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The Taranaki Daily News reports:

Labour Party top-dog Andrew Little could step forward for a tilt at the New Plymouth electorate seat in next year’s national elections.

Mr Little, the party’s president and touted by many as a future Labour leader and prime minister, has refused to rule out the possibility.

“It’s certainly no secret I want to get into Parliament next year,” he told the Taranaki Daily News yesterday.

“As to how I do that, or where, I’ve made no decisions.”

He said he hopes to have made a decision within the next two or three months and wouldn’t rule out running in New Plymouth.

This is no surprise. The fact that Labour did not open nominations for New Plymouth at the same time as the other seats they lost, was obviously to keep options open for their President.

Andrew can of course just place himself at No 3 on the list, and be assured of entering Parliament that way. However a seat is almost a pre-requisite to becoming leader.

The city electorate is often viewed as a swing seat come election time and in 2008 National candidate Jonathan Young squeaked in past Labour’s 15-year encumbent MP Harry Duynhoven, with the tightest margin in the country – just 105 votes.

Mr Little has strong personal and family links to New Plymouth, having grown up here.

It was a very tight contest between Young and Duynhoven, but that is not the same thing as being a marginal seat between National and Labour.

While the electorate vote margin was only 0.2%, the party vote margin was a whopping 19.1%. Now nationwide the party vote margin was 11%, so 19% is a huge amount.

Harry Duynhoven had 13% of National voters, voting for him as the candidate. Will Andrew Little attract 13% of National voters?

It is a difficult decision for Andrew. His four main options are:

  1. Stand for Rongotai, with Annette King going list only, allowing Annette to retire easily if Labour lose in 2011.
  2. Stand for Hutt South if Trevor decides to retire in 2011 to become a full time blogger
  3. Stand for New Plymouth.
  4. Stand list only

No 1 is what I would go for if I was Andrew. There are rumours that Darren Hughes may seek that nomination though, and Annette is very good mates with Darren and would probably support him. It is also possible Annette will want to keep her seat, as many would see her going lost only as an indication she is not confident they will win the election.

No 2 depends on whether and when Trevor makes a judgement call that Labour are unlikely to win in 2011. He has said he doesn’t want another term of opposition. But I think Trevor still thinks the Government is on the verge of collapsing and is looking pretty comfortable where he is.

No 3 is Andrew’s for the taking. But the big negative is that he may lose, and lose big – which would not help him with his leadership aspirations.

No 4 is the default fall back option. As President, he would receive a massively high rating. But no one has yet become Prime Minister without not just a seat, but in fact a safe seat,

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Bill having fun

July 24th, 2009 at 10:16 am by David Farrar

I suspect Bill English enjoyed yesterday. It is always a bad sign for an Opposition when Governments are looking forward to question time and complaining it is only three days a week. From Hansard:

Hon BILL ENGLISH: The Prime Minister has a great deal more confidence in the Minister than a certain Charles Chauvel had in a former Minister when, as president of the Labour Youth Council in 1988, he told the then employment Minister, Phil Goff, to “take action or resign”. Charles Chauvel is probably feeling the same way today.

Some Researcher or staffer earned his pay yesterday.

Chris Tremain: Has the Prime Minister seen any reports of an employment Minister dealing with rising unemployment during a recession?

Hon BILL ENGLISH: Yes, he has seen a report that states: “It takes more than hot air, more than rhetoric, and more than using the backs of unemployed people to make political points. … I despair at the gamesmanship of politicians trying to get votes from the problem of unemployment”. That was said by Annette King in this House.

This is the problem you have when both the Leader and Deputy Leader were Ministers in not just the last Government, but also the one a decade before that.

Moana Mackey: How can the Prime Minister have confidence in a Minister responsible for cutting the training incentive allowance, and does he agree with Christine of Gisborne, a solo mother of four who now cannot do the nursing qualification that would enable her to move off the domestic purposes benefit and into paid work, when she says: “The Government has been sitting there telling us to upskill, get into jobs, not run up debt, to ride out the recession, and then they go and take away the assistance that some people need to enable this to happen.”?

Hon BILL ENGLISH: What we have learnt from the activities of the Labour Party over the last month is that we have to be pretty careful about believing whether Christine of Gisborne even exists, and also whether she is on the domestic purposes benefit, whether she owns three investment houses, and whether all the information she has given to the Labour Party about her situation has been truthfully represented here.

Once bitten, twice shy. Everyone is going to be very wary of any “example” put forward by Labour.

Tags: , , , , ,

The Folic Acid controversy

July 13th, 2009 at 9:29 am by David Farrar

Kate Wilkinson got a pretty tough grilling on Q&A yesterday as she was in the unenvious position of saying she thinks the compulsory medicating of bread with folic acid was wrong, yet she would not or could not stop it occurring due to our treaty with Australia – the best being offered is a review in October.

It is true that it is much easier to decide not to do something, than it is to pull out of a decision after it had been made by a previous Government – especially when it deos involve a treaty with a friendly Government. But the transcript shows the difficulty of trying to say we think this is a bad decision, but can’t stop it:

KATE The science is actually light on it.  I agree with what the Irish are doing, I’d have to say I agree with what they’re doing.

PAUL Well then do it.

KATE That’s why I’m doing it – the first opportunity I’m taking it and asking for a review.

PAUL I’m sorry you’re gonna put folic acid which may give me prostate cancer again, into my staple food, the bread, and then you’re gonna&

SUE And then review it.

PAUL And then review it, so you could be threatening the health of this nation.

Ouch.

KATE If you drill down into those studies though you’ll find that they’re not that qualitative or quantitative and it is a bit light.  Now if we can get a review through the Ministerial Council it’ll be done in three months.

PAUL Oh so we have three months of possible poisoning.

Holmes was very worked up on this issue.

PAUL Forgive me Minister, I read yesterday in researching this that is some link between excessive folic acid and prostate cancer.

SUE That is right.

PAUL And you are gonna put that in my bread?

SUE But Paul it’s the stupidity of this, that the Minister accepts there are these health risks.

KATE Yes she does.

SUE But she’s saying we have to do it so we’re eating up for Australia, we’re going to be forced because of some trade relationship with Australia, surely we should put – public health issues should be paramount, not some diplomatic relationship.

Never good when you let Sue Kedgley answer on your behalf

Worth remembering this, from NZPA:

Former Food Safety Minister Annette King said when the decision was made that it was “a triumph for humanity and common sense”.

I think this may become a bigger and bigger issue as September gets closer. If I was in Government I would be looking very hard at how to get a decision on this before the scheduled meeting in Australia. Surely one can get the agreement of the Australian Ministers by e-mail or something to allow New Zealand to suspend implementing the folic bread addition due to health concerns.

Tags: , , , ,

Annette’s mass medication programme

May 17th, 2009 at 11:03 am by David Farrar

My God. Labour in their dying days snuck through a regulation forcing bakers to plant a synthetic form of folic acid into every loaf made in NZ.

The plan aims to reduce the number of brain-damaged babies, although the fall may be a few as four a year.

But new research shows folic acid may cause an increase in colon cancer cases. And another study suggests it may cause colon cancer to grow faster.

The Bakers’ Association has labelled the compulsory introduction “mass medication” of the population, and warned that bread containing folic acid will be less safe than it is now.

This is like National Hospital’s unfortunate experiment – no informed consent for the test subjects.

The scheme was a favourite of former Health Minister Annette King but never went before Parliament. It was passed under special rules which do not allow the same level of public scrutiny.

The mandatory scheme was developed after it was decided the current scheme – in which specific brands are fortified with folic acid – was unsuccessful.

So the public didn’t choose the right sort of bread, so Labour passed a special law (regulation) to force everyone to have folic acid in their bread.

To me this is different to the flouridation debate, where the water supply is centralised. But at least with that debate, people can get their own water tank and supply. But this regulation will mean people have no choice to get bread without folic acid.

Bakers’ Association head Laurie Powell said it was difficult to address the issue because the industry did not want to put consumers off bread. “Our products are safe but probably not as safe with folic acid.”

He confirmed concerns about the scheme had led the association to ask the Government for legal indemnity.

“If it is found in 15 years’ time this stuff is bad and it causes health problems, we would be sued,” he said.

Powell was also concerned the industry could not regulate the amount of folic acid going into each individual loaf.

“It is a mass medication experiment that won’t work,” he said. “A trip to your baker should not be a trip to the pharmacy.”

The bakers have a point – they could get sued.

Authority officials confirmed pregnant women would not get enough folic acid from fortified bread and would still need to take supplements.

Which means the scheme may be counter-productive as it could mean women think they don’t need the supplements.

Tags: , ,

Humour from Annette

May 14th, 2009 at 10:14 pm by David Farrar

I’m not sure if Annette King penned this herself, or one if her staff did, but it actually is pretty damn funny so worth a repeat:

The Melissa Key Guide to Crime Busting

  1. Build a motorway – the more lanes the better.
  2. Direct all criminals (from areas you want to insult) to travel on the motorway preferably with signs on their vehicles saying “CRIM-IN-TRANST” to help Police identify them.
  3. Chose an electorate as far away as possible from the place you want to win as the destination for the mobile crims.
  4. Have all off-ramps removed to ensure a smooth flow of crims to chosen destination.
  5. Dedicate one lane as an expressway for crims who own cars.
  6. Dedicate one lane for a busway for crims who don’t have cars or haven’t stolen one yet.
  7. Increase public transport concessions for crims who are prepared to travel during off peak times to carry out their crimes.
  8. Encourage car-pooling of crims to cut down congestion and reduce the carbon footprint.
  9. Build motorways which cut through communities removing hundreds of houses thereby reducing the number of homes that can be burgled.
  10. Get a TV production company to make a video of your success in reducing crime.
  11. Avoid the PM at all costs because although you were once his “chosen candidate” he now thinks your crime busting ideas are silly.
  12. Avoid the good people of South Auckland you have labelled as crims.

I especially like the busway for crims that have not yet stolen a car!

Tags: , , ,

Grey Power on Ministers

May 8th, 2009 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Even I was laughing yesterday as Annette King was reading out some frank observations from Grey Power on initial Ministerial meetings, wth Bill English trying to sugarcoat them. Claire Trevett reports:

The post-mortem by president Les Howard on the March visit has handed King a wonderful arsenal.

She first reads out his rendition of bumping into ACC Minister Nick Smith, who had not responded to their requests to meet.

“His face reddened, and with his head down the moment the lift arrived at the ground floor he took to his heels and was last seen hurrying away in the distance.”

Heh, and even better:

King, obligingly, shares their verdict of that hard-won meeting as one that “left a sour taste in our mouths as we felt we had received the old-fashioned ‘brush-off’.”

It went on, saying Bennett needed to “shape up to her obligations”, before ending, “It appears she thinks a loud laugh will solve all questions put to her and this meeting was a complete waste of her time. Well, it certainly was a waste of ours.”

Ouch.

However Claire goes on to report on teh quotes that Annette did not read out:

Had English read the full report, he would have had a happier time. Grey Power described him as “very pleasant”, and Senior Citizens Minister John Carter as “one who can be trusted to get things done, rather than just talk about what needs to be done”.

Nice.

But the real killer English needed to take the wind out of King’s sails came in their verdict of the PM: “I found John Key much easier to talk to than the previous Prime Minister”.

Heh that would have been a wonderful rejoinder, if Bill had it at the time.

Tags: , ,

Labour making it up

April 28th, 2009 at 8:14 pm by David Farrar

Good God, I never realised that Labour’s regard for the truth was so remote that they literally just sit around and invent things. Labour has put out the press release quoted below:

National begins dirty tricks campaign in Mt Albert

Press Release by New Zealand Labour at 5:37 pm, 28 Apr 2009

National’s dirty tricks have started even before Labour has selected a candidate for the Mt Albert by-election, Deputy Leader of the Opposition Annette King said today.

First of all don’t you enjoy the hypocrisy of the party that was behind the attempted H-Fee smear, to talk about dirty tricks. Did Annette never notice Mike Williams over in Melbourne?

National and John Key’s dishonest attempt to discredit one of eight potential Labour candidates shows the Government’s eyes are off the ball when they should be focusing on peoples jobs and the upcoming budget.

“National has trawled through research papers written by David Shearer dating back to 1998. The papers looked at the use of private security in war torn nations where innocent civilians, mostly women and children, were dying and there were no better alternatives.

“They’ve fed this information to their right wing blogging friends.

Amazing – she just invents this from thin air. Let there be no mistake, I got the material from no one in National, in Parliament or the Government. I would be very happy to swear an affidavit before a JP to this, or undertake a polygraph. No one in National even pointed me towards this, and the first John Key would have known about this I suspect is when the media asked him for comment.

It amazes me that Labour is so embarrassed by these revelations, that they feel the need to just invent whoppers.

“Instead of this, John Key should be getting his staff to tackle real problems like job losses and the struggling economy.

Again nothing to do with the PM or his staff. Annoys me when people always credit them for our work! I know Labour is anti private sector, but maybe they can not comprehend the idea of people doing stuff on their own initiative.

“Why are they trying to dig dirt on one of the nominees, I predict that by the weekend they would have gone through the whole eight. Unlike National, we don’t yet know who our candidate will be. We are having a competitive selection process which will not be completed until this weekend.

And I urge all Labour delegates to vote Shearer. Far from this being dirt on him, I think it is great he supports a role for the private sector in wars and the military. The problem of course is that his sensible views stand in stark opposition to Labour who are against the private sector being involved in most things.

And I am also bemused how it is considered “dirt” to re-publish an article Mr Shearer wrote in a publicly available journal. Does Labour think there is something wrong with people knowing the views of its candidates on important policy issues? This is not some personal private issue which is embarrassing to Shearer – it is not digging up share transactions – it is a public article on a matter of public policy.

“I hope it’s not a sign of the tactics National plans to adopt for the campaign. Labour is committed to fight a strong, clean and fair by-election

Insert Tui billboard – just like their general election campaign no doubt.

“John Key should stop spending his time on negative politicking and concentrate his efforts on how the budget can address the real problems facing New Zealand,” Annette King said.

Annette – nothing to do with John. Honest. Ask him. Ask me. Give us a polygraph test. Drug me with sodium pentothal. You’ll get the same answer.

The articles by Shearer were found almost by luck in fact. Someone mentioned something to Whale about something Shearer had once written. He mentioned something to me. I asked a couple of friends with access to academic databases to try and fnd something, and one of them found it on an academic database and sent it to me.  Total time on it was around ten minutes.

Tags: , , ,

Wellington Mayoralty not on the radar

March 23rd, 2009 at 3:25 pm by David Farrar

Just an update to my post of 9 March where I said I thought Annette King would contest the Wellington mayoralty and Andrew Little would possibly enter Parliament in 2010 through a Rongotai by-election.

I had a very enjoyable chat with Annette today and she said that she had not had any discussions with anyone about standing and is very happy as the MP for Rongotai, and that the Wellington Mayoralty is not on her radar screen at all.

It wasn’t quite a Shermanesque statement, but very few politicians will do that. I told Annette that I was happy to inform people of her current intentions being firmly focused on Parliament.

Tags:

A rare prediction

March 9th, 2009 at 9:15 am by David Farrar

I tend to shy away from making firm predictions, but in this case I am going to go out on a limb, and make a series of related predictions:

  1. Annette King will stand for Mayor of Wellington in 2010
  2. The resulting by-election will see Andrew Little enter Parliament as MP for Rongotai
  3. Unless Labour wins the 2011 election, Andrew will become Labour Party Leader shortly after the election, successfully challenging Phil Goff.

Time will tell if I am right or not. I’m quietly confident.

Tags: , , , ,

Quotes from Hansard

February 10th, 2009 at 8:04 pm by David Farrar

From Hansard today:

Hon Phil Goff: Can the Prime Minister—or the country—have any confidence in the transparency and honesty of the Minister of Finance, who, while ramming through legislation before Christmas without subjecting it to the scrutiny of a select committee, deliberately suppressed and withheld from the public and parliamentarians the advice he received from his own ministry that the fundamental parts of that legislation were deeply flawed?

Hon JOHN KEY: Yes. I have complete confidence in the Minister of Finance. If we want to have concerns about Ministers of Finance, maybe we should have concern for a former Minister of Finance, who may well find himself in breach of the Public Finance Act.

Ouch. Does JK know something or was it just a general reminder? Remember you can be prosecuted for breaching the Public Finance Act.

Hon Phil Goff: Can the Prime Minister categorically assure the House that National is not concealing Treasury advice or other departmental advice against any of the legislation now being introduced in the House today under urgency?

Hon JOHN KEY: Yes, I can confirm that the Government is not concealing any briefings or hiding anything from the House. If the member wants to talk about concealing things, maybe he should go and ask people in his own research unit about that, because the last time I saw them they were concealing the booze from the parliamentary Christmas party.

There were gasps to that one. Talking of which what has happened to the thieves?

David Garrett: Can the Minister confirm that the prefab prison—when it is built—will not have underfloor heating, plasma televisions in every cell, and expensive gymnasium facilities, and that criminals in those facilities will be required to work?

Hon SIMON POWER: I can advise that there will be no underfloor heating or plasma televisions in a new prison. Inmates will have appropriate exercise facilities, rather than the type of gymnasium I saw at one of the new prisons built by the previous Government. It seemed flash enough to charge a joining fee and for yearly membership.

Heh annual gym membership fee indeed.

Sandra Goudie: Has the Minister received any other feedback on the cost savings from building prefabricated modular units?

Hon SIMON POWER: Yes. The Leader of the Opposition has criticised the Government’s plan to save taxpayer dollars, stating that “If you are short-sighted enough to build something cheap and nasty you will be rebuilding before very long.”, and “When you are building a public institution, you build it to make it last.” That is a surprising claim, when the four prisons built under Labour, where costs blew out by half a billion dollars, have already racked up $9 million in repair bills.

Amazing what you learn once you are n Government.

Hon Annette King: Can she confirm that rather than sitting on its hands, as she claimed, Labour in Government reduced the unemployment rate from 7.5 percent to 3.8 percent through active labour market policies that saw 140,000 fewer people on the unemployment benefit, and if the previous Government’s policies did nothing, which programmes has she cancelled since she became Minister?

Here Annette tells a big porkie. Labour did not reduce the unemployment rate from 7.5%. It was 6.2% at the end of 1999 and at the end of 2008 it was 4.6% – a 1.6% reduction that averaged 0.18% a year reduction. Incidentially the unemployment rate under National declined by 2.5%, which was an average 0.28% a year reduction. And if you discount the nine months of 1991 before National’s policies such as the ECA kicked in, then the reduction was 4.7%, or an annual 0.57%.

Bottom line is Annette lied, and that the unemployment rate declined far more under National in the 1990s, than Labour during their nine years.

Hon Darren Hughes: Why did the Minister reopen the debate on Transmission Gully when it was the preferred route of the previous Government, and continues to be the preferred route of the Wellington region; and is it not a little hollow to claim, as he tried to yesterday, that the Crown contribution was unfunded, when it has been earmarked in the Crown accounts since 2005 when the Wellington regional transport package was first announced?

Hon STEVEN JOYCE: I raised it because the previous Labour Government, which was in office for some 9 years, raised expectations regarding this route that were unfunded at the time that it left office. It suggested that $400 million would be allocated to complete the $1 billion project, but left the remaining $600 million to be funded by local bodies in the region. A regional fuel tax was talked of as a means by which that might happen; I am informed by the ministry that a Wellington regional fuel tax in the order of 13.5c per litre would be needed to fund the $600 million that the Government of the time left unfunded, so it could be described as more of a wish than a plan.

Nice line – more of a wish than a plan.

Hon Lianne Dalziel: Does the Minister agree in principle with the proposal for the Government to provide alternative funding for community law centres to ensure they do not need to drastically cut services at a time when demand for those services will inevitably increase; if not, why not?

Hon SIMON POWER: I can assure the member that I am taking this matter extremely seriously. This Government is committed to access to justice for all, not just for those privileged few who can afford to access such redress as that offered by, for example, the Supreme Court. Coincidentally, the drop in community law centres’ funding is roughly equivalent to the $4.3 million that was committed by the previous Government to the bronze plating of the new Supreme Court.

And that’s a home run!!

What I found most interesting is that Lockie is taking a strong line with Ministers about answering the question, if it is the primary question. He basically said that if the primary question is asking for some fact or figure, the Minister must provide that as they have hours to prepare for it.  I think it is excellent that he is raising the bar in this way.

I repeat what I said earlier: where primary questions are laid down clearly, members of the public expect an answer. When Ministers are answering questions, they can expect that the answers they give may be further questioned by members of the Opposition.

I was worried about how Lockwood may go as Speaker as he was not a lawyer or a standing orders expert. But he seems to have turned a potential weakness into a strength, noting today:

Mr SPEAKER: I do not need any further assistance on this matter. I do not want to take up further time of the House. Had the Prime Minister not wished to answer the question, he could have made it very clear that he believed the question was out of order. The Prime Minister seemed to answer it with some enthusiasm. That entitled the Leader of the Opposition to ask a further supplementary question, and I believe that is the way the House should flow, in good order. We do not need to get too precious and pedantic about these things.

This is like a good rugby referee – making sure the “game” keeps flowing. Of course one has to follow the rules, but a but of latitude is a good thing.

Of course not having Winston there does make it a lot easier!

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,