Nasty Trevor under pressure

July 14th, 2016 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar


The more worried Mallard is that he is going to lose his seat, the nastier he gets.

The context is Chris Bishop pointing out with amusement that the official Labour Party twitter account has blocked him from following them.

Trevor seems to be obsessed with Chris. More and more of his tweets are about Chris. While most of what Chris posts to social media is about what is doing out in the Hutt Valley.

Dom Post asks whether Bishop will beat Mallard

July 11th, 2016 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

The Dom Post reports:

Prime Minister John Key visited Wainuiomata  recently to open an office for  National List  MP  Chris Bishop. 

The Hutt South electorate has never been held by National, nor were the electorates of Pencarrow or Petone that preceded it before MMP.

But the seat could turn blue after the next election, Key told the crowd assembled for the opening.  

He  said Bishop was a “hugely talented” young MP who ran a strong campaign against incumbent MP Trevor Mallard at the last election.

“Chris is the face of the future,” Key said. 

Wainuiomata was famous for three things, Key said.  Its “sensational” rugby league team, its “really, really good” golf course, and for being where Tony Abbott’s in-laws came from.

He joked that Bishop could accidentally end up becoming Australia’s next Prime Minister if he took another trip across the Tasman with “the way things are going”.

Bishop said National hadn’t committed enough to Wainuiomata in the past but that was changing.

“This is a great part of the Hutt Valley and it has a big future. I personally feel we don’t do enough to sell the benefits of Wainuiomata.”

He acknowledged the need for a mall upgrade and a local retirement village were challenges the area was facing.

Lower Hutt mayor and Wainuiomata local Ray Wallace said it was the first time he had ever known National to have an office in his hometown.

Bishop had been great to work with as an MP.

“I’ve got to say before the election, a lot of us said ‘Chris Bishop, who is this guy?’ But two years in and my nickname for him is ‘the everywhere man’,”  Wallace said.

High praise from the local Mayor.

I am not sure I can recall a more active local MP than Chris Bishop. Every week his newsletter is full of the numerous activities he is doing around the electorate ranging from lobbying the Council on parking, to setting up youth awards, promoting businesses, supporting community groups etc.

Good one Bish

May 28th, 2016 at 3:20 pm by David Farrar

Chris Bishop facebooked:

This afternoon I got a message on my Facebook page from Joan about a poor wee kitten left on her front lawn, near death’s door. I had a free hour so I raced out to Waitangirua to pick it up. The poor thing was not in good shape – but it was still alive, just.

I got in touch with the Kitten Inn on the way and they said to take it direct to the Petone Vet hospital. They took it straight off me for the doc to check out. I hope it pulls through! The Kitten Inn will take care of it after that, and place it with a loving family. They’ve currently got 100 kittens awaiting homes, and perform a sterling service saving kittens from right around the Hutt. Thanks Susan and your team for all that you do!

Animal rescue charities are the best. Great Bish was able to help and pick the kitten up.

Former Labour MP for Hutt endorses Bishop over Mallard

March 24th, 2016 at 11:58 am by David Farrar


This is an extraordinary letter. John Terris was the Labour MP for Western Hutt for four terms – 1978 to 1990. He was also Mayor of Lower Hutt from 1995 to 2004.

His key paragraph is:

Despite old allegiances, I would vote for him (Bishop) at the next election because we need a new face and new ideas, not an old attack dog with no teeth.

Bishop, despite being a List MP, has done an amazing amount in the Hutt in the last year. He’s set up awards, supported local businesses and community groups, taken issues to the Council, and done more as a List MP than many electorate MPs do.

He deserves to become the MP for Hutt South and I am confident he will do so.

Chris Bishop on Martin Crowe

March 8th, 2016 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Like many people of my generation, Martin Crowe was the best NZ batsman I could recall.  I was away tramping when he died, and wanted to say a few words, but cricket fan Chis Bishop has made a great post which I’ll just copy:

Martin Crowe was my childhood hero. Almost every boy growing up in NZ has one; Martin Crowe was mine. I missed seeing Crowe in his mid-1980s pomp – I was just two when he tore Australia apart at the Gabba in 1985 after Hadlee had taken 9/52 – and so my earliest memories of him are in the 1990s.

Like many Kiwis the 1992 World Cup is indelibly burned into my mind. I watched every ball of the first match against Australia. England had spanked us 3-0 going into the tournament. Hopes were not high for a New Zealand victory. But on that sunny, heady, day at Eden Park Crowe and his band of trundlers and journeymen played like world-beaters. I watched every ball of Crowe’s 100 not out. He drove McDermott down the ground straight, he pulled Tom Moody to the (very short) boundary behind square-leg, and did it again, and again. In the final over, he back-cut Steve Waugh behind square to get his century, and the crowd invaded the field. He had lit up the World Cup; inspired a team; and made a nation believe. Three hours later Larsen and Latham (!) had strangled Australia’s batsmen on the slow, low pitch, Harris ran out Boon with a 30 m side on throw from deep-wicket, and we had won. I wrote about it in my standard two class notebook, and I kept it for years and years.

After that game the nation went nuts. I can still picture where I was for every game. Our cousins in Upper Hutt for a summer Barbie when we beat England. At home, watching Greatbatch deposit Brian McMillan onto the roof of the biggest stand at Eden Park, chasing down South Africa’s 192 in 25 overs. At another set of cousins’, watching with disbelief as Greatbatch charged Malcolm Marshall and Curtly Ambrose (!) and hit them for six over deep extra cover. Dipak opening the bowling against Pakistan. Through it all Crowe was the master – almost impossible to get out when batting, directing things in the field, chivvying his young and enthusiastic team, daring to dream that New Zealand could do the almost unthinkable.

I used to keep a scrapbook of cricket news clippings. I would carefully cut out articles of interest from the Dominion and the Evening Post (separate papers in those days) and paste them into a big scrapbook. I can still picture the large article published the day after Crowe and Jones’ epic partnership in 1991 at the Basin Reserve. There’s a photo of Crowe and Jones with their wives, glasses of champagne in their hands, tired but happy looks on their faces. The scorecard for the test. The list of records broken by their massive partnership. For years and years in my backyard cricket games I would replicate Crowe’s innings – the cautious start, the resolute desire to Just. Not. Get. Out, then the slow build through the 100s as the bowlers got tired and the partnership grew and grew, then the freedom that came in the 200s, sixes off de Silva, breaking Turner’s 259 record, and then getting to 299. What to do? Obviously not the run past the keeper Crowe played. An off-drive? A clip off the legs? Push for one? I always scored 300. Crowe didn’t, and he later wrote about the anger, the agony, the pain. And the redemption, of sorts, when McCullum did it on the same ground, years later.

So many memories.

In his autobiography Crowe talks about the mental demons that come with being a cricketer, a batsmen in particular. One mistake and you’re out. That’s it. Sometimes when you don’t even make a mistake, you get dismissed. The ball that you just have to play outside off that takes the edge – out. The ball that cannons into the stumps when you’re backing up at the other end, with the bowler’s minute touch – out. The bouncer that so discombobulates you the ball ends up in short-leg’s hands off your bat – out. Cricket is a tough, tough game mentally, if not particularly physically. Crowe writes of the fear of failure; the fear of getting out, of missing your opportunity to score runs, to contribute. In schoolboy cricket you only get one chance to bat every Saturday. You don’t want to waste it. I used to try and channel Crowe when I batted – obviously the elegance and the strokemaking (at least an attempt) – but specifically his tricks for dealing with stress. Imagine your best ever innings and replicating that today. Remember how you felt when you were batting. Replicate that today. Get in the same zone. Remember the shots. Replicate. Watch the ball. Replicate. Score runs. Watch the ball. Score.

Later when I did a lot of debating, I used to try and channel Crowe again before giving a speech. Remember that speech you gave three years ago that won that debate? Replicate that. Remember how you felt then? Do it again. Remember the audience response? Do it again. Channel past greatness to inspire current greatness

Crowe was my first idol. The guy I wanted to bat like, to be like, to lead like.

Because I never said it when I got the chance – thanks Martin.

Politik on Chris Bishop

January 17th, 2016 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Richard Harman writes at Politik:

Chris Bishop came into Parliament as a National list MP in 2014 with what you might call form. …

In other words he had precisely the sort of CV that cynics around Parliament believe means its owner is inevitably headed for a fall.

But it hasn’t happened.

Instead he has confounded his critics to the point where his name appeared last year on virtually every media shortlist as backbencher of the year.

Chris has been very active in all the ways you want an MP to be.

  • Hugely active in the Hutt community where he is a List MP
  • Active legislator with one member’s bill drawn from the ballot and has helped write bills for several other MPs
  • Frequent speaker in parliamentary debates
  • Active participant in select committees

Ask him what will matter this year and he will single out two particular areas; neither of them necessarily headline makers.

His first pick is the debate about planning reform which to a certain extent means the Resource Management Act reforms but more probably will eventually centre on the way politicians react to whatever recommendations the Productivity Commission comes up with as it examines the totality of planning legislation.

“I think this is going to be bit edgy this year,” he says.

“It sounds quite boring but it’s actually right at the hard edge of some of the economic and social debate around inequality and poverty and around housing affordability.”

Like Finance Minister Bill English he has noticed what appears to be a shift in Labour’s position indicated by an Op-Ed piece in the “NZ Herald” co- authored by Phil Twyford and NZ Initiative Director, Oliver Hartwich which essentially argued for a freeing up of urban boundaries.

“I think in terms of that battle over do we need to free up more land, do we need to liberalise planning laws— the things that we’ve been saying for a while.

“I think we’ve won that battle and the Labour Party now concedes that and so now the issue will be where that leads this year and next year.”

And in a similar vein he sees how Labour reacts to the TPP as being a key political issue this year.

“One of the big dividing lines in New Zealand politics at the moment is peoples’ attitudes to the outside world.

“We have been very resolutely focussed on the idea of an open globally competitive confident market economy.

“For 30 years there’s been a consensus that our future is as a trading nation believing that you can’t insulate yourself from the rest of the world.

“But now if you look at Labour – it looks like they are trying to have a bob each way.

“I’m not quite sure where they will go and I think that will be one of the big questions this year.”

Labour have seen sense on the costs of planning laws. Are they going to do the same on TPP, or will they cotinue to rail against an agreement that the World Bank says will grow our GDP by around 3.5%.

He describes himself as a social liberal and an economic liberal with the word liberal meaning slightly different things in each description.

My favourite type of MP 🙂

Though he is the deputy chair of the Finance and Expenditure Committee, a plum assignment for a new backbencher, his focus is just as much on the electorate he is trying to win, Hutt South.

He was one of four backbenchers with Todd Muller, Alfred Ngaro and Mark Mitchell, who spent a month in Northland bolstering National’s campaign in the by-election.

And that experience taught him that local mattered in politics.

Unfortunately for him Hutt South is held by Trevor Mallard whose roots in that community are deep and who is a high profile local MP.

But though Mr Bishop is only a list MP he operates and campaigns as though he is the actual MP for Hutt South.

I get Chris’ weekly Hutt newsletter. I’m amazed by how much work he is doing there, and just as a List MP. He has organised youth awards, got behind local issues, lobbied the Council, visited almost every business and community group and regularly brings Ministers into the electorate. It’s a role model for what a List MP should do to try and become the Electorate MP.

“I started door knocking in February last year and I’m going to continue doing that.

Just three months after the election.

Bishop with some alcohol facts

August 27th, 2015 at 9:03 am by David Farrar

Pleased to see Parliament vote 99-21 to allow bars to easily open during the Rugby World Cup. Kudos to David Seymour for getting this law change through Parliament.

I was thinking about the Greens demanding that bars near schools not be allowed to open, even though only three out of 58 games will take place on a schoolday morning. If they had their way I imagine the Backbencher pub in Wellington would have to remain closed, despite it being a very popular rugby destination. You see the Backbencher is very close to not one, not two, not three, but four schools. How terrible. In fact I’m surprised the Greens are not demanding the Backbencher be never allowed to open at all, as hell kids walking down Molesworth Street at 3.30 pm may see people in the Backbencher!

During the debate Chris Bishop addressed some of the claims that alcohol use and abuse in New Zealand has got worse since the laws were liberalised.

I want to put on the record some actual facts around alcohol consumption in New Zealand society. Firstly, the World Health Organization in 2014 did a global report on the use of alcohol in society. Actually what that report shows is that by international standards New Zealanders actually drink a moderate amount. We are 96th in the world for alcohol consumption. We drink about 13.7 pure litres of alcohol per capita. That places us 96th in the world. It is slightly less than the United Kingdom; it is slightly more than France. So actually we are, internationally, average drinkers. What about binge drinking? Well, by international standards New Zealanders are very low binge-drinkers. Our prevalence rate of binge drinking is 5.6 percent. That is half that of Australia’s

So 96th in the world, and a binge drinking rate half of Australia’s.

That is half that of Australia’s, it is a quarter of Canada’s, and it is one-sixth of the United Kingdom’s binging prevalence rate. So is the assertion that we are a nation of binge-drinkers correct? No.

Some NZers binge drink regularly. By far most do not.

The proportion of young people who drink has dropped 25 percent in the last 5 years—that is from 2007 to 2012. It is one-third that of the rate in 2000. What about the number of people who are regular drinkers? That dropped 9 percent between 2007 and 2012. The number of people who are regular drinkers is half that it was in 2000—this is amongst young people. What about the people who are young binge-drinkers? What about the number of people who say that they binge drank in the last month? Between 2007 and 2012 the number of young people in New Zealand who say that they binge drank in the last month has dropped by 18 percent.

And youth drink driving is also well down. The trend for youth drinking is decisively going down – the exact opposite of the impression the wowsers give.

NZ Initiative says Stronger organ donor compensation can save lives and money

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

The NZ Initiative states:

Improving compensation for live organ donors is a rare opportunity to save both lives and healthcare dollars, according to a report released today by The New Zealand Initiative.
Author Elizabeth Prasad found that every transplant provides recipients with longer and better lives, while being much cheaper than dialysis – saving the government money over the longer term.
An indicative case of a 50-year-old male on dialysis who receives a transplant would live for eight additional years, and enjoy an improved quality of life. In this example, the Ministry of Health would save more than $120,000 by providing a transplant. Benefits are even greater for younger recipients as they avoid more years of dialysis.

So taxpayers save $120,000 if someone donates a kidney to someone on dialysis.

Many potential donors cannot afford time off work to assist a loved one. Currently, financial support for donors ranges from $140 to $350 per week for 12 weeks, depending on age and marital status. The average weekly wage in 2014 was $991.

The Chris Bishop bill would see donors get the equivalent of ACC – 80% of normal earnings. So around $800 a week for 12 weeks which is $9,600.

Paying a donor $9,600 to save $120,000 in dialysis costs. A no-brainer.

Dr Eric Crampton, Head of Research at The New Zealand Initiative, said that this issue was a case where an improved health policy brought about a win-win – the health of the recipient improved, as did the outcome for the funder.
“Usually policy is about trade-offs. When the government provides a favourable new scheme, it’s either at the expense of another policy, or taxpayers’ wallets.

Yep this is rare. Normally a policy has winners and losers. Here everyone is a winner – the donor, the recipient and the taxpayer.

Chris Bishop’s bill should complete its first reading tonight.

Doing more for organ donors

July 6th, 2015 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Three weeks ago, Elsie Howarth sacrificed a kidney to spare her father 10 hours of dialysis every second day.

In doing so, she also saved the taxpayer about $3000 a week.

But since the operation she has been in too much pain to return to work – and has yet to receive a cent in benefits.

Her experience has left the 24-year-old from Titahi Bay unsurprised New Zealand has such low donor rates. About 40 kidney transplants are made in Wellington every year.

“You just feel like you’ve been let down by the whole system,” she said. “It’s a massive slap in the face.”

Father Robin Howarth, 53, said: “The way they treat these heroes, no wonder people don’t donate in this country.”

The family were warned that Elsie could take some time to recover from surgery, but he said it was heartbreaking to see her in pain while his own health had blossomed since the transplant.

“She walks around like a 90-year-old. I’m walking around like a spring chicken. It’s absolutely shocking, to be honest, that she’s treated so badly.”

Elsie donated a kidney to her father on June 22. Since then, she has suffered nausea, swelling, pain and fatigue and is unlikely to return to work at Tawa BP for six more weeks.

Financial assistance is available to organ donors for up to 12 weeks after surgery. Elsie is eligible for a maximum weekly payment of $175.10 a week for a single person aged 20 to 24. If she was a year older, it would be $210.13.

So if you are an organ donor you may have to go off work for 12 weeks, and will get just $200 a week while you do!

The pair are championing a new member’s bill being brought to parliament by Lower Hutt-based MP Chris Bishop, which would vastly increase payments to kidney and liver donors.

Bishop’s Financial Assistance For Live Organ Donors Bill was drawn from the ballot on June 25, and had broad informal support in the House, Bishop said. It would pay donors 80 per cent of their income for 12 weeks, matching the ACC model. Childcare assistance would also be provided.

I’m a strong supporter of this – both on economic and humanitarian grounds.

He could not estimate the cost of the proposed changes, but said it was likely to save the Government money.

“Live kidney donation is the least expensive form of treatment for end-stage renal failure, and significantly improves life expectancy. 

Bishop’s bill is at No 8 on the order paper. They get debated only every second Wednesday when the House is sitting, so it should come up for first reading in the last quarter of 2015.

Bishop on Labour being the No party

June 22nd, 2015 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

National MP Chris Bishop writes in NBR:

Historically in New Zealand politics, the Labour Party has liked to think of itself as the party of progressive, even radical, social change.

Conversely, it is sometimes claimed National is the traditional party of conservatism – the party that manages the status quo; that builds on social changes already made.

Whatever the truth of these claims, today’s political situation differs markedly from these perceptions. National and Labour’s traditional roles have reversed.

Labour is now the real conservative party – fearful of innovative social policy, afraid of new ideas – in short, the party which says “No” to everything.

This is so true.

National has been driving a quiet revolution in the state services, getting government departments to focus on results from the better public services programme.

This is having demonstrably good outcomes, as the regular target reports show: a 38% reduction in youth crime since 2011, a 40% drop in the number of teenage solo parents on a benefit since 2011 and immunisation rates for Maori which are now as high as the rest of the population.

Between 2003 and 2008, government spending jumped 50% but there were little to no improvements in social services, as the Salvation Army noted in its State of the Nation report at the time.

Labour are good at spending, but not good in results.

The government is transforming the welfare system toward one designed around an investment and liability prism. Rather than taking a traditional year-on-year cash view, the Ministry of Social Development looks at the lifetime costs of its clients.

This creates the opportunity to spend more today to get a better long-term outcome for individuals and households. This is leading to profound changes in government policy toward people receiving welfare and other government support.

This is encouraging the government to invest in people, particularly the young, and to do it early. This social investment approach is about targeted, evidence-based investment to secure better long-term results.

So spend more in areas where it will save you more in the long-term, and spend less in areas where little is achieved.

Labour’s response to social policy
The first response is often silence. The party has nothing to say about the social investment approach to policy, nothing to say about better public services targets and little to say about Whanau Ora.

You won’t find many press releases from Labour on these important social reforms, or many Parliamentary questions. It’s almost as if it’s too difficult for its MPs to engage with the issues.

If Labour does have something to say, it often reverts to tired and trite clichés. A favourite is to call the government “neo-liberal” – the social democratic politician’s favourite term of abuse for centre-right governments.

Labour’s response to a recent Productivity Commission report about social services was to wail about the government introducing “vouchers” in social services. The party seemed blissfully unaware that “vouchers” (which simply means funding following people when choosing services) are all around us already – in early childhood education, in tertiary education and so on.

Vouchers is what the left call choice.

On the new social impact bonds, Labour wailed about people “profiting” from social services. Profit already exists throughout social services.

As Eric Crampton of The New Zealand Initiative has pointed out, private hospitals profit by providing publicly funded surgery, private pharmacies profit by filling Pharmac scripts and private medical device manufacturers profit by developing better replacement hips for publicly and privately-funded operations.

Do Labour want to nationalise all pharmacies, all GPs, all midwives?

Overall, Labour is fundamentally uninterested in new approaches to old problems. It is a party stuck in an ideological time-warp – which insists, despite all evidence to the contrary, the government has the answers to everything, can effectively address social problems and all that’s required is more government spending.

Social democratic parties around the world have moved on from this 1970s view of government – social impact bonds, for example, were originally a UK Labour government initiative – but New Zealand Labour appears determined to remain stuck in the past.

These days, National is the party of progressive, equitable, social reform. Labour is the real conservative party – saying no to everything, opposing for opposing’s sake and uninterested in new ideas.

As Chris said, NZ Labour is way out of step with other Labour parties around the world.

Bishop’s Maiden

October 28th, 2014 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Chris Bishop was given the honour of leading off the Address in Reply debate on behalf of National, and I think almost everyone would agree he was an excellent pick.

Some extracts I particularly liked:

I come to this House as someone who has always, for as long as I can recall, been interested in politics, history, public policy, and the law. My parents, John Bishop and Rosemary Dixon, are to blame. From dad I got my love of politics. Dad was in the press gallery from 1982 to 1987. He was chief parliamentary reporter for TVNZ during that momentous year of 1984. The political bug was transferred to me, or so the family joke goes, when he was told to talk to his new baby. Most people would choose to talk about the weather, what is on TV, or something like that; his topic of choice was none other than this man called Sir Robert Muldoon. I have had an enduring fascination with him and his politics ever since. Growing up I would pepper dad for stories about his time as a journalist—about the night of the 1984 snap election, about the night of the Mount Erebus crash, about travelling with Geoffrey Palmer to try to save the ANZUS alliance. I drank it all in, and those stories and those lessons have shaped who I am today. From mum I got my love of the law, particularly public law. From both my parents I gained an interest in ideas, in current affairs, and in the world around me. Growing up, our household was one where everyone was expected to have a view and not to be shy about expressing it. Indeed, both my parents were champion debaters, and mum was instrumental in establishing the New Zealand Schools’ Debating Council, which I was president of for 4 years much later in life. Almost every year since 1988 the grand final of the Russell McVeagh National Championships have been held where we were this morning—the Legislative Council Chamber . There are now four alumni of the championships who have become MPs: Jacinda Ardern, Megan Woods, Holly Walker, and myself. I am pleased that our side of the House is now represented on that list, and I am sure that there will be many more in the years to come.

Chris is a formidable debater, and I expect he will become a strong presence in the House.

My dad’s side of the family—although, I should say, not necessarily my dad, whose politics I do not know—is true blue. The Bishops were farmers at Hillend, outside Balclutha in South Otago. My poppa Stuart joined Wright Stephenson in 1928 and worked for it until he retired, interrupted only by World War II, where he fought at Monte Cassino . Stewart and Cora Bishop almost certainly voted National their entire lives. They referred to national superannuation as “Rob’s lolly”.

My mother’s side of the family could not be more different. They were Methodists in the great reforming progressive tradition, and Labour voters to their toes. One great-grandfather was a wharfie who won the honoured 151-day loyalty card during the 1951 strike. My grandfather Haddon Dixon was a Methodist minister, a social activist, a director of CORSO, and an inveterate follower of politics. He was the sort of man for whom Parliament TV was made. My nana was a progressive socialist. In 1981, as a 61-year-old, sickened by apartheid in South Africa, she joined the “Stop the Tour” movement, helped organise a sit-down protest on the Hutt motorway during the Wellington test, refused to move, and was duly arrested.

She happily did her 200 hours’ community service painting the Barnardos centre in Waterloo Road in the Hutt, so I think I get my social liberalism and my reforming zeal from my grandparents, although, it is fair to say, not my Labour Party politics. I come to this House as a 31-year-old, a representative of Generation Y. Our generation does not remember needing a doctor’s prescription to buy margarine or needing permission from the Reserve Bank to subscribe to a foreign magazine or any of the other absurdities of life in the Fortress New Zealand economy. It seems scarcely believable to us that from 1982 to 1984 all wages and prices in New Zealand were frozen by prime ministerial fiat. For our generation, inflation has always been low, we have always been nuclear-free, homosexuality has always been legal, and the Treaty settlement process has always been under way. New Zealand is a completely different country to what it was when I was born, and I have always been profoundly fascinated by that transformation and what its effects have been.

The post Muldoon generation do not understand why we have political parties that seem to paint the 1970s as the high point for New Zealand.

It intrigues me, for example, that although Bob Hawke and Paul Keating are regarded by the Labor movement in Australia as heroes and receive standing ovations at Labor conferences to this day, New Zealand’s own Labour reformers are essentially pariahs from their party. I think a significant portion of the left in New Zealand has never made its peace with the economic reforms of the 1980s and 1990s, and in some ways the debate inside the Labour Party today is the most visible manifestation of that lack of reconciliation.

Sadly there seems to be not a Labour MP left in caucus, who defends the legacy of the 4th Labour Government.

A maiden speech is traditionally the time to put on the record your principles, philosophy, and beliefs. I will do so with the caveat that I am not so arrogant as to think that my current views are immutable. Some of my political heroes said things in their maiden speeches they almost certainly would not have agreed with later in their careers. Roger Douglas’ maiden speech in 1969, for example, is extremely sceptical of the benefits of foreign investment in New Zealand. In 1970 Paul Keating told the Australian Parliament that the Commonwealth Government should set up a statutory authority to fix the prices of all goods and services in the Australian economy and he bemoaned the number of young mothers who were entering the workforce. I think good politicians listen, reflect, read, and think deeply about the world, and, if necessary, change their minds. I hope to always be open to that in my time in this House.

Indeed. You should have convictions and ideas when you enter Parliament, but you should also be able to change your mind to changing circumstances and superior arguments.

I am an unashamed economic and social liberal. The classical annunciation of liberalism within the National Party remains John Marshall’s maiden speech as the member for Mount Victoria in 1947. I believe, as he did, that the conditions of a good society are liberty, property, and security, and the greatest of these is liberty. I think individuals make better decisions about their own lives than Governments do. A fundamental belief in the primacy of the individual over the collective should be the lodestar that guides all good Governments. I think we should trust individuals more than we do and be more sceptical about the ability of the Government to solve social problems. I believe that the best way to deliver the prosperity New Zealanders deserve is through a globally competitive market-based economy that rewards enterprise and innovation. The reforms of the 1980s and 1990s were vitally important in transforming New Zealand from a sclerotic economic basket case to a modern, functioning, competitive economy, but there is more to be done.

Lower taxes, less inefficient Government transfers, less corporate welfare, more trade liberalisation and less regulation would be a start.

I support a tolerant, multicultural New Zealand that is confident, proud, and open to the world. Our society is enriched greatly by migration. The periodic desire by some to scapegoat migrants I find is deeply distasteful. I am proud of how far New Zealand has come in only one generation from an inward-looking, insular economy and society to one that is increasingly internationally connected and confident on the world stage. I believe that we can responsibly develop our natural resources and improve our environment at the same time. We are blessed with abundant natural resources in New Zealand, both renewable and non-renewable, and we are not wealthy enough as a nation to not take advantage of them. What we know from history is that the wealthier a country is, the more able it is to take practical steps to improve the environment. Some of the most polluted places on Earth were in the communist Soviet Union. Growing out economy through the responsible development of our resources gives us the ability to preserve things precious to New Zealand like our rivers, lakes, and national parks.

Yes, the economy and the environment are not in opposition. The cure to dirty rivers is not to shoot one in five dairy cows.

I have a profound belief in free speech, the power of ideas, and the importance of persuasion by those in public office. Fundamental sustainable change in public policy is only ever achieved when the argument is won. That is how marriage equality was achieved. It is how Treaty settlements were started and how they have continued. It is how we tore down the walls of the Fortress New Zealand economy. Leaders in this Parliament made the case for those things and won the argument. One of the proudest moments of my life was to debate in the Oxford Union, standing at the same dispatch box that Lange stood at when he delivered his famous speech on the moral indefensibility of nuclear weapons. Lange was at his best when he was arguing. I believe Bill English had it right in his maiden speech as the member for Wallace in 1991: “What I bring to this job is a willingness to get into the argument rather than to avoid it. I owe it to my voters to present in Parliament what is best in them—a credible, constructive, and committed argument. Power without persuasion has no lasting place in a democracy.” As long as I am an MP I will always try to present credible and constructive arguments and I will always be willing to have one.

Sadly the last Labour Government tried to close down much free speech with their Electoral Finance Bill. Today’s law is much better than what was proposed, but it is still too restrictive.

We are the first Government in a long time that has a resolute focus on tackling some of the intractable social problems that have bedevilled New Zealand for too long such as a persistent underclass, welfare dependency, Māori and Pasifika educational underachievement, and poor-quality social housing. We are not doing this simply by throwing more money at problems. Care for those most vulnerable in our community is not, or should not be, measured by the amount of money spent, the number of bureaucratic agencies set up, or the number of people employed to deal with the problem. We should judge policy by results. Milton Friedman was right: “One of the great mistakes is to judge policies and programmes by their intentions rather than their results.”

This is I think a key difference between right and left. Many on the left do think it is the amount you spend that matters. National’s Better Public Services targets has for the first time incentivised the state to focus on outcomes, not outputs.

One thing that I am personally passionate about is our plan to reward excellent teachers and keep them in the classroom, doing what they do best—changing kids’ lives. Everyone remembers their amazing teachers growing up. It is simply wrong that the classic career pathway for teachers at the moment involves leaving the classroom to move into administration.

Absolutely. The most important reform this term I’d say.

When people look back on this passage in New Zealand’s history, it is my fervent hope that they will recognise that it was the fifth National Government that put in place the reforms to raise the quality of teaching in our schools, that challenge the soft bigotry of low expectations, that made progress on tackling child abuse and family violence, that made social housing actually work for people, and that invested in people to support their aspirations for independence from the State. This Government’s signal economic achievements are important, but I think and hope this Government will be known for much more than that.

The bigotry of low expectations is one I particularly dislike.

As I said, an excellent maiden speech. There have been and will be many other fine ones. I normally try to do a summary of each one, but as I am on holiday, I won’t have the time. But they are all on the parliamentary website.

I booked my holiday for October/November on the assumption that Winston would hold the balance of power and take six weeks to decide, ad hence I would get back just in time for the new Parliament. Pleased to say things moved faster than that, even if it means I have missed the first few weeks of the 51st Parliament.

However the Herald has very usefully done a summary of the maiden speeches to date.

Vote Bishop to save Davis!

September 18th, 2014 at 12:46 pm by David Farrar

Danyl McL blogs:

I voted today at the VUW advanced voting booth. I voted for the Greens and (strategically!) cast my electorate vote for the Labour candidate in Ohariu. But as I contemplated the ballot boxes for the other Wellington electorates I reflected that if left-wing Hutt South voters cast their electorate vote for the National candidate and Trevor Mallard loses Hutt South, then Labour will get a  list MP who will – probably – actually give a shit about the Labour Party. Vote out Mallard and you might save, say, Jacinda Ardern. AND in three years time you’ll get a new Labour electorate MP you can vote for who also, hopefully, will give a shit about their own party.  So that’s a strategic vote worth considering.

Ardern is at no real risk of not coming in on the list, but Kelvin Davis is on the cusp on current polls. He’s part of the future of Labour.

If Labour voters in Hutt South vote for Chris Bishop, then they help Kelvin Davis stay in Parliament. And this is what Trevor wants, by his own words:

Even Trevor says Labour needs Kelvin Davis in Parliament. So if you’re a Labour voter in Hutt South, vote for Chris Bishop to keep Kelvin Davis in Parliament.

Mallard v Bishop

September 5th, 2014 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

“Nervous.” Trevor Mallard’s response about his chances of holding on to Hutt South seems odd, considering he has held the seat for 21 years.

But boundary changes this year could swing as many as 2500 votes from red to blue. The seat now covers all of the Western Hills, formerly in Peter Dunne’s Ohariu seat, and loses Labour-leaning suburb Naenae.

Throw in National candidate Chris Bishop, highly regarded by his party, and a few high-profile visits to the electorate by John Key and Steven Joyce, and the contest heats up.

If Chris Bishop does win the seat, I suspect David Cunliffe may send him a bouquet of flowers!

A public service announcement

May 28th, 2014 at 2:13 pm by David Farrar

National’s two Hutt candidates are Lewis Holden and Chris Bishop.

There are also two senior public servants called Lewis Holden and Chris Bishop. They are not the same people.

National’s Lewis Holden works for IBM Oracle. He is not Lewis Holden who is the Chief Executive of the Ministry of Culture and Heritage.

National’s Chris Bishop works for Steven Joyce. He is not the Chris Bishop who is the Acting Manager of the Communications and IT Policy Group at Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment.

This is a free public service announcement to reduce confusion of having people congratulate the wrong people on their selections 🙂

Bishop selected for Hutt South

May 22nd, 2014 at 10:29 am by David Farrar

Normally Labour held seats only get one or two people sticking their hand up to be the National Party candidate. But unusually five candidates contested the nomination for Hutt South, and Chris Bishop got selected last night. Great to see so many people keen to take Trevor Mallard on. The new boundaries mean the seat is not as safe Labour as it used to be, and a strong campaign could do very well there.

I’ve known Chris for the best part of a decade. One of the funniest brightest people I know, and he is one of New Zealand’s top debaters. He does or has spent a huge amount of time organising and coaching school debating tournaments and teams.

I’m looking forward to Meet the Candidate meetings with Trevor, Chris and Holly Walker. I recommend people who like a good debate go along.

Chris won the selection despite a Dominion Post editorial urging National not to select him. That was because, like Todd Barclay, Chris spent a couple of years as a regulatory and public affairs manager for Philips Morris. How dare National select two former tobacco lobbyists!

Well the answer is they got selected despite their former jobs, not because of them. Unless you’re George Clooney, it’s not the most popular job around. Fair enough.

But I’d make two points. The first is that National’s policies and decisions on tobacco issues have been almost everything the anti-tobacco lobbyists have been asking for. Excise tax has been hiked 50% over five budgets. An official goal of getting smoking to under 5% of NZ in the next decade was agreed to and being resourced. And the Government has agreed to plain packaging of tobacco products (subject to the WTO not ruling it illegal). I actually think the Government has gone too far (I’d trial plain packaging to see if it actually is effective), so any suggestion they are soft on tobacco is silly.

The second point is that Governments make decisions that impact companies in many industries. And every company deserves to have its voice heard on those policies. Some seem to think that tobacco companies should not be allowed to advocate on policies that affect them. I disagree. And judging someone on the basis it was their job to advocate for a tobacco company, seems akin to judging someone because they are a defence lawyer who represents undesirable clients. Everyone deserves a voice.

Anyway congrats again to Chris for winning a hotly contested selection, and commiserations to the other four who missed out. Hutt South is going to be a very interesting seat to watch.

Bishop announces for Hutt South

April 17th, 2014 at 12:21 pm by Jadis

Nice to see a local lad going for the National Party nomination in Hutt South.  Chris Bishop has been around the Party for many years, is a very strong debater and will give Mallard a run for his money.

I’m putting my name forward to be the National Party’s candidate for Hutt South as I believe the electorate needs a fresh face in Parliament and a strong voice in Government.

Lower Hutt is my home. I was born in Lower Hutt Hospital in 1983 and attended Eastern Hutt School and Hutt Intermediate. I played cricket on the Strand in summer, rugby on the Hutt Rec in winter, and waterpolo in Naenae Pool.

Those of us from the Hutt know what a great place it is. It’s a fantastic place to bring up a family, to work in, and to have fun in. Lower Hutt is full of friendly, creative, hard-working people who are proud of where they live. It’s my community, and I’m passionate about making the Hutt even better.


He’s got a pretty tidy CV for his age and thankfully a mix of Wellington and real world work experience – especially for his age.   He is of course a Senior Adviser to Joyce.  A role he will need to step down from through the selection process.

I work as a Senior Advisor to Steven Joyce at Parliament, helping him implement the National government’s programme to lift our economic growth and deliver better public services for Kiwis. From 2008-11, I worked in a similar role for Gerry Brownlee.

Between 2011 and 2013 I spent two years living and working in Auckland as a Corporate Affairs Manager for a large international corporate. I learned a lot, very quickly, about what makes business tick. I believe it is important MPs understand not just Wellington and government – but also how government decisions affect business and economic growth. My time in the private sector has given me that knowledge.

I have a Bachelor of Laws with first class honours and a Bachelor of Arts from Victoria University. While at Victoria I was elected to the University Council, tutored law, and was President of the Debating Society, winning three NZ University Blues. I’ve won 10 intervarsity debating tournaments, including at the Cambridge Union and the Sydney Union, and I was twice ranked as one of the top 10 debaters in the Asia Pacific. I’ve also won awards for mooting (legal arguing) and oratory.

I’m an active contributor to the community and have served on a range of charitable organisations in Wellington and overseas. From 2008-12, I was President of the NZ Schools’ Debating Council, a charity which organises debating in secondary schools in New Zealand. I’ve adjudicated hundreds of school debates around New Zealand and also overseas. In 2006 I was named Young Wellingtonian of the Year.

I didn’t know that Chris had been Young Wellingtonian of the Year.  

Of course, Chris still has to win the nomination and with today’s announcements about boundary changes there may be some competition for the Hutt South nomination. 

Top Ten Punishments for Chris Bishop

April 2nd, 2009 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Labour devoted a parliamentary question and a press release to exposing the Facebook status updates of Chris Bishop, in Gerry Brownlee’s Office. Chris’ sin was scepticism over Earth Hour.

Anyway I have been leaked the list of punishments that have been devised for Mr Bishop. They are:

  1. Placed in charge of Beehive recycling programme
  2. Secondment to Darien Fenton’s office every second Friday
  3. Now responsible for turning off the lights at night in every Beehive office
  4. Chris appointed Private Secretary for Gender Equity programmes
  5. Required to do a cost/benefit analysis for the national cycleway showing it will cost only $50 million and crate 4,000 jobs
  6. Then required to test the cycleway out during winter
  7. Made responsible for monitoring the Twitter accounts of all Labour Party staff
  8. Duties now include daily inspections of Bellamys food to check no pies or fizzy drinks are on sale
  9. As show of contrition to the Greens, Bishop made speech writer for foreign policy speeches for Keith Locke
  10. Compulsory entrant into Ministerial piggyback race at Easter

Thanks to all of Chris’ friends who helped compile the list!

World University Debating Champs

January 4th, 2009 at 10:28 am by David Farrar

The world university debating champs have been happening in Cork.

Congrats to the Vic A team of Stephen Whittington and Polly Higbee who made the semi-finals. They were Opening Government on the topic “That governments should subsidise home ownership.” There are four teams in a debate at worlds (Opening Gov, Opening Op, Closing Gov, Closing Op). Opening opposition was Harvard A – featuring Lewis Bollard, son of Reserve Bank Governor Alan Bollard. Harvard A won the semi and were 2nd Gov in the final with the topic “This house would ban abortion at all stages of development”.

The overall winner was Oxford A on a 5-4 split.

Also congrats to former Vic student Christopher Bishop (G2) who was a judge, and chaired the judging panel for the other semi-final.