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.

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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.

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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!

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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 :-)

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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.

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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. 

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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!

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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.

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