NZ First infighting

October 17th, 2012 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Sam Sachdeva at The Press reports:

NZ First has been embroiled in infighting after a blog slammed the performance of some of its MPs, leaked party emails show.

Internal emails, passed on to The Press, have revealed discord within the party, with Christchurch MP Denis O’Rourke among those attacking their Whip and the party’s board.

The emails relate to a post by website Kiwiblog that used a range of statistics to rank Opposition MPs.

The rankings placed Canterbury NZ First MPs O’Rourke and Richard Prosser in the bottom five for the third quarter of 2012, along with colleague Asenati Taylor.

I wouldn’t say the blog slammed any of the NZ First MPs. In the post I did, I mainly just report the data. Rajen Prasad is the only MP I really gave much of a swipe to.

As I said in the post, the data is quantitative, not qualitative. However I think it has some value as it does at least show if MPs are being active asking PQs and doing press releases.

To be fair to NZ First MPs, many will always struggle as Winston hogs most of the media stories, and front on almost any high profile issue. But that is no reason you can’t still be churning out some releases and gathering data through PQs.

NZ First Whip Barbara Stewart emailed the rankings to the caucus on October 4.

She said they showed “how others are judging you”.

O’Rourke and former North Shore mayor Andrew Williams hit back, criticising the rankings and Stewart’s decision to email them out.

What is fascinating is not that MPs disagree, but that one of the MPs has leaked the e-mails to the media. Not a good sign.

O’Rourke said the rankings were “not even remotely interesting or relevant” and were “utter nonsense”.

“I find it hard to believe that anyone with any brains would actually take any notice of a stupid Right-wing blog site,” he said.

Hey, I resent the “stupid” comment! And yes my blog is from the right and I am known to be a critic of Winston, but the MP stats are not designed to be pro or anti any party or MP. They are designed to both reveal how much work MPs are doing in certain areas, and how effective they are at gaining media attention. I do them for Government Ministers also.

Williams said Stewart’s decision to place importance on the rankings was “a sad inditement [sic] on you as Whip and of this party”.

“[Q]uite frankly I do not want to receive these ‘nanny’ type sermons from you. Have better things to do than be preached at.”

It is interesting that Winston promised soon after the election that the caucus would elect a Deputy Leader by the end of March 2012. They still haven’t elected one. Is it because they can’t agree?

In response, Stewart warned the MPs that their performance had been noticed by the NZ First board.

“The number of contributions or lack of – that you make . . . is also being noticed. A picture is being created about you!”

I’m biased, but I think the data in the ratings can be of some use to a party. Certainly only of some limited value, but it allows a party to say why has Brendan Horan does 16 press releases and Denis O’Rourke only one? Now there may be a simple answer such as Horan has a portfolio that has been more high profile. So the data is not the answer, but at least allows questions to be asked.  Likewise why has Andrew Williams asked 22 PQs and Asenati Taylor just three?

So even I wouldn’t place huge reliance on the data, but that isn’t to say it can’t be of some value.

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Denis O’Rourke maiden speech

February 9th, 2012 at 9:52 am by David Farrar

I can’t cover all of them, but am trying to cover a few of the maiden speeches in Parliament. New NZ First MP Denis O’Rourke spoke primarily on Christchurch in his speech. He is (off memory) a former City Councillor.

He said:

Magnitude 6.3 for the February 2011 quake does not adequately describe it.

 In my home on the Port Hills, directly above the fault, I felt the indescribable force of vertical ground acceleration 2.2 times the force of gravity, the largest ever recorded anywhere in a populated area.

But it was the great rolling waves following the initial shock which threatened to turn my home onto its side. Luckily it came back to the vertical again.

 And on top of all that was the severity of the shaking for nearly a minute.

 I helped neighbours out of shattered homes, and I looked across at the cloud of white dust rising over the central city, a thousand feet high and four kilometres wide.

 Then came the exodus from the central city.

People abandoned their cars on unpassable roads covered in liquifaction, and were exhausted even before reaching the hill, often with cuts and bruises and tears streaming down terrified faces, searching for children at the local school, or rushing home to loved ones.

Those terrible experiences are now all in the past.

But the effects are not.

A vivid recalling of the earthquake. Those of us not there, can only imagine what it was like.

And we all want to know what will happen to the red zoned land.

As the thousands of houses are demolished, we must not be left with vast areas of dusty demolition deserts  to add to the problems we already face.

 I call upon the government to urgently establish and fund a plan to turn these areas into properly maintained grassed parklands which will enhance the environment of the city, while final decisions are made on how to deal with this land in the longer term.

What happens to the red zone is one of the big issues.

I call upon the government to quickly establish

a major urban renewal fund for central Christchurch,

-       provided over a period of years,

-       designed to assist the rebuild of both public and private structures,

-       for access by way of grants and concessionary loans,

-       by building owners and businesses,

-       and by the City Council for public space and transport enhancements.

Interestingly, I’m hearing a view from more and more in Christchurch that rebuilding the CBD might just not be practical, and possibly Christchurch would made better progress by becoming a decentralised city.

I call upon the government to re-establish a government backed insurer in New Zealand with a mission to provide cover for everybody who needs it. 

I suspect at this stage, Bill English is in physical pain at the fiscal implications. But it may well eventuate that the Government does have to take a role in insurance in Christchurch. I hope not though.

It is time for a new unitary authority for Christchurch to be established for election in 2013

I think unitary authorities have considerable merit.

The full speech is over the break for those interested.