Other Valedictories

July 31st, 2014 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

There were five other valedictories yesterday. Some extracts from each starting with Paul Hutchison:

As science * spokesperson in 2005 and 2008, I was alarmed that New Zealand was well below international benchmarks for research and development both from public and especially private industry investment. The only snag was that by the 2008 election, and the sense of the * global financial crisis, Bill English had said that there was no extra money for science. I cunningly introduced John Key to * Peter Gluckman at his home on several occasions and lobbied hard for science to have greater recognition. The 2008 science policy had some modest but profoundly important changes. There would be greater funding for basic discovery research. A chief scientist would be appointed. Sir Peter Gluckman has been outstanding. Not only has his massive talent and experience informed the shape of our science system since, but he has introduced the idea of having a scientist in each government department in order to achieve evidence-based policy.

I’m all for more evidence-based policy.

In terms of the ** Inquiry into how to improve completion rates of childhood immunisation, I was a bit alarmed when the * Dominion Post captioned an article I had written on this subject “A prick in the right direction.” I did not take it personally. It is hardly conceivable that here in New Zealand, as recently as 2007, our completion rates for 2-year-olds were third world at less than 70 percent. Today, rates are over 90 percent and for 12 out of 20 district health boards, * Māori rates are higher than non-Māori. 

A great achievement.

 I thank all colleagues across the political spectrum where our committee achieved a cross-party consensus over a range of contentious issues, from reproductive health and education, to optimal maternity care, from the socio-economic determinants of health and poverty, to an all-of-Government approach to improve nutrition and prevent the impending burden of long-term chronic diseases such as diabetes. Every member of the committee made great contributions. I really appreciated the collaboration of Kevin Hague and Annette King, who, although we are miles apart on many political issues, see improving all children’s start in life as a national priority for New Zealand, and I thank that always thoughtful journalist Colin James for his positive commentary. We recommended a proactive investment approach from the work of Nobel Laureate* economist James Heckman. The rate of return for the dollar spent on a child is far higher the earlier the investment is made, from preconception on. 

The first few years are important.

Phil Heatley:

My favourite question time was actually as Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture. Colleagues might recall the death of * Happy Feet the * emperor penguin. Gareth Hughes tried to pin the murder of Happy Feet on me and the fishing industry. What Mr Hughes did not know was that the Ministry and I had been GPS*- -tracking Happy Feet since the day he was released into the * Southern Ocean. We compared his GPS position to that of the fishing fleet in order to keep it well away. Happily, on the day when he accused me of the murder, I was able to declare to the House that the fishing industry was innocent and that, in fact, Happy Feet had quite simply become a * Happy Meal.

And there was a happy shark somewhere!

As * Minister of Housing I updated the rental rules of the * Residential Tenancies Act, I began the insulation of every State house in the country, and I got rid of the decades-long notion of a State house for life. 

State houses should and must go to those with the greatest need, not just to those who got in first.

I recall Lockwood Smith, when we were out at dinner once, talking about his waistline. Lockwood was very body conscious. You are not like that at all, Mr Speaker. I remember Lockwood saying “Colleagues, it’s interesting. My chest and my waist are the same as they were when I was 25.” Quick as a flash, Gerry piped up and said “Same with me.”

Heh.

Eric Roy:

One night I could not eat my tea and later that evening I was walking up Glenmore Street and I collapsed. Sometime later, and I am not sure when, a car picked me up and took me to my flat. That was Thursday night. It was Monday before I could get to the doctor. He pushed and prodded and then got me scanned forthwith, and they found that I had lumps inside me as big as footballs, as my entire lymph system had been taken over by an aggressive lymphoma. The oncologist informed me that I had a 20 percent chance of getting through it, which is a kind of code for “Are your insurance premiums up to date?”. They opened me up, then closed me up, and said that there was nothing they could do. So I went home and I was sitting there—this was Wednesday. So the award for the most surreal telephone conversation I have ever had in my life went something like this. Here I am, sitting at home internalising some reasonably significant issues. The phone goes—ring, ring. “Hello, this is Eric.” “This is Murray McCully.” I think, goodness me. The all-knowing black knight has heard about my predicament and he cares. “What’s on your mind, Murray?”. “Um, I have to give a speech in Invercargill on Friday. It’s July and I’ve got a very bad cold. I don’t think I should be going to Invercargill on Friday. Can you do it for me?”. “Murray—um, do you think I really should be doing this? I’m sorry to hear about your cold, but I’m dying of cancer.” There was a long pause, then “Ha, ha! I’ll send you the notes.”

No one was quite sure if Eric was joking or not.

I believe there is, and I have for some time, and I have an increasing feeling that we should do this and that is, make all third reading votes a personal vote. Note well that I am saying personal vote not free vote. I think increasingly there is some isolation and dislocation by members in this House from the actual meaning of voting and we see when a vote comes along, sometimes the groupings left and right advise the minor parties what they are doing. We are seeing increasing times when there is redress sought to either amend the vote or to record in the record of the House what actually was the intention. Even more recently we are seeing the veracity of proxies challenged by points of order or by interjection. I do not think that looks too credible in the eyes of the public. It is not what they expect from their representatives in the highest court of the land. I do realise that there would be a time factor involved in actually doing this. I think the Business Committee could think about how that might be done. One suggestion would be to have any third reading votes immediately after question time the following day, or even one more extended hour in a session of a Parliament would cover for any of that time that had been taken up in that personal vote situation. 

An idea worthy of consideration.

Shane Ardern:

My biggest regret is not being able to see the same structural change in the meat and wool industry. The question is: was I wrong? If Fonterra had not been formed, could members of this House guarantee that our economy would be growing as well as it is today? The answer is no, they could not. So stop criticising the primary industries, and, instead of looking for alternatives that do not exist, celebrate that we are world leaders in agriculture. Why is it that we unite and support our international sporting teams, but when it comes to primary industries, we think that any small provincial structure will succeed?

A good point.

I want to say to this Parliament that Fonterra earns the money that gives us the ability to have a first-class* social system. It allows us the luxury of enormous investment in environmental sustainability and conservation. Internationally, our farmers are known as one of the lowest carbon producers with the highest food safety standards and the most sustainable farming practices. If members are honestly concerned with the environment, then work with the farmers and approach this with an open mind. If you really care about the future of New Zealand, I beg you to spend time on farms speaking with farmers and observing what they do. Look at the money that Fonterra spends on research and investment in environmental issues, despite Fonterra remaining, by international standards, a small farmer cooperative. For example, in the last 5 years 23,000 kilometres of riparian margin planting and fencing of waterways have been completed. That is further than New Zealand to London. It is a long fence. 

The anti-dairying agenda pushed by some,would see us as a country unable to pay for our education and health systems.

Ross Robertson:

The commentators would have you believe that success in politics is charisma. Well, I was standing in another queue the day they handed out charisma. Rather, I have built my career on the principle famously expounded by US Democrat Speaker * Tip O’Neill, that “All politics is local.” Every Saturday for 27 years I have got up at 6.30 and gone to the * Ōtara market, the meeting place of my electorate, where my team of volunteers sell quick-fire raffles and I meet the people. Then I travel to the sports grounds in my electorate and support the local teams. If parents, players, coaches, and referees can be there every Saturday, so can their MP. Around 4 p.m. I go and visit one of the bowling clubs in my electorate, have a cup of tea and a chat. Members should try it. You will be amazed at what you learn, and your constituents become your friends. On Saturday nights for 27 years I have been privileged to have an electorate engagement, and sometimes two or three—perhaps as a guest of honour at a dinner, a * prize-giving, a wedding, a birthday—and 50,000 constituents soon become 50,000 friends. Sunday is God’s day, and I give it to my family and my church. On Mondays and Fridays I see constituents. Rather than always having constituents come to my office, I visit people in their homes because it tells me so much more. I have a programme of electorate visits, so every year I visit every church, temple, and mosque, and every business. I also see each of the more than 40 educational institutions in my electorate at least once a year.

Very good advice on how to be a good local MP.

 I can say that because I have been an Assistant Speaker under four Speakers—two who were Labour and two who were National. I would like to see the day come when the Speaker is nominated by the backbench, as happens in the United Kingdom. 

I think we’d need a bigger backbench for that to happen.

There will be some new faces in the next Parliament. Retiring at this election are 13 National MPs, three Labour MPs and one Green MP.

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Roy retires

January 15th, 2014 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Two decades after he was first elected to Parliament, MP Eric Roy has announced he will not stand for re-election at the end of this year.

First elected in 1993, Mr Roy said he had been humbled and privileged to serve Southland.

“People put their trust in you every three years to represent their views and voices, in a way that has been my humble driver,” he said.

He was first elected to Parliament in 1993, as MP for Awarua When seat was dissolved forthe 1996 election he became a National Party list member, , serving electorates in the lower South Island.

In 2002 he contested the Invercargill seat, but was narrowly beaten by Labour’s Mark Peck.

Mr Peck announced he would not stand for re-election after his second term. , and with 49.51 per cent of the vote, Mr Roy was elected Invercargill MP, a position he has maintained for three terms.

He said politics was always in his blood and being an agent of change was just how he was “wired”.

“But in politics you have to remember one thing: you will agree with about 80 per cent of anything, 10 per cent you can be persuaded on and 10 per cent you don’t agree with – that’s the basic rule when you are in any party, otherwise you will stand for nothing,” he said.

Eric is one of the nicest and funniest guys around. He’s the current Deputy Speaker and has the respect of MPs across the House for his work in that role.

The rejuvenation trend continues for National with this announcements. Retirements since the election have included:

  1. Shane Ardern, TKC
  2. Chris Aunchinvole, List
  3. Jackie Blue, List (already gone)
  4. Cam Calder, List
  5. Phil Heatley, Whangarei
  6. Paul Hutchison, Hunua
  7. Colin King, Kaikoura (challenged)
  8. Eric Roy, Invercargill
  9. Katrina Shanks, List (already gone)
  10. Lockwood Smith, List (already gone)
  11. Chris Tremain, Napier
  12. Kate Wilkinson, Waimakariri

National needs rejuvenation to increase its chances for future elections. There is still one more possible announcement I would say, and also one more electorate challenge to be decided.

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Setting up Parliament

December 9th, 2008 at 12:26 pm by David Farrar

The order paper reveals some useful things:

  • Lindsay Tisch is to be Deputy Speaker
  • Assistant Speakers will be Eric Roy and Rick Barker. A pity Ross Robertson is not carrying on, as he was good in that role.

The full list of Select Committee memberships has not yet been revealed, but they do propose the Committee to review the ETS, and it is:

  • National – Craig Foss, Nicky Wagner, Paul Hitchison, Hekia Parata (4)
  • Labour – David Parker, Moana Mackey, Charles Chauvel (3)
  • ACT – Rodney Hide (1)
  • Greens – Jeanette Fitzsimons (1)
  • United Future – Peter Dunne (1)
  • Maori Party – yet to be named (1)

It will be nice to hope there will be a some broad agreements on the best way forward, but I do note that National has a majority with any two of its three support partners.

The proposed terms of reference for the committee do not include an explicit review of the science, however as they look at issues such as mitigation vs adaptation, demerits of the science will no doubt be considered as the robustness of the scientific scenarios will influence decision making.

The House is underway now. Michael Cullen tripped Gerry Brownlee up on some procedural issue. While I am sure Labour liked tripping Gerry up, I have to say the absolutely patronising and condescending tone from Cullen was him at his worst, and would probably knock Labour down 5% in the polls if more people saw it. Cullen can be the funniest wittiest MP in the House, but he can also be the most offputting.

In response Gerry made the point that he did stuff up, but he can admit his mistakes, and the reason Labour is now on the Opposition benches is because they never could admit their mistakes. So true.

The House is adjourned until 2 pm when the address in reply will start.

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Lindsay Tisch to be nominated Deputy Speaker

November 18th, 2008 at 4:43 pm by David Farrar

This really annoys me. Not that Lindsay Tisch is to be nominated Deputy Speaker, but that I only found about it by listening to the audio/video (thanks Scoop) of John Key’s press conference.

It wasn’t in the official media release, but John Key announced it early on at his press conference. Now there were 30 or so journalists in the room, so why didn’t a single one of them actually report it? Hell why attend the press conference, if all you are going to do is write stories based on the press releases, and overlook any new material from the actual press conference.

Anyway it looks like Lockwood for Speaker and Lindsay Tisch for Deputy. There are two Assistant Speakers, with one traditionally being from the Opposition – presumably Ross Robertson. I’d guess Eric Roy may be the other Assistant Speaker.

It hasn’t been a tradition, but it would be nice if the Deputy Speaker (rather than the Assistant) was from the Opposition. Clem Simich did very well as Deputy Speaker.

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Who will be Speaker?

November 15th, 2008 at 11:27 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports four contenders for Speaker. They are:

  1. Lockwood Smith
  2. John Carter
  3. Eric Roy
  4. Richard Worth

They each have their own claims for the job. Lockwood is National’s longest serving MP. John Carter has been a Whip for many years, knowing Standing Orders well. Eric Roy was a very popular Assistant Speaker and Richard Worth would being a first class legal talent to the role.

This may dismay some, but I think Michael Cullen would also be a damn good Speaker. But I think his latest game playing over Treasury accounts has killed off any chance that he could be seen to make the transition from partisan player to referee.

As for the four candidates, it will presumably go to a National Caucus decision and then the preferred candidate checked with coalition partners.

But wouldn’t it be nice if it was left to the House as a whole to decide? If all parties would agree not to apply the whip and allow a free vote, then they could have a preferential ballot as allowed for in Standing Order 19. It would be fascinating to see all MPs vote from their seats.

I presume two of the unsucessful candidates will probably become Assistant Speakers and that Labour’s Ross Robertson will be Deputy Speaker.

UPDATE: Mallard is against Lockwood being Speaker. That probably helps Lockwood immensely.

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The Lower South Island Seats

November 14th, 2008 at 3:05 pm by David Farrar

Dunedin remains happily red. Labour beats National in the party vote by 16% in Dunedin North and 12% in Dunedin South. This is a lot better than 2005 though when the margins were 29% and 28% respectively.

Pete Hodgson had his 7,900 majority drop to 6,700, which won’t lose him sleep. David Benson-Pope had a 10,100 majority and new gal Clare Curran traded that for a still healthy 6,000.

In Clutha-Southland National gets 60% party vote to 30% for Labour. Bill English trades up his 11,500 majority for a 14,300 one.

Finally in Invercargill, National wins the party vote by 10%, after losing it by 1% in 2005. And Eric Roy’s 4,000 majority is turbo charged into a 6,100 one.

That’s the end of the series. All graphics taken from the NZ Herald. When final results come in, I’ll provide a lot more data.

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Four more decisions from the Electoral Commission

October 9th, 2008 at 8:39 pm by David Farrar

The Electoral Commision has released four more decisons – all quite interesting.

  1. Display of anti-national banners by Clinton Smith was complained about by Cameron Slater. The Commission found that the banner and associated leaflets were election advertisements under the EFA. Smith claimed to have made a verbal promoter statement of authorisation. The Commission rejected this as being adequate and said tangible items can not have merely verbal authorisation statements. Therefore they found the items contravened s63(2) of the Electoral Finance Act. However they will not ask the Police to investigate Smith for an illegal practice as they found his breach was not wilful as he thought what he had done was necessary. And if does not constitute an illegal practice unless done wilfully.
  2. A Pete Hodgson fundraising letter for Labour. This was found to be an election advertisement in breach of s63(2) of not having an authorisation statement and 65(1) of not having been formally approved by the Labour Party. However once again they found the breach was not wilful and again no referral to the Police as it is not an illegal practice unless done willfuly.
  3. National MP Eric Roy’s advertisments in the Southland Express were complained about by Labour MP Lesley Soper. The EC made said “The Electoral Commission believes it is essential to democratic elections that parties can inform the public of the policies which will be implemented if elected and that, particularly in light of New Zealand Bill of Rights Act considerations, it would not be reasonable to regard mere statements of policy as election advertisements and subject to the restraints of the Electoral Finance Act.” They also said “Therefore the Commission is of the view that items which are accounts or reasoned criticisms of policy, or accounts or reasoned criticisms of actions or inactions, generally are not “reasonably” regarded as election advertisements as they are essential to informed democratic elections.“So what can’t you say? “The Electoral Commission considers that accompanying identification of the proponents of such items does not of itself convert the items into election advertisements, but disproportionate display of photographs, names or logos could do so. Other matters that might bring such items within the definition of an election advertisement include the addition of persuasive content which lack an information base such as party slogans, self promotion or unreasoned criticism of opponents, and exhortations to vote in a particular manner.” They cocnluded that Eric Roy’s advertisements were not election advertisements under the EFA.
  4. National MP Chris Auchinvole’s website was complained about by Oliver Woods. With similiar reasoning to above, the Electoral Commission found the website was not an election advertisement. So National continues to be one of the few parties to have never broken the new law.

In both the first two cases, illegal advertisements were published and the law was broken. But the finding of a lack of intent means no liability for the two individuals concerned.

Also of interest to some may be the news that as Kotahitanga Te Manamotu Hake Tiriti o Waitangi, the New Zealand Liberals, and the South Island Party all failed to register for the election, their $30,000 of broadcasting allocations was redistributed to all the smaller parties

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Carbon neutral campaigns

October 1st, 2008 at 9:14 am by David Farrar

Nicola Kean in the Southland Times reports how National MP Eric Roy has planted 20 trees to offset the carbon emissions from the 1500 kms he will travel during the campaign.

What I found interesting is this part of the story:

Invercargill’s Green Party candidate Craig Carson applauded Mr Roy’s attempt to go carbon neutral.

“I think it’s great that he’s doing it. How well it works or not I’m not sure.” Mr Carson said that because he worked fulltime and had limited resources, he was not able to follow suit.

Think about the implications of that.

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