Greens think NZ is shameful when it comes to human rights

January 29th, 2014 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The Greens have said:

UN inquiry highlights NZ’s shameful human rights record

The Greens really think New Zealand has a shameful record on human rights? Isn’t that the sort of rhetoric and language you expect to hear about repressive regimes. Is that really what the Greens think of New Zealand?

Of course NZ is not perfect when it comes to human rights. But we have an incredibly strong and proud record with human rights – better I’d say than almost every other country on Earth. Yet the Greens think our record is shameful.

Well how do we rank internationally:

  • Freedom rating 1 (top rating)  Freedom House
  • Civil Liberties rating 1 (top rating)  Freedom House
  • Political Rights rating 1 (top rating)  Freedom House
  • Human Freedom – 1st/123 – Free the World
  • Press Freedom – 8th/179 – Reporters without Borders
  • Democratic Authority – 10/10 (top rating) – Polity
  • Freedom Meta-Index – 1st/173 Free Existence (for freedom of expression, from corruption and property rights)
  • Democracy Index – 5th/167 Economist
  • International Human Rights Rank Indicator – 12th/208 – GNRD

So again, this is what the Greens call a shameful record.

Rather ironic also to have the Greens go on about human rights, when they proudly supported the Electoral Finance Bill and Act, and were the only party to vote against its repeal.

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Greens will push for cannabis decriminalisation

January 27th, 2014 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

The Green Party wants to see cannabis decriminalised, saying it will push for the law change in any post-election discussions but that it is not a bottom line.

Speaking after her State of the Nation speech at Waitangi Park in Wellington, co-leader Metiria Turei said they wanted to see the law changed.

“I would like to progress a vast amount of our policy, actually and that would be one that would be very interesting,” she said.

Turei said they believed a drug-free lifestyle was the healthiest, but did not believe adults should be convicted of a crime if they smoked cannabis.

I agree. There may be other ways to move from the status quo, such as the Law Commission’s recommended mandatory diversion scheme if people undertake drug counselling and treatment.

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The stupidity of free school lunches in every decile 1 to 4 school

January 27th, 2014 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The Green policy to provide free (ie taxpayer funded) school lunches to all decile 1 to 4 primary schools is a woefully bad use of taxpayer money – even if one accepted that it is the state’s role to provide two out of three meals a day to school kids.

The Greens own policy says only 9% of pupils at decile 1 to 4 schools go to school hungry. Their policy costings are based on only 9% of pupils in those schools wanting free lunches.

Are you kidding?

You think that if lunches are available for free, only 9% of families in those schools will ask for them? What world do they live in?

Their projected costs will double, treble and quadruple at least.

Taxpayers already fund school lunches for low income families. It is called Working for Families. Over $2.5 billion a year is given to families to cover the costs of breakfasts, lunches, dinners and more.

The cost of breakfast is about 40c a day for cereal. Lunch is around 60c to 80c for a couple of sandwiches.

But again, why stop at having the state just provide two meals a day to families. Just as kids can’t be expected to do well at school if they miss breakfast or lunch, how can you expect kids to do homework at night, if they possibly are missing dinner? Surely the Government must step in and start providing dinners also, in the name of solving inequality?

I also love (not) how the Greens sneer at the current food in schools programme that is mainly provided by Sanitarium and Fonterra as “corporate welfare“. Ummn, it is not corporate welfare, that is when corporates get welfare from the taxpayer. What Sanitarium and Fonterra do is called charitable giving. Sure they do it for brand reasons, but how depressing that a political party sees charitable giving as a bad thing. They think it is better to force taxpayers to fund the direct provision of two meals a day to families.

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Why not free dinners also?

January 26th, 2014 at 2:41 pm by David Farrar

Claire Trevett at NZ Herald writes:

The Green Party has launched its election year today by announcing the $90 million a year package for low decile schools, including free after school care and holiday programmes, free lunches, and school nurses in every decile 1-4 primary and intermediate school.

So the Greens want schools to provide free breakfasts to all kids, free lunches also, and free after school care. Why stop there? Surely schools should also be required to provide free dinners also? And look by 7 pm, the kids are tired, so maybe look after them for the night also – as well as for the holidays.

 

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Norman met Dotcom twice

January 24th, 2014 at 3:23 pm by David Farrar

The Diary reports:

Russel Norman visited Dotcom’s mansion twice late last year to talk him out of entering politics, the Green Party co-leader told The Diary. And he left a rather large carbon footprint flying to Auckland Airport and hailing a Green cab for the 44km journey to Coatesville for the meetings.

“I met with him twice, about policy issues and his proposed party. I’ve got a lot of time for Kim, but I don’t support the Internet Party.”

Norman says although he backs some of Dotcom’s views on the GCSB and the internet, he feels he’d be competing for votes. “I tried to talk him out of setting up his party.”

Maybe Russell should have just offered him a spot on the Green Party list instead? Oh wait, he can’t stand for Parliament. But how interesting that the Greens are so worried by Dotcom’s party, that they flew Norman twice (paid for by taxpayers) to Auckland to meet with him and try and talk him out of it.

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Have Green local candidates declared their donations

January 14th, 2014 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

WCC Watch blogs:

During the campaign it was reasonably well known that the Green Party had given somewhere in the region of $5,000 to all of their candidates in the election – there were a few other candidates who were pretty jealous of the fact, particularly after people like David Lee started bragging about it.

Good on Sarah Free for doing the legal thing and declaring a total of eight donations from the Green Party to a combined total of $4880.14 (one of the individual donations – $1916.46 was above the donation threshold on its own!)

However, that then leaves us with a very interesting question – what about the other candidates? David Lee and Iona Pannett both filed in donations returns without mentioning their Green Party donations. Did they not get any, or did they file a false return?

Very good questions.

Both of the Green regional council candidates declared large donations from their head office, with Sue Kedgeley getting $4657 and Paul Bruce getting $4393. It is really starting to look like Lee and Pannett have filed false returns.

If the returns are false, then they could face the same charges as John Banks is.

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Greens trying their best to scaremonger and destroy the dairy industry

December 20th, 2013 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Milk from farms used as dumps for drilling waste will be tested for toxins, but the Green Party is calling for more widespread testing of Taranaki animal products.

The Green Party has previously called on Fonterra to stop taking milk from cows grazing on the farms in Taranaki where oil and fracking waste had been spread.

The party said the milk was unsafe and could threaten the reputation of New Zealand’s dairy industry.

The Taranaki Regional Council has previously dismissed the claims as scaremongering. The farms where the waste was spread were quarantined then underwent extensive testing before cattle were put back on them, it said.

One just has to hope that people overseas don’t take the Greens any more seriously than most people in NZ do.

I’m all for testing, but when a party claims that milk must be stopped even after testing has been done, they are just scaremongering.

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Best terms of trade in 40 years

December 2nd, 2013 at 2:52 pm by David Farrar

Stats NZ reports:

New Zealand’s merchandise terms of trade rose 7.5 percent in the September 2013 quarter, Statistics New Zealand said today. The latest increase was due to export prices for goods rising more than import prices.

“Dairy export prices helped lift the terms of trade to their highest level since 1973,” prices manager Chris Pike said. “Both the terms of trade and export prices have been on the rise since the start of this year, reflecting higher dairy prices.”

Terms of trade is a measure of the purchasing power of New Zealand’s exports abroad. An increase means New Zealand can buy more imports for the same amount of exports.

In the latest quarter, the price of exported goods rose 8.9 percent, while seasonally adjusted export volumes fell 2.1 percent. Both price and volume movements were strongly influenced by dairy products.

In the September 2013 quarter, dairy export prices rose 24 percent to their highest level since 2008, and are now 46 percent higher than a year ago. Seasonally adjusted dairy export volumes fell 2.7 percent, which is the fourth consecutive quarterly fall. Seasonally adjusted dairy product values rose 20 percent, following a 4.7 percent fall in the June 2013 quarter.

So which political party wants NZ to doubly decimate our dairy herd (reduce it by 20%) in order to fight climate change? I wonder how many votes know Green party policy is to reduce NZ’s dairy herd by 20%, at a time that dairy prices are giving us the best terms of trade in 40 years. It’s almost an economic suicide note.

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The Green Party suppression of dissent

December 2nd, 2013 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Would-be Green Party leadership challenger David Hay – whose application to stand as a candidate for the party has been rejected – says he is not finished with the party and will today call on the party’s volunteers and candidates to rally behind him.

At number 16 on the party list, Mr Hay was not far off a seat in Parliament with the Greens at the last election. However, following his threat to challenge Russel Norman for co-leadership last week, the party executive on Saturday said he would not be allowed to stand next year.

That prompted Mr Hay to call for both co-leaders Dr Norman and Metiria Turei to stand down.

Last night he told the Herald he planned to increase the pressure on the two co-leaders today by calling on party volunteers to “go on strike”.

That would involve asking them to cease their work on behalf of the party.

The Greens have for years boasted of how democratic their party is, and how they decide things by consensus etc. And then a party member who almost became an MP announces he will seek the co-leader role at their conference next year, and the party hierarchy ban him from being eligible to even be a candidate, let alone a co-leader.

To ban a member from being a candidate is a drastic step. National’s Board uses it very very rarely, and basically only uses it for people who are “mad” or “bad”.

The Greens could leave it up to individual electorates as to whether or not to have David Hay as a candidate. They could have left it up to their membership where to rank him as a candidate. But the party bosses have struck him down. Never again will Green cries of being different ring true.

“The other candidates and volunteers should be very fearful. If they can do this to me as number 16 on the party list … all bets are off in terms of who’s going to be next.”

He claimed Ms Turei was behind the party executive’s move to prevent him from standing next year. Party insiders had told him “it’s got her fingerprints all over it”.

“If this is the way the leadership is behaving we need to put a stop to that,” he said.

So the Greens are now the party where if you declare you want to stand for the leadership, you get banned from candidacy. Sounds like the current co-leaders are very desperate to avoid a vote. I suspect their concern if not that Norman would beat Hay, but that the size of the protest vote for Hay could show how much discontent there is.

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Greens dump Hay

December 1st, 2013 at 9:00 am by Jadis

As David Hay feared, yesterday the Greens’ executive took the rare step of dumping him from their candidates pool.  He hasn’t gone quietly though and has suggested the Greens’ leadership should step down.

“The Green Party’s co-leaders need to step down and step away,” Hay said. “We don’t want people like this in Parliament. We don’t want them in Government. We don’t want them in the party. I have completely lost faith in the ability of the party’s co-leaders to stick to the Green Party kaupapa and do what the Green Party does . . . to be fair, transparent, and honest, to do a better type of politics.”

I think the Green Party executive made a real mistake in dealing with Hay behind closed doors.  It would have been more helpful to the Greens’ cause and ‘kaupapa’ if the membership had been given the opportunity to reject Hay and his actions themselves rather than have it come from on high – that would have been the kind of direct democracy that the Greens have talked about for years.

The part of the story that is only starting to come out now is why the Greens’ executive dumped Hay from the candidates pool.  It  is related to his actions and behaviour as a candidate at the last election.  Essentially Hay was seen as unable to stick to agreed campaign strategies and behaved somewhat erratically – sounds pretty Greens-like to me!

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Greens go Haywire

November 27th, 2013 at 5:16 pm by Jadis

Talking to various Greens sources it has become abundantly clear that David Hay is an ‘interesting’ character.  All sources including the current male co-Leader Russel Norman’s media comments are polite enough publicly but behind closed doors there must be some serious wonder going on.

So let us look at the possible motivations behind Hay’s challenge to Norman. First, there’s the obvious one.  He’s a man who has very little profile (except may be in his own mind) and desperately wants to be higher up the list.  If he was a smart man he’d use the challenge mechanism to rally support behind him to elevate him up the list. He’d be using lots of talk abut how the growing grassroots membership needs more voice, he’d have a very clear plan of what he would say to media and he would also have a few MPs or high profile Greens pre-organised to say more positive things about him – including behind closed doors to media and bloggers alike.  None of that has happened.  Indeed the opposite is true.  So I think we can mostly strike that motivation out.

In the last hour Hay has been interviewed by Duncan Garner on Radio Live.  A pretty soft interview but to be honest give this man a forum and he is going to say some pretty batty stuff.  First there was the fighting talking from Hay of how Russel has been a great leader.  Oops. Then he admitted that Russel would inevitably remain Leader. Oops again.  Hay’s one concern that he managed to express at all was that the Greens need to reposition themselves to takeover Labour’s position and stop being the ‘handbag’.

It is possible that the Greens are so cunning that they are using a moron to shoot across the bow of Labour but I think the obvious is clear.  Hay is acting mostly alone - albeit after a bit of enthusiastic excitement from a few Greens close to him worried about the lack of presence in Auckland. Hay named them clearly in the Garner interview as the likes of Denise Roche and others.

So this leads me to think that something is wrong with the Greens that happens to all parties as they grow.  They have lost connection with their grassroots.  You see, if they had real connection they would have known Hay was going to do this and would have managed the situation – even in a democratic way.  Instead, Hay surprised the parliamentary wing of the Party with his shock announcement.

So, what other motivations could Hay have?  Well, the cynic in me suggests that the Greens could also be copying the Labour model.  Labour’s membership increased by 75% through the leadership contest.  More members means more potential helpers on the ground.  Is it possible that Hay is actually a very loyal, albeit media inept, hack who is doing the Party a service by driving membership and showing how ‘good’ co-Leader Russel really is?  More than a little possible.  Indeed if I were the Greens I might spin it that way to look mildly united and politically savvy.

So, there’s a few possibilities that motivate Hay – is it personal gain to get up the List, is it greater good for the Greens, is it to drive up membership, or is to put a spanner in the works of what has been a pretty well run Greens machine of late?  Whatever it is he is a useless front man.

*And before someone freaks in the comments that this doesn’t seem like a DPF post.  It isn’t. It is Jadis and I am a tad more blunt that friend to all Dpf.

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Norman challenged for Greens co-leadership

November 27th, 2013 at 9:24 am by David Farrar

NewstalkZB reports:

Green Party member David Hay is intending to challenge Dr Russel Norman for the party’s co-leadership.

Mr Hay, who was the Green Party’s candidate for Epsom at the last election and is currently ranked number 16 on the party’s list, claims the party needs to be ‘putting its A team forward’.

“Russel has been doing a great job for the Green Party, but he has been co-leader for six years now,” he says.

“While the party has grown in stature and credibility during Russel’s tenure, we have new people in caucus, and there’s fresh new talent among the party membership.”

Mr Hay says he is putting himself forward with a plan to build the party’s base in Auckland, focus on environmental and economic sustainability and lift the party’s performance.

The statement from David Hay is here. He says:

“I think one of the Party co-leaders should be based in Auckland, be well-informed on Auckland issues, and take a hands-on role in building the party’s Auckland base.” 

“The Green Party has under-performed at winning votes in Auckland, and we need to turn that around. Only three members of the Green Party’s 14 MPs are based in Auckland. We currently lack sufficient presence here, in New Zealand’s largest city, where a third of the population live.”

The election will be at the Greens conference in June 2014.

This is the first time an incumbent co-leader has been challenged, and that is significant. There is obvious some discontent, but what is not known is how extensive it is. Is it an Auckland vs the rest issue?

What will be interesting to observe is where the MPs stand. Will they all back Norman or will they consult with their electorates and vote in accordance with their wishes?

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Winston and Greens

November 16th, 2013 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

A reasonably significant statement by Winston Peters in this recent interview:

NZ First believes in environmental sustainability but far too many of the Green Party’s comments are about “stopping everything”.

“We have difficulty understanding a lot of their intentions and motives,” Mr Peters says, adding that the chance of being part of a coalition that would include the Greens is “extremely remote“.

This means that as the price of support from Winston, Labour may have to leave the Greens outside the Government – as they did under Clark.

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Just one problem

November 12th, 2013 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

greensmrp

 

The Greens released a “public owners report” into Mighty River Power with a photo of Gareth Hughes in front of what one would assume is an MRP wind turbine.

There’s only one small problem.

I’m told Mighty River Power doesn’t have any wind turbines.

Now if an energy company that didn’t actually have any wind turbines, used a photo of one on their annual report cover, I’m pretty sure the Greens would condemn them for green-washing and false advertising. So will the Greens condemn their own annual report?

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Rutherford exposes Greens financial illiteracy

October 6th, 2013 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Hamish Rutherford (a former business journalist) writes at Stuff:

With co-leader and economic spokesman Russel Norman overseas this week, it fell on the shoulders of Green Party energy spokesman Gareth Hughes to reveal what he sees as the Government’s latest skulduggery.

With “the stroke of a pen” Solid Energy has been privatised, Hughes said, and not to mums and dads, but to foreign banks.

But what has really happened:

Hughes based his claim on a Beehive announcement that banks which lent hundreds of millions to Solid Energy were converting $75m of loans into “non-voting redeemable preference shares” as part of a rescue deal.

Suddenly at least 14 per cent of the company was owned by four Australian banks, Hughes reasoned, putting “privileged, powerful banking interests ahead of New Zealanders”.

For a start this overlooked that a New Zealand building society, TSB, also loaned Solid Energy tens of millions of dollars and was facing the prospect of losses, a detail made public months ago.

That aside, even though the banks are technically acquiring equity in Solid Energy, the lack of insight as to who was on the receiving end of the deal was striking.

Since revealing the scale of Solid Energy’s problems in February, with debt spiralling to near $400m, Finance Minister Bill English has promised those who funded its ill-fated expansion would not get off scot-free.

The negotiations dragged on for months, and now we know why.

The Government is about to mete out the kind of treatment the Greens seem to wish they could hand out to big business, and the banks are signing up only because the alternative is writing off the debt entirely.

Yes, the Crown is injecting $25m cash into Solid Energy, but for every dollar it is putting up, the lenders face losing three.

The banks are not getting any sort of reward or return. They are in fact taking a big hit.

What do the banks get in return? Shares which will never be worth more than the original amount – Solid Energy can buy the stock back at any time at face value.

It is unclear whether Solid Energy has any motivation to buy the stock back, ever, but certainly it won’t do so before it pays off all or most of the rest of the hundreds of millions of dollars of debt it still carries.

Even if coal prices recover, that will take years. During that period the value of the equity will evaporate through inflation and the lost opportunity to earn interest.

Worst of all (for the banks) is that although English has signed off on fresh loans worth at least $100m, in return he takes security over all of Solid Energy’s assets.

Looks like a very good commercial negotiation from the Government, doing its best to protect taxpayers. As I said, the real shame is that Solid Energy wasn’tt sold off years ago. The next time someone claims the Government must own these commercial companies, think of Solid Energy.

In terms of repayment, the banks’ “equity” stands somewhere near the contractor who cleans the windows at company headquarters.

If the Green Party really believes that kind of ownership is a kind worth buying, then heaven help the taxpayer when it gets near the purse strings of the Treasury.

Indeed.

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Reserve Bank decision making

October 3rd, 2013 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Hamish Rutherford at Stuff reports:

The Treasury lobbied for the governor of the Reserve Bank to be stripped of the right to solely decide on interest rate decisions, saying it created risk of “poor judgment”.

When Alan Bollard confirmed that he would stand down from the role last year, senior Treasury officials wrote to Finance Minister Bill English suggesting decisions on the official cash rate (OCR) should be made by a committee, rather than having the decision rest solely with the governor.

“Internationally it is usual to have a committee approach, with a range of possible committee structures,” senior analyst Renee Philip wrote last year, adding that the role of the Reserve Bank had broadened.

“The current single-decision-maker approach poses risks, such as a greater risk of poor judgment by a future governor than with a committee.

This is a worthwhile debate to have.

As I understand it, the Reserve Bank does have a committee that discusses the official cash rate settings, but it is advisory not decision making. One could have it as the official decision maker. It wouldn’t change the decisions, but would give some greater certainty. However it might reduce the accountability of the Governor, as he or she is the one who can be sacked if underlying inflation persist outside the agreed target range.

BNZ, Westpac, NZIER, Infometrics and Berl economists appeared to back the idea of a decision-making committee.

According to the Treasury, BNZ feedback was that a “committee internal to [the Reserve Bank] would ensure against risk of a future rogue governor”.

The Green Party said the advice of the Treasury aligned with its position.

No, it doesn’t. The Greens have said they want a committee to decide, but there is a key difference with Treasury advice. Treasury have said (and most international models are like this) that the committee should comprise senior staff of the Reserve Bank – ie be an internal committee.

The Greens want an external committee where they and/or sectoral interests such as unions, farmers and manufacturers have representatives on the committee. That has considerable danger.

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Greens keen on Gareth’s fat tax

September 30th, 2013 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Not content with heralding the economic and agricultural miracle of North Korea, Gareth Morgan is also promoting their healthy food, as Eric Crampton reports from an offline Press article:

He’s barely off the plane after a 40,000-kilometre ride across Russia and Korea. Controversy trailed after him like his billowing motorcycle exhaust, with critics accusing him of becoming a propaganda pawn on his six-year-in-the-planning tour of North Korea.

But he’s still gushing about the experience, and how he lost 6kg in the absence of the processed food – “crap basically” – that dominates the New Zealand food supply. That and the fact there was less food in general, and the wine was terrible. 

There it’s all whole food, that fills you up, takes longer to eat and delivers more nutrients for less energy.

And there, in a nutshell, is the thrust of Morgan’s new book, Appetite for Destruction, co-written with offsider Geoff Simmons. Fake food, he says, is killing us.

Actually it was in North Korea where millions died of starvation.

I’m staggered media still report Gareth as an expert on everything. Is there any topic at all on which he is not an expert?

But he has allies. The Greens like his idea of a fat tax.

The Greens would support an investigation into how a ‘fat tax’ on processed food in New Zealand’s supermarkets could be imposed.

But the government has dismissed the idea, saying it would add to the burden of families in tight economic times.

Why stop at a fax tax. I await them to announce subsidies for vegetables and a ban on food they disapprove of.

Kevin Hague, Green Party spokesperson on health and wellbeing, said he would be interested to read Mr Morgan’s new book as it sounded similar to party policy on combating obesity.

Clear front labelling of unhealthy ingredients and a traffic-light type classification system is a “no-brainer”, said Mr Hague.

We already have extensive labelling. A traffic-light system sounds appealing due to its simplicity, but the problem is it is simple. Milk gets a red light and diet coke and popcorn a green light.

An article explains that  flour, bread and pasts get green lights despite high carbs and lot nutrition. Also:

A bag of sugar, with no nutritional value whatsoever, would get green lights for fat, saturated fat and salt – an obvious red light for sugar. Sweets generally would get green lights for fat, saturated fat and salt. They would get red lights for sugar only – appearing healthier overall than olives and sunflower seeds on first sight.

Back to the fax tax:

In 2011, Denmark introduced a tax on butter, meat, cheese, pizza, oil and processed food that contained more than 2.3 per cent saturated fat, but withdrew it a year later due to difficulty in implementing it.

There was no difficultly in implementing it. It failed. It did not change eating habits, it destroyed jobs and led to a boon in purchasing from other countries. It did however bring in extra money for the Danish Government.

You never hear proponents of these extra taxes say that they’ll use them to reduce other tax rates such as income tax. No – it is all about  revenue grab.

However, the Greens would support an investigation into how to design an effective processed food tax.

I bet they would.

“Spending on prevention of obesity should be the absolute priority for any health minister.”

The absolute priority? Not cancer treatments? Not rheumatic fever? Not maternity services? Not life saving surgery? Not quality A&E Departments. The absolute priority for the Health Minister should be telling people what food choices they should make?

That says volumes about the world-view of the Greens.

 

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Future Green Ministers

September 24th, 2013 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Eddie at The Standard thinks Cunliffe has assigned portfolios in such a way to leave some of them free for the Greens in a future Labour-Greens Government.

I agree that this does appear to be the case, and is quite smart in terms of coalition relations. So what does this suggest Cunliffe has in mind for Green Ministers:

  • Russel Norman – Economic Development, Energy
  • Kevin Hague – Health
  • Kennedy Graham – Climate Change
  • Eugenie Sage – Conservation
  • Julie Anne Genter – Transport

Eddie think thanks Turei could be better to remain a non-Minister so she can concentrate on being a co-Leader who is not tied down with Ministerial portfolios. Not sure she would be so keen on that.

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Armstrong on asset sales referendum

September 7th, 2013 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

John Armstrong writes in the NZ Herald:

The time has surely arrived to dump New Zealand’s failed two-decade-old experiment with American-style citizens-initiated referendums.

Anyone questioning that recommendation should look no further than some of the self-serving behaviour following last Monday’s official authorisation of such a plebiscite on National’s partial privatisation programme.

The will of the people – David Lange once observed – was a fickle beast. It could be an awful tyrant; it could be a terrible slave.

Someone should have told the Greens. They are happy to accept the will of the people when it comes to the results of the forthcoming referendum on asset sales. But not so when it came to the 2009 referendum on smacking. That is hypocrisy, pure and simple. If you accept the will of the people once, you have to accept it for good. And that is not a recipe for good government.

If you do accept it, you accept your Cabinet decisions are going to be proscribed by referendum. The Greens would not like that happening to them. So why impose such restraints on National.

Thank God someone is calling it for what it is – flagrant hypocrisy.

If there was a successful CIR on lowering income tax rates, would the Greens drop their opposition to lower taxes? Of course not.

When the law allowing voters recourse to these devices was passed by Parliament 20 years ago, Labour’s Michael Cullen described the measure as “an ill-thought-out piece of political flummery” and predicted correctly that it would end up satisfying no one. He was too kind. Making it mandatory for governments to implement the results of referendums risks making good government nigh on impossible.

Making such referendums non-binding on governments, however, renders those referendums as next to useless.

And making them binding can be a good way to bankrupt a state!

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Cheek indeed

September 5th, 2013 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

John Armstrong writes in NZ Herald:

The week’s prize for barefaced cheek must surely go to the Greens.

With Parliament’s Clerk of the House yesterday finally giving the okay for a non-binding referendum on National’s asset sales policy, the Greens listed the costs to the taxpayer so far of the Government’s partial privatisation programme.

Included in the total, which the Greens estimate as close to $125 million, was $9 million to pay for the referendum.

That sum is certainly a cost the Government has to meet. But it is a cost forced on the Government by virtue of the successful efforts of the Greens and the other Opposition parties.

They force the referendum, and blame the Govt for the cost. Incredible.

The logic for citing this as a Government-imposed cost on the taxpayer was that the referendum was only being held because National has an asset sales policy.

On that basis, the Greens should have included the nearly $50,000 in taxpayer-provided money drawn from its parliamentary funding to pay eight staff to collect signatures for the petition needed to force the referendum.

The $50,000 was only the cost of the extra staff. I estimate the total cost to the taxpayer was around $400,000 when you include all the full-time staff who worked on co-ordinating the petition.

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Greens apologise to Talleys

August 3rd, 2013 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The Greens have put out a statement:

The Green Party would like to congratulate Talley’s strong and consistent position against Foreign Charter Vessels operating in New Zealand’s waters, and it is great that the National Party has decided not to progress the exemption for Settlement quota, which was also opposed by Talley’s.

In regards to the story broadcast on TV One News on 30 July about FCVs, the Greens would like to make clear that we didn’t mean to suggest that the Talley’s Group or family was involved in lobbying for any exemptions. If anyone gained that impression, it was wrong and the Greens apologise.

Talley’s clear position has always been to oppose any exemptions to the proposed ban on FCVs operating in New Zealand’s waters, a position the Green Party whole-heartedly supports.

I didn’t see the news item, but the left attack Talleys all the time, so it looks like the Greens just smeared them on the issue of FCVs (and anyone who knows a miniscule amount about the industry would know Talleys have strongly supported ending FCVs), and even suggested they were lobbying for an exemption that they in fact actively opposed.

The Greens would hate apologising to Talleys, but I guess they were facing a large defamation suit if they didn’t.

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Wolak says Labour/Green energy policy bad for competition

August 1st, 2013 at 3:17 pm by David Farrar

Frank Wolak from Stanford University has been held up by Labour and Greens as the reason for their nationalisation policy for electricity. They always cite a report he did in 2009 that said the energy generators were making “super profits”. So bear in mind this is a professor whose work stands at the heart of their case for change.

So with interest I read an article in Energy News (not online) which states:

Moving to a single-buyer market for power generation would do nothing to improve competition, while a cost-based approach to pricing output also runs the risk of under-valuing water resources, a visiting US academic says.

Stanford University’s Professor Frank Wolak says he can’t see why New Zealand would want to turn its back on the electricity market structure it has now.

Markets are always improving and evolving, but he says he can’t see any benefit from moving to a single-buyer model. Cost-based hydro systems, like those in Chile and Brazil, also have their challenges and are not well-suited to a market like New Zealand where generation and retailing is integrated.

“It’s like rebooting your computer and starting out with all the same problems again,” Wolak said at a seminar in Wellington last night. “Why do it? If you’re this close to the finish line in terms of the actual market, and you’re this far away from the cost-based market, why would you want to do that?”

This is a devastating blow to Labour and Greens. Wolak’s research has been held up as their rationale for their policy. And he has said their proposals will do nothing for competition, and he sees no benefit from them.

The reality is that since Wolak’s report in 2009 (which is controversial), there have been significant changes to how the market operates, and price increases in the last few years have been much lower than under Labour previously.

Wolak says cost-based systems like those in Chile and Brazil have been successful in sustaining investment in new generation. But he says they don’t naturally encourage long-term contracting, which helps to put downward pressure on short-term prices. Nor are they well-suited to integrated generator-retailer markets like New Zealand.

In cost-based markets, governments or regulators have to set minimum hedging requirements, which also requires them to put a price on the cost of shortages. Given that is a political decision, those have tended to be set too low – about $300/MWh in the case of Chile – which has in turn kept prices low, encouraged the use of water for generation, and resulted in power shortages.

Now again – this is the view of the man whose research is constantly cited as reasons for the Labour/Greens policy.

Also note that Labour and Greens always say that his research showed generators made billions of dollars of excessive “super-profits”. Well again he is quoted as saying:

Wolak told the audience he never said New Zealand generators were making excessive profits. Such a calculation is “extremely difficult” without knowing the cost of capital of the businesses involved.

Will Labour and Greens now attack Wolak, after citing his work religiously? Or will they drop their dumb destructive policy?

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Rat poison as coke!

July 27th, 2013 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

A great quote in this Herald article:

Thoughts of a Labour/Green alliance running the country has given CEOs food for thought.

Asked if Green Party co-leaders Russel Norman and Metiria Turei have added sufficient heft to the Opposition to make a credible potential government, Paul Ravlich, chief executive at Siemens, said: “God, I truly hope not.”

And that about sums up the views of the majority of CEOs who took part in this year’s survey.

One CEO said: “The resulting commercial and business naivety is scary. Their energy policy is a constitutional outrage – The Greens are akin to selling rat poison under the Coca Cola brand – the branding of the Greens as ‘green’ belies their position as hard left.”

This is harsh, but not entirely unfair. The Greens fundamentally do not like economic growth, as they see it as exploiting the planet and people. They used to rail against it. Now they talk about a “richer” New Zealand and lots of “Green jobs”, when in fact their policies are huge massive subsidies for those jobs which will destroy probably 2 – 3 other jobs for every job it creates.

One CEO said: “The Greens have become the Alliance Party in drag. Their naive economic and trade policy thinking threatens to put at risk achievements made on the trade front through the effective bipartisan efforts of both Labour and National.”

Exports to China have trebled since the China FTA. An increase of say 30% would be remarkable, but we got an increase of 200% and more. Yet Greens and NZ First voted against the FTA, and campaigned against it. Imagine how many jobs would have been lost if they had got their way.

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WCC still trying to delay flyover

July 8th, 2013 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

The Dom Post reports:

Wellington City Council is again looking to slow the resource consent process for the Basin Reserve flyover.

The council has appealed to Environment Minister Amy Adams to have the consent application for the $90 million flyover heard by the Environment Court, rather than by an independent board of inquiry.

The minister has the power to appoint a board, which is required make a consent decision within nine months of public notification.

The Environment Court process can vary in terms of time, but history suggests it takes longer.

The law that is applied and the outcomes should be the same. But a board of inquiry is dedicated to one hearing, so you don’t suffer a backlog.

Wellington City councillor Iona Pannett said she had little faith the board process would allow for a proper debate.

All boards of inquiry established since 2009 had granted approval, suggesting they were little more than a government rubber stamp, she said.

Boards of inquiry and environment courts are not binary decision making bodies. They do more than say yes or no. They attach dozens, sometimes hundreds, of conditions to a resource consent.

“People opposed to the flyover should be very concerned, therefore, if the project goes to a board of inquiry. The risk is real that the project will be given the green light.”

That is not what most people call a risk.

Note that the Council has accepted there is actually not practical or affordable alternative to the flyover. Despite that some Crs are still trying to kill it off.

City councillor and mayoral aspirant John Morrison said the flyover needed to be fast-tracked through a board of inquiry. He was disappointed that certain members of council wanted to use the Environment Court as a “smokescreen” for stopping the flyover.

“It’s this endless Green Party attitude of ‘stop everything, do nothing’ and that’s simply what this is. I’m sick to death of it, and I believe the city is too.”

Mr Morrison, who also sits on the Basin Reserve Trust, said the ground desperately needed the $12m stand that would be built by the Government to soften the visual impact of the flyover.

The cricket ground was in real danger of losing its test match status soon if its facilities were not drastically improved, he said.

The Environmental Protection Authority, NZTA and Greater Wellington Regional Council have made submissions to Ms Adams, all saying the flyover should be considered by a board of inquiry.

I hope the Govt will listen to them, not the WCC.

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Another non-disclosure

July 2nd, 2013 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

 For Max Coyle, increases to his student loan repayments and KiwiSaver contributions have hurt his pay packet the most.

The 29-year-old media sales and marketing consultant, who rents a three-bedroom central Hamilton home with one other, said the increases wiped about $60 off his fortnightly pay.

Max Coyle. That name rings a bell. Surely not the same Max Coyle who also had the Waikato Times do a sob story on the exact same issue in 2011, but with his partner. They didn’t disclose to the Waikato Times that Max was a Green Party candidate.

He says the increase in tobacco prices means an occasional cigarette was a luxury so he’s switched to smoking a pipe “as it works out cheaper in the long run”.

Such crushing poverty – being forced to smoke a pipe instead of cigarettes.

In the earlier non-disclosure case, it was Coyle and his partner who didn’t disclose he was a Green Party candidate to the Waikato Times. But who is at fault this time? Did the NZ Herald know he was a Green Party candidate and activist and simply just decide not to tell us?

Well as Whale discloses, he is actually employed by APN. So surely they were aware he was a Green Party candidate.

So in summary the Herald interviewed one of their own staff members, so he could complain about his poor pay and conditions, yet blame it on the Government without disclosing his political affiliations.

I hope the Herald will correct their non-disclosure, as the Waikato Times did.

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