Cactus Kate MP

June 25th, 2011 at 10:04 pm by David Farrar

Audrey Young reports:

Cathy Odgers, the author of the acerbic website Cactus Kate, is expected to be approved today as an Act candidate – one of the reasons sitting MP Heather Roy is likely to today announce she will stand down at this year’s election.

Heather has since announced her retirement. It is a shame that the internal politics of the last year played out the way it did. I’m someone who admired both Rodney and Heather, and think they both made good contributions to Parliament.

Cathy’s impending demotion to Parliament has appalled and excited many on the left. First we have Bomber.

Ladies and Gentlemen, let me be 1000% clear, Cathy Odgers is a hateful person who is the very last human being one would ever wish to enter politics.

I understand that Cactus is delighted with this endorsement by Bomber, and is considering turning it into billboards around Auckland.

At the Dim-Post, the commenters are salivating with excitement over her blog posts. I don’t think they realise that every journalist in NZ has probably already read them all.

But at Kiwipolitico, Lew endorses Kate’s candidacy:

It is in this vein that I endorse the rumoured candidacy of Cathy Odgers, aka Cactus Kate, for the ACT party in the forthcoming general election. If true, Odgers will be doing Aotearoa a genuine service, showing us all what ACT really stands for. …

But this endorsement isn’t all about foreshadowed electoral schadenfreude. Odgers, for all that I disagree with nearly every aspect of her politics, is intelligent, articulate and possessed of a sharp and analytical wit. By reputation she is driven, hard-working and will not tolerate time-wasters or time-servers. If her boasts about the expat lifestyle and her drinking habits are to be believed, she will be taking a considerable cut in pay and increase in workload if elected to parliament, so we might reasonably assume her intentions are genuine. In other words, aside from her politics — which is admittedly a very big aside — she’s just the sort of person we need more of in Parliament. It may be that the rigours of public office mellow her, or it may be that her prickly public persona hides one more rounded and reasoned. They often do.

I can’t wait until Cactus is interviewed on Campbell Live.

If Cactus does become an MP, I have the perfect job for her. Make her Minister of Revenue, with her job being to close down all the loopholes. Ultimate poacher turned gamekeeper 🙂

Plus the Hon Cactus Kate MP has a certain ring to it.

Labour’s $400,000 an hour filibuster

June 3rd, 2011 at 4:03 pm by David Farrar

Danya Levy at Stuff reports:

The ACT Party says moves by Labour to delay the passing of its volunteer student membership bill is costing taxpayers more than $453,000 every hour Parliament sits.

The member’s Bill sponsored by ACT MP Heather Roy ends compulsory student association membership, and passed its second reading last December.

Labour opposes the Bill and has stopped Parliament reaching the next stage of debate on it by putting up spurious amendments to other non-controversial legislation.

Roy said the delay tactics, known as filibustering, denied backbench MPs the right to have their issues debated and cost taxpayers the same amount an hour as Hone Harawira’s Te Tai Tokerau by-election.

”Hone Harawira has been rightly condemned for costing the taxpayer half a million dollars by forcing the Te Tai Tokerau by-election, yet Labour’s filibustering is costing taxpayers the equivalent of one such by-election every hour.

The staggering thing is that Labour have not just fillibustered this once or twice – they have filbustered it all year, so desperate are they to protect their future caucus intakes. As someone said, there is no limit to what a mother will do to protect her young.

Heather said:

“I’m not opposed to any party delaying a Bill they strongly disagree with but Labour MPs are delaying Bills they already support.  If Labour continue to debate each of the Royal Society Bill’s 23 clauses – which they openly support – in their entirety this could take 23 hours of the House’s time and cost taxpayers over $10 million.  It is this sort of churlish behaviour that demeans our nation’s Parliament.

This is a key difference. I will absolutely defend the right of a party to filibuster a bill they strongly oppose. Such filibusters normally last a few days. But here Labour is filbustering every single local, private and members bill there is, in a year long filibuster. This is I think literally without precedent in New Zealand. They are for example going to spend two dozen hours of time, on a totally non controversial bill about the Royal Society of NZ.

Trevor Mallard has blogged that the marginal cost is zero, as they are not forcing any extra costs onto Parliament. This misses the point as it ignores the fact that during all this time, Parliament is not passing laws as it is meant to be – it is having Labour MPs stand up and talk screeds of nonsense for hours on end.  An analogy would be having staff members in a retailer refuse to actually sell any goods, yet claim they are not costing any money as they haven’t imposed extra costs on the shop.

I have pinged the Government on their use of urgency this year – something which pissed off quite a few people within National. But filibustering is the flip side of urgency. If an Opposition continues with mindless sustained filbustering, then they can expect no-one to take them seriously if they complain about use of urgency in the future. If you turn yourself into a roadblock, don’t be surpised when a bulldozer is used.

Labour is also being incredibly selfish. Backbench Mps get only one day a fortnight to have their bills heard. Dozens of MPs from the Greens, Maori and National parties have members bills they would like to have debated. Labour has decided that no other members bill can be allowed to pass this year, just so they can try and allow their future MPs to keep forcing students to fund their political activism.

So next time a Labour MP complains about urgency, the response should be to buy themselves a mirror so they can find someone to blame.

Heather’s return

August 26th, 2010 at 6:12 am by David Farrar

I actually think Heather did the right thing, in returning early to Parliament. Staying away for a full fortnight would have just meant the publicity around her return would have been delayed.

And on Campbell Live, she basically said the right things about putting the past behind, wanting to work with Rodney, and move on together as part of a team.

ACT should accept these intentions in good faith, in my opinion.

If Heather wishes to remain an ACT MP, which she clearly does, then she has the right to do so. Any attempt to push her out (and I am not suggesting such a thing is planned) would just keep the bad publicity going.

Having said that, Heather may find the next 14 months pretty hard. Going from a Minister with 10 staff to a backbencher with one secretary is a hard adjustment, combined with the fact that previously you actually determined policy, signed off spending etc, and then as a backbencher your main parliamentary job is select committees.

Most MPs tolerate being a backbencher, because of the potential to be a Minister one day. I can’t see any way Heather is going to end up being a Minister again. In fact I can’t see anyway that Heather will be an MP after the next election, because the remaining party members (and ultimately the Board) are highly unlikely to give her a winnable list place.

So while I think it is a good thing Heather has returned from leave, and is wanting to get on with the job – she may find it is a pretty unappealing time.

Roy on Ewing-Jarvie

August 23rd, 2010 at 8:20 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Act MP Heather Roy said last night she was extremely disappointed to learn her former ministerial adviser Simon Ewing-Jarvie leaked the notes for last week’s caucus meeting to the media.

I’m glad Heather is disappointed. But was she surprised? Who else could it have been?

Mrs Roy said last night: “I do not condone the leaking of documents in any circumstances and was extremely disappointed and angry when I discovered last Friday that Simon Ewing-Jarvie had leaked my notes for last Tuesday’s meeting.

It took until Friday to work it out?

Commenting on innuendo about her friendship with Dr Ewing-Jarvie, Mrs Roy told the Herald in a statement: “I am not and never have had an inappropriate relationship (affair) with Simon Ewing-Jarvie.”

This matches a comment made yesterday on Kiwiblog by someone obviously close to them:

Don’t do yourself a disservice by implicating anything inappropriate in the Roy-Ewing-Jarvie relationship.

The two families have been friends for years – spouses and children included. In fact, you’ll struggle to find two more ‘functional’ family units in the country.

Heather Roy did stay at the Ewing-Jarvie home on Friday night – along with Simon’s wife and daughter! In fact, it occurred because Heather’s husband had called her to tell her not to return home, because its was surrounded by media.

The sad thing for Heather is the leaking of the dossier by Ewing-Jarvie has destroyed her politically. I doubt she would now make the top 20 on the party list, as ranked by members. The feedback I am getting from them is they just want to move on and unite the party.

The time has come for people in ACT to place the party ahead of their egos. Having ACT disappear just makes a Green/Labour Government more likely.

ACT are lucky that voters in Epsom are smart, and they understand the value having ACT in Parliament brings to National. But that is not unconditional – ACT need to look like they can bring in at least three or more MPs, to make it worthwhile to vote tactically. Now they only need to be at 2% or so to get at least three MPs, so they can remain viable after this.

But if the infighting continues, then the beneficiary of it all will be Deputy Prime Minister Russel Norman!

Simon Ewing-Jarvie

August 22nd, 2010 at 6:19 am by David Farrar

The Herald on Sunday has an interesting piece on Simon Ewing-Jarvie.

I haven’t talked to Simon for a few years, but have chatted to him a few times in the past – like myself he is very much into technology. On a personal level, always found him very relaxed and interesting. But around six months ago I started to hear stories that were less than flattering. I don’t have enough first hand knowledge to say who may be at fault, but the HoS story raises some interesting issues:

The Security Intelligence Service withheld security clearance for Simon Ewing-Jarvie, a former New Zealand Army lieutenant colonel, shortly before he took part in an Act Party insurrection. …

Early this month, SIS officers working on a standard investigation into the adviser’s background decided he should not be allowed to see or access classified material.

In the first week of August, Prime Minister John Key’s chief of staff Wayne Eagleson was sent a document stating that Ewing-Jarvie’s status had shifted to “non-access to any classified material”.

Security checks are usually straightforward, with SIS officers checking disclosures by staff against paper records, tracking an individual’s life to the present. Any variation results in closer scrutiny.

SIS officers had been attempting to carry out the clearance work on Ewing-Jarvie for most of the year but had difficulty pinning him down to discuss details.

It is rare indeed to not get an SIS clearance. Even I managed it! 🙂

It is almost incomprehensible that one could work for a Defence Minister and not have security clearance.  One can only wonder why clearance was not given.

Political confidantes of Roy have expressed concern over the advice she has been receiving from Ewing-Jarvie and the depth of their relationship.

The Herald on Sunday observed Roy leaving Ewing-Jarvie’s home yesterday morning.

Her car, which was parked outside his house at 10.30pm on Friday, was in the same place at 7am.

Well that’s subtle.

The SST also has a story, where Ewing-Jarvie admits to leaking the Roy dossier. This is no surprise, as Whale Oil has already outed him for it.

A must read

August 20th, 2010 at 9:44 pm by David Farrar

Go to Whale Oil, and read his revelations about who has been leaking stuff to him, and e-mailing him incredibly defamatory stuff about MPs and staff in ACT.

Maybe the media will reconsider their editorial stance of blaming Rodney.

A Friday funny

August 20th, 2010 at 2:17 pm by David Farrar

Re-reading the Roy dossier, I noticed that her staff referred to her as HHR – Hon Heather Roy.

What amused me was if this including the Hon in the abbreviation caught on in the ACT office, this would mean that Rodney gets referred to as HRH 🙂

The Roy dossier

August 20th, 2010 at 6:14 am by David Farrar

Have read through in detail the so called Roy Dossier, of 82 pages.

While it is designed to hurt Rodney Hide, I actually think that it reflects more poorly on its author. Incidentally the author is not necessarily Heather Roy, but more likely a former staff member of hers.

The first thing that strikes me is the massive sense of entitlement, as if ACT being in Parliament was all due to Heather. An extract:

In the 2005 -2008 Parliament, I maintained what I could of respectability for the Party through Rodney’s journey of reinvention.

News flash. Rodney won Epsom with a massive majority. He also increased the party vote from 2 MPs to 5 MPs. That was not due to the Deputy Leader’s so called maintenance of respectability.

The whole way through, it has this tone. Heather’s advisers have obviously convinced that she is ACT’s salvation.

I must, as an Associate Minister, have the ability to discuss issues freely and frankly with my primary Minister. The contents of the paper are entirely consistent with the ACT National Security Policy from the 2008 election which had sign-off from the policy committee.

But who decides it is consistent? That is the job of caucus, not the Minister or her aides solely.

Rodney sent me a text message asking for a copy of the Defence Document. I contacted Wayne Mapp to discuss this with him. I explained that the document was wanted because Rodney wanted to use it against me and that the ‘need to know’ provision in the security manual did not apply to him. I reminded him it was a draft intended for him only. He said it was my document and it was up to me. I said I was not going to give Rodney a copy

At this point I would have sacked Heather on the spot. This document was not sort sort of highly classified document, using top secret information. It was in fact authored by Heather (or her advisor), and her refusal to give her leader a copy is the most politically stupid thing I’ve seen since, well Chris Carter’s anonymous letters to the press gallery.

I then sent Rodney a text message in reply to his claim that he had discussed this with the Minister of Defence, informing him that it was a classified document and that I wouldn’t be giving it to him.

Again – I would have sacked her at that stage. What the hell was she thinking, or was she being advised. The sole reason Heather was Associate Minister of Defence is because Rodney Hide won Epsom, and is the party leader of ACT. Ministers are expected to consult their parties on what they do. I’ve never heard of a Minister refusing to share a document (that they authored) with a party leader.

There is a covering email that this document was sent with as an attachment (Enclosure 12). It is from my Advisor to his counterpart in the Mapp Office and the Deputy Secretary of Defence – the latter to whom feedback was asked to be directed. It states that in the event of having little time to scrutinise the paper he has made suggested changes but has not had time to run them past his Minister and, given the timeline for submission, he felt that he had no other choice and takes responsibility for this.

Rodney Hide states that my Advisor should not be making statements on ACT party positions. The comments made are all consistent with the ACT National Security policy for the 2008 election signed off by the policy committee and the email cover sheet covers off responsibility for comments.

So an unelected staff member is determining positions, and the party leader is not even able to see a copy. You get to see why there was a problem. The references to consistency with party election policy are a red herring as election policy tends to be very wide, and that doesn’t remove the need for approval for more specific positions.

After two very confrontational meetings with Rodney Hide in his office (both were called at very short notice with no indication of what they were about) and after discussion at a meeting with the Party President, I decided that I would not meet with the Leader alone.

I’m almost lost for words. The arrogance in that statement.

I was concerned he would take the paper away and copy it, which is why I said he could read it in my office, but not take it away. It is a classified document and he does not meet the security regulation ‘need to know’ criterion. His purpose for wanting the document was to use it in a witchhunt
against me.

Again the sense of importance and entitlement is staggering. Can you imagine a junior Minister telling her party leader he does not meet “need to know” because she unilaterally has decided she disapproves of his purposes for wanting it. And again this was not a secret or top secret document. It was merely restricted, and in fact authored by Heather or her advisor.

Makes it appear as though Rodney is afraid of Heather’s ability and ambition regarding leadership and so feels the need to remove her before she becomes too powerful.

Again, what were they smoking? The entire document reeks of this conceit.

Raises ser ious doubt s about John’ s judgement in challenging for Deputy role before Natural justice had occurred. Unlikely he would be taken as a serious future leader or ministerial option after that.

This part is hilarious. She thought she would stay on as a Minister if not Deputy, and is trying to scare Boscawen off.

Some Board members and highly placed list candidates may
publicly resign.

The only board member who resigned (later withdrawn) was in response to the lies in this dossier, not due to Heather’s sacking.

A Special General Meeting could be called by 20% of the membership causing further unhelpful media scrutiny.

You think you’re so highly reHgarded that 20% of the members will call an SGM to protest your sacking? After reading this dossier, they won’t manage 2%.

The Greens will likely offer a ‘make-up’ deal with National in an attempt to step into ACT’s support party space.

Ha ha ha ha ha. What fine political analysis.

I write this post again with sadness. But the “dossier” is so awful, I just can’t not point out that it in facts proves that Heather had to be sacked.

An imploding ACT

August 19th, 2010 at 6:30 am by David Farrar

The only good thing about the leak of the 80 page “note” by Heather Roy is it has made people in the party realise how dire their situation is, and has prompted Heather to pledge to remain an ACT MP, and work towards rebuilding a relationship with Rodney Hide – and vice-versa.

I doubt I am the only person who is saddened by the considerable enmity that has built up between two MPs I have liked and respected.

The release of the “note” is very damaging to ACT, and at a time when they should be well above 5% due to National’s centrist agenda, they will remain down in the polls, as voters won’t support a party that is so caught up in infighting. Voters rightly think why should we trust a party to run the country, when they can’t even run their own party.

The number of people who had access to Heather’s “note” must be incredibly limited, and Heather may wish to consider the motivations of the person who leaked it. At a minimum it is someone who puts their own interests about that of their party’s.

There is also the issue of the defence report, as covered by NZPA:

In Parliament, Labour MP Trevor Mallard said Mr Hide gave the report to Mr Kearney, possibly through a staff member.

“Nick Kearney, who until last night was a member of the ACT board, has now resigned from the ACT board because he has been caught trying to give New Zealand defence assessment papers to a blogger,” he said. …

Mr Kearney told NZPA he was not given a copy of the report, had never seen it and did not know what it contained.

The allegation he was given the report was made by a fellow board member who was a supporter of Mrs Roy, he said.

The allegation was made during a confidential board meeting discussion, he said.

“It staggered me, it was jaw-dropping, and I said ‘I have no idea what you’re talking about’,” Mr Kearney said.

I don’t have first hand knowledge on this allegation, but I will say this – I trust the word of Nick Kearney, and would be amazed if he has had a copy of the report, when he says he has never seen it.

While on the other hand, if Trevor told me about gravity, I’d still want to throw a ball up in the air to verify what he said.

Roy v Hide

August 18th, 2010 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Relations between former Act deputy Heather Roy and leader Rodney Hide had become so bad that she complained to Ministerial Services that he breached security when he took a piece of paper relating to her defence portfolio from her office.

What the hell was Heather thinking, if this story is true. If you have an issue with something your party leader has done, you talk to them about it – you have to be mad to complain to Ministerial Services about your leader and think you can possibly maintain a working relationship.

Also worth reading is John Armstrong’s column, where to put it mildly John is unimpressed that ACT won’t say why Roy got sacked. An extract:

The press conference held at Parliament early this afternoon featuring Act leader Rodney Hide, the party’s new deputy leader, John Boscawen, and party president Michael Crozier was little short of a disgrace. …

Act is the one party which bases its sales pitch on the notion of accountability. Not a skerrick of that concept was apparent during the 20 minutes or so that Rodney Hide and then Boscawen repeatedly refused to utter one word which might have added up to an explanation as to why Heather Roy had been dumped as the party’s deputy.

If the reasons is simply that the relationship with the Leader was too strained to be effective, then they should be upfront on that.

ACT Press Conference

August 17th, 2010 at 12:52 pm by David Farrar

Rodney Hide has a press conference scheduled for 1.15 pm. Will update as news is known.

UPDATE: John Boscawen has replaced Heather Roy as Deputy Leader. John Key yet to make an announcement on portfolios.

UPDATE2: The Hon John Boscawen has been appointed Minister of Consumer Affairs and Associate Minister of Commerce. Rodney Hide loses Associate Commerce and picks up Associate Education, and the role of Associate Defence Minister lapses.

Commerce is a natural fit for Boscawen. Rodney taking Associate Education could be interesting – I suspect he will push for a more aggressive policy programme there.

Somewhat sad to see Heather’s career end this abruptly, but that is the nature of politics, and it was somewhat inevitable after what happened last year.

Boscawen to replace Roy

August 17th, 2010 at 8:12 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Act minister Heather Roy is facing the axe from John Key’s Administration today, after she is dumped by her parliamentary colleagues as deputy leader of Act.

First-term Act MP John Boscawen is expected to take her jobs as deputy leader and a minister.

Mrs Roy is said to again have been trying to rally party opinion against Rodney Hide.

It was sadly inevitable that this would happen at some stage, after the relationship between Rodney and Heather deteriorated last year. ACT would not be in Parliament without Rodney Hide, and they need a team going forward that can work together. This is the first stage of a rejuvenation.

In the past I hoped that one day Heather might be a natural successor to Rodney. She has always voted classically liberal, and on a personal level I have found her very engaging. The fallout between her and Rodney meant that this scenario became impossible, and I reached the conclusion that if Heather can’t be a loyal deputy to Rodney, then at some stage change would be inevitable. It looks like that change is today.

If Heather does lose her roles as Deputy Leader, and a Minister, then it is possible she will not choose to remain in Parliament, which would see Hilary Calvert of Dunedin become an MP.

John Boscawen should be a solid Minister. He has taken very well to parliamentary life, and has earned some respect on all sides for his work on finance company failures etc. What remains to be seen is if he will automatically take Heather’s portfolios, or if the PM may do a mini-reshuffle.

Why Peter won’t get a haircut

May 9th, 2010 at 6:56 pm by David Farrar

A reader suggests they have found the reason ACT on Campus President Peter McCaffrey won’t cut his hair. He is trying to replicate Heather’s look.

The ACT Conference

March 1st, 2010 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

I blogged on Saturday on Alan Gibbs address to the ACT Conference, which I enjoyed.

I missed the speeches by Emma Gibbs and David Seymour – which many said were the conference highlights.

I wasn’t impressed with parts of Muriel Newman’s speech. I can’t remember the exact words Muriel used but to describe the National/Maori Party confidence and supply agreement along the lines of the biggest disaster for race relations in all of history was excessively hyperbolic. One can legitimately criticise the agreement, without going so over the top. Also in response to a question on customary rights, I couldn’t believe the answer was that the Treaty of Waitangi extinguished any customary rights. Apart from being totally wrong, it also contradicted an earlier assertion that the Treaty had no legal effect.

John Armstrong has analysed Heather Roy’s speech, and I agree references to black swans and the like were less than wise.

The conference over all did not feel like the conference of a party in Government after 12 years of opposition. Most people were too focused on how the Government was not implementing all of their policies, rather than talking about the areas they were making a difference.

Rodney’s speech was positive and upbeat, but the real outstanding performance from Rodney was on the Sunday on Q+A. I recommend people watch it to see Rodney be frank about his mistakes, but also talk about the wins ACT has had, and what they will keep pushing for. The only negative mark I give him is talking about Key and English keeping on the policies of Clark and Cullen, rather than the more correct “some of the policies”.

Colin James covers that ACT has managed to have significant influence, beyond their five seats.

I thought Don Brash’s speech on closing the gap with Australia was good, as he made a great case for bolder policies needed – especially over spending. He should have chosen better language than “venal and ignorant” in talking about *some* voters, as it has diverted attention from the point he was making about the failing of the education system and the media on basic economic issues.

Of course for many the real highlight of conference was the after-match party hosted by Cactus Kate for the younger members. Had around 40 people in the penthouse suite at the Bolton, so was a very comfortable feel. Was great to catch up with old friends and make some new ones. An amusing aspect was seeing Chris from Dunedin wind various people up so well, I was sure he was going to get slapped.

Cactus, Jadis and I did some of the shopping for the party. Not sure New World has ever sold so much champagne in one go before!

The party ended a bit after 3 am and as we started a bit before 5 pm, it was a solid ten hour affair. Remarkably, there was almost no damage to the room – even after a couple of people from Young Labour snuck in!

An attempted ACT coup

December 19th, 2009 at 10:50 am by David Farrar

The Herald has a stunning story:

Act founder Sir Roger Douglas, with deputy leader and Consumer Affairs Minister Heather Roy, is understood to have led moves in the party against Mr Hide during the controversy over the international travel costs of his partner.

The Act board was told the caucus had issues over the leadership, and a special caucus meeting was called for November 22.

Some people in ACT must have a suicide wish. While Rodney did make an error of judgement with his trip (which he apologised for), ACT only survive in Parliament because he holds Epsom. If Rodney goes, then in all probability ACT will be booted out of Parliament at the next election.

Mr Key is understood to have learned about the moves against Mr Hide shortly before that – between his return from Apec in Singapore and his trip to Trinidad for the Commonwealth summit.

He told Mrs Roy that if Mr Hide were removed from the leadership, her own ministerial position would be in jeopardy.

It was naive to think a leadership change would have no impact. When National changed leaders in 1997, Winston approached Helen Clark and asked if she would be interested in forming a Government.

And it is believed that at the height of controversies in the two support parties – the Act leadership and the Maori Party’s turmoil over MP Hone Harawira – Mr Key briefly considered a snap election to gain National an outright majority.

Hell, that will send the 2010 election stock on iPredict upwards!

Roy on Property Rights

September 14th, 2009 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Heather Roy makes a good point in her newsletter, talking about the trees issue in Auckland:

Opponents, however, believe there will now be open slather on trees – with property owners and developers engaging in the wholesale destruction of trees to make way for construction and other land alterations.

At the heart of this issue, however, is the matter of property rights. ACT believes that property owners, having worked hard to purchase their land, should be able to do with their property as they see fit – whether that is landscaping, grass-seeding, or cutting down a tree.

We Kiwis pride ourselves on having a fair, democratic and free society. Property rights are a cornerstone of any such society – yet successive governments have passed legislation that impinge on these rights.

A perfect example of this occurring was in 2004, when the then Labour-led Government rushed through the controversial Foreshore and Seabed Act – vesting the foreshore and seabed with the Crown, and taking away from iwi the right to have their claims considered in court. …

Property rights – not democracy – actually protect the weak against the strong in our society. While democracy puts power in the hands of the majority, it is property rights – individual property rights or private property rights – that are fundamental to the liberty of the individual.

Heather has put it nicely – property rights do protect the weak against the strong. And while property rights are not an absolute, they are vitally important.

VSM on the agenda

August 20th, 2009 at 5:37 pm by David Farrar

Superb news. Heather Roy’s voluntary student association membership bill (now in the name of Roger Douglas) got drawn from the ballot today.

I’ll be doing a lot of posts on this topic as I have 15 – 20 years worth of research on the pros and cons of VSM.

The Young Nationals and ACT on Campus are excited about the bill being drawn, and no doubt will be campaigning hard for it to be passed.

Very appropriate that the man who gave New Zealand so many of our economic freedoms, may end up also being the person who give students the freedom to choose as individuals whether or not to join a student association.

Kudos for ACT plus a question

July 29th, 2009 at 10:09 am by David Farrar

Heather Roy publishes a list of all bills up for a vote this week, a summary of the bill, its pros and cons, and how ACT will vote on it.

This is great transparency and I would encourage all parties to do this.

I do have one question though. Heather describes the Road User Amendment Bill as:

This Bill will exempt light electric motor vehicles from road user chargers. The hope is that an exemption will encourage the uptake of such vehicles to slowly improve the efficiency of the motor vehicle fleet, decrease reliance on fossil fuels, improve energy security, and reduce vehicle emissions to improve air quality and greenhouse gas levels. If we accept that electric cars provide a net environmental “good”, this is a commonsense (and relatively low-cost) measure to increase uptake. The other positive aspect is that the Bill will provide for 42 days notice of an increase in road user charges.

I was amused to then see ACT is voting against the bill, after describing it so positively.

So are some “cons” missing from the summary, or has ACT described how it will vote incorrectly?

UPDATE: ACT are voting for it. It was a typo

Heather Roy on VSM

June 30th, 2009 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Heather Roy notes the latest ($175,000 stolen from CPSA) in a long line of thefts of student money and summarises recent cases:

December 1999 – Brendan McQuillan, president of Nelson Polytechnic Student Association, admitted stealing $8,004. November 2003 – Florence bailey, office manager of Massey Students Association, jailed for two years and three months after stealing $203,000. November 2005 – Victoria University Maori Student Association treasurer Wi Nepia jailed for stealing $161,000. 2005 – Otago University’s Te Roopu Maori, the Maori students’ association collapsed amid allegations of financial impropriety. Estimated fraud $21,000. April 2007 – Clelia Opie, officer of Victoria University Students’ Association, spends $6,000 on phone calls.’

Now there are not that many student associations in NZ. The fraud rate for them is hence staggeringly high. Heather notes:

The fact is that compulsory student association membership creates a pool of money and a lack of accountability on how that money is managed. Misuse of funds in a voluntary organisation would result in a loss of confidence by members in the executive. But in student organisations, despite frequent fraud and theft, students are still forced to pay union fees whether they want to or not. Student associations are also often plagued by accusations of advocating only the views of their executives rather than those of their wider memberships.

It’s a disgrace that National continues to force most students to belong to a students’ association.

In the House

April 2nd, 2009 at 5:52 pm by David Farrar

Heather Roy (ACT’s Whip) has a useful feature on her website called “In the House“.

Heather lists every bill due to be voted on that week, a short summary of it, what reading it is and how ACT are voting.

Every party should be doing this!

The National-ACT Agreement

November 16th, 2008 at 12:24 pm by David Farrar

National has put the coalition confidence and supply agreement online (staff are working long hours!).

  • goal of closing the income gap with Australia by 2025
  • require a sustained lift in New Zealand’s productivity growth rate to 3% a year or more
  • agreed on the establishment of a high quality advisory group to investigate the reasons for the recent decline in New Zealand’s productivity performance
  • Rodney to be Minister of Local Government, Minister for Regulatory Reform and Associate Minister of Commerce and a member of the Cabinet Expenditure Control Committee

Very pleased to see Rodney get Local Government – he will be a champion for ratepayers.

  • Heather to be Minister of Consumer Affairs, Associate Minister of Defence and Associate Minister of Education

Also good to see Heather get more than Consumer Affairs. I hope she can keep her role in Territorials despite being Associate Minister – the Forces will appreciate a Minister who is one of them! Education will also be a key area for change, if we are to close the gap with Australia.

  • National agrees to introduce the ACT Three Strikes Bill
  • National agrees to a review by a special select committee of Parliament of the current Emissions Trading Scheme legislation and any amendments or alternatives to it, including carbon taxes, in the light of current economic circumstances and steps now being undertaken by similar nations

Having it reviewed by select committee is sensible as that gives a voice to all parties. And the ETS legislation was so complex it needed another look by select committee anyway.

  • National further agrees to pass forthwith an amendment to the ETS legislation delaying its implementation, repealing the thermal generation ban and making any other necessary interim adjustments until the select committee review is completed
  • Establishing a series of Task Forces that include private sector representatives and private sector chairs to undertake fundamental reviews of all base government spending in identified sectors, and to report findings progressively to the cabinet control expenditure committee and relevant ministers.

This should have been happening for the last nine years. The status quo is not an adequate reason to keep funding something. Public funds should be spent on areas where they actually achieve good outcomes.

  • Support, within six months, the referral of ACT’s Taxpayer Rights Bill to the Finance and Expenditure Committee of Parliament as a government measure with the aim of passing into law a cap on the growth of core Crown expenses.
  • National and ACT note that United Future favours reducing and aligning personal, trust and company taxes at a maximum rate of 30%. They agree that such a tax structure is a desirable medium-term goal.

Who would have thought – United Future gets to se the tax policy for the nation 🙂

  • National and ACT agree that the government will establish a task force to carry forward work on the Regulatory Responsibility Bill considered by the Commerce Committee of Parliament in 2008.
  • National and ACT agree that the National-led government will explore the concept of a New Zealand Productivity Commission associated with the Productivity Commission in Australia in order to support the goals of higher productivity growth and improvements in the quality of regulation.

I can’t stress how important this might be. However to be truly successful, it would need bipartisan support. It is in all of our interest to improve productivity – even if not always popular with every lobby group. National should try and work with Goff and King to get their support for such a Commission.

  • The National-led government will establish a high quality advisory group to recommend short-term amendments to the RMA, including but not confined to those which National has put forward, as a basis for select committee consideration early in 2009.
  • National and ACT have agree to set up an inter-party working group, which shall be resourced as necessary to consider and report on policy options relating to the funding and regulation of schools that will increase parental choice and school autonomy.
  • National has identified the initiatives on National’s “My key commitments to you” and “National’s Post-Election Action Plan” publications as priorities for them. ACT agrees to support the legislation required to give effect to these policies. These publications are attached as Appendix 2.

This means National can implement its key manifesto items.

  • ACT agrees that it will support the government on procedural motions in the House and in select committees unless ACT has previously advised that such support is not forthcoming. National agrees that it will operate a no surprises policy with ACT on procedural motions it intends to put before the House or a select committee. If National fails to give ACT 48-hours notice of intended procedural motions, ACT shall not be bound by its obligations under this heading.

And means ACT will generally support National on procedural motions, so long as they are given enough notice to decide. There will inevitably be urgency to deal with the 2008 legislation that has an election mandate. I do hope in future urgency is not used too often – or if it is, only to increase sitting hours, but not to rush laws through more than one stage.

Rodney has delivered a good agreement for his supporters, and he also did well in taking ACT from two MPs in 2005 to five MPs in 2008. That gave him the increased clout he needs.

Key has also done well. He has secured support for National’s key manifesto items, and many of his own supporters will welcome the concessions to ACT. Yet nothing there to really scare away the centrist voters – at this stage – that will depend on how certain items are implemented. Issues around the ETS should not be allowed to drift for too long.

Wellington Central

October 1st, 2008 at 1:42 pm by David Farrar

Two fun opportunities for people interested in the Wellington Central race.

First we have the four main candidates on Backbenches tonight. Stephen Franks, Grant Robertson, Sue Kedgley and Heather Roy. They’;; be talking about the economy, tax cuts and why you should vote for them!

I suspect a big audience tonight so pay to be there early. The show screens at 9.10 pm on TVNZ7.

Also iPredict has launched a set of three Wellington Central stocks.

You can invest in a Grant Robertson victory, a Stephen Franks victory or a “Other” victory in Wellington Central. The share will pay $1 if you win and the initial offer price is 55.5c for Grant, 43.5c for Stephen and 1c for Other.

Advanced investors can also buy a bundle of all three shares for exactly $1. If the combined price of all three is over $1, then you can make money buying the bundle and selling the individual stocks (or just the stock you think is over priced).

Welcome Heather

August 19th, 2008 at 6:09 pm by David Farrar

And following Winston into the blogosphere, is Heather Roy. Welcome Heather.

The blog is called Royters – I like it!

Sir Roger’s return

June 9th, 2008 at 6:26 am by David Farrar

Two announcements were made yesterday regarding Sir Roger Douglas. The minor one was regarding which seat he would stand in, and the decision to choose Hunua is no surprise as he lives there. His brother, Malcolm Douglas, is a former MP for Hunua and will be his campaign manager.

The more significant announcement is that he accept whatever list ranking the members give him. Previously indications are he would be lower down the list to give ACT supporters a target to work towards (such as “If we get 5% we get Sir Roger back), but now it seems Sir Roger will be No 3 or maybe even No 2.

To get three MPs ACT needs around 2.5% of the vote which is certainly plausible.

Who from ACT would become a Minister, if an agreement with National can be achieved, would be interesting. You see if you do only have three MPs, then they won’t all get to be Ministers. In fact realistically only one of them would be. So would Rodney (who would be in his 5th term) and Heather be content being backbenchers if they push Sir Roger to take up a ministerial role? And the converse also goes – would Sir Roger be content being a backbencher with Rodney in Cabinet?

You were warned

April 16th, 2008 at 10:31 am by David Farrar

I warned people that the Electoral Finance Act covered e-mails and even press releases, and it is being proven right.

Heather Roy has been sending out a weekly e-mail newsletter for five years. It only goes to people who ask to receive it.  The Chief Electoral Office has advised it can be considered an election advertisement and now needs an authorisation statement.

And yes it may apply to press releases also:

Press releases, which are usually much more politically combative and seldom, if ever, carry authorisation, would be the obvious concern, potentially leaving scores of MPs in breach of the controversial new law.

But that question will not be resolved till Crown Law rules on whether a pamphlet handed to a journalist at an ACT conference could be deemed to have been published. Though material distributed to party members is exempt from the law, the journalist was not a party member.

E-mailing out a press release is probably an election advertisement. This would mean the party’s financial agent would need to authorise in writing all press releases before they go out, and they would have the financial agent’s home address on them.