Nine new schools for Auckland

August 13th, 2014 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

National will build nine new schools in Auckland if re-elected, associate Education Minister Nikki Kaye announced today.

The schools would be built as part of a $350 million investment into Auckland education infrastructure over the next four years, Ms Kaye said.

The announcement was made during a visit to Ponsonby Primary School with Prime Minister John Key this afternoon.

“We have recently invested in new schools in areas like Hamilton and Queenstown, and Auckland is an obvious candidate for significant new investment,” she said.

The new schools would be spread across the Auckland region, with four likely in the northern region, three in South Auckland, and two in West Auckland.

An additional 130 classrooms would also be built at existing school sites across the Auckland region to deal with forecast roll growth, Ms Kaye said.

A further eight schools would be renovated.

“We will deal with major redevelopments at Western Springs College in Western Springs, Southern Cross Campus (second stage) in Mangere East, and Sherwood Primary in Browns Bay as first cabs off the rank if we are returned to Government at the election.

That’s a significant amount of money for Auckland schools.

Funding would come from a mixture of the Future Investment Fund — which contains the proceeds from asset sales, and existing baselines including possible public/private partnerships, Ms Kaye said.

Those awful partial asset sales, helping fund new schools. How terrible.

Stuff reports:

Labour would make the same investments if elected, as it was “business-as-usual, baseline capital investment for any government,” he said.

How? Will they add this to their $17 billion? These are capital works being brought forward many years, which are not currently funded.

Cunliffe said public-private partnerships were the “trick” of the announcement.

“Now this is creeping privatisation of the education system – there is no economic case for it, there is not enough risk to be managed in a school to justify the higher private cost of capital,” he said.

A PPP is not privatisation. In the last Labour Government David Cunliffe was a huge proponents of PPPs. But if Labour is ruling out PPPs, where are they going to find the money? It doesn’t grow on trees.

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Final boundaries – winners and losers

April 17th, 2014 at 12:52 pm by Jadis

Well the final boundaries are out.  There are some changes (as there always are) and a couple are quite significant.

Winners:

Nikki Kaye, Auckland Central – Having won and held Auckland Central by less than a thousand votes in 08 and 11 Nikki will be overjoyed to see ALL of Grey Lynn move into Mount Albert.  Grey Lynn was Jacinda’s territory and I am pretty sure she owns a house there so she will now be living outside of the electorate that she says she will contest in this year’s election.  Nikki is probably sitting on a conservative majority of 2000 but it is useful to remember that with strategic voting and the like locally, and the high profile of the seat, that it will still be a hard race.

Nicky Wagner, Christchurch Central – I am really pleased for Nicky as she was gutted when the provisional boundaries came out as they made it a strong red seat. There must have been some fascinating discussion at the Commission table because it is a crazy shaped seat – how many legs does it have?  Nicky only won the seat by 47 votes so holding Christchurch Central was always going to be extremely tough.  Big chunks of red vote have been cut out of the electorate so Christchurch Central is back in play for both parties.  Still too close to call but certainly gone in Nats favour compared to the provisionals.

Tim MacIndoe, Hamilton West – Hamilton is unique as it is the only urban centre held by the Nats .  Similar boundaries to the provisionals means that by crossing the river MacIndoe has gained some strong blue areas in a high growth zone.  This seat should get stronger as more development occurs.  Tim’s majority may get as high as 5000-6000 this year.

Matt Doocey, Waimakariri – While there are no changes since the provisional Waimakariri is well and truly one of the most marginal seats in the country.  The electorate already had a big party vote in Nats favour but Clayton Cosgrove has been pretty popular there.  With Kate Wilkinson retiring Cosgrove would have been hoping to regain his seat but the boundaries haven’t been so helpful for him.  Wilkinson’s very thin majority is expected to climb just into four figures – not a big jump but it matters when a race is as tight as this one.

Losers:

Ruth Dyson, Port Hills – Dyson is the biggest loser in this boundary review.  Her majority has been reversed with the Nats stronghold of Halswell moving into the seat, and Anderton’s old stomping ground of Sydenham moving into Christchurch Central.  Dyson will have a real battle to hold this, even with the Nats putting in a new candidate.  How winnable the seat is very much depends on the strength of the Nat candidate, but a good candidate could take the seat with a 2000 majority.  I’d be gutted if I was Dyson as Pete Hodgson (who did the boundaries for Labour) is a good mate of hers.  Perhaps this is Labour’s new (poor) strategy of retiring MPs.

Trevor Mallard, Hutt South – This is the surprise of the final boundaries.  Mallard has gained all of the  Western Hills (good Nat territory) and lost super red areas of Naenae and Rimutaka. Labour should have been able to stop this occurring but appear to have put up no fight.  Mallard should be furious with his party for failing to keep Hutt South a real red seat.  Why didn’t Hodgson fight hard for Mallard?  Was it a directive from on high?  Realistically, Mallard should hold the seat but he’ll be working hard for it and never should have been put in this position. I expect Mallard’s majority to be pegged down a few.

Sam Lotu-iiga, Maungakiekie – Labour were grumpy in 2008 when Sam took one of ‘their’ red seats in Maungakiekie, so they will no doubt be pleased that the blue booths have almost all been taken out of Maungakiekie.  Beaumont would be silly to think her win is a foregone conclusion as Sam will throw everything into his beloved electorate and is able to cross party divides for electorate support.  This seat is too close to call.  Another true marginal.

Cunliffe and Labour – Labour have racked up few gains, and have taken significant hits in Christchurch, the Hutt Valley, Hamilton and Auckland.  In Maungakiekie where Labour locals organised a large number of submissions they’ve made headway but they could have been similarly organised elsewhere and chose not to be. That poor organisation has put a number of Labour MPs at serious risk.  At this rate, Labour will have no provincial seats (Tamati, you are dreaming in Rotorua with another Nat stronghold (Te Puke) going into Rotorua) and are fighting from behind in the marginal seats. Where was the leadership from Cunliffe, Coatsworth, Barnett and the hierarchy to stop this happening?  Overall, a fail for Labour.

 

 

 

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Profiles of new Ministers

January 26th, 2013 at 4:42 pm by David Farrar

Audrey Young at the Herald profiles new Minister Michael Woodhouse:

He avoided scandals and soapboxes in his first term as an MP, and has spent all of his second term in the highly demanding and important job of Chief Government Whip.

But to parliamentary inmates, his promotion came as no surprise.

From the moment he arrived in 2008 with a large cohort of new arrivals he was earmarked for higher office.

Yep – few are surprised that “Woody” is a Minister. He has always been well regarded.

When the new National Government launched into its contentious ACC reforms, Mr Woodhouse made a strong impression as confident, articulate and knowledgeable advocate of the policy, much more so than more experienced MPs.

In the second term he was destined to get a select committee chairmanship or a whip’s role – both are considered stepping stones to ministerial appointment, but more so a whip. Plenty of select committee chairs don’t make ministers. But almost all senior whips do.

Whips have to manage the back bench and ensure that the Government doesn’t lose any votes.

They also have to make sure there is an objection or vote against any attempt by an Opposition MP to delay things. I recall when a previous whip failed to object to leave to debate Steven Joyce’s academic record, and the House ended up spending a couple of hours on that!

Just before entering Parliament Mr Woodhouse was chief executive officer of Mercy Hospital in Dunedin.

He was born and raised in Dunedin in a large Labour-supporting Catholic family, the fifth of nine children.

In his maiden speech he made mention of the story of the Sisters of Mercy and their founder, Irish nun Catherine McAuley, which he said “inspires and challenges me and forms the basis of my leadership ethos”.

He may be one of the first Dunedin MPs to claim he has both blue (National colours) and gold running through his veins.

He spoke of his gold-mining forebears, his great-great-grandfather James Woodhouse, who emigrated from Lancashire and in 1862 discovered gold at the junction of the Teviot and Clutha rivers near Roxburgh.

“No great wealth was passed down, however, as he purchased the Bannockburn Hotel and fathered eight children.”

I was at that hotel a few weeks ago!! A lovely place to have a drink in the sun.

Mr Woodhouse will take up the responsibilities of Immigration, Veterans Affairs and Associate Transport, the latter traditionally beingthe minister responsible for road safety.

As Immigration Minister he will be responsible for policy and not for the painstaking work of sifting through individual cases pleading for a discretionary ministerial decision.

That will be done by Ms Kaye in her new role as Associate Immigration Minister

Michael has the better side of that portfolio. A former Minister commented that most minister’s weekly papers come in boxes, while the Associate Immigration Minister usually gets a trolley!

Mr Woodhouse is the first Dunedin-based National Party minister.

About time!

The other new minister, Nikki Kaye, is profiled by Andrea Vance in Stuff:

National was looking to inject some youthful energy into its frontbench team. It chose Nikki Kaye, who is preparing to run, cycle and kayak 243 kilometres.

The rise and rise of Nikki Kaye has been well canvassed. Even the most casual of political observers could have picked her promotion to minister this week – although a fast-track straight into the Cabinet is an extra gold star.

Nikki is the youngest female minister National has had.

The next few weeks will be spent getting to grips with her new portfolios: food safety, civil defence and youth affairs. Associate immigration – where many of the operational issues are delegated – also brings a heavy workload. She also promises not to neglect her constituency. Despite months of training, a busy ministerial diary may force her to pull out of the Coast to Coast, although she’s anxious to compete. She has learnt to make time for family. “The last four years, it’s been 6 – day weeks. I don’t really expect that to slow down. In the last year I’ve got more of a personal balance. . . .

Nikki has only two speeds. Running and running faster :-)

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Key kept that close to his chest

January 22nd, 2013 at 12:20 pm by David Farrar

Well John Key managed to surprise me and most other people, and has done a quite significant reshuffle, with a substantial rejuvenation of the Ministry.

Those leaving the Ministry are:

  • David Carter to become Speaker
  • Kate Wilkinson
  • Phil Heatley

Kate and Phil have performed well in their portfolios, and their departures are not sackings. It is simply the reality I talked about this morning that you need rejuvenation.

Promoted direct into Cabinet is Auckland Central MP Nikki Kaye who has become Minister of Food Safety, Civil Defence and Youth Affairs and Associate Minister of Education and Immigration. She will be the youngest female Minister in National’s history.

Senior Whip Michael Woodhouse becomes a Minister outside Cabinet as Minister of Immigration, Veterans’ Affairs and Associate Transport.

Simon Bridges moves into Cabinet from outside and gets more grunty portfolios of Labour and Energy.

Oh and as expected Nick Smith moves back into Cabinet as Housing and Conservation Minister. Paula Bennett is made Associate Housing.

Nathan Guy as expected gets Primary Industries and Jo Goodhew Associate.

Chris Tremain pciks up Local Government Minister.

And in a very good move Steven Joyce is put in charge of Novopay, and fixing the problems there.

The caucus will need to elect a new senior whip, but I can’t imagine any reason whu junior whip Louise Upston won’t succeed to that – so the focus is probably more on who from 2011 may step up to become junior whip.

I’m delighted that the PM has been bolder than expected, and effectively brought forward what I thought would be a year end reshuffle. And I’m looking forward to the new Ministers making a difference in their new portfolios.

Big thanks to Phil and Kate also for their service.

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Who will win this match?

August 17th, 2012 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

A broadcast media rugby team will square off tomorrow against a parliamentary side in a fundraiser for St John Ambulance Service.

The media team includes former All Black Glen Osborne, former MP John Tamihere, TVNZ’s Scotty Morrison and Monty Betham and Nate Nauer from MAI FM. Radio Live’s Willie Jackson is team manager.

On the other side are MPs Shane Jones, Chester Borrows, Paul Goldsmith, Brendan Horan and Alfred Ngaro. Jacinda Ardern, Nikki Kaye and parliamentary rugby team adviser Winston Peters will provide the glamour.

Hmmn who will win – the team with a former All Black who played in 21 test matches, or the team with Jacinda and Nikki in it? :-)

Anyone know where the game is?

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Handing over law making

May 29th, 2012 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

As I blogged yesterday I am in support of modernising our adoption laws. They are literally a relic from the 1950s. But the law reform is not just about whether same sex couples should be able to adopt, but needs to deal with a wide range of adoption issues, guardianship issues and surrogacy issues.

A few people think this will lead to many gay couples getting to adopt children, ahead of “deserving” heterosexual couples. But I quote Andrew Geddis on this:

This law change will result in only an infinitesimal increase in the number of children who actually get raised by a same-sex couples because there are Fuck All “stranger” adoptions in New Zealand (less than 100 a year). And then a given same-sex couple only will be able to adopt a child if the birth mother chose them ahead of all other eligible couples. So if gay couples could join the pool of people eligible to adopt in this manner, the number of children who would be placed with them likely would be negligible

What this means is that the argument about whether kids being raised by same-sex couples is good/bad is pretty much irrelevant to this issue, because it ISN’T ABOUT MORE KIDS BEING RAISED BY SAME SEX COUPLES THAN THERE ARE AT THE MOMENT.

What this is about is like what we saw on TV3, where two lesbians have lived together for 19 years, and both have a biological child. however they can not make each other the adoptive parent of each child. So if one of them dies, one of the children could be left in limbo. The current law actually prevents the best interests of the child being paramount.

Media reported yesterday that National MP Nikki Kaye and Green MP Kevin Hague have been working for around 18 months on an adoption law reform bill. As I indicated, it is a hugely complex area, and just identifying the key policy issues is quite a task.

Now some in Labour have been saying that there is no need for a bill by Hague/Kaye, as Jacinda Ardern already has a bill in the members’ ballot. This prompted me to look more closely at the bill, and I’m afraid it is very seriously flawed. I have absolutely no doubt that Jacinda genuinely wants good law reform in this area, but the bill she has put forward is basically little more than a legislative request for the Government to do something. The bill, which is only slightly longer than a press release, essentially does the following:

  1. Requires the Minister for the Law Commission to ask the Law Commission to review the law relating to the care of children and update its September 2000 report on adoption
  2. Requires the Law Commission to report within 12 months a report, recommendations and draft legislation
  3. Requires the Minister of Justice to introduce the bill, as drafted by the Law Commission, without amendment within seven days

There are a significant number of semi-fatal flaws with this approach. The first is timing. Under the Ardern bill, there would probably be no law change for four or more years until after it has been selected from the ballot. The likely timings are:

  • 1st reading – 3 months after introduction
  • select committee – 6 months
  • 2nd and 3rd reading – 3 months
  • Law Commission report – 12 months
  • Govt Bill has first reading scheduled – up to 12 months
  • select committee – 6 months
  • 2nd and 3rd reading – 3 months

So even if the Ardern bill was drawn tomorrow, any actual law change would take four or more years, so maybe the law would be changed by 2017. The problem is that Jacinda is trying to use a bill, to get the Law Commission to write a bill. But Ardern’s bill itself would have to go through the full legislative process which would take probably 12 months. And I am being generous in suggesting it could take 12 months to pass. Many member’s bill have spent 18 months just awaiting their first reading!

Effectively what Ardern wants could be achieved by writing a letter to the Minister of Justice, and this would save one to two year’s time if the Minister agreed. However Ardern is trying to legislate to force the Minister to introduce a bill, even if they do not want to. But she has made a fatal error. She has legislated that such a bill must be introduced within 7 days of the Law Commission drafting it, but she has not said that the Government must schedule it for a first reading debate.  So if the Government did not want the bill to progress, it would simply place it at the bottom of the order paper – which they can do as it would be a Government bill. Even a minority Government would be able to prevent the bill from ever being voted on – something they can’t do with a private members’ bill that actually seeks a law change – rather than just ordering the Government to introduce a bill.

So to be very clear, even if a majority in Parliament favoured law reform, the process outlined in this bill would give the Government an effective veto. It is not difficult to imagine a scenario where for example it is after the 2014 election and say Colin Craig or Winston Peters could demand that the price of their support is the bill not proceed, as their constituents do not like it. By making it a Government bill, you lose control of its timing.

So the biggest problem if Ardern’s bill would not actually see any law change for four or more years, and could in fact never be voted on if the Government did not want it to pass. But that is only one flaw.

The second flaw is that the Ardern bill doesn’t specify a single policy principle. Not one. It gives actually no direction to the Law Commission as to what should be in the bill, what its scope should be, or even that the bill should not discriminate against same sex relationships. Every single detail is left to the Law Commission. This is a blank piece of paper. Now one could say, well surely they would mainly repeat what they reported in September 2000. Well they might. But it is worth considering that I think every single member of the Law Commission is now different from 12 year ago. So there is no guarantee that what the Law Commission would deliver is what Ardern wants. It is the job of legislators to spell out the general policy principles they want a law to reflect.

The third flaw is that the Minister of Justice is required to introduce whatever the Law Commission drafts, without amendment. Putting aside the rather important constitutional issues of making the Law Commission able to bypass Cabinet, it means that if a first reading is scheduled the MPs have to vote on whatever the Law Commission drafted. It could not be amended unless it survives to select committee. Such a bill could include a provision that all babies named David have to be placed into the care of CYFS and the Minister of Justice would be forced to introduce it without amendment. Sure that is an unlikely example, but it is a horrific precedent to have draft laws bypass Ministerial and/or MP approval, and going straight to a vote. This gives huge powers to the unelected Law Commissioners.

This is obviously a very bad idea. The political process is about MPs and parties working together to ensure a bill is acceptable and has enough support to pass first reading. There are often intense negotiations before a bill is introduced into Parliament.  The Ardern Bill actually entirely removes MPs from the legislative equation until the Law Commission bill reaches select committee – if it even made it that far. And the probability that it would face massive changes at select committee is enhanced when MPs have had zero say in its drafting.

The fourth flaw, I touched on earlier. Rather than introduce a private members’ bill that actually outlines the desired law changes, it just instructs the Government to introduce a bill in probably two years time. By then making it a Government bill, it means Parliament loses control of when it gets voted on, as Government bills are debated at the discretion of the Government. So by failing to specify that the bill must be scheduled for first (and subsequent) reading/s at the top of the Government order paper, the bill is basically entirely ineffective.

So in summary the Ardern bill is not a helpful (while I am sure well motivated) step towards sensible adoption law reform for the following four reasons:

  1. It would probably delay any actual law reform for four or more years. By contrast a private members bill which actually specified the proposed reforms could be passed into law within a year or so.
  2. There are absolutely no policy principles in the bill (not even that the welfare of the child is paramount). It is a total blank piece of paper for the Law Commission.
  3. The bill locks MPs out of any involvement in the eventual draft government legislation prepared by the Law Commission, making it far less likely of gaining the necessary support.
  4. The private members bill requires the Government to introduce a Government bill, which will then only progress at the timetable decided by the Government – rather than as Parliament wishes. Under MMP the two are not the same thing.

It is very easy to write a nine clause bill and trumpet that as the “solution”, claiming it would “address a wide range of concerns about the outdated Adoption Act”. But alas law making is not that simple or easy. Either you convince the Government to make adoption law a Government priority, or you draft a private members bill to do it yourself.

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Adoption law reform

May 28th, 2012 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Audrey Young in the NZ Herald reports:

Two MPs from opposing parties, National’s Nikki Kaye and the Greens’ Kevin Hague, have joined forces to develop a bill that would legalise adoption by gay couples.

The National Party’s northern regional conference in Auckland at the weekend passed a remit in closed session supporting adoption by couples in a civil union.

I blogged this over the weekend. A very welcome move, and also good to see MPs working across party lines on an issue that impacts a lot of New Zealanders – I don’t mean just same sex adoption, but updating the adoption and surrogacy laws generally. They are woefully out of date.

Prime Minister John Key told the Herald yesterday the passage of the remit reflected the changing face of the National Party.

“The party is modernising. You can see by the number of young people. It’s ethnically a lot more diverse than in was. It’s more representative of modern day New Zealand. It’s a very positive and healthy thing.”

For many years the majority of delegates at conferences were old and white. This has changed, especially in Auckland. I recall being a Young National myself and TVNZ asking me up until what age you are considered a Young National, and replying “Oh, around 60″ :-)

Ms Kaye, the MP for Auckland Central, said she had worked for 18 months on the issue with Mr Hague, a West Coast gay MP.

She said many couples had fertility issues and more were considering surrogacy.

It made sense to consider adoption and surrogacy together, as they reflected the more modern arrangements New Zealanders were choosing to structure their families.

When the MPs started at looking at the Adoption Act 1955, they decided it would be best to approach it from a perspective in which the welfare of the child was paramount.

This is the sensible focus. Legislative prohibitions against certain types of relationships may result in outcomes where the child’s welfare is not paramount. It is far better for the totality of the circumstances of a prospective parent or parents is taken into account.

The two MPs are drafting legislation to amend the Care of Children Bill 2004 based on a previous Law Commission report that looked at guardianship and adoption.

The measure should be ready in a few months, Ms Kaye said, and would be a private member’s bill in her name or Mr Hague’s.

It was a complex piece of work and there would be about 40 policy decisions. Some would be controversial, including the age of adoption, adoption by same-sex couples, adoption by single people, Maori adoption practices and issues relating to surrogacy.

It is a hugely complex area, especially as what actually happens today is so far removed from the old law which was all about “closed” adoptions where a birth parent gives their child up to the state who gives it to adoptive parents. Such adoptions are almost extinct in New Zealand. The majority of adoptions involve arrangements between birth and adoptive parents directly, or through surrogacy.

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The Auckland Central race

November 30th, 2011 at 5:19 pm by David Farrar

I have blogged very little this year on the Auckland Central race. The reason why is I’ve got a lot of time for both the candidates. I would have rather they weren’t both competing for the same seat.

It is no secret that Nikki is one of my very close friends. I’ve known her since she was 18, and she is one of the most determined, and caring, people I know.

I also got to know Jacinda before the 2008 election, and like her a lot. She’s obviously one of the more capable Labour MPs, and a good person.

There’s been a huge media interest in their contest. They’ve had to contend with weekly opposing columns in the Herald Online, dinners with the Metro editor, profiles for the Listener, endless days being accompanied by journalists, the normal series of debates and public meetings and regular mentions in the Sunday papers. Few MPs who are not Ministers have had to endure the scrutiny the pair of them have.

Under such pressure it would be pretty easy for the race to get personal, or worse. But it didn’t. While they were both fierce competitors, I’m not aware of any situations where they really slagged each other off, derided the good intentions of the other or made it personal. They debated policy and issues instead. Now this is not to say that it was all love and roses. They’re competing for the same seat, and have very different viewpoints on most issues. It was a tough sometimes bruising  race. I recall seeing Jacinda at Wellington Koru Club and asking her if she was going to manage any time off between then (it was before the campaign) and the election. Her response was that if Nikki takes a day off, then she’ll do the same. The end result being I think they both worked seven day weeks for several months.

Unless specials do something very very very unusual, Nikki has retained the seat. I’ll be very interested to see how the votes were split when we get final results. The Greens got a massive 22% of the party vote. In 2008 only one third of them voted for the Labour candidate, while this time I suspect around two thirds did.

On the night Jacinda went around to Nikki’s celebration to concede, and she got a huge round of applause from the Nats gathered there. I am a huge believer that candidates should concede in person to the winner, and equally that they should get a good reception from the winning team. I recall going with Mark Blumsky in 2005 to concede to Marian Hobbs.It’s not something you ever enjoy doing, but it is a good thing to do.

I understand Nikki is still waiting for Judith’s concession from 2008 :-)

2014 is three years away. There will be a census in 2013, and new boundaries drawn up for the 2014 election. Until the boundaries are done it is impossible to be certain about how they will affect the seat. However I have a fair amount of experience with boundaries, and in my view Auckland Central is likely to lose some of its redder areas. Time will tell.

So my congrats go to both Nikki and Jacinda for their contest. That finally brings me to the name many have applied to the contest – the “battle of the babes”. Even now the election is over, Fairfax are still using the name for their video interviews with both candidates.

I am not exactly a campaigner for political correctness, but the point has come where that tagline should die a natural death. It is demeaning, as it makes it all about their attractiveness, rather than their political abilities.

For the avoidance of doubt, yes of course both Nikki and Jacinda are attractive young women. But, so what!

Did any media call the battle for Napier the “battle of the hunks” between Chris Tremain and Stuart Nash? No. They’ve only done it to the female candidates. It is sexist, and it should stop.

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A case in point

August 28th, 2010 at 8:18 pm by David Farrar

At the #openlabournz conference earlier today, there was a good discussion about how social media can help improve interactions with Government, and we focused specifically on getting a culture in the public service where staff can engage in social media.

I made the point that the problem is the media can take a flippant comment online, and treat it as a press release, and demand the CEO comment on it or respond to it. My suggestion was that a good CEO should tell anyone who comes to them with a media inquiry about a flippant comment on Facebook or Twitter, that the person needs a life and the CEO is too busy with real issues.

In the few hours since the conference, we’ve had a perfect example of this play out – but with MPs not public servants.

In the House on Thursday, Melissa Lee embellished her question to Judith Collins of “Can she explain the reasons behind the record low number of escapes” by adding on “except for the fact she is such a fantastic minister”.

Nikki Kaye promptly facebooked that Melissa’s effort should win her “brown nosing backbencher of the year”.

Now Nikki and Melissa are good mates. Melissa actually responds to “Blondie” in the facebook thread. It is very obviously two mates having a friendly hassle.

Then early this morning on Red Alert Trevor Mallard posted a screenshot of the Facebook thread. It is bloody obvious that it is a friendly exchange. They even have Melissa doing a lol on it.

So far so good. But then someone at NewstalkZB thinks this is somehow a newsworthy story. They actually dispatch a reporter to phone Nikki Kaye up and ask her why she called a colleague a brown noser, and does she think John Key would approve of it.

For fuck’s sake. This was the exact point I was making at the Labour conference. An idiot media outlet thinking that a piece of friendly banter is somehow a news story, let alone some sort of scandal that the Prime Minister might need to be informed about.

The Prime Minister, I am confident to predict, would find the exchange as funny as most people would.

What really annoys me is that the consequences of such media stupidity is to encourage our MPs to become automatons – never showing any personality or humour – playing everything safe, just to avoid a potentially bad media story.

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Mining

March 23rd, 2010 at 11:20 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Also earmarked for mining are several parts of the Coromandel Peninsula and part of the Paparoa National Park in Westland.

A total of 2500ha, or 1.5 per cent of the Coromandel, is affected, including land around Thames and the Otahu ecological and Parakawai geological area in the Coromandel Forest Park.

A mining discussion document issued yesterday said the whole peninsula had gold, silver and peat deposits worth up to $54 billion.

The Government said the total area mined in the 7058ha of land it wants to open to mining could be as little as 500ha.

It is also proposing adding 12,400ha of land and marine reserves to the “protected” list, resulting in more protected land overall.

The area the Government proposes taking out of Section 4 is 0.2% of the total section 4, and will be replaced by an even larger amount, which is sensible. Of course not all conservation land, or even schedule 4 land, is of equal value.

My view has always been that decisions should be taken on a case by case basis, weighing up the potential economic benefits vs the environmental impact in that area.

“In fact 500 hectares is smaller than what the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry describes as an average New Zealand sheep and beef farm (550 ha).

500 hectares is basically 2.2 kms by 2.2 kms.. That is not a lot of land nationwide.

There is a segment of the population (and associated lobby groups) that is opposed to all mining, everywhere. You could apply to mine in the middle of a gorse laden field, and they’ll be against it, regardless of how much mineral wealth may be there.

That is a legitimate view to hold, but there is a cost – NZ has less money for schools, less money for hospitals, and lower incomes overall.

Quoting Ministers:

“It’s also worth noting that in productivity terms, workers in the mining sector return an average of $360,000 of GDP per worker, nearly six times the national average.”

Mining creates jobs, investment, export income and tax revenue.

Ms Wilkinson said the Government is also proposing to create a dedicated Conservation Fund based on a portion of future royalties it receives from mining in public conservation areas.  The budget for the fund would be 50 per cent of royalty revenue from minerals (other than petroleum) from public conservation areas, with a minimum of $2 million per annum for the first four years and a maximum of $10 million per annum.

And more money for conservation!

As I say, my view is to consider mining on a case by case basis. So let’s look through the discussion document:

A non-contiguous part of Paparoa National Park is proposed to be removed – the area has been mined in the past and still has current mining permits for it. Land affected is 3,315 hectares out of 39,000 hectares.

Also 2,574 hectares out of 69,290 hectares of mainly Coromandel Forest Park Total Coromandel value is estimated to be $54 billion of mainly gold, silver and peat.

Great Barrier Island – 705 hectares out of 15,250. Gold and silver estimated at $4.3 billion.

The Barrier inclusion is the one attracting the most attention, with the Herald reporting:

The National MP for Auckland Central, Nikki Kaye, has criticised Government plans to open Great Barrier Island to mining.

Ms Kaye – whose electorate includes the island – said mining did not stack up “when environmental and economic factors are taken into account, and given the island’s status in the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park”. …

Adding to the potential embarrassment for the Government, former National Party Cabinet minister and Auckland City Mayor John Banks is also opposing the move.

Mining is banned on Great Barrier under the Auckland City district plan, and can go ahead only if a mining company convinces the local council, or the Environment Court on appeal, to change the rules.

Mr Banks said Te Ahumata plateau was in the direct sight of tourists flying to New Zealand from the United States.

“Can you imagine flying in to ’100 per cent pure’ New Zealand and witnessing below you the moonscape of international companies degrading the most beautiful island on Earth?” he said.

John Banks’s press release was unequivocal:

“I am the Mayor for Great Barrier Island and I am completely opposed to any mining on this island. It is the untouched jewel in the crown of the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park.

Mayor Banks says mining would have a severe impact on the local tourism and fishing industries.

“This would be an ecological disaster, a serious blow for the established economy that depends on the Barrier’s untarnished image.

“Tens of thousands of people visit this magnificent destination every year to enjoy its beauty. This has to be one of the most beautiful places on earth at the doorstep of our Super City.”

“The infrastructure needed for mining would be devastating to the local environment. It could mean an enlarged airport, a large scale industrial port and wharf system that would be both expensive and destructive to the pristine environment.

Now Banks is not some foaming environmentalist, opposed to all mining. In his usual subtle way he points out Great Barrier has some unique qualities to it.

I’ve been to Barrier many times, and it is an  island with basically half a dozen roads and 800 residents. One can have a couple of extra mines in the Coromandel, and once they are going, most people won’t even realise they are operating. But even one mine on Barrier would change the island considerably, as Banks points out.

I’m somewhat torn on this one. If there really is $4 billion of gold and silver on the island, I’d want to mine it. Hell, I’d mine my own mother’s grave if there was $4 billion of gold underneath it :-) (Note my mother is alive and well!). At this stage the $4 billion is of course a rough estimate of potential – it may be less than that.

But on an emotional level, I’d hate to see Great Barrier industrialised. One of the things i love about the Barrier is that there is no central power supply on the island – it is almost all solar powered, with generator backups.

And as Banks says, it is the jewel in the crown of the Hauraki Gulf Marine Park. The island survives on tourism. I’ve yet to be convinced that mining there is a good idea. Possibly I’m a bit biased, as I stay there often, but if I had to list the last places in NZ I want mined, GBI would be high up on that list (Palmerston North however would be first up to be turned into a giant mine :-))

I don’t think it is just NIMBY syndrome. The Barrier is pretty unique with its lack of industrialisation.

To some degree the debate may be academic. The two main contenders for Mayor of Auckland have made it quite clear the District Plan, which bans mining, is not going to be amended – regardless of Section 4 status.

So I do wonder why you would change the law around Section 4, when mining will still be banned under the District Plan.

I think it is good that the Government has put up the consultation paper, and people should have their say. Hopefully it can be a debate that is more intelligent than just saying mining is bad. It is about getting a balance between economic opportunities and environmental protection, and should be on a case by case basis.

Fran O’Sullivan writes on the mining proposals, and says they are a timid toe in the water, not some sort of Naaru type exploration.

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Bridges reported to be okay after counselling

February 14th, 2010 at 11:29 am by David Farrar

The SST reports:

Prime Minister John Key might be on the wrong side of 40, married, and with a job that is more stressful than sexy, but that has not stopped Kiwis voting him as the country’s hottest politician.

The 48-year-old pipped (with 43% of votes) his much younger, and some would say more cosmetically appealing colleague, Tauranga MP Simon Bridges (33%), in an online survey of 700 Kiwis.

Friends and family of Simon Bridges have been keeping a non-stop vigil on him, since he received the news that a 48 year old father of two was judged hotter than him.

After multiple interventions and counselling, we think he will be okay and over time will recover. But members of the public are asked to help safeguard his mental health and not mention the poll results to him.

Auckland Central MP Nikki Kaye took out the female title with 32% of the votes, followed by another National MP, Melissa Lee (24%), and young Labour MP Jacinda Ardern (19%).

Kaye said that although she thought it was “lovely” that she had been chosen as the nation’s hottest female politician, she was not sure whether it would help her love life. Kaye is single.

“Yesterday I turned 30 and I was feeling down in the dumps, I had the 30 blues, but this news has just made it all better – it has made my day.

“I just hope there weren’t too many of my relatives in the survey sample.”

Good God, I thought Nikki was the MP for Auckland Central, not the MP for Tasmania.

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Orwell strikes again

February 2nd, 2010 at 4:05 pm by David Farrar

Around 9 pm last night Trevor Mallard made a rather bizarre post on Red Alert. And presumably one of his colleagues stepped in and hid it from view as it disappeared for around several hours.

One would have thought they would have learnt from the Chris Finlayson episode, that it is a bad idea to delete stuff you regret, as it is cached and stored all over the place.

As people on Red Alert asked what happened to it, it then reappeared a few hours later.George Orwell would be proud his novels were so accurate!

The post was rather stupid, to be blunt. It says/said:

It is going to be interesting to see how hard the Nats push their policy of shifting from a pretty strict zoning system based on a right to enrol if in zone to giving flexibilty to schools to pick and choose students.

Being in the Auckland Grammar zone increases the value of a house by between $100 and $150k, it will be interesting to see how Nikki Kaye balances her pretty extreme free market views with the writing off of property values.

Big + for Jacinda I think.

I know Labour are desperate to try and talk the Auckland Central race up, but really describing Nikki as holding “pretty extreme free market views” is hilarious. All I can say is that whatever Trevor is inhaling needs to be reclassified from Class C to Class A!!

More to the point, Trevor needs to visit Auckland more often. The Auckland Grammar zone is here. Almost none of it is actually in Auckland Central. It is almost all in Epsom and Mt Albert. I can only presume he was desperately trying to come up with an issue, and this is the best he could come up with.

The only parts that are in zone are the CBD on and east of Queens Street, and Grafton. Now I don’t think anyone thinks many families live in CBD apartments, and their value is not greatly affected by the Grammar zone (look at apartment values on Queen St vs Albert St). So that only leaves Grafton which is around 5% of the electorate.

I do like the fact that Trevor defends school zoning on the basis that house values in Epsom will decrease too much if one makes it more flexible. Good to see Labour focused on helping kids get the best education.

Incidentally, while I think it is very unlikely the Grammar zone will disappear, I would say it would be incredibly popular in the other 95% of Auckland Central, as their parents would get a choice of schools.

UPDATE: Clare Curran has commented that the Red Alert post disappeared due to a technical glitch, and it was not done deliberately.

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“Beauty vs the Beast”

November 3rd, 2009 at 11:21 am by David Farrar

NZPA report:

Kaye Breaks Ankle Ending “Beauty Versus The Beast” Race

Excitement over an upcoming parliamentary cycle race dubbed “beauty versus the beast” has been dashed by National MP Nikki Kaye, who has crashed and broken an ankle.

As amused as I am by the headline, I have to say I’d never heard anyone refer to the contest in that way previously.

Central Auckland MP Ms Kaye was due to square off against senior Labour MP Trevor Mallard in the upcoming race around Lake Taupo.

They and other MPs have been in intensive training , but it all ended in tears for Ms Kaye yesterday when she fell on the streets of Auckland.

Ms Kaye said a car had moved close to her, so she had swerved to avoid it but crashed with her foot locked into the pedal.

Her awkward fall resulted in a very painful break in her fibula, near the joint with ankle.

She was expected to be in plaster and on crutches for up to six weeks.

Where’s a dedicated cycleway when you need one!

Some around Parliament joked Mr Mallard had knobbled Ms Kaye as he feared defeat by a younger MP, but Labour MPs insisted he was nowhere near the accident scene.

What I find funny is that Labour MPs actually checked that Trevor wasn’t in Auckland and were briefed to deny it was him :-)

Trevor has been training massively for the race, and is set to knock 20 minutes or more off his 2008 time of 5:35. I hope he keeps the motivation level high as the more time Trevor is on a bike, the less time he spends making trouble in Parliament!

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The Wharf to Wharf Race

October 10th, 2009 at 4:41 pm by David Farrar

Great Barrier Island had its annual (since 2006) Wharf to Wharf race. Nikki competed as an individual runner (you could also cycle it, or do it as part of a team), while I took part in the more appropriate role of support person, or as the term is generally called – water boy. Nikki was running to raise $800 for the local Kaitoke school. Personally I’d rather just write out a cheque!

Now the race is basically a marathon – just 1 km short at 41 kms. But it is not a marathon around the island. It is a marathon over the island! The first 23 kms are over and up muddy mountain tracks, and as it had poured the night before, I mean muddy. The final sections are on the road, but that’s a road with half a dozen hills on it, including two which would be difficult at the best of times, let alone at the end of a marathon.

gb1

This is the briefing at the start of the race at the Port Fitzroy Wharf. I mentioned a couple of weeks ago how the local police officer, Kylie, was also the firefighter, the ambulance office and the coastguard skipper. Well she is also the race marshall!

gb2

This was taken at the second checkpoint. People come out of the forest behind, cross the road and head up the steep track opposite. Tragically the very first competitor, a mountain biker, was going so fast he shot out before those helpful cones were in place. And before anyone could yell out to him he had turned left and shot down the road. He went 5 kms downhill until he realized his mistake. He had been leading by around 20 minutes.

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This is where they came out of at the second checkpoint. There were around 100 competitors all up.

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A bumpy ride down the stairs to checkpoint 3. That was the end of the muddy tracks.

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Nikki exiting at checkpoint 3.

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And again heading down the final stretch to the Shoal Bay Wharf past Tryphena.

The organizers did a superb job of managing the event, especially with a 7am start (meant waking up at 5 am if you are staying in Tryphena to get to Port Fitzroy in time). No competitors got lost, despite the challenges of having half of it through bush, and they even have a 4WD that picks up anyone who couldn’t finish it within nine hours. The sponsor was Great Barrier Airlines, who of course flew many of the competitors in. Was a very smooth flight in on Friday night. My connecting flight from Auckland was delayed, but a nice thing about GBA is they wait for you if they know you are late!

Nikki was the 5th fastest woman runner, which was a pretty good effort considering she is used to flat roads, not hilly, muddy tracks through bush. Of course there were only less than 100 competitors (includign biking) all up, so that makes a top 100 finish easier :-)

The organizers are thinking of seeing if they can add an extra 1.2 kms on, and make it into an official marathon, with the title “New Zealand’s hardest marathon”. Could become an iconic event!

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Caption Contest

October 1st, 2009 at 10:45 am by David Farrar

14092009018-530x397

Oh dear, how can I resist this. Stolen from Nikki’s website of her checking how Bouma is doing after Kashin’s death.

As with all caption contests, the captions should be funny, not nasty or gross.

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Q+A

September 20th, 2009 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

The main interview on Q+A was Education Minister Anne Tolley. I thought Anne did well (as did two of the panelists – the PPTA President obviously not such a fan).

PAUL Let’s talk about that shortly. But 200,000 New Zealanders a year go to night classes to improve themselves. Grown up people – that’s a helluva lot of people to annoy for 13 million dollars.

ANNE Well 124 million dollars will still be spent in adult and community education. What I’ve said is we’re going to focus on literacy, numeracy, language, foundation skills – those courses that will lead on to employment. We’re still in an economic recession, there are people out there, particularly young people, who are the most vulnerable, they are the most likely to lose their jobs and the least ones likely to get jobs.

PAUL Yes, but night classes in schools of course as adults – migrants, refugees adults trying to improve their lot – the strugglers.

ANNE Some of them are, some of them are hobby courses courses like belly dancing, ukulele playing. We’ve got courses like pilates and yoga – I’ve attended those classes myself. The average age of people attending those night classes is about 46. What we’re saying I had a half billion debt from the previous government to find in tertiary education what we’re saying is we’re going to put those tax dollars into supporting our young people through the recession.

PAUL I understand. Go to those classes again, Minister. Some of those classes might have been questionable – belly dancing, Cook Island drumming, cheese-making, folk art for beginners – but there were also book-keeping basics, English as a second language, learning Mandarin

ANNE Yes, English is important, language classes will remain as I say

I think Labour are deluding themselves that this decision is unpopular. The protesting are mainly the providers. Most of the 200,000 understand we are in a recession.

Recent polls in the UK have found from 70% to 80% of the population support spending cuts to reduce the deficit. I doubt it is much different here. NZ Labour is trying to appeal to 20% to 25% of the population only.

They then had Labour List MP Jacinda Ardern and National Auckland Central MP Nikki Kaye on, to talk about how they were finding being MPs. Some extracts:

PAUL Do you get a thrill from that as well from helping?

NIKKI Absolutely. I mean I think my point is that the part I enjoy the most is being in the community and in my electorate actually with my constituents and Ive had some pretty hard cases as well, theyre people whove asked for drugs to be funded and you know that actually theyre not going to be funded.

PAUL Of course, you are both MPs but you are a constituent MP, youve got an electorate (Nikki) and youre a list MP (Jacinda). Does that give you more mana do you think with your senior colleagues that you do have a constituency?

NIKKI I think it was a pretty big win and there are often times when you can talk on an issue and you really know youve got the people behind you in your electorate I think there is something there in that.

PAUL As a list MP, and a young list MP at that, are you made to feel a bit lesser than say a constituency MP?

JACINDA No, not at all I think that part of is that because we accept that this system that uses list MPs, MMP, has made our parliament look more like New Zealand so list MPs are an important part of doing that. Now me personally, I would love to represent a constituency one day

I think Nikki is right that electorate MPs are often in a stronger position as advocates.

Interestingly Jacinda said that she is not ruling out standing in Auckland (in 2008 she stood in her home seat of Waikato), maybe even standing against Phil Twyford for the Auckland Central nomination.

PAUL Is your generation, people of your own age, more likely to have friends across the political divide than say the, are you likely to be less tribal?

NIKKI Well I think Ive built some good relationships on both sides of the house and I think it depends on the politician. I mean, thats the way that I work. I sort of see it as a bit of a sports match, you go in and you fight for what you believe in but then youre able to come off and treat each other with dignity and respect.

JACINDA I would agree with that, I think that that is important. I dont know if tribal is quite the right word , I do believe what I believe strongly, Ive got a really strong values set but I am willing to look at new ideas and new ways of doing things and if that involves the other side then it does. But I still think that there are certain things that I wont compromise on.

Jacinda tended to not reject the ideological label, as much as Nikki did. And that probably reflects the fact Jacinda is more ideological. But I don’t mean that in a bad way. Most successful politicians have a mixture of ideology and pragmatism, and the differences between them are more shades of grey than black or white.

PAUL What are the mistakes? Tell me your one mistake, because you told me a story once about a fellow who came to you with a problem and you did the political spiel and told him what the law was blah blah blah and what did he say to you?

NIKKI He said to me, and you know I think its that whole thing about, theres a whole of politics stuff that happens in Wellington but when you get back to the community people want to know how decisions affect them&.

PAUL&What did he say to you&

NIKKI ..and he said to me you seem like a very nice lady but youve just told me a whole lot of stuff that just means nothing to me and & but we actually ended up going to the pub for a drink and, but what I realised was actually that people just want to know how the decisions are going to affect them, theyre not that interested in the politics.

PAUL Youve got to stay real, is that what youre saying?

NIKKI Thats exactly right.

I thought that was a great example of the difference between people caught up in politics regularly (the beltway) and most New Zealanders who are focused on how decisions affect them, rather than debates about politics.

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An MPs workload

July 26th, 2009 at 1:17 pm by David Farrar

Harbour News did an interview with Auckland Central MP Nikki Kaye. One extract:

She’s been contacted by more than 1500 locals in the last six months, asking for help with anything from funding for a particular drug or help with a government agency.

Trying to fit in as many people as possible means working six-and-a-half days a week and she says it’s frustrating not to be able to help everyone.

“I’m always trying to fit more people in and I find that hard.”

But it’s also the most rewarding part of the work for Miss Kaye.

“I have been moved by the people I’ve met in terms of their stories.”

And dealing with the community face-to-face makes a nice change from the bureaucracy of Parliament, she says.

Some people think being an MP is just about getting up in the House and slagging off the other side. For constituency MPs especially they spend a huge amount of time assisting constituents and dealing with local issues. Many good electorate MPs are dealing with similiar workloads.

It has been interesting observing MPs under MMP. The common assumption before MMP came in was that most MPs would prefer to be List MPs. They would be freed up from all the constituency work, and have more time to concentrate on Parliament, policy etc.

However the vast majority of MPs I know far far prefer being an electorate MP, even though it does mean they are much busier. I think it is the warm feeling they get from being able to help people on an individual level, as a contrast to passing laws and policies that you have relatively little say in anyway (unless the PM or senior Minister).

To some degree this is reflected back by what the public thinks of MPs as a group, as oppossed to their local MP.

Numerous polls have put MPs as a group as ranking around the level of used car salesmen – about as low as one can go.

Interestingly though, if you poll voters in an electorate about what they think of their local MP, most MPs will get a good rating – and some will get hugely positive ratings.

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The Mallard-Kaye challenge

July 19th, 2009 at 4:46 pm by David Farrar

Trevor Mallard blogs:

I’ve known Nikki Kaye for about a decade. But not well enough.

On budget night she challenged me to race around Taupo during the Challenge in November.

I do a bit of biking. I’ve done Taupo four times mostly taking between 5.31 and 5.36.   Over 6.20 first attempt. Ok for my age.

I looked at Nikki. She’s young, looks pretty good but didn’t impress me as a finely tuned athlete. I accepted her challenge.

How wrong I was. Nikki did the coast to coast last year. Not as part of a team but as an individual. And she was only one off a top 50 finish.

Experts tell me that it is the equivalent of a 4.45 Taupo. My limit would be around 5.15 if training went well and conditions on the day were great.

Now Trevor is a pretty good cyclist. But he is an even better politician and is doing the old politician trick of reducing expectations.

Trevor did get 5.36 last year. I have no doubt he can make 5.15 with sufficient motivation, and maybe even better that. My spies report he is spending much spare time cycling.

Now Nikki is definitely very fit, has run some marathons, and did complete the Coast to Coast last year. But she is not a regular cyclist and proficiency in one sport does not always translate into proficiency in another. And 160 kms is a tough challenge.

As an example Caroline Evers-Swindell did the race last year slower than Trevor – 5:44.

So quite a compliment that Trevor thinks Nikki can cycle 160 kms one hour faster than an Olympic gold medallist.

A time of 4:45 would out Nikki in the top 15 for her gender and age. It would put her ahead of Shelley Hesson at 4:53 who competed in the 2004 Olympic Games.

It would even be a faster time than Jenny MacPherson (4:51) who has won three consecutive Tour Down Under cycling races.

So when Trevor casually mentions he reckons Nikki is good for 4:45, you should treat this with the normal suspicion of anything Trevor says.

To do a sub five hour race, Trevor (on 2008 results) would need to be be in the top 300 of the 1,300 in his age and gender group. Niiki, to do a sub five hour race, would need to be in basically the top 20 of 250.

Now I’m not saying Nikki won’t win. Obviously I hope she will. But the contest isn’t quite as uneven as Trevor would like people to think.

Cactus Kate commented:

I’m picking a Mallard victory on the basis that you have at least 4 spare hours a day in opposition to train for the event

Trevor has even blogged about some of his recent cycling.

Trevor responded:

Kate – I’ve certainly got a lot more time now that I’m not a Minister. But government backbenchers possibly have even more time. They are tied up in Select Committees a bit more but don’t seem to do the policy development work and caucus group travel that we do.

Heh. The thought of Nikki with spare time is fairly amusing as she is currently on three Select Committees (some MPs have only one) and the Auckland Governance Committee is spending around a month sitting from 9 am to 9 pm five days a week. And that is only select committee hearings – on top of that you have all your other MPs duties.

So I think the Mallard-Kaye contest will be a tightly contested race. Will Nikki’s fitness and youth overcome Trevor’s experience, strength and time?

By coincidence Kiwiblog may just be in Taupo to report on this race :-)

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Caption Contest

March 22nd, 2009 at 9:18 am by David Farrar

kiwis

This photo from the Sunday Star-Times of Auckland Central MP Nikki Kaye and a Kiwi being released on Motuihe Island – a wildlife sanctuary.

Suggested captions welcome below, so long as they are funny.

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Monday’s Three MPs

January 26th, 2009 at 8:20 am by David Farrar

The Herald continues its profiles of the 34 or so new MPs:

Nikki Kaye

New Auckland Central MP Nikki Kaye said the chance to reform Auckland’s regional governance was a “once in a generation opportunity” which if done right would be a critical legacy of the National government. …

She said the solution needed to balance a simpler structure while still ensuring community representation, and spoke about the diversity of her electorate and the different needs within it – from the apartment dwellers in the inner city to those living with the raw beauty and infrastructure needs of Great Barrier Island and the “Waihetians” – those from Waiheke Island.

Nikki is very lucky to have Waiheke and Great Barrier Island in her electorate. While they make it harder to get around the electorate, they’re both beautiful places to visit.

The second youngest MP in this term of Parliament, the 28-year-old Ms Kaye said to her generation would fall the task of coping with a new set of problems brought about by medical and technological advances.

While the information age had brought “immense power” so too had it brought challenges, such as ethical issues and privacy concerns.”Most people would applaud when they see genetics providing information that can help treat diseases such as cancer. However, our ability to obtain information about children not born yet is an example where not all of society may be on the same page. This Parliament and future Parliaments will grapple with these issues.”

Design your own child – it’s not that far away!

Todd McClay

Married with four children aged 1 to 10. Spent much of his working life overseas with the European Parliament where jobs included chief of staff to the leader of the British Conservatives and policy adviser.

Has also acted as policy adviser to the Irish Fianna Fail Political Group. In the private sector, he was founder and chief executive of the European Generic Medicines Association and a political adviser for lobby groups.

Was ambassador for Niue and the Cook Islands to the European Union from 2001 to 2007. Has honorary Cook Islands citizenship and is completing a masters degree in international public law.

There should be a bravery award also for living in Brussels for so long :-)

In his own words:
“Many years ago, New Zealand society was based on the structure of the family. Neighbours knew and liked each other. Rural communities were strong and perhaps life was simpler. When a school needed a new swimming pool or a small community needed a hall, funds were raised to buy timber and cement. Now funds are raised for resource consent and development levies and many of our children no longer know how to catch a fish or climb a tree.”

All too sadly true.

Raymond Huo

Immigrated in 1994. He was son of a doctor and nurse, who had moved to a rural town in China to help fight schistosoma. Toward the end of the Cultural Revolution, his father – an “intellectual” – was ordered to stand at the gates of the hospital for an hour, three times a day with a white board stating “counter-revolutionary medical expert”. Mr Huo – then 5 – joined him with a smaller whiteboard saying “little counter-revolutionary medical expert”.

He said he secretly believed it was his little sign that ended the Cultural Revolution soon afterward.

That’s a superb story. Very cute.

In his own words:
“In hindsight, my journey to this House stretches back to my birth in that small rural town, from that small stage I once shared with my father and from the desire for free will that I inherited from my parents. That experience was relevant. It influenced and will continue to influence my politics and world outlook. I have learned to be resilient, I have learned to be kind, caring and more philosophical when confronting difficulties. To those who asked of my ‘secret weapon’ behind successful careers in Beijing and now New Zealand, I say it is simple: Double your efforts and halve your expectations.”

He should pass that advice on to Phil Goff :-)

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Campbell Live from last week

November 21st, 2008 at 11:52 am by David Farrar

Two of the new National MPs had features on Campbell Live last week. Had quite a few requests for them, so Whale has You Tubed them.

Simon Bridges – three minutes, 42 seconds

Nikki Kaye – four minutes, 20 seconds

Both really nice interviews. I did comment to both of them that the next time they are on Campbell Live, it will probably be because they have stuffed up badly – Government backbenchers do not normally make Campbell Live unless it is bad news :-)

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Could specials change any electorates?

November 17th, 2008 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

I’ve previously blogged on whether specials may change any allocation of List MPs. The other question is whether any seats held by narrow majorities could change due to specials. The answer is yes, but unlikely.

The most marginal seat is New Plymouth – Jonathan Young got 48.6% of the vote to 47.6% for Harry Duynhoven. There were 32,029 valid votes. There are 2,351 known specials for the seat and we estimate 1/70th of the 32,000 overseas specials, so the numebr of specials is predicted to be 2,808.

The specials would have to be 6.1% better for Labour and worse for National for Harry to win. Or in other words they would need to go Harry’s way 53.7% to 42.5%.

In Auckland Central Nikki Kaye beat Judith Tizard by 1,181 votes. However there are a large 6,420 specials plus overseas votes. Niiki beat Judith 43.0% to 38.8%. Judith would need to win the specials 49.5% to 32.3% to close the gap.

In Christchurch Central, Nicky Wagner would need specials to go her way 53.3% to 32.2% – 12.1% better than on the day.

New Plymouth looks to be the only seat which could seriously change, and even that isn’t very likely.

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Backbenches Tonight

November 12th, 2008 at 1:45 pm by David Farrar

The election may be over but Backbenches carries on. Tonight:

  • David Garrett, ACT List MP
  • Keith Locke, Green List MP
  • Charles Chauvel, Labour List MP
  • Nikki Kaye, National MP for Auckland Central

They’ll be talking about the new Government, and voter turnout. So come along to teh Backbencher by 8.30 pm for a 9 pm start. Or watch it on TVNZ7.

Should also serve as a good excuse for people to have a couple of drinks to celebrate or commiserate the election outcome.

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The Auckland Seats

November 12th, 2008 at 1:34 pm by David Farrar

Starting at the top, the three northern seats of East Coast Bays, North Shore and Northcote were solid blue. Their party votes went up 9%, 4% and 11% respectively.  In East Coast Bays almost three times as many people voted National as Labour. These seats now are counters to the South Auckland seats.

The personal majorities were 12,800, 13,200 and 8,500 respectively. Northcote was held by Labour up until 2005 and Jonathan Coleman this tme incraesed his majority by around 6,000.

Out west we saw the near impossible – National won the party vote in all three West Auckland seats. Tim Groser worked hard on New Lynn to lift the party vote by 10% to 41%, with Labour dropping 12%. Te Atatu went from 32% to 42% and Waitakere from 33% to 42%. Listing the vote 10% in Westieville was great work.

Paula Bennett’s win in Waitakere is all the more remarkable because of the new boundaries. They had her 6,000 votes behind in 2005 and she won by 900. Groser reduced Cunliffe to 3,500 from a paper majority of 12,000 – also one of the biggest swings! Finally Chris Carter dropped to 4,500 from 7,500.

In central Auckland we have Auckland Central. National lost the party vote by 12% in 2005 and won it by 5% this time. This seat has been held by Labour since 1919 (apart from once going further left to the Alliance), making Nikki Kaye’s 1,100 vote victory all the more remarkable.

Mt Roskill also just went to National on the party vote, and Goff’s majority went from 9,400 to 5,500 – still very safe. His leadership predecessor in Mt Albert won the party vote by 6%, and had a slight dent in the electorate majority from 11,400 to 8,700.

Epsom went from 58% to 63% for National on the party vote, with Labour falling to under 20%. Rodney Hide drives his majority from 2,000 to a staggering near 12,000. They liked his dancing. Tamaki also remains solid blue with another 60:20 split on the party vote. Allan Peachey saw his majority go from 10,300 to over 15,000.

Maungakiekie was another big mover. The party vote went from a 13% deficit to 45 lead. And Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga scored an 1,800 majority from an close to 7,000 majority to Labour previously. Sam is one of the most well liked guys in the National Party, and had one of the biggest teams in recent memory on the hustings. He had between 10 and 25 people door knocking both days every weekend.

Out East we have Pakuranga which was no surprise. It is another close to 60:20 seat. Maurice is very popular locally and scored a 13,000 majority.

Botany. This brand new seat got the second highest party vote in Auckland for National – 62%. Pansy Wong also got a 10,000 majority. ACT’s Kenneth Wang was in third place but got a respectable 4,500 votes.

Papakura. The party vote went 52% to 28% for National, and Judith Collins took a 6,800 paper majority and turned it into a 9,700 real one.

Finally we have the three M seats in South Auckland. Mangere, Manurewa and Manukau East. Mangere saw Labour’s party vote go from 73% to 61%. In Manurewa it was from 61% to 50% and Manukau East from 65% to 57%. But turnout was down also and in absolute terms, Labour went from 55,000 votes to 38,000 over the three seats.

Thankfully Labour’s Sio beat Taito Phillip Field by 11,300 to 4,700

Note the above comparisons are all to 2005 results adjusted to new boundaries. Also a more formal analysis will be done when we have final results.

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Dim-Post galore

November 11th, 2008 at 12:31 pm by David Farrar

Danyl has been busy, I do not know where to start.

We have Maori Party split over Coalition Deal

The Maori Party have been offered entrenchment of the Maori seats and a review of the Foreshore and Seabed Act in exchange for fifty of their young every month for three years. …

It is understood that Sharples is deeply opposed to the proposed scheme while Tariana Turia is a strong advocate for Key’s right to hunt, kill and mount unemployed Maori youths, describing it as enhancing his rangatiratanga and sending a strong message to young Maori that if they study and work hard they will not be cut down in their prime by Key’s poison-tipped crossbow bolts or torn apart by his pack of savage dogs.

A resolution to the impasse was reached late last night, when the Maori party co-leaders met for a cup of tea to confront the problem. After a short, congenial discussion Dr Sharples drained his mug of Earl Grey and then slumped to the floor unconscious.

And Tizard dismisses ‘rogue election result’:

Outgoing Auckland Central electorate MP Judith Tizard has assured staff and family that she will not be stepping down as an MP in spite of her loss to National Party candidate Nicky Kaye in last weekends General Election.

‘I certainly never heard anything about any election,’ Tizard told the Dim-Post this morning. ‘And if there was something like that going on I like to think I’d be one of the first to know.’

Upon being informed of the results Tizard was quick to dismiss their significance.

‘I don’t think this represents the true wishes of the people of New Zealand or the people of Auckland Central,’ Tizard said. ‘This is clearly a rogue election result with no real impact that the media is beating up in order to sell more papers.’ …

Tizard has also confirmed that she will be maintaining her full contingent of staff and offices, rejecting the suggestion that she would now have to make her own dinner reservations and purchase her own plane tickets as ‘the worst kind of hate speech’.

Incoming National MP Nicky Kaye has advised she is negotiating a solution with Paliamentary Services, Tizard’s private secretary and an Armed Offenders unit.

Oh that was priceless.

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