Rodney on same sex marriage

August 5th, 2012 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Rodney Hide writes in the HoS:

The Marriage Act 1955 doesn’t say I can’t marry a man or that a woman can’t marry a woman.

But the courts have ruled that it wasn’t Parliament’s intent to enable same-sex marriage and that it’s up to Parliament, not the courts, to declare whether same-sex marriages are lawful, not the courts. It’s a fair call.

Back when the Marriage Act was enacted, homosexual activity was a crime carrying a maximum of life imprisonment. It’s a safe bet that parliamentarians then weren’t envisaging they were passing a law that would enable two men to apply for a marriage licence.

A very safe bet.

But even then the law had softened towards homosexuality.

Parliamentarians in the early days were hard core and set the penalty for homosexual activity as death. The death penalty for buggery was removed in 1867.

The 1893 New Zealand Criminal Code was still discouraging: “Everyone is liable to imprisonment with hard labour for life, and, according to his age, to be flogged or whipped, once, twice or thrice, who commits buggery either with a human being or with any other living creature”.

The flogging for buggery was removed in 1941 and hard labour removed in 1954.

The 1961 Crimes Act reduced the maximum sentence for sodomy between consenting adult males to seven years’ prison.

The big change was in 1986, when Parliament voted by a narrow margin to decriminalise homosexual activity. Consensual sex between men was no longer a crime.

A very interesting history lesson. And I’m willing to bet that at every stage, there were probably opponents who warned that this law change would be awful for New Zealand. They were wrong every time. Hell, as an 18 year old student I was against, due to the fact my views were based on fear and ignorance, rather than principle.

Is there a single MP alive today who voted against decriminalising homosexual activity in 1986, and doesn’t regret it? I doubt it. People may be surprised at some of those who voted against.

Stan Rodger, Peter Tapsell, John Terris, Whetu Tirakatene-Sullivan, John Banks, Bill Birch, Jim Bolger, Philip Burdon, Michael Cox, Warren Cooper, Paul East, Tony Friedlander, Jim Gerard, Doug Graham, Doug Kidd, Denis Marshall, Roger McClay, Don McKinnon, Jim McLay, Winston Peters, Ruth Richardson, Lockwood Smith, Simon Upton, Venn Young were some of the 44 votes against. It only passed 49 votes to 44.

Only three National MPs voted for it – George Gair, Katherine O’Regan and Ian McLean.

I know a lot of those who voted against it, and they are good people. But I bet you the vast majority of them 25 years on regret their vote. It must be tough to have on your record that you voted for consensual sex between two adults to remain a criminal offence.

While I respect legitimate and sincere views against same sex marriage, I do think there will be quite a few MPs who vote against who will end up with regrets in the future. Same sex marriage is absolutely inevitable in my view, as support for it is massively high amongst under 35s. And in 15 years time, nothing will have changed except some gay couples will be married, rather than just in a civil union.

But the MPs who voted against will find that in 15 years time, many New Zealanders will find it incomprehensible that they voted against allowing same sex couples to marry – just as in 2010 we find it incomprehensible that such good MPs such as  Jim Bolger, Philip Burdon, Michael Cox, Paul East, Doug Graham, Doug Kidd, Don McKinnon, Jim McLay, Ruth Richardson, Simon Upton and Venn Young voted to retain a law which made consensual adult sex punishable by up to seven years in jail.

Can anyone find an MP who voted No in 1986, and would vote the same way today on the same law?

Consensual sex between women was never illegal in New Zealand. Early legislators thought such a thing impossible and didn’t like to think about it and so never criminalised it.

Good old Queen Victoria!

Rodney concludes:

I have enormous respect for conservative values and traditional ways of doing things. But here’s the question for those pushing traditional values against same-sex marriage: what tradition do you want our Parliament to push back to? The death penalty? Flogging? Hard labour? Life imprisonment? Seven years’ jail?

Our Parliament has a sad and sorry history in its treatment of two adults who just want to love and be with one another.

Let’s hope with Louisa Wall’s bill that history is finally made just that: history.

Absolutely.

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Hide on MOM

July 8th, 2012 at 8:39 am by David Farrar

Rodney Hide writes in the HoS:

The state-owned enterprise Mixed Ownership Model that’s causing such a fuss was pioneered by Helen Clark and Michael Cullen over a decade ago.

John Key and Bill English are simply extending it. The fuss over privatisation is a fuss about nothing much.

In 2001, the Labour Government spent $885 million bailing out Air New Zealand. Instead of taking over the company lock, stock and barrel, the Government took an 82 per cent stake and left the remaining share in private hands trading on the share market.

Hence was born the Mixed Ownership Model.

Mixed Ownership proved itself with Air New Zealand. The trading of the company’s shares on the share market means its performance is continually and publicly assessed. That continual public feedback on performance is lacking with state-owned enterprises. Mixed Ownership provides a desperately needed market discipline on SOE directors and executives. That’s a good thing.

Labour pioneered the model and fully expected to be selling down shares as National is doing.

Why did Labour never buy 100% of Air NZ, if it thinks a mixed ownership model is so bad?

Sir Michael Cullen told Cabinet, in setting up the model, that, “It may, however, be desirable to divest some or all of our shares at a future date.” The Labour Government readily accepted that a future sell-down may well prove desirable. And not just some shares, but all of them.

Sir Michael also knew that the Super Fund was set up to be funded out of surpluses, not to be funded from borrowing.

The greater discipline that the trading of shares applies to these businesses will enhance their performance. There’s no way Air NZ would have done as well if it were an SOE.

For Kiwis, it’s the companies’ better performance that will enhance the country’s economy, not whether the Government makes a profit or loss on sale.

Yep. In my view the Government should not own a company, just because it wants the dividends from it. It should only own companies that are strategically necessary – such as arguably Transpower and Kordia – national infrastructure operators.

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Rodney working hard

June 24th, 2012 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Rodney Hide writes in the HoS:

After getting the toss from Parliament last year, I spent six months renovating our house, top to bottom. It was the best therapy after years of politics.

I know now what to do if there is ever a gap to fill in my life: Get an old house and fix it up. It’s a huge challenge and very satisfying. Living in a freshly minted house is the best and it’s even better when it’s your own work you can look at every day with pride. And seeing the delight in former owner Mary’s face, she is now 89, was rather neat.

My plan then had been to put my feet up a bit to enjoy the new house and figure out what to do next. Then Ian the Builder needed a hand at his next job. We put up a new ceiling together.

It was like old times.

And through that job I met Roger the Digger Driver. He needed an extra pair of hands on his next job.

So I have spent the week with Roger and the boys taking down a 3m concrete retaining wall. The wall ran the length of a section and had fallen against the house it was supposed to protect. It was a tricky demolition.

My job involved getting down in the mud with a sledgehammer, a crowbar and a wheelbarrow. After the first day I ached all over. But by the second day I was into the routine.

Roger says that 20 per cent of those who work for him don’t come back after the first morning tea, another 20 per cent disappear after lunch, and another 20 per cent get their mums to ring the following morning to say Johnny won’t be coming to work.

The remaining 40 per cent work with him for the rest of their lives.

It’s good money, too. It’s half what I was getting as an MP but it’s only half the hours. Plus smashing up concrete is pure stress relief and a good workout.

During the week I was taught how to take down a concrete wall. It now looks like I will be learning to put one up. Bill, the Retaining Wall Man, came to have a look at the job, and to tell me he’s a man short.

When I was a politician I was supposed to pretend sympathy for people without a job. The truth is I never had much. I always figured there’s work to be done for anyone prepared to get stuck in. I now know that’s true. I got a job pushing a wheelbarrow and swinging a hammer. Why can’t the so-called unemployed? We all know why. They’re too picky. The jobs don’t suit. It’s a bit cold. It’s a bit wet. It’s a bit hard.

But that’s why they are called jobs. They are not meant to be fun. They’re meant to be a bit tough and a bit of a challenge. That’s where the satisfaction of a good day’s work comes from. There’s no satisfaction if it’s easy.

There would be no unemployed people if everyone took the first job offered and got stuck in. If they got stuck in, they would love the work. They would then be offered a multitude of jobs and could pick and choose what they wanted to do.

So here’s my challenge for anyone wanting a job. Get off the dole. That shows you are serious. Take the first job offered. That shows you are keen. Get stuck in. That proves you’re useful.

Work is satisfying. I got restructured to part-time in one job. I immediately went along to an organisation I was involved in and asked if I could work unpaid for them for two days a week, just so I was doing something five days a week.

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Well done Rodney

June 18th, 2012 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Rodney Hide’s column at the HoS is on racial preferences or quotas at medical school. His conclusion was:

But race, colour, creed shouldn’t worry us. We shouldn’t care if doctors are yellow, white or brown. All we should care about is that they are good at the job. And that should be the university’s sole concern. It is wrong that the university discriminates on skin colour. It is wrong that it is attempting a correct colour mix. The university should treat all applicants equally: that means being blind to race.

That wasn’t what got my attention though. It was this comment on the Herald website:

Debate on this article is now closed due to an increasing number of unpublishable comments.

I’ve never seen that on the Herald before. Well done Rodney, you’ve managed to turn the Herald into a blog :-)

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Hide’s column

May 20th, 2012 at 10:15 am by David Farrar

Rodney Hide in the HoS:

I suspect Captain Cook bringing pigs to New Zealand did more to end cannibalism among Maori than the preaching of missionaries. Pigs are easier to catch and kill than your neighbours.

Heh, so true. I understand they taste nicer also.

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Hide on the Brash coup

March 30th, 2012 at 4:25 pm by David Farrar

A must read interview with Rodney Hide in the Listener. An extract:

The moment Don Brash went public with his ambitions over the Easter break last year, Hide realised the game was up no matter what the result. “Once he’d announced the attack on me, I was toast,” he exclaims, relishing the chance to finally tell the story. “Even if I won I was toast, and so I thought, ‘Oh well, I’m toast, and I need to work this through in the best way,’” he says, edging closer to the table as the late sun falls across the street.

“I had to line up the board, line up supporters, line up the Prime Minister, walk them all through it, work out how to handle it. And of course, Don was such a klutz that I ended up organising his coup!” Hide’s final task was a phone call to Brash, whose absent-minded-professor voice he mimics as he relays the story.

“I said: ‘Don, you and I are having a press conference at 11am.’
“‘Oh really?’
“I said: ‘Yes and at this press conference I will be announcing that I am standing down.’
“‘Oh really? Oh, that’s very good of you.’ 
“‘The board will support you and I’ll bow out gracefully.’
“‘Oh that’s very good. Where’s the press conference?’
“‘I said: ‘It’s blah, blah, blah in Newmarket …’ and all the rest.
“‘Where will I park my car?’
“I said: ‘Don. I have organised your f—ing coup for you. You can figure out where to park your f—ing car.’”

Heh.

It is a lengthy and interesting interview.

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An interview with Rodney

October 8th, 2011 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Nick Venter has an interesting interview with Rodney Hide.

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No valedictory for Hide

August 1st, 2011 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

John Armstrong at NZ Herald reports:

Former Act leader Rodney Hide will not be delivering a farewell speech to Parliament because as far as he is concerned he is not retiring from politics.

He is instead being pushed out of the House by his successor.

Retiring MPs traditionally deliver a valedictory speech before the House rises for an election in which they review the highs and lows of their parliamentary career.

“I am not retiring,” Mr Hide said last night. “I did not choose to be pushed out.”

True, but many MPs leaving Parliament were pushed out.

For my part, I think it is a pity, as I’d like to hear what Rodney would have said in a valedictory.

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The case against a CGT

July 16th, 2011 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

I’ve said that in principle I support a CGT, if it is part of making NZ a broad base low rate tax system. Former ACT Leader Rodney Hide makes the argument against a CGT, as an effective double tax on business. He writes at interest.co.nz:

A business generates $100 a year. The going discount rate is 10 percent. The value of the business is $1,000. That’s if there’s no tax.

Introduce a tax of, say, 30 percent, and the business now yields only $70 a year. The business is worth only $700. The tax liability is capitalised into the value of the business.

Now let’s say I buy the business and fix it up. I double its income to $200. In the absence of any tax the business is now worth $2,000 and I can sell the business and pocket a $1,000 capital gain. However, if there’s an income tax of 30 percent the increase in the business’s value is from $700 to $1,400. My capital gain is now only $700.

My gain is not tax free even though I appear to pay no tax on my gain.

That’s because the capital value reflects the extra tax the extra income the business generates.

A capital gains tax of 30 percent reduces my gain from $700 to $490. I am doubly taxed.

Capital gains aren’t tax free and a capital gains tax doubly tax savings and investment.

Put like that, it does appear to be a double tax. Any arguments against the logic?

Capital gains tax is brutally unfair

There are plenty of ways a capital gains tax is unfair. Imagine a young widow with children whose husband poured his heart and soul into his business. Following his death the young widow has no choice but to sell the business. She has no income and no other assets.

The business was a start up. It generates $200 a year. After tax, that’s $140. The business sells for $1,400 upon which capital gains tax has to be paid at say 30 percent.

She nets $980. In the absence of any tax she would net $2,000.

The widow is taxed at 51 percent. That’s brutal.

A good case against by Rodney

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Hide resigns

April 28th, 2011 at 1:19 pm by David Farrar

Rodney Hide resigned as Leader of ACT at midday. Don Brash will be elected Leader at the next Caucus meeting.

I’d like to pay tribute to Rodney at this point in time. It is primarily due to Rodney that ACT survived in 2005 and 2008. Over his 15 years in Parliament Rodney has had a greater and more benficial impact on Parliament than most MPs.

I’m glad he is so happily married to Louise, and has become a Dad again. That will remind him of what is truly important in life – far more so than politics.

It looks like Rodney will remain an ACT MP and Minister until the election.

The immediate issues for ACT are:

  1. Does John Boscawen remain Deputy Leader, or does that revert back to Heather Roy.
  2. Does John Banks stand in Epsom for ACT.
  3. List Ranking

While I have said previously that I’m not sure how good a fit John Banks is to ACT, there is considerable logic to having a candidate in the seat who will clearly win it for ACT. If they look guaranteed to win the seat, then they can campaign that voting for ACT is not a wasted vote, and that the more people who vote for them the more influence they will have on policy.

It is possible a Brash led ACT will also make it harder for Winston Peters to get traction (which is of course a good thing). Winston planned to campaign hard on the foreshore & seabed issue, but a Brash led ACT may be more effective in appealing to the coastal coaltion supporters.

Where NZ First, and Labour and Greens, will attack is on economic policy – especially wages, asset sales and superannuation. Goff is already suggesting that it was a cunning National plot to have Don roll Rodney (which is hysterically untrue).

The reality is that Don and Rodney are near identical minds on economic policy. What will determine their influence on Government is not so much who the leader is, but how many seats they win. At 10 seats you roughly expect twice the influence of 5 seats.

So as I said earlier, the next few polls will be interesting.

UPDATE: An excellent blog post from Cactus Kate on ACT.

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Has Calvert switched?

April 28th, 2011 at 9:05 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Don Brash believes he has the numbers to roll Rodney Hide and become the new ACT leader as soon as today after furiously lobbying MPs.

The fates of Brash and Hide rest with the party’s newest MP, Hilary Calvert, who pledged her support for Hide at the weekend – but spent yesterday afternoon in a meeting at Brash’s Auckland apartment with Hide opponent Sir Roger Douglas.

Calvert did not return calls and refused to comment as she left. But after the meeting, Brash said he was “cautiously optimistic” of securing the ACT leadership, suggesting he believes he has her support.

He told National Radio that if she switched votes it would be “logical” for Hide to resign as early as today.

Brash also made it clear he saw no place for Hide in any party he led, suggesting it would be his advice to Hide “to go, quite frankly”

Most of the speculation has been on whether Boscawen would back Brash, not Calvert.The Herald reports:

On Sunday, she said that she backed Mr Hide and would vote for him over Dr Brash, and on Tuesday she repeated that position.

But yesterday, when the Herald asked if her position was still the same after her meeting with Dr Brash, she said: “I’m not prepared to make any comment.”

There’s been a fair amount of disinformation flying around, so we’ll see how things play out today.

However if the media are correct, then Don has won and will become Leader. I still stand by my comments about the nature of the coup. It is about winning the war, not the battle. And my concern is that Don has damaged his brand which was almost being above politics.

If Don does become leader, all eyes will be on teh next set of public polls. I have no doubt ACT will go up in the polls. The two key questions are how much, and from whom will they pull their extra support. I’d also caution not to take the first set of polls as gospel – there is a honeymoon effect. The second set of polls are likely to be more indicative.

Anyway let’s wait to see if the media have it right, and if Don has won. If he has, I’ll blog some ideas for key policies he can campaign on – apart from closing the gap with Australia.

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ACT Civil War continues

April 26th, 2011 at 8:19 am by David Farrar

Tracy Watkins reports:

Don Brash says ACT leader Rodney Hide offered to stand aside for him in the blue-ribbon Epsom seat during a secret meeting over the party leadership.

The revelation comes as the fight for ACT’s leadership turns increasingly personal, with Dr Brash putting aside his 15-year friendship with Mr Hide to challenge for the leadership.

Dr Brash spent the weekend phoning ACT MPs and lobbying for their support, with Dunedin-based MP Hilary Calvert and deputy leader John Boscawen holding the deciding votes in the five-person caucus.

His pitch is likely to include a promise that funders will turn the tap back on if he is leader. …

If his leadership bid is rejected, Dr Brash intends launching a new Right-wing party and says he has the backers and funding to do this.

He rejected suggestions that that would split the Right-wing vote: “If I’m successful, it won’t split the vote on the Right; it will collapse the ACT vote.”

Make me your leader or I will destroy you. I never knew Don came from Chicago!

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Hide v Brash

April 24th, 2011 at 9:09 am by David Farrar

David Fisher reports:

Act leader Rodney Hide’s brand is “toxic” and “people don’t like him”, says the man who wants his job – his old mate Don Brash. …

Brash also raised the stakes for Act by saying he might launch his own party if he doesn’t get Hide’s job.

Phil Goff must be thanking whichever diety he made a virgin sacrifice to, for answering his prayers.

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Open cast mining at Pike River

March 15th, 2011 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

State-owned Solid Energy, if successful with a bid, would probably look to develop the mine in a joint opencast/underground approach. It would need to get part of the surrounding land removed from schedule 4 protected conservation land for opencast mining. Access would be difficult and so would resource conditions.

If Solid Energy do buy Pike River, I hope the Government does make it possible for them to carry on mining there, in the safest way possible. If that means moving a couple of hectares out of Schedule 4, then so be it.

Rodney Hide at the weekend seemed to have ESP with his call:

ACT leader Rodney Hide is calling for open-cast mining at Pike River and on protected conservation land.

State-owned Solid Energy should be allowed to open-cast mine Pike River, to access an estimated $10 billion of resources, he said. “It seems to me it will require a great deal of care and sensitivity. But I can’t see how not continuing their [the miner's] work respects them.” …

Grey District Mayor Tony Kokshoorn backed Mr Hide’s call for open-cast mining at Pike River.

“Yeah, Rodney Hide is correct. We need to get on with it and we need to do it in a way that will safeguard the environment and at the same time get economic development.”

It looks like it might happen, which is good.

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Congrats Rodney and Louise

December 19th, 2010 at 12:27 pm by David Farrar

Photo from the Sunday Star-Times.

Getting married and having a family puts politics in perspective I reckon. Congrats to a great couple.

This is a non-political thread, so any comments should be in that vein.

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The billboard probe

December 14th, 2010 at 1:36 pm by David Farrar

Matthew Dearnaley in the NZ Herald reports:

Prime Minister John Key says he supports a proposed inquiry into a donation by a Manukau trust to Auckland Mayor Len Brown’s election campaign.

Mr Key yesterday said he supported the view of Local Government Minister Rodney Hide “that it may be appropriate for the Auditor-General to look at the nature of whether the entity that actually gave [Mr Brown] a donation is capable of doing so or whether it’s within their rules to do so”.

He was referring to a donation of billboard space worth $3375 from the Counties Manukau Pacific Trust, which runs the TelstraClear Pacific Events Centre.

One issue for the Auditor-General might be whether the value of the space is correctly recorded. I know of no billboard space in Auckland that goes for $1,000/mth. $2,000/mth is pretty much the minimum for an average billboard, and my understanding is the size and prominence of the trust billboard is such that the commercial value would be at least $3,000 + GST a month.

So if the billboard was up for three months, then the value of the donation and associated expense should be $10,125.

If the billboard was up for more than three months, then the associated expense for the Brown campaign would remain at $10,125 (as only last three months count), but the donation value would be even great – would be $20,250 if it was for six months.

So these two facts need to be established – the commercial value of the billboard space, and the length of time the billboard was up.

“We are a community charitable trust,” he said. Trust chairman Sir Noel Robinson said no costs were incurred or revenue lost by providing Mr Brown’s campaign with billboard space, which his board had made a decision to provide free to any mayoral candidate who approached it.

This is spin of the highest order. The trust CEO is on the Len Brown campaign team, along with two trustees and possibly a senior trust employee. And you expect us to believe that they would have stuck up John Banks billboards if asked.

The Auditor-General should ask for a copy of the board minutes where this decision was allegedly made.

Even if they made such a decision, it was obviously to give the illusion of political neutrality. Unless they actually wrote to all the other mayoral candidates advising them of the availability of the billboard space, how could they possibly expect another candidate to know that they could ask to use their space.

Mr Brown said yesterday that he was unconcerned about Mr Hide’s intention to ask Ms Provost to look into the trust’s donation.

Excellent. Let the facts be discovered.

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What will happen to MPs salaries?

November 16th, 2010 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

An increase to MPs’ salaries is almost inevitable if the Prime Minister’s bid to get rid of their foreign-travel perks is successful.

It is. As people now all know (and something I was the first to highlight over a year ago as it was obscurely buried in the Remuneration Authority’s 2003 determination, and had not been explicitly listed since) the value of the perk (as calculated by IRD) is deducted from their salary effectively.

If the Speaker just abolished it unilaterally, then MPs would have their base salary increase by $9,500 by the Remuneration Authority.

Although the demise of the perk seems certain, the taxpayer is likely to have to make up for it by an increase in MPs’ salaries.

Mr Key said he expected any rise to be “very modest” and putting salaries up by the full $9800 value of the perk was “unacceptable to me”. A significant increase would only expose MPs to more criticism, even though they had no say in their pay, he said.

Mr Key has urged the Speaker to ask the Remuneration Authority to decide how to abolish the perk and whether changes should be made to salaries as a result.

This is where the PM has been quite cunning. He is basically asking the Remuneration Authority to say in advance how much they would increase salaries, if the perk is abolished – with a rather unsubtle note that an increase to the full value is “unacceptable”.

So the Remuneration Authority now has to decide what to do, which is challenging as the most logical would just be to stop deducting the $9,800 from the base salary.

Annual totals for international travel perks for existing MPs:

1992-93 – $263,567
1995-96 – $387,950
2008-09 – $600,000
2009-10 – $432,989

Here’s what I would do. Divide $433,000 by 120 MPs and that is $3,500 per MP. Add that to the base salary and you can claim the exercise is revenue neutral. It’s not the principled way to do it (that would be the $9,800 option) but it is a pragmatic solution.

Labour leader Phil Goff agreed with Mr Key’s request for the perk to be reviewed independently, but said it was essential to retain some entitlement to international travel to allow MPs to go overseas on parliamentary business.

He had used his rebate for his recent trip to Australia to meet Prime Minister Julia Gillard and senior Cabinet ministers. “That enables me to do my job properly and is a legitimate use. Trying to justify the use of it for holidays will never be regarded by the public as a legitimate use.” …

Act leader Rodney Hide said he agreed with the Prime Minister that the perk should go and although it was for the Remuneration Authority to decide on salary increases in lieu of the perk, “you’d hope they’d be a wee bit judicious”.

He disputed Mr Goff’s call for some provision for work travel, saying there was already enough discretionary funding for it in party leaders’ budgets – a bulk sum they get to run their offices.

I’m actually more in agreement with Phil Goff on this point. I do think MPs should be able to travel internationally when it is work related. Many of the best policy ideas come from initiatives in other countries etc.

Now Rodney is right that such travel can be funded from the leader’s office budget. And that is where it should be funded from – rather than a separate dedicated fund. If you have a fund for travel – then people will make sure it gets fully used. If it comes from the bulk fund, then the leader (or their COS) has to decide whether the value of that travel is greater than the value they would get from spending it on more staff, or policy research, or a pamphlet etc etc.

But what I think Goff wants, and I agree with him, is a review of the level of funding for the Leader’s Office to ensure it is adequate to be able to fund legitimate work related international travel by MPs, now they can not use the perk to fund it.

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MPs travel perks

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

It was reported last week that Lockwood Smith has decided not to include details of how much each MP has used of their “travel” perk, as it is discouraging MPs from using it – which is unfair as the value of the perk is deducted from their remuneration package in setting their salary.

Now Lockwood has identified the problem correctly, but in this rare instance I disagree with his solution.

It is unfair to be deducting the value of the perk from the salary, and to be having witch hunts against those who use it. But the solution is to abolish the travel perk and increase the salary – not to try and keep the details secret.

Lockwood and the PM have opened up the books greatly, and doing so is a one way street effectively. Even if the Parliamentary Service only now publish the total amount of travel perks used, the media will question each individual MP about whether they have used it, and so the end result will be the same.

The Herald quotes Rodney Hide saying much the same:

“Why don’t you just pay the MPs, don’t allow the rebate and cover their legitimate expenses?”

While the Green Party is looking at releasing their rebate details anyway, Hide could not speak on behalf of all his MPs on whether they would follow suit.

“I don’t think the speaker can put the genie back into the bottle, because people quite naturally expect transparency and accountability and it would be impossible to explain, in this day and age, that this rebate is being paid out of an MP’s salary, even though it is.”

I agree with Rodney that this is what should happen. There has been an argument that the travel perk should stay, because it is the only way to recognise more experienced MPs service. But I would say that if we wish to do that, then do it directly through salaries. There is no reason the Remuneration Authority can’t be asked to set a slightly higher salary for MPs who have served a certain number of years. some may argue against this also – my point is one should set the salary to cover all remuneration, and then just have legitimate expenses claimed.

Some MPs do use their travel perk for a mixture of work and play – such as travelling to meet colleagues in other countries. But that can be funded from the Leader’s Budget. If the argument is their budgets are not big enough to cover that, then lets debate that, rather than keep the travel perk which will never be accepted by the public – inevitably it will go the same way as the perk for ex MPs.

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Fat?

October 28th, 2010 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Readers may recall that Hone Harawira called Rodney various things, including fat, a week or so ago.

A reader alerted me to this video. Is this the same Rodney? I suspect Hone would struggle to bench press 110 kgs.

And here’s another – 180 kgs in a deadlift.

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Hone v Rodney

October 20th, 2010 at 8:39 am by David Farrar

Claire Trevett at the Herald reports:

Asked about the issue on his way into Parliament yesterday, Mr Harawira refused to answer any questions asked in English and spoke only in te reo before walking away.

He earlier told Radio Waatea that if the Government agreed to Act’s request then the Maori Party should walk away from the coalition.

“I don’t see why we should sit back and let a little fat redneck like Rodney Hide put in an amendment at the last minute.”

Two ironies here.

The first is that Rodney is fitter than Hone I would say, and would probably kick his arse in a swimming race.

The second is that I am pretty sure that Rodney doesn’t care what the skin colour is of any girls who want to date his son. So Hone calling someone else a redneck is ironic.

But as Michael Laws had to apologise for calling the GG fat, will Hone be made to apologise for his comments?

If the Maori Party does pull support, it could mean the current 2004 act would stay in place. Mr Key has previously said he would not make any changes if there was not a reasonable level of consensus and the Labour Party has not yet decided whether to support it further.

Would be rather embarrassing for the Maori Party if the status quo ends up remaining.

Mr Harawira has urged Maori to make submissions opposing the bill, saying it stops short of ownership for Maori and the threshold for customary title is too high, meaning most hapu would get nothing.

Most hapu will not get customary title indeed – because that is what the Court of Appeal found. The test was for uninterrupted exclusive use. The Court of Appeal never said the foreshore belongs to all Maori.

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What plot?

September 19th, 2010 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

The SST headline is:

Plot to grab Epsom as Hide’s Act falls apart

Except there is no plot. The story doesn’t talk about any plot. This is not the fault of the journalists who wrote the story – sub-editors pick headlines. So what does the story say:

NATIONAL is deciding whether to stand a credible candidate and grab back the Epsom seat from Act’s Rodney Hide.

National is not deciding, in the sense of making a decision. Of course many in National are discussing Epsom, but decisions on whether to vigorously contest Epsom will not be made in the next few days or even weeks. You never decide strategically important things in the middle of a media storm.

Around the middle of 2011 is when National will make decisions about what sort of campaign to run in Epsom. You don’t decide these things 14 months before the election.

With Act’s credibility in tatters over the David Garrett fiasco, National is worried endorsing Hide next year would upset Epsom voters, particularly women. That has put pressure on National to stand a strong candidate or risk voters ignoring any tactical voting option.

National has in fact never endorsed Rodney. National has always stood a candidate. The issue is whether the candidate primarily pursues the party vote (which most candidates are expected to do), or also campaigns aggressively for the electorate vote (which only happens in a few seats not held by National).

My expectation is that National will have a strong candidate, regardless of what sort of campaign is run.

Some party insiders believe the anti-Act mood is so strong that Epsom voters could decide “stuff this, I’m voting for National anyway”. The Act brand is so discredited that there is already talk in National about a new far-Right party.

Unless Fairfax is going to start talking about the Greens as a “far -left” party, could they please not use that term about ACT.

It is quite possible that voters in Epsom will vote for a National candidate, even if not explicitly seeking their votes. I actually don’t think the decision rests with National – it rests with the voters in Epsom. And I think they will make their decision quite rationally. If voting for Rodney looks like it will significantly increase the chances of National retaining Government, then they will – as they did in 2005 and 2008. If however it looks like voting for Rodney will not help the centre-right greatly (if if ACT is polling at below 1%), then his chances are not so good.

But these are decisions that people reach in the election campaign, not 14 months before.

So Rodney’s challenge is to use the next 12 months to get ACT polling well enough, so that Epsom voters will tactically vote. But this will need a blemish free performance from ACT and Rodney. And there seems little doubt that a couple of the “scorpions” within ACT are determined to destroy the party, so long as they can have “utu” on Rodney. This was made clear in the e-mails Whale oil blogged. And they may succeed – time will tell.

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Hypocritical ******

September 18th, 2010 at 1:53 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

The Act Party has been “thoroughly” discredited and its ministerial positions should be removed, Labour leader Phil Goff says.

Now I have been critical, both on this blog and on radio, of Rodney’s decision not to force Garrett to make his offending known before the election. It was an error of judgement, and ACT have been damaged by it.

But I’m sorry, it is just too much to have Labour get sanctimonious on this, and declare that because of this, Rodney is unfit to be a Minister.

Need I remind people of Taito Philip Field – the MP found to have committed numerous corrupt practices while a Labour Minister and MP.

Field’s offending was not 26 years before he became an MP. It was while he was an MP. Field’s offending was not incidental to him being an MP – it was corruption in the course of his MP duties. And it was corruption aided by his Ministerial colleague who rubber stamped almost every immigration application made by Field.

And what happened when allegations were made. The Labour leadership defended Field. They said he was only guilty of working too hard.

And even after the full scale of his offending was made clear by the Ingram Report, the Labour leadership still defended him. If Rodney Hide is unfit to be a Minister, then Helen Clark and Michael Cullen were equally unfit to be Ministers.

Even worse, Labour never booted Field out for his criminal offending. He only got booted out when he talked of not standing for Labour.

And the final indignity came after he was found guilty of 11 charges of bribery and corruption (and 11 of perverting or obstructing the course of justice). Labour not only refused to apologise for the huge shame Field was, but they refused to even accept he was guilty. I’m not making this up – go check the records. The only comment they would make is they “acknowledge” the verdict.

So yes Rodney made a mistake, and yes ACT is damaged. But for fucks sake the last thing we need is a lecture in ethics from the party that gave protection and defence to a corrupt MP. If Labour ever get around to actually apologising for their defence of Field, then maybe they get to be taken seriously on ethical issues.

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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.

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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 :-)

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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.

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