Other Valedictories

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

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

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

I’m all for more evidence-based policy.

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

A great achievement.

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

The first few years are important.

Phil Heatley:

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

And there was a happy shark somewhere!

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

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

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

Heh.

Eric Roy:

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

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

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

An idea worthy of consideration.

Shane Ardern:

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

A good point.

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

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

Ross Robertson:

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

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

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

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

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

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Will there be a Manukau East by-election?

June 6th, 2013 at 1:36 pm by David Farrar

Kate Shuttleworth at NZ Herald reports:

Manukau East Labour MP Ross Robertson has announced he will retire from Parliament.

He said today he will stand for the Otara/Papatoetoe local board election this year.

Mr Robertson has been in Parliament for 26 years.

“It is time to have a new MP for Manukau East. I think I can be more effective in local Government,” he said.

“It is not possible to be on a local board and be an MP, so I will retire from Parliament.

But when? Labour strongly criticised a National MP who did not resign from his city council seat once he was elected. So of course I expect Labour will demand Ross resign his seat if he is elected to the Otara/Papatoetoe seat in October.

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Joke of the Day

November 29th, 2011 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Sent in  by e-mail:

Q.Why did David Cunliffe chose Nanaia Mahuta as his running mate ?

 A .Because Ross Robertson was busy.

Heh.

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Labour’s minor reshuffle

April 5th, 2011 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Claire Trevett in the NZ Herald reports:

Sue Moroney has been awarded the front bench slot left empty by the resignation of Darren Hughes and has taken on his education portfolio.

Labour leader Phil Goff announced the mini-shuffle this morning, giving Sue Moroney responsibility for the primary and secondary schooling areas as well as the early childhood portofilio she already held.

That’s a big promotion for Moroney. She’s been fairly low profile since she entered in 2005, so this is her oportunity to make her name. She’s only 46, so if she does well, could be a front bench Minister in a future Labour Government.

Old hand Rick Barker was elected uncontested by caucus to the position of senior whip, a nod to his experience in the role and the desire for stability in the eight months before the election. He was previously a senior Government whip. He will stand down from his role as assistant Speaker to fulfil the whip’s role.

This is quite significant. Barker is turning 60 this year and has been an MP for 18 years. I would have judged him at risk of not having a winnable list place. But now he is their chief whip, they have to give him a winnable spot on the list. So it means one less spot for new candidates.

Barker is a former senior whip, so will beable to do the role easily. But not the best sign for Labour that they had to appoint an MP whom many considered was due to retire, as he lost his Tukituki seat in 2005.

Mr Goff said he would nominate Ross Robertson to take on the Speaker position in his lieu.

Which Ross is very good at. When Labour nominated Barker for the role, instead of Robertson, in late 2008 it was taken as a hint that he should retire. But he is also again standing in 2011, which again makes rejuvenation that much harder. Robertson is 62 and been an MP for 24 years.

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Labour’s nominations

September 8th, 2010 at 7:06 pm by David Farrar

Labour have announced:

Labour Party organisations in these electorates will hold their confirmation meetings shortly:

• Bay of Plenty Carol Devoy-Heena

Lost in 2008 by 17,604 votes. Ranked 76th (2nd bottom). I think Tony Ryall can relax.

• Botany Koro Tawa

Ranked No 65. Lost by 10,872 in 2008. Not a lot of new blood coming through is there!

• Christchurch East Lianne Dalziel

An MP since 1990.

• Coromandel Hugh Kininmonth

Lost by 14,560 in 2008. Ranked 75th (third bottom)

• East Coast Moana Mackey

Lost by 6,413 to Anne Tolley. List MP since 2003.

• East Coast Bays Vivienne Goldsmith

Lost by 13,794 to Prince of Darkness. Ranked No 67 in 2008.

• Hamilton East Sehai Orgad

2007 President of compulsory Waikato Student’s Union. Stood for East ward of Hamilton City Council in 2007 and came 10th.

• Hauraki-Waikato Nanaia Mahuta

MP since 1996

• Helensville Jeremy Greenbrook-Held

Very appropriate Jeremy stands against John Key as he writes so many letters to the editor complaining about the Government.  2005 President of the compulsory VUWSA. Is standing for Henderson-Massey Local Board in 2010 elections.

A little known trivia fact is that a few years ago Jeremy and I co-authored a petition to Subway asking them to reverse their sacking of an employee for sharing a free $2 staff coke with a friend.

• Manukau East Ross Robertson

MP since 1987.

• New Plymouth Andrew Little

Former President of compulsory VUWSA, and NZUSA. Labour Party President.

• Rotorua Steve Chadwick

Lost her seat in 2008 by 5,065 votes. MP since 1999.

• Selwyn David Coates

Lost in 2008 by 11,075 votes.Ranked No 74 (fourth bottom) on list.

• Taranaki-King Country Rick Barker

Now this is weird. Barker presumably can’t get nominated again in Tukituki, so desperate to carry on has headed to the west coast. Has been an MP since 1993.

• Waimakariri Clayton Cosgrove

MP since 1999. Holding on with a 390 vote majority.

• Wellington Central Grant Robertson

Former President of compulsory OUSA and then NZUSA.

• Wigram Megan Woods

2007 Mayoral candidate against Bob Parker.

If the list above, is Labour rejuvenating, then someone has a sick sense of humour. Their only new candidates are from compulsory student associations.

Of their 2008 candidates, the ones standing again were all ranked in the bottom dozen, and lost by huge majorities.  Where are the Kate Suttons, Michael Woods, Conor Roberts, and Louisa Walls  who all actually have some talent?

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Robertson to testify against Field

April 20th, 2009 at 1:04 pm by David Farrar

Radio NZ reports:

The trial is scheduled to last three months. Labour MP Ross Robertson has been revealed as a Member of Parliament who will give evidence against Mr Field.

That will be fascinating. Robertson has been MP for nearby Manukau East since 1996 and for Papatoetoe before that since 1987. He is respected by all sides in Parliament as an honest bloke who was a good Deputy Speaker.

What will he reveal about his former colleague in Labour?

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Goff on Speakers

November 21st, 2008 at 1:07 pm by David Farrar

NZPA report:

Mr Goff today repeated criticism of National leader John Key’s decision to nominate as Speaker Lockwood Smith, whom he believes is too partisan to be fair.

This is nonsense, especially coming from the party that appointed Jonathan Hunt and Margaret Wilson to the Speakership. Someone should challenge Goff to explain how Smith would be more partisan than Hunt or Wilson?

He also said National intended to appoint Lindsay Tisch as deputy speaker.

He must read my blog, as that fact went unreported until I highlighted it from the video of the press conference :-)

Both Dr Smith and Mr Tisch missed out on Cabinet roles and Mr Goff said the appointments were to placate the long-serving MPs rather than choosing the right person for the job.

Now here Goff is on stronger ground than the nonsense about Lockwood being too partisan. It is a political reality that there not being room for them in Cabinet is a strong factor in why they are the nominees for Speaker and Deputy Speaker.

But this does not mean they will not prove to be sound choices. Doug Kidd was made Speaker in 1996, basically because they needed room in Cabinet for new Ministers. But Kidd went on to be an excellent Speaker.

And let us remember Labour made Ann Hartley Deputy Speaker, and she was a disaster.

He said the roles were being treated as “a dumping ground for those that can’t get into Cabinet” and thought MPs like Eric Roy and John Carter were better choices.

Eric and John would be very sound choices, and there are factors such as Cabinet inclusion at work. But those in glasshouses should not throw stones. Here is who Labour is putting up for Assistant Speaker:

Labour would have nominated Rick Barker for the role.

Asked why Mr Robertson was not considered, Mr Goff said while he was fond of the role he had other talents, had been appointed as spokesman in several areas and was a useful local MP.

Now could anyone claim Barker would be better than Robertson who is widely respected? Of course not. So Goff is guilty of exactly what he accuses National of.

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Are Labour shafting Ross Robertson?

November 19th, 2008 at 12:39 pm by David Farrar

I’ve heard from a fairly reliable source that the highly respected Ross Robertson will not be nominated by Labour as an Assistant Speaker, but instead Sue Moroney is favoured.

This is not confirmed. Moroney seems a competent sort, but Roberston is held in high regqard by most MPs as a very fair Assistant Speaker. It has been suggested to me some MPs are angry with him for not retiring and letting new blood come through, so they will punish him by taking his prized role off him.

I guess we’ll find out by early December when the roles are elected.

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Lindsay Tisch to be nominated Deputy Speaker

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

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

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

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

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

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Who will be Speaker?

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

The Herald reports four contenders for Speaker. They are:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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