What is “nasty” about building a bridge?

July 1st, 2014 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

A bizarre rant by Damien O’Connor. The Herald reports:

National Party campaign chairman Steven Joyce said over the weekend the party was targeting some Labour-held seats it believed were vulnerable, including West Coast-Tasman.

The party followed that with the announcement from the National Party conference yesterday that the Government planned to spend $10-15 million replacing the Taramakau Bridge, and $20-25 million improving Mingha Bluff, the last winding section of road on the Arthur’s Pass highway.

A press release announcing both road projects was issued yesterday — jointly in the name of the retiring party list MP Mr Auchinvole, and National’s candidate Maureen Pugh.

Mr O’Connor said it was “pork-barrel politics”, and to be expected.

“I expected the campaign to be quite dirty and nasty,” Mr O’Connor said today.

“Indications are, that’s where it is unfortunately.”

One can certainly criticise the roading projects as pork-barrel politics. I have no dispute with people characterising it as that.

But how on earth is that the sign of the campaign being “dirty” or “nasty”. O’Connor’s speech in Parliament against Gerry Brownlee was personal and nasty. But funding a bridge is not dirty or nasty. O’Connor is trying to make himself a victim.

My interpretation of O’Connor’s statements is that he intends to run a dirty nasty campaign, and is trying to convince people National is doing the same.

But I genuinely can not comprehend how anyone can rationally call a bridge funding decision dirty and nasty. It’s just hysteria.

Solid Energy

September 25th, 2012 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

I feel so sorry for people on the West Coast. First they lose Pike River in the worst possible way, and then they lose Spring Creek. The Press reported:

Christchurch and the West Coast have both been dealt major job hits after Solid Energy’s announcement to slash about 440 positions nationwide.

It was a black Monday on the West Coast in particular after the state-owned company said it would mothball Spring Creek Mine and slash 360 jobs.

Solid Energy also announced proposals to cut more than half the jobs at its corporate, support and development divisions. Staff numbers would plummet from 313 to 150, it said, with most of those affected working at the Christchurch head office in Addington.

Those in Chch are not so bad off:

However, city leaders say opportunities in Christchurch’s rebuild could soften the blow for the white-collar workers in Christchurch and blue-collar workers on the coast.

Canterbury Employers Chamber of Commerce chief executive Peter Townsend said Christchurch was poised to move into the most extraordinary period of reconstruction and he hoped many skilled people at Solid Energy would find jobs there.

“I really believe the opportunities are just beginning to grow,” Townsend said.

Mayor Bob Parker said while it would be stressful for staff losing jobs, he was aware of several organisations looking for skilled people in the services sector .

“I think there will be opportunities here, even if in the short term for some people they are not the ideal opportunities.”

He also said the city needed “engineers, builders, plumbers, painters, construction workers and administration staff”.

About 31,000 people live on the West Coast, meaning one in 86 people was affected by yesterday’s announcement.

The reality is the global price of coal has plummeted, and nothing can protect a company from that, except some hedging in the short term. The price per tonne has been as low as $120 and Solid Energy needs $200 just to break even. The price has dropped 30% or so in just two months. Companies around the world are laying off staff also.

Steven Joyce has said:

Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce is calling on objectors to Bathurst Resources’ Escarpment Mine project near Westport to support 225 new jobs on the West Coast by withdrawing their court action.

“The Escarpment Mine is an open cast mining project that is ready to go and would provide 225 jobs and incomes for workers and their families on the West Coast straight away,” Mr Joyce says.

“The developer is being held up from opening the Escarpment Mine by on-going litigation that has gone through the Environment Court, the High Court and the Court of Appeal.

“These on-going objections are to resource consents which were granted more than a year ago. The whole consenting process for this development has now taken a staggering seven years.

“I call on those objectors to the mine to reconsider their appeals and consider the economic future of the West Coast and its people.

“I also call on the EPMU, Labour and the Greens to join my call and back the West Coast community by supporting the immediate development of the Escarpment Mine.

“The political opposition can’t have it both ways. They can’t on one hand moan about job losses and then on the other not support initiatives that would create the sort of jobs that they’re asking for.

I think there is an unnecessary comma in the second to last paragraph!

Was it a cunning plan?

October 3rd, 2011 at 3:27 pm by David Farrar

The latest iPredict update notes:

There has been a change of forecast winner in West Coast-Tasman. For the first time since March, National’s Chris Auchinvole is expected to retain the rugby league loving West Coast-Tasman (55% probability up from 47% last week). This follows media reports of attacks on prominent rugby league supporter Sir Peter Leitch (“The Mad Butcher”) by two Labour MPs.

Now of course we don’t know why this has changed, but O’Connor has been in front since March, so you would think there is some specific event which changed this.

Sir Peter is popular on the Coast. He helped a west coast old lady “fleeced of life savings” and the Warriors played a match for Pike River Miners.

Now what is interesting is that Damien O’Connor is not on the party list. If he does not win West Coast-Tasman, he is out of Parliament. Now what this means for Labour is that they get one extra List MP. And you know what if Labour get around 24% to 25%, Darien Fenton would lose her list seat if Damien O’Connor wins West Coast-Tasman, but will keep her seat if he loses it.

So was her outburst on Facebook just a stupid unthinking outburst, or was it not so stupid after all?

The Upper South Island Seats

November 13th, 2008 at 10:16 pm by David Farrar

The birthplace of Labour, West Coast-Tasman went to National on the party vote by 11%. In 2005 the had a 3% margin. Damien O’Connor had a 1,500 majority and lost to Chris Auchinvole by 1,000 votes. Auchinvole (who once famously told Parliament you pronounce his name like it was Dock in Cole or a rude version that is easy to work out) wan a strong campaign with 160 hoardings and a large campaign team. O’Connor is first in on the Labour List, so if Michael Cullen retires he will be back as a List MP.

National finally won the party vote in Nelson. Labour won it by 6% in 2005 but National has a 5% lead in 2008. And no one was surprised that Nick retained his seat, although his majority did shrink from 9,500 to 7,900.

Kaikoura was marginal in 2002 and today the party vote was won by 23%, up from 9% in 2005. Colin King doubled his 4,700 mJority to 10,100.

Clayton Cosgrove did well to hold on in Waimakariri with 500 votes against the competent and hard working Kate Wilkinson. National won the party vote by 15%, up from a 0.3% margin in 2005. Cosgrove’s 2005 majority on new boundaries was 5,000.

Christchurch East remains red with 45% party vote Labour to 36% for National. However that 9% gap is a lot less than 24% in 2005. Dalziel’s 11,000 majority halved to 5,500 – still very safe. However National now has a List MP in the seat and will have hopes for when Lianne retires.

Christchurch Central was a great battle. Labour won the party vote by 1.4% and held the seat by 900 votes only. Nicky Wagner ran a very strong campaign but seats ending in Central are very hard to win for National. In 2005 the party vote margin was 22% and the majority for Barnett was 7,800.

Ilam has National 53% to 27% on the party vote. Gerry Brownlee also drives his majority from 5,500 to 10,800. This may finally stop Gerry from referring to his seat as marginal 🙂

Wigram saw Labour win the party vote by just 2%. In 2005 it was 12%. And Jim Anderton scored a fairly safe 4,500 majority despite new boundaries.

Finally we have Port Hills. National won the party vote by 16%, yet Ruth Dyson held the seat by 3,100. In 2005 Labour won the party vote by 12% so there was a massive swing there, yet Dyson’s majority shrank from just 3,600 to 3,100.

Electorate Polls

November 2nd, 2008 at 6:30 pm by David Farrar

I’ve blogged over on curiablog the results fo several recent electorate polls, including tonight’s one in Tauranga. The topline results are:

  • Tauranga – Bridges 26% ahead of Peters. Labour’s Pankhurst in 4th place at 5%. NZ First Party Vote down from 13% in 2005 to 6%.
  • Palmerston North – National candidate Malcolm Plimmer ahead by 3%
  • Ikaroa-Rawhiti – Parekura Horomia 5.4% ahead of Derek Fox
  • Nelson – Nick Smith 36% ahead of Maryan Street
  • West Coast-Tasman – Damien O’Connor 3.5% ahead of Chris Auchinvole
  • Te Tai Tonga – Maori TV/TNS has Mahara Okeroa ahead of Rahui Katene by 10% – 49% to 39%. However Marae Digipoll has Okeroa bejind by 6% – 40% to 46%
  • Hauraki-Waikato – Nanaia Mahuta ahead of Angeline Greensill by 0.6%

All three Maori seats held by Labour are highly competitive. In two seats Labour is ahead and in the seat with conflcitign results, an averaging of them out would see Labour ahead. This means that the Maori Party may not have much of an overhang at all – in fact they could even gain a List MP if they got 4% or so party vote.

Palmerston North is the only Labour held seat that a public poll has shown National ahead in, so far. Due to boundary changes Taupo and Rotorua are technically National’s on paper.

Based on boundary changes and public polls (and note this is not a personal prediction) the electorate seats would be:

  1. National 35
  2. Labour 28
  3. Maori 4
  4. ACT 1
  5. United Future 1
  6. Progressive 1

Labour will in one sense be very pleased to be ahead in all three Maori seats. However this does lessen their chances of winning via overhang.

And the Tauranga result is superb. With only 5% voting Labour on the electorate vote anyway, it means no amount of tactical voting in Tauranga can put Winston back in that way.