Where to for ACT

October 18th, 2013 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Does ACT have a future after its leader was committed to trial over his 2010 Mayoral election return?

Well firstly it depends on the outcome of the court case. If he loses, and is convicted, then his seat in Parliament is automatically vacated. That means a by-election in Epsom, and unless ACT stood an incredibly popular candidate (such as Cameron Brewer) then they would not win the by-election and be out of Parliament. I think that would be the end of the party, which would dissolve. That may create an opportunity for a new party in time, but probably not until 2017 at the earliest.

The fact the Solictor-General is looking at taking over the prosecution is somewhat ominous.

If Banks wins, then he remains in Parliament, and becomes a Minister again. However that does not mean plain sailing.

Banks defence is basically that he signed a legal declaration of his election expenses and donations, but didn’t read it. That may mean he legally didn’t willfully break the law, but it’s an awful look.  If his non-reading had occurred as a parliamentary candidate, that would be fatal. He is slightly saved by the fact that when he signed the return he though his political career was over. But regardless of timing, it looks bad. As I said previously, it is bad to be personally involved in receiving two donations and then sign a return saying he doesn’t know who his donors were. It may be legal (as Len’s trusts were), but is the public concerned just about legality?

Even if Banks wins, it is hard to see him winning Epsom again. Having said that ACT have won it three elections in a row, when almost no one thought they would or could.

If there is a by-election, then I would expect National to win it easily. Epsom voters are not going to vote for giving the Maori Party the balance of power or worse a Labour-Greens Government. Paul Goldsmith would become the MP for Epsom and Jo Hayes would become a List MP.

So I don’t see big issues for the Government before the general election, except for a possible distracting by-election campaign.

The bigger challenge is the next general election. National has five potential coalition partners, and none of them are ideal – and probably more than one of them will be needed. The five potential partners are:

  1. ACT – very reliable in a voting sense and pushes National into areas most of its supporters want. But not likely to be back.
  2. United Future – also a reliable and stable partner, even though more inclined to vote independently on non-core issues. But will Dunne stand again, and would he win?
  3. Maori Party. They will be back with at least one seat, probably two. A third is possible – a list seat if they get over 2% party vote. However they have never had to choose between a National and Labour led Government. They could well choose to go with Labour. And if they do choose National, their policy demands could be unpopular.
  4. Conservatives. It is hard to see them making 5% but they could well make 2.8% and get four seats if they win an electorate. If a new Auckland seat is in an area where they have some strong support, then the lak of an incumbent National MP could see centre-right tactical voting to get them in. The downside is that if this looks likely it might scare some socially liberal voters to Labour. Against that, most of the core issues for the Conservatives are conscience issues and not something likely to be part of any coalition agreement (except maybe to agree to no further law changes in certain areas). I can’t see any possibility of repealing same sex marriage, prostitution, abortion laws etc. Maybe the anti-smacking law could go as a policy victory for them?
  5. NZ First. Winston hates John Key and wants utu on him, The jury is out on whether the bigger utu is to sack John Key or make him subservient to him. Either option is rather unpleasant to contemplate. But you can’t rule out a deal if a National-NZ First majority is possible and a centre-left Government is only possible if the Greens are part of it.

So National does have options if ACT goes, but they are not great options. But politics is the art of the possible!

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Peters aims, fires and misses again

September 25th, 2013 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

In Parliament yesterday:

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS (Leader—NZ First) to the Minister for Whānau Ora: Does she have confidence in the Whānau Ora scheme?

Hon TARIANA TURIA (Minister for Whānau Ora) Tēnā koe, Mr Speaker. Yes.

Rt Hon Winston Peters : Has she ever offered resources and staff, such as report writers, to prepare Whānau Ora commissioning agency bid documentation; if so, why?

Hon TARIANA TURIA : No.

Rt Hon Winston Peters : Did she give $500,000 plus expert help to the National Hauora Coalition to prepare its bid for Whānau Ora money; if so, why?

Hon TARIANA TURIA : No.

Rt Hon Winston Peters : You will not be laughing shortly, gentlemen. Did she give $3 million to the Iwi Leaders Forum to prepare its Whānau Ora commissioning agency bid; if so, why?

Hon TARIANA TURIA : No.

Rt Hon Winston Peters : So is she saying that a document that came to her at Parliament on 8 August at 3.26 p.m., setting out these matters and detailing the matters I am talking about, was just made up?

Hon TARIANA TURIA : I have no idea what the member is talking about.

The Herald has details:

Emails produced by Mr Peters showed Mr Tau had some discussion with Whanau Ora Minister Tariana Turia about funding the forum’s application but yesterday she showed media her response, making it clear such funding was unavailable.

So Peters got hold of a request for funding, just assumed that meant it had been successful, didn’t try to verify anything, and made wild allegations in the House that blew up in his face.

John Armstrong highlights it:

When Peters finally got the call, he asked Turia, as Minister responsible for Whanau Ora, whether she had ever offered resources and staff, such as report writers, to prepare Whanau Ora commissioning agency bid documentation. “No,” Turia replied.

Had she given $500,000-plus expert help to the National Hauora Coalition to prepare its bid for Whanau Ora money? Again, the reply was an emphatic “no”.

It was beginning to look like this was not going to be a winebox moment for Peters. Government MPs were enjoying the extremely rare sight of him firing what seemed to be blanks.

“You will not be laughing shortly, gentlemen,” he warned. He tried again. Did Turia give $3 million to the Iwi Leaders Forum to prepare its Whanau Ora commissioning agency bid? Again, “no”.

Peters’ voice by now carried more of a hint of disbelief coupled with bewilderment. “So is she saying that a document that came to her at Parliament on August 8 at 3.26pm, setting out these matters and detailing the matters I am talking about, was just made up?”

This time the answer was longer – but no less dismissive. “I have no idea what the member is talking about.”

That statement brought the House down. Peters had to sit down, having seemingly run out of ammunition, blank or otherwise. …

Turia later called a press conference at which she once again vigorously denied Peters’ claims and released an email from her staff last month to various Maori identities saying it would not be appropriate for the minister to divert resources to help any group prepare its bid to administer and allocate funding of Whanau Ora contracts.

An allegation from Winston is like a stopped clock – he hits the mark by accident twice a day, but generally it is all crap.

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Duncan on Labour’s strategy

August 31st, 2013 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Grant Duncan wrote in the Herald:

Leadership does matter in politics. So does the underlying strategy. And it’s fairly clear what Labour’s chosen political direction is, regardless of which leadership contestant wins.

Labour has been torn between two strategic options. The all-important centre of New Zealand politics is the battleground for swing-votes. If a Labour-Green duo is to get the numbers to form a government, one option is for Labour to capture a greater share of those voters. …

Labour’s other option is to go for those who may not vote at all. That sounds funny perhaps, but in 2011 the non-voters were about one third of those eligible. That’s enough to win an election, if only you can mobilise them. These people tend to be young, lower-income, and/or Maori or Pasifika.

They are broadly the two strategic options.

Of all three candidates, David Cunliffe is best placed to appeal to voters in the centre. He has good experience as a Cabinet minister, and can tackle Key in the House. His background in business and economics is solid, and he enjoys a comfortable middle-class lifestyle.

But Cunliffe has made it clear that the centre is not his target audience. His speech announcing his bid for the leadership emphasised the young and the vulnerable, and schools, hospitals and homes. This is solid Labour social democratic territory, and calls for strong state organisation and taxation. And he hinted that he’d lift the minimum wage.

But while Cunliffe has made a pitch to the left, his waspish look and policy-wonkish tone may not inspire the low-income constituency that Labour seeks to mobilise.

Grant Robertson is undoubtedly a strong performer too. He is capable of taking on Key in the House and he comes across extremely well in the media. He’s electable, but relatively young and lacks ministerial experience. His appeal is more to the urban liberal-left – or those who probably vote Labour anyway.

Whichever leader it goes for, Labour is now pitching for the “unclaimed” disfranchised left. This leaves it open to Mr Key’s barb that the election “will be a centre-right government of six years of proven quality, versus a kind of far-left opposition”.

National must be happy Labour isn’t contesting the centre this time around.

Labour, Greens and Mana scrapping over the left vote is excellent.

Labour’s nightmares could return at the next election if, despite its best efforts, those low-income neighbourhoods just don’t turn out to vote for Labour. They may not hear or believe the message about hope and equality, and they may not see Labour’s leader as representing anything new or hopeful or relevant. Heavy rain on election day could be enough to tip the balance.

John Key has not yet reached that unhappy threshold where the factors that led middle New Zealanders to support him turn into reasons for no longer liking him.

So chances are we will see a National-NZ First government after the next election

It is hard to see Winston voting to make the Greens Ministers. Also hard to see Winston voting to keep John Key in the job. Who knows what he will do, if he makes it back. Also of course National may rule out Winston again – we’ll find out next year.

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How about the other payout?

August 1st, 2013 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

The widower of a victim of RSA killer William Bell has won a $60,000 payout from the Corrections Department.

Tai Hobson, whose wife Mary was one of three people slaughtered by Bell 12 years ago, relaunched his claim for compensation last year after Corrections made a $300,000 damages settlement with sole survivor Susan Couch. Couch was left for dead and partially paralysed in the attack by Bell.

The violent offender was on probation for aggravated robbery when he went on a rampage, killing club president William Absolum, 63, member Wayne Johnson, 56, and Mrs Hobson, a cleaner.

Yesterday, chief executive Ray Smith said his department had a moral obligation and confirmed Mr Hobson had accepted an “ex gratia payment”.

“Mary lost her life at the hands of a very dangerous and violent man who also killed two of her colleagues and left Susan Couch with horrific injuries,” he said.

That reminds me. Winston claimed he donated most of the $158,000 his party owed the taxpayer to a Susan Couch trust. Two of the three trustees were his lawyers. Someone should check up if Susan Couch has actually received a cent from the trust that bears her name.

UPDATE: A commenter has done some research and found that the trust has $86,000 in the bank and has paid Susan Couch $900 a year for two years.

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What has NZ First achieved in 20 years?

July 16th, 2013 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

New Zealand First celebrates its 20th anniversary this month but a Hawke’s Bay politician and former MP of the party believes it’ll self-destruct when its leader Winston Peters decides to leave.

That is self-evident. Peters promised that they would elect a Deputy Leader by March 2012. It is not July 2013 and his insecurities about any possible sucessors means they don’t even have a deputy leader.

Out-going Hawke’s Bay regional councillor Neil Kirton was elected to Parliament in 1996 as a New Zealand First list MP and was appointed associate Minister of Health when the party formed a coalition with the National government.

He was one of three former New Zealand First MPs invited to speak on TV3′s Sunday morning political programme, The Nation, looking back on the past two decades of the party and its possible future.

After the interview, Mr Kirton told Hawke’s Bay Today he stood by his comments which suggested the party had not achieved any “major triumph in political history” which had made a difference to the lives of people today.

“Jim Anderton can lay claim to KiwiBank which has become a huge New Zealand institution. The KiwiSaver scheme by Michael Cullen has made a big difference to people in our daily lives and there is also Sir Douglas Graham’s Treaty Settlements.

“So what I am talking about is in the past two decades, very few policies supporting those kinds of initiatives have come out of New Zealand First.”

As the party is mainly a vehicle for Winston to enjoy the baubles of office, it is no surprise that they have so few achievements for 20 years in Parliament.

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Pathetic

July 5th, 2013 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

New Zealand First has criticised the cost of Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce’s recent four-day trip to Europe but Mr Joyce has hit back.

Mr Joyce visited Poland, Germany, Brussels and the United Kingdom in June to strengthen New Zealand’s science, innovation and international education links with the European Union.

He opened the biennial New Zealand-European Commission joint science and technology co-operation meeting in Brussels.

Answers to written questions show the budget for the trip was $56,700, a total NZ First leader Winston Peters said was the equivalent of two minimum wage jobs.

Mr Joyce confirmed today the budget for his trip was $56,700 but said actual costs were still being processed.

He said 75 per cent of the budget was spent on airfares and has called Mr Peters a “hypocrite” for his comments.

“This was the guy who as foreign minister defined spending money. For example, in 2006 he managed to spend more than $250,000 in three months – which equates to around $300,000 today – and he said at the time that was to be expected.

“The good news is that I didn’t burn any bedspreads.”

Heh, no smoking in bed.

But it is truly sad and pathetic to see a former foreign minister attacking Ministers for their travel. Winston presided over a culture of extravagance at MFAT with massive boosts to their budgets.

“While Steven Joyce and his staff are jet-setting around the world, more and more New Zealanders are lining up to collect the dole”.

This trip was not jet setting. Certainly some trips, such as Speaker’s Tours, are fairly shall we say relaxed. But most Ministerial travel consists of 16 hour days, and no spare time at all.

Where did Mr Joyce stay:

* Poland: Hotel Stary, Krakow – 1 night

* Germany: Hotel Berline-Mitte, Berlin – 1 night

* Brussels: Sofitel Brussels – 1 night

* London: Royal Horseguards Hotel – 1 night

People who don’t travel much think travel is fun. Travel is not fun, it is a pain in the butt. Checking into and out of hotels every day and stuck on planes is not a holiday. Don’t get me wrong – being in other countries can be great fun – if you have the time to actually do stuff when you are there. But look at Joyce’s itinerary – every day was travel.

But Mr Joyce gained some support from former foreign affairs minister Phil Goff, who said the costs weren’t unreasonable.

“I’ve never criticised a minister of foreign affairs or a minister of trade for travel costs, because if you’re doing your job you’re spending long hours flying, long hours at meetings and there’s no time for junkets in between.

Good on Goff for playing this fair.

During Mr Peters’ time as foreign minister, he spent more than $250,000 between June and September, 2006.

In that year his office was charged $230 for a bed cover that was burnt with a cigarette, although the money was later reimbursed.

And we’re still waiting for him to repay the $158,000.

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The manufactured inquiry report

June 17th, 2013 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

The report of the Labour/Greens/NZ First/Mana inquiry into manufacturing is here.

The best comment in the report was on page 24:

Manufacturing Strategy: submitters made it plain that there was little interest on their part in further “talkfests” about the future of manufacturing in New Zealand, or about the need for a “Manufacturing Strategy”, requiring further extended discussion

Which is ironic, as that is what the entire inquiry has been – a massive talkfest.

What is most hilarious is the major recommendations for macro-economic policy:

  • a fairer and less volatile exchange rate through reforms to monetary policy
  • refocusing capital investment into the productive economy, rather than housing speculation;
  • and lowering structural costs in the economy, such as electricity prices

How amazing. By total coincidence the major macro-economic recommendations happen to be the pre-existing policy of Labour et al. They didn’t even have to think up any new policies.

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The Employment Relations (Continuity of Labour) Amendment Bill

June 13th, 2013 at 12:30 pm by David Farrar

Jami-Lee Ross has had pulled from the ballot his Employment Relations (Continuity of Labour) Amendment Bill. The purpose of the bill is:

to repeal section 97 of the Employment Relations Act 2000. Section 97 prevents the use of volunteers, contractors, or other casual employees by an employer during a strike or lockout

His rationale:

Any employment legislation needs to provide a balance between employers and employees to be fair. Section 97 creates an imbalance by providing unions with a significant legislative advantage during negotiations. The restrictions placed on employers preventing them from engaging temporary replacement labour to maintain business continuity duringa strike or lockout even extends to family members, volunteers, and willing workers from associated companies that may wish to work within an organisation to maintain business continuity. Restricting the ability of employers to engage temporary replacement labour can have a considerable impact on the productivity and financial viability of an organisation. These restrictions particularly affect the primary production processing industries where production cannot cease without considerable loss to a business.

As far as I’m aware, employees on strike can engage in other work, so it seems only fair employers can do much the same, and use temporary labour to keep revenue flowing. Otherwise a union action can cripple them.

Prior to the enactment of the Employment Relations Act 2000, no equivalent provision existed in any New Zealand employment legislation.

I’ll be interested to see what the situation is in other countries.

I think it is fair to say the the Labour Party will fight this bill with all their might.

UPDATE: It will be interesting to see how parties vote at first reading. We can assume National and ACT will vote in favour, and Labour, Greens and Mana against.

NZ First had this to say when the ERA was passed in 2000:

Part 8 – Clauses 97-111 – Strikes and Lockouts
Under these clauses employees are allowed to strike for a collective agreement, to obtain a multi-employer collective contract, and on the grounds of safety and health.

It prohibits an employer from using replacement labour during a strike but does not prohibit striking workers taking up other employment. This has the potential for a few employees to, in some circumstances, hold the employer, the industry, and sometimes the country, to ransom until their demands are met.

On the basis of their 2000 statement, one would expect they would at least vote for the bill at first reading so it can be considered by a select committee.

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Campbell vs Peters

June 11th, 2013 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

If you want some humour, watch this interview of Winston Peters by John Campbell. Not sure whether it is more funny or sad.

Peter George has a transcript:

Campbell: How did he breach national security?

Peters: Well he leaked information on a very important report, to do with the malfunction of the GCSB, that’s the Kitteridge report, and then there’s the matter of moral within the GCSB, a separate matter, no no no, let me finish, you want to know how I’m going to give you a snapshot, just three, not all of them, just three. And the third one was he made reference to someone he should not have made reference to on the question of the GCSB appointments.

Campbell: Ok, let’s go through these things one at a time. The Kitteridge report, it was going to be made public.

Peters: I know what you’re trying to say, and some of your colleagues are doing the same, they’re saying…

Campbell: No wait a minute, I’m not trying to say anything, it’s a statement of fact

Peters: …over the last twenty four hour, a repetitive argument he just broke the embargo…

Campbell: You’re hearing fact, you’re hearing fact…

Peters: …let me tell you why it’s not fact, and I’m sure you’re interested in that, the ah Fairfax outlet said it was a secret report, and it was, the second thing is it was described in the State Services and parliamentary record of being such a document in it’s past precedence. Then you’ve got the fact an investigator appointed by the National Party, said as well it was classified and highly sensitive…

Campbell: Mr Peters, look, I can’t sit here and let you spout nonsense to me, absolutely, I’m going to read what David Henry said, verbatim quote. 

“On the afternoon of 27th March Mr Dunne was given a numbered copy of the Kitteridge report” – which was going to be made public – “but not the classified appendices”.

In other words he didn’t have classified material. No, you know that. Why are you sitting here tonight saying that he did?

Peters: Because you haven’t asked any questions about what happened by way of conversation within five MPs, including the Prime Minister who sat on the Intelligence and Security committee, you don’t know that, and I don’t think Mr Henry bothered to ask as well which is why I raised questions about the way he was conducting this inquiry.

I’ve been on that committee, I know something about what I’m talking about and I know what international ramifications are, and I’m not going to stand by while cynical people who said from day one there was nothing in this, now repeat that he merely broke an embargo. I’m sorry, this is out number one security agency, it interrelates with international agencies and our respect and integrity is on the line, and it’s important.

He just couldn’t answer the question, so did the normal bluster.

Campbell: Ok, what evidence is that?

Peters: That’s the evidence that backs up what I’m saying, and every day it unfolds, you will find that out.

Campbell: What evidence is that?

Peters: Well it’s evidence of, ah, improperly liaison meetings with disclosure of secret, confidential, private information, not just in one area but in a number of areas.

Campbell: Do you have the emails?

Peters: I’ve told you from day one that I have the evidence sufficient to make allegations, both to you, inside parliament because you wouldn’t publish it otherwise, and outside parliament… 

Campbell: Yes or no, do you have the emails?

Peters: Well of course I’ve got information I need to back up my…

Campbell: Yes or no, do you have the emails?

Peters: No no no, you’re not going to know, what I want you to tell me is why you aren’t asking the Prime Minister, Prime Minister, why can’t we see the information that you won’t show the public.

A nice calling of Peters’ bluff.

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Opposition parties may look silly over Police complaints

June 9th, 2013 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Labour, Greens and NZ First are all somewhat hysterically saying that the report leaked (presumably) by Peter Dunne is a criminal matter, and have all rushed off to the Police to try and get him investigated.

I’ll come back to the hypocrisy of opposition parties demanding a Police investigation into a leak, but let us first deal with two recent leaks. The first is the Kitteridge report.

This was a report that was due to be released to the public. The leak changed the timing of that (and was politically very very unhelpful to the Government), but again it was a report written for public release and its classification was sensitive. What is a sensitive classification. There are six types of classifications in two categories. The two categories are:

  • National security classifications where compromise would damage NZ’s security, defence or international relations
  • Policy and privacy classifications where compromise would damage government functions or be detrimental to an individual

There are four national security classifications, They are:

  1. Top secret
  2. Secret
  3. Confidential
  4. Restricted

The Kitteridge report had NO national security classification.

The two policy and privacy classifications  are sensitive and in-confidence, and it was classified sensitive.

While the report was about the GCSB, it doesn’t mean the report was classified for national security reasons. In fact the report was due to be released publicly anyway. This makes the leaking of it a government issue, not a criminal issue. Don’t get me wrong – the leak was appalling, and a resignation is the appropriate  outcome. But talking of Police complaints is hysteria.

Now let us compare this leak to the leak of a Cabinet paper on MFAt restructuring. Unlike the Kitteridge report, the Cabinet paper was not a paper about to be released to the public. Cabinet papers are for Cabinet, and that paper was leaked even before it got to Cabinet (off memory). That leak is clearly just as “bad” a leak as the Kitteridge report, and arguably worse.

Yet in this case Labour have spent months arguing the leak should not be pursued, and that a leak inquiry is a waste of money. Flagrant hypocrisy. And I hope one day, we will be publicly able to publish why Labour is so frightened about the leaker’s identity being revealed, and any links back to them.

Several on the left are critical of opposition parties demanding a criminal investigation into a leak. No Right Turn blogs:

Firstly, the idea that this leak breached the Crimes Act is utterly ridiculous. Both the offences of espionage (which peters accused Dunne of in Parliament on Thursday) and wrongful communication of official information require that the information in question “be likely to prejudice seriously the security or defence of New Zealand”. John Key was quite clear in his press conference that that was not the case, and there is no possible way in which the leak of material exposing GCSB wrongdoing could be seen in that light. So, the idea that an offence has been commited is pure bullshit, and the Greens should not be trading in it. …

A party like the Greens, committed to democracy and freedom, should be encouraging such leaks, not calling for them to be punished – especially given the shit we’re learning about what the GCSB’s foreign masters have been getting up to.

Russel Norman has sought to justify his position on the grounds that such leaks undermine the idea of Parliamentary oversight of intelligence agencies. Firstly, this wasn’t an ISC document, so that’s just a non-sequitur. But more importantly, Parliament pays the bills, so it has an absolute right to scrutinise what is done with our money, no matter how secret and sensitive. And I regard it as not just a right, but a duty of politicians on the ISC to inform the public of wrongdoing. If Norman seriously believes what he’s said, then he is not doing his job properly, and should resign immediately so that his place can be taken by someone less credulous and authoritarian.

The authoritarian Dr Norman!

NBR also reports:

Labour and the Greens are illiberal in pushing for a police inquiry into the Peter Dunne affair, and have revealed themselves as anti leaks to the media, says Bryce Edwards.

“It’s incredibly surprising to see Labour and the Greens have called on the police to intervene over the leak of the GCSB,” the Otago University lecturer and commentator tells NBR Online.

“There’s always problems when the police get involved in the political and media realm. It can have a very chilling affect on politics and journalism,” Dr Edwards says.

And the next time there is a leak to say an opposition MP, how could Labour or Greens complain if there is a criminal Police investigation into it? They are so kneejerk desperate to get a media headline that day, they rarely think about the consistency of their long-term position.

Generally those that regard themselves as politically liberal will not want the police involved unless utterly necessary, says the Politics Daily compiler.

“Therefore the threshold for calling the cops into Parliament and newsrooms should be very high. It’s hard to see that this threshold has been reached in this case,” Dr Edwards says.

“Normally those that call the police in on their political opponents are from an authoritarian political philosophy. By contrast, liberals generally regard those that leak government department reports as heroic whistleblowers that are enabling the freedom of information and the right of the public to know what those in authority are doing.”

The Greens, Labour and New Zealand First have now shown that they stand opposed to leaks to the media, says the lecturer.

That’s the second commentator to use the term authoritarian. And I am unsure of the media will like the opposition (presumably) demanding that a reporter’s phone records, e-mails and other communications be seized because she received a leak.

Dr Norman says a key issue is whether the appendix to the inquiry was leaked. Unlike the body of the report, which was always scheduled to be shared with the public, the appendix is secret – and breaching it could constitute a breach of the Crimes Act.

Peter Dunne did not have the appendix. No information from the appendix has been published, so nice try inventing a make believe crime.

Labour leader David Shearer has called on police to seize Mr Dunne’s emails. His deputy, Grant Robertson, says Mr Dunne should be compelled to give evidence under oath. 

On that basis, they must also be demanding that Phil Goff have his emails seized by the Police and Goff should be compelled to give evidence under oath.

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Long may it last

June 7th, 2013 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

NZ First leader Winston Peters is calling on Speaker David Carter to explain why he went against standing orders in Parliament today and would boycott Parliament until he did.

Excellent. Long may it last.

NZ First MPs and Labour’s Trevor Mallard have walked out of Parliament in protest after Speaker David Carter allowed United Future MP Peter Dunne to keep the extra funding and entitlements that come with being a party leader, despite the de-registration of his party.

Mr Carter announced the decision today but both Labour and NZ First objected, saying if Mr Dunne’s party was not registered then it clearly did not meet the rules required for those resources.

Maybe Winston should pay back the $158,000 he owes taxpayers before he tries to take the moral high ground.

As for whether Dunne is eligible to retain his extra funding, the Standing Orders are not clear on this. What Carter has effectively ruled is that as Dunne was the leader of a party when elected at the beginning of this term – that applies throughout.  I think it an arguable decision either way, but Peters is wrong to say the decision is against standing orders. The standing orders are unclear on what happens if a party is deregistered. Graeme Edgeler has blogged on this at Public Address.

After objecting, Mr Peters said that if Mr Carter did not produce the legal advice he based his decision on, then his party would boycott Parliament until that happened.

But as usual, he lied. They’re back already.

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Labour and Greens

June 1st, 2013 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Many articles in the Herald on Labour and the Greens.

First Isaac Davidson writes:

In eighteen months, three or more Green MPs could become Cabinet ministers for the first time in the party’s history.

It will be more than three. If there are 28 Ministers, I would expect the Greens would have around seven Ministers, if their share of the Government’s MPs is around one quarter. Their top seven ranked MPs from the 2011 list are:

  1. Metiria Turei
  2. Russel Norman
  3. Kevin Hague
  4. Catherine Delahunty
  5. Kennedy Graham
  6. Eugenie Sage
  7. Gareth Hughes

Chapman Tripp solicitor Linda Clark wrote in a think-piece this week that if Labour formed a government with Greens next year, three Green MPs were likely to be part of the Cabinet.

She said that Greens co-leader Russel Norman was likely to become Economic Development Minister, co-leader Metiria Turei would be given a social policy role, and Kevin Hague could get the health portfolio.

Labour Party sources told the Weekend Herald that they agreed with this prediction, in particular the possibility that Mr Hague, a former District Health Board chief, would get the health portfolio in a Labour-Greens government.

They said Mr Hague was “highly competent” and “trustworthy”, with one source saying Labour “would rather work with him than any other Green MP”.

Kevin is very well regarded. And if they are in the Government, he will be Minister of Health. Annette King wants to be Speaker, not Health Minister. Trevor Mallard will be Leader of the House. They just don’t want to publicly say Trevor will be a senior Minister as he is so unpopular with party activists, and the public.

Dr Norman, Ms Turei and Mr Hague were seen as the only “shoo-ins” for a Labour-Greens Cabinet.

It’s not really up to Labour. How these things tend to work is they decide how many Ministers each party gets, and it is up to the party to decide who fills them – so long as the PM does not veto. So if the Greens want Catherine Delahunty (their No 4) as a Minister, she will be.

John Roughan writes:

Three opinion polls have come through this week. All of them have National still far ahead, two give the party enough votes to govern alone. …

More important probably, they are the first to be taken since Labour and the Greens put their heads together and announced a hare-brained scheme to bring the wholesale electricity market under price control.

This, the parties hoped, would simultaneously undermine the asset sale, allow them to promise lower power prices, distinguish themselves clearly from the Government and give voters an image of a Labour-Green coalition in action.

It definitely did that. And National is polling higher than votes in the 2011 election.

When Russel Norman snarls about business and profits, he might be winning the 10 or 12 per cent of voters that the Greens need to be in play after the next election. But he is turning off the mainstream that Labour needs if it is to get close to the 40 per cent it would need to lead a coalition.

Labour’s strategy to go after the voters on the left, not the centre, is strategically dumb.

So what is David Shearer to do? Obviously he needs to give the Greens a wide berth from here on but more than that, he needs to stop condemning John Key for every little thing. It is just opposition politics and it never works. He sounds programmed, unconvinced and bored, as he must be.

Shearer is an intelligent fellow, still fairly fresh to politics and must be finding some themes of policy and events particularly interesting. He needs to make the most of those subjects. They might not make headlines, his economic leanings, I think, are orthodox and sensible. It may be that while he is talking to small audiences more combatant parliamentarians in his party will command attention and commentators will start writing, Where’s David Shearer?

Let them. If he sticks to a conventional opposition script they will soon be writing him off anyway.

His advisors should let David Shearer be David Shearer.

John Armstrong writes:

It has long been assumed that should the next election deliver the requisite number of seats, Labour and the Greens would bury their differences and form a centre-left government.

That would still seem the most likely eventuality. But it is by no means guaranteed.

Shearer is increasingly making references to a “Labour-led” Government – not a “Labour-Greens” one.

This is in part to counter Key’s demonising of such a combo as the “devil beast” by making it clear that Labour will very much be in charge.

But it is also becoming clear that Labour increasingly thinks it might be preferable to strike a deal with Winston Peters.

There is a growing belief that it might be easier to govern with New Zealand First than the Greens who can be fractious, averse to compromise, and prone to being holier than thou, and, perhaps worst of all, are in fierce competition with Labour for the same segments of the vote.

There are also strong indications that Peters is becoming less inclined to be party to a Labour-led government which includes the Greens.

Wouldn’t that be hilarious if the Greens get more votes than NZ First, but once again Labour screws them over by going with Winston and leaving them without portfolios?

The immediate difficulty with that scenario is Labour and NZ First combined would be unlikely to secure a majority in Parliament.

However, the Greens might find they had little choice but to prop up a Labour-NZ First Administration if only through abstention. The Greens would have nowhere to go.

That is the problem. They could hardly put National into Government or force an election. They could face never ever becoming Ministers.

The two parties have an odd relationship. Labour and the Greens are the Siamese twins of New Zealand politics. They are forever trying to escape from one another but are doomed to having to live together. It is consequently a relationship which has the life and energy sucked out of it by an underlying and debilitating mixture of ambivalence and wariness towards one another.

Siamese twins – I like it.

The second argues that it is a mistake to allow Key free rein to “frame” Labour and the Greens in an image which becomes harder and harder for those two parties to wipe off.

This weekend the Greens will try to render as null and void Key’s potent line that next year’s election will be fought between “the centre-right and far left” by claiming he is the extremist, not them. It is a claim that is most unlikely to wash, however.

If an extremist calls you an extremist, I think that makes you a moderate.

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The GCSB leak inquiry

May 31st, 2013 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Tracy Watkins reports:

NZ First leader Winston Peters is demanding the release of phone records to pinpoint the source of the leak in the Government Communications Security Bureau inquiry.

Mr Peters has used parliamentary privilege to accuse UnitedFuture leader Peter Dunne of leaking a report by Cabinet Secretary Rebecca Kitteridge into potentially illegal spying by the GCSB.

Mr Dunne has categorically denied the allegation but has confirmed he has been spoken to more than once by inquiry head David Henry.

Other ministers who received the report have said they were not interviewed by Mr Henry.

In Parliament yesterday, Mr Peters questioned Mr Henry’s failure to take evidence under oath, or keep an electronic record of witnesses’ answers to questions.

He also questioned the failure to examine phone records of “particular ministers”.

“All the evidence is in those phone records, and your minister is gone,” Mr Peters told Deputy Prime Minister Bill English.

Mr English said later it was entirely up to Mr Henry whether to seek phone records.

I should make it clear that I would be absolutely amazed if Peter Dunne leaked the GCSB report. It would be remarkably out of character.

But it would be good to find out who did leak it. And I would expect an inquiry to look at phone records. They won’t prove or disprove anything, but they could help with the inquiry.

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A cowardly smear

May 29th, 2013 at 3:23 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Prime Minister John Key is standing by United Future leader Peter Dunne and says he accepts the revenue minister’s word that he did not leak a report into the Government Communications Security Bureau.

NZ First leader Winston Peters today used parliamentary privilege to accuse Dunne of leaking the report by cabinet secretary Rebecca Kitteridge to Fairfax Media.

The report revealed that more than 80 New Zealand citizens may have been illegally spied on by the bureau.

An investigation was under way by former top public servant David Henry to try and find the source of the leak.

Speaking of Dunne today, Key said: “He’s given an absolute categoric assurance he didn’t do this; I accept him at his word.

“I’ve worked with him for a long period of time and the entire time I’ve worked with him I’ve found him to be extremely trustworthy.”

Peter Dunne would be the near the bottom of any list as a potential leaker.

But let’s be clear. Winston Peters is not just asking if Dunne is the leaker, but has asserted it:

After having attempts to question Dunne repeatedly thwarted, with committee chairman Todd McClay ruling that the questions were beyond the scope of the hearing, Peters directly accused Dunne of leaking the report.

“My assertion is you did leak the report,” Peters said.

This is a cowardly and defamatory smear. It is especially cowardly because Peters has a long record of suing people for defamation (and threatening numerous more that he will do so) yet he cowers under parliamentary privilege to defame Dunne.

The media should ask two questions of Peters, and keep asking them:

  • Do you have a shred of proof for your assertion?
  • Will you repeat your allegation outside of Parliament?

Peters has a long long history of just making shit up. Recall the fleet of limos he claimed WINZ had? A fiction, with no proof. But this is worse. He is defaming an individual, not an organisation.

He does it because he knows the media will report it, and his strategy is to stay in the headlines. He doesn’t care if 90% of NZ hates him, because all he is targeting is the 10% who may vote for him.

Recall that Peters lied several dozen times in 2008 with his claim he had no knowledge of Owen’s Glenn’s donation to his lawyer to cover his legal fees. there was overwhelming proof that he in fact brokered the donation, yet he lied to the media, the public and the Privileges Committee time and time again about it.

So why do the media give his assertions the time of day? Wouldn’t it be great, if they just said that we won’t report what you claim, unless you provide proof to back it up? You have lost the privilege to be trusted, because you lied day and night to us for four months.

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What Winston didn’t tell you about those sinful Chinese

May 27th, 2013 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Winston’s recent attack on Chinese immigrants was appalling. He takes a few cherry picked examples and portrays an entire race as being bad for New Zealand. Vernon Small summarises:

Despite his disclaimers that his party was not anti-immigration, you could not read the speech and miss the message: Chinese immigrants (or at least a demonised subset of them) drive up house prices, stretch infrastructure to breaking point, break the law, access health and superannuation they have not paid for, and import corruption and depravity.

We actually have an immigration policy that is blind to people’s race and ethnicity – which is how it should be. With the exception of a small quota for the Pacific, immigrants are not judged on their race or ethnicity. That is as it should be. It is appalling to judge someone not as an individual, but based on their race. That is why immigration decisions are based on skills, work offers, education, assets, family status etc. There will always be changes we can make to our immigration settings but I absolutely reject Winston’s approach of pilloring Chinese immigrants.

In his speech he had a few “horror” stories about some Chinese businessmen building a brothel, and Chinese tourists who like to gamble etc.

What Winston will never tell you is that overall Chinese New Zealanders commit far far fewer crimes than other New Zealanders, and contribute highly to the economy.

People may be surprised by how significant the difference is in crime rates, by ethnicity. These graphs are based on Stats NZ data from the Police. It is the number of apprehensions for each ethnicity, per 10,000 population.

Let’s look at the overall offending rate.

crime1

Yes the Asian crime rate is 52 apprehensions per 10,000 population. Caucasians are five times higher at 254, Pacific 10 times higher at 545 and Maori sadly at around 25 times the rate at 1,240.

Maybe Winston will just claim that the problem is the Asian criminals are much smarter than the other criminals, so don’t get caught as much!

crime2

The overall crime rate is not a very useful figure, so I also thought I’d look at four common and penacious categories. The worse tends to be violent and sexual crimes and as you can see the Asian rate for violent crimes is less than a third of caucasions and one seventh of the overall violent crime rate.

crime3

 

The sexual crime rate also relatively very low.

crime4

And when it comes to robberies, the rate is one twenty fifth of the overall NZ rate.

crime5

 

And for burglaries, the rate is one fortieth the overall NZ rate!

So the next time Winston goes on about how Chinese immigration is turning Auckland into a city of sin, remind him how crime is a sin – and that his xenophobic scaremongering is repugnant.

 

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Winston declares war on China

May 24th, 2013 at 3:41 pm by David Farrar

Winston has proclaimed:

John Key and his ministers have made it clear that our future lies with the Peoples’ Republic of China. …

The Government is talking of a million more people in Auckland soon and there is no prize for guessing where most of them will come from.

It’s the Yellow Peril!

But to this government it’s a great chance to bring in rich Chinese tourists through a half-baked – fast track, special treatment visa scheme.

Not available to you or any other nation.

Absolute lies. Scores of countries do not need any visa whatsoever. The only scheme in place for China is allowing airlines (including Air NZ) to use frequent flyer status as a proxy for a certified bank statement.

And when the so-called rich tourists have finished at the blackjack tables or the pokie machines there’s another attraction nearby.

If Winston is suddenly against gambling, why then as Minister of Racing did he double taxpayer support for racing – one of the most destructive forms of gambling.

The Hong Kong born Chow brothers are thoughtfully providing a fifteen storey brothel, in what used to be an historic building, just across the road from the casino in the heart of Auckland!

Those evil Chinese – also building brothels. There were none in Auckland of course before the Chinese got here.

One concerned citizen sent me a copy of that scurrilous magazine Truth.

It’s chocker with page after page of sex ads – most based in this fair city.

Is that what you voted for?

Whale Oil will be pleased Winston reads Truth. As far as I know Truth has had sex ads in it for 40 years or so. Blaming it on the Government or the Chinese is rather pathetic, but probably lapped up the a few dottery people.

Winstoncloud

 

This is a word cloud of Winston’s speech. To think he was once Foreign Minister!

Of course some Chinese immigrants are criminals, are involved in the sex trade etc etc. But Winston cherry picks a few horror stories to effectively demonise several hundred thousand New Zealanders. No mention of the fact Asian crime rates are far far less than other ethnicities. No mention of the fact their educational achievements are way higher than other groups. No mention of the fact they tend to have a lower unemployment rate etc.

It’s classic old Winston. Find a group and make them the scapegoat for everything wrong in society.

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Annual change in exports

April 26th, 2013 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Stats NZ has reported that China has just over-taken Australia as the biggest export destination in the last quarter.

It is worth recalling that the Greens and NZ First battled against the free trade agreement with China. Thank God they lost.

Labour signed the China-NZ FTA. However their economic policy moves closer and closer to the Greens. I hope they do not abandon their belief in free trade, as they have with free markets.

Here’s the change in export volumes over the last year for our top 10 export destinations:

  1. China +25%
  2. USA +8%
  3. Singapore +4%
  4. Taiwan +1%
  5. Hong Kong -1%
  6. Korea – 2%
  7. Malaysia -7%
  8. Japan -8%
  9. UK -9%
  10. Australia -9%

The fall in exports to Australia, UK and Japan would be devastating if it were not for the growth to China and the US.

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Competing for the most lunatic policy

April 22nd, 2013 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Just as I thought you couldn’t get a crazier policy that Labour and Greens on energy, Winston has upped the stakes and is basically proposing to steal money from all our retirement accounts.

NBR reports:

New Zealand First is proposing the Cullen Fund and Kiwisaver funds be used to re-nationalise Mighty River Power and possibly Contact Energy. …

But speaking on TV3’s “The Nation”, Mr Peters said the Government had the ability to access the Cullen Fund. 

You’ve got the ability to access Kiwi Saver in the short term,” he said.

He said buying back Mighty Rover Power would be bottom line for NZ First support for any Government.

You’ve also got the ability to internationally access the market and borrow, which as you know according to Treasury, because this is a high yielding asset, that makes economic sense to do that, he said.

Mr Peters said to use Kiwisaver funds the Government would need to change the investment rules.

“You could quite easily do that in the short term …

This shows what happens when politicians start competing for the most extreme policy in order to win votes.

KiwiSaver funds do not belong to the Government. They are the private property of those who have one. My KiwiSaver fund is just as much my private property as my bank account, my shares, my house, my car etc.

Winston has said that he wants to forcibly legislate to force anyone with a private KiwiSaver account to purchase back Contact Energy and MRP shares on behalf of the Crown.

That is outrageous. This is like saying we will force every homeowner to take on an additional mortgage, so the Government can build a new office block.

If you elect a Government that treats your private retirement savings as a play-thing for the Government to take over, then the boundaries between public and private will be shattered for ever.

These crazy policies will see us become a banana republic. Who the hell would invest in New Zealand? Why would I keep my money in a KiwiSaver account if Winston and his allies plan to take control of it after the election?

3 News reported last week:

JBWere has sent a strong message that it and other investors will flee the New Zealand stock market if the state intervention signalled by Labour and the Greens this week comes to pass.

“The steps the Labour/Greens are suggesting, if enacted, are significant enough for JBWere to consider a reduced allocation to the local share market,” the firm which oversees $1 billion of client funds in the New Zealand share market said.

“We doubt we would be alone in making this judgment.”

Of course they won’t be alone. We live in a globalised world where capital and labour are highly mobile. The combined policies of Labour, Greens and NZ First will send investment fleeing. And it is investment that creates jobs.

Labour and Greens want to nationalise the electricity industry. NZ First want to nationalise KiwiSaver. How confident are you that is where they’ll stop?

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NZ First being sensible!

April 17th, 2013 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

New Zealand First will support law changes allowing the GCSB to spy on Kiwis, giving the Government a comfortable majority on the controversial legislation.

That means either 69 or 72 votes in favour.

Prime Minister John Key last night briefed Mr Peters, Labour leader David Shearer, Green co-leader Russel Norman, United Future’s Peter Dunne and Act’s John Banks on his proposed amendments to the GCSB Act.

The major change will make it clear the GCSB can intercept New Zealanders’ communications when assisting other agencies including the SIS, police and Defence.

I’ve been waiting for someone to make a principled case that the GCSB should not be able to assist those other agencies, but am yet to see it.

That co-operation has occurred for many years but questions about its legality were publicly raised in Cabinet Secretary Rebecca Kitteridge’s GCSB report last week.

The key thing is any assistance must only be under conditions where a warrant has been signed off.

Here’s a question for Labour and the Greens. If they win office in 2014 – will they pledge to change the law to ban the GCSB from assisting the SIS, Police and Defence?

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NZ First wants a tax cut – for some

April 9th, 2013 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters says his party wants to cut the corporate tax rate for exporters from 28 per cent to 20 per cent.

Well firstly it is a good thing that Winston recognises that a lower corporate tax rate is a good thing for the NZ economy. It is.

Commerce is more and more globally mobile. Companies can choose where to locate much easier than in the past. For Internet based businesses, even more so.

So all for lowering the company tax rate. But two big issues for Winston’s proposal.

The first is what spending will he cut, to fund a drop in the company tax rate? If NZ is in surplus, then you can cut taxes. But when we are in deficit, adding to debt is a bad idea.

Has NZ First even costed what their policy would be? That should be the first question from media – how much will this cost, and how will you pay for it?

The second issue is why exporters only? It is an arbitrary distinction. What if a manufacturer produces stuff for both domestic and international markets? Are they at 20% or 28%? Is Fonterra at 28% or 20%? My polling company has some international clients. Does that make me an exporter that can claim the 20% tax rate?

Tax systems are best kept simple. Two separate levels of company tax is a bad idea.

If Winston proposed an across the board lowering of the company tax rate to 20%, what it would cost, and how it would be funded – then people should take it seriously.

Also worth recalling that Winston, as Foreign Minister, opposed the FTA with China, launched a nationwide newspaper and billboard campaign against it. He campaigned against an FTA which increased exports by $5 billion a year. So much for his concern for exporter.s

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Lame, even for Peters

March 25th, 2013 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

The Press editorial:

By Winston Peters’ admittedly not very high standards the questions he raised in Parliament this week about alleged fraud and corruption in the earthquake recovery were terribly thin stuff.

If they were intended to embarrass the Minister for Earthquake Recovery, Gerry Brownlee, they were so lacking in specifics the minister easily brushed them off.

Even if, as is more likely, they were intended for no more elevated purpose than to get Peters’ name into the news and along the way to make a casual smear and raise vague conspiratorial suggestions of corruption, they were not up to much.

They never are, but I agree these allegations were even lamer than most.

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A Labour insider on a coalition with NZ First

February 22nd, 2013 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Labour Party official “Mickey Savage” blogs:

The Green’s increase in support is significant and is having a fundamental effect on Labour.  Many of those changing their allegiance are activists and/or well resourced, the sorts of people who you want not only as voters but also as supporters and members.

 To get over the line Labour/Greens/Mana will need to further improve their collective support.  The only alternative is to countenance a coalition with New Zealand First.
Just imagine – a Labour/Green/Mana/NZ First coalition.
The events of the past few months ought to have put Labour and the Greens completely off such a proposition.  New Zealand First has been conclusively shown, if conclusive proof had ever been required, to be a one man band, a personality cult based around the prodigious personality that is Winston Peters.  All the other MPs that are there are just there for padding.
They still haven’t been able to elect a Deputy Leader after 15 months in Parliament!

How could a Labour Green Coalition include New Zealand First?  The simple answer is that it could not.  It would be inherently unstable, its policy goals would be shackled by the strange world view NZF has about issues such as climate change.  The desire to create a more tolerant and ethically diverse New Zealand would be an anathema to Peters’ mob.

 
That is why Labour and/or the Greens need to push on and more support.  The alternative is not worth contemplating.
I’ll blog in more detail on this, but I am of the view that if NZ First does hold the balance of power, National should go into opposition and let David Shearer try to run a Labour-Green-Mana-NZ First Government. National would then get over 50% at the next election!
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The cancelled Aro Valley meeting

February 19th, 2013 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

What could have been yesterday’s hot political ticket was cancelled, apparently because of too much media interest.

Social media was abuzz at the prospect of NZ First MP Richard Prosser outlining his “common sense” views at the Aro St Community Centre, in the first public speech since his infamous “Wogistan” comments came to light.

However organiser Hugh Barr said as a result of a “media beat up” the long organised event had been cancelled. “We were scared that the only people who would turn up would be media.”

Oh I don’t think they were really worried about a lack of people turning up. I knew a lot of people planning to attend.

 

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Why bother getting insurance?

February 18th, 2013 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Homepaddock highlights this policy from NZ First:

All Christchurch uninsured red-zoned land owners who accept the current Government’s 50 per cent compensation offer will get the other half should New Zealand First become part of the next coalition Government.

Ensuring these landowners are treated fairly and receive the full rateable value of the land will be a bottom line in any coalition negotiations.

Very unwise for a party on 4% to start laying down non-negotiable policies two years before an election.

Ele points out:

The party obviously doesn’t understand that what it regards as treating these landowners fairly would be treating insurance companies, their staff and shareholders, and taxpayers most unfairly.

This would kill the insurance industry because no-one would bother insuring their properties if they knew the government would pick up the pieces after a disaster.

This policy passes all the risk and costs from private property owners and insurance companies to the government which means taxpayers.

Exactly. The precedent would be horrible. You’d be mad to ever get insurance again.

Now remember that NZ First has said this is a non-negotiable bottom line policy for any future Government.

Isn’t MMP great!

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The nightmare for the next PM

February 18th, 2013 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Imagine you are David Shearer or John Key and you have just become Prime Minister after an election. NZ First held the balance of power, and you struck a confidence and supply or coalition deal with them.

You have say a two seat majority.

You first six months go pretty well. Then the Sunday Star-Times breaks the story about Brendan Horan. The allegations are he stole tens of thousands of dollars from his dying mother, to fund a gambling addiction.

This is no longer just a matter for New Zealand First. He is a Government MP. He is voting confidence and supply for your Government. If you lose his vote, your majority is halved.  You can’t afford to have NZ First lose an MP so you decide to back Horan’s right to stay as an MP. You say he has not been charged with anything.

For the next six months the Opposition dominate question time with questions of fraud, gambling, vulnerable elderly and the like. You drop 5% in the polls and finally charges are laid, he is expelled and he becomes an Independent MP. Your majority is now one. It will be like what Julia Gillard has just had to endure with Craig Thomson (note I am not saying Horan has broken any laws).

Just as you are coping with that, then the MP for Wogistan shares his thoughts with the nation on how anyone who looks like a Muslim should be banned from flying. Once again this is no longer a matter just for NZ First. It is a matter for the Prime Minister. He is a Government MP. You face questions on whether he should remain an MP. If you say he should go, then you no longer have a majority. If you say he made a mistake but should stay an MP, then you become crippled as a Government with your mandate to govern being based on the MP for Wogistan’s vote. It is like Alamein Kopu but far worse. You drop another 5% in the polls and just one year into the term you are facing either an early election on inevitable defeat at the next election – regardless of how well you are doing with your policies.

This is no far fetched scenario. This is what could well have happened if NZ First had held the balance of power in 2011.

The question that should be keeping David Shearer and John Key awake at night, is the thought that this could be what awaits them after 2014. Winston by himself is capable of destablising the most stable Government. But add in some maverick MPs and it is a nightmare.

8306841_600x400

 

This Tom Scott cartoon hits the mark.  How confident can you be that NZ First actually has a robust selection process where they vet, critique and scrutinise their candidates? Does anyone really think Horan and Prosser are aberrations?

That is not to suggest all NZ First MPs are flaky. They are not. To name just three, Barbara Stewart, Tracey Martin and (somewhat surprisingly) Andrew Williams have all been diligent MPs who have not caused any issues and are working hard.

But if you are a minor party in Government, you only need a couple of ones that implode, and the Government itself gets imperiled.

David Shearer and John Key should be be thinking very hard about their options after the next election.  If you are a Labour or Green supporter, you should be thinking about what sort of Government a Labour-Green-NZ First Government would be. If you are a National supporter, you should be thankful that National ruled Peters out in 2008 and 2011, and hoping they do so again.

UPDATE: Stuff has a timely article looking at the NZ First caucus and asking which MP may go next.

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