Labour’s move for taxpayer funding

Newshub reports:

One major change would be to lower the threshold at which political parties have to disclose the identity of donors from $15,000 to $1500 – to bring it into line with the regime for individual candidates.

This is a stupid comparison. The maximum you can spend on a candidate campaign is $28,200. So the $1,500 donation disclosure threshold is basically 5% of the spending limit.

The maximum a party can spend on a party campaign is $3,229,400. The $15,000 donation disclosure threshold is already just 0.46% of that and the proposed limit would be 0.05% of that.

ACT leader David Seymour says a law change will not solve the problem of politicians trying to game the system.

“If people think it’s a problem that people who break the law are being taken to court, then they don’t understand what it is for a law to not be working,” Seymour says.

“The law is working – that’s why people are being prosecuted… we aren’t talking about changing the laws around murder because people have been charged with it.”

He has accused Labour of seeking to use its “own political advantage so it can replace the system with taxpayer funding”, which he says could also make it harder for parties like his to raise money through donations.

This is absolutely the end game. Labour want an excuse to bring in (greater) taxpayer funding for political parties.

More than slightly

Stuff reports:

National has elected second-term MP Chris Penk to the senior whip role, while keeping Maureen Pugh in the junior whip role.

Whips essentially act as party disciplinarians in Parliament, making sure MPs are in the House to speak and vote when needed and allocating leave.

National’s former senior whip was Matt Doocey, who rose considerably up the ranks into the front-bench in new leader Christopher Luxon’s reshuffle. Whips do not typically serve on the front bench.

Luxon said the pair were elected unopposed.

Good to see Chris Penk that on this very important role, supported by Maureen. I am sure he will do a great job.

Whips get paid slightly more than other Opposition MPs.

More than slightly more. The salaries are a backbench MP and whips are:

  • Backbench MP $163,961
  • Junior Whips $179,713
  • ACT and Green Whips $185,433
  • National Senior Whip $213,252
  • Govt Senior Whip $222,460

So Chris Penk has just had a “slight” $50,000 pay rise 🙂

More costly confusion

Stuff reports:

Staff employed at takeaway food and drink businesses no longer have to be vaccinated against Covid-19 despite the Government earlier saying they did.

Two weeks ago Workplace Relations and Safety Minister Michael Wood said all staff working in hospitality needed to have their first vaccination injection by the time the traffic light system came into effect on Friday.

But on Friday night, official food and drink service guidelines were changed to say if a business is solely takeaway food and drink, then workers do not need to be vaccinated. Also, if they opt to not ask for vaccine passes, they can operate as takeaway.

A national takeaway chain owner Stuff spoke to, who wished to remain anonymous, said the Government’s original advice had resulted in her having to terminate the employment of two unvaccinated full-time staff members, and it couldn’t open one of its stores due to a staff shortage.

All up the mandate cost the business about $20,000 and resulted in emotional distress for the two workers, she said.

“The emotional impact on them has been huge.”

I don’t think the Government at all comprehends what it is like for small businesses trying to cope. Changing the rules every two weeks results in people losing their jobs and incomes etc.

Under the updated guidelines the chain is allowed to employ unvaccinated staff.

The staff who had been let go were too distraught to return to their jobs, she said.

“Even though we have reversed the termination, the girls are emotionally broken.”

The owner, who wanted to remain anonymous out of fear of public backlash, said the mental health impacts stemming from the Government’s actions were outweighing the damage caused by Covid-19.

“This is meant to be about Covid and keeping healthy. The mental health distress that they have caused far exceeds any Covid concerns.”

She said she felt untrusting of the Government now.

Sadly there is no end in sight. I can’t imagine the Government is going to put any region into Green in the next year. They’re ignoring their own guidelines as to when a region should be green or orange.

Guest Post: Loss of farming land

A guest post by Clive Bibby:

I have written about this before but up until now, nobody in authority seems to be listening or worse still, is hoping that it will just continue to happen and no body will notice. 

In fact it appears that the “one way” transfer of our productive grazing land into the fast expanding exotic forestry estate is all part of the government’s plan to achieve its ill advised zero carbon emissions target. More about that later. 

The upcoming sale of 6200 hectares of prime East Coast hill country (Huiarua and Matanui Stns) with a combined carrying capacity of over 45,000 stock units and the probability that it might all end up in trees is more than just a little bit worrying.

In the NZ context this is the classic example of what is being allowed to happen to our most precious asset and worse still- it is promoted as being in the nation’s best long term interest. What a sick joke. 

 We are witnessing our government selling the family silver with little more justification than it makes our Prime Minister and her cabal of ideologues look good on the world stage, footing it with the big boys with an extraordinary, disproportionate contribution aimed at rectifying a problem that is not of our making. 

It wouldn’t be so bad if Kiwis were the ones who would benefit from this drastic nonsensical sale of these “jewels in the crown” to those, many of whom owe no allegiance to our country and who offer no guarantees of a commitment to manage these assets in the best interests of future generations who may well decide to buy them back. 

This is the sort of betrayal that l have railed against for such a long time yet for my trouble l am accused of using emotive hyperbole to describe what is in simple agrarian  terms, the crime of the century. 

I am used to the insults although don’t care much for this type of pathetic defence against my criticisms by local body politicians and others who should know better. It goes with the territory but what l will not tolerate is the apparent indifference to this tragedy by those who have the power to stop it happening. 

And the reason l say that is because there are perfectly reasonable options available to central and local governments that would limit the transfer of this pastoral realestate to the parts of our hill country where it makes economic and conservation sense to do so.

At the same time we could satisfy the government’s commitment to its tree planting target without consigning some of our most productive pastoral land to a martyr’s death in the process. Somewhat ironic don’t you think. 

When we brought our young family to the East Coast 41 years ago in order to fulfil a long held dream of owing our own property, there was a local authority by-law on the Council statute books (duplicated across the country) that limited the planting of exotic forests to what was described as “Class 7” land.

Virtually all of that country was highly erodible and it made good sense to plant trees in an effort to stabilise the steep slopes and as a consequence – protect the rolling and flat, highly productive pastoral and cropping land at its base. 

There is still an enormous amount of this class of land throughout New Zealand, as yet unconverted to forestry which would be easily its best end use even from a purely conservation point of view. 

Why are the politicians not using this compromise method to achieve their objectives which would be a win/win for all? 

It is unfathomable although we should have learned by now that rational thinking isn’t one of this crowd’s most endearing qualities. 

We deserve better. 

All the tech missteps

Sir Ian Taylor writes:

The missteps on the technology front, as far as the Covid response has been concerned, are becoming too numerous to count, but here are some to consider as your advisers continue to turn down offers of help.

An MIQ booking system that meant that someone who wanted to go to a cricket match in Australia has the same chance of getting a spot as someone who hadn’t seen their family for two years! An MIQ system that people with money could pay someone else hundreds of dollars to jump the queue for them. An MIQ system that came up with a Virtual Lobby that allowed you to make up as many passports as you liked because it wasn’t actually linked to the passport database.

A Vaccine Passport system that allows people to download a pdf that can be altered using standard editing software. A Vaccine Passport system that does not require a photograph to confirm you are the person holding the passport to help make the job of overstretched staff at vaccine mandated venues easier.

The vaccine passport system is totally insecure and is basically just a psychological con job. Unless they are asking for photo IDs to accompany it, anyone can use it.

And now, the acknowledgement from our PM that you are happy for them to launch sites that they expect to crash. Really! This is our money you are spending – where is the accountability?

I don’t profess to be an expert on many things, but I think I have earned the right to have a voice when it comes to technology. We have built and launched a number of websites over the years. One of the latest was an interactive golfing platform called Tourcast which launched flawlessly with hundreds of thousands of simultaneous users accessing video, real time 3D graphics and data, for any player, on any hole, for every shot in a golf tournament.

When we launched it, to a global audience, we did not “anticipate” that it would crash. Our client did not “anticipate” that it would crash, and our users definitely did not “anticipate” that it would crash. Nor did we ‘anticipate’ that it would win an Emmy Award – but it did.

With the government site that crashed on Wednesday we are talking about a reported user base of 15,000 people accessing a site that you had two years to get ready!

I used to be on the board of a company that had a requirement to meet at least 99.9% uptime. This meant that any outage of over 40 minutes was treated so seriously it would be discussed at board level.

National’s new lineup

The front bench is:

  1. Christopher Luxon, Leader, National Security & Intelligence
  2. Nicola Willis, Deputy Leader, Housing and Social Investment
  3. Simon Bridges, Finance, Infrastructure
  4. Chris Bishop, Covid-19 response, Shadow House Leader
  5. Shane Reti, Health, Maori-Crown Relations, Pacific
  6. Louise Upston, Social Development, Child Poverty
  7. Erica Stanford, Education, Immigration
  8. Matt Doocey, Mental Health, Youth
  9. Simeon Brown, Transport, Public Service

Pleased to see Erica, Matt and Simeon get promoted to the front bench. They have all done excellent work in their portfolios and have been very effective MPs. This is a front bench based on performance.

So what are the match offs:

  • Luxon vs Ardern on running the Government
  • Willis vs Woods on housing
  • Bridges vs Robertson on Finance
  • Bishop vs Hipkins on Covid-19
  • Reti vs Little on Health
  • Upston vs Sepuloni on welfare
  • Stanford vs Hipkins on education
  • Doocey vs Little on Mental Health
  • Brown vs Wood on Transport

Looking forward to the final session of the House this year.

100,000 failures

The Herald reports:

Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins says up to 100,000 people are being given exemptions as they wait for their vaccine passes.

Speaking to Q+A’s Jack Tame, Hipkins said more than half of those were people who had been vaccinated overseas, and many others had “name-related issues”.

On Thursday, the day before the country moved into the traffic light system which requires vaccine passes in certain settings, about 70,000 people were being issued temporary exemptions for the My Vaccine Pass.

Hipkins told Q+A as of this morning that number had grown.

It’s not a well designed system if 100,000 people need to be manually processed.

So where was the debate on this?

NewstalkZB reports:

A Northland businessman says the region’s seeing booking cancellations due to checkpoints.

Police will keep Northland’s borders in place with iwi support when Auckland’s border opens.

In November the Government changed Covid laws to grant iwi organisations power to close roads and public places to stop vehicles.

This is a massive policy decision. The Government has decided that Iwi now have the legislated authority to close down an entire region, and ban travel to it. They have said that Iwi can decide whether or not businesses dependent on tourism can survive or not.

And this law change was rushed through Parliament with limited ability for the public to have their say.

Northland businesses should be very angry.

The Spectator asks why the Royal Society of NZ punishes scientists for defending science?

The international media have picked up the story of how the Royal Society of NZ has launched a modern version of the Spanish Inquisition. Toby Young writes in The Spectator:

But the moment this letter was published all hell broke loose. The views of the authors, who were all professors at Auckland, were denounced by the Royal Society, the New Zealand Association of Scientists, and the Tertiary Education Union, as well as by their own vice-chancellor, Dawn Freshwater. In a hand-wringing, cry-bullying email to all staff at the university, she said the letter had ‘caused considerable hurt and dismay among our staff, students and alumni’ and said it pointed to ‘major problems with some of our colleagues’.

Two of Professor Cooper’s academic colleagues, Dr Siouxsie Wiles and Dr Shaun Hendy, issued an ‘open letter’ condemning the heretics for causing ‘untold harm and hurt’. They invited anyone who agreed with them to add their names to the ‘open letter’, and more than 2,000 academics duly obliged. Before long, five members of the Royal Society had complained and a panel was set up to investigate.

The witch-finders disregarded several principles of natural justice in their prosecutorial zeal. For instance, two members of the three-person panel turned out to be signatories of the ‘open letter’ denouncing Professor Cooper so had to be replaced.

Witch-finders is a good name for them. And what does it say about the Royal Society that the majority of the panel they appointed were people who had already publicly decried the letter authors.

It’s not too late to save the professor. Letters from members of our own Royal Society, or any distinguished academics in the sciences and humanities, pointing out the absurdity of punishing a scientist for engaging in debate about the validity of science will help. You can email Roger Ridley, the chief executive. Remember, the only thing necessary for the triumph of intellectual intolerance is for believers in free speech to do nothing.

I understand a number of well known global scientists have indeed e-mailed in.

Guest Post: Twice Net Zero

A guest post by Owen Jennings:

One of the many undertakings arising from the COP26 discussions is the target of “net zero emissions”.  Minister James Shaw was quoted in the Herald (5.12.21) as wanting “net zero emissions for farmers in New Zealand”.

Well, Minister, you have your want.  NZ farmers have already achieved net zero emissions.  It’s done and dusted.  It is big news.  It should be all over our media………..

New Zealand Farmers Hit Net Zero Emissions ahead of Target Date

But……….  It doesn’t fit the narrative.  Its not about robust science. We cant have facts getting the way of the “fear porn” and the “conversation” we are having about farmers being polluters.  It would get in the way of the “ban meat and milk” meme.

Net zero refers to the balance between the amount of greenhouse gas produced and the amount removed from the atmosphere. We reach net zero when the amount we add is no more than the amount taken away. Pretty obvious?  Of course.

This is the test according the Minister Shaw. If an emission causes the atmospheric concentration of greenhouse gas to increase it is causing global warming and is not at net zero. If the emission does not cause any atmospheric greenhouse gas to increase it is not causing global warming and is at net zero.

Farmers, through their stock put ruminant methane into the atmosphere.  Most of that methane is oxidised and gone inside 12 years.  It is a short lived gas compared to CO2 which apparently has a much longer life.  The difference in longevity is why the “split gas” approach has been widely adopted.  Comparing methane and CO2 is “apples and onions”.

The emissions of ruminant methane in NZ have been relatively stable for 50 years or more and declining steadily since 2005.  Here is how the Climate Change Commission saw it.  The Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment fully agrees.

That’s very clear.  No additional methane entering the atmosphere, even a slight, steady reduction.  There is slightly more going out than as is entering the atmosphere.  In schoolkid language if there are 100 people entering a room and 102 leaving the room there are fewer in the room. Hardly complicated maths.  By any definition farmers are achieving NET zero emissions.

But wait, there’s more!!

For Betsy to belch a molecule of methane she had to chew through a heap of grass.  Remember that 3rd form science stuff about photosynthesis?  That grass comes from CO2 absorbed from the atmosphere.  Farmers remove heaps of CO2 every day.  They can’t produce one lot of what we stupidly label “carbon” – CO2 – without removing an equivalent amount.  Call it “zero, net zero emissions”.

Here is a bit or irony.  We pay overseas investors handsomely in taxpayer’s cash to buy our land, kick the animals off, run down local communities and plant trees so they can offset their CO2 emissions.   But farmers who offset their carbon emissions get taxed.  What sort of world is that?

Farmers have been around long enough to know that net zero emissions is more a political game than a scientifically based reality.  When senior UN officials say it’s less about the environment and more about getting rid of capitalism farmers know they need to play their political cards.  They know there are countries dying to find an excuse to put tariffs on our goods if we don’t join the ‘reduce emissions’ game.  That’s why they are spending literally millions breeding stock with fewer methane belches, creating seaweed additives to limit methane emissions and researching new grasses that help.  Afterall it will be technology, not taxes, that fixes this “problem”.

Why did the Police not act?

The right to protest does not extend to preventing other people from going about their legal business.

If the morons who make up Extinction Rebellion think they help their cause by blocking a passenger train, well that tells you a lot about them.

But regardless, the moment they started blocking the train, the Police should have arrested them and removed them.

Guest Post: One-dimensional vs Holistic thinking

A guest post by Dr Sean Devine:

A major driver of societal discord is the clash between one-dimensional thinking and holistic thinking or, what is technically called “Systems Thinking”. As a knowledge seeking discipline, holistic systems thinking is found in the ecological sciences, in physics with the law of conservation of energy and the second law of thermodynamics, and in the systems approach to the managing complex organisations.

These approaches recognise that the simple one-dimensional thinking, often termed reductionism, is unable to effectively deal with most of the complex problems we face today. Lifting the minimum wage is an example of a one-dimensional approach to inequality. When the economy does not have the capacity to respond, lifting minimum wages leads to inflation and/or unemployment, particularly affecting Maori, and school leavers.  From a holistic perspective the major cause of inequality is housing, not income.  If, as is currently the case, housing costs far outstrip wage increases, destructive inequality is inevitable. 

The economy is a complex system. As system gurus point out “Fiddling with a complex system usually makes things worse”.  Rather than fiddling in ignorance, the principle behind the Hippocratic oath is better.  Just as doctors are obliged; “First do no harm” so too for all complex systems. Ban all fossil fuel by 2028, as some one-dimensional thinkers advocate, and billions will die, because our food supply is energy dependent. This principle applies, not to just the economy, but the environment, and the complex societal issues we face.

Mitigating human induced global warming is a systems problem. But, the response of the activists and the media is one-dimensional, forever focusing on the calamities that await us, but not the need to understand; “What it is we can do?”.   Because of the failure of the opinion makers, the climate sceptics, with good reason, can claim that it is just politics and power, and has no substance.

Where the dominant climate narrative mainly ignores the human socio-economic system, it becomes a narrative of power and control, rather than direction and hope. Societal division inevitably follows.

In other words, much of the conversation on global warming is show-pony stuff that, in terms of what can be done, has no substance.  Without engaging with the draught horses of the economy, so to speak, those who carry the burden of change, the show-pony performance may feel good but because it alienates, it destroys.

Let me give an example, the NZ Religious Leaders recently published a statement advocating that Government should have more strict Greenhouse targets.  See,

Statement for Presentation at COP26 – The Religious Diversity Centre in Aotearoa New Zealand Trust (rdc.org.nz)

It is show-pony stuff, full of one-dimensional righteous statements that, by focusing on raising targets, not on actually doing anything, is a power claim.   It claims to represent diversity, but it failed to engage with the great unwashed, the draught horses of the economy that in the end will be the ones who carry the burden of societal change.  It is the moral equivalent of raising skill requirements for employment to kick the unemployed out of their assumed apathy.

 

I find it difficult to believe, that the religious leaders are so isolated, that they do not even acknowledge the essential part of our society that feeds, clothes and houses us. Their position sees Global Warming as just a management problem and, because of moral superiority, they see no need to engage with those who they believe to be the cause of it all.

 

These views are so divisive, that, as a Christian, I am obliged to ask forgiveness of you who have been ignored, and you who are being misled by blame, judgement, and ignorance expressed by those Christians amongst these leaders.

But there are holistic ways of dealing with societal issues.  Dr Mark Carney, one time Governor of the Reserve Bank of Canada and then of the Bank of England, and now an advisor to COP 26, presented the Reith lectures of December 2020. He argues from a holistic perspective, that our economic system needs to be underpinned by values to better align with societal and environmental needs.   His honest take on global warming recognises that the capability to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 does not yet exist.  It is not a management problem, but one which will rely on innovation, investment and technological change within an overarching values system that determines priorities.  See,

BBC Radio 4 – The Reith Lectures, Mark Carney – How We Get What We Value

Another more optimistic approach. consistent with Carney, is that of RethinkX.  This shows that. with a clear understanding of economic issues, we can achieve a great deal by 2035. See,

Climate Implications — RethinkX

These economic perspectives need to be part of our DNA, rather than the show-pony stuff.  Unless we grasp the need for holistic thinking that engages with all of society, with a wide understanding of how to go forward, division and chaos awaits us.

Roy Morgan poll November 2021

The November 2021 Roy Morgan is out.

Party Vote

  • Labour 36.0% (-3.5% from October)
  • National 26.5% (+0.5%)
  • Greens 10.5% (nc)
  • ACT 17.5% (+1.5%)
  • Maori 3.0% (+1.0%)
  • NZ First 2.5% (nc)

Seats

  • Labour 46 (-19 from election)
  • National 34 (+1)
  • Greens 14 (+4)
  • ACT 22 (+12)
  • Maori 4 (+2)

Governments

  • Labour/Green 60/120
  • National/ACT 56/120

Direction

  • Right 46.0% (-2.0%)
  • Wrong 44.5% (+6.0%)

This is the first poll since the 2020 election that doesn’t have Labour and Greens able to form a Government. They would need the support of the Maori Party to govern.

The net country direction is on the verge of going negative which is a huge change from the beginning of 2021 when it was a massive +54%.

The gap between the CL and CR varies by gender and age. The gap is:

  • All voters +2.5%
  • Women +17.5%
  • Men -13%
  • Women under 50 +32%
  • Women over 50 +0%
  • Men under 50 -12.5%
  • Men over 50 -13.5%

So the CR has large leads with both young and older men. With women, older women are not split equally between Lab/Gre and Nat/ACT while younger women go massively for Lab/Gre – which is what is keeping them competitive.

Note that this poll was conducted before the election of the new National leader.

Guest Post: Politicians and Gangs

A guest post by Mikenmild:

The recent post on ‘Taxpayer funded gang violence’ reminded me that Kiwibloggers might appreciate a little bit of background on politicians and gangs.

Gangs have been the subject of public concern and political attention since, well, forever. Gangs of disaffected youths were causing concern in Auckland in the 1800s. Perhaps we could look more closely at gangs in the modern era and, more specifically, how our politicians have related to New  Zealand’s two most prominent gangs.

Political reaction to, but also engagement with, gangs has been steady since the 1970s. Politicians have always been concerned about criminal gangs, particularly those that seem to represent a challenge to current social structures. The 1970s were a difficult time, as New Zealand society began to change rapidly while politicians faced economic problems for which no easy solutions appeared. The problem of gangs received new attention.

During the 1972 election campaign, Labour Leader Norman Kirk and his deputy, Hugh Watt, both promised to ‘take the bikes off the gangs’. No such thing happened, Kirk commenting that ‘it was not as easy as I thought’.

Critical of Labour’s lack of resolve, the 1975 National government soon had an opportunity to flex its muscles. In early 1976 a Mongrel Mob member was shot and killed after he and others attacked a police station in Taumarunui. Swift law changes targeted using a car in commission of a crime, tried to disrupt gang meetings that could lead to violence, and expanded police powers to stop and search. There is little evidence that these law changes hampered gang activity in any way.

So began a cycle of attempts to crack down on the gangs. This cycle has been periodically interrupted by attempts to address gangs as a social, rather than criminal, issue. During the 1980s, the government addressed the issue with work schemes intended to address the employment and social problems that underlaid the attraction of the gangs’ largely criminal activities.

Rob Muldoon famously developed a relationship with Black Power members in Wellington in the late 1970s. One incident involved him drinking with gang members at the Royal Tiger tavern and a subsequent party. One observer of Muldoon thought that his relationship with Black Power reflected his ‘concern for the ordinary New Zealander, the invisible battler, the underdog, the social casualty – provided they were seen to be making an effort…In a way I think he also saw them as a kind of Rotary Club, an association of support and fellowship with arcane rituals’. Over 100 hundred Black Power members performed a memorable haka as Muldoon’s coffin was carried from his funeral service at Auckland Town Hall in 1992.

The measure of political consensus over the social approach in the 1980s quickly unravelled after some serious criminal offending, in particular a very nasty gang rape at a Mongrel Mob ‘convention’ in Auckland in 1986. The work schemes were stopped. Support for the social approach was replaced by a familiar pattern of politicians such as John Banks, Mike Moore and Phil Goff deploying harsh and flamboyant rhetoric about cracking down on gangs.

In office, politicians have introduced a range of measures, attempting to address gang fortifications,wearing of patches in public, and tighter conspiracy laws. Most have failed. Ironically, one law change very damaging to gangs was the liberalisation of liquor laws, which severely impacted the popularity of illegal bars operated in many gang clubhouses.

This stuff is ancient history now – who even remembers anything before 2001? Perhaps some commenters might like to continue the story through the Clark, Key and Ardern administrations.

So Labour still doing well on mental health

Simeon Brown released:

Police not attending half of mental health callouts

Figures released in the Police 2021 Annual Report show significant demand for police services which police are unable to meet, says National Party Spokesperson for Police Simeon Brown.

“It is distressing to see that in the last year police were only able to attend half of the mental health calls they received from the public with police saying they are unable cope with the increasing demand.

“Police attended more than 70,000 mental health calls in the past year which was a 10 per cent increase from the year before demands for service but have increased by more than 60 per cent in the past five years. Police estimate that this trend will only get worse with mental health related calls expected to increase by 44 per cent by 2025.

I’m sure everyone recalls Labour in 2017 saying mental health was their big priority and hat a difference they would make.

The difference in a 60% increase in mental health calls to Police and half of them not being able to be responded to.

Labour sidelines its own Health Committee

Labour voted in Parliament for the bill that will do the biggest ever restructuring of the health system not to go to the Health Committee. Instead they set up a special select committee to consider it.

Here’s who Labour has on the Health Select Committee:

  • Dr Liz Craig (doctor, public health specialist)
  • Tracey McLellan (psychologist, nurses union)
  • Dr Anae Neru Leavasa (doctor, GP)
  • Sarah Pallett (midwife, midwifery lecturer)
  • Dr Gaurav Sharma (dcotor, GP)
  • Tangi Utikere (Deputy Mayor)

So five of the six Labour MPs on the Health Select Committee are health professionals. There was obviously a huge risk they might actually ask questions they were not meant to, so instead it has gone to a new committee. The Government really doesn’t like independence.

The “diplomat” who isn’t

The Herald reported:

Covid 19 Delta outbreak: Kiwi diplomat pleads for MIQ space to attend world democracy forum

Auckland diplomat and consultant Andrew Lesā is desperately trying to secure an MIQ spot so he can attend the World Forum for Democracy in Strasbourg, France next month.

The 30-year-old policy consultant for the Asian Development Bank and board member of various Crown entities, has been trying for months to secure a place in MIQ so he can represent New Zealand and the Pacific at the forum.

Lesā points out that one of the criteria for an emergency MIQ space is based on matters of national interest and argues that attending a forum with high-level officials at a time when New Zealand is negotiating a free-trade agreement with the European Union is important. …

Over the past few months Lesā has tried repeatedly to book an MIQ place.

“I’m always at the very rear of the queue. It’s absolutely frustrating.”

He has also contacted ministers, senior MBIE staff, and his local MP and pleaded his case with an MIQ co-ordinator. …

Last week Lesā, who is fully vaccinated as are his family, managed to get in touch with the office of the Prime Minister.

“They are prepared to write a support letter for my emergency MIQ application.” …

The forum is not the first time Lesā has represented New Zealand in an official capacity. In 2012 he was the youngest member of a delegation on a state visit to Samoa, led by then Prime Minister John Key. And in 2019 he accompanied Energy and Resources Minister Megan Woods to energy meetings in Canada.

Describing himself as a diplomat, he is a director of the Crown, sits on a string of boards including charities, Unitec, Manukau Institute of Technology, the New Zealand Maritime School, Emerge Aotearoa, and holds various community appointments.

He may describe himself as a diplomat, but he is not. A diplomat is an official representative of the Government. They are not self-appointed. They are empowered to both represent the Government and negotiate on behalf of the Government.

He may have been on the Pacific branch of the Labour Party, but he is not employed by MFAT and I understand they have not authorized him to represent New Zealand.

UPDATE: Fale Andrew Lesa has e-mailed to clarify that “Fale Andrew Lesa JP was invited as an individual in relation to his experience in public policy and governance.” and he made this clear to the Herald.

A great summary

Matt Burgess at the NZ Initiative writes:

This week, Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta recorded a lengthy podcast with the Taxpayers’ Union. If you missed it, or do not want to spend 32 minutes unpicking platitudes, here is a summary:

Taxpayers’ Union: How does taking water assets off councils save money?
Nanaia Mahuta: Because of economies of scale. We need to solve under-investment. Water has to be financially sustainable. We’re not taking the assets.

What do mean you’re not taking the assets? Councils lose ownership except in name.
Councils will own the assets. We have to prevent privatisation. Economies of scale.

What ownership rights will councils have?
Councils will set strategic performance expectations. There will be good governance. Water won’t compete with other council services for funding.

Can you rule out iwi groups receiving water royalties?
We have to prevent privatisation. Iwi cannot sell the assets. Iwi care about the long term.

You said iwi won’t have a veto right. But iwi will be 50% of boards and major decisions require a 75% majority. So, iwi hold a veto, correct?
No.

Given 61 of 67 councils oppose your reform, how has consultation shaped your reform?
First, we need public ownership. Second, we must prevent privatisation. Third, we need solutions. Fourth, we want good governance.

Will ratepayers be represented on the working group?
Only through councils.

You signed off a Cabinet paper on the reform on 18 October. Four days later, your office received a summary of council submissions. Was your consultation a sham?
I received regular feedback from DIA and LGNZ through that period.

Why are the reforms so unpopular?
The current system does not work.

61 of 67 mayors oppose your reform.
It’s about the ratepayers.

Ratepayers hate your reforms. Have you seen our poll? It’s three to one against.
It’s about economies of scale.

Castalia has rubbished your cost modelling.
Castalia accepts privatisation. We must prevent privatisation.

Your cost savings are based on Scottish data which was not adjusted for New Zealand.
It was adjusted.

You are promising operating cost savings of 50% and [up to 9,000] more jobs in water. How does that make sense?
Economies of scale. Better funding.

You only looked at new statutory entities, not the existing Council Controlled Organisations (CCO) model. Why?
Because water needs to be able to borrow off council balance sheets. There is no way to do that with a CCO. Economies of scale. Prevent privatisation. Good governance. Affordable services.

Why is the Treaty relevant when we’re talking about pipes not water?
Excellent question. Iwi will achieve better environmental and drinking water outcomes for the whole community.

How are Māori more connected to the environment than anybody else?
They’re not. But Māori are very connected to the environment.

Why not leave water with councils and guarantee their debt instead?
Economies of scale.

It’s almost comical!

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