Eco-socialism replacing social-socialism

July 23, 2014

Jim Hopkins is a regular guest on The Farming Show to add levity but yesterday he got serious about Labour.

The party’s problem, he said, is that the social-socialism on which it was founded has been replaced with eco-socialism.

. . .If  you think about the labour movement globally and historically and socially it emerged out of the industrial revolution and out of the creation of a huge working class that was required to run all the factories and machinery that actually produced the goods that created the industrial revolution and made the world wealthy.

Well that’s past, unfortunately.  That workforce is now either robotic or lives off-shore in China or India and probably  increasingly in the next decade or so  Africa and in my view if you look at the left at the moment the whole thrust of the left has moved from social-socialism if you like to eco-socialism and I think actually that what you’re really seeing is that the Green Party is the new Labour Party and the old Labour Party doesn’t know where to go . . .

The Labour Party started losing its way when it became a vehicle for lots of disparate causes including feminism and gay rights.

It started with group of people who were in the party because they believed in its philosophy and principles and who were united behind those.

It became a collection of different lobby groups using the party to promote their various agenda.

These might not be conflicting but they’re not unifying either and it makes it difficult for the party to be clear about what it stands for.

It won’t advocate socialism . . .  it’s lost and in my view that it doesn’t help in New Zealand that it hasn’t worked out how to integrate the Lange -Douglas government . . . into their current thinking. . .

Ah yes, they still can’t accept those ‘failed’ policies of the 80s and 90s which the Labour-led governments of the noughties railed against but didn’t attempt to change in any substantial way.

Labour has lost its roots and disowns its most successful policies in recent history.

That’s left the party without a strong foundation on which to build – even if it could agree on what it wants to build and how, which it can’t.

That’s created a vacuum which the Green Party is doing its best to fill.

Unfortunately the green is only a shell sheltering red seeds.

Environmental causes are the cover for socialist social and economic agenda – the eco-socialism to which Hopkins referred.

That agenda used to be Labour’s but it’s now outflanked on the left and unable to put a credible case in the centre to attract the swing votes it would need if it’s to lead the next government.

The fertile ground on which is used to sow social socialism has gone and the Green Party has pre-empted its role in eco-socialism.

That does leave a place for a party which is strong on the environment and reasonable on economic and social issues but Labour isn’t likely to sit comfortably there.

Maybe that’s why so many of its policies are backward looking – it’s looked ahead and can’t see a future for itself.


No sea cold enough

July 22, 2014

Hamish Walker, National’s candidate in Dunedin South received one of those Ice Challenges and accepted it with a twist.

He chose to do it by total immersion in the sea at St Clair,wearing a kilt, with the support of some Young Nats and the accompaniment of the bagpipes.

 

Can't say THANK YOU enough to John BP, Katy H & Liz B who were stupid enough to join me this morning for the Ice Challenge- what commitment to the National Party!

It goes to show there’s no sea cold enough to stop the pursuit of party votes for National and #TeamKey who are seeking #3moreyears.

You can see it on video here - while you’re there you could like his Facebook page too.


Moa siting

July 22, 2014

Trevor Mallard’s suggestion of bringing back the moa is being regarded as a dead duck by his leader but the topic is refusing to die:


Hauiti standing down

July 22, 2014

National list MP Claudette Hauiti is standing down.

National MP Claudette Hauiti is calling time on her short stint in politics, removing herself from contention at the coming election.

She had been selected at as the party’s candidate for Kelston, but told her caucus colleagues of her decision this morning. 

Her decision comes just days after it emerged she surrendered her Parliamentary charge card after using it to pay for a Christmas trip to Australia.

That trip, and other unauthorised spending on the card – known as a purchasing or p-card – led to the list MP returning it to Parliamentary Service in March.

Outside the caucus room, Hauiti confirmed her intention to stand down from politics at the election, but refused to comment further.

She is yet to release a statement.

It’s understood she was told she would receive a low list ranking, and Kelston was considered to be a safe Labour seat. . . .

This is the right decision.

 

 


Management matters

July 22, 2014

Frequent flyers are familiar with the safety talk cabin crew on airlines deliver.

They all say if an oxygen mask appears you should put your own on first then help others.

That’s a good metaphor for life.

If you don’t look after yourself you can’t look after other people and you might end up needing help from them.

Regular holidays are a sensible part of self-care which is why I won’t criticise politicians who took the opportunity parliamentary recess offered to have a break.

The first most people knew about holidaying leaders was a story in the Herald which devoted nine paragraphs to John Key spending 10 days in Hawaii and one sentence saying David Cunliffe would be taking a break.

That got the expected criticism of the PM from the usual suspects but there wasn’t much reaction at all to Cunliffe’s holiday until Sunday when someone in his party went seriously off message:

. . . However, Labour MPS are disgusted by Cunliffe’s skiing holiday just two months before the election and will question his work ethic at a caucus meeting on Tuesday, a senior party insider said.

Labour is trailing National by 30 percentage points, polling just 24.9 per cent in the latest Stuff-Ipsos poll.

“A lot of MPs are really f….. off about it,” the insider said.

“They are all working hard up and down the country, and f…… Cunliffe is on holiday. Guys like [Phil] Goff and [Annette] King and [David] Shearer, these guys really want it badly and they are working like their lives depend on it. And I think they are a little incredulous about what the guy is doing.”

Cunliffe’s camp saw very little value in the hypothetical poll on replacing the Labour leader.

“We take issue with the validity of the finding that a whole lot more people (including all of the National voters polled) would vote for Labour if someone else (unnamed) was leader. This is meaningless,” said Simon Cunliffe.

The insider said while the prime minister was also holidaying – John Key is in Hawaii – there was a “world of difference” between an incumbent prime minister enjoying 52 per cent support in the polls and an opposition leader trailing nearly 30 points behind.

“It sounds a little treasonous, but the guy doesn’t want it badly enough. If he did, he would be working. I think it is disgraceful behaviour, and not the sort of behaviour becoming of a guy who wants to be prime minister.

“We will be having a talk to David at caucus about his work ethic on Tuesday. We’ll be letting him know he’s got two months to turn this around, and we’re backing him and right behind him but he’s got to lift his game.”

The insider believed up to 20 of the 33 Labour MPs were deeply unhappy with Cunliffe’s leadership, but had accepted that an attempt to dump him this late in the term would backfire.

Instead, he said some, especially those whose places in Parliament were now at risk because they would not be returned on the Labour list on present numbers, would run increasingly individual campaigns focused solely on regaining their seats.

Clayton Cosgrove, eighth on the list, and Kelvin Davis, 18th, were deviating from party line, as seen by Davis’ public backing – against party policy – of the Puhoi-Wellsford SH1 “holiday highway” upgrade.

“Clayton knows …. he’s not back on the list, so if he doesn’t win his seat, it’s the end of his career. And he also knows his career is very closely tied to the political capital of David Cunliffe.”

The insider believed Cunliffe’s decision to go on holiday showed he didn’t have the qualities to become prime minister.

“David says family is really important to him, and I get that, but the thing is if you don’t like the rules, don’t play the game. Politics involves sacrifice, and it is hard on families. David knew this… he’s been a cabinet minister and an MP for 15 years.

“Six months out from the election he should have said to his wife and family, ‘sorry darling, you’ll see me Sunday evenings, the rest of the time I am up and down the country. That’s what his MPs are doing and Phil Goff’s wife hardly ever saw him for the three years he was leader, he worked like a demon, and so did Helen [Clark].

“He’s just not got the work ethic and the question is, does he want it that badly, it almost seems as if he wants the glory, but he hasn’t got the guts.”

There’s nothing wrong with taking a holiday but there’s something lacking in Cunliffe’s leadership and political management if it wasn’t discussed with caucus colleagues beforehand and done with their blessing.

Another incident which highlights poor management was his meeting a sex offender.

. . . But the Labour leader threatens to be distracted by internal ill-discipline and criticisms over his judgment, including the holiday itself and a meeting last week with a prominent New Zealander given name suppression on charges of performing an indecent act.

Mr Cunliffe confirmed to the Herald last night that he had arranged for the person – whose case has been the topic of media coverage – to meet a Labour candidate but said he had no idea about the controversial background until yesterday.

“If I had known of the suggestion, no such meeting would have taken place.” . . .

Rodney Hide highlighted the case in a column nine days ago.

It is possible Cunliffe didn’t read the column and no-one is doubting his word that he didn’t know.

It’s not his honesty which is being question it’s political management – again.

If Labour was well managed someone in the party would have made it their business to find out who the offender was and let the leader know for several reasons, not least of which would have been to save him from what happened.

Cunliffe is being let down by insiders who are putting their personal ambitions ahead of the party’s and it is very difficult to counter that.

But he’s also being let down by poor management and at least some of that is his responsibility as leader.

Management matters in politics and parties which can’t manage themselves can’t be trusted to manage the country.


Some would owe us

July 22, 2014

Stephen Franks has an innovative suggestion on incentive pay for MPs:

. . . When the Remuneration Authority was asking MPs about reform of the system 10 years ago, I urged that parties be given a material amount they could distribute among their members according to their pre-Parliament incomes, to do three things:

  • reduce the income cut involved in going to Parliament for people for whom there is much more to lose, and
  • reduce the overpayment of the kind or people who would never be thought useful enough outside Parliament to get anywhere near their Parliamentary income, so they don’t cling quite so desperately to their places; and
  • have the supplement reduce each year after entry to Parliament, to encourage turnover of people who have not progressed. . .

It would be very interesting to know how many MPs take a pay cut when they enter parliament and how many get an increase.

I can see why Franks’ suggestion could appeal but wages and salary are best based on what people are being paid to do rather than what they did in a previous position.

An MP like mine, Waitaki’s Jacqui Dean, has to service an electorate of 34,888 square kilometres which places far more demands on her than those with smaller electorates or in parliament through a party list.

However, while paying on performance would have appeal, how to judge that would be debatable.

Although this Twitter exchange, brought to my attention by Kiwiblog,  provides evidence some MPs are paid far more than they could possibly gain outside parliament:

Asenati Lole Taylor  could be a Minister in a Labour, Green, NZ First, Internet Mana Party government.

If this exchange is a fair reflection on her competence and she was paid on performance she’d owe us.


BPS working for NZ

July 22, 2014

National set targets for its Better Public Services programme which are showing positive results.

Long-term welfare dependency is reducing and more young people are achieving higher qualifications under the Government’s Better Public Services initiative, Deputy Prime Minister Bill English and State Services Minister Jonathan Coleman say.

The Government today published the July update of BPS targets, which confirms more good progress in tackling some of the most challenging issues facing New Zealanders, however making headway in other areas is slower, Mr English says.

“The Government is committed to making progress on the really difficult issues that affect our communities and families, and particularly the most vulnerable,” he says.

“Taxpayers spend billions of dollars a year on public services to help their fellow New Zealanders and this Government is determined to ensure they get what they pay for. Our focus on reducing welfare dependency, increasing achievement in schools and reducing crime require government agencies to find better solutions and to work with others to implement them.

“We are prepared to spend money on effective programmes which change lives, because what works for the community also works for the Government’s books.”

Dr Coleman says the ambitious goals set by the BPS initiative were chosen to make a real difference to the lives of New Zealanders.

“We have always said some of the targets will be challenging and require determination and teamwork to achieve, and it’s pleasing to see agencies working co-operatively.

“The latest update shows we are making good progress overall. We have now met the targets for reducing total crime and youth crime. There has been good progress in reducing long-term welfare dependency, increasing Level 2 NCEA pass rates and those with New Zealand Qualifications Framework Level 4.

“Progress in the past 12 months towards our target of reducing long-term welfare dependency is encouraging, with 6434 (8.5 per cent) fewer people continuously receiving jobseeker support for more than one year. We are also seeing people stay in employment for longer.

“In other result areas, more work is being done to reduce rheumatic fever, reduce assaults on children, and improve online business transactions.”

Dr Coleman says that because of the BPS programme, agencies are working together more effectively and delivering results through collaboration and innovation.

“Agencies are making better use of data to drive better services and to meet the needs of local communities. Agencies are also learning about what works through research and evaluation,” he says.

“There is a greater focus on chief executives doing what is best for the system as a whole, rather than just looking at the short term interests of their department, and that is supporting the changes needed to achieve results.”

The BPS programme began in 2012 when the Prime Minister announced goals and measurable targets in 10 challenging areas, including reducing long-term welfare dependency, supporting vulnerable children, boosting skills and employment, reducing crime, and improving interaction with Government.

The Better Public Service Results July update is here.

Money is being spent where it will have a positive impact.

This is often more expensive in the short term but it will pay off with both social and financial dividends in the medium to longer term.

Behind these numbers are individuals whose lives and outlook are better than they would have been had National not introduced targets and policies that are working for New Zealand.

We’re committed to tackling some of the most challenging issues facing New Zealanders. You can check out our good progress here: national.org.nz/better-public-services #Working4NZ


Popularity deficit

July 21, 2014

Felix Marwick sums up Labour’s problem – a popularity deficit:

Deficits are something no political party likes and the problem for the Labour Party at the moment is that it has one; a popularity deficit.

Its 27 percent result at the last election was the worst result it’d had in over 80 years and, at the time it was thought the party had scraped the bottom of the barrel. The only way, it seemed, was up. But four consecutive polls since last Wednesday have had the party polling below 30 percent and it seems distinctly possible Labour could crash and burn on September 20 unless it has a major change of fortunes.

Labour didn’t use its 2011 result to refresh and renew – its MPs and candidates, its policies and its organisation. It’s the same old faces peddling last centuries ideas from a vehicle that continually shows it isn’t road worthy and doesn’t trust its driver.

From the outside Labour’s predicament looks pretty simple. It has no discipline. Its caucus appears more focused on personal rivalries, revenge, and self interest than they do in winning the election. Nowhere has this been better illustrated than by the example of the anonymous insider that went to the Sunday papers criticising David Cunliffe for taking a holiday so close to the election.

It’s not the first time one of his rivals has made such an attack. A similar accusation was made against him by party insiders in the dying days of the ill-fated 2011 election campaign. It’s an accusation he rejected at the time.

There’s nothing wrong with taking a holiday. But there’s big problems with political management if it wasn’t discussed, and agreed to, by caucus; or if it was and someone broke ranks.

Certainly there are some within Labour’s ranks that will probably argue that David Cunliffe and his supporters are being served the dish they themselves plated up for previous leaders Phil Goff and David Shearer. It does seem there is an element of payback going on. This is something voters should pay attention to the next time a Labour MP tells them about how committed they are to the future of this country. The party’s track record since the departure of Helen Clark suggests self interest reigns supreme.

There’s a lot more MPs concentrating on staying in parliament rather than helping their party get into government.

What all of this means of course is that Labour is worse than a house divided; it’s a house falling apart. It’s a Christchurch red zone home. Its foundations are stuffed, its walls are broken, the roof is a leaking ruin, and its garden is submerged in liquefaction.

One seriously wonders if the party would be better off ditching all of its incumbents, replacing them entirely, and starting afresh. If ever a political party needed a fresh slate, it’s Labour.

Labour’s loss in 2008 wasn’t bad enough to rid it of its dead wood. Since then it’s either made no attempt at renewal or the attempts have failed.

It repeatedly shows it’s incapable of managing itself which gives voters absolutely no confidence it could run the country, especially with the ill-assorted coalition parties it would need on-side to get a majority.

The red party is deep in the red zone and has just two months to convince voters it doesn’t deserve to be red carded.

Hat tip: Kiwiblog


More common than sense

July 21, 2014

Winston Peters accused the Conservative Party of plagiarising New Zealand First’s policies.

Common policies isn’t plagiarism but copying a slogan could be and that’s what NZ First has done by adopting it’s common sense as its rallying cry for the election.

Since 2002 when Peter Dunne got the television worm to dance by insisting his policies were common sense, that’s been associated with him and United Future.

Common sense is an appealing slogan but New Zealand First backs it up with policies which have a greater claim to common than sense.

One of these is removing GST from basic food items.

The thought of wiping $15 off every $100 spent on groceries is attractive but it’s not that simple.

Not all of the grocery bill is spent on food and the part that is isn’t all spent on basic items – whatever they are and that’s where the problems, and costs arise.

Exactly what is basic and what isn’t requires definition, that’s open to debate and it all adds complexity and cost to our enviably simple and relatively cheap to administer GST system.

Labour tried to sell removing GST from fresh fruit and vegetables at the last election but gained little if any traction. One of the reasons for that was that the biggest gains from that would go to the wealthy who’d save on luxury items.

But the bigger problem with this policy is the cost.

. . . Mr Peters said his policy would save New Zealanders but cost the Crown a whopping $3 billion a year or thereabouts.

“This bold policy aims at the heart of the inequality undermining our society.”

Also “as part of a fair system” NZ First would remove GST from rates on residential property.

“This tax-on-a-tax deceit has to end, and it will,” Mr Peters told around 150 party faithful at Alexandra Park.

He did not provide details on how much that policy would cost, but with local authorities raising more than $7 billion a year in rates, the Crown would lose hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue.

However, in an echo of Labour’s plan to fund its big-ticket items, Mr Peters said the policies would be funded through “a clampdown on tax evasion and the black economy” which he estimated was worth $7 billion a year. . . .

Inland Revenue already devotes a lot of time and money to detecting and clawing back money lost through evasion and the black economy.

Greater effort would result in greater costs and would be very unlikely to result in a fraction of the billions of dollars that would be lost from the tax take if these policies were adopted.


Quota bad for health

July 21, 2014

Tim Worstall shows that public health campaigners  don’t understand economics:

. . . The European Union is taking the next step in reforming the entirely absurd sugar regime, making it marginally less awful. The public health wallahs are shouting that this might make sugar cheaper, to the point where everyone will explode from eating too much of it.

No, really:

Controversial agricultural reforms by the European Union could cause sugar levels in food and drink to rise, experts have warned.

Campaigners said it was “perverse” that the EU was planning to lift sugar production quotas at a time when health authorities are advising people to reduce their consumption of the ingredient. . . .

The move is expected to make sugar cheaper for food and drink manufacturers, prompting fears it will encourage them to use rising levels of the ingredient. Dr Aseem Malhotra, science director of Action on Sugar, a campaign group, said it would be “disastrous” for public health.

Oh dear.

They’ve really not understood what’s going on here at all.

In the nightmare world of EU agricultural policies the abolition of quota does not mean that prices are going to fall. For what actually happens is that if you grow sugar beet then there’s two prices which you can sell that deformed mangelwurzel to the processor at. One, a guaranteed one, much higher than a free market price, is only available if you have quota to go with your sugar beet. The other price is very much lower than a free market price and almost no one ever tries to grow beet without quota as a result.

The important point about the abolition of quota is not that it abolishes quota. It is that if there is no quota then beet with or without quota cannot gain that guaranteed price. Thus the price on offer to Europe’s sugar beet growers is going to fall: all other things being equal we’ll thus have less beet being grown. And thus less sugar being taken into storage and then subsidised by the EU when it is later dumped on the food manufacturers.

The abolition of quota will lead to less sugar being produced. And the public health campaigners are arguing against the abolition of quota to stop less sugar being produced. . .

Removing quota will not just have economic benefits, contrary to what the campaigners say, it could have health ones too.


Two sides one message

July 21, 2014

Electoral law permitted election hoardings to be displayed from yesterday.

Alfred Ngaro’s National Party teams were so keen to paint the Te Atatu electorate blue they started at midnight.

Facebook and Twitter showed MPs, candidates and supporters the length and breadth of the country erecting hoardings and  enjoying themselves while doing it.

Labour teams could be forgiven for not being quite as happy in their work but that’s not the only contrast between the blue hoardings and the red ones.

The message from National is clear and consistent, the one, or should that be ones from Labour are not.

We passed this double-sided hoarding on the way home from Queenstown yesterday.

hoardings 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

hoardings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There’s two sides to the sign but a single message – party vote National.

Labour candidates are giving mixed messages – some are seeking the electorate vote over the party one, a lot of them – like those used in 2011 – don’t show their leader.

The contrast couldn’t be greater.

There are blue hoardings giving a consistent message of unity, support for party leader John Key, and  being quite clear that National wants your party vote. Then there are red ones giving mixed messages which show disunity and leave voters in doubt exactly what they’re being asked to do.

It’s the party vote that counts for forming a government.

National Party MPs and candidates are showing they not only want to be in parliament, they want to be in a John Key-led government.

But the hoardings of at least some Labour MPs show they’re more concerned about their own seats than the fate of their party – their desire to be in parliament is greater than that to have Labour in government.

If Labour MPs and candidates don’t care about the party vote, why would voters?


Paying price for prevarication

July 21, 2014

Last night’s 3 News-Reid Research poll gave Labour more bad news:

PARTY VOTE:

National: 49.4 percent (down 0.3 percent)
Labour: 26.7 percent (down 0.6 percent)
Green: 12.4 percent (down 0.3 percent)
NZ First: 4.3 percent  (up 0.7 percent)
Conservative: 2.7 percent (down 0.1 percent)
Internet Mana: 2.3 percent (up 0.5 percent)
Maori: 1.1 percent (down 0.4 percent)
United Future: 0.2 percent (up 0.2 percent)
ACT: 0.1 percent (down 0.3 percent)

The reason’s for Labour’s poor showing are many, but one of those is Cunliffe’s prevarication over whether or not he’d do a post-election deal with the Internet-mana Party:

SHOULD LABOUR WORK WITH INTERNET MANA IN FORMING A GOVERNMENT:

NO: 59 percent
YES: 29 percent
Don’t know: 12 percent
-
Labour voters:
NO: 47 percent
YES: 40 percent
Don’t know: 13 percent

Cunliffe’s following the Winston Peters’ line on this – he’ll play the cards the voters deal.

But by doing this both men are leaving voters without information they need to cast their votes with confidence.

John Key told everyone months ago which parties he would and would not work with.

People know  what they’d get if they give National their party votes.

In contrast, Cunliffe and Peters continue to prevaricate which leaves voters having to take a gamble.

If they give Labour their party votes they can’t be sure they wouldn’t be helping the Internet-Mana Party into government and if they vote for New Zealand First they have no idea if Peters would move right or left.

In spite of what he says about the possibility of staying on the cross-benches, the lure of some baubles would almost certainly persuade him to change his mind.

A vote for either Labour or New Zealand first is a vote for uncertainty and instability.


Content, stable and successful . . .

July 20, 2014

While support for parties gets the most attention in polls, another important indicator is whether or not people think the country is heading in the right direction.

The trend for that is positive.

Nearly two-thirds of Kiwis think we’re heading in the right direction. #Working4NZ #TeamKey http://www.roymorgan.com/findings/5684-roy-morgan-new-zealand-voting-intention-july-16-2014-201407160655
This doesn’t mean there’s no more to be done, but it does indicate that more people believe we’re getting there.
One of the reasons for this level of approval is the leadership of Prime Minister John Key.

From the last page. #3moreyears

Leading by example is the best form of leadership and the PM does that.

He had a good role model in his mother and has succeeded as a result of his own efforts, showing by his example that we can succeed too.

That success isn’t just material either, he provides a very good example of personal integrity, public service and concern for others.


7/10

July 20, 2014

7/10 in the Herald’s politics quiz.


It’s still the trend that matters

July 20, 2014

Labour has lost four points in the latest Herald DigiPoll, slumping to 26.5%,  its worst level of support in 15 years.

 . . . On this poll of decided voters National would be able to govern alone comfortably and gain another 10 MPs.

National has jumped 4.5 points to 54.9 per cent. A Stuff/Ipsos poll earlier this week also put support for National at 54.8 per cent.

Prime Minister John Key is more popular than he has ever been, scoring preferred prime minister on 73.3 per cent, compared with Cunliffe on 10.5 per cent and New Zealand First’s Winston Peters on 5.5 per cent.

The second-most-preferred PM out of Labour MPs is David Shearer, with 2.2 per cent, followed by Jacinda Ardern on 1.4 per cent. . .

Labour’s total support is down from 30.5 per cent in June, but it is disproportionately down among male voters, with only 23.9 per cent of men backing Labour, compared with 29.1 per cent of women.

Political commentator Chris Trotter said the poll indicated Labour was “more or less bereft of hope”.

“Labour is in an extremely parlous position, and the situation is deteriorating.” 

And the news gets worse for the left:

Contrary to other polls, the DigiPoll had the Green Party losing popularity, which was also bad news for Labour and the left’s prospects. . .

A single poll could be a rogue one but a trend has to be taken more seriously and the left will even though this support reflects the views of those who have decided:

. . . Undecided voters were 11.5 per cent. The poll has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.6 per cent. . . .

It’s still the trend that counts and the trend is very good for National but it’s still a couple of months to the election and the result of that, trend not withstanding, is still not certain.

The left might be panicking but there is absolutely no room for complacency on the centre-right.

However, there is


Craig rules Conservatives out of govt

July 20, 2014

Conservative leader Colin Craig is planning to contest the East Coast Bays seat.

He hasn’t made a formal approach but he’s keen for sitting MP Murray McCully to stand aside in the hope that people who voted for the National MP would back Craig instead.

There are several flaws with this, not least being there is absolutely no guarantee the people of East Coast Bays would vote for him in sufficient numbers.

The outcome is even less certain now that New Zealand First leader Winston Peters is talking about throwing his hat in that ring too.

Craig’s case hasn’t been helped by his party’s chief executive Christine Rankin saying the Conservatives could go right or left and work with National or Labour in government.

Voting for Craig would be difficult enough for National supporters in East Coast Bays if his party was committed to supporting a National government,. Few, if any, would countenance it if they thought there was any chance they’d be helping Labour cobble together a coalition.

The Conservative’s case for an electoral accommodation is even weaker now that Craig has said binding referenda would be a bottom line in coalition negotiations.

At the Conservative Party conference today, leader Colin Craig had a clear message to Prime Minister John Key.

He won’t do any type of deal with National unless it agrees to binding referenda. . .

There is absolutely no way a major party would agree to that policy and even if they did, Andrew Geddis points out that a cconstitutional  change of such magnitude should not be passed by a bare majority.

It’s constitutionally improper to even suggest that this happen – it would be like the Maori Party saying that their price for supporting a Government would be for that Government to legislate via a bare parliamentary majority to make the Treaty of Waitangi a “higher law” constitutional document that could be used to strike down other laws. I don’t care whether you think that would be a good outcome; it would be a bad way to bring it about. . .

But even if it did it wouldn’t work under our system which gives parliament sovereignty:

. . . How in a system of parliamentary sovereignty can Parliament (in the shape of a National/Conservative majority) pass a law that says that the general public is able to, by referendum, bind future Parliaments in their lawmaking decisions?

Even if a National/Conservative Government were to use their majority in Parliament to pass a referendum law that says that if the public vote in the future for or against some measure Parliament “must” follow that vote, exactly how would this law be “binding”? If a future Parliament were to just ignore the result of such a referendum – as is the case with current Citizens’ Initiated Referendums, for which no apparent political price gets paid – then what could be done about it? How, given our system of parliamentary sovereignty, could a court order today’s Parliament to do what a past Parliament said it must do? And what could a court even order in such a circumstance? What odds a judge saying to Parliament “because an Act was passed a few years ago saying that you had to make a law if the public voted for it, you now have to draft, debate and enact this particular Bill on this particular issue.”? . . .

Craig is demonstrating his ignorance of constitutional niceties and his own political naivety by making binding referenda it a bottom line and in doing so has ruled his party out of government.

It’s the sort of policy which might gain votes from the disgruntled.

But the party is a long way from the 5% support needed to get into parliament without the safety net of an electorate seat. Thankfully the chances of him being gifted one were already low and this bottom line will ought to have killed the idea completely.


How many care?

July 19, 2014

John Armstrong has joined the growing crowd calling for Kim Dotcom to put up or shut up:

The time has come for Kim Dotcom to put up or shut up, for this intelligent, canny but highly manipulative individual to front with his yet-to-be-made public disclosures which he boasts will blow John Key out of the water – and though Dotcom does not say it directly, presumably bring a rapid end to Key’s days as Prime Minister.

Dotcom must now prove far beyond any reasonable doubt that Key has lied repeatedly when challenged as to when exactly he became aware or was made aware of the former Megaupload mogul’s existence.

If Dotcom cannot or will not do that, he should zip it.

Because he is not a New Zealand citizen, Dotcom cannot stand for Parliament. But as a resident he otherwise has the same political rights accorded any voter. Turning the election campaign into even more of a circus is not one of them. . . .

If he really has a mega-bomb to drop which would be big enough to turn the tide from National the least he can do is drop it in time for voters to consider which other party would get their vote.

If he thinks that his own political travesty of Internet Mana would benefit, then he’s even more deluded than he appears to be.

Key will stand or fall on the strength of Dotcom’s case. The time has come for the country to hear it and appraise it. The time has come for Dotcom to cut the babble and prove Key is the one talking nonsense when he insists that until the eve of the police raid on Dotcom’s Coatesville mansion he did not know of Dotcom, let alone that Dotcom was living in his Helensville electorate, or that Dotcom was the subject of a FBI investigation even though the intelligence agencies for which Key has ministerial responsibility had known for at least 15 months before the raid that was the case.

If the Prime Minister has not been telling the truth, then, as Dotcom and his supporters argue, it is a matter of paramount importance even if what they are arguing about could hardly be more trivial. . .

But will Key stand or fall on the case and is it of paramount importance when the issue is so trivial?

Armstrong counters his own assertion:

If Dotcom’s case similarly relies on hearsay or circumstantial evidence in any way, he would be best to work on an exit strategy – one in which he exits now. Or at least as quickly as he can without losing too much face.

Key, in contrast, has said little that he might later regret, but done much to try to second-guess exactly what Dotcom seems to think he has on him.

When Dotcom first suggested Key had known of him some time before Key claims to have heard of him, the Prime Minister and his staff in Wellington and Helensville searched desks, filing cabinets and computer records for anything that might be incriminating even in the slightest. They found nothing.

Lastly, Dotcom should ponder over this scenario. If Key is caught out, he will probably apologise and then make his credibility the issue for the final days of the campaign.

He will be able to wager his huge stocks of popularity on voters viewing any conflict over what he said about Dotcom and what he knew about Dotcom as a minor indiscretion.

Again, the argument is probably too trivial to destroy Key. But Dotcom needs a change of government if he is to have any hope of avoiding extradition to the United States. And Key’s hard-to-believe ignorance of his existence is one of the few means Dotcom has of securing such a change.

Why is it hard to believe?

Even with my bias I couldn’t condemn David Cunliffe for forgetting he’d written a letter about a would-be immigrant years ago.

Similarly no reasonable person could expect anyone to remember everyone he’s ever heard of, especially when the records have been scoured to find anything which might counter the PM’s assertions.

And how many people care anyway?

Jane Clifton writes:

. . . The premise here is that Key lied about knowing that he had, in his very own electorate, a man Most Wanted by the US authorities. Key has always insisted he knew nothing of Dotcom till the police raid on his home. The question here is, why does this matter? It’s likely it can be proved Key “was told” about Dotcom. But whether he actually took the information on board, along with the ninety-thousand other things he’s informed of as Prime Minister and SIS Minister, is probably unprovable.

Realistically, had Helen Clark, Jim Bolger or any other recent PM been told that some funster computer tycoon whose business practices were under overseas scrutiny had moved to New Zealand, it’s doubtful they would have seared the information into their memories either.

As for “knowing about” the raid, that information was the province of the Attorney-General, Chris Finlayson, who would have found it highly improper to share with other ministers, least of all the target indivdual’s local electorate MP.

And even if Key did “know” – so what? What does that prove? That he didn’t stop the raid? Why would he, since the police officials concerned – albeit wrongly, as a judge later ruled – would have advised him it was the correct procedure? Had Key known and overridden it, that would have been the scandal: “PM Interferes With Police To Protect Rich Constituent.”  .

Whatever’s in store from Big Kim’s Mega-Evidence Upload, it seems unlikely to achieve the status of game-changer. Most people will not cast their votes according to the status or treatment of Kim Dotcom. And those voters who can be bothered to process the information will simply divide according to what they want to believe: that the Government would take all manner of risks in order to give residency to and then persecute a blameless business tycoon; and those who strongly suspect the usual roil of cock-ups and unsuccessful conspiracies to cover the cock-ups up. . .

Dotcom and his rag-tag collection of enemies of his enemy would like to believe that a revelation that the PM had heard of Dotcom earlier than he said he did is a mega-bomb that will blow National’s chances of winning the election out of the water.

That just shows how desperate and deluded they are.

It is important to Dotcom because of his ego.

But even if he does find something to prove his assertion how many other people really care enough about who heard what and when to change their votes?

Those already decided would be unlikely to be swayed by something of so little import and those undecided and moved by it would be even more likely to declare a plague on all their houses and find something better to do on election day than vote.


Welfare numbers lowest since 2008

July 19, 2014

Social Development Minister Paula Bennett has released latest benefit figures showing the number of people on welfare for the June quarter is the lowest since 2008, with sole parents leading the impressive results.

“There are over 16,000 fewer people on welfare compared to June 2013, with the total number currently 293,586,” Mrs Bennett said.

“When we look back just a few years to 2010, when benefit numbers were around 352,000, it’s clear to see the difference that welfare reforms are making, alongside New Zealand’s strong and growing economy.” 

Numbers on the Jobseeker Support benefit have decreased by almost 7,500 since last year and have been consistently declining since 2010, even as the overall working age population has increased over the same time.

“Most significant is the 10.7 per cent total drop in people on the Sole Parent Support benefit in the past year, which is happening nationwide with 12 per cent drops in Nelson and Waikato, and an 11.9 per cent drop in the Bay of Plenty, as well as big decreases in Canterbury and Auckland,” Mrs Bennett said

“Sole parents, particularly those who go on benefit in their teens, have the highest lifetime costs of any group on welfare and are more likely to stay on benefit the longest.”

“We’ve deliberately targeted our welfare reforms at sole parents by investing millions into intensive support and training and into help with study and childcare, so that working while raising children alone is achievable, and rewarding.” 

The latest figures also point to positive trends in the years to come, with the number of teen parents aged 18 and 19 on the Young Parent Payment decreasing by 11.7 per cent.

“With teen parents spending an average of 19 years on benefit and costing around $246,000 over a lifetime, the headway we are making now will pay off for generations,” Mrs Bennett said. 

The intensive wrap-around support through Youth Services and the tailored support Work and Income case managers are providing each person they work with is paying off – for taxpayers and for people who were otherwise at risk of long term welfare dependency.

The drop in benefit numbers is good for those directly affected and indirectly for all of us.

Moving from welfare to work has economic and social benefits for those who do it and their dependants.

The more people who can help themselves do, the more there is to support those who can’t.

Reducing the long-term cost of welfare provides significant savings which benefit the country as a whole.

 

I’m proud that our growing economy and welfare reforms are enabling more Kiwis to take control of their own lives. http://ntnl.org.nz/1mT7i5r #Working4NZ


Gonna tell on you

July 18, 2014

Quote of the day from Trans Tasman:

. . . Meanwhile Dotcom, is now promising to reveal all he knows about John Key just before the election. And it’s pretty damn big, he says. Oh yes. In political terms, this is a bit like the playground “gonna tell on you and my father is a policeman and my aunt is a wrestler and you’re gonna be REAL SORRY!” . . .

This reminds me of Labour’s desperate smear attempts before the 2008 election when they sent Mike WIlliams to Australia to dig the dirt.

He came up with egg on his own face and no dirt at all.

If Dotcom really has something on Key he’d spill it now which would give the opposition a strong foundaiton on which to build an all-out assault.

The only advantage in waiting is to keep himself in the headlines.


For the people

July 17, 2014

Parties on the left appear to think more is better when it comes to taxpayers’ money.

They want to take more so they can spend more.

In stark contrast to that National has focussed on getting value for money in the knowledge that in many areas the quality of spending is more important than the quantity.

The left’s policies tend to foster dependence where National is determined to help those who can stand on their own feet to do so.

That’s government for the people to their benefit, helping them lead more independent, hopeful and productive lives.

 

Under a National-led government people are more confident they can make a difference in their own lives.


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