Ipredict has a 95% probability of a September 20 election.
I have no inside knowledge on this, but the sooner, the better for me.
Labour leader David Cunliffe finished last week as he started it - looking decidedly tricky.
Labour leader David Cunliffe helped with the purchase of a $4 million beach retreat for a wealthy businessman who later secretly donated to the MP’s leadership campaign.
When the Herald on Sunday asked Cunliffe two weeks ago about the four-bedroom, 200sqm house at Ti Point, overlooking the Omaha holiday home of Prime Minister John Key, he said he had nothing to do with the sale.
Cunliffe said he had no beneficial interest in the property, and his wife Karen had simply played a legal role with the trustee company which bought the property.
If he was not telling the truth, Cunliffe said, “you can have my testicles for garters”. . .
Real estate agent Lorraine Mildon said Cunliffe had been involved in the purchase, and had visited the property.
Cunliffe returned to the property shortly before Waitangi Day last year, she said, on behalf of a friend who was in America.
“He didn’t buy it. His friend did. He came and looked at it on behalf of his friend but he didn’t sign the agreement.” . .
This weekend, Cunliffe told the Herald on Sunday that he and Keenan had been “long-standing personal friends” since working together at Boston Consulting Group in Auckland in the early 1990s. He and Keenan visited the property at 41 Tairere Rd on Ti Point when it was on the market last summer.
Cunliffe acknowledged making two visits, though he could not initially recall how many, when they were, or whether Keenan was there.
Cunliffe said he first visited with Keenan, who wanted to buy the property, but the gate was locked. “We weren’t able to get on to the property.”
Keenan returned to the US, but Cunliffe went back to Ti Point with his wife and children to inspect the house. . .
Cunliffe did not disclose his visits when the Herald on Sunday inquired about it on February 22. This weekend, he said he had checked his recording of the interview and he had truthfully answered questions about any beneficial ownership of the property. “If you had asked me whether I had visited the property, then my answer would have been yes,” Cunliffe said.
It all depends on how you define involved.
The real estate agent says he was, he thinks he wasn’t.
The silly thing is that there is nothing untoward about what Cunliffe did to help his friend.
It’s what looks like prevarication in his answer that’s the problem.
There wouldn’t have been a story if he’d answered fully instead of what looks like evasively when asked.
He told the truth but not the whole truth.
He was asked a straight question by a journalist and gave a crooked answer and consequently once more he’s left looking tricky.
This financial year over 3,700 prisoners will have access to treatment for their addictions, rising to 4,700 next year, up from just 234 in 2007/08.
The Government has expanded the number of specialist Drug Treatment Units in prisons from six to nine, while there has been a fourfold increase in places at the Units. In addition, since last year all prisons have introduced brief and intermediate treatment programmes and Northland and Auckland Women’s have begun intensive support, as part of the drive to reduce reoffending by 25 per cent by 2017.
Corrections has so far reduced reoffending by 11.8 per cent, resulting in 8668 fewer victims of crime each year.
“The revolution in offender rehabilitation is going from strength to strength in the key areas of addiction treatment, education and skills training,” says Mrs Tolley.
“Support for prisoners tackling drug and alcohol abuse is just common sense, as we know that these addictions are a major driver of crime.
“All prisoners are now screened for alcohol and drug problems when they enter prison, which allows staff to make appropriate decisions on the amount of support required. This means that every prisoner now undergoes screening for addictions, health, mental health and education when they enter a facility.
“The latest analysis shows that over half of the current prison muster has problems with drug and alcohol.
“The vast majority of prisoners are released back into communities. If we can give them the opportunity to change their lives around while inside prison, and access education and employment skills training, then they will have the tools to stay away from crime when they are released.
“This will make our communities safer, and ensure we reach our target of 18,500 fewer victims of crime each year by 2017.”
This is treating the causes of crime not just the symptoms.
Drug and alcohol abuse are two of the biggest contributors to crime.
Addressing those while people are in prison is one of the best ways to equip prisoners for life outside and reduce re-offending.
The Labour Party reopened nominations for the Invercargill electorate in January, citing the retirement of National MP Eric Roy.
A selection meeting held yesterday saw her go up against Michael Gibson.
About 200 members of the Labour Party and unions affiliated to it attended the meeting and a floor and panel vote both opted for Ms Soper. . .
Mr Gibson, who had previously said he wanted to rejuvenate Labour in Invercargill and overhaul the party, could not be reached for comment last night.
Labour was happy for Soper to do the donkey work in a contest they knew she couldn’t win against Eric Roy.
When he stood down they thought the electorate might be more winnable so re-opened the selection.
They struggled to get anyone to put a hand up and, locals tell me, got one at the 11th hour.
Several weeks later they’ve finally held a selection and chosen the woman they showed they weren’t confident was the best one to run against a new National candidate.
This begs several questions:
* If she wasn’t the preferred candidate in January, why is she in March?
* Was she chosen because she was the best of the two nominated, or because she’s a woman and the other wasn’t?
* If the Labour wasn’t really confident about Soper representing the party, how can the people of Invercargill be enthusiastic about her representing their electorate?
* Why didn’t the party prepare the unsuccessful candidate for a comment?
* If a party can’t run a selection smoothly how can it run the country?
Labour has handicapped its candidate from the start.
Meanwhile Sarah Dowie, National’s candidate, selected by the members in the electorate with no influence from head office, unions or anyone else, has the support of her party and is working hard to win the support of the electorate.
Labour leader David Cunliffe is threatening to tinker with the Reserve Bank Act:
. . .Mr Cunliffe said he believed in an independent central bank but Labour would make changes to the Reserve Bank Act that would lead to lower interest rates.
“On average, over time, it is our very clear view that interest rates would be lower. On average house mortgages would be lower under our monetary policy.”
“There would be additional tools that the Reserve Bank could use – macro-prudential and other tools – that would help stabilise high interest rates. . . .
What are those tools and how would they work?
Two of the biggest influences on interest rates are inflation and government spending.
Policies Labour’s announced so far would fuel inflation and require more government spending.
Rather than tinkering with the RBA, Labour would be better to rethink its policies and develop ones which would dampen inflation and curtail spending.
It’s probable that the official cash rate, and consequently interest rates, will rise soon. But they will still be well below the 11% we were having to pay when Labour lost office in 2008.
Are they going to spell out how they’d do much better next time they’re in government, or will it be a matter of wait-and-see for details which is all they’re offering with their power policy?
Most discussions on inequality focus on income, and pre-tax income at that.
There is another angle on the topic:
. . . If you measure consumption inequality, it is far lower than pre-tax income inequality, because the top 40 per cent of earners pay more in than they get out, while the bottom 60 per cent get more out than they pay in. Indeed, in Britain the top 1 per cent generate about 30 per cent of the total income-tax haul. After such redistribution, the richest fifth of the population has only four times as much money to play with as the poorest fifth. . . .
This comes from a post by Matt Ridley who points out that poverty and inequality are both falling.
. . . by any conceivable measure, absolute poverty has fallen dramatically over the past few decades, so why should it matter if the rich get richer? Today’s British poor spend half as much of their income on food and clothing as in the 1950s, while working many fewer hours, living about eight years longer and having access to phones, cars, medicines and budget airlines that would have amazed even the rich in the 1950s.
Moreover, here’s a question I’m willing to bet that chimpanzees would do better than people at: given that inequality has been rising recently in China, India, America and many other countries, is global inequality rising or falling?
The answer: it’s falling and has been for several decades, however you measure it. The reason is that people in poor countries are getting richer more quickly than people in rich countries are getting better off.
That fall in global inequality has accelerated since the start of the financial crisis. As Africa now experiences record rates of growth, the number of people trying to live on $1.25 a day is plummeting fast. Mr Rosling likes to show two charts in his talks: the graph of global income was once a two-humped camel; now it’s a one-humped dromedary, with the vast majority of the world’s people in the middle.
Here’s another question that I fancy the chimps would beat the people at: did poverty and inequality in Britain increase or decrease as a result of the recession? The answer is that both fell. Inequality has fallen to levels not seen since the mid 1990s, as it usually does during recessions, though it is still higher than it was in the 1970s. Meanwhile the Left’s favourite measure of poverty — those earning less than 60 per cent of the median income — has by definition gone down, because median income has gone down. Redefining poverty in this relative (and very inadequate) way has therefore rather backfired. . .
A percentage of median income is a very blunt instrument with which to measure poverty because a fall in the incomes of higher earners will improve the measure but make absolutely no impact on the problem.
As poverty and inequality improve the differences between rich and poor become less obvious:
Imagine being told that one of the people in a meeting is a genuine billionaire (I owe this idea to Professor Don Boudreaux). How would you tell which one? His bodyguards, private jets and grouse moors are outside the room; his shirt and jeans are unlikely to give him away (as they would in 1900); his Rolex could be a cheap imitation; his teeth, girth and height are probably unremarkable (unlike in 1800); even his Diet Coke is the same as everybody else’s. Much more than in the past, most inequality in this country these days — though by no means all — is in luxuries, rather than necessities.
That helps to explain why some welfare is now directed at people who already have more than enough, though it doesn’t make it any more right.
. . . does income generally grow faster for people in the lowest fifth of the population or people in the highest? It’s the lowest, because many of those people are young, low-paid people just starting out on their careers, while many of the richest fifth are older people at the peak of their pay, about to retire. That is to say, the category “poorest fifth” may not seem to show much change, but the people in it do. Income mobility is far from dead: 80 per cent of people born in households below the poverty line escape poverty when they reach adulthood.
Mobility is very important. It’s not just how much people have which matters but the ability for those with less to get more.
But why, when both poverty and inequality are declining are both regarded as more serious issues?
None of this is meant to imply that people are wrong to resent inequality in income or wealth, or be bothered about the winner-take-all features of executive pay in recent decades. Indeed, my point is rather the reverse: to try to understand why it is that people mind so much today, when in many ways inequality is so much less acute, and absolute poverty so much less prevalent, than it was in, say, 1900 or 1950. Now that starvation and squalor are mostly avoidable, so what if somebody else has a yacht?
The short answer is that surely we always have and always will care more about relative than absolute differences. This is no surprise to evolutionary biologists. The reproductive rewards went not to the peacock with a good enough tail, but to the one with the best tail. A few thousand years ago, the bloke with one more cow than the other bloke got the girl, and it would have cut little ice to try to reassure the loser by pointing out that he had more cows than his grandfather, that they were better cows, or that he had more than enough cows to feed himself anyway. What mattered was that he had fewer cows.
For some the problem isn’t how much they have but that others have more.
If they use that to motivate themselves to improve their situation that can be good.
If it just makes them resentful and feel they’re owed more, even if they have enough, it’s merely envy.
Hat Tip: Anti Dismal
Wanaka has had a very big weekend.
The Motatapu Challenge, a rodeo and the Upper Clutha A & P Show attracted thousands.
The show is the second biggest in the South Island, combining the best of traditional attractions with some newer attractions,one of the most popular of which is the Jack Russell race.
For several years, the show has also hosted the Glammies – the Golden Lamb awards.
I haven’t been able to find the results, but I did get a photo of a couple of the judges:
Prime Minister John Key and Beef + Lamb NZ Iron Maiden Sarah Walker.
Waitaki MP Jacqui Dean always has a tent at the show – it was very busy and the mood was very positive.
Representatives of at least one other political party generally turn up in election year but there was no sign of any others this weekend.
Yet more proof their contention of caring about the regions is empty rhetoric.
National’s Napier electorate has selected Hawkes Bay Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive Wayne Walford as its candidate to replace retiring MP Chris Tremain.
“Wayne has a great understanding of communities across Napier and Wairoa. He has the full support of myself and the National Party to run a strong campaign for the seat this year,” says retiring MP Chris Tremain.
Mr Walford says he is proud to have been selected and will be working hard to keep Napier’s strong voice in John Key’s National Party.
“The Government has delivered real results for the Hawkes Bay, and strong local representation in John Key’s National Party has been critical to getting some major local projects over the line,” says Mr Walford.
“These include the expressway redevelopment and Napier-Wairoa Road upgrade to name just a few.
“I’ll be working hard to win the confidence of the electorate to keep that strong voice and continue delivering jobs and growth for Napier, Wairoa, and the Bay.”
Wayne Walford – Biographical Notes
Of Ngati Porou descent, Wayne Walford was raised in the Hawke’s Bay and lives in Napier with wife Joan.
As Chief Executive Officer of the Hawkes Bay Chamber of Commerce, Wayne brings a track record of advocacy and leadership, and a focus on jobs and growth.
He holds a Masters in Business Administration and a Post Graduate Diploma in Business Studies from the University of Waikato, and a Diploma in Business Studies from Massey University.
This is the second National selection this weekend and again the members have chosen a strong candidate.
It’s International Women’s Day and National is celebrating the depth and diversity of their women’s caucus.
Labour is trying to but have scored another SMOG – social media own goal.
They’re celebrating all but one of their women - Dunedin South MP Clare Curran is missing.
Is this deliberate or accidental and does it have anything to do with the fact that Dunedin South still hasn’t confirmed its candidate selection?
Well, he would say that wouldn’t he – but does he mean it?
One of the 12 questions put to National Minister Steven Joyce was were you always right wing at heart?
To which he answered:
I don’t see myself as right wing. I’ve believed strongly in the ability of individuals to make decisions and make their own courses in terms of how they want to live their lives. I don’t see that as particularly ideological.
My parents owned a dairy when I was young and wanted to get ahead in life. What I believe is born out of my experience, I don’t think it’s particularly right wing. The labelling of particular politics is a bit unhelpful in many ways.
Joyce, like most National MPs has had plenty of experience of the risks and rewards of the real world and it is that which has shaped his beliefs.
That is yet another contrast with Labour, very few of whose MPs have business experience and whose beliefs appear to be built on political theory rather than real-world practice.
Dr Shane Reti has won the National Party selection for Whangarei.
He has a very impressive background:
He was head-hunted by the eminent Harvard Medical School, but Whangarei doctor Shane Reti says his feet remain firmly grounded in Northland and he’s returning home hoping to represent the district in Parliament.
After six years living in Boston, but returning every three months or so, Dr Reti is on his way home to seek the National Party nomination to replace Phil Heatley as MP in the 2014 general election.
Dr Reti said he was offered incentives by Boston’s Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital and Harvard Medical School to stay and carry on his important medical work, but the calling to come home for good was too strong. . .
He worked in general practice in Whangarei for 17 years, and was a member of the Northland District Health Board for seven years, before being awarded a Harkness Fellowship to Harvard, in 2007.
He has examined community health issues such as how to improve appointment rates at public hospitals, and once offered to fund a $70,000 survey on fluoride, out of his own pocket.
In 2004 he completed the first comprehensive study of Northland’s heath status which revealed a deteriorating state of health, with diabetes a major concern after spending the previous two years pounding the pavements and knocking on doors interviewing almost 300 Northlanders and analysing their information to produce the ground-breaking study.
He returns home every three months or so to treat patients at his Rust Ave practice. . .
“I know Whangarei and Northland as well as anybody and despite being offered a number of incentives to stay (at Harvard) I want to come back and try to make a difference for Whangarei in Parliament,” he said.
Dr Reti said he was to the right of centre in his political leanings, believing in strong fiscal responsibility. “But I also believe in a social safety net, so that makes me egalitarian. I also believe in reward for hard work, which makes me centre right,” he said.
First the good news:
Finance Minister Bill English talked up NZ’s economic progress this week, telling Parliament Treasury’s Monthly Economic Indicators for February show the positive momentum in the economy in the September 2013 quarter continued into the December quarter. The number of people employed increased by 66,600 in 2013, unemployment fell to 6%, and total weekly gross earnings were 5.2% higher than a year earlier, reflecting the combined effect of wage and job growth. Labour force participation, the proportion of the adult population available for work, is close to a 28-year high. The rate of building consents is at the highest level since 2008 and has doubled since 2011. Consumer and business confidence are relatively high.
And why it matters:
English says the Govt is focused on a more productive and competitive economy, and that means working to rebalance the economy so more of it is exposed to world trade. “In the long term we need to see less Govt spending and less domestic consumption, and more focus on profitable export sectors that earn a living for NZ from the rest of the world. The importance of business confidence is it tends to drive investment decisions. So when business is confident about the future, it is more likely to borrow the money or raise it from other sources and invest in the plant and equipment and the opportunities for more higher-paying jobs. Without that confidence, we will not get the investment and the better-paying jobs.”
And for those who think the minimum wage is too low:
The ANZ Business Outlook survey shows 71% of firms are optimistic, the highest level since 1994. English says the Govt is focused on locking in gains from this positive outlook where it has a direct role in doing so. The increase in the adult minimum wage to $14.25 an hour, from $13.75 an hour, takes it to a level 19% higher than in 2008. The Govt has sought to balance the needs of workers and businesses to keep the minimum wage at around 50% of the average wage, and this relationship of the minimum wage at 50% of the average wage is the highest in the OECD. . .
Those who complain the minimum wage is still too low forget too things – imposing a minimum wage costs jobs and it’s a floor not a ceiling.
Apropos of which, does anyone know how many people receive the minimum wage, how many of those are full time, permanent employees and what ages they are?
A plan change by Environment Southland means all new dairy farms will require resource consent:
Owners of all new dairy farms in Southland now have to apply for resource consent after a contentious plan change was approved by Environment Southland.
Plan Change 13 was notified nearly two years ago and trialled in the past year, with Environment Southland adopting it in a public-excluded council meeting yesterday.
Under the new rules, all new dairy farms need a resource consent before becoming operational.
Applicants require a conversion environmental plan, which includes a soil assessment, a nutrient management plan and a winter grazing plan.
This imposes additional fees on top of those already charged for water and discharge permits and could cost farmers about $1000 in total.
Environment Southland chairwoman Ali Timms said the rule would provide the council with a tool to meet the community’s concerns for water quality, while also meeting the council’s national obligations.
The new rules would help to ensure Southland’s water quality did not decline any further, she said. . .
ES is the first council to require consent for dairying.
Other councils could follow, though it would be sensible to wait and see whether the plan change works as it is intended to.
Few would argue with the intention to improve water quality but it will take some time to determine if this is the best way to achieve it.
Quote of the day:
. . . Labour couldn’t run a bath – and if they did, it would leak. But would the leak be deliberate or accidental? Who, after the last week, can say? There was a flurry of discussion over whether the leaks about David Cunliffe’s secret trust, and then the Clare Curran email snafu, were on purpose or by accident. Malice or stupidity? There is perhaps a third, blended category: Malicidity. A combination of malice and stupidity, treachery and boneheadedness. . . Trans Tasman
A majority of caucus saddled with a leader they didn’t prefer; fissions and factions within and between caucus and members . . .
It would be a reasonably safe bet that the leaks would be deliberate.
Why would anyone oppose schools which are proven to be successful?
. . . All four Harlem Success Academy charters serve primarily minority student populations (all are 93.5 to 97.1% black and Hispanic) and low-income households (75 to 80% of students qualify for free or reduced lunch), and yet all are ranked academically higher than about 97% of all schools in New York state based on standardized test assessments in math and reading.
What a truly amazing academic success story!
Q: With those kinds of impressive results for some of the city’s most at-risk student populations in Harlem, couldn’t that proven record of academic success be replicated in all public schools? Wouldn’t you think that these Harlem charter schools would be recognized as academic models for the rest of the city and the state?
A: In a more sane world where students and learning are the No. 1 priority, the educational establishment would be “falling all over itself” to copy the proven educational success of charter schools like the ones in Harlem profiled above. But in the insane world of New York City, the liberal mayor and liberal teacher unions are waging a war on the city’s successful charter schools like the ones operated by Success Academy Charter Schools. Preservation of the status quo and a continuation of the current failed public school model, and preserving its power, are the primary concerns of the teachers unions and their administrative enablers, which now includes the new New York mayor. . .
This sounds familiar.
New Zealand’s first partnership schools have only recently been established but unions and opposition MPs aren’t giving them a chance.
Opposition parties and unions have already damned charter schools here.
Conventional schools work well for most pupils but they don’t work well for all..
Those young people who for a myriad of reasons fail in, or are failed by, conventional schools should be given a chance to succeed in partnership schools.
Damning them before they’ve had a chance to show what they can do is playing politics with pupils most in need of something more than business as usual in conventional schools is offering.
One of the criticisms of the living wage is that it takes no account of the relationship between the cost of an employee and the value of his or her work.
If the cost gets out of kilter with the value the employer is going to look for alternatives like this:
. . . In the new concept video, Pizza Hut swaps out the tables at its dine-in restaurants for massive touch-screen displays. Once you sit down, the first thing you’ll do is place your smartphone on the electronic table, activating the display and automatically signing into your own personalized account. Then you’ll design your pizza using the interactive screen before finalizing your order and paying through your device. Finally, the display lets you and your friends play popular mobile games while you wait. . .
This is only a concept, it will be a long time before it is implemented, if it ever is.
People will still be needed to cook the pizzas, bring them to the table and clean up after the diners but technology like this could reduce the number of waiting staff needed.
The more expensive staff become, the greater the cost of employing people in relationship to the value they provide, the more attractive technology to replace them becomes.
Hat tip: AEIdeas
3 News can reveal Labour Party leader David Cunliffe failed to declare a financial trust, as MPs are required to do with investments.
He initially tried to keep the trust off the official record – but was forced to make a late change.
“I’m the beneficiary of the Bozzie Family Trust and a bare trust called ICSL which does savings and investments,” he says.
A check of the latest register of MP’s Pecuniary Interests shows only one of these two was actually declared on time – The Bozzie Trust, which owns his house.
He left out the ICSL trust and was forced to correct the register by making a late declaration posted on the website. . .
Mr Cunliffe refused to front to media on the issue, instead releasing a statement through his office saying it was initially left out because “legal advice” was it didn’t need to be disclosed.
Mr Cunliffe got further advice from the registrar, who said “if in doubt – declare it”. . .
. . . The register covers February 1, 2012 to January 31 last year and Mr Cunliffe joined the trust in March, 2012.
The deadline to declare was almost a year later on February 28, 2013, but he declared four months late on July 16. . .
One of the good points of MMP is that it ought to make it easier to find candidates to stand in electorates they have little if any hope of winning.
When it’s the party vote that counts, maximising that is more important than winning a seat and the candidate who does well campaigning in tiger territory has a better chance of entering parliament on the party list.
That’s the theory but it doesn’t seem to be helping Labour in practice:
The Labour Party is still without a candidate for the Rangitata electorate for this year’s general election.
A party spokesman said it had extended the deadline for another month after it did not receive any applications before the February 28 cut-off date.
Julian Blanchard stood unsuccessfully against incumbent Jo Goodhew of the National Party in 2008 and 2011, but has said he has no intention of standing this year.
Mrs Goodhew won by 8112 votes in 2008 and 6537 votes in 2011. . . .
Labour shouldn’t take any comfort for the drop in her majority.
Local support for Allan Hubbard in the face of SFO investigations, which was beyond the MP’s control, accounts for that.
So much for David Cunliffe’s claim that Rangitata was winnable for Labour.
That the party opened nominations without a likely candidate doesn’t say much for its organisational ability and problems with that are showing in Invercargill where they still don’t have a candidate either.
Lesley Soper was the only one nominated but the party re-opened nominations when sitting National’s MP Eric Roy announced his retirement.
Michael Gibson is now contesting the Labour nomination against Soper but the party has yet to announce which of the two it will be.
Whoever, it is, won’t find it easy to challenge National’s candidate, Sarah Dowie. While Labour’s still sorting out who will run, she has begun her campaign.
She was selected on Friday evening and hit the ground running or more literally walking – spending a good part of the weekend competing in the Relay for Life.
Given Labour’s dislike of Soper and its policy to have an equal number of men and women MPs, neither she nor Gibson can expect the reward of a list place for the work they do in the electorate.
Labour has confirmed that documents on its ICT strategy accidentally sent to the Government came from David Cunliffe’s office, not Clare Curran’s as widely reported yesterday.
Yesterday Curran, the Dunedin South MP, supplied Parliamentary media with copies of an email saying they had been accidentally sent from her office to that of Communications Minister Amy Adams.
The document contained a large number of policy ideas as well as speech notes signalling plans to announce free individual devices for pupils in low decile schools.
However late last night Labour’s chief press secretary Simon Cunliffe confirmed that the email sent in error actually came not from Curran’s office, but from that of the Labour leader.
While Simon Cunliffe would not say who the particular staffer was, Fairfax has been told it came from Rob Egan, a former communications manager for the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment. . .
Was this a deliberate and misguided attempt to take the heat of Cunliffe over the untrustworthy trust donations debacle at the expense of the not-universally popular Curran?
Why did Curran say her office was responsible when it wasn’t?
Whatever the answer to those questions is, this is another example of Labour’s inability to run itself which shows it’s far from ready to run the country.