Labour wants to meddle in meat industry

July 28, 2014

Labour loves to meddle in businesses where it has no business to be and if it gets into government it will be meddling in the meat industry:

Labour will create more jobs and wealth by providing the leadership and funding to help participants reform the meat sector through developing a larger scale sustainable model as part of our Economic Upgrade for the sector, Labour’s Primary Industries spokesperson Damien O’Connor says.

“The meat sector continues to decline and must meet new challenges to maintain a secure and skilled workforce. Like our wider economy it needs an upgrade to compete overseas.

“Labour will do this by encouraging the creation of businesses with real market scale and, if required, we will look to amend the Commerce Act to achieve this aim. We will also work with Iwi and large agricultural companies to consolidate efforts and interests for the long term. . .

The meat industry is dominated by two farmer-owned co-operatives and there are also several smaller players.

What they do and how they do it is primarily the business of these businesses and their shareholders.

Minister for Primary Industries Nathan Guy has repeatedly, and correctly, said he will not intervene unless there sector comes up with a plan supported by the players which requires his assistance.

Anything else would be interference in private enterprise where the government has no right to be.

The industry does have challenges but Guy, and the National Party, understand any change in the meat industry must come from farmers and the processing companies.

Any attempt to impose a solution from the government down would be expensive and have the potential to contravene free trade agreements.


Apology for a team

July 23, 2014

Today’s general debate began with some apologies:

Hon STEVEN JOYCE (Minister for Economic Development): I move, That the House take note of miscellaneous business. In the general debate this afternoon I think we should on this occasion start with apologies. I think we should start with apologies. I would like to lead off with a few apologies. * No. 1: I am sorry for being a man. Has that been done before? [Interruption] Oh, OK, I will try this one—I will try another one. I am sorry for having a holiday.

Hon Bill English: That’s been done before, too.

Hon STEVEN JOYCE: Oh, OK. I am sorry for wearing a red scarf. [Interruption] No. Oh, I know: I am sorry for having a moa resuscitation plan. That has got to be new—that has got to be new. [Interruption] No? Another one for you, Mr Speaker: I am sorry for having a secret trust. That would be—

Hon Bill English: No, that’s been done.

Hon STEVEN JOYCE: That has been done? I am sorry for not telling you about my secret trust, Mr Speaker. Has that been done? And, most of all, Mr Speaker, I am sorry you found about my secret trust. I have another one: I am sorry for being tricky. That has been done before? Well, we have seen a lot of apologies, but from now on I am going to be straight up. I am going to stick to the Labour knitting. That is what I am going to do, with the exception of this stuff. This train is leaving the station. It has left a few times before, but this time it is definitely leaving the station. This is my team. This is my team, except, to be fair, Shane Jones. He is not on the team any more, no. Dover Samuels—he is not on the team any more. Andrew Little—he is not really on the team any more. Damien O’Connor and Rino Tirikatene—they are not really on the team because they crossed the floor. But aside from Shane Jones, Dover Samuels, Andrew Little, Damien O’Connor, and Rino Tirikatene, this is my team.

Hon Member: What about Annette?

Hon STEVEN JOYCE: Well, actually, not Annette. She is not really on the team, either, or Phil, because they work hard. They get out in the country, working hard. Clayton is not really on the team. To be fair, I do not think he has ever been on the team. Trevor is not so much on the team—not really on the team. But, aside from Shane, Dover, Andrew, Damien, Rino, Annette, Phil, Clayton, and Trevor, this is my team. This is my team. Well, actually, you have got to exclude Grant, to be fair, because Grant is not really on my team, or David Parker—he is not on the team—or Chris Hipkins. He is not on it. I am not sure about Stuart Nash. I think he is on the team. He must be on the team because he said: “It wasn’t me.” He said in the * Hawke’s Bay Today that he denies the claim that he criticised Cunliffe, although, on the other hand, he also said this: “I must admit when I read it [the newspaper quoting the party source], apart from the swearing, it sounds a little bit like me.” “It sounded like me.”, Mr Nash said. And he said that he was not the source and that the comments could have come from “any of the 15,000 members who were out putting up hoardings in the rain or delivering pamphlets in the cold or this sort of carry-on”. So this is my team, except for Shane Jones, Dover Samuels, Andrew Little, Damien O’Connor, Rino Tirikatene, Annette King, Phil Goff, Clayton Cosgrove, Trevor Mallard, Grant Robertson, David Parker, Chris Hipkins, Kelvin Davis, Stuart Nash, and the 15,000 members of the Labour Party who would have said what I did not say in the newspaper. That is my team. It is game on—it is game on. The Labour Party is marching to the election, united as a single team. That is what is going on. And, of course, we now have the regional growth policy, which we share with the Greens. The regional growth policy—here it is. It is out today. One, put a capital gains tax on every productive business. Two, have a carbon tax at five times the current price. Three, introduce big levies for the use of fresh water. Four, restore a national awards system, which would force regional employers to pay what they pay in Auckland. Five, stop any more trade deals. Six, clamp down on the dairy industry. Seven, clamp down on the oil and gas industry. And then, the coup de grâce*, , when that has all been done and the regions have all fallen over, is to give them a $200 million slush fund to make them feel better. The Labour Party should apologise for that, as well.


When party vote doesn’t count

July 16, 2014

Under MMP it’s the party vote that counts.

That’s the one which determines how may seats a party gets and ultimately which parties are in government.

That’s the message parties try to give to voters and it’s the one their MPs are supposed to give too.

But Duncan Garner has noticed that at least three Labour MPs are giving a very good indication that they’re a lot more interested in staying in parliament than helping their party get into government.

Three Labour MPs have broken ranks in recent weeks – quite loudly and very publicly.

They are interested in one thing: self-preservation. They want to win their seats and they’ve given up relying on their party. They are clearly concerned Labour will poll poorly on election night, so they’ve decided to run their own campaigns – away from head office and away from the leader.

These MPs have either chosen not to be on the list or they have a low-list spot. They are vulnerable. It’s all or nothing for them.

They must win their seats to return to Parliament; this sort of pressure usually focuses an MP’s mind. They want to be back in Parliament and they want the $150k salary.

I’m talking about West Coast-Tasman MP, Damien O’Connor, Hutt South MP, Trevor Mallard and list MP and Te Tai Tokerau candidate, Kelvin Davis.

Mallard either turned down the list spot he was offered or chose not to go on it.  O’Connor and Davis will need Labour to get more support than it’s had in recent polls to get a list seat.

Take Davis: yesterday he engaged Labour in its biggest u-turn in years. He told me he supported the Puhoi-Wellsford road project that his party has openly mocked and criticised.

Labour MPs call it the holiday highway; David Cunliffe has campaigned against it. Labour, until yesterday, was going to can the project upon taking office. Who knows where they stand now!

Davis told me people in the north tell him they want the controversial project and so does he.

The rest of Labour don’t understand how important this road is to the people of Northland  and how insulting it is to them to refer to it as a holiday highway.

Further south in Wellington, Trevor Mallard is openly campaigning for the return of the moa – against the wishes of his party and the leadership. It’s a desperate cry for attention: Mallard needs visibility and the moa got him the headlines.

That this is the best idea he can come up with to get attention speaks volumes about him and the elvel of desperation to which he’s sunk.

And further south again, Damien O’Connor voted with the Government 10 days ago to allow storm-damaged native trees to be harvested in protected forests.

That supposedly showed his strength but it also showed he’s incapable of getting his party to see sense.

These three blokes are the outliers in the Labour Caucus. And they are blokes too; they need to make some noise to be heard. They clearly have issues with the tame approach within their caucus.

They want to stand out and stand for something that their electorates want (not sure that Hutt South really wants the moa back, though!).

O’Connor and Davis certainly look in touch with middle New Zealand, their electorates and their issues. They have given the one-fingered salute to their struggling party and put self-preservation first.

Who can blame them?

Their colleagues and the volunteers in the party who are still working to stem the slipping in support which threatens to turn into a landslide will blame them.

If they can’t persuade all their MPs it’s the party vote that counts, how can they hope to persuade voters?


Liu case going septic for Labour

July 4, 2014

The Liu case is becoming more septic for Labour:

A former Labour Minister intervened three times in the immigration bid of Donghua Liu including waiving the English language requirement for the millionaire businessman.

Damien O’Connor, in his role as the associate Immigration Minister, wrote three letters to Liu’s advisor Warren Kyd – the former National Party MP – before deciding to grant residency against the advice of officials the day before the 2005 election.

The West Coast MP has said he cannot remember why he granted residency to the businessman whose links to both National and Labour have created political waves this year.

But letters released to the Herald under the Official Information Act show Mr O’Connor was being lobbied by Mr Kyd on behalf of Liu in the lead up to the tightly fought election. . .

The first, dated June 1 2005, . . .

A second letter to Mr Kyd, dated August 9 2005, reveals Mr O’Connor said “it is not my normal practice to intervene in the established immigration application process, however, I have decided to make an exception in this case. . .

A third letter to Mr Kyd, dated September 16, 2005 – the day before the election – stated Mr O’Connor had considered the case carefully and “decided to intervene”.

“I am therefore instructing the Department of Labour Immigration Service to grant residence to Mr Liu as an exception to policy. The grant of residence will be subject to Mr Liu completing an application form, paying an application fee and meeting health and character requirements”.

The residency was granted under the terms of the Investor Category at the time.

Mr O’Connor has told the Herald he cannot remember the circumstances in which he granted Liu’s application.

To forget one letter might be understandable, forgetting two looks distinctly careless and three is simply not credible.

Labour needs its annual conference this weekend to go without a hitch.

It’s already starting with criticism of closing most sessions to the media and now it will have the shadow of the Liu controversy hanging over it as well.


It’s the party vote that counts

June 28, 2014

The absence of so many of Labour’s sitting MPs and candidates from its list raises questions about those people’s focus.

The confusion is compounded by comments like this from Dunedin South MP Clare Curran:

. . . ”I’m 100% committed to the party vote around Dunedin and the region. My total focus will be on this campaign and that is behind my decision to withdraw from the list.” . . .

Not being on the list sends a strong signal that she’ll be campaigning to hold her seat as the only way to remain in parliament. Quite how that helps maximise the party vote isn’t clear.

National won the party vote in Dunedin South in 2011. The first priority of its candidate, Dunedin born-and-bred Hamish Walker is to build on that but Curran is vulnerable in the seat too.

So are at least four other Labour MPs.

. . . In a sign that National is taking nothing for granted sources say it has also targeted four Labour MPs in seats it thinks it can win – Trevor Mallard in Hutt South, Ruth Dyson in Port Hills, Damien O’Connor in West Coast and Iain Lees-Galloway in Palmerston North.

National’s strategy could disrupt Labour’s efforts to maximise the party vote, given that the survival of those MPs could hinge on them campaigning for the electorate vote instead to keep their political careers afloat. . .

A majority of the electorate votes will keep an MP in, or get a candidate into, parliament.

But it’s the party vote which gets them in to government.

That should always be the priority and in spite of the polls, there is no certainty over which parties will be in government after the election:

. . . With a string of polls showing National around 50 per cent, Key will warn them that voter turnout could be the decider and not to assume the election is a done deal.

‘‘I will reiterate the message that while National is doing very well in the polls in reality this is going to be a very tight election,’’ Key said yesterday.

‘‘This is a race to 61 seats and despite the fact Labour is polling very poorly it could still hold hands with the Greens and NZ First, potentially Internet-Mana, and form a government. So there is no room for complacency within National.’’  . . .

Labour’s dismal polling and unpopular leader should make an election win easy for National, but it’s the total block of party votes for right or left that matters and that will allow one or other of those parties to lead the next government.


Divided they’re falling

June 27, 2014

Two Labour MPs crossed the floor to support the windblown timber bill being debated under urgency yesterday:

Damien O’Connor and Rino Tirikatene backed the Government’s bill to allow the retrieval of trees felled in Cyclone Ita from some parts of the West Coast conservation estate, while their colleagues opposed it.

O’Connor attacked the bill during the debate on the first reading, but the debate was completed by 72 to 46 with National, NZ First, Maori Party, United Future, Brendan Horan and two Labour votes in favour.

At the beginning of the debate Conservation Minister Nick Smith said the damage done by Cyclone Ita was substantial and an environmental tragedy. It left a dilemma about what to do with the wood.

The West Coast Wind-blown Timber (Conservation Lands) Bill
had to be passed urgently as the beech which could be recovered would be too rotten by spring, other wood would last longer and this could be recovered over the five year life of the bill.

It would have been complex to allow the timber retrieval under existing rules and the bill would exclude the high conservation value areas such as National Parks, but it would be allowed in some of the conservation estate. There would be conditions over safety and environmental protections.

Smith said arguments the removal of timber would prevent regeneration was wrong because only a small amount would be recovered. He said Labour was split on the issue and claimed West Coast MP Damien O’Connor could cross the floor.

The wood would provide jobs in the West Coast, Smith said.

Labour’s Ruth Dyson said the bill was not a serious attempt to help West Coast, but a political stunt. The Conservation Act provided for storm felled timber to remain on the ground, so forests could regenerate.

If the bill would provide long term jobs on the West Coast, Labour would support it, but there was no commitment in the Bill to this.

Dyson said the bill would rule out Resource Management Act provisions and it would “devastate” the timber sector who had permits to log native timber as the market would be flooded.

West Coast MP Damien O’Connor said he would support the bill if it guaranteed the jobs created by the log retrieval would stay on the West Coast. The Government wanted the logs exported from his electorate, he said.

There was potential from the logs on the ground, but it would be dangerous to retrieve and much of it would have to be helicoptered out.

He had some “interesting and robust” debates with his colleagues; he believed the logs could be removed without environmental damage. O’Connor said he believed only the rimu would be worth extracting and they would be extracted by logging crews from outside the West Coast and processed elsewhere.

The Greens totally opposed the bill as it believed all the conservation estate should be protected, Eugenie Sage said.

NZ First MP Richard Prosser said the bill should not be passed under Urgency, but it would be supported to committee stage where it wanted changes to made. NZ First wanted the jobs created to go to New Zealand companies and preferably West Coast ones with no logs exported and 25% of royalties to go back to the region. It also wanted the RMA to apply to the operations.

Maori Party Leader Te Ururoa Flavell said the cyclone had caused terrible damage, but this was nature at work. Local Maori felt the felled timber should be used without wasting it. The timber would not be taken from National Parks or other high value conservation land and the conditions would ensure a small proportion of logs were removed in a safe and environmentally friendly way.

After the vote on the first reading MPs moved immediately to the second reading.

The bill completed its second reading by 65 to 51 with National, Maori Party, United Future, Brendan Horan and two Labour votes in favour.

NZ First reversed its initial support in the first reading. . . . 

O’Connor  noisily declined a place on Labour’s list before the last election, he’s back on it this time but if he’s prepared to demonstrate the internal divisions in the party so dramatically he would have been better to keep off it again.

The two Labour votes weren’t needed to pass the Bill so the floor-crossing was playing to the gallery in the electorates they hope will vote for them.

That might help them stay in parliament but confirmation of disunity  will make it more difficult for them, and their party, to get into government.

National is united and standing tall, Labour is divided and falling in the polls:

Support for the Labour Party has dropped 2.2 percent to 27.3 percent in the latest 3 News-Reid Research poll – lower than its share of the vote at the last election.

The poll surveyed 750 eligible New Zealander voters between June 19 and 25, amid the controversy over businessman Donghua Liu’s alleged donations to Labour.

Labour leader David Cunliffe received his lowest rating since taking over the role in November last year. Only 26.3 percent of those surveyed think he is performing well as leader of the Opposition.

National is meanwhile polling at 49.7 percent, down 0.6 percent from the last poll – but still indicating it could govern alone with a 63-seat share of a 122-seat Parliament.

John Key has been given his highest rating as preferred Prime Minister since November 2011, with 46.7 percent support.

On this question Mr Cunliffe is polling in single figures, down 0.2 percent to 9.6 percent.

Mr Key has also received his highest rating since November 2011 when it comes to people who think he is a capable leader – 82.3 percent say he is.

NZ First received only 3.6 percent of the vote, dropping 2 percent from the last poll and placing them under the 5 percent party vote threshold for getting into Parliament.

However the Green Party are up 2.5 percent to 12.7 percent, and the Conservative Party are back up at 2.8 percent – equalling their highest-ever poll result so far.

Hone Harawira and Kim Dotcom’s project Internet Mana debuts at 1.8 percent.

The full results are here and give a total of 69 seats to National and its coalition partners and only 53 to the combined left.

It is very unlikely the results will be this good for National in the election but with less than three months until the election there’s not much time for Labour to get better.

And if they keep looking divided they’re more likely to continue falling than start climbing.


Can Labour see wood for trees?

June 24, 2014

The Green Party can’t see the wood for the trees.

It’s letting itself be blinded by its ideology to oppose the sensible, and environmentally sensitive, recovery of thousands of hectares of native trees felled by Cyclone Ita.

National’s West Coast-Tasman candidate lobbied Conservation Minister Nick Smith to allow the recovery and said:

. . .  that with the downturn in international coal and gold prices, the extra forestry and sawmilling work this decision “would be a welcome filler for jobs and economic activities on the West Coast”.

Sitting MP, Labour’s Damien O’Connor is not quite so enthusiastic:

West Coast-Tasman MP Labour’s Damien O’Connor said he wanted to read the bill before deciding how he would vote, although he thought National would “just” have the numbers to get it through.
He said on the face of it, it seemed logical, and trying to reduce waste from the storm and create opportunities was sensible: “Any opportunities for our region at the moment are welcome.”
However, they had to be mindful not to flood the market, and squeeze out existing operators. . .

Perhaps his caution is prompted by not being sure whether his party will back him if he supports the recovery.

It was Labour which stopped logging on the Coast and it’s in a difficult position.

It’s caught between knowing it should support something which will provide jobs even if it means supporting a government initiative, and not wanting to buy another disagreement with the party it’s most likely to need as a coalition partner if it’s too have any chance of forming a government this year.

That would mean it too take the short-sighted focus on the trees which nature felled of the wider view of the woods which could provide much-needed work for Coasters?


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