How to apologise properly

July 24, 2014

Transport Minister Gerry Bronlee shows how to apologise properly:

Earlier today, running late for a plane at Christchurch Airport, I without thought breached airport and airline security rules by entering the gate lounge through a door usually used for exit only.

Running late for a plane is no excuse for bypassing a security check.

In doing this I have broken aviation rules and put individuals who hold responsible positions in upholding public security in a compromised position.

My actions were thoughtless and I unreservedly apologise to those people who felt and were compromised by my actions.

No one else is to blame.

I have offered my resignation as the Minister of Transport to the Prime Minister.

There are no excuses for what he did, he makes none, accepts full responsibility and apologises sincerely and without reservations.


Roads to somewhere

June 30, 2014

The single-lane Kawarau Falls Bridge at Frankton has been a bottle-neck for years.

Over the peak holiday period last summer traffic waiting to cross it queued for several kilometres.

Delays like this don’t just waste time, they waste money and fuel.

But in spite of pleas for urgency the best the NZ Transport Agency could come up with was:

. . . The project is now ready to proceed to detailed design and construction when funding is available.

The next phase of the project is not currently programmed but is likely to be included in the 2015/18 Otago Regional Land Transport Programme. From there it may be approved for funding as part of the 2015/18 National Land Transport Programme and an expected construction date can be set. . .

That was until yesterday when Prime Minister John Key announced $212 million from the Future Investment Fund for a package of 14 regionally important State highway projects.

Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee says the government is committing up to $80 million from the package to accelerate five critically important regional projects, with work beginning next year.

These five projects are:

  • Kawarau Falls Bridge, in Otago
  • Mingha Bluff to Rough Creek realignment, in Canterbury
  • Akerama Curves Realignment and Passing Lane, in Northland
  • State Highway 35 Slow Vehicle Bays, in Gisborne
  • Normanby Overbridge Realignment, in Taranaki.

“These projects are fully investigated and designed, and address current safety, resilience or productivity issues, but construction wasn’t due to begin until late this decade or after 2020,” Mr Brownlee says.

“Following today’s announcement construction on these projects could begin in 2014/15, and be completed by 2016/17.

“The government is committed to fund the next six projects with an additional $115 million and subject to the usual investigations, construction would be expected to begin within three years on each of these projects.

The six projects are:

  • Whirokino Trestle Bridge replacement, in Manawatu/Wanganui
  • Motu Bridge replacement, in Gisborne
  • Opawa and Wairau Bridge replacements, in Marlborough
  • Taramakau Road/Rail Bridge, on the West Coast
  • Loop road north to Smeatons Hill safety improvements, in Northland
  • Mt Messenger and Awakino Gorge Corridor, in Taranaki.

“A further $12 million will be available to accelerate investigation and design of three large projects in Hawke’s Bay, Nelson and the Bay of Plenty,” Mr Brownlee says.

These projects are:

  • Port of Napier access package, in Hawke’s Bay
  • Nelson Southern Link, in Nelson
  • Rotorua Eastern Arterial, in Bay of Plenty.

“Each project could then be considered for funding under the proposed Regional Improvements activity class in the next Government Policy Statement on land transport.

“By directly funding some of the most crucial State highway improvements, the government is freeing up more funding in the Regional Improvements activity class for other priority projects.

“This funding package also strongly complements the government’s Roads of National Significance programme, ensuring people and freight reach their destinations quickly and safety,” Mr Brownlee says.

 Not all of these roads will get as much traffic as the Kawarau bridge but all are important links in the regional roading network.

When National announced its policy of partially selling a few state owned assets it said some of the money would be invested in other assets and infrastructure.

Without the proceeds from the partial sales these projects would either not go ahead so soon or would have had to have been funded from more borrowing.

With the money the roads will be improved sooner, making transport faster and safer.

#‎TeamKey‬ is working for New Zealand, building roads to somewhere in stark contrast to the left whose policies will take us nowhere.

We're committing an extra $212m across 14 regional roading projects that will make these roads safer, increase regional productivity and improve the way our roading network operates. http://ntnl.org.nz/1jxfGlO


Politics Daily

June 15, 2014

This is an attempt to replace Dr Bryce Edwards’ daily political round-up while he’s taking a break.

I’m not pretending to be balanced.

While I link to a range of news stories, the blogs I link to are usually from the centre to the bluer end of the political spectrum or the more reasonable or witty bits of the pink to red end.

You’re welcome to leave links to other news and blogs in comments.

Election

Torben Akel @ TV3 – The new breed of career MPs

TV3 – National too hard to beat – Craig

TV3 – Patrick Gower interviews Conservative Party Leader Colin Craig

Danyl  Mclauchlan @ Dim Post – The awful choice

Vernon Small & Josh Fagan  @ – No easy ride on the Shore for Craig

Cameron Slater @ Whale Oil – Why Colin Craig is a political fool

Scott Palmer @ Interest.Co.NZ – Election 2014 – Party Policies – Party Philosophies

Craig Simpson @ Interest.Co.NZ – http://www.interest.co.nz/news/69928/budget-2014-summary-all-spending-plans”>Budget 2014 – Spending plan

Scott Palmer @ Interest.Co.NZ – Election 2014 – Party Policies – Immigration

Tim Watkin @ Pundit – Dirty deal dancing – when Colin finally meets Key

Peter Dunne – UnitedFuture candidates announced

Beehive

Paula Bennett – Are you that someone – let’s stop sexual violence campaign

Paula Bennett – Work and Income support pays off

Gerry Brownlee – New start for Re:START mall

Nikki Kaye – 500 schools connected to Network for Learning

Jo Goodhew – Inclusive communities help prevent elder abuse

IMP

Rodney Hide @ NZ Herald –  Hilarious Dotcom drama is riveting

Trade

TVNZ – Groser – Government may not seek bipartisan support for TPP

Education

TV3 – Patrick Gower interviews Education Minister Hekia Parata

Social Media

Inventory 2 @ Keeping Stock – Another SMOG from guess who?

Matthew Beveridge - 2014 Election Campaign Social Media Awards

Inventory 2 @ Keeping Stock – Whatever happened to Tamati’s tweet?

Matthew Beveridge – It isn’t the crime, it is the cover up: Tamati Coffey

Matthew Beveridge – Twitter Stats: 13 June

Matthew Beveridge - Twitter Stats 13 June

Team NZ

NZ Taxpayers’ Union - Government Should Say No to More America’s Cup Money

Kerre McIvor @ NZ Herald – Eyeing cup again? Go fund yourselves

Alf Grumble – Grant Dalton should forget about taxpayers puffing more wind into Team NZ’s sails

Winston Peters

David Farrar @ Kiwiblog – Winston’s $158,000 and the Susan Couch trust

Brendan Horan

David Fisher @ NZ Herald – Horan’s half-brother instigated changes to mother’s will

David Fisher @ NZ Herald – Horan: our side of the story

David Farrar @ Kiwiblog - Horan’s side

Labour

The Veteran @ No Minister - Blood sports – better than the ABs (or Cs) even

Crime

David Farrar @ Kiwiblog –

Forestry

Inventory 2 @ Keeping Stock – Another crisis averted

Cameron Slater @ Whale Oil – Looks like Labour’s forestry crisis is over

Other

Cameron Slater @ Whale Oil – If you are an MP, the small laws are really just suggestions

The Veteran @ No Minister - On The EU and the Common Agriculture Policy madness

TV3 - Lisa Owen interviews Professor Jonathan Boston and Children’s Commissioner Russell Wills


Politics Daily

June 12, 2014

This is an attempt to replace Dr Bryce Edwards’ daily political round-up while he’s taking a break. I’m not pretending to be balanced. While I link to a range of news stories, the blogs I link to are usually from the centre to the bluer end of the political spectrum or the more reasonable or witty bits of the pink to red end. You’re welcome to leave links to other news and blogs in comments.

Election

Claire Trevatt @ NZ Herald – NZ Game of Thrones – does Cunliffe dare to play?

David Farrar @ Kiwiblog - Caucus can safely roll Cunliffe from next week

John Armstrong, Adam Bennett & Isaac Davison @ NZ Herald – Election 2014: Parties ready but are you?

CameronSlater @ Whale Oil – The magic “Seven reasons” that will drive this election

Pattrick Smellie @ Stuff – Early date a savvy move from PM

Vernon Small @ Stuff - Curious case of deal with Craig

David Farrar # Kiwiblog – National’s potential election deals

Cameron Slater @ Whale Oil – Paranoid Winston Peters dumps candidate?

Nookin @ Keeping Stock – A guest post on a new Labour policy

Pete George  @ YourNZ – Civilian Party and United Future announce campaign deal

Beehive

Chris Finlayson - Agreement in Principle signed with the iwi and hapū of Te Wairoa

Chris Finlayson – Screen NZ formed to boost NZ’s profile on world stage

Todd McLay – Intergovernmental FATCA agreement signed

Tony Ryall – Health Minister opens $67m Whakatane Hospital

Steven Joyce – International education numbers set to grow

Gerry Brownlee - Performing arts precinct off to an exciting start

Hekia Parata – Pegasus School opens

OCR

Brian Fellow @ NZ Herald – Wheeler yanks the leash

Tony Field @ TV3 – OCR rise good for savers

David Farrar @ Kiwiblog – OCR goes to 3.25%

Crime

Rachel Smalley – Labour politicising a terrible tragedy

Inventory 2 @ Keeping Stock – Smalley tears into Labour

David Farrar @ Kiwiblog – Violent crime

Education

Inventory 2 @ Why don’t they mention the PPTA?

David Farrar @ Kiwiblog – Labour against paying the top teachers more

Other

David Farrar @ Kiwiblog – Misrepresenting the current abortion law

Cameron SLater @ Whale Oil – David Cunliffe upsets Chief District Court Judge

David Farrar @ Kiwiblog –

Cameron Slater @ Whale Oil – Fine tuning immigration to drop Auckland House prices? Reserve Bank says yeah… Nah

Pete George @ YourNZ – Labour vs Reserve Bank on immigration

Cameron Slater @ Whale Oil – Trevor Mallard continues to show that for Labour, facts are optional

Matthew Beveridge – Compare and Contrast: Chris Tremain and Todd Barclay


Politics Daily

June 9, 2014

This is an attempt to replace Dr Bryce Edwards’ daily political round-up while he’s taking a break.

I’m not pretending to be balanced.

While I link to a range of news stories, the blogs I link to are usually from the centre to the bluer end of the political spectrum or the more reasonable or witty bits of the pink to red end.

You’re welcome to leave links to other news and blogs in comments.

Electoral Act breaches

Inventory 2 @ Keeping Stock – Some thoughts on Electoral Act breaches

Cameron Slater @ Whale Oil – Why won’t the Police act with complaints from the Electoral Commission?

Cameron Slater @ Whale Oil – Andrew Little just drew a great big target on the backs of his Labour pals

Beehive

Steven Joyce, Tony Ryall – $78m in health research funding announced

Murray McCully – NZ support for new Pacific eye care centre

Tim Groser – Address to business chambers event – Philippines

Act

Dan Satherley @ TV3 – ACT ‘determined to play straight’ – Whyte

Pete George @ Your NZ – Different impressions of Jamie Whyte

John Banks

TV3 – Sympathy for Banks despite differences

Rob Hosking @ NBR Banks’ departure will clear the air

Michael Fox and Hamish Rutherford @ Stuff -  John Banks’ votes would’ve been rejected

Audrey Young – Conviction delay blindsided Act MP

Tracy Watkins @ Stuff – Banks departure a less messy solution

Danyl Mclauchlan @ Dim Post – Silly Laws

TV3 – IPCA considers John Banks inquiry

Labour

Gerry Brownlee – A lawyer’s field day at the taxpayers’ expense

Insurance Council of NZ – Earthquake Court approach misguided

David Farrar @ Kiwiblog – Labour’s insurance court

Pete George @ Your NZ - Labour soul searching

No right Turn - A paucity of vision

Cameron Slater @ Whale Oil – Labour has lost their lost their raison d’etre

Inventory 2 @ Keeping Stock - Comment of the Day – 9 June 2014

IMP

Pete George @ Your NZ – Dotcom and citizenship

Russel Brown @ Public Address - Meanwhile back at the polls

Green Party

David Farrar @ Kiwiblog – The Greens want 3D printing for NZ

Cameron Slater @ Whale Oil – Green Taliban’s “3D blueprint” for the future nothing but hype

Other

Education

Hekia Parata – Teachers take role in leadership plan

Inventory 2 @ Keeping Stock – Parata on the IES programme

David Farrar @ Kiwiblog - The “Tea Party” left

Matthew Beveridge - Leaving on a jet plane 2

Matthew Beveridge - A blast from the past

Stacey Kirk @ Stuff -  Civilian Party ‘a joke on taxpayers’

Eric Crampton @ Offsetting Behaviour – Value for Money election broadcasting edition

David Farrar @ Kiwiblog - Joyce rated more valuable than Cunliffe

Cameron Slater @ Whale Oil – Why readers are turned off by main stream media and voting with their dollars


Politics Daily

June 3, 2014

New Zealand Politics Daily is taking  a break.

I don’t have the time or inclination to provide the same service of a reasonably comprehensive list of links to news stories and blog posts on issues of the day.

However, I’m willing to start with a few and invite anyone who has read anything I’ve missed to add a link to it in a comment.

I won’t pretend to be balanced – there will be more links to blogs of a bluer hue. Anyone who wants the red and green end of the spectrum better represented is welcome to leave links.

John Key in Samoa

BeehiveNZ to invest $1 million into Samoa’s tourism sector:

Prime Minister John Key has today announced New Zealand will invest $1 million to help boost Samoa’s tourism sector. . .

Tova O’Brien - Pacific voters warming to National:

With large sections of New Zealand’s Pacific Island community now gravitating towards National, the battle for the Pacific vote has gone offshore. . . .

Immigration

David Farrar @ Kiwiblog – So what will Labour cut?

is claiming that it will cut migrant numbers by somewhere between 20,000 and 35,000 to get net migration from 40,000 to somewhere between 5,000 and 20,000. . .

Pete George @ Your NZ – Cunliffe still vague on immigration:

Cunliffe was interviewed about immigration on Q & A on Sunday. . .

Housing

Hannah McLeod @ Southland times - State house sales reap $4m:

Millions of dollars from state housing sales in the south could be going towards new homes in Auckland. . .

Catherine Harris @ Stuff – ‘Holistic’ plan for housing sought:

New Zealand needs a wider discussion about housing affordability and the issues that surround it such as migration, say senior figures in local government. . .

RadioNZ – Fast-track housing plan for Taruanga:

Tauranga City Council wants special rules to speed up housing developments.

 Labour Party

Andrea Vance @  Stuff – Labour MPs not happy with Mana Internet:

Senior Labour Party MPs have used social media to attack the alliance struck between Mana and the Internet Party. . .

Inventory 2 @ Keeping Stock – White-anting in Labour? Surely not…:

Is David Cunliffe being white-anted again? You’d have to wonder after reading Andrea Vance’s story on Stuff: . . .

Cameron Slater @ Whale Oil – Things are falling apart in Labour:

When something happens that isn’t going the way a political party particularly wants, they need to get together, work out a strategy, and communicate that coherently. . . .

 Isaac Davison @ NZ Herald –   Labour looks at changing $10m-for-residency scheme:

Labour is looking “very closely” at changing the rules for foreign investors who can get residency in New Zealand by paying $10 million. . .

IMP

Chris Keall @ NBR – Laila Harre NBR interview part 2: Baboom offshoring jobs; getting paid; the UFB; how she rolls:

Chris Keall – Where’s all the Baboom development taking place? . . .

Cameron Slater @ whale Oil – Internet Mana Party “a joke from the far left” – Key:

Unlike our media, John Key is refusing to take the Internet Mana Party seriously. . .

Josie Pagani @ Pundit – Say no to the cup of Te:

No way should Labour do a ‘Cup of Te’ deal.

Labour should stand up for its own strong values. . .

Danyl Mclauchlan @ Dim Post – On the logic behind a strategic loss:

Rob Salmond makes fun of Bomber, which is something we can all enjoy. But I do think that Bomber’s theory that a faction within the Labour Party would prefer a National victory in 2014 if the alternative is a Labour/Greens/New Zeland First/Mana/Internet Party government is pretty plausible. . .

Q & A @ TVNZ –  Laila Harre   interviewed by Susan Wood:

SUSAN: Long time unionist and left wing politician Laila Harre is back, she’s been a member of Labour, New Labour, Alliance, and the Greens, and now she’s taking the helm of the Internet Party, she joins me now good morning. Most political parties are built on something positive, on a movement, on beliefs. How can the Internet Mana Party which is built on yes, wanting to change a government, but an almost pathological dislike of the Prime Minister work? How can it be a force for good? . . .

Carbon Tax

Andrew McMartin @ TV3 – Carbon tax means nothing without Labour – English:

The Green Party’s carbon tax policy “means nothing” without Labour support, Finance Minister Bill English says. . . .

Peter Cresswell @ Not PC – The Greens cutting taxes?

Let’s start with the good news. . .

Lindsay Mitchell – Support for the Greens carbon tax surprises:

The Taxpayer’s Union has come out in support of a carbon tax that is revenue neutral. On balance they find it preferable to the Emissions Trading Scheme.

I wonder why we need either. . . .

Mark Hubbard @ Life Behind the Iron Drape - Green Naivety: Carbon Tax:

Julie Anne Genter is a New Zealand Green MP, and promoting the NZ Green Party policy this election year of a carbon tax, including on agriculture – dairy, initially, with other livestock to follow presumably. . .

Election

Rob Hosking @ NBR – Election 2014 – The Minors’ Strike:

The Green party must be quite relieved its conference was this weekend . . .

Scoop – Northland Leader Backs Kelvin Davis in Te Tai Tokerau:

Northland Kaumatua Rudy Taylor says Labour MP Kelvin Davis has the heart and the mana along with total support to win the seat of Te Tai Tokerau in the upcoming general election. . .

Scott Yorke @ Imperator Fish – How to win an election:

It’s all about the party vote. Electorate contests can be distracting, because in most cases they will be irrelevant to the result. A few electorate results will be critical, but only where they would allow a minor party to enter Parliament. . .

Scoop - iPredict Ltd 2014 Election Update #19: 30 May 2014:

Key Points:
• Internet Mana forecast to win 3 seats
• National expected to sneak in with minor parties’ support . . .

Christchurch

Beehive - Vodafone to anchor Innovation Precinct:

Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee and Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce today released the spatial framework for the Christchurch Innovation Precinct and announced that Vodafone’s new South Island headquarters will anchor the precinct. . .

The Christchurch Innovation Precinct will bring together some of our most innovative people to help create an exciting and vibrant future for Christchurch. http://ntnl.org.nz/1oq447h

Education

Beehive – Budget 2014: $28.6m investment in ICT Grad Schools:

The Government will invest $28.6 million operating funding (including $11.8 million of contingencies) over the next four years in three Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Graduate Schools to help address significant high-level skills shortages in the rapidly growing ICT industry, Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment Minister Steven Joyce says. . . .

Beehive – $359m boost for student achievement moves forward:

Education Minister Hekia Parata has welcomed advice from sector leaders on the Government’s $359 million initiative to raise student achievement, saying it maintains momentum and strengthens the path forward. . .

Other

Trans Tasman – Trans Tasman Announces Government Department and Government Department CEO of The Year:

Trans Tasman’s 5th Annual Briefing Report – New Zealand Government Departments People and Policy, 2014 Edition , has announced its top performing Government Department of the Year and the best Government Department CEO. The pair is chosen by a 16 strong Independent Board of Advisers . .

Hamish Rutherford @ Reserve Bank governor named top chief executive:

A former top international banker, who stared down the Beehive with lending restrictions and official cash rates rises months from the election, is this year’s public sector chief executive of the year.  . .

Matthew Beveridge – Green Party AGM:

Queen’s Birthday Weekend was also the weekend the Green Party held their annual conference. As one would expect, there were a number of policy announcements, free doctors visits for up to 18 year olds and a change from the ETS to a Carbon Tax system. . .

Bob Jones @ NZ Herald - A message to screaming John Minto: Shut up:

If Parliament proposed a nationwide synchronisation of clocks and watches, then at a given date and time, invited everyone who’s had an absolute gutsful of the screaming skull, otherwise known as John Minto, to go outside and jump up and down for two minutes, imagine the reaction. . .

Lindsay Mitchell – More welfare changes on the way:

The government has announced a rewrite of the Social Security 1964 Act, which is a massive maze of dated legislation. . . .

Cameron Slater @ Whale Oil – Political porkies:

It seems the minor parties are able to get away with making stuff up, or flat out lying.

As a new service we will now start calling out these ratbags. . . .

David Farrar @ Kiwiblog – The new blockbuster:

It’s a poster of Dr No, you’ll have to pop over to see it.

Adam Bennett @ NZ Herald – Peters rubbishes claim he paid Harawira’s protest fine:

Current and former MPs and “ordinary people” banded together to pay the $632 fine Hone Harawira received last year for defying police at a 2012 Auckland housing protest. . 

Inventory 2 @ Keeping Stock – Pay your own fine Hone:

Hone Harawira is in trouble over trouble he was in last year. If that sounds confusing, hopefully the Herald will explain: . . .

NBR – Labour might revisit MMP’s ‘coat-tail’ provisions if elected — Cunliffe:

David Cunliffe says Labour may revisit MMP’s “coat-tail” provisions if elected . . .


Leaked flood report hints at big problem

May 12, 2014

Labour leader David Cunliffe wrote an open letter to Prime Minister John Key about the Christchurch floods.

A council report on the issue is due to be released today.

At the weekend’s National Party Mainland conference Christchurch Earthquake recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee said Cunliffe’s letter appeared to show he knew something about the contents of the report which could suggest he’d seen it although the government and those affected by the flooding hadn’t.

The Minister said that hints at a big problem.

That problem would be that someone with access to the report is playing politics with a very serious issue  and demonstrating a greater loyalty to the Labour Party than the city.

The Minister was careful to say it could suggest.

He was right to be cautious. After all the letter could have been written without any knowledge of the report.

Coincidences do happen and that would be much better for Christchurch than the alternative divided loyalties anywhere in the council.

 


Economic opportunities for East Coast

April 23, 2014

Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee and Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce have released a study of the East Coast region’s economic potential over the next 30 years.

The East Coast Regional Economic Potential Study assesses the region’s economic performance and barriers to development, and models five economic growth scenarios along with their implications for transport infrastructure and the skills needed.

Mr Brownlee says the study shows the economic importance of maintaining and boosting the road network in the East Coast, particularly in Gisborne.

“There will be an increase in logging freight over the next decade and improved roading will be vital to support that and other industries,” Mr Brownlee says.

“The study illustrates the need to develop further capacity for heavy vehicles on State Highway 35 north of Gisborne and to maintain the quality of State Highway 2 between Gisborne and Napier, and northwest of Gisborne to the Bay of Plenty.

“I will be asking the New Zealand Transport Agency to review its plans for these highways in light of this study.”

The report also concludes there is little evidence to support the case for reinstatement of the damaged rail line from Gisborne to Napier.

“When operational, rail only accounted for 2 to 3 per cent of freight from the region and the report finds no clear evidence of a significant economic impact following its closure,” Mr Brownlee says.

Mr Joyce says the East Coast already has a strong primary sector ranging from forestry, livestock farming and meat processing to horticulture, viticulture and food and beverage manufacturing, and the report shows there was potential to develop more innovative, higher-value processing to support these industries.

“The report also notes other economic opportunities such as the untapped potential to attract international tourists, and the development of the oil and gas industry. Large scale oil and gas production would result in the local economy growing by 27 per cent with an additional 3,300 jobs,” Mr Joyce says.

Mr Joyce says up-skilling the existing East Coast workforce and attracting skilled workers to the region were fundamental to economic growth.

“The study has shown emerging skill shortages across the spectrum, without which the region cannot grow. Over the next decade there is expected to be greater demand for managers, engineers, transport specialists, machine and plant operators, and labourers in forestry and wood processing. Some of these skills will need to come from outside the region but there are excellent opportunities to further lift training, particularly for young Maori,” Mr Joyce says.

“The Government is in the process of rolling out its $43 million investment in the Maori and Pacific Trades Training initiative, with groups in the East Coast and Hawke’s Bay that involve iwi already signed up. This will help industries on the East Coast get employees with the skills they need.

“This report will help the East Coast to assess whether it wants to take up the opportunities for jobs and economic growth in its region.”

The study was jointly commissioned by the Ministry of Transport and Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment in collaboration with the Gisborne, Napier, Hastings and Wairoa District Councils, the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council, and Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Porou, Te Rūnanga o Turanganui a Kiwa and Ngāti Kahungunu Iwi Incorporated.

It forms part of a series of regional economic growth studies that will be commissioned by the Government in partnership with regional stakeholders. A request for proposal the Northland study was announced earlier this month.

The report is here.

The report found little evidence to support the case for reinstating the damaged rail link between Gisborne and Napier.

But Wayne Walford, National’s candidate for Napier, has a plan for the line:

The mothballed Napier to Gisborne railway could get a facelift and become a cycling track.

National’s Napier candidate Wayne Walford is seeking online public support for a “Sunrise Rail Trail” cycling track linking Napier and Gisborne.

“I think a cycleway down the east coast would be simply stunning,” Mr Walford said yesterday , adding it would be the only fly-in and fly-out cycling trail in the country as there were airports at both ends.

“I’ve launched the Sunrise Rail Trail [Facebook] page to gauge support for the idea.” . . .

That’s a much better, and less expensive plan, than Labour’s which is to reopen the line even though the case to do so is weak.

The Sunrise Rail Trail Facebook page is here.

 


A stupid, stupid man

April 17, 2014

Think about Labour policy announcements this year and what comes to mind?

Debacles.

Wrong figures, wrong impressions, wrong strategy.

The latest is what has been dubbed a clustertruck – the proposal to restrict trucks to the slow lanes of three and four-lane highways.

Truck drivers said preventing them from using the outside lane on three- and four-lane highways would be unworkable and unlikely to reduce congestion.

The Automobile Association (AA) also questioned the policy, saying its members had never cited trucks as a cause of congestion. . .

Then there’s another problem with the transport policy:

Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee says Labour leader David Cunliffe has got himself in the most astonishing predicament on TV3’s Firstline this morning, by claiming the National Land Transport Fund is “going to be in surplus very soon,” so it’s time to give some of it back to taxpayers.

“We know Mr Cunliffe is under significant pressure from his own caucus, having announced policy on the hoof yesterday without telling the team back at Labour’s war room,” Mr Brownlee says.

“Now, when asked by the media this morning to explain where the forgone revenue from this policy would come from, Mr Cunliffe has resorted to making things up, presumably thinking no one would call him on it.

“The fact of the matter is the National Land Transport Fund is by its very nature incapable of achieving a surplus, or a deficit – it is what it is.

“This is an ongoing fund which is used to fund the National Land Transport Programme, which for the years 2012-2015 will see $12.3 billion invested in road building, road maintenance, public transport, and which includes $300 million a year for targeted on-road Police enforcement.

“The fund might be above or below forecast at any point in time due to factors like the performance of the domestic economy, or fuel prices, but this is a dedicated fund, with all its money coming from Road User Charges and Fuel Excise Duty on an annual basis.

“All of that money is spent on New Zealand’s roads and public transport through the National Land Transport Programme; the question of surplus or deficit simply never arises.

“What’s more, thanks to changes in driver behaviour – in particular more efficient use of vehicles by large transport fleets using GPS technology – and increasingly fuel efficient vehicles, there has been greater financial pressure on the National Land Transport Fund in recent years, not less.

“Despite that, over the past six years this government has invested more in our land transport system, following a sustained period of under investment, and that’s just starting to pay off for all New Zealanders.

“We know this is increasingly difficult territory for Labour.  They don’t want to talk about building roads because they don’t want to offend their Green coalition partners.

“But if Mr Cunliffe believes there is a surplus to be had in the National Land Transport Fund, he needs to explain what bits of the fund’s programme he is going to cut.

“If there’s some mystical way of creating a surplus inside the National Land Transport Fund without cancelling planned investment, David Cunliffe needs to tell us.

“I’d love to know what document he has seen that suggests this fund has, or will soon have, more money than it needs.”

Paul Henry says it all:


Saying it with flowers

February 20, 2014

Cameron Slater sent Annette King a bunch of flowers for publicising his blog in parliament yesterday.

Her response was less than gracious:

. . . “I’ve always enjoyed receiving flowers, and it was nice to be thanked by Cameron for promoting his blog. But I think his blog must be in financial trouble because it’s the most miserable bunch of flowers I’ve ever received. The flowers will not require me to put them on my Pecuniary Interests register.” . . .

Ms King said it did show that Mr Slater at least had a sense of humour.

Apropos of flowers and humour, Duncan Garner attempted to end Gerry Brownlee feud, sends Valentine’s Day flowers:

The year started sour between Duncan Garner and Minister Of Lots Of Things Gerry Brownlee. The Earthquake Recovery Minister flatly refused to appear on Drive.

When pressed in Wellington, Brownlee replied there was no issue with Garner.

“I think it’s a lover’s tiff, I’m expecting champagne and roses any time,” he smirked.

So today, being Valentine’s Day, Duncan sent him a gift (picture 1 below). Gerry received the present and is very happy about the present.

He has also sent us a picture of him with his gift for Garner. Though, the gift itself is yet to arrive.

Happy Valentine’s Day Gerry!

The photos show the bunch of red roses and box of chocolates Garner sent the Minister and him with the single bloom and heart-shaped chocolate he was sending in return.

 

 


Quotes of the year

December 31, 2013

“It was probably a classic example of me probably being too much army, and not enough prince. . . “ Prince Harry.

. . . Whether it is in sport, business, agriculture, the arts, science and the creative industries, or in international fora such as peacekeeping, New Zealanders have repeatedly shown their talent, tenacity, flair and commitment.

That legacy of the new way of doing things was well put by New Zealander and Saatchi and Saatchi worldwide chief executive Kevin Roberts a few years ago when he said: “We were the last to be discovered and the first to see the light. This makes us one of the great experimental cultures. We try things first. Whether it’s votes for women, the welfare state or the market economy, powered flight, nuclear physics, anti-nuclearism, biculturalism. First-isms. The New in New Zealand is our reason to exist.” Lt Gen The Rt Hon Sir Jerry Mateparae.

”I like to cook meat, except for chicken. To me chicken’s like a ladies’ meat, so it’s more of a vegetable.” Jonny Trevathan, Master Chef entrant.

By 1984 the economy was in a mess, and I hope history will record more positively the decisive actions of both the Lange-Douglas Labour Government and the Bolger-Richardson National Government that followed. The resilience of the New Zealand economy during the recent global downturn owes much to the courage of those Cabinets, at least in their early years, putting New Zealand’s very real needs ahead of political considerations in pursuing necessary reform. – Lockwood Smith

As a former Commonwealth Scholar in Science, I have often regretted that I never got involved in that area during my time here. Science and technology have been so crucial to the advancement of human well-being, yet scientists are a rare breed in politics. Internationally, there is something of a disconnect between the two. In politics, for example, green is the claimed colour of sustainability. Yet in science, the very reason we perceive plants to be green is that they reflect green light. They cannot use it. It is red and blue light that sustain most of our living world. Lockwood Smith

Some commentators assess members on how successfully they play the political game. But to me what sets a member of Parliament apart is how much they care about the impact of the State on an ordinary person, and how far they are prepared to go in representing people whose lives can be so knocked around by the actions of the State. Lockwood Smith

This House, in so many ways, has become a place of political parties rather than a House of Representatives. I am not for one moment trying to make a case for the old system, but I do believe there will come a time when we will need to re-examine that balance of accountabilities. Representation is enhanced when members have to help ordinary people in their local communities, many of whom may never have voted for them. Lockwood Smith.

We aren’t scientists we are farmers, we choose not to debate the science but work hard to deal with changing weather patterns. Bruce Wills.

Anyway, credit where credit is due. The Labour Party has finally adopted one of the very sensible policies of the National Government, and that is the mixed-ownership model. That is right. These days, the Labour Party is 51 percent owned by Labour and 49 percent owned by the Greens. Yes, these two parties have come together in this happy little place, where fruit meets loop. John Key.

. . . Kids who read stay out of jail (unless they grow up to be financial investment directors). Reading gives them words. Words give them the ability to express and clarify themselves to others. How many young guys end up in strife because they don’t have the vocab to explain what they’re doing, and so they move from incoherence to frustration to violence?

Reading helps young people come to terms with themselves and their issues. . .  David Hill

“Oh my god, another cross to bear,” Tim Shadbolt on being told  he was the most trusted mayor in the country in a Readers Digest poll.

. . . The response that students gave to Christchurch is phenomenal, and it only was thanks to a really strong team of people who all were able to bring their individual skills to something.  . . .  just like young people right around New Zealand – all specialising in different areas, focusing on what they’re good at, being willing to be wrong, being willing to ask for help and fundamentally believing that change is possible, that you can look at things in a different way, no matter what level of society you’re on.  It’s our philosophy – the skill of the unskilled.  I sit at a lot of conferences, and I’m the only one without a PhD, but we say, ‘What about this idea?  What about this idea?  Where are we going?  Are we fundamentally doing things that are right and taking our country and world in a good direction?’ . . .Sam Johnson

. . . You know, Christchurch is still in a position that it’s hard there for a lot of people, but it’s also— the group of people that I am with every day through Volunteer Army Foundation, the Ministry of Awesome, we are— we love Christchurch, and you couldn’t pay us to move anywhere else, because of the innovation, the excitement.  You know, population numbers are up in Christchurch, and we are going to be a— it’s a strong place to be. . .  Sam Johnson

. . . I focus on doing things that I love.  I focus on surrounding myself with people much more intelligent than myself and people who can really make things happen, building strong teams.  I think that’s the philosophy we take in Christchurch.  We specialise in different areas with what we’re good at and focus on that. Sam Johnson

One witness was asked to identify an accused by describing the man’s tattoos. I applauded his response. “I can’t really describe his tattoos. They were a load of rubbish. They looked like the graffiti on a public dunny wall.” District Court Judge Russell Callander

“You’ve got to have a reason for getting up in the morning and I firmly believe retirement has killed more farmers than farming.” – Ted Ford

A Government should not be relied upon to create jobs. To bolster our economy and growth, we need the private sector to be creating jobs in the tradeables sector.

Whether they are high-earning export roles, or an entry level company, it is the job of entrepreneurs. Government’s role is to put in place the right conditions for economic growth, so companies can feel comfortable about expanding, growing, or just starting out in the business world.

Local government also has a role, through having plans for economic growth and development that encourage businesses and don’t stifle their creativity. Eric Roy

Politics is a two-stage process: first you’re sworn in, then, inevitably, eventually, you’re sworn at. Denis Welch.

There is rarely any danger of overestimating Labour Party stupidity. Having described myself recently as ‘a sentimental socialist’, I’m inclined to think that sentiment may be the main, and possibly the only reason for my ongoing belief in an organism genetically predisposed to push the self-destruct button when faced with the slightest glimmer of electoral success. . .   Brian Edwards.

. . . within 48 hours it looks very much to us as if it is just another David, another day, and another step to the left, as we see the disloyalty in the Labour caucus slowly beginning to foment. Gerry Brownlee.

But now, of course, under the new leader of the Labour Party, the pledge card, like his CV, will be a living document—kind of like the Treaty but without the principles.Bill English

“We were given opportunities in Mangere. Education unlocks opportunities you would not otherwise have.” - Sam Lotu-Iiga MP

The big, bad thing is that large parts of the Left have never faced up to the failure of socialism. The nicer Leftists, often very belatedly, deplored Stalin and Mao – the purges, the Gulags, the famines, the invasions. The more intelligent ones detected certain (let us put it gently) problems with state ownership of the means of production, distribution and exchange. Yet when, in 1989, the Berlin Wall was knocked down by the citizens in whose name it had been erected, few could admit that this was a defeat for socialism as fundamental as that of Nazism in 1945. . . Charles Moore

Arts degrees are awesome. And they help you find meaning where there is none. And let me assure you, there is none. Don’t go looking for it. Searching for meaning is like searching for a rhyme scheme in a cookbook: you won’t find it and you’ll bugger up your soufflé. Tim Minchin

We must think critically, and not just about the ideas of others. Be hard on your beliefs. Take them out onto the verandah and beat them with a cricket bat.
Be intellectually rigorous. Identify your biases, your prejudices, your privilege.

Most of society’s arguments are kept alive by a failure to acknowledge nuance. We tend to generate false dichotomies, then try to argue one point using two entirely different sets of assumptions, like two tennis players trying to win a match by hitting beautifully executed shots from either end of separate tennis courts. Tim Minchin

Parliament applauded Eleanor Catton winning the Man Booker Prize for her book ‘The Luminaries’ when it resumed today.

Prime Minister John Key said the success should be celebrated by New Zealanders as much as they did sporting victories. Catton’s feat in becoming the youngest winner of the prize at 28, came as 16 year old Lorde topped the US charts with her music showing New Zealand was blessed with strong, creative young women. Parliament Today

“You guys have spent your careers trying to analyse what he says and you’ve got more sense out of the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party. He talks in riddles, he doesn’t stick to what he says, it’s a waste of time having discussions that are about a bottom line.

“There are no bottom lines with Winston Peters. He will do a deal with who he feels like doing a deal with.” John Key

Not so much a political honeymoon as a naughty weekend with the floating voters. – Vernon Small on David Cunliffe.

. . . Girls dress for other girls. They dress to fit in. They dress to be part of a group. They want to be respected and they want to be liked. They want to be beautiful. They dress to impress. They copy their celebrity idols. These might well be fashion crimes, but short skirts and cleavage don’t signal a willingness to be victimised.

New Zealand is internationally rated as one of the best countries to be a woman. This year, we celebrated 120 years of women winning the right to vote.

With that goes the right to not be abused. Judith Collins

. . . considering I’m probably in the 10% of New Zealanders who pay 70% of the tax, considering I’m a self-employed business owner with farming interests and considering I still bear the farming scars from some incredibly short-sighted, militant union behaviour in the 1970s and 80s, why would I vote Labour now?

There’s nothing for me in their policies of higher tax, greater environmental and economic handbrakes for farming and re-unionising the workforce. Farming Show host Jamie Mackay on Labour after its leader refused to appear on the show in case he was laughed at.

. . . For the farmer, the business person, the property owner, and the financial investor it’s all pretty straightforward. What’s in it for National’s electoral base is economic growth, low inflation, reduced taxation and a reasonable rate-of-return. What they’re not looking for is more economic regulation, higher taxes, rising prices or inflationary wage demands.

Getting the attention of those who feel that their stake in New Zealand society is much too meagre to matter is a considerably more daunting task. - Chris Trotter

There is a saying that you do not beat New Zealand – you just get more points than them at the final whistle. – Sir Ian McGeechan

“I don’t really believe in Great — insert a country — Novels,” she said. “I don’t see how you can reconcile that with diversity, and I think the diversity is the most important thing in any national literature.” Eleanor Catton

I knew it would never be about zeroes. I’m not a spreadsheet with hair; will never be. I am an artist, an author, with a hunger for showing people what I can do and a talent for making people turn my name into a call while they’re waiting front row. It’s me. I’m here. - Lorde

Imagine if Nelson Mandela was as angry as John Minto when he got out of prison” – Josie Pagani on ‘The Huddle

Beyond the All Blacks being unbeaten for a whole season, and Emirates Team New Zealand coming second in a two-boat race, what put New Zealand on the world’s front pages in 2013 was a novel, a song and a film. – Hamish Keith

It’s one of the oldest cliches in politics - that perception is reality. In other words, if enough of us are convinced that what we think we see is real, then it may as well be real. Even if it’s not. - Tim Watkins

I find it fascinating that if you dig a hole and plant a tree in it, you are a greenie; if you dig a big hole, take the gold out of the ground and plant a forest, suddenly you’re an eco-terrorist. There’s no consistency in that. – Colin Craig

“Tasmanian Devils are renowned for their big mouths, bad behaviour and noisiness, so they will fit in well with the nation’s politicians in the capital,” - Nick Smith

I totally disagree with it. If you’re going to earn money, you earn it. You’re given it by your productivity.” - Sir John Walker on the living wage.

Science is not a bunch of facts. Scientists are not people trying to be prescriptive or authoritative. Science is simply the word we use to describe a method of organising our curiosity. It’s easier, at a dinner party, to say ”science” than to say ”the incremental acquisition of understanding through observation, humbled by an acute awareness of our tendency towards bias”. Douglas Adams said: ”I’d take the awe of understanding over the awe of ignorance any day.”

Science is not the opposite of art, nor the opposite of spirituality – whatever that is – and you don’t have to deny scientific knowledge in order to make beautiful things. On the contrary, great science writing is the art of communicating that ”awe of understanding”, so that we readers can revel in the beauty of a deeper knowledge of our world. Tim Minchin

. . . Remember the Government’s $30 million cash injection to secure the immediate future of Tiwai Point?  That helped to protect 3,200 jobs and the smelter’s $1.6 billion annual contribution to the Southland economy. Dairying doesn’t need such support, but in 2009, it injected over $700 million into the Southland economy and employed over 2,300 people.  Dairying may not be number one here but we’re a pretty important second that’s become more important over the past four years. . . Russell MacPherson

All of us pay for some of us to indulge romantic dreams about trains or to feed fanciful beliefs that the government owns these “assets which are valuable”

This stuff is not silver its rust… the best performers can’t perform without laws which force revenue into their pockets, the worst performers are a receivers dream.

Genuine concern for the poor would not see government owning commercial assets. - Eye to the Long Run

. . . If from the time their children could read, parents had introduced them to newspapers, as certainly happened when I was young, rather than addiction to idiotic texting, they would, instead, be addicted to the world in all of its wide-ranging fascination and zaniness (the human factor), as delivered to us daily in the newspaper.

It’s a shame as nothing matches the daily newspaper for sheer stimulation, education, and entertainment value for money. Take a recent Dominion Post. First the pleasure of its crosswords and tussling over the wordgame, this after quickly scanning the front page for later reading. Each news item induced a full spectrum of emotions, from rage to delight, in the latter case from the splendid heading, “Mr Whippy frozen with fear by chainsaw wielding cross-dresser”. That alone was worth the price of the paper and was promptly dispatched to friends abroad. These texting obsessives don’t know what they’re missing. . .  -  Bob Jones

. . .  Seemingly the first duty on rising every morning for Remuerites is to go outside and rake up the $100 notes that have fallen like confetti on them overnight. It must be very tiresome.  . . Bob Jones

. . . But as you go through life when you run into a brick wall, you’ve just got to knock the bastard over. – Sir Peter Leitch.

 


Parliamentary productivity

December 12, 2013

Leader of the House Gerry Brownlee says the Government is very pleased with its busy and productive legislative year, which ended with Parliament’s adjournment yesterday.

“The House sat for three fewer days this year, but passed more legislation,” Mr Brownlee says.

“We saw a 45 per cent increase in Government bills passing their third reading and becoming law, with 145 bills passed, up from 99 in 2012.

“Another 57 Government bills passed their first reading and were sent to select committee, compared to 66 in 2012, and 67 Government bills received their second reading, compared to 56 in 2012.

“A continuing priority for the Government is the settlement of Treaty grievances, a process being superbly led by the Minister for Treaty Settlements Christopher Finlayson.

“This year eight settlement bills were sent to a select committee, and two passed their third reading into law.

“Parliament’s Business Committee has enabled extended hours to progress Treaty Legislation on five occasions this year and the Government has made use of the extended hours provisions on nine occasions.

“I’m very encouraged by the enhanced importance the Business Committee plays in organising Parliament’s business and I want to thank all members of the committee for their work.

“Parliament sat for 31 weeks in 2013; there were 90 question times with Ministers answering 1059 oral questions and thousands more supplementary questions.

“There were four bouts of urgency for a total of 93 hours out of the 596 hours the house sat for during 2013.

“Over 41 per cent more written questions were asked this year, rising to 16,946 from 11,899 in 2012.

“More papers were presented this year – 1330 compared to 1222

“Oral questions answered were similar to 2012, with 1059 in 2013 compared to 1100 the previous year.”

Parliamentary productivity is only one measure of politicians’ work.

The good ones do a lot of work outside the House much of that is working to help people and has little or nothing to do with politics.


Bill English politician of year

December 2, 2013

Trans Tasman’s annual roll call of MPs’ performances named Bill English politician of the year.

The star performer, however, is Finance Minister Bill English – he won the title of politician of the year. The judges said it was no contest. . .

This is well deserved.

Prime Minister John Key: Still remarkably popular for a second term PM, but not as bouncy and spontaneous as he was. 8.5/10

Mr English: Politician of the Year: He is restoring the Crown Accounts to surplus, getting the economy “set to fly” and he does more than his fair share of the heavy lifting on policy.

“He and John Key make a formidable team, with English’s intellectual grunt complementing Key’s instinctive political feel.” 9/10

Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee: Being responsible for rebuilding a quake-stricken city would severely test anyone. Frustration showed through as he fielded EQC blunders and dealt with the shortcomings of cumbersome bureaucracies. 7/10

Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce: If it’s too hard for anyone else, give it to Joyce and he’ll fix it. 7.5/10.

The full roll call will be published by Trans Tasman    later today.

 

 

 


Lower speed tolerance for Dec & Jan

November 26, 2013

The maximum speed limit on open roads is 100 kph but police generally let drivers away with a 10 kph tolerance.

It’s been the practice to lower the tolerance to 4 kph over holiday periods but this summer that will be policed for the whole of December and January.

Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee and Police Minister Anne Tolley have launched this summer’s road safety campaign, which will focus on preventing deaths and injuries by reducing speed, alongside greater visibility of Police.

For the first time, the reduced speed tolerance is being extended beyond an official holiday period.

A 4km/h speed threshold will be enforced by Police throughout the whole of December and January.

“We want New Zealanders to enjoy their holidays, and to be around to celebrate many more in the years ahead,” Mrs Tolley says.

“The lower road tolls in the last couple of years show that drivers are getting the message, but just one death is too many.

“The evidence shows that reducing speed can play a major part in making our roads safer, and in ensuring that fewer Kiwi families have to suffer the trauma of losing a loved one or being involved in a serious crash.”

Police will also be increasing their visibility to raise awareness of road safety, with a nationwide trial of red and orange highway patrol cars.

28 coloured cars will be rolled out across the country over the next year, as existing vehicles come up for replacement.

“Police and their partner agencies will be working hard over the holidays to ensure that our roads are as safe as possible, and we want drivers to play their part too,” says Mrs Tolley.

“Police will be out in force – so speeding drivers and drink drivers should beware.”

The first orange car will be going to the Tasman district, with a red vehicle on patrol in Northland. The next three coloured cars will be going to Eastern, Waikato and Canterbury districts before Christmas.

Mr Brownlee says the holiday campaign aligns with the government’s Safer Journeys Road Safety Strategy – an across-the-board approach to road safety, looking at all aspects of the road system.

“In recent years we have changed give way rules, lowered alcohol limits for young drivers, launched targeted education for young drivers, strengthened driver licence tests and progressed work on building safer roads.

“Last week I introduced the Land Transport Amendment Bill 2013 to Parliament, which will lower the adult breath alcohol limit from 400 micrograms of alcohol per litre of breath to 250mcg.

“Across the board this government takes road safety extremely seriously,” Mr Brownlee says.

It’s very easy to creep a few kilometres above 100 kph. I’m glad I’ve got a digital odometer and cruise control which make it easier to stay at the right speed.

Well marked cars are good deterrents to speed and the  red and orange cars will be easier to spot.

Speed does kill but slow drivers can be a menace on the roads too.

I hope police on the watch for speeding vehicles are also active in ensuring slower drivers are considerate and don’t hold back other traffic.

 

 


Labour’s left lurch shows hasn’t learned

November 3, 2013

Labour’s leftward lurch continues:

The Labour Party seems determined to continue ignoring all the evidence that New Zealand is on the right economic track, by promoting a radical shift into a state-controlled economy reminiscent of the 1970s, Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce says.

After another month when business confidence, employment intentions, consumer confidence, and net immigration continue to rise, Labour’s leadership are keeping their heads in the sand and suggesting what the country needs is a radical step back to the past with less opportunity, fewer jobs for New Zealanders, and more state control.

“They haven’t learnt. It was a Labour Government that drove New Zealand into a recession before the GFC, while it is the National Government that is lifting New Zealand out ahead of most of the developed world,” Mr Joyce says.

“And yet Labour’s leaders want to drag New Zealand not just back to 2008 but all the way to the 1970s.

“According to Labour, the Government should take political control of electricity, house building and now insurance. They want to remove the independence of the Reserve Bank, and they want to go back to a rigid national pay system, where everyone gets the same no matter who they work for or how hard they work; and they want to increase taxes on productive businesses that grow jobs.

“With the IMF saying that New Zealand is on track to be one of the strongest developed economies in the next few years; with businesses growing and adding jobs, and with low cost of living increases and low interest rates; New Zealanders are entitled to ask which planet are these people on?

“With the Government’s careful, conservative, and sensible economic policies starting to pay off for New Zealand, this is no time for Mr Cunliffe and Mr Parker to start trying their pet socialist theories out on the finely-tuned and increasingly strong New Zealand economy.”

The Minister with most experience in Christchurch, Gerry Brownlee says Labour’s insurance company would ratchet up the risk for everyone:

Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Minister and Minister Responsible for the Earthquake Commission Gerry Brownlee says Labour’s policy of establishing a state-owned insurer is no different than its other half-formed ideas – it’s emotive, shows a hopeless grasp of economic realities, and raises questions Labour won’t be able to credibly answer.

“Labour might hate private insurance companies, but the reality is they’re paying for $20 billion of the Canterbury rebuild – twice New Zealand’s annual corporate tax take,” Mr Brownlee says.

“The fact of the matter is you can only undercut insurance competitors if you’re prepared to take greater risk.

“Two insurance companies were doing that when the Christchurch earthquakes struck – both of them New Zealand owned – and they both collapsed.

“The reason insurance businesses tend to be internationally owned and operated, by big companies, is because they’re able to hedge their risk across a range of markets.

“Labour’s insurer would be completely exposed to the New Zealand market, which every citizen knows is at major risk of incurring heavy losses from natural disasters.

“So what Labour is saying is it’s prepared to increase the financial risk to every New Zealand taxpayer by entering a market in which it has no expertise and cannot offer any competitive advantage without ratcheting that risk up even higher.

“Insurance only works because big capital calls are available to back it, which is why insurers work very hard to price that risk accordingly, and smart governments limit their exposure on behalf of taxpayers where possible.

“With $600 billion of insured assets, New Zealand has a competitive insurance market for its size, with a more comprehensive range of cover than in many other jurisdictions.

“Ironically, given Labour’s apparent concern at foreign owned insurers’ profit levels, the chance of adverse selection occurring and simply increasing those profits further is very real.

“Again, insurance is priced to reflect risk, and the only way a state insurer could offer lower premiums is by managing risk unsustainably and becoming a magnet for bad risk.

“And the only way that ends is badly.”

Mr Brownlee says it’s simplistic and unfair of Labour to use the example of the Canterbury earthquakes as a reason to launch this policy – but then simplicity and negativity has been the hallmark of Labour’s response to the earthquakes.

“These events were like no others, and they were massive. Canterbury is the fourth largest natural disaster insurance event in history.

“But by working together, the Government, local government and the private sector are spending $40 billion putting the region back on its feet and creating a modern city all Cantabrians, and New Zealanders, can be justly proud of.”

And Minister Chris Finlayson gives a history lesson:

New Zealand was in recession long before the rest of the world because of mistakes the Labour-led government made.

Policy its announced so far show it hasn’t learned from those mistakes and is planning to make more.

#gigatownoamaru isn’t making any mistakes.


Taking the shaking with you

September 4, 2013

Earthquake recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee wouldn’t need any reminders that today is the third anniversary of the first Canterbury earthquakes, but he got one anyway.

On Facebook he wrote:

Landed in Japan just in time for a 6.5 earthquake. While I do always take work with me on trips, this was a little unexpected
Fortunately since the 1980’s Japan has had very tight building codes and its citizens and media are well trained in reaction to quakes.

Sounds like a song: Taking the Shaking With You.


Absent with leave

August 30, 2013

Trevor Mallard scored an own-goal when trying to distract attention from Labour’s leadership contenders using taxpayers’ money to fly round the country campaigning.

It provided Gerry Brownlee with the opportunity to ask whether David Shearer should be collecting the leader’s pay while taking three weeks leave to lick his wounds.

But Shearer isn’t the only Labour MP who’s going to be on full pay while absent from parliament:

Next week all three contenders will be absent from the House as they go on a roadshow as part of the leadership contest which winds up with an election on September 15.

That means we’re not only paying for David Cunliffe, Shane Jones and Grant Robertson to fly around the country, we’re paying them to campaign instead of attending to their duties as MPs in the House.

They might have leave from their whip to be absent but in what other job could they take off to further their own ambitions on full pay?


Hey, look over there

August 29, 2013

One moment, Labour’s three leadership aspirants are being criticised for using tax-payer funds to fly around the country campaigning.

The next, Trevor Mallard comes up with a distraction:

. . . Hon Trevor Mallard: Has Housing New Zealand given any advice to Ministerial Services as to how to recover approximately $10,800 which was not paid when he squatted for over 6 weeks in a $2 million house owned by Ministerial Services?

Hon Dr NICK SMITH: When I resigned as a Minister last year, myself and my family stayed in the ministerial house until the end of that term for my kids who were attending school in Wellington. Ministerial Services gave me consent to leave my personal belongings there until I established a new flat in Hill Street. I would note that it has long been the practice where Ministers resign—and as occurs when there is a change of Government, such as after the 2008 election—that families are given a reasonable amount of time to move. The time when my family moved out was less than 2 weeks after I resigned. . .

Mallard is entitled to be called Honourable but there’s nothing honourable about his behaviour.

A farm worker who lives on the job and is sacked, or resigns, is entitled to a period of grace to find somewhere else to live.

MPs families put up with a lot and expecting them to find and shift to new accommodation immediately upon a change of circumstances is ridiculous.

As the supplementary question which followed from Prime Minister John Key showed, he extended far more courtesy to his predecessor than Mallard’s questions suggests should be permitted:

Rt Hon John Key: Is it true that when National became the Government in 2008, I said to the outgoing then Prime Minister that she should feel free to stay at Premier House as long as she wanted, without rent, to allow a smooth transition and to allow her to pack up with her family?

. . . Hon Dr NICK SMITH: The attitude I have felt consistently from the Prime Minister, whether it was for the families and members opposite when they ceased to be Ministers or my own experience, was one of sympathy for Ministers’ families. I had children at school in Wellington, and I appreciated the Prime Minister’s office allowing those children to stay at school for the 2 weeks to the end of term.

The question also provided the opportunity for a finger to be pointed back at Labour:

Hon Gerry Brownlee: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I wonder if you would be able to assist the Opposition in its quest to gain these efficiencies for the State by perhaps ruling that if a Leader of the Opposition publicly announces their intention to relinquish that position, and then fails to turn up to Parliament, that they may not also claim the ministerial salary and various other entitlements that go with that job?

Nick Smith did the honourable thing by resigning when he did and his behaviour following that resignation was exemplary.

Unlike David Shearer who has announced his resignation as Labour leader and who’s taking three weeks holiday to lick his wounds, the Nelson MP carried on with electorate work and parliamentary duties on relinquishing his ministerial warrant. He also earned his reinstatement.

Mallard is just playing hey-look-over-there in the hope that it will distract attention from Labour’s prolonged leadership campaign and the costs of that which are being foisted on the taxpayer.

In doing so, he’s once again shown that Labour wants tough protections for workers because it judges employers by its own low standards.

He’s also crossed the line, which MPs do at their peril, by bringing family matters into House.

Keeping Stock has a video of the exchange.


Centre right vs far left

August 12, 2013

Prime Minister John Key’s speech to the National Party conference yesterday included a rallying call for next year’s election.

National has a clear plan for New Zealand. We are delivering on that plan, and we are seeing the results.

The fundamental difference between us and the opposition is that we are about doing things, and they are about stopping things.

As we prepare ourselves for the election next year, I can tell you that I’m as fired up to win now, as I first was in 2008. . .

He paid tribute to his deputy and Finance Minister Bill English then listed some of National’s achievements:

Bill has delivered five Budgets – all in tough circumstances. But that’s what growing up in Dipton prepares you for.

Each Budget has laid out further stages in our plan to deliver a brighter future for New Zealand.

Under our plan, we have protected the most vulnerable New Zealanders through difficult times, set a path back to surplus, and built a solid platform for growth.

Under our plan, the economy is growing, wages are rising, the cost of living is well under control and there are 65,000 more jobs in the economy than there were two years ago.

Under our plan, business confidence is the highest it has been since 1999, we are delivering better public services for Kiwi families, and crime rates per capita are at their lowest level in more than 30 years.

Under our plan, we are overhauling a welfare system that is trapping thousands in dependency and giving people more support to get off the benefit.

Under our plan, more kids are getting early childhood education and every child’s going to get breakfast.

Under our plan, more young people are achieving NCEA Level 2, and National Standards are letting parents and schools see how children are really doing in reading, writing, and maths.

And finally, ably led by Gerry Brownlee, we are standing behind the people of Canterbury and supporting the rebuild of our second-biggest city.

These are real achievements, of which we can be very proud.

And I can promise you that through good, sound policy and economic management we will continue to make New Zealand a better place. . .

Former Prime Minister hoped to leave New Zealand no worse off than he found it, and failed.

The current one aims to make it much better and is already succeeding.

This is even more noteworthy when it’s being done in the face of tough financial times and natural disasters.

. . . The Party is in great shape as election year approaches.

We will have to redouble our efforts next year to ensure we keep the hard-won gains New Zealand has made over the past four-and-a-half years.

All of us will have to work extra hard to earn every vote.

Under MMP, all elections are close elections.

And they are not just about National versus Labour, but about the centre-right versus the left.

And it’s clear for everyone to see that Labour has hitched their wagon to the Greens, lurching the opposition to the far left.

Make no mistake, our opposition comes from the far left of politics.

That is a very scary prospect, not only to National supporters but also many swinging voters in the centre and more than a few on the centre left.

It’s important that New Zealanders understand what a Green-dominated government would look like.

They want to tax you more, rack up more debt and make you work two more years before you can retire.

They want a government department to run the entire electricity system, just like it did in the old days when we had blackouts.

They want to stop oil, gas and mineral exploration that would create jobs and growth.

They blame foreigners for all the ills of the country when our future prosperity lies in being open and connected to the rest of the world.

They even characterize businesses relocating jobs from Australia to New Zealand as ‘deeply worrying’.

And they take petty, opportunistic political positions on national security in the face of the obvious need to clarify the GCSB law – a law they passed in the first place!

Well, I can tell you that as Prime Minister, I take the role of our agencies and my responsibilities in terms of national security, very, very seriously.

And I always will.

It’s bad enough for the wee parties to play political games over national security, it is even more stupid for Labour to do so if it wants to be taken seriously as lead party for a government in waiting.

For our part, the National Party has a track record of sensible economic management and policies that actually make a difference to peoples’ lives.

We are guided by the enduring values and principles of the National Party.

They run through the 77 years of our proud history.

We believe in a supportive government but also in personal responsibility.

We understand that businesses large and small create jobs and prosperity in our country.

We believe in supporting people’s hard work and enterprise.

We have tolerance and respect for all New Zealanders and we don’t favour one group over another.

We believe in supporting families – they are the most important institution in our society.

And we have always been the party of home ownership, because we know it provides stability for families, strength for communities, and security for retirement. . .

This message was given to the party faithful at the conference.

But it was of course also aimed at voters.

This is an extraordinarily successful government.

In opening the conference on Saturday, Minister & Nelson MP Nick Smith noted where other parties had been five year into government.

Muldoon was facing internal revolt and external division over the Springbok tour. David Lange was falling out with his Finance Minister Roger Douglas. Jim Bolger faced a similar situation with his Finance Minister Ruth Richardson. Helen Clark was mired in controversy over foreshore and seabed legislation which led to Tariana Turia’s resignation and the formation of the Maori Party.

This government in its fifth year has a united and strongly performing caucus, coherent policy which is making a positive difference, and polls consistently show support at more or less the same level as in the last election.

In spite of that absolutely nothing can be taken for granted.

No party has managed to get 50% of the vote since MMP was introduced and, popular as this government is, it is unrealistic to hope that National could do it next year.

That means we’ll need coalition partners, none of whom are in a particularly strong position at the moment.

The alternative to that on current polling is the Labour Party dependent on the Green Party and at least two others.

That gives voters the option of a centre-right government led by a strong and united National Party or a far-left one led by a weak Labour Party beholden to the Greens.

Anyone not clear on exactly how bad that would be should think about the Finance Ministers.

It’s a choice between Bill English’s steady hands and proven record  or Russel Norman who still believes printing money is a viable option.

That’s a choice between leading New Zealand forward or taking it back and a clear choice between the centre right or the far left.


Promotion for Dean and Wagner

August 5, 2013

Prime Minister John Key has appointed two parliamentary private secretaries.

Nicky Wagner will be Parliamentary Private Secretary to Gerry Brownlee in the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery portfolio and also Parliamentary Private Secretary to Nick Smith in Conservation.

Jacqui Dean will assist Chris Tremain in Local Government and Prime Minister John Key in Tourism.

Parliamentary Private Secretaries (PPS) are MPs appointed to assist Ministers but, unlike Under-Secretaries, they are not part of the Executive. They receive no extra remuneration.

“This is an important position that ensures a strong link between the Minister and the caucus and gives back-bench MPs valuable experience,” says Mr Key.

“Nicky Wagner, as the MP for Christchurch Central, is already heavily involved in the recovery of Christchurch and is an ideal choice to assist Mr Brownlee. Her experience as a former Environment Canterbury Regional Councillor will be valuable to Dr Smith in Conservation.”

A Minister cannot delegate any statutory roles or function to a PPS, however it is expected that the PPS represent their Minister at public events and deliver speeches on occasions when the Minister is not available.

“Jacqui Dean has extensive Local Government experience from her time as a Waitaki District Councillor and as Deputy Mayor and I expect her to ably assist Mr Tremain. It is also fitting that an MP based in the South Island where so much of our tourism is based, will be part of the Tourism team. . .

Congratulations to both women.

They are very effective MPs in their electorates and will ably assist the ministers.

Information on a PPS is here.


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