Lies or politics

April 28, 2014

Labour has been tricky about another of its policy releases.

Last week it announced its veteran’s policy which would extend the Veteran’s pension to all veterans, whether or not they were impaired.

That sounds very generous but Matthew Beveridge covers an exchange on Twitter between Labour MP Clare Curran and Graeme Edgeler which shows that yet again Labour hasn’t given the full story.

The veteran’s pension is the same as national superannuation so week to week war veterans will be no better off with Labour’s policy.

Some would call that tricky, some would call it lying by omission.

Either way it’s just like the bumbled announcement of the baby bribe which omitted to let people know that it would kick in only after paid parental leave finished.

Then there’s getting facts wrong which is at best a very poor reflection on politics:

The Labour Party’s attempts to talk down New Zealand’s economic performance have hit a new low this weekend with David Parker making at least nine factually incorrect statements in one short interview, Associate Finance Minister Steven Joyce says.

In the interview, with TV3’s The Nation programme, Parker made assertions about low export prices, a poor balance of trade, job losses in the export sector, New Zealand’s current account deficit,  high interest rates, a lack of business investment, 40 per cent house price increases, no tax on housing speculators, and low levels of house building.

Mr Joyce says all of Mr Parker’s assertions in relation to these nine things are incorrect.

“This is an appalling number of errors for someone who would seek to run New Zealand’s economy. This number of errors surely can’t have been made by accident,” Mr Joyce says.

“Mr Parker’s attempts to describe the New Zealand economy sound much more like the situation this government inherited from Labour in 2008 than anything we are seeing in 2014.

“He must have been thinking of 2008 when he talked of ridiculously high interest rates, a poor balance of trade, and the poor performance of the export sector. All were pretty sick back then and all are in much better shape today as a result of this government’s careful stewardship of the economy.”

Mr Joyce says there are two possible conclusions. “Either Labour is deliberately fudging the facts to fabricate the need for their radical economic policy prescription, or they have truly woken up in 2014 for the election without observing anything that has happened in the last five years. The latter would at least fit their regular denials of the impacts of the GFC and the Canterbury earthquakes.

“New Zealanders know that this country today is doing better than most other developed countries, and in 2008 we were doing worse than most, in fact entering our own recession before the Global Financial Crisis,” Mr Joyce says.

“It might be an idea for Labour to look at the steady improvements that are occurring in the New Zealand economy before they start trying to write up their policy ideas.”

Schedule of inaccuracies in David Parker interview on The Nation – April 26 2014

1. “Export prices are going down”

Export prices in fact rose 13.8 per cent in the year to December 2013 (Statistics New Zealand).

The ANZ NZD Commodity Price Index rose 11.6 per cent in the year to March 2014 and is just 6 per cent below its all-time March 2011 peak.

2.  “We are not covering the cost of our imports (and interest)”

Statistics New Zealand reported a merchandise trade surplus for New Zealand in the year to February 2014 of $649 million (1.3 per cent of exports).

January and February’s merchandise trade surpluses were the highest ever for their respective months.

3.  “We are losing jobs in the export sector”

The number of people employed in the agriculture, forestry, fisheries, mining and manufacturing sectors has increased by 16,100 in the last twelve months. 

Total New Zealand employment increased by 66,000 in the last year or 3.0 per cent in one year. This is the fastest employment growth since December 2006. (Statistics New Zealand Household Labour Force Survey December 2013).

4. “This challenge of getting New Zealand’s current account deficit under control”

New Zealand’s balance of payments deficit is currently 3.4 per cent and has averaged only 3.1 per cent over the last four years.

Under Labour the Balance of Payments peaked at 7.9 per cent in December quarter 2008 and averaged 7 per cent over their last four years.

New Zealand’s Net International Investment Position is currently down to 67 per cent of GDP after peaking at 85.9 per cent in March 2009.

5. “Ridiculously high interest rates”

Interest rates have just edged up above 50-year lows.

Floating mortgage interest rates are currently between 6 and 6.25 per cent. They peaked at 10.9 per cent between May and August 2008.

6. “Exporters…. Aren’t willing to invest in plant”

Investment in plant, machinery and equipment by New Zealand companies was up 7.5 per cent in the December quarter and 3 per cent for the year. Investment in plant, machinery and equipment is now at its highest level ever (Statistics New Zealand – December quarter 2013 GDP release).

Just yesterday, long term New Zealand forestry processor Oji Limited announced a $1 billion investment to purchase Carter Holt Harvey Processing assets.

7. “House prices are up 40 per cent under them”

House prices under this government have increased at around 5.7 per cent per annum, compared to 10.7 per cent per annum under Labour, according to REINZ figures. Total house price increases over the period is 30 per cent, not the 40 per cent Mr Parker claims. That compares with a 96 per cent increase in house prices under Labour.

8.  “You need to tax the speculators. They are not taxing speculators”

Taxpayers who buy and sell houses for income are currently taxed at their personal income tax rate on their capital income.

9.  “They are not building any more houses”

The actual trend for the number of new dwellings, including apartments, is up 95 per cent from the series minimum in March 2011.

The trend is at its highest level since October 2007 (Statistics New Zealand February 2014 Building Consents Release).

Getting these facts wrong by accident is incompetence.

Getting them wrong deliberately is worse.

Either way, Labour is trying to talk down the economy which is doing well in spite of the GFC and the earthquakes and because of good management by the National-led government.

That the economy is growing doesn’t mean everyone is doing well.

But the chances of improvement for everyone are far greater under this government than they would have been had Labour been in power and continued with the tax and spend policies which put the country into recession before the GFC hit the rest of the world.

The chances of improvement will be far greater with another National-led government than with the alternative prescription a Labour Green government would impose on us.

 


Another depositary for disenchanted left-leaning votes

January 16, 2014

The Internet Party hasn’t even been launched and it’s already getting headlines for all the wrong reasons - Whaleoil has a scoop revealing its strategy:

The strategy paper (below) reveals that Martyn Bradbury is working for Kim Dotcom and is charging him $8000 per month plus GST for political strategy, on top of a $5000 payment to allow him to upgrade his computer, cellphone and tablet devices. . .

Further, the strategy document, which Trotter so clearly expands upon, shows that Martyn Bradbury intends to stand in Auckland Central as the Internet Party candidate, and be paid for the privilege of doing so. His strategy document outlines the need to establish an office.

The media compromise:

However the subterfuge is deeper than that. Sources have revealed that Scoop Media’s General Manager Alistair Thompson is to be the Party Secretary and has already registered the domain names under the Scoop Media banner. Scoop Media is also the name server registrant for the domain name and also that of internetparty.co.nz . . .

Summary:

  • Martyn Bradbury to stand in Auckland Central
  • Martyn Bradbury on payroll for $8000 per month plus $5000 advance payment for technology upgrades
  • Graeme Edgeler produced a report, allegedly for $3000
  • Plans for so far unnamed candidate in Upper Harbour, reputedly a broadcaster.
  • Focus on Auckland Central and Upper Harbour
  • Plans to win at least 3 seats

If I was drawing up a long list of people to attract votes from the right in general and National in particular, Bradbury’s name wouldn’t be on it.

If he stands and gets any votes he’ll be getting them from the left.

This isn’t a party that is likely to threaten the right, it’s another depositary for disenchanted left-leaning votes.

It’s also one that can’t even get it’s launch right:

https://twitter.com/KimDotcom/status/423307834827100160

https://twitter.com/KimDotcom/status/423307985939492864

Presumably someone told Dotcom about that the party to launch his party would be considered treating which is an offence under electoral law.

The scoop though, is great for Whaleoil who has already  collected another scalp with it:

Journalist Alastair Thompson has resigned from internet-based news service Scoop this afternoon in the wake of claims he was to be Internet Party general-secretary and had registered a domain name.

Scoop’s controlling shareholder, Selwyn Pellett, confirmed he had not previously been aware of the extent of Thompson’s involvement with the party.

After the blog became public, Thompson tendered his resignation.

Pellett said that while he understood Thompson’s passion for internet freedom, there was a clear conflict of interest with his journalism. . . .

Cameron Slater is defending a judgement that he isn’t a journalist and therefore doesn’t have the protection journalists do in not revealing sources.

If publishing a scoop like this isn’t journalism, what is it?

Update: – tweet of the day on this issue:

https://twitter.com/robhosking/status/423290461747306496


Integrity of elections requires action

January 18, 2013

More than a year after the last election not one of the many cases of possible electoral fraud referred to police by the Electoral Commission has gone to court.

Police are sitting on more than twenty open investigations referred to them for prosecution under the Electoral Act by the Electoral Commission.

Truth has obtained details under the Official Information Act that reveal Police seem to have no interest in prosecuting offences and breaches of the Electoral Act.

Of the 32 cases referred, 6 have lapsed because the prosecution time limit has expired.

62 dual vote referrals remain open and un-prosecuted.

Headline cases referred by the Electoral Commission that remain open with little or no progress are the Green party worker Jolyon White’s alleged vandalism of National’s signs at the 2011 election, several of Labour’s flyers including their ‘Stop Asset Sales’, ‘Prices are Rising faster than wages’ and ‘Ohariu Census’ pamphlets.

Only 3 cases have been closed, with no action or prosecution resulting. . .

The integrity of our elections depends on all involved as candidates, voters and in administration obeying the law.

Those who don’t should face consequences and that should happen in a timely manner.

If, as is obvious, the police either can’t or don’t want to deal with breeches of the electoral law another body must be given the powers to do so.

TRUTH believes Edgeler is on the money, for minor offences substantial fines against political parties and individuals that break Electoral Law need to be instant and issued by the Electoral Commission, for larger breaches like Labour’s 2005 pledge card rort an Independent Commission Against Corruption needs to be established, not unlike Australia has.

To continue with blatant and repeated breaches remaining unpunished encourages political corruption, we need to maintain our top position in the Transperency International corruption rankings as the least corrupt nation in the world. Enforcing the law would go a long way to achieving this.

Whichever body or bodies get the powers to deal with alleged breeches of electoral law must have the means to act during the election period before election day or very soon after it.

Justice delayed in these cases could potentially alter election results.


Need attitude change not age change

August 30, 2012

MPs face another conscience vote tonight, this time on the sale of liquor.

Graeme Edgeler explains there are three choices and the manner of voting might not lead to the result favoured by most.

I’ve never supported a return to a purchase age in both licensed or off-license premises of 20.

I was initially supportive of a split age – 18 in licensed premises and 20 for off licence outlets.

But on further consideration am convinced that will merely be a band-aid on one symptom of a much wider problem of alcohol abuse and misuse.

That is by no means confined to 18 and 19 year-olds and it would be most unfair to restrict the majority who drink responsibly because a few of their contemporaries don’t, while doing nothing for the many over 19 who drink to excess.

We do need to address the attitude to alcohol and the problems associated with it but that won’t be achieved by tinkering with the purchase age.


Stability vs proportionality

April 2, 2012

Do we need a party vote threshold and if so how high should it be set?

This is one of the questions to be considered by the review of MMP and divergent views of submitters show it’s not one for which there is an easy answer that is likely to gain widespread support.

Graeme Edgler  argues that the party  threshold be reduced from 5% to 2.5% and Jordan Williams wants the one-seat rule thrown out but argues for the retention of the 5% threshold.

A decision on the threshold pits proportionality against stability.

If the threshold is too high it reduces proportionality which is one of MMP’s strengths; but if it is too low it increases the risk of parliamentary and more importantly, government instability by enabling too many wee parties to gain seats.

I think the stability argument is important and given how low the membership threshold is for parties – they need only 500 people signed up before they register – I wouldn’t want to see it any lower than 5%.

But given a seat gives a party representation I see merit in allowing the party of the seat-winner to bring in others on his or her coat tails to help maintain proportionality.

This does mean that a party that wins a seat could get more than one MP even though it won less than 5% of the vote when a party without a seat would get none although it might have had a similar or higher party vote but still doesn’t get to 5%.

But allowing the seat-winner’s party to get the proportion of seats for which voters gave their support gives a more proportional parliament and disallowing that just because other parties miss out would only lessen proportionality.

The first deadline for submissions on the review is this Thursday.

That is for those wishing to speak to their submissions. these will be presented from April 24th to May 18th.

If you just want to make a written submission the deadline is May 31st.


Radio Live PM broadcast referred to police

February 9, 2012

The  Electoral Commission has referred Radio Live to the police over the politics-free hour hosted by John Key last year.

Newstalk ZB’s obtained a copy of the commission’s decision regarding a Labour Party complaint over a show the Prime Minister conducted on Radio Live during last year’s election period.

The commission’s found the broadcast was an election programme and a breach of the Broadcasting Act.

Newstalk ZB understands both Labour and National have been given advance copies of the decision but are bound by a confidentiality agreement not to talk about it until its officially released at five this afternoon.

Radio Live had checked with the commission before the broadcast and understood that as long as there was no discussion of politics the broadcast would not be in breach the Act.

Obviously there is now doubt about that which once again raises questions over the clarity of campaign regulations.

It also raises questions over the effectiveness of the law when it takes this long to make a decision.

Kathryn Ryan discussed the isssue with Graeme Edgeler on Nine to Noon.

 


Referendum tool helps sort out options

September 27, 2011

Confused about the referendum on electoral systems? Not sure which one to opt for?

Legal Beagle Graeme Edgeler has come up with a referendum tool which could help you work out which system is best for you.

He explains about it here.

If you want to skip the explanation, the tool is here.

As you click on each question, the tool ranks the options based on your answer.

I did it very quickly and finished with Supplementary Member ahead followed by First Past the Post then Preferential Vote, Mixed member Proportional and Single Transferable Vote was a very distant fifth.


MMP not necessarily better for Maori

June 30, 2011

Alternatives to MMP will not necessarily  reduce the ability of Maori to get into parliament:

Since its introduction in 1996 MMP has meant “More Maori in Parliament”. It is the best system, of those on offer, for Maori representation in the New Zealand parliament, says Maori politics lecturer Dr Maria Bargh.

On the contrary, in an excellent post fact-checking the referendum Graeme Edgeler writes:

Under MMP there are currently 7 Maori seats. A change to first past the post, or preferential voting, or single transfer vote systems would see an increase in the number of Maori seats to at least 12, and probably 13 seats. A change to the supplementary member system would see an increase at least 9 and possibly 10 Maori seats.

Any voting system which has more electorates will result in more Maori seats. Regardless of the system Maori will also have as much a chance as anyone else of seeking a general electorate seat.

Maori seats aren’t up for debate by the Electoral Commission should a majority of people vote to change from MMP but that doesn’t guarantee they will remain.

Abolishing them has been National party policy for a couple of elections but dropping that was one of the concessions the party made in coalition negotiations with the Maori Party.

I have no idea what National’s policy on the seats will be for the coming election but it’s a sure bet that Act will campaign on getting rid of them.

If National is able to form the next government and Act has a role as a coalition or support partner and the Maori Party doesn’t, the Maori seats will almost certainly go.


Te Tai Tokerau close – iPredict

June 24, 2011

People putting their money on iPredict are favouring Hone Harawira to hold Te Tia Tokerau in tomorrow’s by-election.

Vote share contracts were launched this week for tomorrow’s Te Tai Tokerau by-election, and the market is predicting an extremely tight race. Hone Harawira is expected to receive 41.1% of the vote, with Labour’s Kelvin Davis a close second with 40.1%. The Maori Party’s Solomon Tipene is expected to receive 18.0% of the vote. However, Mr Harawira’s position in November’s General Election has strengthened over the past week, with the market indicating he has a 70% probability of winning Te Tai Tokerau in November (up from 52% last week).

The Electoral Commission website still isn’t showing Mana as a registered party but Graeme Edgeler has a media release saying it has been registered.

That means if Harawira wins his gamble will have paid off with extra funding as the leader of a registered party.

iPredict isn’t a poll but that result does reflect last week’s poll showing Harawira just ahead of Labour Kelvin Davis.

Maori electorates have a low voter turnout in general elections and people are usually even less enthusiastic about voting in by-elections.

The result could hinge on the parties’ ability to motivate people to vote, if indeed the race is as close as polls and iPredict suggest.

Can we rely on them? The last word on that goes to Rob:

   Chris Trotter – and others – are saying the polls understate Hone Harawira’s support because a lot of his supporters use cellphones, and/or are young.  . .

Ah, yeah.  Parties doing badly in the polls always seem to argue that for some reason their supporters aren’t getting polled.  . .

There might be a bit more variation in tomorrow’s byelection, because it is for the country’s northern-most Maori electorate, and if the stereotypes are true, there is a disproportionate number of the country’s drug dealers in that electorate – people who famously buy cheap prepaid cellphones on Trademe rather than have a landline.   But I’m always dubious about stereotypes, especially self-serving ones, and this one is a bit too pat. I’m also not too sure if drug dealers are particularly conscientious about voting.

Tomorrow we might know no more about the drug dealers but we will know how good the predictions were.


We’re Paying For Budget Brochure

June 11, 2008

They just don’t learn do they? In spite of Labour’s contention the pledge card (remember the one they spent our money on illegally then changed the law to make it legal in retrospect?) was just a belt-way issue when it wasn’t they’re snubbing their noses at public opinion again – spending our money on their budget brochure.

Labour is dipping into taxpayers’ money to produce leaflets on the May Budget – publicity that is almost certainly election advertising under its new Electoral Finance Act and will have to be counted in its election expenses.

That means large sums of public money will again have gone towards a Labour election campaign. The cost of the leaflet may also have to be declared as a donation by Parliament to the Labour Party under the troublesome new law, which is not how Labour intended it to work.

Oh dear – they’re having problems with their own bad law.

The leaflet does not breach Parliament’s own spending laws because they have been liberalised and it does not breach the Electoral Finance Act because it is authorised. But there may be a post-election sting in it for Labour.

The party will almost certainly have to declare the leaflet in its election expenses return to the Electoral Commission and deduct its cost from its $2.4 million cap.

Wellington electoral law specialist Graeme Edgeler said last night the leaflet met the definition of election advertisement under the Electoral Finance Act.

“It doesn’t say vote Labour, but that is the clear implication.”

It had party colours, the Labour logo, and the party’s tax-cut promises this year and in the future. He did not believe it could be considered under the exception given to an MP producing material in their capacity as MP.

“This is a Labour Party promotional leaflet.”  It was “almost certainly” an election advertisement and as such should be declared in the party’s expenses.

And as such will almost certainly rile voters who also happen to be taxpayers who don’t like their money spent on political partys’ self-promotion.


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