What matters

July 26, 2014

Early in the week Labour leader David Cunliffe issued some more apologies then vowed to stick to what matters.

If we’re to take him at his word, what matters is who’s hosting the TVNZ debate between the Prime Minister and Opposition leader.

What matters isn’t that people in the media are biased but that we know what their bias is.

When we listen to John Campbell we know his personal bias is left.

When we listen to Mike Hosking we know his personal bias is right.

That is something we can take into account when thinking about what they say and how they conduct themselves and any interviews they do.

That is far better than having people in the media with a bias who aren’t overt about it and, deliberately or not, let it influence their work.

That’s when bias matters in the media.

But this issue isn’t what matters in politics and once more Cunliffe has fallen into a hole of his own making by complaining about something that doesn’t matter which leaves no oxygen for the big things that do – the economy, education, health and welfare.

 

 

 

 


Not either or

July 24, 2014

Prime Minister John Key exposes the Green Party’s belief that economic growth and environmental protection are mutually exclusive:

Rt Hon JOHN KEY: The member’s question was quite instructive, actually, because his argument was that to produce more, you have to pollute more. On this side of the House, we actually totally and utterly disagree with that, but it does show what the member is thinking, and that is, of course, if you want to pollute less—which is something we accept the Green Party wants to do—you have to produce less, and boy will the Greens be producing less if they ever assume the Treasury benches.

Less pollution is something most people agree is a worthy aim but it doesn’t have to be either less pollution or more growth and contrary to the Green’s world view we do need a strong economy if we’re to afford environmental protection and enhancement.

Anyone who’s been in the third world knows  poorer economies have poorer environmental standards.

 


Two sides one message

July 21, 2014

Electoral law permitted election hoardings to be displayed from yesterday.

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

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

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

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

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

hoardings 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

hoardings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

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

The contrast couldn’t be greater.

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

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

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

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

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


Paying price for prevarication

July 21, 2014

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

PARTY VOTE:

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

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

SHOULD LABOUR WORK WITH INTERNET MANA IN FORMING A GOVERNMENT:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Content, stable and successful . . .

July 20, 2014

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

The trend for that is positive.

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

From the last page. #3moreyears

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

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

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


It’s still the trend that matters

July 20, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And the news gets worse for the left:

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

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

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

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

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

However, there is


How many care?

July 19, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Armstrong counters his own assertion:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why is it hard to believe?

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

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

And how many people care anyway?

Jane Clifton writes:

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

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

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

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

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

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

That just shows how desperate and deluded they are.

It is important to Dotcom because of his ego.

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

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


Welfare numbers lowest since 2008

July 19, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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


Gonna tell on you

July 18, 2014

Quote of the day from Trans Tasman:

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

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

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

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

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


For the people

July 17, 2014

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

They want to take more so they can spend more.

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

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

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

 

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


The means not the end

July 12, 2014

Most people accept that National is a good economic manager and recognise it has a good head.

Many don’t get the link between that and a good heart.

The economy matters not as an end but as a means to better services, better opportunities and better lives.

 Technical measures of our economy are important, but most people use ones that are closer to home and closer to their hearts.

Fish out of water

July 9, 2014

One of the strengths that Prime Minister John Key has is that he is comfortable in his own skin.

He knows who he is, what he believes in, what he stands for and has no need to apologise for it.

That gives him the confidence to be comfortable in front of almost any audience.

Claire Robinson writes that this can’t be said for Labour leader David Cunliffe:

Can I begin by suggesting that at a personal level David Cunliffe is not really sorry he’s a man right now. In fact I’m sure that he’s quite pleased to be a husband and a father. It’s not something that he would give up, never, ever. I’m also sure that, like most men, he’s not sorry that he has a penis. In fact I’d wager that he quite enjoys having it, and I doubt he’d want to lose it as remedy for his remorse. Can I also suggest that there’s nothing for him to personally apologise for, at least in terms of domestic violence, because as far as we know he hasn’t done anything to be guilty of in that department.

So if his apology was not personal, was it political? On the surface yes, as a message targeted at female voters; . . .

But no, it wasn’t political in that as a statement it appeared to be more ad-libbed than scripted; loose lipped rather than tactically crafted for best effect. Did David just sense the love in the room and on the spur of the moment decide it was safe to unleash his inner-feminist? Many women and men on social media seem to think so; arguing it was courageous calling out the “bullshit, deep-seated sexism” still prevalent in New Zealand.

But that is quite out of character for David. Feminism isn’t his strong point. Otherwise he would have known that it’s way too simplistic to attribute the cause of sexual/domestic violence to sexism. That David reducts the issue to the ignorance and inability of men to “man up”, suggests a superficial understanding of what is a deeply complex, and insidious reality. Moreover, if David was truly aware of what happens in abusive situations he would not have used the apology in the communication of his message. He would know that victims of repeated domestic violence are also victims to the apology. The apology is what repeat abusers do to hoover their victims back to them; a psychological handcuff to prevent them from breaking free, thereby perpetuating the cycle of abuse. Over time victims of abuse learn to distrust the apology because it means nothing.

Apologies are part of the pattern of abuse and one of the weapons abusers use to manipulate their victims.

What is in character, however, and is the most plausible scenario, is that he walked into that room and immediately recognized he was a fish out of water. His fight or flight brain jumped to the conclusion that he was talking to a group of hostile man-haters (stereotypical assumption when confronted by a bunch of feminists). To reassure that he had come in peace he instinctively dialed up a number of clichés from his study of American political behaviour, and in one fell swoop conflated Kennedy’s “Ich bin ein Berliner” remark (down-with-the-homies), with the political apology that American politicians frequently use when they have done something wrong and need to appear vulnerably human and remorseful. It wasn’t a genuine apology; it was a cliché’d response to his own personal discomfort. Which is why so many felt that it lacked authenticity and sincerity, and why it came across as insulting. It is yet another example of the yawning gap that exists between the real David and what uncontrollably falls out of his mouth.

One of the criticisms often levelled at Cunliffe is a lack of sincerity. He often looks and sounds like he’s saying what an audience wants to hear not what he really believes.

If David had come in authentically saying, I’m feeling like a fish out of water, forgive me for not being an expert in this area, but we have been consulting with real experts and I hope you will agree that Labour’s new policy is going to go some way towards dealing with sexual and family violence, he would have been credible and convincing. And he would not have potentially offended a lot of the male voters he needs to stave off disaster in the polls. . . 

You can’t fake sincerity and the more Cunliffe tries the harder it is to work out exactly who he is and what he believes in.

If discomfort with his female audience led him to show he was buying into the hard-line feminist all-men-are-rapists line, what would discomfort in front of a group of the working men who were once the foundation of his party lead him to say?

The Prime Minister doesn’t try to be all things to all people and that’s one of the reasons for his popularity.

What you see is what you get.

With Cunliffe different audiences get different messages from a different version of the man and it’s impossible to know which he really believes and who he really is.

 

 


Silly sorry

July 4, 2014

If David Cunliffe wasn’t really sorry before he said he was sorry for being a man he will be now.

. . . “I don’t often say it, [but] I’m sorry for being a man because family and sexual violence is overwhelmingly perpetrated by men,” he said. . .

He doesn’t often say he’s sorry or he doesn’t often say he’s sorry for being a man?

Either way that sentence is getting far more publicity than the policy it prefaced and most of the publicity is negative.

Prime Minister  John Key said the apology was silly:

. . . John Key says that’s no reason to regret being a man.

“The problem isn’t being a man. The problem is if you’re an abusive man and I think it’s a bit insulting to imply that all men are abusive.

 “A small group are and they need to change their behaviour and be held to an account.”

Key says with his apology, Mr Cunliffe is implying that all men fall into that category.

“To get up and say, ‘I’m sorry for being a man’ really is, I think, a bit insulting to all men in New Zealand because the vast overwhelming bulk of them are good, loving fathers, brothers, uncles.” . . .

Exactly.

Violence, and family violence in particular, are problems but while men are the majority of perpetrators, the majority of men aren’t.

Cunliffe’s silly sorry is the sort of comment that starts people muttering about political correctness and feminazis.

It insults the majority of men who are good men.

It might even make those who aren’t good think that being a man is the problem which therefore excuses them because it’s something they can’t change.

One of the problems we face is too few positive male role models for many children who are brought up by women, taught by women and have very little to do with good, caring, strong men who never use their strength to intimidate, punish or harm.

Rather than apologising, good men should be standing tall, celebrating manliness and showing that violence and abuse aren’t manly.

Labour’s congress is an opportunity for the party to get free publicity.

They’ve sabotaged themselves by barring the media from most sessions and in the vacuum that’s created, the focus will go on this silly sorry for which Cunliffe should indeed by sorry.


The importance of certainty

July 4, 2014

Trans-Tasman notes the appeal of certainty and stability:

National emerged neat and tidy from its election year conference. Delegates went home knowing what they have to do to ensure the party can re-form a governing coalition. It’s this disciplined approach which carries its own message to the electorate, contrasting with the inchoate array of parties lined up on the other side of the fence. Private polling shows within the electorate, opinion is beginning to harden on the parties of the left being so disparate, (even if they gained a majority of seats in the next Parliament), a coalition of those parties would be highly unstable and couldn’t last.

Certainty, along with stability, is the priority for most voters. The difficulty for the parties of the left is they project not just instability, but incoherence in the policies they are espousing. The realisation has grown Labour would have to share power with the Greens, NZ First and possibly the Mana/Internet alliance. How would it work? In the NZ Herald this week John Armstrong noted Labour seems to be increasingly paralysed by the division between MPs who put a priority on economic development and those who want environmental concerns to be very much part of that development.

The Opposition has forgotten what Helen Clark did in the run-up to the 1999 election, staging a reconciliation with Jim Anderton and his Alliance to project a united front and give electors an idea of what a Clark-led Govt would look like (even though it must have savaged her personal pride to cosy up to her old foe). . . 

 The more voters see of what a Cunliffe-led Labour/Green/NZ First/Mana/Internet Party might look like the less appeal it has.

There are enough uncertainties in most people’s lives without adding an uncertain coalition and the instability that would come with it especially when its contrast with the certainty and stability of a National-led government with John Key as Prime Minister.


Must not ignore nor accept family violence

July 3, 2014

Prime Minister John Key has announced a suite of measures aimed at addressing family violence.

“Quite simply, the rate of family violence in New Zealand is unacceptable,” says Mr Key.

While crime is at a 35-year low, violent crime is decreasing at a much slower rate.

“Almost 50 per cent of all homicides in New Zealand are a result of family violence. That is, on average, 14 women, seven men, and eight children killed by a member of their family every year.”

Mr Key says together with the Government’s focus on vulnerable children, this work will help New Zealand families live without violence and fear.

“Firstly, Tariana Turia has released the Government’s response to the Expert Advisory Group’s report on Family Violence. Of the 22 recommendations in the report, 19 have been accepted in whole or part by the Government, and I thank the Advisory Group members for their work.

“Mrs Turia is building on the work of the Expert Advisory Group to develop a comprehensive, long-term approach to break the cycle of family violence. This work focuses on changing attitudes and behaviours towards family violence, and on early interventions for drug and alcohol addiction.

“Today I am also announcing further measures to address family violence through Justice, Police and Corrections, which will build on the foundation we have laid in place.”

These include:

  • The establishment of a Chief Victims’ Advisor to the Minister of Justice
  • The trial of an intensive case management service for family violence victims at risk of serious harm or death
  • The trial of mobile safety alarms with GPS technology, so victims can alert police to their location in an emergency
  • Introduction of legislation to change the Sentencing Act, which will allow courts to stipulate GPS monitoring of high-risk domestic violence offenders who can’t currently have this condition imposed on them.

“I would like to thank Ministers Judith Collins, Anne Tolley and Tariana Turia for leading the work to foster a long-term change in behaviour, and to protect people from the misery of violence in the home,” says Mr Key.

“This Government has already undertaken a range of work to protect the most vulnerable New Zealanders.

“A great example of this is the recent passing of the Vulnerable Children’s Bill, which ensures that New Zealand’s most at-risk children get priority,” says Mr Key.

The new law provides 10 new Children’s Teams to wrap services around at-risk children early to keep them safe from harm, introduces new vetting and screening checks for government and community agency staff working with children, and puts the onus on parents who have killed, severely abused or neglected a child to prove they are safe to parent subsequent children.

“We have also increased the penalty for breaching protection orders and improved non-violence programmes for offenders,” says Mr Key

“However, it is important to remember that while governments can make laws, it is up to us as individual New Zealanders to change our attitudes to family violence.

“It is time we learned we must not ignore it, nor should we accept it,” says Mr Key.

 

New Zealand families should not have to live with violence and fear. We’re taking practical steps to address this. https://www.national.org.nz/news/features/protecting-families

Groups working with vulnerable children are supportive of the initiative:

The Red Raincoat Trust says the Chief Victims Advisor will give victims a voice:

The Red Raincoat Trust is delighted to hear of Justice Minister, Judith Collin’s plans to appoint a Chief Victims Advisor. “We are rapt; victims will now have an official voice within the criminal justice process. A Chief Victims Advisor will be able to engage directly with the victims enabling them to understand how the criminal justice process works for them. Until now, this hasn’t happened which often left victims vulnerable and re-victimised” says Debbie Marlow, spokesperson for the Red Raincoat Trust.

Ministers Judith Collins and Anne Tolley announced the Chief Victims Advisor today as part of a package which is hoped will help prevent family violence. Other initiatives announced today include an intensive case management service to provide specialist support for domestic violence victims at high risk of serious harm or death and a multi-agency response system for domestic violence.

“The package announced today will help ensure our families and communities are kept safe and it shows us that this government is committed to ensuring that our victim’s voices are heard and agencies are responding to their needs. Well done!”.

The Sensible Sentencing Trust is also supportive:

The Sensible Sentencing Trust has congratulated the Justice Minister, Judith Collins on today’s announcement regarding the establishment of the Chief Victims Advisor.

“Finally victims of crime will be afforded the true advocacy and support that they are entitled to” says Ruth Money Sensible Sentencing Trust.

We have been actively promoting the concept of victim advocacy for years now and this proposed position will go a long way to balancing victims’ rights within the system and ensuring that the Ministry of Justice stays informed regarding the needs of victims” says Money. . . .

“These moves and proactive measures from Minister Collins and the Government must be applauded. For too long the system has seen the rights of the offender or alleged offender come well before those of the victim and public safety, today we see some balance being proposed”

The Family Violence Death Review Committee (FVDRC) welcomes announcements about the trial of an intensive case management service for family violence victims.

The FVDRC is an independent committee that advises the Health Quality & Safety Commission on how to reduce the number of family violence deaths and prevent family violence. Last week it released a report analysing data collected on all family violence homicides that took place over a four-year period. The Committee urged organisations to take more responsibility for preventing abusers from using violence, rather than expecting the victims of family violence to take action to keep themselves and their children safe.

The Chair of the FVDRC, Associate Professor of Law Julia Tolmie, says the Committee’s previous report recommended the development of a nationally consistent high-risk case management process and it is pleasing to see this is being trialled.

“The sheer volume of police call outs for family violence often means the most dangerous cases of family violence do not get the attention they need within the systems we currently have,” she says.

“The aim of an intensive case management service is to bring the key agencies together to share information, as well as to develop, implement and monitor a multi-agency safety plan.”

Julia Tolmie says high-risk case management teams overseas have been highly successful in preventing deaths from family violence. . .

The FVDRC also supports the trial of mobile safety alarms with GPS technology, so victims can alert police to their location in an emergency and the introduction of legislation to change the Sentencing Act, which will allow courts to stipulate GPS monitoring of high-risk domestic violence offenders who can’t currently have this condition imposed on them.

The measures announce deal with reported crime.

Not all abuse and neglect is reported and some isn’t reported until it’s too late.

It is equally important to address the causes of abuse and neglect to prevent them.

The seriousness of the problem is shown by For the Sake of our Children Trust in a 24-year snapshot of 58 deaths of children as a result of neglect or abuse.

It points to clear risk factors:

. . . Based on the 58 known cases listed, 51 cases identified child’s biological parents were NOT married. The perpetrator responsible for the death indicated 27 of the deaths tabulated had a ‘stepfather’ or ‘boyfriend/partner of the mother being responsible or part responsible for the child’s death. The remaining figures for the perpetrator was indicated the mother or relative of the child or unknown.  . . .

Apropos of this, Lindsay Mitchell notes this is a fair assumption given that around 87 percent of children who have contact with CYF appear in the benefit system very early in their lives.

The benefit system has a place as a safety net, but it can also be a trap which increases the chances of poorer outcomes for children, including increasing the risk of abuse and neglect.

Moving families from welfare to work has obvious financial benefits for them and the country.

The social benefits are equally important. they include better educational and health outcomes and a lower risk of neglect and abuse.


Sins of omission and commission

July 1, 2014

Nick Leggett writes of Labour’s sins of omission:

. . . The biggest crime a Labour Party caucus, activist base and affiliated unions can commit is to not put their party in a position where it can realistically when an election. They can claim all they like to want to bring new talent into parliament through the list, but on current polling, it’s rhetoric – no new faces will make it come September. . .

It seems the underlying premise of recent comments by some “outsider” activists and politicians like myself are correct: Labour isn’t
 aiming for 40% plus of the vote because they neither want – nor know how – to go about winning it. Those in charge of the party know the only way to keep the agenda and the caucus small is by keeping the vote low and encouraging the Greens and Mana-Internet to grow their support in the next Parliament. “Hopefully,” they say, “we can stitch together a rag-tag coalition of the weird and the wonderful.”

As a life-long (moderate and pro-enterprise) Labour supporter, I would rather the party win significantly more people like me and get the vote to say 38%, than appear as they do, which seems to be a preference for Hone, Laila and the Greens to be elected to the next Parliament instead of good candidates further down the Labour list. . . .

If this is the strategy it’s a very dangerous one.

People in the middle who might swing towards national or labour don’t want a lurch to the hard left.

. . . A talented Wellingtonian, with proven electoral appeal told me that last year he offered himself up as a prospective Labour candidate for Ohariu. He was advised however by the senior party person he asked not to bother because he wasn’t a woman. If I revealed who he is, I’m sure most people would agree that had he been selected, Peter Dunne would now be looking down the barrel of voter-enforced retirement. . .

The female quota is a sin of commission rather than omission and this example illustrates its dangers.

. . .  The party appear not to care about re-establishing bases in and amongst communities in provincial and suburban New Zealand by selecting candidates who god forbid might actually win some votes. . .

For all the rhetoric about the regions, Labour MPs just pop in to hunt a headline and leave again with locals feeling we just don’t matter to them.

Meanwhile there are list MPs approaching their third and fourth election this year in seats that should be winnable but somehow they have never managed to win. Some of these MPs have again been rewarded with high list placings, so where is the incentive for them to win those electorates? The bigger question is, why doesn’t the party appear to care?

It seems Labour has given up on gaining votes from aspirational workers who want to own their own home, those who strive to run a small business and the people pottered throughout every class, culture and community in New Zealand who care deeply about reforming the systems and policies that continually fail our children. . .

These are the people in the middle of the political spectrum and they are much likely to feel at home with John Key and National than they are with the muddled messages coming from Labour.


#TeamKey #3more years

June 30, 2014

National’s candidates for September’s election – sitting and aspiring MPs – lined up on stage at National’s annual conference.

 New Zealand National Party's photo.

They are from a range of backgrounds and offer a broad mix of experience, skills and freshness.

All have been working for New Zealand in public or private capacities, all want to be working for New Zealand in a third term National-led government.

This provides a stark contrast to Labour, as Prime Minister John Key said:

Doesn’t it feel good to support a government that does things, rather than an opposition that just whinges and says no?

We’re a government that’s practical enough to know that when a storm blows trees over, you can mill them and create jobs.

Compare that with the Labour Party who’d leave all that dead wood lying around doing nothing.

Mind you, we shouldn’t be surprised because that’s what they do in their own caucus. . .

 

teamkey

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All National candidates and their teams are working hard because none are under any illusions that winning a third term will be easy.

Some know they have very good odds of holding or gaining a seat.

Some know the outcome is less certain.

Some know their chances are slight.

But all are working hard to convince voters to give #TeamKey their support to allow National to keep on working for New Zealand for #3more years.

And all know the party vote is key because winning an electorate will only get them into parliament, it’s the party vote which will determine if they’re in government.


Strong economy not end in itself

June 30, 2014

Prime Minister John Key began his speech to National’s conference yesterday by looking at what motivates him and the party:

 . .  I know that what motivates me also motivates you.

It’s about working for New Zealand to make this country the best it can be.

It’s about being proud to call yourself a New Zealander.

I want to tell you that what we do is making a difference.

When National came into office the economy was in tatters.

Getting it back on track has been tough.

But this month we recorded the third-highest growth rate in the developed world.

Our country’s trade surplus is at a 20-year high.

And next year, after all we’ve been through as a country, I’m proud to say that the Government’s books will be back in the black.

Ladies and Gentlemen, those are all good things.

They are economists’ measures and they’re hugely important.

But actually, they’re not the way most people measure progress.

Most people use measures that are closer to home and closer to their hearts.

Their questions are more likely to be: “Can I provide the best for my family?”; “Will my kids get a job when they’ve finished their education?”; “Will the health system be there when my family needs it?”; “Am I safe in my home and on our streets?”; and “Will my parents be looked after in their retirement?”.

In answer to all of those questions, we can say “yes”.

A strong economy isn’t an end in itself.

It’s a way of delivering the things people care most about.

A strong economy matters because without it we can’t afford the other things that matter.

And my real sense is that New Zealand has become a much more assured and much more optimistic country.

People are confident they can make a difference in their own lives, and that their children and grandchildren have good prospects.

New Zealanders know that our country is well managed and on the right track.

And they are demonstrating that by their actions.

When we first came into office, a net 3,000 people every month were leaving New Zealand to live in Australia.

That’s now dropped to only 200 a month because people know they’ve got a brighter future here in New Zealand.

We have a plan, and that plan is working for New Zealand.

Over the last year an extra 84,000 jobs were created.

Wages are rising every year, faster than inflation.

New Zealanders have worked hard to get our country back on its feet.

And the Government is ensuring that families share the dividends of that growth.

That’s why the heart of this year’s Budget was a $500 million package for families.

We’re increasing paid parental leave, we’re boosting support for families with new-born children, and I’m proud to say that we’re the party that’s bringing in free doctors’ visits and prescriptions for children under 13.

In our party we believe in supporting families.

Some people think that caring about people and their families is solely the territory of the Left.

Well that is complete and utter nonsense.

And the actions of our government are proving that.

I’m in politics because I care about other New Zealanders, particularly those families who need a hand to pick themselves up.

My family was one of those and I’ll never forget it.

I know where I come from.

My government has been very focused on making sure that the taxpayers’ money we spend helps people lead more independent, productive and hopeful lives.

You’d be surprised at what a novel approach that is, compared to the previous government. . .

This government has focussed on the quality of spending rather than the quantity.

In doing so it’s made positive differences to the lives of individuals and their families and significantly reduce the long-term liability of welfare.

We’re seeing positive change.

It’s under a National-led government that around 1,500 people a week are coming off welfare and into work.

Compared with two years ago, nearly 30,000 fewer children are living in homes dependant on welfare benefits.

I want to share with you a story I read in the paper a little while ago.

It was about a woman who’d raised six kids on the sole parent benefit.

She’d been on it for close to 20 years, until one day her nine-year-old daughter said, “It’s cool being on the benefit. I’m going to go on the benefit like you.”

That sentence – that simple sentence from the mouth of a nine-year-old – made her mother stop in her tracks.

She went out and she got a job.

I don’t imagine it’s easy for her – far from it.

But I absolutely do know that work offers the sort of independence, opportunity and self-esteem that a life on welfare never can.

I’m proud of our welfare reforms under the leadership of Paula Bennett, and I know you’re proud of her too.

The work we are doing in that area is one of the unsung stories of this government, and it’s led to profound changes that are truly transforming people’s lives.

There are other great stories to tell.

Achievement at school is rising and under our Government, more apprentices are being trained.

Just this week I was at WelTec and a young man got up to speak to us.

He said he wasn’t too proud of his past but he’s had the opportunity to do a Pacific trades training course, he’s completing his apprenticeship, and he’s already had job offers – including on the McKay’s to Peka Peka roading project.

To me, that’s what we mean when we talk about investing in our young people.

That’s what we mean when we talk about changing peoples’ lives.

And that’s what we mean when we talk about a brighter future.

We have in front of us right now the best opportunity in a generation to have a long, stable period of rising incomes, as long as we stick to the path we’re on.

But that opportunity will be lost without another National-led government.

It’s just 83 days to the election.

In that time we will be putting in front of New Zealanders a range of exciting new policies.

Our policies will build on the strong foundations we’ve laid over the last six years.

We are proud of what we’ve done, but there is so much more to do.

We’ll have new health initiatives.

We’ll have new ideas to raise achievement in our schools.

We’ll have new policies in economic development, transport, science, justice, welfare, law and order, and the environment.

And that’s not all.

Of course, all the policies we’ll announce are underpinned by our strong commitment to grow the economy and carefully manage the Government’s finances.

We’ll continue to focus attention on what matters.

And we’ll continue to support Christchurch through the rebuild.

I want to specially thank Gerry Brownlee, who has a huge commitment to his city and his community.

We made a commitment to the people of Canterbury on day one and we will not waver from it.

Ladies and Gentlemen, the future is positive for New Zealand.

National is the party for people who care about that future.

It’s for people who want to ensure that New Zealand keeps moving in the right direction.

And not just next year, but well beyond that, so New Zealanders find opportunities in an economy that values their skills and produces new jobs and higher wages.

Treasury is forecasting 170,000 more jobs in the economy over the next four years, together with rising wages – if we stick to the path we’re on.

Our challenge is to match and better those predictions.

I know we can.

But as I said yesterday, there is another way things could play out in this year’s election.

National is ahead in the polls at the moment but this election is going to be much, much tighter than many people realise.

We’re going to have to work hard for every vote.

Because that’s what our opponents will be doing, despite their shortcomings.

Labour has David Cunliffe, who takes himself so seriously that other people don’t have to.

The Greens have two co-leaders who want to be co-deputy-prime ministers in some kind of bizarre job-sharing experiment.

Internet Mana – the Maori radical meets file sharing party – is a strange mix standing for goodness knows what.

So if our opponents got into government it would be a complete circus – a recipe for political and economic instability that would be hugely damaging for New Zealand.

The weaker the bigger party is the more power the wee parties have.

A government led by a weakened Labour Party dominated by the Green and New Zealand First parties and also beholden to the Internet and Mana Parties would indeed be a circus and a very unstable one at that.

Our opponents will be cavalier in their spending promises. It’s already started.

They can do that because if they waste money they’ll simply tax you more.

In only five years, the last Labour government increased its spending by 50 per cent, driving mortgage rates into double digits.

In contrast, National respects New Zealanders and their hard-earned incomes.

If we can’t use that money as well as you can, you should keep it.

That will be one of the choices we’ll have as we post surpluses in the years ahead.

Repaying debt, spending a bit more on public services, putting money into the Super Fund, investing in infrastructure and modest tax reductions are the kinds of choices we’ll have.

One of those will be our investment in infrastructure.

Over the last six years, our Government has invested heavily in vital infrastructure to make up for years of underinvestment – from ultra-fast broadband, to schools and hospitals, to roads and rail.

I think of national infrastructure like the framing in a house.

Framing is not usually visible, or glamorous, but everything else in a house depends on it being solid and reliable.

The solid framing of this country is our infrastructure, and households and businesses depend on that.

On good roads, for example, you get better public transport, more efficient freight movement, faster journeys and – very importantly – safer trips for New Zealand families.

One of the key things we did on coming into government was designate seven Roads of National Significance in, or around, our largest population centres.

Of those important projects, we’ve already completed the Victoria Park Tunnel.

The huge tunnel boring machine, affectionately known as Alice, continues to drive progress on the Waterview connection in Auckland.

We are making rapid progress on the Waikato Expressway, the Tauranga Eastern Link, the Kapiti Expressway and the Christchurch Southern Motorway.

And the first sod will soon be turned on the long-awaited Transmission Gully project north of Wellington.

A lot of time was spent discussing and debating these projects in the past.

Under a National-led Government, we’re getting on and making them happen.

Our Government has also been busy in the regions.

We’ve built the Kopu Bridge on the way to the Coromandel, and the Kurow bridges in North Otago.

We’ve extended the Hawkes Bay Expressway and Dunedin’s Southern Motorway.

But there are still more regional roading projects that need to get underway.

The National-led Government has always recognised the vital importance of our regions.

The regions have led this country’s economic recovery and the regions supply a lot of the exports that pay our way in the world. . .

National has already made significant improvements to transport infrastructure and plans more.

The chances of a left-wing government in which the Green Party held sway placing any importance on keeping the regions moving are slight.

. . . Taken together, these roading projects represent a significant new commitment in our regions.

They are another example of the Government’s focus on ensuring that the benefits of the recovery are spread across all of New Zealand.

And they are an example – just one example – of our economic plan to support growth in a modern economy.

Ladies and Gentlemen, fellow National Party members.

Our country is firmly on the right track.

Our party is in good heart.

Our government – our National-led government – is delivering strong and stable leadership.

The choice at this election could not be clearer.

That choice is between a positive direction for New Zealand, or a leaderless circus of parties that would do great damage to our country.

That’s why we need you to redouble your efforts to ensure that the choice this country makes on September 20 is the right one.

Together, let’s keep working for New Zealand!

The right choice is the one that’s working.

The wrong choice would reverse the gains made and destroy many of the dividends of the hard work that’s been done.


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


Winning team won’t necessarily be winner

June 29, 2014

A party enjoying poll ratings which show it could govern alone might be in danger of complacency.

There is absolutely none of that at the National Party conference where the very clear message was

Prime Minister John Key told Patrick Gower:

. . . I know the polls look strong for us. And I know on the 3 Reid Research poll we’ll be able to govern alone and I’m really personally desperately hope that’s what election night looks like. But you and I both know it’ll probably be tighter than that and there’s every chance that we don’t win.. .

Chris Finlayson and Steven Joyce gave a similar message to the conference:

. . . Attorney General Chris Finlayson talked about the “hydra” this morning that grows new heads when the old ones are chopped off.

“Cut off Phil Goff and up shoots David Shearer and Hone Harawira. Saw off David Shearer and up springs David Cunliffe and Laila Harre.

“The fragmentation on the left hasn’t made the hydra weaker,” said Mr Finlayson “only more unstable if it can force its way into power again.”

Campaign chairman Steven Joyce warned delegates that the campaign was “still a little puppy” and that anything at all could happen in the next 84 days before the election – the wackiest thing imaginable, he said.

“A retired Maori activist who has become an MP working with a hard left unionist and let’s just throw in a wealthy German millionaire right-winger, they could form a political party,” said.

“That’s the sort of wacky thing that could happen between now and September 20.

“If Laila Harre, Hone Harawira, Pam Corkery, Kim Dotcom, Russel Norman, Metiria Turei, David Cunliffe, Matt McCarten, and John Minto are the answer, can we please have another look at the question?” . .

National’s got a winning team but it’s up to voters to decide whether to give the winning team the support it needs to  be the winner, or whether they’re going to trust government to the hydra on the left led by a weak Labour dominated by the Green, NZ First and Internet Mana parties.

With less than three months to go, there's no room for complacency. Join #TeamKey today.  http://mynational.org.nz/support


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