Tweet of the day:
Apparently Labour winning one of their oldest safest seats in a by-election is a miraculous turnaround. Underlines how far they have fallen.—
Steven Joyce (@stevenljoyce) December 01, 2013
Tweet of the day:
Apparently Labour winning one of their oldest safest seats in a by-election is a miraculous turnaround. Underlines how far they have fallen.—
Steven Joyce (@stevenljoyce) December 01, 2013
A majority of Labour’s caucus didn’t give David Cunliffe their first preferences in the leadership vote.
The difference in views on mineral exploration isn’t the only one in the party and now there’s another sign of instability on the left:
Green Party member David Hay is challenging Russel Norman for the co-leadership of the party.
Mr Hay, 52, ran as the Green Party candidate for Epsom in the 2011 general election and is currently ranked number 16 on the party list.
While he thinks Dr Norman has been doing a “great job”, Mr Hay says he wants to put the current leadership team “to the test”.
“At this stage, I’m testing to see whether there is support within the party for change,” he said. . .
“I want to put Russel’s leadership to the test: if he wins out, then he will lead the party into government with a renewed mandate.
. . . Green Party leadership positions are decided by a vote of the delegates at the Annual General Meeting.
This will be held on Queens Birthday weekend in Wellington next year.
Question of the day:
As an ethical question, is it moral – as indigenous people – to mine Aboriginal land while refusing to mine our own?—
Morgan Godfery (@MorganGodfery) November 26, 2013
Call it hypocrisy or NIMBYism (Not In My BackYard) – it’s not only Maori who are guilty of happily using minerals and products made from them from other countries while vehemently opposing as much as exploration to see whether there is anything worth mining or drilling here.
One Maori who is supportive of mineral exploration and drilling is Labour MP Shane Jones, but it’s an issue which could split his caucus.
The standoff over deep sea drilling off the Raglan coast is threatening a split in Labour.
Labour MP Shane Jones has backed oil drilling giant Anadarko in a move which puts him at odds with other members of the caucus, including environment spokeswoman Moana Mackey who today called for a slow down in the mineral exploration programme.
Jones has made no secret of his pro-mining stance and has taken potshots at the Green Party over its anti-mining stance. But he could also find himself increasingly at odds with many in grassroots Labour as well. . . .
These are the people who say they’re for the workers but oppose the industry which could provide jobs and well-paying ones at that.
Taranaki’s growth shows that and these jobs have come without destroying the environment.
That there have been no accidents there doesn’t mean there couldn’t be. There are risks, but they are risks which can be managed.
One of the faults of MMP is that it can give disproportionate power to wee parties and their leaders.
New Zealand First with Winston Peters is a classic example of this.
The Conservative Party and its leader Colin Craig could be another and they are both appealing to a similar constituency.
. . . And Craig, at 45, sees himself as a fresh-faced alternative to political warhorse Winston Peters, 68.
He claims to be eating solidly into Peters’ core constituency of the older, socially conservative voter.
Members have switched allegiance, particularly after NZ First’s annual conference in October, he says. “We are enjoying seeing Grey Power no longer invite Winston, but invite me instead . . . there is a sort of transition. We are slowly taking over that space.”
Craig says one of the reasons Peters is in decline is that “he’s lost the mojo”.
“He’s not the Winston he was . . . and I know he thinks he is going to be here till whenever, but there is a point at which you start to lose credibility . . . my impression is that he was, last time, the protest vote. Now we have offered that opportunity in a similar policy space.”
Senior citizens appear to like Craig’s morally conservative views combined with an anti-asset sales stance. “A lot of them think I’m a lovely young fellow, and I get told I’m a good boy! I don’t mind, if they want to think of me as some sort of adopted son.”
Other parties are obviously worrying about Craig too.
His party is more likely to support a National-led government than a Labour one and a new wee party on the rise is likely to take votes from one in decline.
Craig’s opponents clearly now see him as a rival: David Cunliffe repeatedly refers to him as Crazy Colin. UnitedFuture leader Peter Dunne launched an astonishing attack yesterday on some of his former MPs, now with the Conservatives.
Craig shrugs this off. Perhaps Labour is worried that he is gaining ground among Pacific Islanders in South Auckland, he wonders.
“I noticed that he has adopted a slightly anti-Colin Craig rhetoric which I find interesting given that I’ve never met him . . . maybe it’s just because I am going to support National and it has just become politically the thing to say.”
He’s also not upset by Dunne’s insults, saying it is unfounded criticism from a “struggling” politician.
“He is talking out of a lot of disappointment. I mean it can’t be easy when at one stage you had eight MPs and he was really in the middle of it then. A lot has transpired, self-inflicted by and large, and now he struggles to get an annual conference together. As one person said to me: it’s not an annual conference, its a support group.”
The Conservatives need to get 5% of the party vote or win an electorate to get into parliament, neither of which is a given.
But if the party’s there, what does it and its leader want to achieve?
1. Spending beyond their means: Leader Colin Craig says he’d like to match Australia’s defence spending at a “percentage level”. According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute’s figures, Australia’s defence budget is US$26.1 billion. Ours is $1.358 billion. If Craig’s sums are based on GDP, it means an extra $1.55 billion; if it’s on population, it means another $4.87 billion. Either way, it’s a lot of guns.
2. If it wasn’t immediately obvious, more guns: Craig would consider introducing national service in return for free tertiary education. And let everyone else have a gun too: the right to bear arms, and the “Castle Doctrine” (basically, the right to shoot burglars).
3. Freedom of choice: a powhiri or a cup of tea (no confirmation on presence or otherwise of gingernuts): Craig, after the outcry when a visiting Danish MP felt intimidated by a powhiri: “Not all visitors to New Zealand are impressed by a bare-bottomed native making threatening gestures . . . if guests choose not to be welcomed in this way, I’m sure a handshake and a cup of tea would go a long way.”
4. Keep on burnin’: Climate change isn’t our fault. Instead, says Craig, volcanoes and sun flares are to blame. “Globally, our influence on temperature is very, very small. New Zealand’s influence is infinitesimally small.” Therefore, as night follows day, they would scrap the emissions trading scheme.
5. Freedom to rot your teeth: Fluoride, says Craig, is “a poison put in the water supply supposedly to improve dental health. No medical treatment should ever be given to a person without their explicit permission.” Here, he notes the vital impression on medical science made by the good councillors of Hamilton, who voted to remove this poison from municipal water (it was overturned in a recent referendum).
6. Grow yer own, toddlers: “I am 100 per cent behind schools teaching children how to raise/tend a garden.”
7. Investment in paper shredders: “Governments are prone to making unnecessary and sometimes quite ludicrous laws. I have a personal goal to scrap more legislation than I approve.”
8. Close yer legs. It’s cheaper: Craig, in April 2012: “We are the country with the most promiscuous young women in the world. This does nothing to help us at all.” This may go hand in hand with dumping the “frankly terrible” Working for Families.
9. Binding citizens-initiated referendums and a 100-day delay on initiating legislation to allow it to be overturned by the public: A deal-breaker in any coalition. “Although other parties might not like the idea much, if it is a choice between government or not, I expect them to be receptive to the idea,” Craig said. This appears to be a not-so-sneaky way to make gay marriage illegal again.
10. And a few other things too: Closing the Waitangi Tribunal; work for the dole; a lot less tax: a tax-free threshold of $25,000 and a flat rate of $20,000; cutting the education department budget by 50 per cent and giving half the saving direct to schools.
It’s difficult to find a coherent philosophy behind this list, some are more dog whistles than policies.
But each will appeal to a few people and some of those will vote for them.
That may or may not be enough to get the party into parliament.
If it does, Craig would be wise to accept there’s a big difference between many ideas which might appeal to some voters and policies which make a positive difference to the country.
If he doesn’t we’ll be faced with another of MMP’s faults – the ability of the tail to wag the dog.
The need for continued financial restraint hasn’t got through to the opposition and some of the public.
But Finance Minister Bill English has got the message through to his colleagues:
Cabinet ministers Steven Joyce, Nick Smith and Maurice Williamson are wary of Finance Minister Bill English. The three feigned fear when asked about a GST holiday for first-home buyers. “I can just see Bill English, in fact I can just about hear him back at the Beehive, alarms are going off at the Treasury as we speak,” Mr Joyce cracked before asking his colleagues if they felt like “running that one with Bill”. “I’ve got a low pain threshold,” Mr Williamson retorted.
The New Zealand economy is doing well in comparison to most others and that is projected to continue.
But we aren’t out of the woods yet and the need to keep the purse string tight is no less important than it was when National got into office and faced the prospect of Labour’s projected decade of deficits.
The Herald has a story on politicians with the most valuable land portfolios, the top 10 of whom are National MPs.
You could read it two ways.
I think the Herald expects readers to be shocked and perhaps even suspicious of the wealth the ownership reveals.
It could however, be read as celebrating success.
It shows the people featured have been successful and have a life beyond politics.
This is one factor which is allowing National MPs to retire and the lack of much in the way of assets and skills which will make it easy to find employment outside parliament could well be what’s glueing Labour MPs to their seats in spite of the desperate need for renewal and refreshment in the party.
As backbencher you can pick your fights. An opposition leader can too but has to be careful about which s/he picks.
On the lists of things you should be above are attacks on a by-election candidate in a seat your party is expected to win but David Cunliffe made the mistake of getting stuck in to Matthew Doocey, National’s candidate for Christchurch East.
That has provided Doocey with the free publicity of a letter to the editor:
I am writing to express my surprise at the personal and desperate attack on me by the Leader of the Labour Party. I was not given the opportunity to respond to comments from David Cunliffe which were published on Friday November 8.
For the record I have expressed no interest and am not even thinking about any other election other than the one taking place right now in Christchurch East. I have been working hard nor for a number of weeks in what to date has been a positive campaign: my Facebook page demonstrates this.
Mr Cunliffe has inadvertently given my campaign another confidence-building boost, as I attempt to make history and take thsi seat from labour.
It was only one week ago that the prime minister launched my campaign and it would appear I am already seen as a threat the the Opposition leader. Surely this must be some kind of political record.
For Mr Cunliffe to target me as some sort of carpetbagger is both insulting and wrong. I grew up in Christchurch and I”ll be here long after the by-election. Unlike other candidates I was was not parachuted in from Auckland at the expense of local nominees.
I’m running a strong campaign in Christchurch East and have had tremendous support from almost all of the senior MPs in John Key’s National caucus.
I can only assume Mr Cunliffe’s outburst is a symptom of desperation and.or poor polling for Labour in Christchurch East, where the community is questioning where the nearly 100 years of Labour representation has got them. Matthew Doocey, National candidate Christchurch East.
As is the way today, the free publicity doesn’t stop with The Press.
When a mammoth attack a mouse and loses, the mammoth looks much smaller.
An aspiring Prime Minister shouldn’t even notice a by-election candidate from another party, let alone launch a personal attack on him.
This is the second time in a week Cunliffe has got publicity for looking less than leader-like.
The first was for his refusal to appear on The Farming Show with Jamie Mackay in case he didn’t get a fair hearing and would be made fun of.
When you’re opposition leader you can pick your challenges but an aspiring Prime Minister wouldn’t turn down a regular slot on nationwide-radio for fear of being made fun of.
This was a mistake on several counts, the three biggest being that the slot is now taken by Green co-leader Russel Norman; that he’s supposedly rediscovered the regions and is trying to appeal to them and that’s where the show gets blanket coverage; and it makes him look like a lesser leader.
Last night’s TV3 Reid Poll showed:
National is on 46.8 percent. It is still on top, but has taken a big drop of 3.5 percent.
Labour are up 1.2 percent on 32.2 percent. That gain comes from the Greens, who are down to 10.2 percent.
And Winston Peters is on 4.2 percent; not quite at the five percent needed to get back into parliament, but still extremely dangerous.
Among the minor parties, Colin Craig’s Conservatives are at 2.8 percent, well over double the last poll. It’s the highest ever result for the party, and crucially, it is taking votes off National.
Hone Harawira gets a decent bump too, scoring the numbers to bring a second MP to parliament.
But as for Act, it appears they won’t win Epsom and will be out of parliament altogether. . .
Any government with a mid-40s support base in a system with so many parties to split the vote really couldn’t ask for more. They’re as popular today as they were the day they won the house five years ago. That’s impressive. But in a game where you’re not the only team, the other teams have let them down so they have real trouble.
So in another time, in another system, a third term would be a given. But under MMP in 2014, I wouldn’t bet the bank.
Remember how it was five years ago?
Five years ago, a combination of the Global Financial Crisis and poor government decision-making meant New Zealand was teetering.
The economy was in recession. Government spending under Labour had risen by 50% in five years. Families were battling high inflation and mortgage rates of over 10%. One in five teenagers were leaving school unable to read and write properly. Forecasts for unemployment were growing.
That’s what Labour delivered in nine years.
That was when voters turned to National.
New Zealanders wanted change. They wanted greater security, and better prospects. They wanted policies that they knew made economic sense.
The day after we were elected, we got to work. And we haven’t stopped working since.
A Global Financial Crisis and devastating earthquakes would have knocked back the most robust of economies, and the most resilient of people. But the Government and New Zealanders have persevered.
We have worked together and it’s that combination of effort and direction which has got us to the much stronger position we enjoy today. New jobs are being created. The economy is growing, and forecast to be among the top handful of countries for growth in the developed world.
Inflation is at record lows. And so are mortgage interest rates. The government is on track to surplus.
We’ve made big improvements to the public services families rely on – like healthcare and education. More surgery is happening than ever before, and if you have children at primary school, under our government you are actually entitled to know how they’re going.
It’s taken five years to reach this point, and there is so much more improvement to come. Our clear four-point plan is working.
We’re responsibly managing the government’s finances, because that’s our job.
We’re building a more competitive and productive economy, because that will provide more opportunities for job-seekers whether they’re just entering the workforce, or whether they’re gradually moving out of it. It will also provide more security for all of us, and our children.
We’re rebuilding Christchurch because it needs to be done.
And we’re delivering better public services, because you and your family deserve better results from your taxes.
We know things are still tough for lots of people, but five years after we were first elected, the economy is in much better shape, prospects are good, and the future is brighter.
No-one is pretending that everyone is doing well and there aren’t still some very big problems to tackle.
But National inherited a mess of Labour’s making and difficulties were compounded by the GFC and Christchurch earthquakes.
In spite of that we’re now well down the track back to surplus, economic indicators are positive and we’re the envy of many other countries.
We’re only part way into a long journey but we’re heading in the right direction and we’re making progress.
And five years on, we’ve still got a Prime Minister and Finance Minister who get on with each other and are getting on with the job of delivering for New Zealanders.
Labour was forecasting a decade of deficits when National came to power five years ago today.
In spite of an unprecedented combination of financial and natural disasters, National has turned that round and is back on track to surplus.
Treasury’s financial statements for the September quarter, released today, show key indicators are stronger than forecast in May’s Budget:
Core Crown tax revenue of $14.4 billion was 1.1% higher than forecast, largely due to other individuals’ tax and GST ($143 million and $108 million respectively). While GST was relatively close to forecast, continued strength in gross other persons tax and lower than expected refunds have contributed to higher than forecast other individuals tax. This improved performance was partially offset by $113 million lower than expected corporate tax, due to lower than forecast provisional tax.
The total Crown’s operating balance before gains and losses (OBEGAL) was a deficit of $1.3 billion which was $382 million lower than expected, largely owing to the stronger than forecast core Crown tax revenue and lower than expected core Crown expenses.
Gains on the Crown’s investment portfolios were $781 million higher than expected, particularly the New Zealand Superannuation Fund. In addition, actuarial gains on the ACC outstanding claims liability arising from discount rate changes, resulted in unforecast gains of $812 million. The better than expected core Crown revenue and expenses result, alongside these stronger than expected gains, were the key reason for the total Crown’s operating balance inclusive of gains and losses recording a $539 million surplus, compared with an expected $1.2 billion deficit.
At 30 September, total Crown assets were $242.2 billion and liabilities were $171.7 billion. The Crown’s net worth strengthened to $68.5 billion.
The core Crown operating cash deficit was $2.8 billion. After taking account of capital expenditure during the year, there was a residual cash deficit of $3.7 billion at 30 September ($400 million below forecast). The cash shortfall was funded through additional borrowing which pushed the net core Crown net debt to $60.0 billion, equivalent to 28.2% of GDP. Gross debt was also close to forecast at $80.1 billion, or 37.7% of GDP. . . .
The Labour government that took us into deficit before the global financial crisis could not have achieved what National has.
National has the books back on track from red to black and that’s been managed without any slashing and burning.
Credit for that goes to John Key, Bill English and their colleagues who have focussed on getting more for less. Introducing whole-of- government purchasing to cut costs across the public sector is one of their initiatives.
They’ve also concentrated on reducing long term costs, such as those of benefit dependency and that will provide both financial and social benefits.
Once in surplus the government has choices and a priority must be reducing debt.
Before he lost the Labour leadership, David Shearer announced he’d quashed the party’s man-ban:
Mr Shearer yesterday announced Labour’s council had agreed to his request to withdraw a proposal to allow some electorates to open candidate selections to women only, saying it was distracting from issues people wanted Labour to talk about.
The party’s got a new leader and policy is back in effect if not exactly as it was earlier proposed:
The Labour Party has voted to introduce a gender quota system to ensure half its MPs are women.
The new party rule means Labour’s men may have to give up spots in parliament, earned on merit, to female MPs.
Labour’s caucus is currently 42 percent female, but the quota means that number will have to rise to 45 percent by 2014, and 50 percent by 2017.
It means Labour’s party list will be stacked if required, with women put ahead of men to meet the quota.
The party grassroots lost a battle to introduce a so-called “man-ban” on men in electorate seats earlier this year when former leader David Shearer had it struck out.
This time party president Moira Coatsworth won, with a man-ban in drag.
“Women have missed out. This is about getting women equality,” she says.
Are you really equal if you’re more equal than people who might be better able to do the job than you; if you’re there for the cause of equality rather than your merit?
David Farrar analysed previous elections to show which male MPs would have been sacrificed for women had the quota been in place:
. . . In 1996, 1999 and 2002 Labour would not have been able to give any male MPs a winnable list place. . . .That means they would have lost Michael Cullen. Ironically, one of the MPs who would have been elected in his place is Lesley Soper. Soper is the only pro-life woman in the Labour Party, and quite hated by most Labour women. . .
There’s equality of opportunity and equality of outcome.
The former ensures everyone has the same chance and the best candidate wins.
The latter puts gender ahead of merit.
A quota will leave women MPs open to the criticism that they’re there in parliament because of who they are rather than their skills.
If not having enough women in parliament is a problem, serious consideration needs to be given to what’s stopping them getting there rather than manipulating the list.
That is using a second-best band-aid to cover the symptom without addressing the cause.
#gigatownoamaru is getting there on merit.
Labour appears to think that putting Kiwi in front of something will make it a success.
Tweeters have grasped that idea and come up with more suggestions:
KiwiMilk: Comes in 1.637 L bottles, only one variety.—
Jordan McCluskey (@JordanMcCluskey) November 02, 2013
KiwiPie: Half cooked pie, filled with no gravy, a hunk of rump steak and for some reason a piece of chalk.—
Jordan McCluskey (@JordanMcCluskey) November 02, 2013
"To the Minister for KiwiTransport"
"Supplementary Question to the Minister for KiwiEnvironment"
Jordan McCluskey (@JordanMcCluskey) November 02, 2013
Nationalise the commanding heights of the economy graudally with government controls on everything, and tack the prefix "Kiwi" on.—
Jordan McCluskey (@JordanMcCluskey) November 02, 2013
Labour to set up state owned political polling firm, KiwiCount, to provide countr balance to all these rogue polls—
Rob Hosking (@robhosking) November 02, 2013
And from Facebook:
#gigatownoamaru = KiwiSuccess.
Update – just found another couple:
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:
Labour plans state-owned insurance co, 23 yrs after Labour govt (incl Phil Goff and Annette King) sold the State Insurance Office in 1990—
Chris Finlayson (@chrisfinlayson) November 02, 2013
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.
The Labour Party’s constitutional changes have given more say, and power to the members.
It has, they say, made the party more democratic. Although quite how allowing organisations more power than individuals can be described as democratic is debatable.
Regardless of that, members are having more say and unfortunately for the party’s PR machine, that is what is getting the publicity from this weekend’s conference.
Yesterday Stuff published some of the more radical proposals including one that would force the candidate selection committee to consider a range of factors, including sexual orientation, gender, ethnicity, disability and age, to ensure they are “fairly” represented in the party.
. . . But there are a raft of other controversial remits to be debated at the conference that will turn the focus on Labour’s social agenda.
They include a radical change to abortion laws that seems to take doctors out of decision-making and give a pregnant woman “the opportunity and freedom to make the best decision for her own circumstances”. . .
Other proposals are:
* Maori language made compulsory in state schools and teachers required to be competent in te reo
* Privatised state assets renationalised with compensation based on “proven need”
* The Government’s roads of national significance project dumped and the funds put into public transport
* Teaching of civics and democracy mandatory for all schoolchildren
* Laws to discourage excessive alcohol consumption, a review of the purchasing age, alcohol availability and an increase in the price of booze
* Prisoners again getting the right to vote
* A national sex and sexuality education programme dealing with sexual diseases, contraception methods, consent, sexual orientation and gender identity
* An apology for the Foreshore and Seabed Act passed in 2004
* A prohibition on school boards of trustees restricting same-sex partners from attending school balls
* A Pasifika television station
* A Maori language newspaper
Treaty Negotiations Minister Chris Finlayson agrees the apology should be issued:
“I am glad that almost a decade after passing this shameful piece of legislation, which denied access to the courts to people based on race, the Labour Party is ready to discuss an apology,” Mr Finlayson said.
The National government repealed the Foreshore and Seabed Act in 2011 with the support of the Māori Party and United Future, and restored the right of Māori to go to court through the Marine and Coastal Area (Takutai Moana) Act.
“I would suggest that the Labour leadership also apologise for their the party’s abysmal treatment of Tariana Turia because of her principled stand over the issue,” he said.
“While they are at it, they should apologise for the way Helen Clark called Dr Pita Sharples, a man who has devoted his life to improving Māori educational achievement, a ‘hater and a wrecker’.”
“They should apologise that Ms Clark deliberately snubbed the 35,000 New Zealanders who made a hikoi to Parliament to protest that discriminatory legislation, preferring to pose for a photo opportunity with Shrek the sheep.”
“At the same time, Labour may wish to say sorry for the way Treaty of Waitangi settlements stalled almost completely during their nine years in power – averaging 1.6 settlements per year, and needlessly delaying the resolution of these grievances for the good of the country. Last year, the government signed 15 deeds of settlement with iwi, only one fewer than Labour’s total for nine years in office.”
This has brought out several helpful suggestions in social media about other apologies Labour should make, including one to Shrek, although as he’s dead just now that’s a bit late.
Back to the conference.
What members in any party want isn’t always consistent with the party’s philosophy and principles.
People join parties for a range of reasons among which is the desire to push a particular barrow and the party is just a vehicle for doing that.
The trouble for the party is that some of these barrows are more interesting and newsworthy than what else might be going on at the conference and therefore get attention.
The selection criteria proposal has already been watered down but not sufficiently to wash from voters’ minds the conviction that Labour is still focussed on social engineering.
It also leaves questions about what the party thinks is important and how different that is to what matters to voters.
. . . You could be excused thinking this might also be an opportunity for the caucus spokesmen and women in key portfolios to give some indication of their thinking even though they may not have been in those roles for very long.
Instead the conference will devote several hours to wrangling over the wording of a “policy platform” document setting out Labour’s values, vision and priorities which has already been months in the drafting.
The platform is supposed to answer that perennial question: what does Labour stand for.
You can safely bet that 99.9 per cent of all voters will never set eyes upon it, let alone read it.
This is the kind of navel-gazing exercise a party undertakes and completes in the year after an election – not a year out from the next one.
It all reinforces the impression of a party focused inwards rather than outwards.
That is underlined by the series of policy remits which deal with such pressing matters as compulsory Maori language classes in schools, apologising to Maori over the foreshore and seabed farrago, state funding of political parties (a hardy annual) and entrenching the Bill of Rights (whatever difference that would make).
Many of the items amount to wish-list policies produced by the party’s sector groups. The words “out of touch” spring to mind.
While all this navel gazing was going on, the government was getting on with what matters, including announcements on a replacement for the Teachers’ Council and the decision to not allow the damming of the Nevis River.
Even on a matter of moment – state asset sales – Labour seems to be living in the past. One proposal up for debate at yesterday’s workshops would have had a Labour government reviewing the state-owned enterprises model so that it was no longer “pro-capitalist” and enabled “workers’ participation, control and management of industry”.
The “policy proposal” would have also required Labour to “re-nationalise” every state asset privatised by the current National Government, with compensation being paid only to shareholders with “proven need”.
That is a blunt retort to Bill English’s jibe that if Labour opposes asset sales so much, why doesn’t the party commit itself to borrowing the money to buy them back.
Exactly where the line would have drawn on compensation is not clear. But there would be some mighty unhappy investors in Mighty River Power if told they were not going to get their money back. That would amount to theft – and would have seriously dented New Zealand’s credibility as a haven for foreign investment, as well as sending all the wrong messages about saving.
The proposal was voted down by delegates. The question is how it managed to make it onto the conference agenda – and why something better was not put up in its place. Sometimes political parties need protecting from themselves.
Labour’s membership may feel liberated by recent changes in the party’s rules. But more influence brings the need to act more responsibly. At some point, however, Cunliffe is going to have to lurch back to the right. It won’t happen today. But it will happen. Watch for some real fireworks within Labour when it does.
Cunliffe won the leadership on votes from members and unions and he’s been feeding them left-wing rhetoric.
Whether or not he believes what he says is difficult to fathom because he varies his message to suit his audience.
However, the impression that remains is that he and his party are lurching to the left.
That might appeal to some of those who didn’t bother to vote last time. But it will repel some who did vote for the more moderate policies promoted by Labour under Phil Goff and won’t give their votes to support a more radical left agenda.
Gains on the left flank could be lost from the centre and go to the right.
While the party is focussing on what doesn’t matter, voters are worried about what does – the economy, education, health and security.
That’s National’s focus too and it’s making a positive difference to the country as the series of good news stories grows.
Meanwhile #gigatownoamaru is focussed on becoming the Southern Hemisphere’s sharpest town,
The National Party had a big intake of new MPs in 2005 and another reasonable intake in 2008.
A couple of mid-term resignations and end-of-term retirements brought in more new MPs in 2011.
Five MPs have announced they’re retiring at the end of this term and yesterday Bill English announced he would be standing on the list only.
This gives the party more opportunities for refreshment and will provide a caucus with a balance of experience and fresh faces.
Contrast that with Labour which gained few MPs in the last few elections because it lost electorates and sacrificed newer candidates for older ones on its list.
It’s had one new MP mid-term after the death of Parekura Horimia and might get a second in the Christchurch East by-election.
But so far none of the older long-serving MPs are showing any signs of retiring – not even Trevor Mallard although he’s still a staunch supporter of the Anyone but Cunliffe club.
There are a variety of reasons why some people retire and some stay on.
Among the obvious ones are that retiring National MPs can see life, and work, outside politics while it looks like Labour ones can’t.
That raises a question: if people don’t see opportunities outside parliament, how good are they in it?
Whatever the answer to that the contrast between a fresher National Party in government and stale Labour in opposition is stark.
People in #gigatownoamaru see lots of opportunities in being the Southern Hemisphere’s fastest town.
Whangarei MP Phil Heatley is retiring from politics at the next election.
“I have thoroughly enjoyed the challenges of being an MP and a Cabinet Minister. It has been an honour to serve the people of Whangarei, the place of my birth, since 1999. And I was very privileged to serve in Cabinet under Prime Minister John Key for four years,” says Mr Heatley.
Mr Heatley was Minister of Housing from 2008 to early 2013, Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture from 2008 to 2011, and Minister of Energy and Resources from 2011 to early 2013.
“My greatest satisfaction has been getting good outcomes for local constituents, and being part of a National team that is building a stronger economy and improving the public services families rely on.
“I am particularly proud of the legislative reforms I drove for marine farming. Growth in this industry is important for New Zealand. It was critical to better manage competing demand for coastal space and to deliver on the Maori Commercial Aquaculture Settlement for iwi.
“As Housing Minister, updating the rental rules of the 1986 Residential Tenancies legislation and extending them to boarding houses was very rewarding, as was modernising the 1972 Unit Titles legislation that regulates the way apartment blocks are managed. It was also essential to begin social housing reforms to better involve community providers, and introduce ‘reviewable tenancies’ to Housing NZ, a policy that set aside the decades-long notion of a state house-for-life. And I was very pleased to develop a policy that will now see every state house insulated by the end of the year.
“In energy and resources I have enjoyed working with practitioners, Councils, and iwi. Last year I introduced reforms to the Crown Minerals Act to promote, and not simply manage, the exploration of oil, gas, and minerals. The reforms are now in law. I am delighted the new annual ‘block offer’ process I introduced for awarding oil and gas exploration permits is continuing.
“It has been fantastic working with the people of Whangarei and her satellite towns. That will be my focus until the Election. I thank Whangarei residents for their support and for co-opting me onto so many fascinating projects.”
Mr Heatley took Whangarei from marginal seat status to a majority of 1934 votes in his first election in 1999, which grew to reach a majority of 12,447 in 2011.
“National’s Whangarei electorate committee will be selecting a new candidate. I look forward to supporting that person in the campaign, and working hard to ensure a John Key-led Government is re-elected in 2014.
“As an MP and Cabinet Minister I’ve achieved much locally and nationally. At 46, it’s now time to move on to fresh challenges and opportunities in the private sector.”
Among Phil’s strengths is his interest in and rapport with people.
That is one of the reasons he’s been such an effective and popular electorate MP.
Four National MPs have already announced they won’t be seeking re-election next year which is good for on-going renewal of the caucus.
None from Labour have yet.
That’s an indication that National MPs understand there is life beyond politics and shows they are more employable in the real world than some from other parties.
#gigatownoamaru appreciates employable people.
Meridian Energy’s partial float was given an initial thumbs up by analysts but they warn the share price is likely to be volatile heading into next year’s general election.
One fund manager said the difference in share price between Labour and National could be as much as 90 cents. . .
Analysts agreed that day one of the float was successful and the closing share price was in line with expectations.
Devon Funds Management equity analyst Phillip Anderson said new investors would be pleased. “It’s enough for the new investors to be happy – they are feeling good about it – but not so much that it looks like the seller left a lot on the table.”
The general feeling among analysts was that institutions which had their share quotas scaled back had created strong demand for Meridian shares.
But the analysts warned that the general election could affect the share prices of both Meridian and Mighty River Power, which was partly privatised this year.
“My valuation for . . . [Meridian] as a whole is . . . around $1.10 if the Labour Party wins, but business as usual under National at around two bucks,” Anderson said. . .
That loss in value isn’t just for the wealthy for whom the left show no concern.
It is loss in value for ACC, Kiwi Saver accounts, the New Zealand Superfund, other pension and savings funds, and of course in the 51% of the company the state still owns.
The best way to keep the value up is to get National back into government.
The #gigatownoamaru campaign doesn’t hold political views.
Quote of the day:
“We’re not pushing for any further state funding, I think most taxpayers would feel that political parties should raise their own money to push their own messages.” Prime Minister John Key.
He was responding to the news that Labour will be discussing a proposal for the state funding for political parties at this weekend’s conference.
Democracy requires participation which means more than just turning up to vote every three years.
Healthy democracies have strong parties and the strength comes from the involvement and commitment of members and part of that commitment is financial either through donations or fund raising.
In #gigatownoamaru we’re doing our best to become the Southern Hemisphere’s fastest town through community involvement without state funding.
People on the left hoping Labour’s rise in recent polls was pointing to certain success in next year’s election will have been disappointed by the results of two polls released yesterday:
The Fairfax Media poll, showed Labour and National were both up a couple of points.
. . . Labour is up two percentage points to 33.6 per cent since the last Fairfax poll, completed in August before the leadership spill that saw Cunliffe replace David Shearer.
But National is also up two points and holds a huge 17 point lead over Labour, winning the backing of more than 50 per cent of committed voters. . . .
Most of Labour’s support appears to have come at the expense of the Green Party which does nothing for the left block.
The One News Colmar Brunton poll showed a gap of only 11 between National and Labour:
Support for Labour and its new leader has stalled in the latest ONE News Colmar Brunton poll, with neither the party or David Cunliffe making any gains over the last few weeks. . .
But when it comes to preferred Prime Minister John Key still appears to have the golden touch, up one to 43%, while Mr Cunliffe hasn’t built on his strong start and is unchanged at 12. Winston Peters is steady on 4%.
In the Fairfax poll National had enough support to govern alone but that is very unlikely to be reflected by actual support in next year’s election.
Under MMP support for minor parties will determine which party governs.
In the second poll the right and left can both get to 60 but that’s not enough:
National has 58 seats and with one each from Act and United Future the centre right can muster 60.
But Labour’s 43 seats plus the Greens 16 and Mana’s 1 also gives the centre left 60.
The Maori Party with its three seats and New Zealand First could be the kingmakers.
This assumes NZ First doesn’t get over the 5% threshold and that Act and United Future both win a seat.
Before anyone gets too excited about the results, it’s only a couple of polls and the changes are in margin of error territory.
At best it shows that changing leaders hasn’t made much difference to Labour and if Cunliffe had a new leader’s honeymoon it’s over.
But we’ve more than a year until the next election.
Winning a third term was always going to be hard but not impossible for National and that hasn’t changed.
Labour’s new leader David Cunliffe has a propensity for changing to suit his audience.
If it’s a matter of style it might not matter, but when it’s substance it does as John Armstrong points out:
To show he is still boss, Key rode into town this week with all guns blazing.
For the first time outside the parliamentary chamber, he had Cunliffe very much in his sights.
The Prime Minister claimed he had information that Labour’s leader had privately told SkyCity’s management that although Labour’s official line was that the pokies-for-convention-centre deal was shonky, Labour would not accede to the wishes of the Greens and rip up SkyCity’s contract with the Crown.
Facing his first real test as leader, Cunliffe vigorously denied the charge before deliberately ducking and fudging to such an extent that confused reporters drew completely different conclusions about where Labour stands on the matter.
This is not a tactic that Cunliffe can resort to using too often.
Being a different person to different people is one thing, saying different things which sends messages which are mixed or worse, contradictory, is another.
Key will keep up the pressure. He knows Cunliffe is in a very difficult position.
On the one hand, there are those in Labour who would seek to nobble SkyCity as a matter of principle.
Others take the view that an international convention centre means jobs, and Labour’s supporters in lower socio-economic areas would take a dim view of the party kiboshing the project.
Moreover Labour cannot afford to be seen to be ripping up contractual obligations, thereby destroying its credibility with international investors and the moderate voters Cunliffe must win back from National to gain power.
Here lies Key’s wider strategy. Labour needs to show it can work with the Greens to convince people that a centre-left government is a workable proposition.
At the same time, Labour needs to create some distance between itself and the Greens to avoid accusations it is in their pocket.
Winning back votes to the left of Labour will do nothing to grow the left’s vote.
They’ve got to win votes from the centre and even right to grow the how left vote and that will be very difficult when moderates in the centre are at least as averse to the far left as they are to the far right.
Labour’s Green problem is its biggest potential coalition partner is also its biggest rival for far left votes and biggest liability in attracting votes from its right.