Conservatives on their own

July 28, 2014

Prime Minister John Key has ruled out any electoral deal between National and the Conservative Party.

Prime Minister John Key today made clear National’s position on accommodating support parties in electorate contests at this year’s General Election.

The National Party and its partners have successfully provided stable MMP government over two terms of Parliament and through challenging times.

“We will be seeking a further mandate on September 20,” says Mr Key.

“In an MMP environment, the public determines the make-up of Parliament by voting in a combination of parties, and every election is a tight contest.”
“After the election, political parties must work constructively to form and maintain a stable Government and voters want to know what party combinations are possible.”

In January, the Prime Minister made it clear that if National were returned to Government this election, the preference is to continue working with ACT, the Māori Party and United Future as this has been a successful combination.

He also made it clear it would be possible to add the Conservative Party and New Zealand First to this group.

Today he outlined National’s position on electorate contests for the 2014 election campaign.
“We’re seeking to maximise the party vote for National across the country in all seats. It is only through delivering the strongest possible party vote that National voters will return National to Government.”

“For the electorate vote, we will encourage National party supporters to give their electorate vote to the ACT candidate in Epsom and the United Future candidate in Ohariu.”

“We will continue to seek to maximise our party votes in those electorates and that’s what National Party candidates will be working hard to do.

“In East Coast Bays, where the Conservatives have a candidate, the only option to accommodate that party would be to remove a sitting MP from the ballot paper and that, as I have said, is a bridge too far. So there will be no electorate accommodation with the Conservatives.”

“However, we are happy to consider working with the Conservative party post-election should the public vote that party in to Parliament.”

“As I have said previously we are also prepared to discuss working with New Zealand First if that party is returned to Parliament.”

“In Epsom and Ōhariu, both ACT and United Future share a history of working with National and those are proven relationships that have stood the test of time.”

“National doesn’t always agree with ACT, the Māori Party and United Future on every issue, but together our four parties have maintained a stable and successful Government since late 2008.”

“Under the National-led Government, New Zealand is heading in the right direction and if re-elected, National will continue to work hard for all New Zealanders.”

Conservative leader Colin Craig wanted sitting East Coast Bays MP Murray McCully to stand aside so he could have a better chance at winning the seat.

Had that happened in my electorate I would have found it very difficult to vote for him rather than my National MP.

This would have been very different from Ohariu and Epsom. Peter Dunne was the local MP before MMP and Rodney Hide won Epsom when then sitting-MP Richard Worth was trying to hold it.

The people in these electorates chose someone other than the National candidates first and they keep doing that.

This year they can choose to do that again, or not.

That is very different from taking a choice away by pulling a long-serving and popular MP.

If it had been done and Craig won, any votes that counted for the Conservatives which might have helped National form a government could well have been cancelled out by National voters turned off by that thought who’d then vote for another party.

 


More common than sense

July 21, 2014

Winston Peters accused the Conservative Party of plagiarising New Zealand First’s policies.

Common policies isn’t plagiarism but copying a slogan could be and that’s what NZ First has done by adopting it’s common sense as its rallying cry for the election.

Since 2002 when Peter Dunne got the television worm to dance by insisting his policies were common sense, that’s been associated with him and United Future.

Common sense is an appealing slogan but New Zealand First backs it up with policies which have a greater claim to common than sense.

One of these is removing GST from basic food items.

The thought of wiping $15 off every $100 spent on groceries is attractive but it’s not that simple.

Not all of the grocery bill is spent on food and the part that is isn’t all spent on basic items – whatever they are and that’s where the problems, and costs arise.

Exactly what is basic and what isn’t requires definition, that’s open to debate and it all adds complexity and cost to our enviably simple and relatively cheap to administer GST system.

Labour tried to sell removing GST from fresh fruit and vegetables at the last election but gained little if any traction. One of the reasons for that was that the biggest gains from that would go to the wealthy who’d save on luxury items.

But the bigger problem with this policy is the cost.

. . . Mr Peters said his policy would save New Zealanders but cost the Crown a whopping $3 billion a year or thereabouts.

“This bold policy aims at the heart of the inequality undermining our society.”

Also “as part of a fair system” NZ First would remove GST from rates on residential property.

“This tax-on-a-tax deceit has to end, and it will,” Mr Peters told around 150 party faithful at Alexandra Park.

He did not provide details on how much that policy would cost, but with local authorities raising more than $7 billion a year in rates, the Crown would lose hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue.

However, in an echo of Labour’s plan to fund its big-ticket items, Mr Peters said the policies would be funded through “a clampdown on tax evasion and the black economy” which he estimated was worth $7 billion a year. . . .

Inland Revenue already devotes a lot of time and money to detecting and clawing back money lost through evasion and the black economy.

Greater effort would result in greater costs and would be very unlikely to result in a fraction of the billions of dollars that would be lost from the tax take if these policies were adopted.


Silly or weak

July 11, 2014

One of the challenges for the leader of the opposition is to look like a Prime Minister in waiting.

It’s one which David Cunliffe has yet to master, and his silly apology for being a man was another example of that.

 Trans-Tasman points out:

. . . The Labour Party election year congress dominated the first part of the week, with Cunliffe’s rather strange apology for having both an X and a Y chromosome. It was all very well for Labour’s apologists to splutter – as they did – about the apology being taken out of context. The only context which matters is Cunliffe wants to be PM of this country, and is campaigning ferociously to get the job.

In this context, the apology made him look either silly or weak. People don’t, by and large, go for leaders who look silly or weak. And, looking back, the thought of, say, Norman Kirk, Peter Fraser or Michael Savage apologising for being a man boggles the mind a bit. . .

Labour was once the party of the working man – and woman.

It’s strayed a long way from those roots.

That’s reflected in its loss of support in successive polls – and it’s showing up in other places too:

Hat tip for tweet: Keeping Stock

As for the issue which has been lost in the slipstream of the stupid apology, Peter Dunne writes:

. . . Meanwhile, the scourge of domestic violence continues across all communities, sadly without discrimination, right across the country. Let there be no doubt about the severity and complete unacceptability of any violence against women and children in our society. That has to stop – now – and, as the major perpetrators of that violence, men have to face up to their responsibilities in addressing it. Bold action, across the board, is required right now – not simpering, gesturing apologies for a biological fact that cannot be easily altered.

We need to take the wraps off domestic violence and expose its prevalence wherever we can. Police revelations there are around 200 reported cases every day of the year are part of that. Our aim has to be to make any tolerance of domestic violence as unacceptable as drink-driving and smoking have been made in earlier times, so that underlying social attitudes are changed. . . .

 The last thing we need is the absolute trivialising of a serious social problem by fake and insincere apologies, designed more for a headline, than to do any meaningful good. The women and children of New Zealand who live in constant fear and suffering because of domestic violence deserve a far better response than that.

And I make no apology for saying so. . .

Dunne has no need to apologise for taking a serious issue seriously.


Who’s putting jobs and people first?

June 20, 2014

The government is to introduce special legislation to enable the recovery of high value native timber blown over in Cyclone Ita on West Coast public conservation land, Conservation Minister Dr Nick Smith has announced.

“We need to take a pragmatic approach and enable the timber to be recovered where it can be done so safely and with minimal environmental impact. This initiative will provide welcome jobs and economic opportunities for the West Coast at a difficult time, and will provide a financial return to DOC that can be reinvested in conservation work,” Dr Smith says.

Cyclone Ita hit the West Coast on 17 April this year and caused the worst windfall damage in generations, felling an estimated 20,000 hectares of forest and causing significant damage to a further 200,000 hectares.

The West Coast Windblown Timber (Conservation Lands) Bill confines the recovery of useable wood to areas affected by Cyclone Ita and specifically excludes World Heritage Areas, national parks, ecological areas and the white heron sanctuary reserve at Whataroa. Authorisations are only to be issued where the Department’s Director-General is satisfied the proposed method of removing the timber is safe for workers and the public, and minimises environmental impacts. The recovery of timber is limited until 1 July 2019 when the Bill expires. All revenue from royalties will go to the Department of Conservation.

“A law change is needed because the current Conservation Act makes no provision for timber recovery in this sort of extreme event. The Bill will be introduced and passed by Parliament next week under urgency. This is necessary because the large volumes of beech timber will soon deteriorate with sap stain and borer. I am grateful for the common sense support from the United Future and Māori Parties that are enabling Parliament to quickly resolve this issue.

“It is estimated that several million cubic metres of beech, rimu, matai, totara and miro trees have been felled. Stumpage prices for rimu are $250 per cubic metre, and $60 per cubic metre for beech. It is not possible to estimate the volume and value of timber to be extracted because the safety and environmental constraints may require high cost options like the use of helicopters. This law change will enable the detailed work to be done by operators on recovery proposals so as to determine where recovery is viable and safe.

“It may be appropriate to consider a permanent change to the Conservation Act to enable windblown timber in these sorts of situations to be recovered in future, but I am reluctant to do so with urgent legislation of this sort. The Department of Conservation will be commissioning research on the effects on forest regrowth and ecology by comparing similar windblown areas where timber has and has not been recovered to help make a long-term policy decision on this issue.

“It is a tragedy that so much forest has been wrecked by Cyclone Ita but no good purpose is served by leaving it all to rot. The wood will displace some of the $65 million of tropical hardwoods we import each year and give New Zealanders access to our own beautiful native timbers,” Dr Smith concluded.

The move has the support of the Maori Party:

The Māori Party is thrilled that urgent legislation is to be passed by Parliament to allow for the recovery of native timber that has fallen onto West Coast public conservation land as a result of Cyclone Ita. Co-Leader Te Ururoa Flavell joined Dr Nick Smith on the West Coast today to make the special announcement.

“We see this as a great opportunity for the West Coast at a time where the community has had to bear the brunt of the storm. This legislation will open up long-term employment and commercial opportunities for the community and I am proud to be part of today’s announcement,” says Te Ururoa Flavell.

“The Māori Party support this initiative because we see it as a way for the West Coast to take a silver lining from the storm that hit their community on April 17 this year and caused the most devastating windfall damage in decades.”

“Had we not supported the legislation, the timber would have deteriorated and lost its commercial value. In particular, beech sapwood must be recovered within a month before sap stain fungi and beech borer begin to destroy the value of the timber, which is why there is a need for urgency. The felled rimu can be recoverable for up to five years, providing opportunities for long-term employment,” says Te Ururoa Flavell.

“Of course, the safety of the workers will be of paramount importance and authorisations to remove timber will require that the operators provide health and safety plans to show their removal methods would be safe for both the workers and the public. The legislation also provides for public exclusion from areas while timber recovery operations are taking place for their own protection.”

“Ngāi Tahu has expressed their support in principle for the opportunities presented by the legislation and we will support their preference for opportunities for the harvesting of the wind-blown timber and its proceeds to be reinvested into the West Coast community. We will also seek to ensure that the recovery is undertaken in a manner that respects and addresses any environmental and cultural matters of concern that the iwi may have.”

“While we are sad to see that so much native timber has been blown over by Cyclone Ita, we are delighted that Ngāi Tahu and the rest of the West Coast community will benefit from the passing of this legislation,” says Te Ururoa Flavell.

United Future leader Peter Dunne says the timber recovery is the logical response:

. . . “It is very unfortunate so many trees were blown down in this storm but there is just no benefit in leaving the timber to rot” said Mr Dunne.

Parliament will consider urgent, special legislation to enable the recovery of the high value native timber.

UnitedFuture will support The West Coast Windblown Timber (Conservation Lands) Bill which confines the recovery of useable wood to areas affected by Cyclone Ita and specifically excludes World Heritage Areas, National Parks, Ecological Areas and the White Heron colony.

“This timber recovery plan is the common sense, practical, and logical response to a natural process.

“I am satisfied by the environmental protections and health and safety regulations to which operators will be subject when the timber is removed.

“This will ensure that the West Coast’s unique environment will be protected” said Mr Dunne.

“New Zealand’s hardwood is some of the most beautiful in the world and I am pleased Parliament will enable New Zealanders to access it rather than leaving it to rot” he said.

Former Former Westland Mayor and now National Party candidate Maureen Pugh approached the Minister and asked that permission be given for logging:

. . . “It just seems like a very practical solution to an event that’s happened,” says Ms Pugh.

She says the logs, which are a mixture of rimu, totara and beech, could be worth up to $50,000 each. . . .

The proposal’s being welcomed on the coast – Grey District Mayor Tony Kokshoorn says it makes sense as it has the potential to create money. . . .

this is a very good example of a candidate being proactive for the people who’s support she’s seeking.

Contrast that with the Green Party which doesn’t attempt to win electorates and therefore doesn’t have to worry what’s best for the people in them:

 . . . the Greens say it would require a law change and they’d never support it.

“Generations of New Zealanders campaigned to protect West Coast forests – allowing trees to be taken from timber would completely cut across that,” says Green Party conservation spokesperson Eugenie Sage. . . .

Nature dealt the trees the killing blow.

If they are left where they are they’ll rot.

There is a small window of opportunity to recover the fallen trees which will provide work and replace imported timber.

It will be done with safeguards for workers and the environment and all profits will go to the Department of Conservation to fund more conservation work.

But once more the Green Party will put politics and its own blinkered ideology before people and jobs.


Politics Daily

June 11, 2014

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

I’m not pretending to be balanced.

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

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

Employment

Andrea Vance @ Stuff – Name and shame rulebreakers, Government says

John Anthony @ Stuff – Work trial helps disadvantaged

Jonathan Underhill @ Business Desk – Pass mark for 90-day trials in new MBIE survey

David Farrar @ Kiwiblog –

Simon Bridges – Feedback sought on minimum employment standards

Stuff – @ Stuff Demand for workers remains strong

EPMA - EMA backs employment standards ‘white paper’

Local government

Taxpayers’ Union – Ratepayers’ report

Andrea Vance @ Stuff – Which place has the highest rates?

Andrea Vance @ Stuff – Balancing the council books

Stuff – Politicians talk about keeping it local

David Farrar @ Kiwiblog – The Ratepayers’ Report

Peter Creswell @ Not PC – And the country’s most indebted council is …

Peter Creswell @ Not PC – Well, that’s awkward

Beehive

Nikki Kaye – Funding for councils to support young people

Business Growth Agenda

Employers and Manufacturers’ Association – Growth Agenda massive, thorough, committed

Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment  – Research report on employment law changes released

Inventory 2 @ Keeping Stock – Manufacturing still in crisis. Yeah right.

David Farrar @ Kiwiblog – The manufactured crisis gets worse

Election

Luke Balvert  @ SunLive – Students prefer Key as PM

Stuff – David Cunliffe hits out at coat-tailing

Inventory 2 @ Keeping Stock - More Cunliffe hypocrisy

Inventory 2 @ Keeping Stock – Quelle surprise…

Hamish Rutherford @ Stuff – Rodney MP dismisses deal with Conservatives

Cameron Slater @ Whale Oil – There will be no deal in Rodney

Cameron Slater @ Whale Oil – Rudman on coat-tailing and rorts

iPredict – 2014 Election Update #21: Maori Party in Trouble

Pete George @ YourNZ – Epsom Circus

Peter Creswell @ Not PC – At least Joe might get to laugh, instead of cry

IMP

Inventory 2 @ Keeping Stock – Photo of the Day – 11 June 2014

Cameron Slater @ Whale Oil - 99.5% of New Zealanders can see right through the scam

Geoffrey Miller @ Liberation – Three reasons the Internet Party might be successful

Geoffrey Miller @ LIberation – Three reasons why the Internet Party might not succeed

Adolf Fiinkensein @ No Minister – Who will pay on the final day?

Peter Dunne – Rich boys and their toys

Chris Trotter @ Bowalley Road – Favourable Reference: Why John Key’s Worst Enemy Is The Left’s Best Friend.

Lew @ Kiwi Politico – What is success for Internet MANA?

Social Media

Inventory 2 @ Keeping Stock - Tweet of the Day – 11 June 2014

Matthew Beveridge – MPs’ response to storm in Auckland

Matthew Beveridge – Colin Craig on social media

Matthew Beveridge – Labour’s Christchurch earthquake policy graphic

Labour

Scott Yorke @ Imperator Fish – Winning in 2014 – a prescription for Labour

Inventory 2 @ Keeping Stock – Smith on Mr Cunliffe’s tales of woe

Cameron Slater @ Whale Oil – Astonishing hypocrisy and sanctimony from David Cunliffe

Cameron Slater @ Whale Oil – Labour’s 10,000 outstanding earthquake claims is actually less than 1500, busted again

Other

Fran O”Sullivan @ NZ Herald – Cash donors have expectations

Dominion Post – Today in politics: Wednesday, June 11

Cameron Slater @ Whale Oil – Imagine the outcry if the the Business Roundtable wrote policy for the Right…

David Farrar @ Kiwiblog – The success of US charter schools

ACC – ACC levy consultation – it’s easier than ever to have your say

Rob Salmond @ Polity – Easy flowchart for “political analysts”

 


H is for . . .

June 5, 2014

H is for hurry and that is what David Cunliffe appears to be in.

He wants to scarp the coat tail rule that enables parties which win seats to bring other MPs in even if they don’t get 5% of the vote, and he wants to do it within 100 days of getting into government.

Why the rush?

There will be nearly three years until the next election when the law change would apply. That’s plenty of time to draw up legislation, open it to public submission, let it go through the select committee process, report back to parliament and gain the cross-party support which any change to electoral law should have.

H is also for hypocrisy and that what Cunliffe is exhibiting.

He was part of successive governments which were supported by Jim Anderton against whom Labour didn’t try to compete to win the electorate and who, at least in the early days, brought other MPs in on his coat tails.

He was part of successive governments which benefited from Peter Dunne’s support and those of the MPs who came in on his coat tails – even though he won the seat through the votes of National Party supporters.

He was a senior member of the party which didn’t try too hard to win the Coromandel seat which enabled Jeanette Fitzsimons to win as insurance should the Green Party not reach the 5% threshold.

He didn’t worry about the coat-tailers then and is only making a fuss now because of the Internet Mana deal.

Yet he’s not sufficiently worried to take a stand and say he won’t enter a coalition with them which is an equally blatant example of hypocrisy.

While I agree the IMP deal is a perversion of MMP, democracies don’t change electoral law to get rid of potential rivals for power.

They leave it for the voters to exercise their discretion at the election.

I hope there will be more than enough who do that wisely and foil the IMP plan to gain power by manipulating MMP.

If they don’t, so be it.

Cunliffe can cobble together a coalition of GIMPs and try to introduce changes to the electoral law which would sabotage at least one of the parties on whose votes he’ll depend for a majority.

H is also for help and that’s what we’ll all need should that be the sort of government we get.


GIMP but not LIMP?

June 3, 2014

Labour leader David Cunliffe has been dancing on the head of a pin when asked his view on the Internet Mana Party.

That suggests he’s testing the wind before he works out what he thinks.

Several other Labour MPs have already made up their minds they don’t like it.

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

Former leaders Phil Goff and David Shearer, and Rimutaka MP Chris Hipkins, are among those who have objected to the deal. It could see MPs from Kim Dotcom’s fledging political vehicle enter Parliament on the ‘‘coat-tails’’ of a victory for Hone Harawira in Te Tai Tokerau.

The strong opposition from within Labour could make post-election coalition talks tricky.

Goff says he feel strongly about Dotcom’s ‘‘pure political opportunism’’, citing his previous donations to ACT MP John Banks, now the subject of a court case. ‘‘He wants to be able to influence and control politicians.’’

Goff says he was previously ‘‘very critical’’ of National for exploiting MMP and failing to implement recommendations from the Electoral Commission to abolish the provision.

‘‘I’m scarcely likely to endorse another rort …I’m being entirely consistent,’’ he said. . . .

Interesting no-one in Labour called it a rort when National voters in Ohariu kept Peter Dunne in the seat which made him a Minister in the Labour-led government.

Goff says he made his feelings clear to the Labour caucus. ‘‘It will be the decision of the party leadership…but I see problems in creating a coalition where the philosophies and principle of people that you are trying to enter into a coalition with is unclear because they seem to be coming from diametrically opposed positions.’’ . . .

Coalitions are by nature unstable even when they have something positive in common.

A coalition built on nothing more than a hatred of John Key and determination to oust National would be a recipe for instability.

Those  views were also reflected in a passionate Facebook post at the weekend. Shearer also used the social media site to write that although he wished the Internet-Mana ‘‘marriage’’ well, he knew ‘‘it’s going to end badly.’’

And on Twitter last week, Hipkins posted: ‘‘The good old days, when political parties formed from movements. Now all it takes is a couple of million and some unprincipled sellouts.’’

All three MPs were linked to the Anyone But Cunliffe [ABC] faction – who were opposed to David Cunliffe assuming leadership of the party. However, a Labour source played down talk of more division, saying all three were close to Te Tai Tokerau candidate Kelvin Davis.

Davis himself posted on Twitter: ‘‘Bro, I think of the people of Te Tai Tokerau, not Sergeant Shultz.’’  He was referring to Dotcom’s German origins. . . .

More than half the caucus is in the ABC faction which makes the party itself unstable.

On present polling a left-wing government would have to consist of Labour and the GIMPs – Green, and Internet Mana parties.

A concerted effort by Labour backing Kelvin Davis to win Te Tai Tokerau would seriously challenge Harawira’s hold on the seat.

If the ABC faction prevails it won’t be LIMP – Labour and the Internet Party and that would leave the GIMPs facing a huge battle for power and relevance.


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