Wrong process, wrong person

October 22, 2014

When National launched its constitutional review it chose Steven Joyce to lead it.

He was a successful businessman who supported National but had never been intimately involved with the party and came to the process without baggage.

In stark contrast, Labour has launched its constitutional review and has chosen Bryan Gould to lead it.

Chris Keall nails the problem with that:

. . . if you must have a review panel, head it by someone who knows how to win elections. . .

Gould is a smart man, I’m sure. But he’s not a winner in the game of politics. The ex-pat was a senior MP between 1979 and 1992 – a period of course dominated by Thatcher and the Conservatives as Labour struggled to make itself look anything close to electable.

Gould has poured vitriol on Tony Blair – the man whose up-beat style and move to the centre saw the party finally return to power.

Many in Labour will agree with Gould’s critiques of Blair for going too far in greasing up the press, moderating policy, and poodling to America on Iraq. In various newspaper editorials and his memoirs, Gould won the moral high ground hands down. But he lacks Blair’s ruthless and practical streak, and focus on likeability, that’s so necessary to win power.

A key question for NZ Labour is whether to shore up the party’s base with hard left polices or move to the centre, where elections are won. No prizes for guessing where the academic Gould will land.

Just last Thursday, Gould was comparing Key to Kim Jong-un. Great lorks if you’re a humour writer for the Internet Party. Not so much if you’re trying to talk to middle NZ. . .

Labour’s lost the election for several reasons and because it has several problems, none of which are likely to be solved by a review led by someone who can’t talk to middle New Zealand.

In another contrast, National had its review, reformed its constitution and reorganised then changed its leader.

Labour is changing its leader as the review process begins.

When it’s got the process wrong and chosen the wrong man to lead it, the chances of a successful outcome aren’t high.

 


New Cabinet announced

October 6, 2014

Prime Minister John Key has announced the Cabinet for his third term:


“There is a lot of work ahead to continue implementing our plans to build a stronger economy, reduce debt and create more jobs,” Mr Key says.

“The new Ministry builds on the experience of the past two terms in office, and combines experience with some fresh talent.

“A number of Ministers have had significant portfolio changes, reflecting the need to give Ministers new challenges as well as providing a fresh set of eyes in some portfolio areas.”

Mr Key says a number of Ministers have been promoted either to the front bench, or further up the front bench, to reflect their strong performance in recent years and their promise for the future.

“Paula Bennett has been promoted to number five in the rankings, and picks up State Services, Social Housing and Associate Finance in addition to retaining her Local Government portfolio.

“Dr Jonathan Coleman becomes Minister of Health, and also picks up the Sport and Recreation portfolio, which will link nicely together.

“Amy Adams and Simon Bridges are promoted to the front bench, both with significant new responsibilities. Ms Adams becomes Justice Minister and Mr Bridges Transport Minister.

“Christopher Finlayson remains Treaty Negotiations Minister and Attorney-General, while picking up significant new responsibilities in the intelligence area. He becomes Minister in Charge of the NZ Security Intelligence Service and Minister Responsible for the GCSB, working closely with me in my new role as Minister for National Security and Intelligence.

“In this role I will continue to be responsible for leading the national security system, including policy settings and the legislative framework. Mr Finlayson will operate within the framework I set and exercise ministerial oversight of the NZSIS and GCSB, including approval of warrants.

“Officials have examined models used overseas and what we are adopting is very similar to what is seen with our closest partners.

“Housing continues to be a key area of focus for the Government, and a Ministerial team of Bill English, Paula Bennett and Nick Smith has been assembled to lead that work. Mr English will have direct responsibility for Housing New Zealand; Ms Bennett will focus on social housing, while Dr Smith will work on housing affordability and construction issues. The Social Housing portfolio will have responsibility for the government’s social housing functions, and for its relationship with the social housing sector.

Other changes include:

Gerry Brownlee becomes Minister of Defence, while retaining the role of Leader of the House and his Canterbury Earthquake Recovery and EQC portfolios.

Anne Tolley becomes Minister for Social Development.

Dr Nick Smith becomes Minister for the Environment.

Nikki Kaye becomes Minister for ACC.

Michael Woodhouse becomes Minister of Police. He also becomes Minister for Workplace Relations and Safety – a new portfolio title to reflect the modern focus of what had previously been the Labour portfolio.

Jo Goodhew becomes Minister for Food Safety.

Mr Key says, in announcing his new line up, three new Ministers will be appointed. Maggie Barry is to go straight into Cabinet as Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage, Minister of Conservation and Minister for Senior Citizens. Louise Upston and Paul Goldsmith will be Ministers outside Cabinet holding a variety of portfolios.

“Two ministers previously outside Cabinet have been promoted to Cabinet. Todd McClay will be Minister of Revenue and Minister for State Owned Enterprises, while Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga will be Minister of Corrections, Minister for Ethnic Communities and Minister for Pacific Peoples.

“Craig Foss remains a Minister, but will now serve outside Cabinet as Minister for Small Business, Minister of Statistics and Minister of Veteran’s Affairs.

“Chester Borrows will not be appointed to the new Ministry. He will, however, be National’s nominee for Deputy Speaker, and I want to thank Chester for his service as a Minister,” Mr Key says.

A number of Ministers continue largely in their current portfolio responsibilities. These include Steven Joyce in Economic Development, Hekia Parata in Education, Murray McCully in Foreign Affairs, Nathan Guy in Primary Industries, Tim Groser in Trade and Climate Change, and Nicky Wagner in Customs.

“The support party Ministerial and Under Secretary roles have already been announced, but I want to acknowledge again their contribution to the formation of a strong, stable National-led Government.”

Mr Key says the National Caucus will meet tomorrow (Tuesday 7 October) to elect its three whips for the coming parliamentary term.

The new Ministry will be sworn in at Government House in Wellington at 11am on Wednesday morning.

The list of names, positions and rankings is here.

 


Labour’s last stand peak spending

September 15, 2014

Labour announced its final policy yesterday and in doing so took the left to peak spending

The Labour Party have decided to go for broke and heap more spending commitments on the Left’s spending pile in a vain bid to turn around their flagging polling numbers five days out from the election, National Party Associate Finance spokesman Steven Joyce says.

“Their latest ‘idea’ today to create a new ‘investment fund’ from the dividends of state-owned enterprises is just another way of pre-committing money that has already been committed by Labour a few times over,” Mr Joyce says.

“Dividends received by the Government from state-owned enterprises are already being used to pay for public services like education and health and to pay down debt. They can’t just keep being spent again and again. On top of that, the so-called ‘strategic investment’ language is quite obviously code for spending money on experimental cleantech investments that have lost money the world over.

“When you strip it back, what Labour have come up with today is simply another $400 million in pre-committed spending – no more and no less. That takes their four year commitment to $19 billion, before you add on the Greens plan to spend at least another $12 billion, and Dotcom’s plan to spend tens of billions more.

“On top of that you have to add all the uncosted pledges of the Labour Party – to pay higher student support, to pay more to ACC claimants, to re-establish the ‘dole for artists’ scheme, and so on.

“This approach would push up interest rates for households and businesses and stall the economy – as we saw under the previous government six years ago when floating home mortgages were almost 11 per cent at the economy flat-lined.

“The Left’s appetite for looking like Father Christmas to the voting public has no limit.

“The only thing we can be absolutely sure of in regards to Labour, The Greens and Dotcom is that if they win next Saturday’s election we would very quickly become a much poorer New Zealand.”

Labour’s sovereign wealth fund is another of those policies which confirm the view it thinks governments are better spending other people’s money than they are.

The last six years have been harder than they would have been had the last Labour government not taxed and spent the country into recession before the global financial crisis.

We’re now on track to surplus and it’s National’s careful management that’s got us there.

The recovery and the social and economic dividends which depend on it would be short-lived should the government change.

 


Poll of polls

September 6, 2014

Colin James’ poll of polls:

After this week’s stream of polls, including TV1’s poll published on the evening of September 5, National is back in the box seat with 50.2% on the latest four-poll average.

(Explainer: The POLL of POLLS is an arithmetical average of the four most recent major polls since mid-June from among: TV1 Colmar Brunton, TV3 Reid Research, Fairfax Media-Ipsos, NZ Herald DigiPoll, Roy Morgan New Zealand and UMR Research, which is not published.*)

Labour plunged to a new four-poll average of 25.0%, its lowest since at least 2008 and probably since the mid-1990s.

The Greens slipped to 12.0% as a high rating in a Morgan poll dropped out of the average.

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National’s lead over Labour and the Greens combined climbed to 13.2%.

The two winners from the dirty politics furore, New Zealand First and the Conservatives, were at 5.6% and 3.3% respectively. Internet Mana was 2.2% and the Maori party was 0.9%. ACT was 0.3% and United Future 0.2%, levels at which David Seymour’s and Peter Dunne’s seats, if they win them would be “overhangs” and push the number of seats in Parliament to 122.

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National’s high rating is unlikely to translate into that level of support from voters and it will almost certainly need some coalition partners.

. . . National Party campaign chairman Steven Joyce said the party’s popularity following publication of the Dirty Politics book showed a disconnect between what the public and media focus on.

Mr Joyce told Radio New Zealand’s Morning Report programme that despite strong polling, National was not assuming it would govern alone. National was not expecting the kind of result shown in the polls on election day, and having partnerships with several parties created a stronger more stable Government.

“If you just say you need a particular party to get over the line then obviously that particular party has a lot more leverage over the larger party.

“What we’ve shown in 2008 and 2011 if you have options then you can form good strong stable relationships and nobody gets too carried away.” . .

The stronger National’s vote is the more options it will have and the less it can be held hostage to minor players.

Labour is so weak it will be in a very poor bargaining position which would enable potential coalition partners to extract far more concessions in exchange for their support.

Its support could keep dropping if people decide it won’t be able to lead the next government or would have to give away too much to the wee players to enable it to govern .


Keep the team that’s working

September 2, 2014

The choice for New Zealanders in this election is to keep the team that’s working or change it for one that won’t:

The National Party has launched a new phase in its election campaign with new television commercials and election billboards highlighting the clear choice facing New Zealand voters.

“On air now is a short 15 second television commercial highlighting the stark difference between the opposition’s spending promises and our own strong economic management,” says National’s Campaign Chair Steven Joyce.

“The simple truth is that to date Labour and the Greens have released reckless spending commitments that total up to $28 billion, and that’s before they add in Dotcom’s party.

“Labour alone has committed to a staggering $18.4 billion, a figure the Greens want independently audited.

“Even in opposition, Labour, the Greens and their mates can’t agree on basic policy, like what the top personal tax rate should be.”

“In contrast, our plan will keep growing the economy and delivering the benefits of that growth to all New Zealanders – like 150,000 more jobs by 2018, free doctors’ visits and prescriptions for children under 13, 18 weeks paid parental leave, Kiwisaver HomeStart grants for first home buyers and no new taxes,” says Steven Joyce. . .

The choice is clear – a strong and stable team with a proven record continuing to steer New Zealand in the right direction or the left at best taking us nowhere good and at worst taking us backwards.

 

 

 

 

 


Rural round-up

August 30, 2014

Writing software, beet machine snag awards  – Kelsey Wilkie:

Judges broke the rules by announcing two winners at the Innovate business competition last night.

They could not choose between a computer program that helps children with writing and a machine to reduce the growing cost of fodder beet, so they awarded both $10,000 each.

Innovate is a Manawatu-based competition to help take an idea for a new business, an invention, early-stage research or technology with commercial potential and turn it into reality. . .

Challenge boosts protection of biological heritage:

The National Science Challenge – New Zealand’s Biological Heritage Ngā Koiora Tuku Iho – is to receive funding of $25.8 million over five years for research to protect and manage the country’s biodiversity, improve our biosecurity, and enhance our resilience to harmful organisms.

Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce says the Challenge spans a wide range of scientific disciplines and will include researchers from nearly all New Zealand’s relevant research institutions.

The Challenge will be hosted by the Crown research institute Landcare Research. It includes researchers from the other six Crown research institutes, and all eight New Zealand universities. . . .

Device may boost quad bike safety  – Jack Montgomerie:

A South Canterbury man thinks the anti-roll bar he designed could reduce quad bike accidents.

Farmer and rural contractor Charles Anderson, of Fairlie, said he was inspired to design the retractable “anti-roll bars” after learning of several fatal and serious accidents involving quad bikes rolling over.

“I was just getting sick of reading about all these accidents. I couldn’t believe there were that many.” . . .

Taranaki farm wins effluent fitness warrant – Sue O’Dowd:

What is believed to be the first dairy effluent warrant of fitness in Taranaki has been awarded to an Okato farm.

The warrant of fitness scheme was developed by Dairy NZ to improve farm dairy effluent infrastructure around the country. Certified assessors determine whether farm infrastructure meets industry good practice.

New Plymouth assessor Colin Kay, of Opus Consultants, awarded the warrant to Blue Rata Investments after auditing its 204ha (effective) Okato farm, named for the nearby bush reserve on the banks of the Stony River. . .

From the worst dairy farm to one of the best:

A Thames farming company has turned its business around after prosecution on four environmental offences led to instructions to stop milking.

Tuitahi Farms Ltd was investigated by Waikato Regional Council after an aerial monitoring flight in September last year.

When council officers investigated the farm, they discovered a range of unlawful discharges of milk vat waste and dairy effluent into farm drains that flow to the Waihou River and the Firth of Thames.

The council initiated a prosecution for offences against the Resource Management Act. The farm was convicted on four charges and fined $47,250 in the Auckland District Court in July. It was also ordered not to commence milking until a new dairy effluent system was in operation. . . .

Spring cereal sowing underway:

Canterbury’s grain growers, responsible for nearly two thirds of New Zealand’s total annual grain harvest, are looking to make up lost ground this spring after poor weather stymied autumn seeding for many.

“The Canterbury Plains are NZ’s cereal bowl and the key planting period is upon us. Farmers and contractors are already busy servicing and readying their tractors and seed drills for what they hope will be a productive spring,” says Thomas Chin, general manager of the New Zealand Grain and Seed Trade Association (GSTA).

Where the soil is dry enough the bulk of Canterbury wheat, barley, oats and maize crops, for both the feed and food processing industries will go into the ground over the coming weeks. . . .

                                   * * * * *


Labour too late to look responsible

August 26, 2014

Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce sums up Labour’s announcement it’s dropping some yet unannounced policies:

Finance Minister Bill English isn’t convinced either:

It’s too late for Labour to try to look responsible with taxpayers’ money when it has publicly committed to four years of new spending with almost a month to run before the election, National Party Finance Spokesman Bill English says.

“Labour is desperately trying to make its big spending commitments look smaller, and has decided to not even put costings on its big spending tertiary and transport commitments.

“Neither David Cunliffe nor David Parker could this morning actually list which of their expensive spending promises would be delayed in what was a failed attempt to appear fiscally prudent.

“Labour would return to their high spending ways, with at least an $18 billion list of new spending commitments,” Mr English says.

“That’s before you add the Greens’ promises to spend an additional $10 billion over the next four years. Then then there’s the wish list of support partner the Dotcom party, which wants to spend billions more on free tertiary education and community make-work schemes.

“Whatever Labour presents now would be up for negotiation in coalition talks where the Greens would have considerable sway – not to mention concessions demanded by Dotcom.

“On top of that, the Greens and Labour are arguing over their numbers. The Greens say they want Labour’s numbers independently audited – and for good reason.  And as we saw from the weekend, they can’t even agree fairly basic stuff like where the two of them think the top personal tax rate should be.

“The last time we saw this sort of approach, New Zealand taxpayers and families were the losers, with high deficits, a stalling economy and mortgage interest rates at nearly 11 per cent. New Zealand simply can’t afford the Labour/Greens/Dotcom coalition,” Mr English says.

High tax, high spending policies under the last Labour-led government put the country into recession before the rest of the world and left us with a forecast for a decade of deficits.

If they couldn’t manage the books responsibly in good times, they’ll have no show of exercising the restraint needed to ensure we keep on the road to recovery from bad times.

 


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