Brownlee clarifies extra funding for big seats

March 13, 2009

The innacurate reporting on extra funding to enable MPs in six Maori electorates and the four biggest general electorates has spurred Gerry Brownlee into issuing an explanatory media release:

Six out of seven Maori seats and all other constituency seats covering a geographic area larger than 20,000 sq km are set to each receive an extra $40,000 to hire another staff member.

Four Maori Party MPs, four National MPs and two Labour MPs will be able to employ an extra staff member so that they can better service their widely spread constituents.

Media reports suggesting that the Cabinet has recently extended the increase to include more MPs, or tried to keep it secret, are simply wrong.

“This funding increase was clearly spelled out in the post-election agreement the National Party reached with the Maori Party as long ago as November last year,” Mr Brownlee said.

“It has been a freely available public document since then, even if some journalists haven’t read it. To state that we haven’t told anyone and have secretly extended it to National MPs is a shocker.”

“This funding increase was clearly spelled out in the post-election agreement the National Party reached with the Maori Party as long ago as November last year,” Mr Brownlee said.

“It has been a freely available public document since then, even if some journalists haven’t read it. To state that we haven’t told anyone and have secretly extended it to National MPs is a shocker.”

“The increase is something that was recommended by an independent review,” Mr Brownlee said

. . . “This is not about political patronage. The issue of servicing geographically very large seats to allow constituent’s access to their MPs has been a problem since MMP was introduced in 1996,” Mr Brownlee said.

It should be noted the extra staff member will not apply to Tamaki Makaurau, the seat of Pita Sharples, due to its smaller urban size.

Would it be safe to hold my breath while I wait for TV3 to apologise for last night’s beat up?

If any questions remain on this issue, it’s why Hauraki-Waikato which covers an area of 12,580 square kilometres will get an extra electorate agent when Taranaki King Country (12,869 sq kms) and East Coast (13,649 sq kms) don’t?


To The Show

March 13, 2009

A poet has written a poem which evokes the sights, sounds and smells of an A&P show so I searched all my books for it as an appropriate choice for this Friday’s poem since it’s show weekend in Wanaka.

I couldn’t find the one I was looking for but I did come across To The Show  by E. Muriel Attewill in New Zealand Farm & Station Verse,  published by Whitcombe & Toombs, 1950.

To The Show

 

They tied a halter round my head,

They pushed me here and there.

They patted me and prodded me,

And taught me how to lead.

They brushed at me and scrubbed at me,

Then lathered me with soap,

They clipped my hair and frizzed my tail

And polished horns and hooves.

They took me in a jolting truck

Onto the Showgrounds gay,

Then washed and brushed and spruced some more

And fed me wisps of hay.

They led me round and round the ring

While knowing judges stared –

But I was not a champion,

And came home – just a cow!

 

E. Muriel Attewill.


Public main beneficiaries from more frontline staff

March 13, 2009

The Dominion Post does a much better job   than TV3 did of covering the issue of funding an extra staff member in the largest electorates. But it still doesn’t get it quite right.

National is under fire for pumping tens of thousands of dollars in extra entitlements the way of the Maori Party and four of its own MPs at a time when the rest of the public service is under orders to show restraint.

The Cabinet has signed off a $400,000 boost, with most of it going to the Maori Party’s four MPs, under their coalition deal with the Government, and National MPs Bill English, Chris Auchinvole, Colin King and Jacqui Dean, because they have large electorates.

This isn’t an entitlement for MPs personally. It’s money for front line staff which is exactly what National said it would focus on and while it will help MPs service their electorates better the major benefit of that is not to the MPs but the public who need their MPs’ help.

The PSA doesn’t understand that either:

The Public Service Association, which acts for public servants, said the Government’s timing was surprising, given its drive to lower costs in the public service.

. . .”People will have to judge whether that’s a good priority versus other programmes that may be cut or indeed people finding themselves out of a job.”

Front line staff seems like a very good priority to me.

No Right Turn  has a similar point of view:

While some might quibble at them spending – gasp! – $400,000 a year on it, people in large rural seats have an equal right to participate in our democracy, and it is money well spent.

Every citizen should be able to have relatively easy access to their electorate MP and one extra staff member in the larger electorates will help reduce the cost and difficulty many people now face in getting help when they need it.

Hat Tip: Kiwiblog


Dirty streams disappoint

March 13, 2009

MAF’s snapshot of progress on dairying and the clean stream accord shows there is still a lot of work to be done to improve the perofrmance of some farmers.

Agriculture Minister David Carter is right:

“No farmer has the right to pollute.  The small numbers of dairy farmers who ignore effluent disposal requirements are testing the patience of all New Zealanders, and risk damaging the reputation of the dairy industry as a whole,” says Mr Carter.

 Accidents will happen and equipment break down on the best managed operations so 100% compliance all the time will be impossible but carelessness or simple disregard for good environmental practices is unacceptable.

The regular, deliberate offenders may be small in number but they are doing a great deal of damage not just to waterways but to the reputation of dairying and New Zealand’s image as well.

The NBR’s final piece on Fonterra’s five biggest challenges deals with “dirty dairying”.


Show time

March 13, 2009

Upper Clutha A&P Society’s two day show opens this morning.

It’s the South Island’s second biggest show (Canterbury is the biggest) and the showgrounds are just a few metres from Lake Wanaka so it must be a contender for the one in the most picturesque location.

The show has the usual stock competitions, horse events and trade displays which enable you to buy just about anything for the farm, house and garden.

Another feature is the Glammies – the Golden Lamb awards. Judges this year include rowing stars Georgina and Caroline Evers-Swindell and Agriculture Minister David Carter.


Wanna know a secret?

March 13, 2009

TV3’s expose on the “secret” deal  to fund a third staff member for Maori electorates and general electorates larger than 20,000 square kilomtres was really old news.

Kiwiblog points out, both he and I covered the story when the government announced it in November as part of the coalition deal with the Maori Party.

The shock-horror coverage of old news as a supposed cover-up puts the story in Macdoctor’s spam journalism category.

It also shows that the journalist doesn’t understand that a large part of electorate MPs’ responsibilities are in their electorates; nor that while each electorate has more or less the same number of people in it for a very good reasons , it is much harder to give them the service they require when they’re spread over 10s of thousands of square kilometres than if they’re contained in a city.

The extra money isn’t for the MPs personally, it’s to employ an extra staff member to help their constituents. That it doesn’t appear to be coming with any extra for office space, telephone and other costs means it’s not quite as helpful as it appeared to be at first. But it will still pay for a real human being to assist the people who require the services of an MP and in spite of technological advances like Skype, face to face meetings are what most constituents need when they’ve got problems.

However, TV3 has done us a service by showing us that Labour doesn’t understand the needs of their constituents either:

Labour believes the deal stinks and it is accusing National of secrecy.

Don’t they realise that they still hold two Maori electorates so their MPs get this extra funding too and ought to have known about it since it was announced in November?

What on earth do their MPs Parekura Horomia and Nanaia Mahuta do if they don’t know how many staff members they are entitled to employ?

The table below shows the area of each electorate, colour coded by the party which holds each one. Labour’s ignorance on this issue which shows they don’t understand the needs of people in the larger electortates  explain why there was a blue wash at the last election.

Te Tai Tonga

161,443

Clutha-Southland

38,247

West Coast-Tasman

38,042

Te Tai Hauauru

35,825

Waitaki

34,888

Ikaroa-Rawhiti

30,952

Kaikoura

23,706

Waiariki

19,212

Te Tai Tokerau

16,370

East Coast

13,649

Taranaki-King Country

12,869

Hauraki-Waikato

12,580

Northland

12,255

Rangitikei

12,189

Wairarapa

11,922

Taupo

9,101

Selwyn

7,854

Napier

6,866

Rangitata

6,826

Whanganui

5,948

Invercargill

5,617

Rotorua

5,535

Waikato

4,947

Coromandel

4,653

Tukituki

4,277

Dunedin South

2,702

Waimakariri

1,757

Otaki

1,728

Whangarei

1,628

Hunua

1,266

Bay of Plenty

1,188

Rodney

1,051

Helensville

865

Tamaki Makaurau

730

Dunedin North

642

New Plymouth

579

Nelson

565

Rimutaka

518

Auckland Central

499

Mana

321

Hutt South

311

Papakura

255

Waitakere

254

Mangere

155

Hamilton West

148

Wellington Central

146

Ohariu

130

Port Hills

115

New Lynn

97

Tauranga

89

Christchurch East

78

Palmerston North

46

Wigram

40

East Coast Bays

37

Hamilton East

37

Manurewa

37

Maungakiekie

37

Botany

36

Tamaki

36

Mt Albert

34

Manukau East

31

Pakuranga

29

Christchurch Central

28

Ilam

27

Northcote

27

Rongotai

27

Te Atatu

27

North Shore

25

Mt Roskill

24

Epsom

23


Whitestone cheese still a winner

March 13, 2009

Call me parochial if you like, but I think  Whitesone Cheese  is always a winner.

But judges without my bias have confirmed it once again at the Cuisine Champion Cheese Awards.

The company won several gold and silver medals and the NZ Food Safety Award for packaging for its cheese tin.

 

cheese


%d bloggers like this: