Look what they do with our money

March 13, 2013

We don’t have public funding of political forties parties in New Zealand.

We leave that to their members and supporters.

We do have public funding of MPs to enable them to serve their constituents and do their work in  parliament.

The rules are very clear that this money should not be used for party political activities.

Well, that’s how it’s supposed to work in theory.

But Kiwiblog shows that Labour and Green Party have used their parliamentary staff to help get signatures for the petition seeking a referendum on the partial sale of a few state assets.

A mole has leaked to me a couple of strategy documents from Labour and Greens on the referendum they have just purchased with our money. The documents are embedded below, and they show the extent of taxpayer resources used to purchase this referendum.

CIRs are meant to be about the public being able to send a message to MPs, not MPs using taxpayer funds to relitigate an election result. Some key revelations:

>>They aimed for 400,000 signatures as they knew a fair proportion would be found to be invalid.

>>At the 300,000 mark the Greens collected 150,000, Labour 105,000 and Unions 40,000. The Greens are the ones who used taxpayer funding to hire petition collectors.

>>Labour pledged 30 hours per week staff time from their taxpayer funded budget.

>>Greens were using their permament taxpayer funded staff to co-ordinate
The unions had a paid national co-ordinator.

>>They refer to unions gathering “car loads” of organisers and activists to travel to areas.

>>For their day of action, Greens said they will committ five full-time staff – presumably all taxpayer funded, if Labour does the same. That’s 10 taxpayer funded organisers.

>>A list of unions to pressure to do more, including PPTA, NZEI, Nurses Organisation – minority shares in power companies of course being key education and health issues!

It is very clear that there has been very few ordinary citizens involved in this petition – mainly a legion of taxpayer funded staff and union staff. . .

This isn’t a Citizen’s Initiated Referendum. It’s a politicians’s one and you and I have paid for it.


Rural round-up

March 13, 2013

The big dry – Groping Towards Bethlehem:

We’re in a drought. Pastures are drying out, stock are stressed, and Wellington now has water restrictions (very mild water restrictions, it must be said).

The costs are being toted up. The figures being tossed around are in the $1 to $2 billion range (0.5% to 1.0% of GDP, roughly), which compares to agriculture being ~10% of GDP. If it hits lambing or breeding stock, the impacts could go on past this season. Given the weak economic recovery, there are concerns about moving back into recession.

The drought is, of course, a lack of water. But really, it’s a lack of insurance. By insurance, I mean information and infrastructure that protect us from downside risk. There isn’t enough of that around water in New Zealand, and no wonder. We haven’t needed it. But this year we do, and climate change is expected to increase the variability of weather and make ‘insurance’ more important. . .

Water governance and the RMA – Steve Couper at Waiology:

Deteriorating water quality is consistently rated by many New Zealanders as being their number one environmental concern. Their concern is well placed. Some of our lowland waterways are now so badly polluted that the ‘clean green’ brand we promote is being actively challenged.

The evidence for declining environmental health in these waterways is strong. Monitoring 77 sites along 35 rivers, the National River Water Quality Network (NRWQN) shows an overall decline in water quality since its inception in 1989. While the bulk of this deterioration has been caused by diffuse pollution from intensification of agricultural land use, the waterways running through our urban environments are the most degraded. Urban dwellers are in no position to point the finger at “dirty dairying.” . . .

Drought backdrop to disaster research seminars:

Farmers digging in for the reality of a long drought will also have to face the implications of such dry spells on their lifestyle off the land too.

Massey University clinical psychologist Dr Sarb Johal, from the Joint Centre for Disaster Research says the likely recurrence of drought conditions in future farming seasons would not only cause a transition in the management of land and water use but also in the way farmers mentally handled challenges set to affect everything from economic productivity to leisure time.

Dr Johal is among other emergency management specialists gathering at Massey Wellington campus this week for a series of seminars addressing issues around preparing for and responding to natural disaster. . .

Drought could push farm businesses close to the wall – James Houghton:

After meeting with Ministry for Primary Industries representatives on Friday, I am pretty confident that a medium-scale adverse-event drought will be declared for Waikato and much of the upper North Island soon. While any drought declaration would be a relief for farmers, the reality is we need rain, stat.

Some of us have been reluctant to call for an official declaration, because farmers do not want to be seen as bludgers. In fact, we do not get any more help than any other sector struck by a natural adverse event.

There is enough science supporting that this weather is out of the ordinary. However, with this being the third drought declaration since 2008, we could be seeing the start of a worrying trend. . .

NZ wins tri-nations:

The 2013 Pure South Butchery Tri Nations has been taken out by New Zealand’s Wedderburn Sharp Blacks.

The team beat last year’s champions, Australia, and newcomers, Britain, to take the winners spot.

Taking a side of beef and a whole lamb, each team had to use the product to create a butchery display within a two-hour timeframe.

“The pressure was definitely on. We’ve put a lot of work into this competition and it feels great to walk away with the result we were after,” Wedderburn Sharp Blacks Captain Corey Winder said.

“Being on our home turf created the perfect setting for an unforgettable experience.” . .

Young Farmer time again – RivettingKate Taylor:

Okay now I am starting to feel old.

There was a time when I knew everyone (technically, not EVERYone) in Young Farmers, not just in my region, but around the country. Now, as the press releases roll in with the 2013 finalists, they’re just too young! I spoke to a young farmers meeting the other day with another hat on and some of them probably weren’t alive when I joined!

Not just from national conference, but the Young Farmer Contest.. I remember (just to name drop a bit….) when a friend Warwick Catto won in Hastings in1995 (Thomas and I were on the organising committee as well and Warwick is now high on the management list at Ballance Agri-Nutrients), our farming friends Shaun Baxter from the mighty East Coast in 1997 and Callum Thomsen in 2007. Some of them I don’t remember as such but the names are familiar to many in agribusiness in NZ – Young Farmers CEO Richard Fitzgerald was third in 1995, Philip Reid of Southland radio fame won in 1996, Waikato Federated Farmers chairman James Houghton (I think) was second in 1998 (yes Steve Hines, I’ll mention you too cos you won that year!) Paul McGill was in two Grand Finals – he’s just finished a stint as Wairarapa Feds chairman. . .

And Hat Tip CoNZervative:

Image

Townie: “What are those filing cabinets in the field?

Rural hick: “We need to keep accurate records of every sheep.”


“Australian” not racist slur – court

March 13, 2013

An English court has found it’s not racist to call a Kiwi Australian.

Petra Mills, 31, was witnessed by police officers calling her neighbour Chelsea O’Reilly – a British/New Zealand national – a ‘stupid fat Australian’ during a drunken tirade at her former home in Macclesfield.

Macclesfield magistrates found her guilty of racially aggravated public disorder and assaulting a police officer in November last year.

Ms O’Reilly claimed that Czech-born Ms Mills had used the term ‘Australian’ offensively as she knew she was from neighbouring New Zealand.

But Chester Crown Court overturned the public disorder charge after ruling the use of the word ‘Australian’ could not be considered racist.. . .

I understand why Australian couldn’t be considered racist, but why was the injured party more concerned about the slur on her nationality than her intelligence and appearance?


Leading by example

March 13, 2013

This is definitely leading by example:

It might also be called taking one for the team because protecting yourself from flu also helps reduce the spread of the illness to other people.

Health Minister Tony Ryall rolled up his sleeves at Karori Medical Centre in Wellington today to receive his annual influenza vaccination and launch the 2013 influenza immunisation campaign.

“We want more New Zealanders to be protected against this serious disease – this year the goal is to vaccinate 1.2 million people,” says Mr Ryall.

“Around 400 New Zealanders die, directly or indirectly, each year from influenza. Last year the disease put more than a thousand people in hospital and nearly 50,000 people visited their GP with influenza-like-illness.”

Mr Mark McIlroy was also at the launch today to encourage more people to be immunised. His wife, Catherine (49), had been a previously fit and healthy woman when she was struck down by the A(H3N2) influenza virus in July 2012. She died of the disease within five days of showing symptoms.

The influenza vaccine for 2013 Southern Hemisphere season includes two new strains based upon recommendations from the World Health Organization. The vaccine this year includes:

  • A/California/7/2009(H1N1) pdm09-like virus
  • A/Victoria/361/2011(H3N2)-like virus (new strain for 2013)
  • B/Wisconsin/1/2010-like virus (new strain for 2013).

“Last year over one million New Zealanders had a flu vaccination – around 23 per cent of the population. However we want more people to be protected and I encourage you to get your flu vaccination, especially if you are in one of the at risk groups,” says Mr Ryall.

The flu vaccination is free to those at greatest risk of serious influenza complications, including New Zealanders over the age of 65, pregnant women and people with on-going health conditions such as asthma or heart problems.

People who are not eligible for the programme can purchase the vaccine from their general practitioner or selected pharmacies.

For further information go to www.fightflu.co.nz or call 0800 IMMUNE 0800 466 863.

Photo: I received my annual influenza vaccination today at the launch of the 2013 influenza immunisation campaign. Robyn Taylor, a nurse at Karori Medical Centre, did a great job and I barely felt a thing. I encourage you to visit your GP or selected pharmacies and get vaccinated against the flu.
I didn’t get round to having a vaccination last year and paid for it with a very nasty does of flu which lingered.
I’ve learned from that and have already had this year’s jab.

There’s already been a referendum

March 13, 2013

The petition seeking a referendum on the government’s policy to sell minority shares in a few energy companies was presented to parliament yesterday.

Parliamentary Services staff will now have to waste their time and our money ensuring the validity of the signatories.

They shouldn’t have to do it because Keeping Stock shows us there’s already been a referendum.

Labour’s then leader, Phil Goff said so.2011 referendum

Mr Goff said Prime Minister John Key had made this year’s election a referendum on whether New Zealanders wanted to see their most important assets being sold.

Perhaps the current leader, David Shearer, could explain why he’s wasting public money on another referendum when the 2011 was decisive.

And apropos of waste – does anyone know who paid for all those boxes in which the petition pages were delivered and the delivery?


The enemy of their enemy is Green’s new friend

March 13, 2013

The Green Party and New Zealand First have little in common except their opposition to National and the possibility they might be in coalition with Labour.

The divide between the two parties has widened with the Greens agreeing to cast Independent MP Brendan Horan’s vote when he isn’t physically in the debating chamber.

Rt Hon Winston Peters says the move by the Greens to help Horan can unfortunately be seen as legitimising his place in Parliament.

“There is no legitimate place in Parliament for Horan, now or in the future.

“And the Greens are wrong to say that his situation is similar to their exercising Hone Harawira’s proxy.

“Mr Harawira represents an electorate.

“Horan represents no one. For obvious reasons, New Zealand First does not want him and he should have resigned his list seat. . .

Peters might question the legitimacy of Horan’s status but his right to remain and MP is sanctioned by MMP.

A legal right is different from an ethical one, though.

Horan is only in parliament because he was on New Zealand First’s list and having left the party it’s not just Peters who thinks he should resign.

However, the Green Party, which likes to think it’s more ethical than others, isn’t above using his vote when it suits.

The enemy of their enemy is their new friend.


AG rules only when it suits

March 13, 2013

A few short weeks ago Labour was demanding that the government stop the Sky City convention centre deal because of an Auditor General’s report.

The party is taking a far more cavalier approach to the report from the AG on Shane Jones’s behaviour as Assistant Immigration Minister.

The Auditor-General’s report into the Yang Liu affair is extremely damning of the way Shane Jones handled the issue, and calls into question David Shearer’s judgment in reinstating him to Labour’s front bench, Acting Prime Minister Bill English says.

“Within minutes of the report being tabled in Parliament this afternoon, we have David Shearer rushing out and reinstating Shane Jones,” he says.

“I can almost understand his haste, given the calibre of his caucus and his desire to keep David Cunliffe on the backbench. But it flies in the face of the Auditor-General’s conclusions about Mr Jones’ handling of Mr Liu’s citizenship application.”

For example, on page 66 of the report, the Auditor-General says of Mr Jones: “In our view, given that he knew there were ongoing investigations by Immigration and the New Zealand Police, he should also have consulted them before making his decision, as the investigators note of the first meeting suggested he was intending to do.

And on page 67, the report continues: “The decision to approve an urgent private ceremony, following so closely the decision to authorise the grant of citizenship against the recommendation of officials, caused a degree of consternation among the department’s staff. It added to the impression that Mr Liu was receiving special treatment.”

“Despite the criticism by the Auditor-General, David Shearer is now standing behind Shane Jones,” Mr English says.

“This is just a few weeks after he demanded the Government stop the Sky City Convention Centre project because of an Auditor-General’s report. He should look in his own party’s backyard first.”

Labour are happy to invoke the Auditor General only when it suits.

There was nothing illegal in what Jones did but it does look very sloppy.

This is his second strike, the first being charging the cost of pornographic movies to his parliamentary credit card. He’s been given another chance but will be on notice.

The AG’s report is here.

 


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