Quotes of the year


That’s creative thinking – if I had known that I probably would have joined them. –  Inspector John Kelly on the New Year revellers who built a large sandcastle in the middle of the Tairua estuary in an attempt to avoid the liquor ban.

Among western leftists, morality had become culture-specific. If imperialism’s victims asked for support, then they would be given it, unquestioningly. If not, then they would tend to their own political gardens exclusively.

The problem for western feminists is that, in spite of these cultural and political self-denying ordinances, the only garden currently showing unequivocal signs of flourishing, is their own. Across vast regions of the planet, not only are women’s rights not flourishing, they are being diminished. – Chris Trotter

Any family, in any part of the country, dealing with any one of those challenges, would find it difficult. But when you have all of those at once, it is incredibly difficult to see how a family could navigate their way through all of that on their own.

And you sure as heck, can’t have an official sitting in Wellington waving a magic wand, and fixing it for them. – Louise Upston

If I look at my colleagues, they get up and go to work every day because they care so much. . .Why would we do that if we didn’t care? Why would we do that if we didn’t care about individuals and actually want something better for their lives? Louise Upston

Men who have been inculcated into a culture of toxic masculinity need to regularly top up their King Dick Metre, which can only be fuelled by the disempowerment of someone else. And that someone else is very often a woman.

Their feelings of strength only come when someone else is in a position of weakness. They can only feel valid when they are able to invalidate someone else. They only feel like they have won when someone else has lost. – Kasey Edwards

Could you imagine a return to a world where the only people that gave dairy farmers grief were sheep farmers and bank managers?

Could you imagine the next time Fonterra was in the news, it was for a collaboration with Lynx in producing a deodorant that smelled of silage and cowshit, that dairy farmers could put on if they used too much soap in the shower?

Maybe we can hope that our on-farm processes continue to develop, along with scientific developments, adoption of best practices and consumer preferences, as opposed to at the whim of vote-hungry politicians, misinformed urban housewives and the combined armies of anaemic vegans, animal rights activists, goblins and orcs.

Maybe we could hope that we can reverse the trend that has seen rural folk and farmers become an ethnic minority in this country – a minority that is now seen by many New Zealanders as dirty, destructive and somehow freeloading on resources, with less credibility then prostitution. . .  –  Pete Fitzherbert

We welcome the government’s focus on tracking the number of children in persistent poverty and hardship. However, setting multiple arbitrary targets for reducing child hardship is easier than actually helping people extricate themselves from their predicaments. – Dr Oliver Hartwich

Good intentions are not enough. They’re not even a start, because there’s been a lot of money wasted and lives wrecked on the basis of good intentions expressed through public services. Bill English

 . . . the only reason we have a 37-year-old female Prime Minister is because a septuagenarian put her there. – Fran O’Sullivan

Peters’ inability to contain his bitterness suggests the coalition negotiations were a charade. His resentment towards National is deep-rooted, and since the election, the feeling is reciprocated. It is unlikely that National’s change of leader will diminish Peters’ toxicity.  – The Listener

It strikes me as rather unfair that while we’ve been up in arms over where the country’s burgeoning cow population does its business, our burgeoning human population has been fouling up the waterways with what comes out of our own backsides. We can’t berate dairy farmers for dirtying the rivers if we’re content for our biggest city to keep using its waterways as one giant long drop. – Nadine Higgins

Over-reacting about everything someone says or does, creating controversy over silly innocuous things such as what I choose to wear or not wear, is not moving us forward. It’s creating silly distractions from real issues.Jennifer Lawrence

The incident has also highlighted the danger of a government full of academics, health professionals, public servants, teachers and career politicians picking business winners.

The idea that councils around the country would rail or truck their rubbish to Westport for incineration is one of those ludicrous ideas that only regional development officials would think is a flyer. – Martin van Beynen

Getting policy right matters. In the end, lots of money and good intentions is never enough. You’ve got to get the policy right. – Nicola Willis

So consumed are they with the grassy vistas opening up in front of them that they are oblivious to their drawing ever closer to journey’s end, namely the holding yards of the local freezing works. – John Armstrong

Businesses, by and large, are better at coping with bad news than they are at coping with uncertainty. You cannot plan for it or adapt to it. Hamish Rutherford

Feminism is about choice, the right to have one, the right to be equal. It is not about trampling men to death in the process. It is not about spending so much time telling girls that “they can do anything” that they become curious and confused as to why you keep telling them something they already knew.

Guess what? The girls we’re raising haven’t had it occur to them they can’t do anything. – Kate Hawkesby

I’m not sure what affordable means but I am sure I’m not alone in that. It’s bound to be a complicated formula with one of the variables being the price of avocados. I just hope it doesn’t add up to borrowing from KiwiBank to buy from KiwiBuild during the KiwiBubble resulting in KiwiBust.James Elliott

 If we believe that correcting harmful inequities lies in asserting an inherent malice and/or obsolescence in all people with a specific combination of age, gender and ethnicity then we have already lost the fight. The real enemy is the unchecked and uncontested power exercised through institutions, social norms and structures which privilege one group over another.    – Emma Espiner

A tagged tax has to be a tagged tax, otherwise it’s a rort. – Mike Hosking

While the Greens are dreaming of compost, wheelbarrows, chook poo and quinoa, the rest of us wouldn’t mind getting on with business. And that means we need water. – Mike Hosking

Certainly a rational person, and especially one convinced of the threat of global warming and the possibility of more droughts, would increase, not stop investment in irrigation?

That is not to argue that water quality and nitrate leaching are not problems – they are. But to stop irrigation as a solution is to throw the baby out with the bathwater. The rational approach is to find ways of reducing nitrate leaching even under high-producing irrigated pastures. This requires more science, more evidence, more rational thinking. – Dr Doug Edmeades

Businesses — it doesn’t matter what they are — require reliable steady staff; not rocket scientists but reliable steady staff. Unless we have those types of people available our whole economy has an issue. – Andre de Bruin

There’s power in love. There’s power in love to help and heal when nothing else can. There’s power in love to lift up and liberate when nothing else will. There’s power in love to show us the way to live. – Michael Bruce Curry

The well-being of all communities can be enhanced by enabling greater levels of social solidarity, empowering people in their personal and community lives, enhancing social infrastructure and establishing opportunities for dignified work and alternative livelihoods. – Tracey McIntosh

Tough on crime is popular with the insular and ignorant when it comes to justice policy, while restorative approaches with enduring outcomes that help people stay away from jail because they offend less are not popular, not sexy and seen as “soft on crime”. Chester Borrows

Everyone can do something amazing once. You’ve got to back it up and do it again – Rowland Smith

The money spent on eliminating risk in one area means less available to fix problems in other areas. In other words, the consequence of lowering risk in one sphere can hinder minimising risk in another one. Chew carefully on that one. – Martin van Beynen

That’s what the call for diversity means. An endless slicing and dicing of society into every thinner minority groups with everyone scrambling for quotas and box ticking.

It’s a bureaucratic nightmare. It’s also a complete denial of individuality. You are not important. All that matters is what boxes you tick. It’s the boxes that define you, not what you do, what you think or what you produce. – Rodney Hide

We went to do a story about an American billionaire buying up wineries in Wairarapa. Local wine makers were going broke and in stepped the American billionaire. I went down with a TV crew expecting locals to be up in arms about the ‘foreigner’ buying up the land. But I couldn’t find one voice raised against him.

There is one thing worse than a foreign buyer, they told me, and that’s not having a buyer at all. – Guyon Espiner

It feels like a Dear Winston moment really – Mike Jaspers

We grow up thinking the world is fair, but it’s not, so you’re not always going to get the results you’re looking for. The challenge is to pick yourself up again when you have those days.Joe Schmidt

I believe rugby is similar to society, where it is about interdependence and us trying to help each other. Imagine if everyone in life became the best version of themselves and made life easier for those either side of them. – Joe Schmidt

The very premise of our system is we learn from our mistakes and wrongs and are given freedom to make amends.Mike Hosking

Grown-ups know that being short $60 a week is not what ails and troubles our most vulnerable children. Proper parenting can’t be bought for $60 a week. – Rodney Hide.

So stop beating yourself up for buying too many books or for having a to-read list that you could never get through in three lifetimes. All those books you haven’t read are indeed a sign of your ignorance. But if you know how ignorant you are, you’re way ahead of the vast majority of other people. – Jessica Stillman

Feminism has descended into a cauldron of cattiness; of nasty factionalism. It doesn’t empower. It  scrutinises and judges groups within groups. Like extreme left or right politics, the creed is hardest on those most like it – those who should know better but fail. – Lindsay Mitchell

Regional development is about more than funding a few projects; it’s about allowing people to make a living. – Paul Goldsmith

This image of Anglo-Saxon culture isn’t grounded in the up-to-date distinct cultural traditions or practices of the United Kingdom. It is a cover of a misremembered song, played by a drunk who forgot the words mid-song and so started humming. – Haimona Gray

Imagine the world today if William Wilberforce and Kate Sheppard had refused to engage with people whose views they found repugnant. If Martin Luther and Martin Luther King Jr had decided not to argue back. If Desmond Tutu and Te Whiti had seen no point in suffering the slings and arrows of their opponents because, hey, nothing’s gonna change.

The twist in this debate is that the Molyneuxs, Southerns and other so-called champions of free speech only win when their shouting drowns out other voices. Voices of conciliation and peace. Because regardless of the polarisation we see today, people can change. We can learn. And, even if we still disagree on some profound issues, we can find other things to agree on and other things to respect in each other. Tim Watkin

The day that this country’s dictated to by the social media trolls is the day that democracy dies. If we are to be spooked into compliance by what an anonymous moron threatens by the swipe of a cellphone screen then we’re little better than they are. – Barry Soper

It is unfortunate, but the world seems to have lost the ability to disagree well. Civility in our discussions and debates over contentious issues seems to have been lost. We are increasingly polarised in our views with recourse to extreme positions in order to ‘prove’ or force our point. However, the answer is not to avoid difficult and, at times, confronting conversations. Rather, community leaders, and universities in particular, play a vital role in leading our communities in those discussions, as difficult as they may be, applying the principles of informed discussion, compromise, enlightenment of the points of view of others, and if all else fails, respectful disagreement. – Chris Gallavin

But where is that line that we need to find as a Parliament between being culturally sensitive to people that may not see things in the way in which New Zealand’s own cultures have developed, and, on the other hand, being firm enough that, actually, no, these things, regardless of culture, are not right. Nick Smith

We have an education system that does not reward excellence and does not punish failure. Decades of bureaucratic hand-wringing has delivered a broken system that relies on the personal integrity and good intentions of those who choose teaching as a profession. – Damien Grant

After all, as long as we can discern the truth clearly, love it passionately, and defend it vigorously, we have nothing to fear from open debate; and if we can’t do those things, then why are we claiming to be a university at all? – Dr Jonathan Tracy

The answer to suffering, physical or mental, is affection and good care. This should come first and as far as possible from family and community, supported by institutions.

“Finishing people off” may suit our current individualistic, utilitarian, impatient culture, but it will degrade us all in the end. – Carolyn Moynihan

In a liberal, democratic society, there will always be speech in the public domain that some people find offensive, distasteful or unsavoury. Unless that speech is manifestly doing harm to others, there is no case to ban it, only a case for arguing strongly against it or ridiculing it. Recourse to suppression is redolent of authoritarianism, not democracy. – Chris Bishop

The irony is that although the elimination of subsidies started out as a kind of political punishment, it wound up becoming a long-term blessing for farmers. We went through a difficult period of adjustment but emerged from it stronger than ever. . .

 We became ruthlessly efficient, which is another way of saying that we became really good at what we do.

We also improved our ability to resist regulations that hurt agriculture. Subsidies empower politicians, who can threaten to cut off aid if farmers refuse to accept new forms of control. Without subsidies, we have more freedom to solve problems through creativity and innovation rather than the command-and-control impulses of government. – Craige Mackenzie

But as someone who’s spent a bit of time writing and talking about the important, and not so important, issues in life, there is one thing I know which will never change.

Truth always wins. If you report the facts you can never go wrong. – Peter Williams

We can’t prosper by taking in our own washing so, strutting it on the global stage has to be our modus operandi.And I mean strutting, not just selling low value stuff that rises or falls on the rise or fall of the NZ dollar. Strutting starts with the daring of the ambition and is sustained by the ability to execute.  Ruth Richardson

The frightening retreat from sane economics. Free trade is the path to growth, protectionism is the path to decline. Ruth  Richardson

This is an accidental government formed on the fly and governing on the fly.–  Ruth Richardson

Death of great science on the alter of doctrinal and PC positions doesn’t strike me as the smartest choice.  – Ruth Richardson

I’m satisfied within myself. I’ve got more to do with my life than look at that. Barbara Brinsley

Each of us has made different life choices and, actually, that gives women everywhere role models.

It’s legitimate to choose. We don’t have to be the same, we don’t have to judge each other, we make our own choices. – Dame Jenny Shipley

Every student who walks out of the gate to truant is already a statistic of the worst kind, highly likely to go to prison, highly likely to commit domestic violence or be a victim of domestic violence, be illiterate, be a rape victim, be a suicide victim, be unemployed for the majority of their life, have a major health problem or problems, die at an early age, have an addiction – drugs, gambling, alcohol or smoking. Virginia Crawford

I am Māori. Tuhinga o mua Ngāti Hāmua a Te Hika a Pāpāuma. Ko taku iwi Ngāti Kahungunua a Rangitāne. I am Scottish, I am English, I am a New Zealander. I am not defined by the colour of my skin. I am a victim. I did not choose to be a victim. – Maanki 

If we want to see fewer Māori in prison, our whānau broken apart because dad is in prison and mum is now in rangi (heaven), we must free ourselves and our whānau from the increasing level of domestic violence and abuse in our homes. The drugs must stop, the high level of drinking and violence among our own must be gone.

How many of our fathers are incarcerated, because their fathers taught them the only way to deal with anger was violence, to punch their way through a situation. How many of our whānau have lost a mother, a child, a brother from our people’s own hand. – Maanki

The blame needs to stop. It is not the police, the system, the state, the Government, the justice system or even the Pākehā who made a man beat his wife to death, to rape an innocent stranger, to murder their own child or to sexually abuse a daughter or son.

No, it was a choice, a choice made by a perpetrator. – Maanki

The Senate, collectively, could not find their own arses with a sextant and a well-thumbed copy of Gray’s Anatomy
Jack the Insider

Over the years I have come to the conclusion that God’s table is a smorgasbord of theological truths with some in conflict with others and some more important that others.    People are free to pick and choose from that smorgasbord and do so based on what is important to them. – The Veteran

But I can’t remember not having books. I’d go to the library every week, search every shelf with children’s books, then go home with a stack. . .   Every choice was my choice. Then I could control what went into my head by plugging into new worlds, learning new things and just imagining a different life. . .

When we only look to reinforce our taste and beliefs we lose the opportunity to browse and the opportunity for serendipity, and that’s unfortunate. – Maud Cahill

It was sort of total irritability associated with feeling hungry that would manifest as grumpiness. This void in my stomach would create a void in my sense of humour and my ability to tolerate things. – Simon Morton

This is a partnership designed by a drover’s dog and a clinical psychologist who have absolutely nothing in common except they both have experience dealing with rogue steers who don’t believe in being team players. – Clive Bibby  

I live down in the South Island, and there’s been a lot of farmers trying to curtsey. Most of the time they’re in gumboots. – Dame Lynda Topp

In the west food is produced by a few to feed the many and when people are relieved of the duties of working on farms and subsistence farming the job is handed to a few and people move to the cities and that is when they become disconnected. – Anna Jones

Class is a commodity that doesn’t seem to be in conspicuous supply in politics at the moment. – Chris Finlayson

New Zealand’s real problems are not identity politics, no matter what the left may think. They are that the welfare state has failed. Too many kids don’t get educated. Too many working aged adults are on welfare. Too many are in jail because there is too much crime and they’re never rehabilitated. Housing has gone from a commodity to a ponzi scheme. Our productivity growth is anaemic. With government’s and councils’ approach to regulation, it’s amazing anyone still does anything. Andrew Ketels

I certainly don’t celebrate diversity for its own sake. You have to distinguish pluralism from relativism. Relativism tends towards ‘anything goes’ and that can’t be right

Pluralism is the view that although some ways of living really are wrong, the list of possible good ways to live a flourishing human life and have a good society contains more than one item. – Julian Baggini

We didn’t need a tax on stones, there wasn’t a concern about ‘peak stone’ and we didn’t need to stage protests in front of the chieftains’ caves to argue for the use of bronze. It came down to developing the new technology, which had benefits over the old technology, and disseminating the knowledge. – Andrew Hoggard

I am the culmination of generous moment after generous moment, kind moment after kind moment and that is the glue that holds this country together. – Kurt Fearnley

It is a privilege for any mother to be able to propose a toast to her son on his 70th birthday. It means that you have lived long enough to see your child grow up. It is rather like – to use an analogy I am certain will find favour – planting a tree and being able to watch it grow. – Queen Elizabeth II

When I noticed that I was spending far more time scrolling through my email and Twitter than I was playing on the floor with my son, I realized that the problem wasn’t with screens warping his fragile mind. It was that I’d already allowed my phone to warp mine. So these days, my husband and I try not to use our phones at all in front of our son. Not because I think the devil lives in my iPhone, but because I think, to some extent, a small part of the devil lives in me. – EJ Dickson

The proper purpose of journalism remains as Kovach and Rosenstiel defined it – not to lead society toward the outcome that journalists think is correct, but to give ordinary people  the means to make their own decisions about what’s in their best interests.Karl du Fresne

I’m bloody angry at New Zealand for fighting over Santa and I want us to stop. This is not what Santa’s about. Santa is not about angst and Santa is not about Santa hate.

Santa is about hope, Santa is about dreams. Santa can come down the chimney even when you don’t have a chimney. Santa can come in the ranch slider, Santa can drink craft beer. Santa can drink strawberry-flavoured Lindauer for all I care. – Patrick Gower

The expectation that we rustics just need to lean on the gate chewing a straw and making obscure pronouncements about the weather in impenetrable accents for picturesque effect is entertaining until it dawns on you that your role apparently really is just to provide background local colour and not disturb the peace too much.  Rural places are workplaces — stuff happens down on the farm and that stuff can be noisy.  And not just on the farm — gravel quarries, jet-boat companies and the construction sites of all those new houses that didn’t used to be there. – Kate Scott

Rose-tinted nostalgia strikes us all from time to time, but when it comes with a side of imported urban world view where non-working weekends and the notion of property values is accorded more worth than building community resilience, I begin to feel resentful of the twittering worries of suburbia intruding on my bucolic peace with its soothing soundtrack of barking huntaways, topdressing planes and chainsaws –Kate Scott

I had a gentleman come to my office three years ago. He was a Labour candidate. He ran for the Labour Party. He was coming to see me because he’d been to see his own team—they wouldn’t help him with an issue, so he came to me. Did I say, “Oh, sorry, you’ve been a Labour candidate. I’m not going to assist you. I’m not going to help you.”? No, I didn’t. I actually helped him with his issue, because that’s my job as a member of Parliament. I don’t care whether you support New Zealand First, I don’t care whether you’re a supporter or member of the Labour Party, the Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand, or the National Party—if you come and ask for help and support, you will get it. That’s my job.-  Mark Mitchell

The only positive outcome from the UN’s 2009 Copenhagen fiasco was the launch of New Zealand’s Global Research Alliance (GRA) to reduce methane and nitrous-oxide emissions, which account for 22 per cent of the world’s GHG total. More than 50 countries are now involved. If the GRA develops science to cut agricultural emissions by two-thirds it would be the equivalent of the US becoming a zero emitter. If it eliminated them, it would be like China going carbon zero. This would benefit the world at least 100 times more than New Zealand becoming net-zero domestically. – Matthew Hooton

No one bets on a horse with a dud jockey.  Simon Bridges

Ms Ardern promised to lead the most open and transparent Government New Zealand has seen. That doesn’t mean picking and choosing to be open and transparent when it benefits her. – Tova O’Brien

Shaw and his comrades have a vision of a different economic model, one that sane people have tunnelled under barbed wire fences to escape. Alas, the sacrifice required to achieve this gender-fluid post-colonial paradise requires a reversal of most of the economic gains of the last 50 years.Damien Grant

The less you trust people, the more distrustful they become and so the more law you need in order to trust them. A good society would not have too much law, because people would do the right thing he says. But in New Zealand we have a lot of law. – Professor Mark Henaghan

Fonterra to pay faster


Fonterra is changing its policy of delaying payment to trade suppliers by up to 90 days.

The dairy giant will in August return to “an industry norm” of paying small businesses on the 20th of the month following the end of the month in which an invoice is received. . .

Fonterra attracted widespread condemnation in 2016 when it changed its standard payment terms to make suppliers wait until 61 days after the end of the month to be paid. Those terms applied to the likes of tradespeople and contractors and not to farmers who supply Fonterra with milk.

It didn’t apply to farmers but it did apply to the small businesses, some of which service and supply us. Anything which increases their costs and viability poses risks to us but even if it didn’t it’s the principle.

Good businesses treat others as they would want to be treated.

The 2016 move came when milk solid price forecasts were wallowing in the doldrums at about $3.90 and was labelled “classic bully-boy tactics” by former National MP Chester Borrows.

Rob Spurway, Fonterra’s chief operating officer of global business, said Fonterra was revising its stance after listening to what its smaller suppliers had been saying.

“This is doing the right thing. It is about providing them with that transparency and certainty.”. .

Delaying payment was using small businesses as a bank, adding to their costs and adversely affecting their cash flow.

Returning to paying on the 20th of the month is the right thing.

The better thing would have been to do that all along.


Chester Borrows’ valedictory statement


Whanganui MP and Deputy Speaker Chester Borrows delivered his valedictory statement this week:

Hon CHESTER BORROWS (Deputy Speaker—National): Tēnā koe e Te Māngai o Te Whare Pāremata. Kia ora mai tātou, tēnā tātou katoa. When I came to National from Labour, it was out of spite, but, like any convert, I became more zealous than many born to it. Maybe that is why the worst insult you can offer me is to call me a Tory. I joined the party in 1987 after my party, Labour, had moved so far to the right it was unrecognisable and the National Party had moved almost equally to the left—they had swapped sides. I had recently had my hopes of farming dashed by pressures of Labour’s reforms in the banking industry and the removal of assistance for farmers, which had been put in place post the UK moving into the European Economic Community. I scurried off back to the police and found myself as a sole-charge country cop in Pātea.

The then Minister of Labour had recently decided unemployment was getting too expensive. Instead of continuing the Work for the Dole and Public Employment Project scheme, which kept a lot of our troubled unemployed busy through the day and too buggered to play up at night, Labour decided it would can the scheme and just pay out the benefit because it was too expensive to administer. I knew it would turn to custard on the first day. Black Power decided to have a big booze-up to celebrate, and that developed into a huge scrap that I had to deal with alone. As I walked up to the melee, I thought to myself “Where the hell are you now, Prebble?”, and I resolved, surrealistic as it may seem, to join the National Party and teach the Labour Party a lesson.

People join political parties for many different reasons!

A couple of weeks later, Neil Walker—who is somewhere in the gallery—knocked on my door while canvassing on behalf of Venn Young. I gave him $2 and joined the National Party, and I doubt that anybody in the Labour Party noticed. I do not want over-egg it, but I like to think that some of them have now. The funny thing is that for the next two elections I went into the booth and at the critical time I just could not tick the right box. Shamefully, some other third-party candidate got my squandered vote. I get accused of being in the wrong party by both parties.

It was quite a revelation to finally become an MP in 2005 and to see many of the faces from Lange’s Cabinet, and Labour candidates who in 1990 had campaigned solidly on Rogernomics, trying hard to extricate themselves from any connection whatsoever and swimming like crayfish backwards. In response to yet another assertion that National has only ever been interested in corruptly feathering the nests of its donors and does not care about the impoverished, I remember bellowing across the House in a general debate that Labour needs to keep its voters poor and pissed off so it will have someone to blame. My old mate Rajen Prasad was absolutely disgusted that I could say such a thing, but there it is—that is the House.

In the end, it seems to me that the right is about aspiration, accountability, and expectation and the left is about patronising, blaming, and excusing actions and behaviour. It is not what happens to us in life but it is how we respond to it.

Our “class of 2005” came into Parliament in Opposition, and we all agree that it was the best way to start a career in this place. Our seniors had long decided that they had been there long enough and had moved from grievance mode into looking like an alternative Government. I remember my daughter Katy sent me a note on the first day, wishing me all the best and advising me not to let the big kids push me around.

I worked with Simon Power in the Justice and Electoral, and Law and Order Committees. He told us one day—I cannot do a very good Simon Power imitation, but it was something like: “They are not your friends. Labour’s got our jobs. You new guys just don’t hate them enough.” Funnily enough, we soon learnt that he himself regarded all members pretty well and was well regarded by all members, and I sought to take a leaf out of his book. I recall a line from his valedictory when he said “I came here to do things, not to be things.”, and I resolved to try to do the same.

In Opposition, I was appointed the police and youth justice spokesman. Anne Tolley and I spent several months working on policies that we would introduce in Government. When we visited the youth residence at Rolleston we found that 80 percent of the youth were there for their third, fourth, or fifth sentences of the maximum 3 months. This allowed them to be released long enough to re-offend and create new victims, before being sentenced again on another short, pointless, custodial sentence. Our policies included expanding the sentences available to the Youth Court and allowing for drug and alcohol, literacy and numeracy, anti-violence, other supervision sentences—such as supervision with activity and military activity camps (MAC camps)—and special conditions, all to be bolted on to a sentence such as supervision with residence.

The day John Key announced these policies he made it clear that a MAC camp was not a boot camp with some grumpy old sergeant major screaming at young offenders but precisely aimed at the complex needs of kids who offend and had been labelled “ticking time bombs” by the Principal Youth Court Judge. The next day the Dominion Post had Tom Scott’s cartoon of John Key in a sergeant major’s uniform calling a kid a scumbag. It fitted the purpose of the media and the Opposition, and I see from this week that nothing changes. Nevertheless, these changes halved the number of youth being sent to the District Court for sentencing, and have been independently attributed to drastically reducing youth offending. Just because a programme uses military premises and role models does not make it a paragon of a failed system. Youth passing through MAC camps who did go on to reoffend did so less frequently and less severely, and wanted desperately to stay on rather than go back to their homes because, for the first time in their lives, people were invested in them, cared about them, and wanted them to succeed for no selfish reason. History has shown there has been a marked drop-off in the number of youth appearing before the courts, and a decline in offending, albeit serious offences are still committed by youth as they always have been, sadly.

One of my accomplishments was to convince our justice team that we could collect a DNA swab without a warrant in the same way that we collect fingerprints and photographs incidental to arrest. Previous to this time, we needed a separate warrant from a judge to be able to collect DNA. This simple change meant that any time an offender left skin, hair, semen, saliva, or blood at a crime scene, they could be identified. That ability has probably allowed for early identification and arrest, and prevented the victimisation of thousands of people.

I believe this Government has made some response for the inequities of our justice system so far, but that does not mean there is not stuff that we could do better. The first is to recognise who we are dealing with. I recall speaking at a Sensible Sentencing Trust conference once and having been challenged to put victims at the centre of the justice system. I responded that they were at the centre of the justice system and some of them were standing in the dock. That did not go down too well—but the truth hurts.

As Minister for Courts, Associate Minister of Justice, and Associate Minister for Social Development, I had the opportunity to apply myself in portfolios that I believed in, and had some experience with, prior to coming to Parliament. I think my Ministries’ greatest frustration was that I knew too much about the portfolios and was happy to turn up—in the Tony Ryall sense—unannounced, any time, anywhere. I was at a loose end in Christchurch once and wandered into the District Court and sat in the back row of the public gallery to have a listen. I had trouble hearing proceedings so I leaned back and closed my eyes, trying to concentrate on what was being said. A big burley policewoman tapped me on the shoulder and told me I could not sleep there. I told her to make it interesting and I would do my best to stay awake. A few minutes later, I had a nervous little court manager sitting beside me.

We expanded audio-visual links quite rapidly, which saved a lot of prisoner movements and the threat of violence that accompanies the cramped transport and accommodation of prisoners to court appearances. I have a vision for Skype-type courts, as it seems wrong to me that we can communicate across the planet on Skype, but not within a courtroom in the same country, or even city. For administrative hearings or standard tariff guilty pleas, why can a lawyer and their client not appear by Skype from the lawyer’s office?

I also initiated a trial in the North Shore District Court to place the defendant alongside their counsel, just a couple of metres in front of the judge. This was to get around the ridiculous situation where the alleged offender is 10 to 15 metres away from his counsel and the judge, and not even part of the conversation in a hearing that, for those few minutes, is all about him. It also took account of the fact that the most frequently asked question at the end of any court case in this country is: “What the hell just happened?”. It does not look remotely like justice to me. The trouble is, much of our business in courts is conducted in a foreign language to those appearing before it. Some judges and counsel are very good at using plain English and taking time to engage with defendants, but many are not. At the end of the North Shore District Court trial nobody except the now ex-Minister and the defendants liked the reconfiguration, so nothing happened, but I think we missed a chance that we should have taken to make justice a little more real.

We had the opportunity to make big changes while I had the three hats of Courts and youth justice policy and practice, and so constructed the Youth Crime Action Plan, which built a framework of policy and precedents for engaging with troubled youth for the next ten years. It recognised that we needed to work across agencies: in this case Justice, Police, Corrections, Ministry of Social Development, Te Puni Kōkiri, Health, and Education. We have a plan and the test has been to see it implemented across portfolios, but these things need to be driven. It is very easy to wait Ministers out and then revert to business as usual within agencies, and that is a shame. Trying to get agencies to stop thinking in silos and pretending that whatever great initiative they have should not have to come from their budgets was tricky. People just pay tax. Politicians and bureaucrats divide it up into various buckets and guard them with their lives.

It is always important to see the irony and humour in any situation, and in politics it is the same. Having a sense of humour is key to not taking oneself too seriously. One of the debates I got stuck into early on was to run the conservative line on anti-smacking—the repeal of section 59. I drafted an amendment with the help of the Law Commission, which, on the face of it, looked like a pretty ugly amendment because it virtually prescribed a method for smacking your kids—but at least it would have been clear. It all ended when I heard on the radio that John Key had done a deal with Helen Clark. I was told to withdraw my Supplementary Order Paper (SOP), but that did not stop Rodney Hide crossing out my name and writing his, so I had to vote against my own SOP on the same day that I withdrew it.

Later on, John Boscawen came in to Parliament with the untimely departure of David Garrett—and I do not know if his demise was more ironic or humorous, but it was bloody funny at the time—and he promptly printed off my amendment, crossed out Hide’s name, and wrote his name on it, and I had the happy joy of voting against my handiwork for a second time. In hindsight, the changes are working well and parents are much better at finding other ways of correcting their children than with violence. Fewer children are assaulted, although our serious child assault statistics remain appalling. Sometimes Parliament has to take the lead.

Around that time, I was involved with raising some money for a local wildlife reserve at Lake Rotokare. I got John Key, Bill English, and Nick Smith to paint a painting—under close supervision in my office. They were going to sign it themselves and everything. So they dutifully did exactly what they had to do, and while we chatting away, John, for some reason, loaded up his brush with some bright red paint and drew a diagonal line from one corner to the other and then just put two sploshes of paint in each corner. I said “What the hell did you do that for?” and he said—I do not “do” John Key very well—”I think it looks pretty good, actually.” I told him he taken it from dark corner of the lounge to back of the dunny door. When it came to the auction, my very clever masterpiece, which I had sweated over for hours, sold for $530 and his went for $2,300. What the hell do I know about art?

Chester is a very good artist.

I think one of the most enjoyable parts of being an MP is to see ourselves grow and our views change with more information and opportunity to rub shoulders with a different set of acquaintances. In 2014 I voted against gay marriage for reasons which were more legalistic than anything moral or principled. I thought the real debate was about gay adoption and that we should have debated that—I would have happily voted for gay adoption. Good parenting has got nothing to do with gender. But I have since been privileged to officiate as a celebrant at the wedding of a gay couple and recognise that people who love each other and form families are the backbone of a strong society. We should encourage them regardless. My view is that sometimes you just have to grow up, and I think I have—a bit.

I am proud of some of the achievements, such as securing integration of Wanganui Collegiate School, as failure to do so would have cost the city dearly. Working with Chris Finlayson, Maggie Barry, Nicola Williams, and Greg Anderson in securing the money to strengthen and renovate the Sarjeant Gallery is another project. Finally, seeing the Normanby alignment completed and opened was another, and smaller wins on behalf of constituents fighting against bureaucracy are just as rewarding.

Working with constituents is always rewarding, but sometimes challenging. I have enjoyed cutting through red tape, which has opened the doors for people needing surgery and for businesses wanting to expand and employ more staff. I worked to get some compensation by way of ex gratia payment from Cabinet for the Berryman family, after several attempts before that had proven unsuccessful, and also for a police officer devastated by post-traumatic stress disorder.

I think of the battles that my Whanganui-based executive assistant (EA), Viv Chapman, has led on my behalf with Immigration, ACC, and the Ministry of Health, and getting in up to her elbows and knees in the lives of people to help get an operation, a visa to reunite a family, to make life better for an older person, or to get a house for a young mum who has just run up against a brick wall. We really do make a difference. Viv is also just as likely to turn up with a trailer load of firewood for a client. Viv, like rust, never sleeps.

I have had a number of run-ins with my former colleagues, you will be surprised to know—

Hon Members.: Ha, ha!

Hon CHESTER BORROWS: My colleagues in the Police, rather, over the years. I have had a few run-ins with you lot too, actually. It all started with the Police when I went from policeman to defence counsel. I was congratulated by my new colleagues for stepping into the light; the others thought I had gone to the dark side. Anyway, I picked up my fair share of speeding tickets, but when I became a member of Parliament, with my name and face all over my car, I became a real target.

The most high-profile incident, of course, was when I apparently ran over the toes of the aptly named Ms Treadwell—she did not, did she—when I had Minister Paula Bennett in the car. Thankfully, the matter was recorded in vivid technicolour by the media, and it is the first and only time I will say: “Thank God for the media.” I was tempted to quip that she should never had got between Paula Bennett and a shoe shop, but that was inappropriate and was not true. I was more annoyed than worried about the prosecution, but to have the Police running around soliciting Crown prosecutors on the Thursday and Friday before the Monday trial was a bit over the top. I am grateful for the support, though, that I had from MPs across the House and from my caucus who paid over half the bill.

I recall another case when a young mum was suffering from a condition that meant that she desperately needed gastric bypass surgery. She was 205 kilograms, 25 years old, and had been told that if she did not have surgery quickly, she would pass away. I lobbied the district health board (DHB) for surgery but it refused. I gave the matter some publicity and eventually the Korean Government stepped up and offered to fly her to Korea for the surgery that she needed. She had the surgery and returned with no ill effects, and she has now lost her weight, maintains good health, and has had two new children since the operation. I only wish the Whanganui DHB could take credit for that.

I got a scathing email from someone calling on me to stop helping people out who should be helping themselves. No doubt, this guy is built like a Norwegian racing sardine. He said the woman just needed to eat less and exercise more, so I responded with a one-word email: “Idiot”. My wife, Ella, absolutely bollocked me and said: “What the hell are you going to do if this turns up on the front page of the Dominion?”. I said: “Look, there are idiots out there and we have a duty to tell them before they start playing with matches and running with scissors.”

Finally, I want to say thanks to all those whom I have been privileged to work with in Parliament, in Government, and in caucus. I want to thank you, Mr Speaker—David—for making this role fun. I do not think anyone comes into Parliament aspiring to be the Deputy Speaker. It is generally offered as a compromise or tarted up as a compliment in lieu of the job you really wanted. But thanks for your leadership and friendship, and the leadership and friendship of your team—and friends—Roland, Lisa, and Oliver.

Thanks to Sir John Key and the Rt Hon Bill English for their leadership in standards and discipline, which has kept our party on a straight course and heading into another election in good nick—confident but not cocky. Thanks for the opportunities given and the team spirit generated from that strong leadership.

Thanks to my caucus mates, especially the “class of ’05”, for the fun we have had and the gains we have made. I am relying on classmates to delete certain video clips of certain re-enactments—Coleman. At class drinks on a Wednesday night, it will be straight home for me from now on. I especially want to single out in the House my cousins Chris Finlayson and Annette King. I was absolutely convinced I was the favourite cousin of both of them until recently, but I am prepared to concede it is a three-way tie.

To my electorate team chairs like Neil Walker, Gerard Langford, David Bennett, the late Paul Mitchell, Jan Bullen, and Katrina Warren, and all the campaigners, confidants, supporters, and donors—many, many thanks for your care, love, support, and wise counsel.

To all my staff who have become friends over many years—Viv Chapman, Sue Turahui, Marie Stowe, and Kath Weir in the electorate offices; EAs Kristy Ortel, Kate Pullar, Hannah Hammad, Carla Hemmes, Vasoula Kappatos, Orphee Mickalad, and Rob Webb; my senior private secretary, “Captain” Marie Morgan; Frances Kerei, Oliver Searle, Richard Beresford, Lo’l Vole, Casey Freeman, Rachel Sutherland, Amy Smith, Logan Morton, Michael Warren, and Rachel Crawley—it has been magic working with you. The fact that the old ministerial office still gets together and has breakfast once a month—or about once a month—is a huge compliment. Thanks so much.

To those who make this place tick in the Office of the Clerk—the Table Office, Hansard—Parliamentary Service, VIP Transport Service, and Ministerial Services, a big thanks. To security staff and Chamber security—thank you so much, especially to Jenny Ng who has been such an encouragement in respect of my painting.

I want to thank the media for generally being available. It is usually the other way around, but it is part of our job to get oxygen for the stories we want to get up—as you have been pretty obliging, I want to say thanks. There was the odd story I wish had not got up and got legs, but it was usually at times when I had opened my mouth to change feet, so no hard feelings. I think about the odd quip in select committees about policing in Wairoa; about health and safety, Mike; about depositions hearings, Simon; about the Rt Hon Winston Peters at other times. On occasions these stories have led me to apologise to the caucus for saying what I really thought. On other occasions we have ended up in a better space. I have often wondered why the media and politicians do not get on better than we do, bearing in mind we are equally hated, mistrusted, and misunderstood by the public. We hardly exist without the other and we eat each other’s lunches to survive.

I want to thank tangata whenua who have steered and guided me in many ways that have led to a far greater understanding of who I am as a Pākehā—actually, of who I am as Chester Borrows. I enjoy a warm friendship with iwi of the Taranaki and Whanganui, for which I am most grateful, and especially to Dame Tariana Turia, for her aroha, wise counsel, and the odd telling remark. From the time I turned up as 28-year-old still-wet-behind-the-ears policeman in Pātea, until today as a 60-year-old, you have walked alongside me, you have steered me generously, and I thank you so much for that. You have changed the way I am and will be forever.

I want to give a nod to the mayors and the councils of the electorates with whom I have always had a good working relationship. For a while the most frequently asked question I was asked as the member of Parliament for Whanganui was: “How do you get on with Michael Laws?”. I can honestly say that we got on very well and he helped me immensely. Michael tried very hard to keep the “h” out of Whanganui and when he could not, he got the “f” out of Whanganui. But I do miss the challenges and the conversations that we had and hope we can catch up soon. To the others: Mary Bourke, Ross Dunlop, Neil Volzke, Annette Main, and my old combatant Hamish McDouall—thanks for your collaboration and all that you do for our communities. To my successor, Hārete Hīpango, I wish you all the best in your new role as MP for Whanganui.

[Authorised Te Reo text to be inserted by the Hansard Office.]

[Authorised translation to be inserted by the Hansard Office.]

Most importantly, I want to thank my wife, of whom I am very proud. She stood by and watched the germ of this dream through its execution and now completion. Ella has always encouraged me to have a crack at my next biggest ambition whatever it was—within the Police, farming, back to the Police, politics, the law, back to politics, and who knows what now, after completing some commissioned paintings and a few odd jobs around the house. Thanks for everything.

My kids, Abi, Katy, and Zac, and their partners, Mike, James, and Kristina, I am so grateful that you never got on the news for the wrong stuff—not like your father. In spite of all the missed events over the past 18 or so years, as I have either tried to get here or tried to stay here, we are still on good terms. I look forward to spending a lot more time with you, making up for lost opportunities.

To wider family and friends—I acknowledge that the public think that we live in a bubble without family members who get sick and need operations or die on waiting lists, and without friends who offend and go to jail or lose their jobs or lose their businesses, but we do not. I have lost my dad to cancer and I have lost my mum to dementia, and I miss them horribly. You friends have kept me real when many think that MPs have no tangible link with reality, and I apologise for neglecting you over the years and I look forward to re-acquaintance over a beer, the footy, at the beach, the pub, or at our place sometime soon.

Finally, in my maiden speech I quoted the scripture Micah 6:8, which says: “What does the Lord demand of you but that you love kindness, do justice, and walk humbly before your God.” It is for others to debate, or to pass judgment on, but I hope that I have lived up to that.

That is it. It is a privilege to give this valedictory; many do not get that opportunity. But the fish and chips are ordered and they will need to be wrapped in something. We all want to be remembered fondly, so I guess I will choose the manner to which I have become accustomed. As I said to my previous boss, Sir John Key: “I remain that loyal old Labrador you’ll never know whether to pat on the head or boot up the arse.”

Nō reira, tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā tātou katoa.


Rural round-up


Heartland: Grass is greenest for environment – Jacqueline Rowarth:

Streams of traffic at Labour weekend, with boats, jet skis and trail bikes loaded on or behind four-wheel drive vehicles, heralded the start of the summer outdoor life, part of the New Zealand heritage. 

The fact that fossil fuel consumption was involved, thereby increasing the contribution to global greenhouse gases (GHG), was probably not considered by most people as they took to the road. Nor was the decision to make 1.09 million overseas holiday trips in the September 2016 year. Statistics New Zealand data indicated residents took 71,200 more holiday trips than in the September 2015 year. 

But, overall, New Zealand produces less than 2% of the global GHG emissions, so people are getting out there and enjoying life. . . 

MP Chester Borrows says hidden camera footage threatens New Zealand’s economy – Sue O’Dowd:

Hidden-camera footage of on-farm practices not only breaches farmers’ security but also threatens New Zealand’s economy, says politician Chester Borrows. 

The Whanganui MP and one-time police officer turned lawyer is urging Taranaki farmers and rural residents to attend the rural crime prevention national roadshow – a joint police, FMG and Federated Farmers initiative – when it visits Stratford and Tikorangi on November 10. 

Figures presented at FMG’s annual meeting in Taranaki in September showed rural crime cost the company $21 million in claims in the last five years. . . 

From the Lip – bobby calves and Big Brother – Jamie Mackay:

The latest bobby calf cruelty video released by Farmwatch is yet again another salutary reminder of how careful farmers and farming have to be, in an age where social media rules and where the consumer is king.

I have to be bit careful when dishing out advice from behind the safety of a keyboard because I’ve never loaded bobby calves on to a truck, save for a few we bought and reared as kids on to the back of a car trailer.

But I have spent many years, in a past life, working with livestock and can understand the pressures and fatigue farmers and farm workers face in the course of a 14 hour working day at calving or lambing time. . . 

More tertiary graduates needed to grow a savvy agri-industry – Pat Deavoll:

The agricultural and horticultural industry will need more than 60,000 more workers by 2025 to be sustainable.

The Ministry for Primary Industries estimates horticulture will need an extra 7800 workers and meat and wool 16,500 fewer unqualified workers through the natural attrition of the industry but will need 11,400 with tertiary qualifications. The arable sector will need another 4700 workers and dairy 2300 more workers.

However, the biggest demand will come from the support area with as many as 30,000 more jobs required. . . 

Global Farmer Network ‘amazing’ – Sally Rae:

When Jane Smith headed to the Global Farmer Roundtable discussion in Iowa earlier this month, she was not sure what she should expect.

But it turned out to be an “amazing’ character-building trip for the North Otago farmer who was the sole representative from New Zealand.

The Global Farmer Network is a non-profit advocacy group led by farmers from around the world who support global expansion of trade and a farmer’s freedom to access the technology they need to be productive and sustainable. . . 

Farmers praised for ability to cut costs:

Not surprisingly, the 2015-16 dairy season has been officially declared the most challenging year yet for dairy farmers.

The $3.90 kg/ms milk price was the lowest in more than a decade and affected farmers who were, on average, operating at a break-even cost of $5.25 kg/ms, figures released at DairyNZ’s recent annual meeting in Ashburton showed.

Despite an obvious shortfall in farm income, farmers made positive steps in reducing their costs of production, chairman Michael Spaans said.

In August, DairyNZ revised the average farm’s break-even cost down to $5.05 kg/ms for 2016-17.‘‘This is a rare positive from a period of low milk prices and something farmers should be immensely proud of. . . 

Good points about US farming trumped by low profits – Pita Alexander:

In the middle of a fascinating election campaign any prayers you have would be reserved for the American people rather than their new president

Some years ago a reporter asked Pope XXIII about how many people worked at the Vatican.  His reply was: about half.  The sooner the United States election is over the sooner about half the population can get back to work.

Many years ago Mahatma Gandhi was asked what he thought of western civilisation.  His reply was: he thought it was a good idea.  Yet I counted 22 serious confrontations around the world on October 28 where lives were being lost every day.  Mr Gandhi would not be happy about this.  I did not include any of the internal US confrontations in my total.

At the farming level, do not get the idea that the typical US family farm has a good net income.  The median figure for this year is estimated to be about $109,000 (US$76,282), but most of this  comes from off-farm income. . . 

Fonterra unfair short term thinking


Fonterra is again being criticised for being unfair to businesses which service and supply the company :

Fonterra has extended by two months the time it takes to pay suppliers, from 30 to 90 days, saying that matches what it does in other countries.

It has also asked them to cut their charges, which it says is about boosting efficiency.

But the suppliers are hitting back, warning Fonterra risks a backlash in the provinces.

National’s Whanganui MP Chester Borrows said the cooperative had asked for a 10 percent cut in what suppliers charged it, but was now asking for 20 percent in some cases. . .

When times are tough it’s normal practice to ask companies you do business with to sharpen their pencils but there are consequences if you’re too tough:

The supplier, who did not want to be named, said Fonterra was generating animosity and rupturing relationships going back years.

“A lot of the businesses break their backsides, we put ourselves out, we give them priority – well, that loyalty is disappearing,” the supplier said.

“A lot of contractors won’t give the same loyalty and drop everything to help them out when their plant goes down, because they are not good creditors.

“The other thing I say is because they are paying their bills three months late, that scares me – what guarantees does Fonterra give all their creditors that they’re good to pay their bills on time?” . . .

A friend in PR tells me the practice of expecting 60 or 90 days credit before bills are paid isn’t unusual but she’s able to invoice before work is finished. That isn’t possible with, for example, electricians who are called on at short notice when something goes wrong.

When the milk price is so low we expect the company to become more efficient but doing so at the cost of other businesses is short-term thinking.

In our business we treat people as we want to be treated. Fonterra should do the same.

Fonterra too tough on minnows?


When the milk payout went down farmers expected Fonterra to shed any fat in its operation.

I don’t think this is what they were expecting:

Business owners have been left feeling bullied by Fonterra over changes they say mean cutting their prices and waiting longer to get paid.

A letter from Fonterra’s chief financial officer Lukas Paravicini was sent to contractors and suppliers around the country in October detailing the changes that were being made.

The vendors were asked to find efficiencies across their operations to reduce their prices by 10 percent and submit a proposal on how they would do so.

And, rather than sending payments on the 20th of the month following the invoice date, some contractors were told payments would now be sent 61 days after the end of the month of the invoice.

A number of contractors spoken to were infuriated by the changes, but too afraid to speak up and risk losing business.

Wanganui National Party MP Chester Borrows said he had been contacted by some contractors from the Taranaki region, but many were uneasy about commenting on the situation.

“I think it’s classic bully-boy tactics from a big company who is using the leverage of fear against its contractors to drive down the price and to obtain free credit,” Borrows said.

“I’m talking to one particular company that employs 90 people, Fonterra’s quite a big chunk of their work. If Fonterra decides to push them around like this then these guys are afraid that they’re not going to be able to pay their suppliers.”

Alterations to the payment of contractors is the latest in a number of changes by Fonterra, who have made more than 700 staff redundant since the middle of the year. . . 

One of the attractions of dairying, unlike most other types of farming, is that suppliers get regular monthly payments. Contractors, many of whom will be small businesses, would expect their bills to be paid each month too.

Asking suppliers to sharpen their pencils is normal business practice but expecting small businesses to effectively bank you is not.

Fonterra is New Zealand’s biggest business fish and it looks like it is being too tough on the minnows it contracts for goods and services.


New Cabinet announced


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.


Give with one hand, take with other


Labour has come up with similar ideas on youth employment to National with a much higher price tag:

The Labour Party’s skills and training policy for young people largely follows the Government’s ideas, only with a more expensive price tag, Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment Minister Steven Joyce says.

“National has a very comprehensive programme for young people and has introduced the Youth Guarantee, Trades Academies, Maori and Pasifika Trades Training Initiatives, Vocational Pathways, New Zealand Apprenticeships, the Apprenticeship Reboot, the Youth Services programme and the Flexi-wage wage subsidy,” Mr Joyce says.

“Under National, the 15-19 year old NEET (Not in Education, Employment or Training) rate is already down to an average of 8.2 per cent over the last year which is similar to before the Global Financial Crisis. Our comprehensive set of youth training programmes will get it down further as the economy recovers.”

Mr Joyce says the only substantive change Labour seems to be suggesting is to swap out Military Style Activity Camps for Conservation Corps.

“Labour is proposing to take the most serious, hard core repeat youth offenders on bushwalks,” Mr Joyce says.

“Other than that, Labour’s policy is an almost exact mimic of what the Government’s already doing, except Labour would re-brand some of it and spend an extra $183 million paying for it.

“This is becoming a pattern for Labour. In these key policy areas, they simply haven’t been doing the work so they don’t know what is already going on.”

Associate Social Development Minister Chester Borrows says Labour’s proposals to scrap Military Style Activity Camps (MAC Camps) without any alternative plan show they are prepared to turn their backs on serious youth offenders.

The camps, established by the National Government in 2010, take up to 40 of the most serious and persistent young offenders each year.

“Military Style Activity Camps were created to help serious young offenders get back onto the right track before they end up in jail,” says Mr Borrows.

“They are not ‘Boot Camps’, but place intensive support around the young offenders, including the discipline and positive role-modelling provided by the New Zealand Defence Force as well as education, rehabilitation, drug, alcohol and anger-management counselling.”

The most recent results show 79 per cent of MAC graduates reduce their rate of offending.  Of those who do reoffend in some way, 81 per cent offend at a less serious level, including a 53 per cent reduction in violent offending.

“No reoffending is acceptable, but anyone who thinks they have a magic solution to stop these young people offending entirely is dreaming,” says Mr Borrows.

“These are some of our most serious young offenders, so any reduction in their future offending means fewer victims, and is a huge success.”

MAC Camps are part of the broader success in reducing youth crime, which has fallen by 30 per cent since June 2011, already ahead of the Better Public Services target of 25 per cent by June 2017.

“The National Government is serious about reducing youth crime, and our policies, including MAC Camps, are delivering tangible results,” says Mr Borrows.

“Labour’s promise to scrap them, without any alternative for these young people, shows they have already consigned them to a life of crime, prison, and creating victims.  Labour might be willing to give up on these kids, but we won’t.”

He added in a Facebook post:

. . . Either they want to cut MAC and give up on these young offenders; or they want to give them a machete and send them off into the bush, with no regard for their complex health, rehabilitation and education needs, or for public safety. Complete madness either way!

Labour’s policy is here and while it says what it will give, it omits what it will take.

They are promising a $9100 subsidy to employers to take on an apprentice.

Employers who take an apprentice straight from the dole queue, with no 90-day trial, they have to pay them the higher minimum wage Labour will impose $16.25 an hour – or higher if a National Award applies.

The minimum wage of $16.25 immediately wipes $4160 off the subsidy.

Employers who are contractors working on Government projects, such as roads, would have to pay the new apprentices a Living Wage of more than $18 an hour.

That would cost more than $12,000 a year – a lot more than Labour’s subsidy.

Employers would have to pay more in KiwiSaver contributions and also face higher and more taxes under Labour – including one on capital gains when they sold their business.

This is typical of Labour – giving a little with one hand but cancelling it out by taking more with the other.

Fine policy working


National’s policy of requiring fine-dodgers to pay-up or be banned from driving is working:

The Ministry of Justice has collected $4.6 million in just four months from people who risked being banned from driving under a tough new enforcement tool for overdue fines, Courts Minister Chester Borrows says.

Driver Licence Stop Orders (DLSOs) can be placed on anyone who fails to pay traffic-related fines imposed by a Court, Police or local government authority – or reparations imposed by a Court for traffic-related offences.

Since DLSOs were launched on 17 February, the Ministry of Justice has issued 87 warning letters, and served only one DLSO – and that was subsequently lifted after the person set up arrangements to repay their fines.

“This initiative was designed to send a compelling message to offenders who’ve racked up overdue traffic debts,” says Mr Borrows.

“It seems the threat of losing their driver licence has motivated many of those with fines owing who have, until now, ignored their obligation to pay up or enter an arrangement to pay the debt off over time.”

DLSOs target the most difficult to reach people – a hard core of around 25,000 drivers who each owed fines and reparation totalling more than $2,000, and had ignored repeated reminders to pay it off.

Of that group, over 10,800 have contacted the Ministry of Justice in the past three months, to make repayments totalling $4.6 million.

“The fact we’ve recovered $4.6 million from a stubborn group, who had ignored all previous reminders about their obligations, without having to take anyone’s licence away shows how effective the DLSO sanction is.”

While those with the largest outstanding fines have been targeted first, the Ministry of Justice will step up the issuing of DLSO warning letters over the next six months to others.

“We are focussing on the worst offenders first, but the message is clear. If you have an outstanding fine we will catch up with you,” says Mr Borrows.

“Anyone with an overdue fine should seize this opportunity to contact the Ministry of Justice and make a payment arrangement if they wish to hold on to their licence.”


The Government is committed to ensuring that fines remain a credible sanction.

The Courts and Criminal Matters Bill, passed by Parliament in July 2011, gave the Ministry of Justice wider powers to collect fines – including the ability to issue Driver Licence Stop Orders (DLSOs).

DLSO’s help send the message that ignoring fines is not an acceptable, or sensible, option.

DLSOs are initiated with a warning letter giving people 14 days’ notice to either pay up or set up a payment plan. Those notified will get one more reminder, and if they ignore that, a bailiff will be sent to seize their driver licence. Licences will remain suspended until the fine is paid in full, or payment arrangements are in place.

People who have their licence suspended due to unpaid fines or reparation will not be able to apply for a limited licence. And if a person flouts the law by driving while suspended, they risk being charged with that offence, and having the vehicle they were driving impounded for 28 days.

DLSOs feature as part of a new media campaign (television, radio, print, online) encouraging people to pay their fines. It began on 2 February 2014 and has run regularly since then.

 For too long fine-dodgers just kept ignoring their obligations and many amassed more fines.

The threat of losing their licences is  tough but fair and it’s working.


Earlier this year we introduced new Drivers Licence Stop Orders, to let the Court take away the drivers licence of people who refuse to pay their traffic fines.  From a target group of 25,000 fine dodgers, in the first four months 10,800 people have coughed up $4.6 million - a great result!

Mr Fines


Consequences for people who ignore reparation payments or fines for traffic offences are going to be tougher from next month:

People with unpaid fines or reparation for traffic-related offences could find themselves barred from driving under powerful new sanctions which come into effect this month, Courts Minister Chester Borrows says.

From Monday 17 February ‘Driver Licence Stop Orders’ (DLSOs) can be imposed on anyone who fails to pay traffic-related fines imposed on them by a Court, Police or a local government authority – or a reparation order imposed on them by a Court – for a traffic-related offence.

Mr Borrows says DLSOs are a powerful new sanction, which will initially be targeted at repeat offenders who’ve racked up big overdue debts.

“There are around 136,000 people who between them owe $48 million in traffic related fines and are making no attempt to pay,” Mr Borrows says.

“A lot of them have chosen to ignore repeated reminders and if they remain uncooperative they’ll pay for it with their driver licence.

“We will focus initially on the worst offenders, but anyone with an overdue fine should seize this opportunity to contact the Ministry of Justice and make a payment arrangement if they wish to hold on to their licence.”

The Ministry of Justice, which will hand out the new sanction, will start by giving people with large amounts owing 14 days’ notice to either pay up or set up a payment plan.  They’ll get one more reminder, and if they’re not compliant a bailiff will be sent to seize their driver licence.

Their licences will remain suspended until the fine is paid in full, or payment arrangements are in place.  And if they’re caught driving while their licence is suspended they could be prosecuted, and have the vehicle they were driving seized for 28 days.

“Of course the aim here isn’t to suspend lots of driver licences,” Mr Borrows says.

“The aim is to get people who’ve been ignoring the authority of law to take things seriously, and to pay their traffic-related fines.

“We’ve made big inroads in recent years in getting people to pay fines – thanks to sanctions such as the powers to seize property, stop people from travelling overseas, stop people making purchases on credit, and directly deducting money from wages. 

“Those measures have seen the total level of unpaid fines and reparation fall by nearly a quarter of a billion dollars since 2009.  But that still leaves $554.4 million in unpaid fines – the vast majority of offenders (96%) owing money for vehicle-related offences.  In that context, the ability to bar people from driving is a powerful new tool to enforce penalties, because driving matters to most people with fines.”

A new television, radio and online advertising campaign will launch on Sunday 2 February, letting people know about DLSOs and other enforcement powers, and encouraging those with unpaid traffic fines or reparation to arrange payment.

Firm on fraud frees up 1000 houses


Housing New Zealand’s firm line on criminal offending and dishonesty has freed up 1000 houses since the Government changed its policy in 2008, Housing Minister Dr Nick Smith said.

“State houses are heavily subsidised by other taxpayers and tenants abuse this support when they are dishonest about their living situation or income, or use the home for criminal activity like drug manufacturing. We need to take a firm approach to such abuse to be fair to the vast bulk of honest tenants, to ensure public money is supporting improved social outcomes, and to ensure our state houses are available to those most in need of housing support,” Dr Smith says.

“Housing New Zealand expanded its fraud unit and started taking a firm approach on the change of Government in 2008. This has seen the number of tenancies terminated for fraud or criminal offending grow from 42 in 2008/09 to 292 in the year ending of 2012/13. A total of 1001 tenants have been evicted as a result of fraud investigations since the new approach was adopted.

“Housing New Zealand also takes a zero tolerance approach to state houses being used to manufacture and supply drugs. Four houses were used as meth labs in the 2012/13 year, as compared to seven in the previous year. It is an appalling breach of faith for tenants, generously provided with a home by other taxpayers, to then use that home to manufacture and peddle drugs. I am hopeful that the decline in the number of state houses being used as drug houses is a sign that the message of zero tolerance is getting through.

“The work by Housing New Zealand investigators resulted in 129 criminal convictions and the identification of $11 million of rent subsidies tenants were not entitled to.

“While the vast majority of Housing New Zealand’s 62,000 tenancies on income-related rent are in legitimate need of housing, a small minority are rorting the system. I make no apologies for the hard line taken to make sure state housing is freed up for those who actually need it.

“Housing New Zealand investigations for fraud arise from tenancy manager observations, anonymous tip-offs, information from other government agencies and inconsistent information from tenants themselves. 22 per cent of investigations result in no further action because of honest misunderstanding or mistake, insufficient information to prove dishonesty, or other exceptional circumstances that negated what appeared fraudulent.

“Housing support fraud will become more difficult with the Government’s social housing reforms that bring together the administration of financial support for housing and welfare. Many of the people defrauding Housing New Zealand were also committing benefit fraud and it makes sense for both sorts of financial assistance to be considered together.”

A thousand out of 62,000 is not a large number but state houses are supposed to be for those who need them, not those rorting the system or indulging in criminal behaviour.

Last week Victoria University accounting and commercial law associate professor Lisa Marriott said that Inland Revenue was more likely to write off unpaid tax than the Ministry of Social Development  was to write off welfare debts.

MSD would often keep welfare debts on its books, sometimes until people died or retired.

Tax debt totalled nearly $6 billion, while welfare debt was about $1b, she said.

“There appears to be no basis for treating debtors to the two government agencies differently,” Marriott said.

The study indicated tax debtors got off more lightly, she said.

Inland Revenue was more likely to negotiate with debtors and collect core tax, and write off penalties and interest, Marriott said. . .

Associate Social Development Minister Chester Borrows said those claims were misleading.

“The Ministry of Social Development (MSD) has a duty to take care with taxpayer money. When they find evidence someone has fraudulently taken money they are not entitled to, they will prosecute, and make no apologies for that,” says Mr Borrows.

“To describe this as being particularly ‘punitive’ is simply wrong. It implies we should ignore welfare fraud, and shows a basic ignorance of the wide range of support MSD provides to New Zealanders.”

Mr Borrows singled out claims that more is spent chasing welfare fraud than tax fraud as demonstrably false.

“This year IRD has a budget of $142 million to enforce tax obligations. This is more than quadruple MSD’s collections and integrity services budget of $29.8 million.”

He also pointed to the use of penalties and interest to illustrate the different approaches taken by MSD and Inland Revenue.

“To focus on penalties and interest written off by Inland Revenue ignores the very different way IRD and MSD operate. Inland Revenue has a tough regime of penalties and interest, whereas MSD only uses penalties in rare cases where dishonest behaviour needs to be sanctioned by a criminal prosecution is not appropriate.

“The numbers clearly illustrate this. In 2011/12 MSD imposed around $144,000 of sanctions on 164 cases – a stark difference to the more than $600 million of penalties and interest IRD imposed in the same year.” . . .

Revenue Minister Todd McClay says there can be good reasons to write some tax off.

“Businesses that are finding it a little bit difficult to meet their obligations can stay in business and keep employing New Zealanders,” says Mr McClay.The Minister says comparisons between the two Ministries are unhelpful, partly because there are under half a million kiwis on benefits, but more than 7 million tax customers. . .

Fraud is fraud and taking other people’s money is wrong. But simple comparisons between the way the MSD and IRD treat debt is misleading.

The $1b written off by MSD will be a much larger percentage of benefit payments than the $6b written off by IRD is of tax payments.

Info sharing saves $33.7 m


Information sharing between the IRD and Ministry of Social Development has identified and stopped 3139 illegitimate benefits in just six months, Associate Social Development Minister Chester Borrows says.

“While it is always disappointing to see some people are willing to break the law and take money they’re not entitled to, it happens, and we have a responsibility to the taxpayer to stop it,” says Mr Borrows.

“The benefits stopped thus far were costing the taxpayer more than $33.7 million per year, money which should be going to those who really need it.”

The enhanced information sharing started earlier this year, highlighting beneficiaries whose taxable income did not match what they had declared to MSD. MSD staff reviewed each case, and where the beneficiary was earning enough income that they were no longer eligible to receive a benefit, that benefit was stopped.

It’s not all about stopping benefits. Some people were not getting as much on a benefit as they could with other help.

A further 645 clients have been assessed as being better off with other financial assistance, such as Working for Families, and helped by Work and Income to move from benefit to that assistance.

Of the 3139 cancellations, the majority were receiving the unemployment benefit (1948) or sickness benefit (559).

MSD will now look to recover all overpaid money, including seeking attachment orders to wages which should see these debts repaid faster than most benefit fraud debt.

“MSD staff are still working through the information, including a large group of clients identified as being eligible for a benefit, but having incorrectly declared their income,” says Mr Borrows.

“Fraud investigators are also looking hard at the benefits which have been stopped, and where there is evidence they deliberately defrauded from the taxpayer they can expect to be prosecuted for their crimes.”

With all this saved, and some people helped to move off benefits which is better for them and the taxpayer, it’s just a pity information sharing wasn’t introduced years ago.

Jacinda Ardern was on TV last night complaining about the policy and saying tax fraud should be targeted instead.

It shouldn’t be one or the other, it should be both.

Fraud is fraud and should be targeted wherever it happens and whoever does it.


>Enhanced information sharing has identified and stopped 3139 illegitimate benefits in the last six months. Unfortunately some people are willing to take money from taxpayers that they are not entitled to, but this sends them a clear message that they are not going to get away with it.

Court via Skype


Courts Minister Chester Borrows has announced Oamaru will be the first place in New Zealand to trail Skype in Family Court hearings.

Oamaru has been without a permanent courthouse since November when the building was deemed an earthquake risk, and Mr  Borrows said while temporary alternative locations were being  sought, audio visual technology would be trialled with a sitting Family Court judge on August 14.   

Existing audio visual platforms, such as Skype, were reliable and efficient enough for use in court, he said, adding that the idea also had backing from legal professionals in the town.   

 Following the trial run, a larger six-month trial, which would take place in Family Court proceedings from Oamaru south, would occur in September, Mr Borrows said.

This will save time and money for lawyers and their clients.

Skype works well for interviews and meetings, there’s no reason it shouldn’t work as well for court.

Against the Act but not for smacking


It’s a tried and true debating strategy to take your opponents’ arguments to ludicrous extremes which enables you to depict them as extremists.

That’s why people who don’t want any change in the law around child discipline label anyone who does as pro-smacking.

However, it is possible to be against the Act without being in favour of smacking.

I don’t think smacking is a good thing to do but nor do I think parents who administer a light smack should be criminalised for doing so.

And what’s a light smack?  Borrowing from Chester Borrows and the amendment he attempted to introduce to the Act,  it would be one from which any pain is transitory and trifling, which doesn’t use a weapon or tool and isn’t inflicted by any means that is cruel, degrading or terrifying.

That would be a lot better than the old Section 59 and its replacement which still allows smacking providing its for prevention rather than correction.

Gooner points out at No Minister confusingly this means:

At the end of the day a smack for correction is prohibited but a smack for prevention is permitted. If a child constantly plays up then that child can be smacked under subsection (c) as long as parents tell the child “that is to prevent you behaving like that again“, rather than “that is to correct you for behaving like that“.

How silly is that? The Act which aimed to outlaw smacking still permits it yet those who want to change it are criticised for being pro-smacking.

The proponents of the Act got it wrong.

It’s bad law which permits smacking, providing its for the approved reason.

It should be changed to protect children, to protect families and to stop wasting police time.

There are more than enough crimes of violence, the effects of which aren’t transitory or trifling, which need their attention.

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