Chris Tremain’s valedictory


Hon CHRIS TREMAIN (National – Napier): In life there are many different definitions of success, and in Parliament the same goes. There are many different definitions of what makes a successful politician. Nine years ago I entered Parliament, and I have got to say I was pretty naïve. Some would probably argue that that has not changed too much. I had just won the Labour-held seat of Napier, the first time in 50 years, and I thought I had been pretty successful at that point in time. But like all politicians across this House, I entered this place with the intention of helping to create a better New Zealand. We all have the same purpose, just different ideas of how we might achieve that goal. But success in Parliament is not defined by just winning a seat or becoming a Cabinet Minister. Success comes with many different faces. I recall in my first year a gym session with * Rodney Hide—you might not want to think too hard about that—at the Bolton Hotel. We had a discussion about what made a successful politician. “You’ve got to take scalps.”, was Rodney’s advice, as he sweated away on the cycling machine. “You can’t be successful in this place unless you take scalps., was his advice. Shortly after, I was presented with a completely different face of success, from the * Hon Jim Sutton, who in his valedictory reflected on the importance of retaining family to ensure a successful political career: “Public life is often a selfish business. It can be all-consuming.”, he said. “Those closest to public figures often pay a high or unfair price. To those I have hurt, I say ‘sorry’.”, said Jim. “To those who follow me here, I say ‘try to do better than I did’.” Throughout my own political career I have reflected on these words of sage advice. For most, however, political success is defined with a more public face. On a daily basis we politicians are built up and we are cut down. Whether it be the number of bills you pass, the number of times you are mentioned in the press, or your performance in select committees, success here is very transparent. This all culminates in an annual ranking of Ministers and MPs. It is a humbling experience, and for some a crumbling experience. It is definitely not for the faint-hearted, that is for sure. The fact of the matter is that only a few of us make it to the very top of this game. There is only a small number of John Keys and Bill Englishs, and Helen Clarks and Michael Cullens. To those from across this House who make it to the very top in this game and who then stay there, you have my absolute respect. It is no mean feat, and staying there is even more difficult. To John Key and to Bill English, I applaud you for your outstanding partnership and your leadership. I have been a member and a leader of many teams in my life, so I can genuinely say that being a part of this team has been an absolute privilege. To Cabinet and to my wider caucus, I congratulate you on leading our nation through one of the most difficult periods in our history. There is a depth to our team, often overlooked by commentators, that continues to provide new and exciting talent when others such as myself decide that their time in this place is at an end. That is exciting. Rejuvenation while a team is on top is often the hardest, but actually it is the best thing to ensure longevity. Can I thank all of my team for your support of both my wife, Angela, and my family throughout my time in this place. I have not been one of the political rock stars. I have not climbed to the very top of the political ladder. In saying this, I am proud—I am very proud—to have been part of a team that has made, and continues to make, a huge contribution to this nation. I am proud of the part that I have played in that team. To use one of my dad’s analogies: it is all very well for the wingers to take the glory, but if the props and the hookers did not win the ball—[Interruption] That is right. There are some good props around, Mr Sabin.

Listen to this. If the props and the hookers did not take the ball, there would be no applause for the Twinkletoes*. . I guess I have been one of those in the middle of the ruck. Some commentators say that you need to watch those behind you more than those across the other side of the House. Well, that has not been my experience—far from it. I have absolutely loved my time here and the friendships that I have made, including many across the other side of the House and in the media. Thank you very much as well. Recently I attended the Aspiring Leaders Forum*, , where the Maxim Institute* brings together 120 of our young leaders. My own son Sam, who is in the gallery today, was fortunate to be an attendee there. The Warehouse* chief executive officer, Mark Powell*, , gave the keynote address and had another definition of success. He defined success as when you are part of something bigger than yourself and when you help others to flourish. It is a great definition of success and to this end Parliament has many, many more examples of successful people who by other measures have not risen to the top or who have by their actions allowed others to shine. I have many examples of these people whom I want to acknowledge this evening. Can I start by thanking the people who have supported me while I have been in this place: my electorate office team—Tania Wright, Vicki Sanders, Sue Boyle, Sharon Coates, Sue Page, and Mary Crarer. Tania and Vicki have been with me from day one*. . Electorate agents, as we across this House all know, are the unsung heroes of a MP’s business. Day in and day out they deal with all spectrums of our society. Being an electorate MP is an incredible job. The diversity of the role is both challenging and rewarding. I want to thank the people of Napier, Wairoa*, , and the Hawke’s Bay for giving me the huge privilege to represent you over the last 9 years. One of the more memorable experiences was being asked to be the guest of the Go Natural Lifestyle Club to open its new gazebo. I consulted my wife, Angela, as I was too scared to go on my own. She agreed to join me. I spent more time that Saturday morning deciding what to wear than to any other occasion I have ever been to since. Should I be in casual or formal dress, or should I be in my birthday suit? Who knows? Well, we arrived at 11.30 a.m., in time for a tour and lunch. To this day I will never forget driving up the pine-enclosed complex, pulling over in the car-park*, , and watching the reception party walk down to greet us both. Ange leaned over and whispered in my ear: “My God, CJ, they really are naked.” In my neighbouring electorate, I want to acknowledge my good mate Craig Foss* and his electorate staff, particularly Susanna Clark. We have worked closely to take Hawke’s Bay forward. Reflecting back on my maiden speech, I set goals around Napier health, Napier community policing, the Hawke’s Bay Airport*, , business growth, and apple exports to Australia. Nine years on, I can confidently say that we have made good progress. We have secured a 10-year commitment to the Wellesley Road Health Centre*. . We have got community police in at Maraenui* and in Tamatea*. . We extended the Hawke’s Bay regional airport runway, and we have championed business growth, trying to get an oil and gas industry and new irrigation up in the Hawke’s Bay. There is still more work to do there, Fossy, actually. Although still only small volumes, our efforts did help to ensure that apples can now be exported to Australia. I want to thank both Phil Goff and Tim Groser for their efforts in achieving that for us. Thank you. The partnership between Craig and I, under the brand “Backing the Bay”, was a key factor in holding our seats for three consecutive terms. Craig, I have appreciated your friendship and support. In that regard, can I thank my Napier electorate team, who are out there supporting my replacement, Wayne Walford, as we speak. Some of you are here tonight. There are so many who have contributed, and too many to mention you all, but to my electorate chairs over the last 9 years, Tom Johnson, Marshall Savidge, Lynne Trafford, and now Ian Mayne, thank you very much. To the National Party board, particularly my regional chairs, Patricia Morrison and Malcolm Plimmer, and national chairs, Judy Kirk and Peter Goodfellow, thank you for your support behind the scenes, enabling your MPs to bask in the sunshine. To all the people of this House, from the cleaners to the security guards, who ensure the smooth running of Parliament, thank you. If there was ever a group of people who quietly go about ensuring that others came first, it is you. My time in the backbench was a huge learning opportunity. There is no better place to learn the craft of politics than on the Opposition backbench. It is a great place to make a few mistakes and to live to fight another day. One big mistake that I made requires an apology to my leader at the time, Don Brash. Early in my time as a constituent MP, we received a visit to Napier by the Earthrace* biodiesel boat. One Peter Bethune visited my electorate office asking me to visit his boat in the Port of Napier*. . I was busy, but in the course of the conversation I worked out that he would be in Wellington during the next parliamentary sitting, so I agreed I would come and visit with a few colleagues. I suggested to Nick Smith that this would be a great opportunity to give Don some much-needed profile. Ah, not such a good idea! Nick agreed to invite Don. The rest is history and has become the stuff of walk-the-plank legends. Don, please accept my sincere apologies for that particular idea. To Mac Dalton, Alistair Shelton, Pat Humphries, and Stefan Slooten, who have supported me in my parliamentary office, thank you. In particular, can I acknowledge Pat Humphries, who has worked in this amazing institution for much of her life. From junior backbench MPs to two Prime Ministers, Pat Humphries has supported MPs to rise to the top of the ladder. Pat, thank you. [Interruption] Yeah, give her a clap. To my whip’s office team, a huge thank you for your support over the 3 years I served as a junior and senior whip. At the heart of that office is Sue Reid, who has guided many new whips in the right path. Thank you, Sue. I have often described the whip’s role as 50 percent sergeant major and 50 percent local pastor in the church. It is a role that requires the trust of the caucus. We were a tight team, as we are today. There are lots of stories that the whip becomes party to, many of which are not appropriate to share. However, I have one story I would like to tell that involves another apology, and this one is to Louise Upston. She is thinking “What the heck have I done here?”. During the start of my parliamentary year, I was asked by the Young Nats* to send a party representative to the Massey campus to participate in O-Week*. . I asked Louise to be our representative, to which she agreed. At 12 p.m. I received a call from the Young Nats: “Where is Louise?”. I called Louise. “I’m at the front gate,” she said. “We’re at the front gates as well,” said the Young Nats. It turns out that I had sent Louise to Palmerston North instead of to Wellington. I am sorry about that, Louise. Can I thank my ministerial team, headed by Keith Mason, Jenna Raeburn, and Mary-Jane Rendell. Like Pat, Keith, who is up in the gallery today, has been a senior private secretary in this Parliament for over 20 years, working to support the success of Ministers across both sides of the House, for that matter, and now he is supporting Minister Parata. Although I was a Minister for only 2 years, it is an incredible workload that goes through a Minister’s office, with huge diversity. During my time it was great to lead a review of the Fire Service*, , to initiate significant change in the gambling sector, to introduce the right-hand turn law, to introduce online passports, to oversee the whole-of-Government* information and communications technology* strategy, and to lead the second tranche of local government reform, amongst all manner of other things. I want to pay a huge tribute to the public sector, especially to the team at the Department of Internal Affairs.* . Under the leadership of Colin MacDonald, the Department of Internal Affairs has transformed into a modern, forward-looking department. Congratulations. There are many in the department who deserve a mention, none more than Marilyn Little. She has worked tirelessly for both sides of this House, providing outstanding advice, helping others to take the credit from her work. When one comes to Parliament, we are all fortunate to give maiden speeches, and one’s valedictory is the chance to reflect on that speech. In my maiden speech, I commenced with a mihi: “Whaia te pai Tawhiti ki a tata. Whaia to pai tata. Whakamaua ki a u kia tina.” The mihi speaks of reaching for the stars, pursuing one’s dreams. At the time it was remarked how unusual it was for a Pākehā* New Zealander to use so much Te Reo* in his maiden speech. I actually think our intake surprised more than a few and set a tone for the National Party, one that has truly connected us with middle New Zealand, not the far left* or the far right*. .

We came from vastly different walks of life: nurses, builders, diplomats, shearers—Colin King—teachers, shoe salesmen, teen parents, and even real estate agents. We understood what made Kiwis tick. A few of our number have risen through the ranks and many of us have been the solid core of the National caucus, providing stability, consistency and connection to people at the coalface. We have been the props and the hookers of the team. This connection has been continued through the 2008 and 2011 intake, which is absolutely fantastic. When a mainstream party loses that connection with the aspirations of middle New Zealand, the results speak for themselves. To my colleagues, I say to never, ever forget that. In regard to the goals I set in my maiden speech, I am proud to see how much progress has been made in the area of Treaty settlements and to see the huge progress in my own rohe. Although there are still settlements that need to be completed, we are in a totally different place from where we started. The Hon Chris Finlayson will be knighted at a future time for his service in this area. You can hold me to that! In my maiden speech I expressed concern at the lack of progress in our nation, at the lack of opportunities for my children and at the huge numbers of people leaving our shores. In spite of the Christchurch earthquakes, the global financial crisis, and the meltdown of our second-tier finance sector, New Zealand is now judged as one of the best economies in the * Western World. Just today Australia’s Treasurer, Joe Hockey, called New Zealand’s economy the envy of the world. It is fantastic to see the turn-round in the migration statistics. I am exceptionally proud to see that. Nothing else reflects people genuinely seeing a brighter future in Aotearoa than those migration statistics. In addition to the goals that I set in my maiden speech, I am proud of my affirmative votes in the smacking legislation, the seabed and foreshore legislation, and the marriage amendment bill. In each of these bills I learnt that leadership is not always about following the status quo or majority opinion; leadership is about challenging the status quo for something that you believe is genuinely better. Under John Key’s leadership we have made huge progress. I am excited about the future of this country and the prospects available to all children in our nation, including my own children. With the economy in such great shape it is an excellent time to leave this House in search of new opportunities. I have already bought into two new businesses and am exploring a third. I am looking forward to re-engaging with my entrepreneurial passion. It is going to be challenging but exciting. In particular, I will have more time to spend with my family, and it is my family whom I would most like to thank as I come to the end of my valedictory. In my maiden speech I said that I would endeavour to put families at the pinnacle of Government policy, because, I said, without strong families we have nothing. I have a strong family and they are here tonight, and even some of the members of my wider family in the provincial club—you know who you are. To my mother, Pam: thank you for your support, for giving me the opportunity and the independence to do all that I wanted from a very young age. To my father: I miss you hugely and wish that you could be here with your family tonight. Dad, I am wearing your cufflinks tonight. To my brothers, Mark and Simon, we have often been measured against our father’s success, on the sporting field and in life. Each of us, however, has cut our own different paths. I am confident that he would have been very proud of each of us and of our young families. In saying that, I was never able to emulate my dad’s prowess on the sporting field. However, let the Hansard record for eternity that I did captain the parliamentary rugby team to victory in the 2011 parliamentary * Rugby World Cup. To my wife Angela’s parents and family, particularly to Trevor and Jeanette—thanks for Angela and for your huge support of me and our family. To Ange, Sam, Will, and Lily—I love you all dearly. Thank you for giving me this opportunity. So, have I been successful in this parliamentary career—by some measures, certainly; by others, not as well. Sorry, Rodney, I did not take any scalps while I was here, but I have been part of something bigger than myself, most definitely, and my efforts have allowed others to flourish. Yes, I have achieved that. I started my maiden speech in Te Reo, and will end it in our first language. In 2012 I took the Prime Minister to * Wairoa, honouring a commitment I had made to the wonderful, wonderful people of that part of my electorate. On that day we had a number of * pōwhiris, where we did not have a speaker to introduce the Prime Minister. That role, and the * waiata, fell to me. Upon our return to the caucus on the following Monday, I was required by the Prime Minister to sing that waiata in the caucus room, possibly the first person ever to do so at the National Party caucus. It was rough. I will not make you suffer that again. But I will close with a * whakatauāki—a proverb—that talks of a new beginning, a touch of frost, a new dawn. I think it is appropriate as I leave this place and pursue an exciting new future.

Valedictory roster


Parliament’s Business Committee has released the roster for valedictory speeches from retiring MPs:

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

(At the conclusion of the General Debate)

4.00pm – 4.15pm Dr Cam Calder

4.15pm – 4.30pm John Hayes

4.30pm – 4.45pm Chris Auchinvole

4.45pm – 5.00pm Colin King

5.00pm – 5.15pm Hon Chris Tremain

5.15pm – 5.30pm Hon Kate Wilkinson

Thursday, 24 July 2014

4.45pm – 5.00pm Dr Rajen Prasad

5.00pm – 5.15pm Darien Fenton

5.15pm – 5.30pm Hon Dr Pita Sharples

5.30pm – 5.45pm Hon Tariana Turia

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

(At the conclusion of the General Debate)

4.00pm – 4.15pm Dr Paul Hutchison

4.15pm – 4.30pm Hon Phil Heatley

4.30pm – 4.45pm Eric Roy

4.45pm – 5.00pm Shane Ardern

5.00pm – 5.15pm Hon Tau Henare

5.15pm – 5.30pm H V Ross Robertson

5.30pm – 5.45pm Hon Tony Ryall

The Herald opined that valedictories should be the preserve of “deserving” MPs:

No fewer than 14 National MPs are retiring at the coming election, plus a couple from other parties. While the turnover is refreshing for public life, it carries a cost if every departee gives a valedictory address. . . .

Few voters could name many of those retiring this year. Many are leaving because they have not been able to make much impact and accept that they should give others a chance. More credit to them, but valedictory time should be reserved for those who have made their mark and will be missed.

That is very ungracious and also shows a depressing level of ignorance about the role of MPs.

Most of the good work MPs do never makes the headlines, much of it can’t because it’s helping people over matters which must remain private.

Maiden speeches and valedictories are among the best speeches given.

All MPs deserve the opportunity to do one and in doing so show their work and parliament in a far better light than it’s normally portrayed.

Standing up for children


Tweet of the day:

Minor ministerial changes


Prime Minister John Key has announced some minor changes to his ministerial line-up which includes the reinstatement of Peter Dunne as a Minister outside Cabinet.

Internal Affairs and Local Government Minister Chris Tremain, who has announced his intention to retire from Parliament at the upcoming general election, will be resigning from the Ministry.

Peter Dunne will be appointed Minister of Internal Affairs, Associate Minister of Health and Associate Minister of Conservation. Mr Dunne will be a Minister outside Cabinet as he was prior to his resignation in June last year.

Michael Woodhouse will be promoted to the vacancy in Cabinet, and will retain all of his current responsibilities.

Paula Bennett picks up the role of Minister of Local Government, in addition to her current portfolio responsibilities.

The new Minister outside Cabinet will be Peseta Sam Lotu-liga, who will be appointed Minister of Pacific Island Affairs and Associate Minister of Local Government. Mr Lotu-liga is the MP for Maungakiekie and was first elected to Parliament 2008.

“I want to thank Chris Tremain for his work as a Minister, and previously as Senior Government Whip,” Mr Key says.

“Chris will be a real loss to the National caucus when he retires at the election and I wish him well for the future.

“I am pleased to welcome Peter Dunne back as a Minister. We have worked together well in the past, and United Future continues to be a valued partner in government.

“While 2013 brought its challenges, both Peter and I start this election year looking forward, not back.”

Mr Key also congratulated Mr Lotu-liga on his elevation to the Ministry.

“Sam has very strong ties with the Pasifika community and has represented their interests in caucus well.

“He is well placed to build on the work that Hekia Parata has done in this portfolio this past term.”

In other changes, Todd McClay will take up the role of Associate Tourism.

The Governor-General will swear in the new Ministers on Tuesday 28 January, prior to Parliament getting underway for the new year.

“The National-led Government’s strong Ministerial team will continue to take New Zealand forward and deliver on what we have promised,” Mr Key says.

Chris Tremain has done good work as a Minister but his decision to not contest this year’s election has provided an opportunity for promotion and re-jigging of some roles.

Wilkinson, Shanks won’t seek re-election


National MPs Kate Wilkinson and Katrina Shanks have announced they won’t be seeking re-election.

Kate entered parliament as a list MP and won the Waimakariri electorate in 2011.

She was Minister of Labour and Conservation until earlier this year.

“It has been a fantastic privilege to have been both an MP and a Cabinet Minister in the John Key-led Government,” Kate Wilkinson said.

“It has been humbling and satisfying being able to help constituents in the area – especially following the Canterbury earthquake events, when we all learnt so much as a region and as a country.

“One of the most satisfying achievements was obtaining funding for the North Canterbury Health Hub and I certainly want to see that through.

“I first stood as the National Party candidate for Waimakariri in 2005, taking Waimakariri from being a Labour stronghold to ultimately becoming a National seat. Winning the electorate vote in the 2011 election was an absolute thrill.

“I had in mind in 2005 that I would stand for election for three terms. I feel that it is now time to consider fresh challenges and opportunities. I will remain focused on working for the people of Waimakariri until the election and look forward to supporting National’s new candidate.

“I would like to take this opportunity to thank the people of Waimakariri for their ongoing support and for providing me with the opportunity to be a part of so many exciting projects which have assisted in making Waimakariri such a special place.”

Katrina has been in the unenviable position of standing in Ohariu but not seriously contesting the list vote in order to help Peter Dunne hold the seat.

“It has been an incredible privilege to serve in the John Key-led Government,” Katrina Shanks said.

“New Zealand now has one of the strongest economies in the world, an education system which focuses on every child, a healthcare system which is responsive to patients’ needs in a timely manner, and most importantly considers families to be the cornerstone of this great country.

“Working as an MP it has been an honour to be able to meet so many great New Zealanders, especially those who give to our communities through their volunteer work and make a real difference to so many people’s lives.

“I came into Parliament wanting to put the spotlight back on families and highlight the important role which they play in our society today. The work I have performed both in my select committee roles and policy development has allowed me to contribute greatly in this area.

“Working across three Wellington electorates has meant that I have made many friends and been supported by many people. I thank these people for their support of the work that I have undertaken.

“I have decided that now is the right time to leave my career in politics, and look to spend more time being closer to my young family. I look forward to taking up new challenges outside of Parliament.”

These announcements follow similar ones from Chris Tremain, Chris Auckinvole, Paul Hutchison, Cam Calder  and Phil Heatley, and Bill English’s decision to seek a list spot rather than contesting the Clutha Southland seat.

National lost a lot of MPs in 2002 but had big intakes in 2005 and 2008 as well as some new MPs in 2011 and two since then.

This is providing good opportunities for renewal which is healthy and will enable National to campaign with a lot of fresh faces.

Calder not seeking re-election


National list MP Cam Calder has announced he won’t be seeking re-election next year.

“It has been a huge privilege to serve in the National-led Government,” Dr Calder said.

“Under John Key’s leadership, New Zealand now has one of the strongest economies in the world. We have made significant progress in improving the lives of New Zealanders in vital areas such as law and order, health, and education to name but a few.

“It has been an exciting and extraordinarily varied experience, and I still relish every day, but after two terms in Parliament there are a number of projects, both in New Zealand and overseas, that I wish to consider in the years ahead.

“I am proud of what the National-led Government has achieved. I have been a strong advocate for reducing the incidence of rheumatic fever, particularly in Manurewa where I am based. I have also been a vigorous proponent for an awareness campaign highlighting the need for men to take responsibility for their prostate health. I am delighted the Government is making significant progress in these areas.

“My member’s bill, the Summary Offences (Possession of Hand-held Lasers) Amendment Bill, is before the Transport and Industrial Relations Select Committee. I am hopeful I can shepherd it through the House during the remainder of my term.

“I shall continue to devote my energies to the Manurewa community and to my many Parliamentary duties through to the General Election next year.”

Cam entered parliament on the list in 2009 and is well regarded for his work as an MP.

Napier MP and Minister Chris Tremain and list MP Chris Auckinvole have already announced they won’t be seeking re-election.

Some retirements are healthy for the party, providing the opportunity for new talent.


No to state funding


Labour’s Sua William Sio is suggesting local body election candidates get state funding for their campaigns.

Thankfully Local Government Minister Chris Tremain shows no enthusiasm for the idea.

“There hasn’t been an appetite from our government for state funding of local government elections, or national elections for that matter, outside of national television advertising.”

If it was up to me there would be no public funding of TV advertising either.

If individuals and parties want to be elected they should fund their own campaigns or persuade supporters to help them.

There are far greater calls for public funds than political campaigns.

Knowing when to go


National list MP Chris Auckinvole has said he won’t be standing at next year’s election.

. . . Auchinvole said yesterday he intended to resign. “One could say leaning towards retirement. You never have enough, but I am 68 now, I’d be 70 shortly after the next election. It is my intention to retire from party politics.”

He said he had a “number of really good opportunities in the commercial world” to pursue.

The Scottish-born MP entered Parliament, as a list MP, in 2005 “along with half the caucus”.

In 2008 he won the West Coast-Tasman seat from Labour MP Damien O’Connor, who regained it in 2011. . .

I’ve enjoyed the interaction I’ve had with Chris who did a lot of work behind the scenes to help the families of the Pyke River mine victims.

He’s the second National MP to announce his retirement from parliament this week. Napier MP, and Minister, Chris Tremain won’t be seeking re-election either.

. . . Prime Minister John Key indicated he anticipated “one or two” more would follow suit, but declined to say who. . .

One of the few silver linings to the dark cloud of National’s 2002 election defeat was that it cleared out a lot of longer serving MPs. That allowed a big influx of fresh blood in 2005 and there was a good intake of new MPs in 2008 too.

National had a couple of mid-term resignations which brought two fresh faces into the house before 2011, eight new MPs at the election and two more new ones since then.

This has given National the mix of experience and freshness which a caucus, and government, need.

Good MPs know when to go and it’s better to go on their own terms than lose a selection challenge – although challenges have brought in some excellent MPs including John Key, Bill English and Judith Collins.

A few more announcements of end-of-term retirements, in plenty of time for the party and prospective candidates to prepare for selection would be healthy.

It would also reinforce the difference between National and Labour which hasn’t had nearly as much fresh talent and is still saddled with too many MPs who haven’t accepted they’re near or past their best-by dates.

This could be a positive reflection on the potential employability of former National MPs in contrast to those in Labour who might not be as attractive to would-be employers.

But being unemployable outside parliament is not a good reason for clinging on to a seat.

Tremain not seeking re-election


Napier MP and Minister Chris Tremain has announced he will not be contesting the next election.

“I am proud of the significant achievements of this government led by Prime Minister John Key. Under his leadership New Zealand is now one of the strongest growing economies in the western world and has a very bright future. I intend to continue to contribute to this exciting future but now in the commercial sector of our economy.

“My family has been a huge part of my decision. I have three children finishing high school and I want to devote more time to them before they leave home,” Mr Tremain says.

“It is my intention to devote my energy to both my electorate and to my Ministerial portfolios right through until the general election next year. I have had amazing support from the people of Napier and Hawke’s Bay and wish to finish a number of local projects before the end of the term.

“I will prioritise the second tranche of local government reform, gambling reform, fire legislation and the ICT Strategy and Action Plan in my Ministerial portfolios between now and the election.

“I have made this decision with my wife and communicated it to the Prime Minister a fortnight ago. I have decided to announce it today to allow the National Party time to find a suitable replacement for next year’s election. 

“The National Party continues to enjoy unprecedented support as a second term government, which means we are well placed to win a third term next year. In the last election, I had a 6600 party vote majority and a 3700 electorate vote majority, which I believe provides a solid platform for a strong National Party candidate to win Napier once again in 2014,” Mr Tremain says. 

I am very sorry that the National Party, government and New Zealand, will lose Chris’s undoubted talents and enthusiasm for his roles as an MP and Minister.

But politics puts huge demands on MPs and their families and I understand his decision to put them first.

I also commend him for giving plenty of notice so that the party and potential candidates have time to select a candidate.

On-line voting trial for 2016 elections


Local Government Minister Chris Tremain has announced that  online voting will be trialled  in the 2016 local authority elections.

“Online transactions are the way of the future and the Government is committed to rolling out digital services for New Zealanders,” says Mr Tremain.

“I have asked the Department of Internal Affairs to put together a working party from across government and local authorities and with information technology experts. They will consider the options, costs and security issues involved in online voting.

“Voter turnout in local body elections is traditionally low and we need to look at other ways to encourage people to become involved in the democratic process.

“Online voting will be more convenient and appeal to young voters. It will also make it easier for people with disabilities to vote. “

“There is a high level of interest from the sector in online voting with organisations like the Porirua City Council and the Manawatu District Council volunteering to take part in the trial.

“Robust regulations need to be in place so voters have trust and confidence in the system. The working party will be assessing the security and technology used in public elections overseas to mitigate risk.

“Once the working party reports its findings the next step will be to formulate a plan to implement online voting in local body elections.

“The Government RealMe service will be used to enable online voting. New Zealanders who have a RealMe logon can now update their electoral enrolment details online. The Electoral Amendment Bill recently introduced will enable electors with a RealMe verified identity to enrol online.”

Security will be the major concern.

But a RealMe logon is a lot more secure than postal voting and online voting might encourage better participation, especially among younger people.

Promotion for Dean and Wagner


Prime Minister John Key has appointed two parliamentary private secretaries.

Nicky Wagner will be Parliamentary Private Secretary to Gerry Brownlee in the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery portfolio and also Parliamentary Private Secretary to Nick Smith in Conservation.

Jacqui Dean will assist Chris Tremain in Local Government and Prime Minister John Key in Tourism.

Parliamentary Private Secretaries (PPS) are MPs appointed to assist Ministers but, unlike Under-Secretaries, they are not part of the Executive. They receive no extra remuneration.

“This is an important position that ensures a strong link between the Minister and the caucus and gives back-bench MPs valuable experience,” says Mr Key.

“Nicky Wagner, as the MP for Christchurch Central, is already heavily involved in the recovery of Christchurch and is an ideal choice to assist Mr Brownlee. Her experience as a former Environment Canterbury Regional Councillor will be valuable to Dr Smith in Conservation.”

A Minister cannot delegate any statutory roles or function to a PPS, however it is expected that the PPS represent their Minister at public events and deliver speeches on occasions when the Minister is not available.

“Jacqui Dean has extensive Local Government experience from her time as a Waitaki District Councillor and as Deputy Mayor and I expect her to ably assist Mr Tremain. It is also fitting that an MP based in the South Island where so much of our tourism is based, will be part of the Tourism team. . .

Congratulations to both women.

They are very effective MPs in their electorates and will ably assist the ministers.

Information on a PPS is here.

Two wins for common sense


Food Safety Minister Nikki Kaye has today announced changes to the Food Bill that ensure communities will be able to continue fundraising that involves the sale of food.

“The changes ensure better balance in the legislation so that high-risk food operators have the appropriate controls, while unnecessary burdens are not placed on communities,” Ms Kaye says.

“They are designed to clarify aspects of the law where people have raised uncertainty.

“Since the Food Bill had its first reading, people have expressed concerns that it could have placed unnecessary regulation and compliance on community and fundraising groups.

“We have listened to those concerns and the relevant changes to the Bill will go back to Select Committee for consideration.

“The changes relate to community activities, including swapping food in non-commercial exchanges and engaging in fundraising and ‘Kiwiana’ activities such as sausage sizzles and school fairs.

“There will also be greater transparency of fees charged by local authorities and the addition of a ‘good Samaritan’ clause to better protect businesses that donate food in good faith.

“The changes to this legislation are to provide a flexible, risk-based food safety system that will accommodate around 85,000 food premises, which account for more than 250,000 jobs.

“Some of the definitions will be important to get right and that’s why I am sending the Bill back to select committee for consideration.

“The Food Bill is comprehensive and replaces the current legislation and regulations plus at least 34 separate sets of food safety bylaws around New Zealand.

“It is challenging to draw the line in the appropriate place on how much regulation will ensure safe and suitable food for consumers when dealing with the differences in scale from a community sausage sizzle through to a multi-national food producer.

“The Bill has significant support from industry and businesses and more than 6000 businesses have adopted transitional risk based programmes in anticipation of this new Food Bill.

“I believe this legislation is critical to protect the health of New Zealand consumers, improve the integrity of our food systems and support export-led economic growth.”

Food & Grocery Chief Executive Katherine Rich says the changes are sensible and timely.

“As a country so dependent on food production, New Zealand needs a modern food law, and this will achieve that.

“It’s not before time. The existing piece of legislation is more than 30 years old and has regulations that are nearly 40 years old. A lot has happened in food technology, science, attitudes, and thinking in that time. On that basis, with food laws that are very much out of date and overdue for a revamp, it is important New Zealand moves forward in this area.

“The changes proposed by the Minister are sensible and pragmatic, and improve the clarity of the law so there is less room for ambiguity.

“Many members of the Food & Grocery Council have risk-based systems in place, and the Food Bill will provide a clearer underpinning of those systems.

“The food industry will welcome the proposed changes.”

And in other news:

Internal Affairs Minister Chris Tremain says feedback from event organisers and members of the public shows overwhelming support for changes to the rules around spot prize draws which will remove unnecessary red tape.

Currently when spot prizes are used at events, such as fishing competitions and fun runs, they can be classed as gambling under the Gambling Act – which means organisers have to comply with a raft of rules.

“Public consultation on our discussion document showed the rules are too restrictive and the paperwork required onerous. Gambling is not the primary purpose of these events, so all these regulations are not required,” says Mr Tremain.

“However I don’t want a blanket exemption as this would potentially allow for events to be set up for prize draws where there is no community benefit.

“So the proposal is to exempt events from the Gambling Act events if they meet certain criteria such as the prize draw being secondary to the main event, the draw being only available to people participating in the event and the event having a community benefit.

“That will mean organisers will be able to offer spot prizes, regardless of the value of the prize, without needing to apply for a licence.

“The new rules will be in place in time for summer events this year.”

That’s two wins for common sense.

Lotto or K2?


New Zealand Lotteries is asking all its retailers to remove from sale of all synthetic cannabis and party pills.

The move has the support of Internal Affairs Minister Chris Tremain and Associate Minister of Health Todd McClay.

NZ Lotteries has written to six hundred independently owned retailers with Lotto outlets advising them not to sell synthetic cannabis and similar products from 1 July 2013.

“The sooner psychoactive substances are out of shops the better. New Zealanders are extremely concerned about what these products are doing to the health of our young people. This is a community issue and I am pleased to see Lotto making a firm stand on it,” says Mr Tremain.

“Selling these substances is not compatible with the sale of lotteries products. Profits from NZ Lotteries are returned to the community to help fund recreation, arts, community projects and sports. K2 and party pills have been linked to serious health effects and anti-social behaviour, including crime and violent offending.”

“It is important to protect vulnerable people in our communities. The Psychoactive Substances Bill is currently before the Health Select Committee which is due to report back shortly. I hope to see the Bill progress quickly through the house,” says Mr McClay.

Those who oppose any form of gambling might not see the difference between one potentially addictive habit and another.

But most people buy the odd scratchy or lotto ticket without harming anyone.

The danger of users of K2 and its kind harming themselves and, more particularly, endangering others is much greater.

The return from sales is also pretty high – I wonder if it’s higher than returns from selling scratchies and lotto tickets and if so some outlets would prefer to lose the lottery sales?

Competition works


Chris Tremain, Associate Tourism Minister, welcomed Hawaiian Airlines to New Zealand yesterday and today Air New Zealand has slashed fares to Hawaii.

Air New Zealand has slashed its fares to Honolulu, as Hawaiian Airlines announced it was offering three flights a week from Auckland to the Pacific island.

An average round trip economy ticket on Hawaiian Airlines will cost around $1800, which includes meals. Air New Zealand is currently offering return flights from $1000, without meals.

From June, Air New Zealand, which also flies to Honolulu three times a week, is increasing its capacity to the destination, offering bigger planes that will hold 60 more passengers, as well as offering premium economy and flat beds in business class. . .

Isn’t competition grand?

Frame this


Quote of the day:

. . . In some cases those rules can be overly rigorous and I want to cut the red tape,”. . .

It’s part of a media release from Internal Affairs Minister Chris Tremain.

He’s referring to rules around spot prize draws but that sentence could have a much wider application.

It should be framed and hung in the office of every politician and bureaucrat in the country.

Two good moves from government


Two good moves from government today:

First Social Development Minister Paula Bennett has announced that people with outstanding arrest warrants will no longer receive a benefit while evading Police.

“Of the approximately 15,000 people with a current arrest warrant, around 8,200 are on benefits,” says Mrs Bennett.

“If someone has an unresolved arrest warrant we will stop their benefit until they do the right thing and come forward to the authorities.”

“In exceptional circumstances where someone poses a danger to the public, their benefit can be stopped immediately at the request of the Police Commissioner,” says Mrs Bennett.

Around 58 per cent of people clear their arrest warrants within 28 days. Those who don’t will be given 10 days to clear or challenge the warrant before their benefit is stopped, or reduced by fifty per cent if they have dependent children.

People will still be able to apply for hardship assistance for themselves and their children.

“Most people clear their warrants within a month, so 38 days is a reasonable amount of time to step forward and straighten things out,” says Mrs Bennett.

“Once someone has come forward their benefit can be reinstated but there will be clear consequences for people who continually refuse to acknowledge or resolve arrest warrants.”

The only question about this is:why it has taken so long to do the sensible thing?

the welfare system wasn’t designed to support people who are evading Police.

The second good news is that the government is considering reducing fees for passport applications.

Internal Affairs Minister Chris Tremain says lower passport fees are being considered as the Government moves to enable online passport applications.

“Online applications have been trialled successfully and will be available to the public by the end of the year. This will streamline the process of applying for a passport and reduce costs, providing the opportunity to look at the level of fees,” says Mr Tremain.

“Passport fees are set at cost recovery level, currently $153.30 for a standard adult passport. Revenue from passports is only spent on passports. The change to a five-year passport has increased the volume of renewals, and a growing surplus has built up in the account, meaning that there is scope to reduce fees.

“Changing passport fees would require a change to regulations. I have asked officials to report back to me on different options for fee reductions, including a lower fee for online applications to incentivise applicants to move online.

“This will contribute significantly to the Government’s Better Public Services Result 10: That New Zealanders can complete their transactions easily with government in a digital environment. This aims to have 70% uptake of digital and online services for key transactions by 2017, including passport applications.

“Passports consistently rate among the very top public services in the Kiwis Count figures produced by the State Services Commission. This is an opportunity to return some savings to passport holders and provide even better public services at a lower cost.”

It’s only under consideration at the moment but such a move would be very welcome.

Applications should be charged on a cost-recovery basis and if the department is recovering more than it costs a reduction in charges is the logical action.

Five years come around very quickly and many people have to renew their passport some time before the old one expires.

Several countries require visitors to have a passport valid for up to six months before they are granted entry. That means you’re paying for a five-year passport which might be able to be used for only four and half years which makes it even more expensive.

Drop, cover and hold


People in Christchurch know the drop, cover and hold drill and it is important that the rest of us do too.

That’s the motivation behind the Great New Zealand Shakeout – the country’s largest ever earthquake drill which is being held at 9:26am on September 26 (9:26 on 26.9).

Why bother?

While earthquake hazard varies from region to region (see below), all of New Zealand is prone to earthquakes.  You could be anywhere when an earthquake strikes – at home, at work, at school or on holiday. 

New Zealand ShakeOut has been created to help people and organisations get better prepared for major earthquakes, and practice how to be protected when they happen.  Everyone will practice “Drop, Cover and Hold”—the right action to take in an earthquake.

New Zealand ShakeOut also provides a fantastic opportunity for organisations and businesses to examine and review their own emergency preparedness arrangements.  Families and households can create, review and practice their household plans.

Civil Defence Minister Chris Tremain says that more than 100,000 people have already registered to participate.

It’s easy to think it won’t happen here, but that’s what Canterbury people would have thought before the September 2010 earthquake. That and the thousands that have followed are proof it could happen anywhere and we all ought to know how to protect ourselves and those around us.

We’ve had all-too regular reminders that these are the shaky isles and we need to be prepared for the shaking wherever and whenever it happens.

Bridges promoted to Minister


Prime Minister John Key has promoted Simon Bridges to the position of Minister outside Cabinet:

Napier MP Chris Tremain, who is currently a Minister outside Cabinet, will  move up to become a Minister in Cabinet at number 20 on the Ministerial  list.

Mr Key also announced a minor reshuffle of portfolios with the departure of Dr Nick Smith.

David Carter will assume the role of Local Government Minister in addition to his current portfolio of Primary Industries.

“The local government reforms announced recently remain an important part of the Government’s agenda. Mr Carter is an experienced Minister and I’m  confident he will drive these reforms along,” Mr Key says.

Amy Adams will take over as Environment Minister and hand the Internal Affairs portfolio to Mr Tremain.

Tim Groser will also become the new Minister for Climate Change Issues.

“Mr Bridges will be the new Consumer Affairs Minister and Associate  Minister of Transport, taking over from Mr Tremain. Mr Bridges will also be Associate Minister for Climate Change Issues,” Mr Key says.

The National caucus had strong intakes in 2005 and 2008 which means there are several candidates for any vacancy.

Simon had a promising career in law before he entered parliament and is a popular MP.

Tim was already Minister for Climate Change negotiations and a logical choice for the Climate Change Issues portfolio.

The NBR says:

 Mr Groser is believed to be less supportive of the emissions trading scheme (ETS) than his predecessor Nick Smith. As Climate Change Negotiations Minister, he is more aware than most that the while Kyoto system, on which the ETS is based, is likely to collapse at the end of this year. His record is of favouring more direct initiatives on the matter, such as the Global Research Alliance on agriculture that he set up, which has been the only real outcome from recent UN climate change summits and now boasts more than 30 countries as members.

Working on an initiative which could make a difference is far better than wasting time on an agreement which is the result of bureaucracy and politics triumphing over common sense.

GST only one factor in price


From Napier MP Chris Tremain’s Facebook page:

I went fresh vegetable shopping over the weekend to compare prices. Here at a market garden I purchased a pumpkin for $3, a head of broccoli for $1.79, and a cabbage for $1.69. Just down the road at the supermarket the same vegetables were over $6, $3.49, and $3.99 respectively. On one day and without seasonal variation over 100% difference in the price. So consumers have a choice to buy cheap fresh vegetables now, 100% cheaper. Do you really think removing GST from these products will make a difference?

All sorts of things impact on the price of fresh fruit and vegetables.

Taking GST off fresh produce won’t necessarily reduce the price by 15%. Seasonal availability, weather and how much of a mark-up retailers choose to charge could just as easily increase the price by that amount or more.

ipredict picks Parata for Cabinet – updated


Hekia Parata is the most likely to replace Pansy Wong as a Minister according to ipredict.

She’s given a 97.52% chance of becoming a Minister.

Other picks are: Simon Bridges 2.74%; Chris Tremain 2.48%; Craig Foss 2.48% and Amy Adams 1.74%.

Pansy Wong’s chance of getting back into Cabinet are rated at 1.34%.


ipredict was right:

Prime Minister John Key today announced that Hekia Parata is to be appointed a Minister in Cabinet.

“Ms Parata takes over the Ethnic Affairs and Women’s Affairs portfolios previously held by Pansy Wong. She will also be Associate Minister for ACC, of Energy and Resources and for the Community and Voluntary Sector,” Mr Key says.

Ms Parata’s role as Associate Minister for the Community and Voluntary Sector follows discussions with Community and Voluntary Sector Minister Tariana Turia, who requested an associate in this portfolio. It is no longer considered necessary to have an associate in Mrs Turia’s Disability Issues portfolio.

Ms Parata will be sworn in on Wednesday afternoon by Her Excellency the Administrator of the Government.

“Ms Parata has a strong background in the public service and has also been a successful businesswoman.

“Her competence and ability were highlighted by the excellent result she achieved for the National Party in the recent Mana by-election, after running an outstanding campaign.

This is a swift promotion after only two years in parliament but it is well deserved.

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