Govt turns democracy into demockracy

04/10/2021

Can you join the dots between these two undemocratic moves by the government?

Last week it conceded that consultation on Three Waters is a farce:

Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta’s promises to listen to councils were clearly just lip service after she all but confirmed that her Government will proceed with forcing the Three Waters Reforms on every council in New Zealand, National’s Local Government spokesperson Christopher Luxon says.

“In Parliament yesterday the Minister extolled the apparent virtues of an ‘all-in’ legislated approach to Three Waters reform, clearly paving the way for legislation to come.

“An ‘all-in’ approach would see every council in the country lose their existing control of their water assets, which would then be centralised within one of four new regional water entities.

“If an ‘all-in’ approach was the Minister’s foregone conclusion, why has she wasted councils’ time by pretending to seek their views through a farcical engagement process, and making them go to the trouble of submitting feedback before today?

“The Minister’s sales pitch is a clear admission that she has already decided to forge ahead and make the reforms compulsory.

“National has been warning councils and communities for months that this outcome would be inevitable.

“We will keep fighting the Three Waters asset grab with everything we’ve got. We encourage every New Zealander to sign our petition to stop it.”

The government also rushed through, under urgency, the first reading of a Bill that would give itself the power to delay local body elections :

 The Government must urgently explain why it wants to give itself the power to delay next year’s local body elections limitless times through to 2023, National’s Covid-19 Response spokesperson Chris Bishop and Local Government spokesperson Christopher Luxon say.

“The Government is currently able to adjourn a local election for up to six weeks in a local body election year.

“In a bill introduced to Parliament only yesterday, and now rushed through its first reading under urgency, the Government wants to empower itself to adjourn polling day multiple times without constraint – and not just in an election year, but the year after as well.

“It would mean that the Government could delay every local body election next year, all the way through 2023. No wonder the Minister didn’t mention it in his First Reading speech.

“This would be a major change and a threat to local decision-making – yet Labour are forcing the bill through a shortened select committee process which will allow almost no proper public consultation.

“Granting this power under the cloak of Covid-19 is egregious.

“Local body elections are conducted by postal ballot, not by in-person voting. The Government has ample time to prepare for the 2022 local elections and the existing ability to adjourn them if required due to an Alert Level change.

“What does legislating this draconian and overreaching power now, a year out, imply about Labour’s confidence in their own Covid-19 response?

“The Government is under massive pressure over the Three Waters Reforms and their relationships with councils are already severely strained. This latest proposal will only pour fuel on the fire.

“Councils and communities will rightly reject this move for the assault on local control that it is – especially with Labour ramming it through Parliament under a truncated process.

“New Zealanders won’t accept another attempted power grab from the Beehive.

“National will keep fighting Labour’s attempts to diminish local democracy. We must keep the ‘local’ in local government.”

Steven Joyce says the government is getting too big for its boots:

. . . For good measure the same bill will give minister Chris Hipkins the unfettered right to postpone next year’s local government postal elections for up to a year.

But the biggest over-reach of all so far is minister Nanaia Mahuta’s threat to confiscate water infrastructure assets owned by ratepayers without fair payment, in order to create four new corporate water entities around the country.

She is also refusing to provide shares in or direct oversight of those entities back to local councils.

That is a travesty.

There are good arguments for water reform, and some amalgamations into regional entities that can borrow money to invest in assets makes sense. But confiscating the assets of any organisation not owned by central government is going several steps too far.

These are all signs of a government getting too big for its boots. The impression is worsened by the expensive wall-to-wall propaganda, sorry — advertising, being employed to sell the water reforms and other contentious policies like the gold-plated tram for Auckland’s inner west. Covid-19 publicity is legitimate, political propaganda is not.

A year after being handed an old-style first past the post result, and having possibly developed a taste for bossing people around during the Covid response, the current Government is regularly behaving like its Muldoon-style predecessors. . . 

Would it be overly cynical to join the dots between a Minister who gives every appearance of planning to force the Three Waters plan on councils, whether or not they want it and the government giving itself the power to delay local body elections?

The government is turning democracy into demockracy.


Plea to pull plug on Three Waters proposal

28/09/2021

National has launched a petition calling on government to pull the plug on its Three Waters proposal:

Labour must listen to the multitude of mayors pleading for the Three Waters plans to be dumped, National’s Local Government spokesperson Christopher Luxon says.

“With an overwhelming majority of councils not onboard, the Government’s programme is in dire straits and its four entity model is floundering fast.

“Only a handful of mayors have explicitly supported the reforms, while the remaining 60-odd are not on board. Many are in fact urging the Government to suspend the process because they have not had adequate time to digest the detail or consult their communities.

“The South Island entity D is in serious doubt, with mayors from across the West Coast, Canterbury, Otago and Southland writing to the Minister and asking for a pause.

“The northern entity A has all but fallen apart, with Far North and Whangārei already gone and the remaining two councils, Auckland and Kaipara, in strong opposition and likely to leave next.

“Meanwhile, Hawke’s Bay mayors are against the reforms and other councils throughout entities B and C in areas like the Waikato, Bay of Plenty and Manawatū are hitting the brakes.

“It’s no surprise mayors are rebuking the Government’s woeful consultation timeframe and apparent need for speed.

“National has consistently said that the supposed benefits and cost savings haven’t been adequately explained to the public.

“We oppose the Three Waters Reforms. The touted scale benefits are unrealistic, ratepayers would end up cross-subsidising neighbouring areas, and the entities would strip power from communities and steal control of their water assets.

“The Government must heed the mayors’ calls and at a bare minimum, pause the programme immediately.

“I would encourage them to go one step further and dump the Three Waters plan altogether. We must keep the ‘local’ in local government.”

Christchurch City Council has joined the majority opposed to the plan.

The Christchurch City Council has voted to inform the Government it strongly opposes the proposed entity-based model for water services. . . 

Councillor Sam MacDonald said advice from staff shows how fundamentally flawed the model is.

“What’s really alarming with this is, there has been millions of dollars spent on consultants and what have we really got? We’ve basically shown Government doesn’t understand how local councils operate,” he said. . . 

Just think how much good those millions could have done had they been spent on improving water infrastructure instead.

National’s petition has attracted nearly 25,000 signatures in three days, Christopher Luxon says.

“Kiwis are making it clear they don’t support Labour’s centralisation and control agenda.

“The Government’s model of four water entities would strip control from communities and erode local democracy, putting ratepayer accountability at arm’s length.

“The significant and immediate response to our petition shows New Zealanders won’t accept the brazen theft of water assets they’ve paid for decades to own.

“We agree that every New Zealander deserves clean, safe water. But Labour’s deeply flawed entity model is not the way to get there.

“The Government looks set to ram through their plan at any cost – including making the reforms compulsory for councils, if that’s what it takes.

“National is calling on all Kiwis to sign and share our petition, demand the debate on Three Waters, and tell the Government they can’t force their asset grab on New Zealand.”

You can sign the petition here.

Westland Mayor Bruce Smith gives his views on the proposals:

This is my journey with three waters so far.

Government decides that clean water is a priority for every New Zealander, that is a government decision.

Government starts by legislating a water regulator and makes it mandatory to enforce the standard that Govt has decided upon for the supply of drinking water.

It is basing its’ decisions on the Scottish water model.

This is where I saw the first crack appear.

The regulator must ensure that all users of water get the same treatment across New Zealand.

It’s again a one-size-fits-all for everybody that uses water, no matter if you are rain fed or aquifer fed. A big difference Coasters.

The question of what it will cost ratepayers has not been considered as a priority.

Can New Zealand afford a gold-plated water management regime?

Would a bronze or Silver Plate model have been a better first step.

The regulator has already indicated he has the power of enforcement, and he will use it. I wonder what that means? . . 

Bruce Smith again:

. . . At the LGNZ conference a $2.5 billion incentive was announced by the Prime Minister to encourage councils to opt into the government three water proposals.

Westland District Council was to receive $11 million which we were advised could be used on any project and not confined to three waters. Its stated purpose was to ensure Councils were no worse off after their three waters functions and assets were removed by government.

Nothing was mentioned about strings attached by the Prime Minister in her speech.

On the second day of the conference, we were informed the money would become available in July of 2024.

It could be spent on projects consulted and approved by iwi and was not confined to three waters investment.

It was subject to councils joining the government masterplan for three waters reform.

This included the transfer of Councils three water assets to one of four companies to be established to control the allocation of water, the assets transferred by Councils, and the funding of the current and future three water supplies.

It was clarified that Maori would be granted membership and voting rights of 50% of the governance groups that controlled the three water activities and future strategic direction of each of the four entities.

The voting would be 50% Maori and 50% councils who had transferred 100% of the assets to the operating companies.

This government proposal gives Maori who makeup at June 2020 10.4% of the West Coast population and 16.7% of the New Zealand population according to statistics NZ.

Maori in commercial terms gets the right of Veto in perpetuity from government.

This is an unorthodox proposal where 100% of the population have paid for the existing assets and will be paying 100% of all future water costs.

Amongst the conversations it was observed how undemocratic this proposal was. It was noted that the proposal would create a real backlash in our communities. An unintended consequence or is it a further implementation of the HE PUAPUA report. . . 

 

 


Rural round-up

26/09/2021

Covid-19 coronavirus Delta outbreak: Shearer shortage looming – Hamish Clark:

A shortage of shearers has cost farmers this coming summer, with kiwi and Aussie shearers stuck on the other side of the Tasman due to closed borders.

It’s not just shearers but also shed hands and wool handlers that could be in short supply.

That could lead to longer working hours in the woolshed and potentially more injures due to a bigger workload.

There are many New Zealand shearers that live in Australia who would normally travel backwards and forwards between the two countries during the shearing season. . . 

Labour ignores 15,000 rural New Zealanders:

By refusing to back a practical change that would lessen the regulatory load on farmers, Labour have shown they remain completely out of touch with rural New Zealand, National’s Agriculture spokesperson Barbara Kuriger and Local Government spokesperson Christopher Luxon say.

“Labour had the opportunity to support National’s sensible amendment to the Water Services Bill which would have exempted water suppliers with 30 or fewer endpoint users,” Mr Luxon says.

“This would have prevented rural water schemes from being exposed to massive, burdensome compliance and costs.

“Instead, Labour’s bill will now require at least 70,000 small farm supply arrangements to meet onerous, disproportionate duties like producing drinking water safety plans and establishing consumer complaints processes. On top of that, Taumata Arowai will need to track down these tens of thousands of schemes and register them. . . 

Anaesthetic requirements put Northland vets at forefront of farm operations – Donna Russell:

Farmers are adapting well to new animal health regulations, according to Kamo vet Luke (Lurch) Goodin.

He said in most cases his clients had been early adopters of the broad-ranging changes, so it was business as usual at a busy time of year on farms – apart from the not-so-small matter of working through a Covid-19 level 4 lockdown.

Key among the latest changes, introduced in May this year, are new rules around surgical procedures on animals.

The Animal Welfare (Care and Procedures) Regulations 2018 cover a large range of topics and types of animals, including farm husbandry, companion animals, stock transport and surgical procedures. . . 

Sheep milk research could be a game-changer – Colin Williscroft:

New Zealand’s expanding sheep milk sector may soon be able to benefit from former Massey University student Jolin Morel’s PhD research, which looked at developing a new way of freezing ovine milk. Colin Williscroft reports.

The patent process is in motion and work is under way to build prototype on-farm units for freezing ovine milk that could take the NZ dairy sheep industry to the next level.

Jolin Morel graduated with a PhD from Massey earlier this year, his research focused on finding a better way to freeze sheep milk, something that will benefit the smaller players in NZ’s dairy sheep industry and open the way for more farmers to get involved in a sector that has been identified as one with a smaller environmental footprint than traditional dairy farms.

Morel says the genesis of his project involved a Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) programme called Food Industry Enabling Technologies, which aims to create new technologies within the NZ food industry. . . 

Labour’s inaction putting animal welfare at risk :

The shortage of veterinarians in New Zealand is reaching critical heights and is now compromising animal welfare, National’s Animal Welfare spokesperson Tim van de Molen says.

“Three months ago the Government attempted to show it was taking the issue seriously by granting a token 50 border exemptions for vets to enter the country. But it never provided the MIQ allocation grant to go alongside it and without going through MIQ vets can’t come to New Zealand.

“So while theoretically a small number of vets are now able to come to New Zealand to help fill our critical shortage, the Government’s inability to act practically has meant they are sitting in the MIQ virtual lobby trying their best to get a spot alongside tens of thousands of other people desperate to enter New Zealand.

“New Zealand is short several hundred vets and it’s putting the welfare of animals at risk. We’re now entering spring which is a particularly busy time for vets in rural areas but practises for domestic pets are also feeling the pinch. . . 

Veggie growers call on government to allow on-farm quarantine – Bryce Eishold:

A Victorian vegetable grower who was forced to destroy $150,000 worth of celery this year due to a lack of labour to harvest it has issued an impassioned plea for the government to allow on-farm quarantine.

Lindenow grower Kane Busch was set to receive 22 workers from Vanuatu later this year to help with his crop harvest, but says a lack of Tasmanian quarantine facilities meant the workers would not arrive in Victoria until at least February.

Mr Busch, along with industry body AUSVEG, said the extension to the international worker program which allows overseas workers to fly to Australia to quarantine before they started their seasonal work was “flawed”.

“There is no quarantine facility available so despite the announcement for an extra 1500 workers, we have no chance of getting those workers until February next year so it’s just useless,” he said. . . 

 


Rural round-up

12/09/2021

DOC shouldn’t get another crack at a failed project :

The Department of Conservation should the pull the pin on a failed Mackenzie Basin project and return the unspent money to Treasury, National’s Conservation spokesperson, and MP for Waitaki, Jacqui Dean says.

“The Tū Te Rakiwhānoa Drylands project was allocated $2.3 million dollars in the 2018 Budget. $1.4 million of that has already been spent and yet the project has now gone back to the ‘design’ phase with a new business case being put together.

“It’s appalling that three years in and more than a million dollars down the drain the project scope and timeframes for completion are not known and are not expected to be known until June 2022. . . .

Rural New Zealand rejecting more regulation from Labour:

More than 13,000 New Zealanders have told the Government to stop raining regulations on our rural communities, National’s Agriculture spokesperson Barbara Kuriger and Local Government spokesperson Christopher Luxon say.

“National launched a petition to call on Labour to give rural New Zealand a break and to drop their latest regulatory burden in the form of the Water Services Bill, which would expose rural water schemes to unnecessary and onerous compliance,” Ms Kuriger says.

“In just a short space of time more than 13,000 people and counting have signed the petition – sending a clear message to Labour to ease the burden on our rural communities.”

“Our petition calls on Labour, and other parties, to back National’s change to the legislation, which would exempt small water suppliers like farm schemes that supply fewer than 30 endpoint users,” Mr Luxon says. . . 

The right tree in the right place – David Williams:

Pāmu wants to establish 10,000 hectares of new plantation forest by 2030, David Williams writes in this content partnership article

Away from the conflict about forestry – fears of entire farms being planted in trees, and the slow death of rural communities – state-owned farmer Pāmu is quietly making the economics of tree-planting work.

Farming is the core business for Pāmu (which means “to farm” in Māori), the trading name for Landcorp Farming. Forestry has been seen as a sideline. “But it’s bloody not,” Pāmu’s environment manager Gordon Williams says. “It’s actually a production system for the land that should not be pastorally farmed.”

That system is starting to pay off. . . 

Lockdown sees fewer farm dogs being adopted :

A charity that helps rehome retired working dogs says fewer people have been adopting due to the lockdown.

Natalie Smith set up the Retired Working Dogs charity back in 2012 when working at a vet clinic she saw a need for farm dogs to find new homes.

Some are retired as they are older but some are young dogs who did not quite make the cut to work on the farm.

Smith said it was normal for adoptions to drop off in the winter but lockdown had made things worse. . . 

Government staffer receives NZ apple and pear industry award:

For the first time in the award’s eight year history, a government official has been awarded the Outstanding Contribution to the Industry accolade. At the recent pipfruit industry conference hosted by industry organisation NZ Apples and Pears Inc. (NZAPI), the coveted award was presented to John Randall, a Plant Exports Senior Adviser at Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) for his influence and collaboration with industry.

Past recipients have come from diverse areas within or supporting the pipfruit industry including research bodies, industry organisations and member companies. However, this year the honour was given to a person working in government in Wellington.

“Most, if not all previous recipients lived or worked in New Zealand’s growing regions and were familiar to everyone in the apple and pear industry. This year saw someone receive the award who may not be familiar to everyone,” said export industry Market Access Advisory Group (MAAG) member Simon Thursfield. . . 

Max Gogel, Tom Kelly share stories of shearing industry start – Julia Wythes:

SOME people are born to do a certain job, as was the case for shearers Tom Kelly and Max Gogel.

Despite picking up a handpiece for the first time decades apart, their journey to the shearing shed started exactly the same way.

Max Gogel’s time as a professional shearer has only been a few short years but the youngster from Sherlock dreamed of becoming a shearer in childhood.

His father Craig was a shearer, and Max spent his days in the sheds with him. . .


Rural round-up

25/08/2021

Labour must stop flooding rural NZ with pointless and onderous regulations :

Labour’s latest regulatory hurdle for rural water schemes shows it is deeply out of touch with provincial New Zealand, National’s Rural Communities spokesperson Barbara Kuriger and Local Government spokesperson Christopher Luxon say.

“As it stands, the Water Services Bill would expose tens of thousands of rural water schemes to disproportionate bureaucracy, just so they can continue supplying water between, for example, a farmhouse, a dairy shed and workers’ quarters,” Mr Luxon says.

“Despite warnings from National and major sector bodies at select committee, the bill will require Taumata Arowai to track down and register around 70,000 farm supply arrangements, each of which will need to write safety and risk management plans.

“We’re deeply concerned that the compliance costs and administrative burden this will create for farmers will be significant, while any supposed safety gains will be tiny. . . 

Shearing industry faces added challenges at busiest time of year – Chris Tobin:

The pressure is on the shearing industry as contractors juggle the usual challenges of inclement weather with the added restrictions of level 4 lockdown which has fallen at their busiest time of year..

South Canterbury Federated Farmers president and meat and wool chairman, Greg Anderson, said under level 4 restrictions which include social distancing and mask wearing, shearing was taking longer to complete with daily tallies down on usual numbers.

Anderson said there was now pressure to get pre-lamb shearing done.

“The time frame depends on when lambing begins, if it is in early September, the shearing will have to be done in the next week or so,” Anderson said. . . 

Should people really be thanking farmers for their morning latte? – Craig Hickman:

Like many silly ideas, the Thank a Farmer hashtag that has been popping up all over social media and which even made an appearance at the recent farmer protest can trace its origins back to the United States.

It was a silly sentiment when it originated there in the 1800s, and it hasn’t improved in the intervening 300-odd years.

I recently objected to the concept in reply to a social media post where a local young dairy farmer was berating his audience for not being more appreciative for the milk in their Sunday morning coffee while he was at work on the farm.

I was confused. My milk goes to the Clandeboye factory, where it is processed into either milk powder or mozzarella. Do I deserve thanks from the Sunday morning coffee sippers or is that reserved for the farmers who produce the 5 per cent of dairy product that isn’t exported? .  .

Yili and Westland “Cream Team’ create new product for China:

A cross-cultural research and development project has succeeded in harnessing the natural grass-fed goodness of milk from New Zealand’s remote West Coast into a product suitable for discerning Chinese bakers.

The product, Yili Pro UHT Whipping Cream, will be available to Chinese consumers this October.

Resident Director for Yili in New Zealand, Shiqing Jian, said the two-year collaboration between Westland Dairy Company Limited and parent company Yili had managed to overcome the inherent variability of grass-fed milk to produce cream with a consistency suitable for Chinese bakers.

Mr Jian said Yili’s growth as an international brand relied strongly on innovation and longstanding research and development investment. New product sales accounted for 16 per cent of Yili’s total revenue in 2020 with Yili now ranked the fifth largest dairy producer globally. . . 

Whittakers goes nuts for Canterbury with its new artisan block:

Whittaker’s has released its new Artisan Collection Canterbury Hazelnut in Creamy Milk Chocolate 100g block. Whittaker’s Artisan Collection celebrates New Zealand’s finest home-grown ingredients, and this is the first flavour that features premium produce sourced from the Canterbury region.

Whittaker’s Chocolate Lovers with a keen eye may have already spotted the block at their local supermarket. It is available now in stores nationwide and via online shopping and there is plenty to go around, so Whittaker’s Chocolate Lovers are encouraged to wait until their next planned supermarket shop to pick up a block.

Whittaker’s Canterbury Hazelnut in Creamy Milk Chocolate combines roasted Canterbury hazelnut pieces, sourced from Canterbury hazelnut co-operative Hazelz, with a silky smooth hazelnut paste and Whittaker’s 33% cocoa Creamy Milk Chocolate. . .

Country diary: the ups and downs of buying a retired shepherd’s flock – Andrea Meanwell:

I haven’t been to Ingleton since the 1980s, but the rocky landscape still inspires as much awe and wonder in me now as it did when I was a girl. We would come here on school trips to crawl into a cave or abseil down a pothole, but this time I’m here to discuss buying sheep from a retiring shepherd.

It is a difficult thing to retire and sell a flock of sheep, and it’s a difficult thing to buy one. I felt guilty for buying all of them, not some. And it brings to mind your own limited time as guardian of your farm. What will happen when I can no longer walk the length of the farm to gather sheep? Will I retire, or simply carry on doing what I can? Is the only realistic exit strategy death?

My mind is brought back down to earth as we arrive at the gate. I thrust my cash into my pocket and jump out of the car ready to look at the sheep. This will not be an easy conversation. How do you buy someone’s life’s work, their legacy? . . .


Central control freakery

02/07/2021

First they came for the polytechs, took away their independence and imposed central control.

Then they came for the health system and are in the process of imposing not one but two authorities with central control – one for Maori and one for the rest of us.

Now they’re coming for water, taking it from councils and imposing control from four new and much larger authorities.

One supposed benefit of the three waters plan is saving money, which is laughable:

The Taxpayers’ Union is slamming the removal of local democratic control over water assets and says that regional cross subsidisation is a recipe for gold plating and higher costs.

Reacting to the details of the reforms announced this morning, Taxpayers’ Union Executive Director Jordan Williams said:

“The claim this will save ratepayer money is laughable. It will see Auckland water users funding Rolls-Royce water treatment plants in the far north, and force gold plated solutions onto tiny communities. We don’t often say Phil Goff is right, but on this, he is bang on with his warnings.”

“Even worse, these proposals remove the ability of ratepayers to hold the water bodies to account. They’re going to be able to impose huge costs, without being accountable, even indirectly, to the communities who will pick up the bills.”

“The proposed matrix of committee and iwi governance is a bugger’s muddle.”

“The claim that councils will still own the assets is worthless and true in name only. They won’t be able to do a thing to sack or govern the water assets local communities have paid for.”

The Minister said ratepayers would save money. If councils are no longer responsible for three waters they might. But if water charges aren’t levied on ratepayers they’ll be levied on water users or taxpayers.

The bill might come from a different entity but we’ll all still be paying, and almost certainly paying more than we do now.

That is just one reason the proposed water reforms are unconvincing:

While there’s a clear case for change in our Three Waters sector the Government’s plan isn’t compelling, and the model of four regional entities comes with several problems, National’s Water spokesperson Simon Bridges says.

“The problems with Three Waters are complex, National recognises that, and we understand the need for change. But the proposed solution will end up with more problems than solutions.

“The benefits of scale are not convincing. Water services are not like the power grid – they are individual assets that are distanced and difficult to network. Yet the whole premise of four water entities assumes significant scale benefits.

“The result will be large service organisations that won’t work together or create any savings. The last thing New Zealanders need is more bloated bureaucracies.

“We have yet to see a thorough implementation plan. How will the water assets of communities like Kaikōura and Bluff, some 800km apart, be practically networked and merged into one entity?

“Ratepayers face losing local control of the assets they’ve paid for over generations, while being asked to foot the bill for poorer-performing neighbours – all while getting no guarantee that the service will materially improve,” Mr Bridges says.

Local Government spokesperson Christopher Luxon says meanwhile the Government’s relationship with councils is unravelling by the day.

“Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta’s officials have been busy eroding any goodwill from councils, running negative ads claiming councils are doing a bad job managing Three Waters and refusing their requests for information. Mayors and councils say they are feeling dumped on and undermined.

“Council confidence is falling. Whangārei District Council has been the first to pull out before the programme has even got off the ground. The mayors of Auckland, Christchurch and Napier are making the same sounds.

“The reforms were designed to be voluntary for councils but if more continue to opt-out, there is a very real risk the Minister will make participation compulsory and force councils to surrender their water assets.

“National supports a water regulator with greater power to set and enforce standards.

“We believe we should be enhancing Three Waters capability and incentivising change where it is led locally and able to happen organically – not mandated by the Beehive.

“These reforms are showing the same ‘we know best’ attitude and amalgamation agenda that we’ve seen from the Labour Government in vocational education and DHBs. Change must be led by councils and communities,” Mr Luxon says.

The water reforms, like those imposed on polytechs, punish the good performers.

There is a better way than central control freakery:  leave the good performers to carry on as they are and  help the under-performers follow the examples of those councils that are doing so much better.

While doing that, require auditing of local authorities to not only look at finances but infrastructure too. That way repairs, maintenance, upgrades and replacements won’t be able to be overlooked in favour of other less essential, but possibly more politically attractive, projects.


Quotes of the month

01/04/2021

I can see we’re slowly moving into the post-kindness phase, where instead of being a team of five million, we are hearing that people just need to be compliant, But the danger I see is that if we are forcing people to be compliant, then what does that look like when the vaccine rollout happens and half the community refuse, because it’s being forced on them. So we’ve got to be careful how we communicate things. – Fa’anana Efeso Collins

These new language codes and norms are mandating us to adopt doublespeak. Why do I need to describe myself as a ‘cis woman’? I am a woman; that is it — enough. I am not a uterus holder, nor a person with a vagina nor a chestfeeder. These are linguistic abominations, but they are not harmless. Ultimately, these body part descriptions demean women and are a linguistic assault on the notion that biological sex exists at all. – Baroness Claire Fox

Something very different has taken hold within a few short years when it comes to thinking about what it means to be a woman. We have stopped thinking. The trans movement has decreed that ­biology is no determinant of womanhood. Many within this ­social justice movement assert that there is no room for debate, and that if we dare to try to discuss it, or challenge their diktats, we should expect the same vitriol, abuse and public shaming heaped on JK Rowling last year.

What is unfolding is the antithesis of inclusivity and tolerance. Worse, it marks a disturbing detour from progress. Surely, our ­desire to support trans men and women need not be done by eliminating the reality of women’s biological identities? – Janet Albrechtsen

If men advocated for the erasure of female biology from laws, policies and other official forms of language to suit them, most women would be screaming to high heaven about the misogyny of that project. But when a small group of trans activists call for the elimination of ­female biology from language, laws and sport, there is cowering silence.

Do we understand what is at stake? The move to eliminate the biological woman from the English language is worse than book burning. It is more damaging than toppling statues, censoring art, cleansing words from The Adventure of Huckleberry Finn and removing dialogue from our TV screens’ clips of Fawlty Towers.

It is altogether different from adding “Ms” to the list of titles for women or swapping “chairman” with “chairperson”. Language has always adapted to new times. We have moved on from the language of Beowulf and Chaucer.  – Janet Albrechtsen

Expunging female biology from our language is the state-sanctioned humiliation of women. When carried over into laws, it makes it harder for women to be safe in public toilets and prisons, and impossible for women to compete fairly in sport.

We women talk among ourselves about being mentally “undressed” by men. Now we face something worse being done, not to a single woman, but en masse: all biological females, tiny tots included, are being told by parliaments and bureaucracies that our female biology is to be stripped away from us, treated as a matter of inconsequence in the eyes of ­bureaucracies and the law. Stamping out our intrinsic biological identity is an abomination akin to stripping the sexual identity from gays or the religious identity from Christians or Muslims or Sikhs. – Janet Albrechtsen

But what if it is not a fleeting moment of nonsense? What if the project to decouple women from their biology is more long-term? When we agree to demands to ­dehumanise half the population by stripping away their biology, we dehumanise the whole of society.

It will make it easier to strip other groups from the essence of their beings. Isn’t that the lesson of slavery, of apartheid, and of ­ongoing racism? – Janet Albrechtsen

If we, as women, cannot defend our biological being, what will become of women? If we, as adults, cannot talk openly about the ­explosion of gender dysphoria among children, how can we know we are doing the right thing by children? We at risk of conducting a giant social experiment without enough careful analysis of what is happening.

The darkest side to the project to kill off a woman’s biological self is not what has happened to date. The most dangerous part put about by many within the trans movement is that there is no space for women to defend their biology, and no room for debate when it comes to gender dysphoria.

It signals a form of ideological tyranny that, in light of recent history, those living in the 21st century ought to be well equipped to recognise and resist. – Janet Albrechtsen

If farmers are to face a price for their agricultural emissions, it’s only fair they get credit for their action already taken to date on greenhouse gas emissions, such as reductions and sequestration. Sam McIvor

Two months in, third breach. Second lockdown in February. We don’t have this, it’s not eliminated. Our response isn’t good, the attitude is all wrong. This is a lazy, complacent government, whose major energy expenditure involves defending their ineptitude and trying to explain why things keep going wrong. Mike Hosking

Actually, if we are to assign blame, I blame the ineptitude of the Ministry of Health. The handling of this latest cluster has been a shambles. It’s been bungle after bungle. Slack contact tracing, ineffective communication, this ‘high trust’ model they keep running has been shown up for what it is – a disaster. High trust, low enforcement- which seems this governments mantra for everything these days, has proven detrimental and extremely costly to every New Zealander. We are in lockdown because of someone ignoring the rules, yes, but it’s the Ministry who’ve dropped the ball here. And they know it.Kate Hawkesby

We didn’t hustle hard enough to get to the front of the vaccine line, we are not vaccinating fast enough, our contact tracing is not gold standard – emailing people who don’t respond and waiting for them to spread the virus further before acting is not a proficient way to handle anything. We have fiddled while Rome burns. All we are left with when leaderships sit on their hands is knee jerk reactions, waiting until the horse bolts before trying to fix anything. It’s an incompetent way to run things, and now each and every one of us is paying the price for that. Kate Hawkesby

Being kind to someone who has a test, is told to stay home, has the symptoms and goes to the gym, I’m sorry but how is that being kind to everyone else. – Judith Collins

I’m sorry but by Jacinda Ardern’s own standards she has done ‘the worst thing’ for the economy. The government cannot take the glory when they get things right but deflect the blame others when they get things wrong. They got this wrong and this lockdown is a result of their own mistake. – Heather du Plessis-Allan

How then should the “Left” respond to the radical programme of social and cultural reforms about to be imposed upon the population from above by institutions of the New Zealand state? It is at least arguable that the changes planned by the Human Rights Commission and the Ministry of Education are analogous to the economic reforms formulated by Treasury and Reserve Bank officials in the early-1980s. As with those measures, there is next to no evidence of ordinary voters clamouring for the changes proposed. In 2021, those calling for restrictions on free speech, or compulsory “Unmake Racism” courses for schoolchildren, are as few and far between as working-class voters calling on Labour to embrace Thatcherism in 1984. – Chris Trotter

Let’s stop being grateful for lockdowns. They’re not a sign of success. They’re a sign that things are getting too hard for the Government to handle. – Heather du Plessis-Allan

A population that hesitates not to cry in public is likely to be also a population of many frauds, of many actors and actresses, and of many liars. More dangerously, it will be a population without the capacity for real self-examination; many will no longer be able to distinguish between minor inconvenience and real tragedy, between slight loss and real grief, not only in others but in themselves. It will be a society in which tears will be not only an argument, but a conclusive one; and the more tears the more conclusive. – Theodore Dalrymple

People think empathy is that thing where you feel everything that someone else is feeling. It’s not. It’s when you take what somebody else is feeling, you hold space for it, and then you give it back to them. It just means you hold space for them, and that can look like holding your tongue, because you don’t know their life or their experience. Withholding judgement or opinion, making space for their life, because it’s different from yours. – Jackie Clark

Our rich Kiwi culture that once-upon-a-time encouraged personal responsibility, educational success, and financial independence, is being replaced with a culture of feel-good collectivism that has over the years resulted in social and economic decline. – Muriel Newman

The problem is not the people. It’s the system. Blaming the people is a sly way to avoid responsibility. A well-designed system understands that people make mistakes. Understands why the rules get broken, then creates incentives to comply. – Josie Pagani

We’re hearing calls to punish the people that the system is failing. We should focus on the people who are making the system fail. – Josie Pagani

All Kiwis should accept there is still some negative flow on from the previous colonial era.  None of these challenges should be beyond the wit of governments.  However, they should stop naively entrenching iwi powers in statutes, because that will end badly one way or the other, and New Zealand will lose its credibility as a quality democracy, with the same rights for all.  It’s democracy or partnership – we cannot have both. – Barrie Saunders

The mills of political correctness grind exceeding fine, though unlike those of God or justice, they also grind rather fast. Nothing is too small or insignificant for them, nothing can hide from them for long. – Theodore Dalrymple

Pregnant people? What kind of people? Women, surely? But it seems than the word women, at least in certain contexts, has become some kind of insult, as strenuously to be avoided as another well-known insulting epithet. – Theodore Dalrymple

The lie is that there is no biological difference between men and women, a lie that has been adopted in the most cowardly possible fashion because of the activity of a very small but ruthless pressure group. In Britain, people (not only pregnant people) may change their sex on their birth certificates, a revision of history at which even Stalin might have balked. – Theodore Dalrymple

To abandon the locution ladies and gentlemen because there are no ladies and no gentlemen any more, in the sense that we have all become unmannerly brutes, is different from abandoning it because there might be a transexual in the building, or rather (since transsexuals want to be ladies or gentlemen), a person of the many indeterminate genders that have recently been discovered or acknowledged to exist. – Theodore Dalrymple

And thus, before long, we shall all call pregnant women people who are pregnant, and adopt whatever other absurd and sinister locution the pressure group du jour dreams up, until no one can tell the truth any more because the very concept of truth will be despised. – Theodore Dalrymple

Basically, they — like many — want the Prime Minister to get beyond the current flannel and sloganising and ensure in-depth detail is put in public so that business can make strategies and fall-back plans for keeping their firms moving forward during and after this pandemic. – Fran O’Sullivan

Underlying there is a suspicion — based on the revelations of bureaucratic incompetence exposed in the Simpson Roche report, that sensible strategies are not in place. – Fran O’Sullivan

Here’s the thing. Councils are elected to represent the interests of all citizens. They are required to follow processes laid down in law to ensure fair and equal treatment. Once they start going outside those processes to humour a privileged interest group – whether it’s one based on ethnicity or any other characteristic – then they invite public contempt and distrust. It’s not how democracy is supposed to work. – Karl du Fresne

The thing with the pantomime of politics is that your facts are only as strong as your ability to get the information across to the people. And there is a growing disconnect between the sentiment of the people and what the Government is trying to say. – Damien Venuto 

Any entertainer who has lost the audience will tell you that you need to tweak the script if you want to get their eyeballs back on you. Failing to do so just leads to a growing stream of people heading for the exit door – and most of them won’t bother to look back to offer a loving nod acknowledging how good the show once was. – Damien Venuto

It is a stain on New Zealand’s otherwise very good international reputation for the standards of our parliamentary democracy. – Nick Smith

This legislation is a solution in search of a problem. There is simply no problem with party defections in New Zealand. – Elizabeth McLeay

The Electoral (Integrity) Amendment Act 2018, is a convenience for some of the living. It betrays the dead, who put in place democratic safeguards for us, at some great cost in some cases. – John Anderson

But here’s the key fact: per capita income in New Zealand is a mere three-quarters of the level in Australia. And over a very long time, there has been no significant narrowing of this gap. – Judith Sloan

But let’s face it, four-fifths of two-thirds of nothing is nothing. And that’s the level of interest the world is generally taking in New Zealand’s self-destructive climate actions – Judith Sloan

Ignoring the value of natural fibre carpet is an example of not seeing the wool for the trees. – Jacqueline Rowarth

We should be very suspicious of the word “safety” when used in this type of context. It has become another cover for the Stalinist authoritarianism that infects public discourse and seeks to silence and marginalise dissenters. “Unsafe” used to apply to situations where one’s health or physical wellbeing was at risk. Generations of New Zealanders grew up being told that it wasn’t safe to play with matches or go too close to the water. Then we started hearing the phrase “cultural safety”, especially in the context of health care. An invention of neo-Marxism, it broadened the definition far beyond its traditional and accepted meaning.  – Karl du Fresne 

At the dawn of the Internet era, we were encouraged to think of social media platforms as anarchic and liberating. They were supposed to free us from the shackles of the “old” media, where editors (who were routinely caricatured as old, conservative white men) served as gatekeepers controlling the dissemination of news and comment. That promise now stands exposed as fraudulent; a giant con. Many social media platforms have turned out to be far more controlling and authoritarian than the despised “legacy” media they displaced, which were committed to principles of fairness, accuracy and balance. – Karl du Fresne

Don’t be fooled by seductive talk of the government wanting to subsidise “public interest” journalism. Any journalism that provides citizens with “the information they need to make the best possible decisions about their lives, their communities, their societies and their governments”* is, by definition, public interest journalism.  But when used by left-wing academics in journalism schools, the phrase has a much narrower and more ideological meaning. In that context, “public interest journalism” is code for journalism that attacks power structures – that “comforts the afflicted and afflicts the comfortable”, to use a definition much favoured by those who see journalism principally as a form of activism, and who believe the only journalism worth supporting is that which has an ideological purpose. – Karl du Fresne

The media needs more balance in coverage and a wider range of viewpoints represented in every newsroom, at every level and in each position. – Kari Lake

I don’t really want to dictate to my kids what they should be, but if there’s anything I could encourage in them it’s just to be a good, loving person.  Yeah, just love. That’s the most important thing to me. – Te Moananui-ā-Kiwa Goddard

There’s all this ‘real boys don’t cry’ bullshit, who can drink more beer at the pub, disrespect women, sleep with as many as you can. I tell them the strongest warrior is the one that loves his mum, because they will fight for her till the end. – Reweti Arapere

I’m not just there to pay the bills, to make sure my kids have what they need. I’m there to provide an example to them that they can take to their children, and the generations to come that I may not even meet. Lyall Te Ohu

I want my kids to know it doesn’t really matter where you go or what you do, as long as you’re conscious of people, and you treat them with respect. Have your mana intact. And when I say mana, I mean pride. I mean, resilience, I mean, always being who you are. – Te Moananui-ā-Kiwa Goddard

You know, in our diversity, we could probably see each other’s beauty, if we only just paid attention.  There’s beauty everywhere. As long as you’re looking. – Te Moananui-ā-Kiwa Goddard

The Prince of Sighs and the Duchess of Self Delusion have committed their ultimate act of folly. They should have remembered the saying “people in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones”. And boy, has their house turned out to be glass of the least durable kind Petronella Wyatt

The woman believes herself to be a swan among swans, the physical, moral and intellectual peer of such great figures as Emmeline Pankhurst, Audrey Hepburn and Mother Teresa. Where self-knowledge should be is a hole so large it could be filled by a new galaxy – Petronella Wyatt

But when you’re on top of a mountain you’ve only done half the job, getting down is the other, so you have to remain focused on the job and don’t let yourself get too carried away with the situation. –Don French

There is some incredulity within Government circles about how much good publicity New Zealand’s Covid-19 vaccine rollout has generated. Behind the scenes, the feeling is, it is not warranted. In reality, it is a secretive, sluggish spin-fest. – Andrea Vance.

It seems another 1000 families have lost their livelihoods because health authorities weren’t able to show Case M pictures of cases A-L and ask, “Do you know any of this lot?”It seems another 1000 families have lost their livelihoods because health authorities weren’t able to show Case M pictures of cases A-L and ask, “Do you know any of this lot?”  Matthew Hooton

Revealed since has been a communications and perhaps operational shambles in South Auckland. The sick, the possibly sick and the general population have been given inconsistent or inaccurate information by government and health officials, using language and channels more suitable for multiply-degreed, upper-income, monocultural Wellington bureaucrats than the glorious ethnic, linguistic, educational and socio-economic diversity of South Auckland. – Matthew Hooton

It’s a tricky scenario, she should be up for it. Any Prime Minister should be up for it. As a publicly elected official you are asked to be held to account. So, it stands to reason you, at least, put yourself up, even if you don’t enjoy it or at times struggle with the complexity or detail of the question line. It speaks to a lack of backbone that she would want to bail and run. It also speaks to an increasingly apparent trait; they don’t handle pressure well.Mike Hosking

Being held to account is not something a politician can take or leave.  – Heather du Plessis-Allan

Think about it, Jacinda Ardern’s the accidental Prime Minister.  This rookie leader, plucked from obscurity in the lead-up to the 2017 election, was appointed by Winston Peters simply because she gave him much more than what Bill English was prepared to wear.  Barry Soper

She’s the master of soft, flattering interviews and television chat shows, blanching at tough questions.  She’s commanded the Covid pulpit to such an extent that the virus has become her security blanket; without it, she’d be forced to face the reality that her Government has been moribund. The Prime Minister’s press conferences usually begin with a sermon – it took eight minutes for her to get to the fact that she was moving the country down an alert level last Friday.  When it comes to question time her forearm stiffens and her hand flicks to those, she’ll take a question from.  Some of us are left barking from the side lines. –  Barry Soper

I feel like we’re witnessing a new normal these days when it comes to the media landscape and how people in positions of power are held to account. The new normal is to choose when to be held to account, and by who. – Kate Hawkesby

Forget the messenger, and whether you like them or not, politicians owe voters answers. They have to be heard across a wide spectrum of outlets, not just those who’ll favour their political view. – Kate Hawkesby

Hello? Anyone at home? You and I pay for this place. The government runs it and at no point the Prime Minister dictating terms to what I thought was still claiming to be an independent operator draws attention? Are the media literally asleep? Or just so compliant, and apologetic to Labour, that this is their dream scenario?Mike Hosking

Like her or don’t like her, like me or don’t like me. That’s not the point. The point is to be Prime Minister, you have to be up for it. You have to be willing to be up for it. You have to defend your corner. You have to argue your corner. You have to know your facts. You have to deal with people like me.Mike Hosking

But there’s something else going on, too, something that goes far beyond Harry falling out with his dad or Meghan vs Kate. More fundamentally we’re witnessing a culture clash. A conflict between the contemporary cults of victimhood and identity politics, as now keenly represented by Harry and Meghan, and the older ideals of duty, self-sacrifice, stoicism and keeping your shit together, as embodied by the queen, and as aspired to by most Brits in recent decades. Brendan O’Neill

That’s the great irony of Harry and Meghan juxtaposing themselves to the monarchy, and being witlessly cheered on by the left for doing so: these two behave in a far more old-world monarchical fashion than the queen does. Their punishment of the disobedient media; their conviction that they must instruct the rest of us on how to live, how to travel, how many kids to have; their eye-wateringly arrogant mission of ‘building compassion around the world’ – they make the actual British monarchy, politically neutered by centuries of political progress, seem positively meek in comparison. – Brendan O’Neill

Power today often comes wrapped in claims of suffering. Publicly professed weakness is a precursor to dictating to everyone else that they must open up, change their attitudes, become more ‘aware’. Victimhood is the soapbox from which the new elites, whether lip-trembling politicians or ‘suffering’ celebs, presume to instruct society at large about the right way to think, emote, feel, be. – Brendan O’Neill

Even a republican like me can see there is nothing progressive in the current rage against the palace. That there is nothing to celebrate in the shift from a world of self-control and stoicism to one of incessant self-revelation, and from a democratic era in which the power of monarchy had largely been curbed to a new, woke feudalism in which a select few wield extraordinary cultural influence over the rest of us. These developments harm the freedom of the mind and our sense of moral autonomy, by always cajoling us to bow down to the cult of emotionalism, and they shrink the space for open, democratic debate by investing so much power in the woke feudalists of Big Tech, NGOs, the Oprah set, and so on. Harry and Meghan aren’t fighting the establishment; they are the establishment now. Meet the new aristocrats, even worse than the old. – Brendan O’Neill

Individual autonomy should prevail. We should each person – each adult – look at the book and decide. – Juliet Moses

If we cannot sympathise or empathise with anyone who is not identical to ourselves, even in merely outward physical characteristics, then there is no hope of a country committed to any culture other than its own. Indeed, no country could tolerate difference within itself: it would be obliged to split itself into various Bantustans, to use an expression from the bygone age of apartheid. – Theodore Dalrymple

The whole family is saddened to learn the full extent of how challenging the last few years have been for Harry and Meghan. The issues raised, particularly that of race, are concerning. While some recollections may vary, they are taken very seriously and will be addressed by the family privately.Queen Elizabeth II

Reform should be about getting housing/land markets functional again, partly compensating some of the losers, and making housing once again something that young people don’t need to worry much about, all without messing up access to finance.  It is about fixing injustice now, and rooting out the systematic disadvantage, working against the young and the poor, that governments themselves created. – Michael Reddell

A wokester is someone who identifies with the wokeness of other woke folk and is likely involved in woketivism, principally through Woke Twitter. The wokest of the woke is a wokeflake who may take on the role of wokesperson for the purposes of wokescolding the woke-thirsty, who are those more interested in appearing woke than actually being woke. – James Elliott

Liberals don’t really know what to do because the most high profile complainant is Nicola Willis. As a National MP she is not, according to at least some libs, to be treated as a full member of the female gender in good standing. On the other hand, the sense of fear and unease she reports is ofte shared by women who are not National MPs (with whom it is okay to sympathise). Then there is the overlay of whether it is racially problematic for women to feel unsafe due to an increase presence of homelessness.The internal contradictions of modern liberalism make it impossible for libs to work through these issues and come to a coherent position. – Liam Hehir

Where politicians only speak to audiences close to them, there will be no tough questions, no hard talk and little to learn. And where journalists only interview politicians they like, they are in danger of becoming acolytes. – Oliver Hartwich

Fringe media promote fringe views. And fringe views create fringe politicians. Thus, the polarisation will jump from the media into politics. It does not have to happen this way. But to prevent this dystopian and polarised future, we must stop cancelling each other. As a nation, through and in our media, we should be talking to ourselves. – Oliver Hartwich

This Government can only hide behind Covid for so long before it must confront the real issues facing this country – the very issues it said it would resolve if it was elected.Kerre McIvor

One of the most important but least acknowledged psychological factors that affects a person’s way of being in the world is his conception of history. It can make one glad to be alive, or bitter and resentful against all that exists. These days, bitterness and resentment are usually taken as signs of enlightenment. – Theodore Dalrymple

Those who, for political reasons, keep past oppression or crime constantly before the mind of the descendants of the victims (that is to say, descendants of the victim group, not necessarily of the individual victims) help to foment and foster a deep mistrust or resentment that is no longer justified, but which can lead people in effect to cut off their noses to spite their faces.

This is to the great advantage of political entrepreneurs who surf resentment as surfers ride waves in Hawaii; and such resentment, the most damaging of all emotions, can easily become a self-reinforcing loop. It is not that past oppression or crime should be forgotten, much less denied, but that past achievements and change for the better must also be recognised, lest oppression and crime come to occupy minds entirely and distort decisions.

It is the same with injustice. It is important to oppose injustice, but just as important not to see it everywhere. To ascribe everything that you think undesirable to injustice may blind you to its real causes.  – Theodore Dalrymple

While the Government may – out of kindness – be handing over millions of dollars a day in emergency funding to families in need of accommodation assistance, it’s not doing anything that will materially affect the number of people who claim the payment. – Thomas Coughlan

Ardern herself is undoubtedly a kind person, but how hard has she tried to be kind in government? She’s gambled precious little of her popularity on measures that might make a meaningfully significant – not just statistically significant – difference to people’s lives. Holding on to that popularity isn’t just unkind, it’s selfish.Thomas Coughlan

I want us to reject ideology and blame in favour of a relentless focus on science and fact. I want us to choose constructive dialogue over condemnation. It’s my hope that one day, New Zealanders will once again appreciate and, in fact, be proud of our farmers and the contribution that we make to an innovative, thriving, sustainable economy and environment. That is my “why”. – Nicola Grigg

 Our economic growth must be export-led, and that includes the export of innovation. So let’s dare to build an export empire of intellectual property. Let’s sell to the world our clean-tech and our green-tech. The economic and social impact of the pandemic means we must dare to make some difficult decisions in the next decade. But first, let’s dare to stop deceiving ourselves that Governments can find solutions to every problem, or that throwing public money at a problem will make it go away. Nicola Grigg

The thing the public most wants from its Government is competence. When it does regulate, or when this House legislates, we should be drawing on the expertise already out there on the ground. If a Government truly wants to make it easier to earn a living, to address environmental problems, or to increase our exports, it needs to listen. – Nicola Grigg

 Innovation will require us to stop this close-minded mentality where we shut ourselves off from foreign investors and foreign capital. We must open our borders and open ourselves up to the world again. We need trade, we need investment, we need immigration, and we need the growth that these will bring. We need to go all out to attract the best and brightest from other countries to come here and make a contribution to New Zealand. This “fortress New Zealand” mentality will only continue to mire us in mediocrity, and it must stop. Mediocrity is the virus that we should be protecting our country against.Nicola Grigg

Health and education can’t be siloed from our country’s economic performance, our strategy for affordable housing, or the importance of providing a self-worth for our citizens. It’s all linked, and these challenges need action to sort out not only just the symptoms but the root cause of these issues. – Simon Watts

I was diagnosed as a type 1 diabetic at the age of 21 months old. I’ve had a lifetime association with a system that is blessed with passionate professionals yet plagued by broken decision making. It is time to fix that. We must fix that. We have the people; we undoubtedly have the resources. We must put individuals, families, and communities at the heart of decision making, not existing government structures and ways of doing things.Simon Watts

The importance of decisive, informed decision making was hammered home to me then, and that experience is with me now. And that experience resonates with the economic challenges that I see in my electorate and as a country as a whole, as we seek a path beyond COVID. An economic rebound that leaves the most disadvantaged behind and that locks young people out of work and home ownership is a mirage. It might look good in the business pages, but if it fails where it counts, in our homes and in our communities, then it’s not worth the paper it’s written on. – Simon Watts

Sitting on these benches isn’t an opportunity to indulge in our particular and individual interests. Being in Government is about getting the important stuff done and not being distracted from that task. Many, many people throughout this country are capable of making their own decisions. What they want from us is action on the things they can’t influence. Limited government creates laws; it builds frameworks and structures of better governance to support our communities; it is focused on the incentives that will enable the private sector to thrive and generate jobs; and, it takes a leadership role on protecting our environment. 

A better Government will focus on a bold, long-term infrastructure plan, ensuring Government spending is not wasteful, spelling out the returns to a nation of that investment, creating an environment that encourages local and foreign investment and ensures incentives align with the outcomes we want as a country. Let’s take on these challenges with the vision and teamwork to drive positive change beyond the next election. Our lives are not governed by three-year intervals, so why is our decision making? New Zealanders expect more of this House than that. We need to put in place the ideas today that will guide this country to 2040 not 2024.Simon Watts

Today the faith is spread not by preachers, or even teachers, but through the institutions that wield the most power in the 21st century; corporations, and their Human Resources departments. For the practitioners of what is generally known as “Diversity, Equity and Inclusion” are teaching nothing less than a modern form of political Calvinism, one that paints a pessimistic picture of humanity destined to be damned. And their strength is growing. – Ed West

There is also the difference between the totalitarian mind and the liberal mind; for the former, everything is about politics. What you do in your spare time has political implications, and so no area of life is free of political discussion. The traditional English cultural taboo about not discussing religion or politics in the pub reflected a deep-seated aversion to fanaticism; the idea that workplaces might be settings for political instruction would once have struck people here as positively demented. – Ed West

Universities are particularly vulnerable to this sort of activism, because by nature they are political. Many privately despair, including academics who aren’t especially right-wing; whatever your politics, conformism can become intolerable in a workplace. Talking about politics all the time is tedious. And activists can be disagreeable people. – Ed West

The companies hiring diversity consultants probably aren’t improving people’s lives, and they aren’t encouraging tolerance, let alone “diversity”; quite the opposite. They’re doing what people in positions of power have done since the first states were formed, ensuring that their gods and saints are the ones being revered by the subjects they rule. As for the individuals who do not believe in the new faith, they do what people in totalitarian societies have always done – they keep quiet and retreat to an inner world where the intolerance and conformity of the powers-that-be cannot reach them.Ed West

I started teaching in 1991. It is an incredibly frustrating system to be a part of – despite many, many good people being involved and some good intentions. The best analogy I can think of is that the system acts like a human with a pea sized brain, virtually no nervous system to communicate to the organs and limbs as well as being addicted to heroin and always looking for the next quick fix for political expediency. –Alwyn Poole

When the world moves quickly and dramatically, policy has to be nimble. The costs of policy being less than perfect were rather smaller than the costs of failing to act.  But too much of policy since then has continued on that same near-wartime footing. It is an approach that will not serve us well. – Eric Crampton

A government preferring to take advice from political advisers within the party – within their own echo chamber – over expert and objective official advice, is a warning sign that it’s not all beer and skittles in the current corridors of power. It appears that this is a policy informed by internal Labour politics, not sound economics. – Claire Robinson

Labour seems to think it can invent new euphemisms for breaking promises, and cross its fingers these will be swallowed whole by the public. Asked why he said in September that there would be no extension to the brightline test, Robertson claims he had been “too definitive” back then. How is anyone to believe anything he says from now on if he admits that sometimes he doesn’t tell the whole truth? This is dangerous territory for a finance minister, in whom the markets and credit agencies must have trust in if the entire economy is to be trusted. – Claire Robinson

I was a child in the 1980s, when the Labour Government embarked on a radical programme of restructuring the economy. Change was needed, but I can tell this House that change needs to be managed carefully. Those changes in the 1980s had a huge impact on many lives of people in the rural sector, with many farmers losing their farms or experiencing significant hardship. My stepfather worked on farms, but lost his job during that period and struggled to find more work. I recall my family going hungry during those times, and I remember days on end when we had no food to eat and going to the river to look for blackberries for food.

For a variety of reasons, my younger brother and I chose to leave home when I was 11 and he was nine. We’d planned to travel from Hawke’s Bay to the goldfields in Central Otago, live in old mining huts, and make a living panning for gold. We managed to get to Wellington, but we were stymied by Cook Strait, and ended up living for a bit over a week on the streets of Wellington, huddling together for warmth on cold, rainy nights in flax bushes, trying to figure out a way to get across that Cook Strait. Let me tell you that Wellington is a cold, hard place when you’re a child living on its streets. I remember this every day when I come to this House, and it serves to remind me that while I’m here, I need to do my best to ensure the policies that go through this House do not have unintended consequences that hurt our country’s children. – Joseph Mooney

 I strongly believe that the narrative of hard work and self-responsibility being the surest path to success is vital for the future of our country. We all need to do our bit to grow the pie, rather than trying to divide it into ever-smaller pieces. I know from my life experience that if parents don’t have jobs, kids go hungry. So it is one of the key responsibilities of Government to create a policy framework that empowers businesses, that empowers employers, and that empowers employees.Joseph Mooney

A strong and successful country depends on strong and successful communities, and those strong and successful communities in turn depend on strong and successful families, however those are constituted, which in turn depend on strong and successful individuals. The State is not an end in itself, but is a means of helping people achieve their own goals. – Joseph Mooney

 Let us be a nation that comes together and looks to its abundance of land and resources and enables our people to solve their own housing needs by building many more warm and healthy homes. Let us be one of the most productive and effective nations, and encourage and celebrate the people, the businesses, and the policies that can make that a reality. Let us be a people who rejoice in our great fortune to be fellow travellers under these southern skies, to celebrate our great collective heart and our practical, pragmatic minds, to treasure and celebrate the achievements of our people. For there’s more that binds us together than divides us in this land. Joseph Mooney

It seems it has become acceptable to stereotype those who have a Christian faith in public life as being extreme, so I will say a little about my Christian faith. It has anchored me, given my life purpose, and shaped my values, and it puts me in the context of something bigger than myself. My faith has a strong influence on who I am and how I relate to people. I see Jesus showing compassion, tolerance, and care for others. He doesn’t judge, discriminate, or reject people. He loves unconditionally.

Through history, we have seen Christians making a huge difference by entering public life. Christian abolitionists fought against slavery. Others educated the poor and challenged the rich to share their wealth and help others less fortunate. The world is a better place for Christians like William Wilberforce, Martin Luther King, and Kate Sheppard contributing to public life.

My faith is personal to me. It is not in itself a political agenda. I believe no religion should dictate to the State, and no politician should use the political platform they have to force their beliefs on others. As MPs, we serve the common cause of all New Zealanders—not one religion, not one group, not one interest. A person should not be elected because of their faith, nor should they be rejected because of it. Democracy thrives on diverse thinking and different world views. – Christopher Luxon

It’s not good enough saying you’re going to lower greenhouse gas emissions but not doing it. It’s not good enough saying you’re going to reduce child poverty but not actually doing it. Talking about it gets you a headline, but doing it makes a difference. I’ve entered politics because I want to make a difference, I want to solve problems, and I want to get things done.

New Zealand’s ability to become more prosperous and to enjoy a higher quality of life as a nation depends on the size and output of our economic engine. Just as growing Air New Zealand provided the opportunity for all staff to benefit, I believe that it’s growing New Zealand’s economy that will provide the opportunity for all New Zealanders to benefit. However, I believe that right now, New Zealand’s economic engine needs major modifications and serious upgrading.  – Christopher Luxon

I believe in tackling inequality and working hard to find that balance between encouraging hard work and innovation while always ensuring there is social mobility and a safety net. Every New Zealander who cares about other New Zealanders knows what that means. No matter your situation, I believe in a New Zealand that backs Kiwis to work hard, to convert opportunities, and to create prosperity for themselves, their families, their communities, and our country, because that is how we will make our country stronger. But I also believe that Governments must make powerful and targeted interventions on behalf of those with the most complex and challenged lives. With the right resources at the right time in the right place, the State can help people make positive and sustained changes that enable them to rise up and to realise their own potential.

Regardless of the different political that views we hold in this House, New Zealanders can all agree that we are incredibly fortunate to live in this place, and I believe, more than ever, if we make the right decisions, New Zealand has a great future ahead of us. We can do better and we can be more prosperous and more ambitious if we think strategically, solve problems, deliver results, and get things done. I don’t want to settle for mediocrity, and I don’t believe other New Zealanders want it either.  – Christopher Luxon

 I understand that the choices that every New Zealand family has at such times are constrained by their circumstances. I’ve come to politics because I want those choices to be better for New Zealand families. It’s by being more successful as a country that we can ensure that those kitchen table decisions include wider choices and better options for all New Zealanders.

The choices we all have are never made in isolation. The resilience and wealth of a student flat, a family home, a small business, a large corporate are all affected by how New Zealand is doing as a country. It’s my absolute belief that New Zealand can do better, and when it does, New Zealanders will do better, too.  We will all ultimately get the country—the economy, society, the environment—that we deserve, and I think we deserve the very, very best.Christopher Luxon

The one element that stood us apart from most of the community was our oldest sibling being intellectually handicapped as a result of decisions made during a difficult birth. This extended our world into the families, institutions, and bureaucracy of dealing with disabilities. This has continued for our family with the birth of our youngest daughter, Briony, who is Down’s syndrome.

Apart from that, my upbringing was pretty standard fare in a Southland rural community. We were neither wealthy nor poor. We understood the need to work hard but also to support those who needed it. We immersed ourselves in the community through school, sport, music, church and social activities. We learnt the value of family and community engagement and support. – Penny Simmonds

I also looked to our Southland rural sector. The economic bedrock of Invercargill and Southland’s wealth and prosperity, which survived the reforms of the 1980s and pulled itself back to a powerhouse, once more ensuring that Southland punches well above its weight, consistently contributing around 15 percent to New Zealand’s GDP, with less than 1.2 percent of New Zealand’s population. The South’s rural sector is justifiably proud of its long history of economic success. But our rural sector is facing significant threats that seem to ignore or not understand the unique climatic and geographic challenges to the southern farmer and that give no credit to the incredible progress already being made by farmers working together with scientists to improve environmental outcomes.

And I look to the threat of SIT—the organisation I had the privilege to lead—losing its autonomy and innovation, being swallowed up in the ideological mega-merger of institutes of technology and polytechnics.

While there may be better alternatives to the status quo in each of these industries, I know that the decisions must be driven by Southlanders to ensure the benefits stay in the South. The decisions must also be pragmatic and science, technology, and engineering – based; not reacting to emotive sound bites from people who don’t understand either economics or science.  – Penny Simmonds

I will be driven in this new role as the member of Parliament for Invercargill to continue my advocacy for the people, industries, and organisations of the Invercargill electorate. I come to the role with the experience of a farmer’s daughter and a farmer’s wife, a mother and a grandmother, an educationalist and a soldier for several years in the Territorials, a businesswoman, a community leader, and a sportsperson. But most of all, I come as a passionate Southlander who will not stand by and allow the place that I proudly call my home to be adversely impacted upon by poor political decisions. Our rural communities, farmers, SIT, our productive land, fresh water, and clean energy are worth standing up for. – Penny Simmonds

We all have the same goals with the environment, to look after our land and to be constantly improving. –  Kate Acland


Christopher Luxon’s maiden speech

25/03/2021

National MP for Botany Christopher Luxon delivered his maiden speech yesterday:

E te mana whakawā. E nga mana, E ngā reo, E nga mataawaka.

Tēnā koutou, tēnā koutou, tēnā tatou katoa e tau nei.

Mr Speaker, I rise today mindful of the privilege and responsibility it is to serve in this House of Representatives, and also as the last of the new intake of MPs in the 53rd Parliament to give their maiden speech. And while some time has passed, I want to congratulate all my parliamentary colleagues for their election success. I also want to acknowledge the work that all the parliamentary staff do to ensure this House and our democracy functions well for New Zealanders.

I am honoured to be the member for Botany. Because it is one of the most diverse communities in the country and is full of hard-working, determined and aspirational people. I want to thank the people of Botany for their trust. I will work hard for you.

Politics, contrary to what people say, is actually the ultimate team sport so I want to thank my tremendous team of local volunteers and supporters, many of whom are here today. In particular, the incredible Katja Kershaw, Lisa Ambridge, Jake O’Flaherty, Graeme Rayner, our Executive Committee and our outstanding Campaign Team.

To my children, William and Olivia, thank you for being so supportive, understanding and encouraging as I take on this new challenge. Our future is in great hands with your generation coming through.

And most of all, thank you to my wife Amanda. She is my best friend. We met when we were 15 and she is the most extraordinary person I know – strong, wise, smart, and funny.

Botany Electorate

Mr Speaker, MPs in this House represent different communities, and all of them together make up Aotearoa New Zealand. Botany makes a special contribution to our Kiwi mosaic.

From our mana whenua with their long connection to our land and sea; to the northern suburbs of coastal Cockle Bay, Shelley Park and Botany Downs; to the converted farmland and home to New Zealanders in Dannemora, Sommerville, Shamrock Park and East Tamaki Heights; to Flat Bush and Chapel Downs – some of the fastest growing residential areas in the country; and our proud Pasifika community in the southwest in Rongomai and Clover Park.

Botany’s diversity makes it special. Over half its population was born overseas and New Zealand is a much richer place economically, socially and culturally because of these communities. But whether you have lived 40 years in Cockle Bay or four years in Flat Bush, Botany people have all worked incredibly hard to get to where they are. It is that desire to get ahead, for ourselves, our families and our community, and our country that unites us regardless of our age, ethnicity, language and faith.

But like most districts, Botany has its challenges. East Auckland is already bigger than Dunedin and Tauranga, yet it is chronically under-served by public services. On behalf of those who voted for me, and of those who didn’t, I am committed to solving these problems.

Origins

Mr Speaker, let me share a little of where I come from.

My ancestors came to New Zealand as Irish miners and hotel keepers; they came as Scottish stonemasons and bakers; and they came as English farmers, labourers and fishermen. They were new New Zealanders too.

I remember and honour in this special place, my late grandparents, Bert and Clare Turnbull, and Fred and Joan Luxon. I thank my brothers and all my family members for their love and support. Nothing is more precious than family.

From my father – Graham Luxon – I learned to set big goals and to work hard to achieve them; to have a positive attitude and to never let your circumstances define you. He left school and worked his way up from sales rep to General Manager. He’s a real life MacGyver and a very present father. His enthusiasm and positivity are truly infectious.

From my mother, Kathleen, I learned about people, perspectives, relationships and I inherited my sense of humour. Mum came to university the same year as I did, to do a Diploma in Social Work. She has become a highly respected psychotherapist and counsellor. She taught me to walk across the room, to engage with people different from me, to see both sides of an issue and, in doing so, to broaden my horizons.

Faith

Mr Speaker, it seems it has become acceptable to stereotype those who have a Christian faith in public life as being “extreme”, so I will say a little about my Christian faith. It has anchored me, given my life purpose and shaped my values, and it puts me in the context of something bigger than myself. My faith has a strong influence on who I am and how I relate to people. I see Jesus showing compassion, tolerance and care for others. He doesn’t judge, discriminate or reject people. He loves unconditionally.

Through history we have seen Christians making a huge difference by entering public life. Christian abolitionists fought against slavery. Others educated the poor and challenged the rich to share their wealth and help others less fortunate. The world is a better place for Christians like William Wilberforce, Martin Luther King and Kate Sheppard contributing to public life.

My faith is personal to me. It is not in itself a political agenda. I believe no religion should dictate to the state and no politician should use the political platform they have to force their beliefs on others. As MPs we serve the common cause of all New Zealanders – not one religion, not one group, and not one interest. A person should not be elected because of their faith and nor should they be rejected because of it. Democracy thrives on diverse thinking and different world views.

Career

Mr Speaker, until now, my career has been in business.

My first job after leaving university was at the global multi-national, Unilever – a huge company that is bigger than many countries. I had amazing opportunities and a truly global business education. I spent 16 years overseas working in developed and developing countries, turning businesses around and working alongside some very smart people. I realised that down-to-earth Kiwis could be as good as the Oxbridge set from England, Ivy League educated Americans, and born-confident Australians.

I came home to New Zealand and had the great privilege of leading our most iconic company – Air New Zealand – for seven years. My team, many of whom are here today, turned a good New Zealand company into one that was truly world-class and globally acclaimed.

Over my career I have come to believe more and more strongly that successful businesses have a critical responsibility to engage on the economic, social and environmental issues a country faces. Making a difference to people’s daily lives is a shared responsibility for government, community and also business.

In my time, Air New Zealand employed 12,500 people. It was a cross-section of New Zealand life. As CEO, I had the opportunity to get things done and demonstrate that a business could do well by doing good.

For example, we decided that New Zealand’s shameful record of family violence was a workplace issue as well as a social issue. So we introduced a three-week paid family violence leave policy for victims.

The pay equity gap at Air New Zealand was reduced to zero and we introduced a 26-week paid parental leave policy. Senior Leadership Team positions held by women went from 16 per cent to 44 per cent.

We worked hard to grow career pathways and internships for young Māori and Pasifika. We worked hard to champion and mainstream te reo and Tā Moko. We earned gender and Rainbow tick certifications.

Air New Zealand was also a foundation member of the Climate Leaders Coalition. 100 per cent of our company car fleet became fully electric – and that was over five years ago.

When the business delivered superior commercial returns we shared those profits with our employees through a Company Performance Bonus. The principle was simple: when Air New Zealand did well, all our staff should do well too.

Mr Speaker, I understand, of course, that a country is not a company. However, New Zealanders look to the Government to get things done. It’s not good enough saying you’re going to lower greenhouse gas emissions, but not do it. It’s not good enough saying you’re going to reduce child poverty but not actually do it. Talking about it gets you a headline but only doing it makes a difference. I have entered politics because I want to make a difference, to solve problems and to get things done.

Economy

Mr Speaker, New Zealand’s ability to become more prosperous and to enjoy a higher quality of life as a nation depends on the size and output of our economic engine. Just as growing Air New Zealand provided the opportunity for all staff to benefit, I believe that it’s growing New Zealand’s economy that will provide the opportunity for all New Zealanders to benefit.

However, I believe that right now, New Zealand’s economic engine needs major modifications and serious upgrading. We are underpowered because our economy for the last 30 years has been suffering from a productivity disease. Economic growth has largely been driven by having more people in the country and more people working harder.

We need to work smarter, not harder. We can do this by building and unleashing genuinely world-class export businesses, step-changing education and labour skills, and delivering infrastructure better. Improving productivity is the single biggest thing we can do to improve our standard of living.

Some Kiwi firms are succeeding internationally but, frankly, New Zealand needs many more of them. Only two of our Top 10 firms on the NZX compete in global markets at scale. Yet New Zealand has many opportunities on which it can build its future. We are well located to access the rapidly rising middle class and urbanising populations in the Americas, Asia and Australia. The question is: will we take advantage of and fully exploit and convert these opportunities, or will they just pass us by?

New Zealand has not invested in skills, R&D and innovation to nearly the same extent as the high-performing, small advanced economies of the world. New Zealand’s rapidly falling international performance in the basics of reading, maths and science is extremely concerning. I worry not because of a graph on a league table but because of the strong link between educational attainment and higher wages. Higher wages and greater job opportunities underpin the choices that New Zealand families have in how they live their lives.

Automation technologies, which span advanced robotics, machine learning and AI, will unleash unimaginable change in our society and our working lives. When I chaired the Prime Minister’s Business Advisory Council, we looked very closely at both the opportunities and challenges greater automation presents New Zealand. It has the potential to help us work smarter and seriously improve our competitiveness and productivity. However, we are not currently geared-up for it. We need to build a bold plan with real actions to harness the opportunities and to ensure that large parts of our society are not left behind. The urgency can’t be understated.

Let me also talk briefly about infrastructure, which is at a crisis point. The issues are multi-generational and systemic. We need to reset and develop a new model to power the country into the 2040s rather than continuing to Band-Aid and No.8 wire our current system.

Infrastructure is not just about dams and transmission lines and highways. It’s about nation building. It’s about how we see our future. We need an overarching vision, new funding and financing mechanisms, upgraded legislation, and better project management and execution. Investing in world-class infrastructure that effectively connects, transports and develops information and ideas, people and products, is critical to New Zealand’s creation of wealth and the distribution of prosperity.

National Party

Mr Speaker, I am a proud member of the National Party. I believe that positive, practical centre-right principles and policies are best to navigate the challenges and opportunities that New Zealand faces.

I’m proud to be here under the leadership of Judith Collins and, like my colleagues, have built my personal and professional life on National Party values of freedom and choice, rights and responsibilities, limited yet better government, competitive enterprise, and equal opportunity and citizenship.

I believe in tackling inequality and working to find that balance between encouraging and rewarding hard work and innovation, while always ensuring there is social mobility and a safety net. Every New Zealander who cares about other New Zealanders understands what this means.

No matter your situation, I believe in a New Zealand that backs Kiwis to work hard, to convert opportunities, to create prosperity for themselves, their families, their communities and our country. Because that is how we will make our country stronger.

But I also believe that governments must make powerful and targeted interventions on behalf of those with the most complex and challenged lives. With the right resources at the right time, in the right place, the State can help people make positive and sustained changes that enable them to rise up and realise their potential.

Conclusion

Mr Speaker, regardless of the different political views we hold in this House, New Zealanders can all agree that we are incredibly fortunate to live in this country.

I believe, more than ever, that if we make the right decisions, New Zealand has a great future ahead of us. We can do better, be more prosperous, and more ambitious – if we think strategically, solve problems, deliver results and get things done. I don’t want to settle for mediocrity and I don’t believe other New Zealanders want it either.

Like most New Zealanders, I have sat around the kitchen table talking to my kids about the subjects they’re choosing to study, or talking to Amanda about the care of elderly or sick friends. I understand that the choices that every New Zealand family has at such times are constrained by their circumstances. I’ve come to politics because I want those choices to be better for more New Zealand families. It’s by being more successful as a country that we can ensure that those kitchen table decisions include wider choices and better options for all New Zealanders.

The choices we all have, whether at the kitchen table or the boardroom table, are never made in isolation. The resilience and wealth of a student flat, a family home, a small business or a big corporate are all affected by how New Zealand is doing as a country. It’s my absolute belief that New Zealand can do better and when it does, New Zealanders will do better too.

We will ultimately get the country – the economy, society, and environment – we deserve, and I think we deserve the very best.

Mr Speaker, that’s the work that I am committing myself to today, and for as long as I am in this House, I intend to represent the people of Botany and to serve New Zealand to the very best of my ability. Thank you.


Trampling democracy

22/02/2021

Fast forward to a future political cycle when National leads a government with Act’s support.

Neither party campaigned on radical changes to local government legislation but the government decides to make them under urgency.

It introduces a Bill that reinstates the right for residents to petition a council for a referendum on Maori wards and it goes further.

It adds a clause to allow people who own more than one property, a vote for every property whether or not they are in the same local authority area.

It then cuts the Select Committee process form its usual six months to six days and the time to lodge submissions from 20 days to just one.

Adding anti-democratic insult to authoritarian injury it advises groups it knows will support the move six days notice to prepare submissions for the Select Committee and alerts those it knows will oppose the Bill just one day before submissions are due.

Imagine the uproar that would ensue.

The Minister responsible would be pilloried by the media which would also give wide coverage to anyone who took issue with the Bill and the process.

Why then has there been hardly a ripple to the way Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta is doing exactly this:

The Government’s parliamentary process on its Bill to allow Councils to have separate Māori Wards has been a sham, National’s Local Government spokesperson and Electoral Reform spokesperson Christopher Luxon and Dr Nick Smith say.

“Electoral law is important as it determines how we are governed, yet the Government is running a sham process and giving supporters an unfair advantage through the short Select Committee process,” Dr Smith says.

“Labour cut the normal Select Committee process from six months to six days and the time for submissions to be lodged from the normal 20 days to just one day,” Mr Luxon says.

“What’s more appalling is that Councils supporting the Bill were told on Friday February 5 of the Bill’s timeline, that the Select Committee process would be exceptionally short and to prepare to lodge their submissions by February 11.

“Giving those who support the Bill six days’ notice and those opposed just one day would be called insider trading in the business world.”

“To have read the submission on the Bill in the timetable set by the Government, I would have had to read three submissions every minute with no sleep for three days,” Dr Smith says.

“Further, the Labour Chair told the Committee there was insufficient time to consider any amendments to the Bill, raising the question as to why the Government bothered with a Select Committee.”

“Labour is making a mockery of Parliament with this Bill. New Zealanders deserve a better process on the laws that determine how we are governed,” Mr Luxon says. 

The Taxpayers’ Union says the process has been so badly screwed the Bill should be referred back to the Select Committee:

The New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union is condemning Local Government Minister Nanaia Muhata’s decision to give local councils supporting her Māori wards legislation advance notice of the short submission process.

This decision was revealed by National MP Dr Nick Smith during Question Time this week.

Union spokesman Jordan Williams says, “The Minister gave her allies a five-day head start to prepare submissions on the Bill to entrench Maori wards. Meanwhile, members of the general public were given just one day’s notice to prepare for the disgracefully short two-day submission window.”

“The Minister knew perfectly well what she was doing. The decision to warn her mates before blindsiding the general public can only be read as a cynical attempt to manipulate the consultation process and limit the contributions of New Zealanders opposed to the Bill.”

“The Taxpayers’ Union has 60,000 subscribed supporters, thousands of whom would have likely produced personalised submissions on the legislation, had they been given the time. Instead, these voices were effectively silenced while the Bill’s allies were able to spend six days writing screeds for the select committee.”

“If a National Government did a favour like this for corporate special interests, Labour would rightly be up in arms.”

“This is a complete betrayal of the promise of open and transparent government. It shows a complete disrespect for not just the public, but Parliament as an institution. It undermines trust in the Select Committee process and justifies the Speaker stepping in so that public submissions are reopened.”

Local body elections are nearly two years away. There is plenty of time to go through the proper process of consultation.

That her government has a majority is even more reason to follow correct processes.

By using urgency, truncating the submission process and giving her allies nearly a week more to prepare than the Bill’s opponents, the Minister is trampling all over democracy and opening herself, and her government, up to accusations of acting like a dictatorship.

 


Theo Spierings to resign?

30/05/2016

The Australian reports that Fonterra CEO  Theo Spierings is about to resign:

Speculation is mounting on both sides of the Tasman that the Dutch chief executive of Fonterra, Theo Spierings, is about to depart the dairy powerhouse, with Air New Zealand chief executive Christopher Luxon earmarked as his most likely replacement.

Mr Spierings has headed New Zealand’s largest company for about five years; and last year he faced criticism as Fonterra’s Australian arm fell into loss making territory, triggering a sale of its Australian yoghurt and dairy dessert business to Parmalat Australia in a quest to return it to profitability.

But the talk of his departure comes after Murray Goulburn chief executive Gary Helou recently left the Australian dairy co-op following a shock profit downgrade.

The dairy industries in both Australia and New Zealand are wresting with the challenges surrounding a lower milk price, and in New Zealand, the difficulties are compounded by the higher New Zealand dollar. Speculation has emerged in the past month on both
sides of the Tasman that Mr Luxon has been earmarked as the next Fonterra boss, with a departure by Mr Spierings, who has 30 years experience in the industry, said to be close.

Sources close to Fonterra have dismissed the suggestions. . . 

International commodity prices aren’t under the control of a CEO.

A company culture and its communications are and both need improvement at Fonterra.

UPDATE:

An email to shareholders from Fonterra chair John Wilson says:

  • I have received a number of emails from farmers this morning concerned at the media speculation that  Fonterra’s CEO Theo Spierings plans to resign.
  • This rumour is completely untrue.
  • Farmers and shareholders would be the first to know if the CEO of their Co-operative had resigned.

 

 


Air NZ: fewer flights, more seats

12/11/2014

Air New Zealand has announced changes to its provincial routes.

It is stopping services to three smaller airports but introducing bigger planes with more seats to others:

Christopher Luxon chief executive of Air New Zealand has told customers the national carrier will stop service on seven of its domestic routes because of the cost of maintaining the regional fleet, while flagging a $300 million investment in new aircraft.

The airline will no longer operate out of the Kaitaia, Whakatane or Westport airports, as the cost of maintaining its 19-seat aircraft fleet has cost more than $1 million a month over the past two years, the Auckland-based airline told its airpoints customers in an email. Still, it had plans to boost capacity to other regional airports buying 13 aircraft for $300 million.

The abandoned routes between Auckland to Kaitaia and Whakatane, Wellington to Whangarei, Taupo and Westport, and the Palmerston North to Nelson service will end in April next year, while the Auckland to Hamilton service ending in February 2016.

“We’ve been carrying these losses while working with many regional stakeholders to improve the viability of these services, but despite best efforts, some routes are simply not sustainable,” Luxon said in the email. “In addition route withrawals we will be progressively winding down our 19-seat fleet and moving the remaining destinations to larger 50-seat aircraft requiring an investment of $300 million in 13 new and more efficient regional aircraft.” . . .

This has understandably drawn protests from the towns affected but how bad will it be?

Westport will be hardest hit with a drive of a couple of hours to the nearest airport – Hokitika.

The other two have airports within an hour or so and many people will already have trips of that long to their nearest airport, including many Aucklanders.

Oamaru, our nearest town,  had a daily air service until the 1980s. The District Council got them reinstated with a flight to Christchurch early in the morning and a return flight early evening. this allowed people to connect with other flights further north, do what they needed to do and be home on the same day.

We used the service a few times but then the timetable changed so it was no longer possible to go and come on the same day. Patronage dropped and the flights were canned.

Someone else tried flights again last year but they were expensive and not enough people used them.

Our nearest airport with routine flights  is Timaru, about an hour and a half away, Dunedin is a couple of hours south, Queenstown is about three hours inland and it takes about three and a half hours to get to Christchurch.

We usually choose that longer drive to Christchurch because there are more options and the flights are generally cheaper.

It would be convenient to have a viable option closer, but what would it cost and who would pay.

The choices are the people who use the services, subsidies by passengers on other routes or the company and its shareholders.

Air New Zealand has been criticised for cutting the flights when it made a $262 million profit last year.

But how many new planes or improvements in technology would that buy?

We need only look across the Tasman to see Qantas struggling.

Air New Zealand routinely does well in airline awards and it is profitable.

It wouldn’t have made the decision to cull uneconomic routes lightly and I understand why people who will lose their service aren’t happy.

But no handy airport is the price we pay for living where we do.

We shouldn’t expect other passengers, the company or shareholders to subsidise our choice but we should be open to the opportunity cuts by Air New Zealand could provide for other airlines.


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