Democracy locked down

25/08/2021

MPs are regarded as essential workers but the Prime Minister has decreed that parliament won’t sit:

The Prime Minister has advised me that she is unilaterally suspending parliament, Leader of the Opposition Judith Collins says.

“I have expressed that a one week suspension of Parliament is all the National Party will support. However, the Prime Minister has indicated that she expects it will continue longer than that.

“At a time when New Zealanders have the harshest lockdown in the world and have lost our freedoms because of the Government’s failure to vaccinate and secure the border, this move by Jacinda Ardern is unfathomable.

“Look around the world and you will see parliaments managing to continue to function despite challenging circumstances. In the UK they operated virtually for almost a year.  

No-one is suggesting all 120 MPs gather for business as usual but there are alternatives.

Just a few weeks ago the PM chaired an international meeting of APEC virtually. If it’s possible to do that, it’s possible to have a virtual parliament.

“There are important questions that need to be asked as to how Delta got into New Zealand. Suspending Parliament means the Government avoids this scrutiny.

“As Leader of the Opposition I will be reaching out to the ACT and Māori Parties to establish how best we can prevent this shut down of democracy at the very moment we need it the most.

“Additionally, Labour have resisted all calls for the recommencement of the Epidemic Response Committee. Jacinda Ardern clearly thinks that her actions and the actions of her Government should be beyond reproach and is moving to ensure that is the case.

“This is unacceptable and an overreach of power. It leaves New Zealanders with no ability to demand accountability and transparency from the Government.

“Clearly, despite her assurances to govern for all New Zealanders, Jacinda Ardern is unwilling to be accountable to them.

“The National Party will lead the Opposition to demand democracy is retained during this time of crisis. New Zealand cannot and will not become a one-party dictatorship.”

Heather du Plessis Allan is disappointed in the Prime Minister for refusing to allow the opposition the chance to properly scrutinise this lockdown and her decisions about it. 

. . . But there is no reason to refuse permission to set up the epidemic response select committee like Simon Bridges did back in the last level four lockdown. 

That was done via zoom. No one needs to travel. No one needs to congregate. It’s completely safe. 

Yet, it would allow the opposition to control who gets called in to answer questions, who gets to ask questions, and how long questioners get during that select committee. 

It is simply not comparable or good enough to rely on a bunch of existing select committees with labour MPs in charge. 

Especially when the health select committee, arguably the most important one right now, is chaired by the hapless Liz Craig who, along with other labour MPs on that committee, has been so hell bent on wasting time and frustrating Chris Bishop from being able to ask questions that she ended up reprimanded by her own teammate Trevor Mallard.  Does that fill you with confidence?   . .

Day by day as this government shows it hasn’t learned from past mistakes I have less and less confidence in anything it says or does.

The Prime Minister doesn’t need to hog all the media space. 

She already gets up to an hour a day any day she likes beaming straight into Kiwi’s lounge rooms. 

She already gets to pick and choose which media outlets she goes on in a bid to avoid hard questions. 

When she stops meetings from taking place via zoom It goes beyond a health-based decision and becomes a political decision. 

She is playing politics here while she pretends to rise above that. 

It is impossible to respect this decision and her for making it. 

Select Committees are sitting but they are chaired, and dominated, by government MPs. That makes them a very poor second to the Epidemic Response Committee (ERC) that operated so successfully last year.

One extra week of parliament not sitting might be excused but locking down democracy for more than this week without the ERC being reconvened or a virtual sitting of parliament would be an abuse of power.


Rural round-up

09/05/2020

Build more and be damned! – David Anderson:

Water storage is one of the keys to helping rebuild NZ’s economy in the wake of COVID-19, says Ian Proudfoot, KPMG’s Global Head of Agribusiness.

This was the message he gave to Parliament’s Epidemic Response Committee on the opportunities our food and fibre industries have to lead our national economic recovery.

“We have long been the developed nation with the greatest reliance on growing and selling biological products to the world to pay for our schools, roads and hospitals,” he explained.

“Now, more than ever, the industry recognises it needs to step forward to ensure that our country is able to maintain the living standards we have become accustomed to.” . . 

Drought relief ‘too little too late’ Hawke’s Bay farmer – Robin Martin:

A Hawke’s Bay farmer says the government’s latest drought relief package – a $500,000 fund for advisory services – is a “drop in the ocean” and won’t go far to alleviating struggling farmers’ problems.

Extremely dry conditions have hit much of the North Island and parts of the South Island in recent months and in some areas, including Central and Southern Hawke’s Bay, the situation remains dire.

Grant Charteris farms deer and beef cattle at Tikokino in Central Hawke’s Bay.

He said today’s relief package was a case of “too little too late”. . .

Telephone diplomacy to fight protectionism – Peter Burke:

Rising protectionism is one of the major concerns of New Zealand exporters in the light of COVID-19.

NZ’s chief trade negotiator, Vangelis Vitalis, told Parliament’s Epidemic Response Committee that as a result of COVID, many countries will resort to protecting their own economies. NZ exporters fear this will make it much harder for them.

Vitalis says exporters are also concerned about the logistics of getting goods to market, but they have praised the work done by MFAT, NZTE and MPI in keeping freight lines open. . . 

New farm safety initiative aims to empower women to effect change :

A new farm safety initiative aims to rally rural women to help save injuries and lives on New Zealand farms.

Action group Safer Farms has partnered with Australian woman Alex Thomas to bring the #PlantASeedForSafety Project to New Zealand.

The project profiles women from all parts of rural industries and communities who are making positive and practical improvements to the health, safety and wellbeing of those around them.

With the message “save a life, listen to your wife”, it aims to raise the voices of rural women and boost their confidence in their ability to influence change and to inspire others to make safer, healthier choices. . .

Quinoa growers urged to band together and take on the world – Nigel Malthus:

One of New Zealand’s very few quinoa growers is calling on his colleagues to band together to help market their product.

Andrew Currie, who farms near Methven in inland Canterbury, believes he is one of only three commercial quinoa growers in the country. He’s the only one in the South Island and the only one with a breeding programme of golden, white, red and black quinoa varieties.

He told Rural News if there is any good to come out of the current COVID-19 emergency, it may be renewed support for locally grown produce. Currie says the post-lockdown environment will be very different.

“New Zealand farming will be the strength of our economy. Some people will need to change occupation to more rural orientated jobs.”  . .

Ag’s critical role in post-COVID recovery a unique opportunity – Michael Guerin:

Although Australia is weathering the COVID-19 storm better than almost any other nation, there is no doubt that it has dealt us a sickening blow.

And the worst is definitely still to come, as the long-term economic, employment and social effects become apparent.

However, out of the tragedy emerges a unique opportunity for Australian agriculture to lead the country out of the COVID-19 doldrums.

The NFF’s “Don’t panic. Aussie farmers have your back” campaign was highly successful in reassuring the public that our robust industry would ensure the country could feed itself.. . 


Covid Cttee summonses re legality

06/05/2020

Repeated refusals by the government to release the legal advice on the lockdown has prompted action:

The Epidemic Response Committee has today summonsed all legal advice provided to the Attorney General, Solicitor General and Police Commissioner to be released, Opposition Leader and Committee Chair Simon Bridges says.

“The people of New Zealand have given up their freedoms for this lockdown. We all deserve to know what legal basis was for the lockdown.

“The legality of the lockdown is highly questionable, that’s what academics, lawyers and the law society have said to myself and the Epidemic Response Committee.

“There have been many questions about the way the Police have operated under lockdown. National has been calling for the legal advice to be released but this was refused.

“New Zealanders have a right to know what the rule of law is.

“The Government tried to block to the release of this information but we have fought for it to be made public.

“The Police Commissioner, the Attorney General and the Solicitor General have five days to comply with the summons from the committee.

“New Zealanders should be proud of the efforts they’ve made during this lockdown but they also deserve to know whether the lockdown was legal.”

The more draconian the restrictions imposed on us, the greater the need for openness and transparency.

This isn’t North Korea where good communication is telling the public what the leader wants the people to know.

This is New Zealand where good communication should be giving the media, opposition and the public answers to questions we all have the right to ask.

 


Social Market Economy explained

02/05/2020

The New Zealand Initiative’s Executive Director Oliver Hartwich presented to the Epidemic Response Committee on 23 April 2020, where he outlined his vision for New Zealand’s social, political and economic future.

Oliver recommended economist Ludwig Erhard’s principles-based approach to New Zealand, which Erhard called the “Social Market Economy.”

But what is a Social Market Economy? Our Research Intern Luke Redward explains all the details in this video.

Oliver Hartwich’s full speech to the Epidemic Response Committee is available here:


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