Organisation matters

November 7, 2017

Until just a few weeks ago, one of the big questions over Labour’s suitability for government was its inability to organise itself.

Those questions quietened when Andrew Little resigned and was replaced by Jacinda Ardern.

But Labour still hasn’t got it all together:

Ceremonies to open New Zealand’s 52nd Parliament have kicked off with National threatening to gatecrash Labour’s party over the election of new Speaker Trevor Mallard.

The election is normally straightforward and comes straight after all MPs swear an oath of allegiance.

However, things threatened to go pear-shaped when National MP and shadow leader of the House Simon Bridges asked whether MPs who were not present today and therefore not sworn-in could vote. . . 

However – in what is an embarrassing oversight for the new Government – at least five of its MPs were absent.

That meant it lacked the numbers to have Mallard elected, and things threatened to go pear-shaped when National MP and shadow leader of the House Simon Bridges raised a point of order.

Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Winston Peters and Trade Minister David Parker are on their way to Manila for APEC. Green MP Gareth Hughes was also absent.

“Where’s Winston when you need him?” Bridges taunted the Labour benches.

“Get used to it,” another National MP commented.

After hurried discussions between Bridges and Labour’s leader of the House Chris Hipkins, Mallard was finally confirmed as the new Speaker. . . 

National’s delaying proceedings can open it up to accusations of pettiness.

Probably only political tragics will take any notice.

But the government has a wafer-thin majority and it can’t afford to be sloppy over process.

Organisation matters for a party and even more for a government.

UPDATE: In discussion over Labour’s lack of a majority, National got Labour to agree to increase the number of select committees from 96 to 108.

UPDATE 2: Counting and calmness matter too – Labour did have the numbers but panicked when challenged.


Penalising efficiency

June 8, 2014

Federate Farmers President Bruce Wills:

. . .  The Green’s Gareth Hughes was using a verbal concealer since their plan to ditch the world’s most stringent Emissions Trading Scheme for a carbon tax wasn’t mentioned.

Not mentioning the tax to a farming audience. Was he too scared to do that or did he know he couldn’t answer the questions that would follow?

With Labour scratching the immigration sore ahead of the general election, the Greens are seemingly hitting their farming button. This may reflect the pressure they’re facing from the Mana-Internet hookup. Stranger bedfellows I have never seen but it is hellishly clever branding. Just as the word Green provides a cuddly cloak, covering up less than cuddly policies, the Mana-Internet Party is even more left wing but in the smart dress down clothes of a programmer.

All will be fine until Internet Party’s leader and spin doctor are publicly put on the spot with a highly technical question, like the relative merits of Dual stack, 6rd, DS light, 4RD, MAP-T, MAP-E. That’s when the cynical branding will be revealed for what it is.

And what is it? Not so much a marriage of convenience as a temporary odd coupling for electoral advantage in the hope the funder, Kim Dotcom will be able to escape extradition.

Meanwhile, the Greens’ rhetoric around agriculture maintains the illusion that agriculture is not in the ETS when we most definitely are.

From fuel to electricity to the famous number eight wire, all farming inputs are covered by the current ETS. While surrender obligations for farm biological emissions have been deferred, what Victoria University’s Professor Martin Manning told the Science Media Centre should be noted: “Agricultural emissions increased over 2009 – 2012 due to more export of dairy products. However, the longer term trend shows our CO2 emissions are increasing by more than those of methane and nitrous oxide from agriculture . . . substantial reductions in CO2 emissions are more important than changes in the other greenhouse gases.”

While biological emissions account for half of our emissions, that “more export” means we send offshore some 90 per cent of the food we produce.

There’s no free lunch because any carbon tax price would likely find its way into the retail price of milk among other staples. The targeting of farming also denies the reality that New Zealand agriculture has been cutting emissions in each unit of agricultural output by 1.3 per cent each year.

We’re also world leaders in agricultural greenhouse gas research. This makes a strange combination of the Greens’ view of farming as both fall-guy and cash cow.

Penalising our farmers for being the world’s most carbon efficient will not only reduce production and jobs but push production offshore to more carbon heavy farmers. Now where’s the global or local benefit in that?

While the Greens say sheep and beef biological emissions will be initially excluded, that’s an all-too obvious sweetener. In a carbon tax, sheep and beef farmers would still pay what they are paying now under the ETS and making them pay later for biological emissions is as simple as turning the regulatory knob.

Yet the reference to the cost of this economy of drought will stick in the craw of farmers who have been stung by Green Party opposition to rainwater storage. That includes the sheep and beef sector who are looking to water storage to reduce climate risk and improve business and farming models.

The differential tax treatment for biological emissions they propose may reflect that the Greens are starting to understand our farming system is world-leading in low carbon protein production. It is a pity they’re not yet ready to admit it.

 

The policy appears to be predicated on the stupid premise we must do our bit even though we are doing what we can through research and efficient production.

Our emissions are a tiny portion of the world’s. Adding costs and/or reducing production here will encourage our far less efficient competitors to increase it.

That would result in both environmental and economic losses.

 

 

 


Browning not wanted on Green voyage?

March 17, 2014

Paddington Bear had a suitcase labelled wanted on voyage.

The Green Party initial list  shows their agricultural spokesman Steffan Browning is not wanted on their voyage beyond the election.

He was 10 in 2011 and has dropped to 16 in this list.

The party currently has 14 MPs, they’d need a better vote than they got in 2011 if he’s to return to parliament.

1 Turei, Metiria
2 Norman, Russel
3 Hague, Kevin
4 Sage, Eugenie
5 Delahunty, Catherine
6 Hughes, Gareth
7 Graham, Kennedy
8 Genter, Julie Anne
9 Logie, Jan
10 Shaw, James
11 Walker, Holly
12 Clendon, Dave
13 Roche, Denise
14 Mathers, Mojo
15 Davidson, Marama
16 Browning, Steffan
17 Coates, Barry
18 Hart, John
19 McDonald, Jack
20 Leckinger, Richard
21 Rotmann, Sea
22 Moorhouse, David
23 Elley, Jeannette
24 Ruthven, Susanne
25 Perinpanayagam, Umesh
26 Perley, Chris
27 Moore, Teresa
28 Kennedy, Dave
29 Langsbury, Dora
30 Barlow, Aaryn
31 Lawless, Jennifer
32 Woodley, Tane
33 Goldsmith, Rachael
34 Rogers, Daniel
35 Kelcher, John
36 Smithson, Anne-Elise
37 McAll, Malcolm
38 Ferguson, Sam
39 Ford, Chris
40 Hunt, Reuben
41 Wesley, Richard

The 2011 list was:

 
1 TUREI, Metiria
2 NORMAN, Russel
3 HAGUE, Kevin
4 DELAHUNTY, Catherine
5 GRAHAM, Kennedy
6 SAGE, Eugenie Meryl
7 HUGHES, Gareth
8 CLENDON, David
9 LOGIE, Jan
10 BROWNING, Steffan
11 ROCHE, Denise
12 WALKER, Holly
13 GENTER, Julie Anne
14 MATHERS, Mojo
15 SHAW, James
16 HAY, David

Gareth Hughes and Kennedy Graham have swapped places from 2011.

. . . “The list we are releasing today is by no means final. It is just a useful guide for members all over the country to use when making their own personal selection.”

The initial list is put together by delegates and candidates who attended the party’s February candidate conference. Delegates were able to put candidates through their paces and evaluate their performance. The initial list now goes to party members nation-wide to vote on. The Green Party uses STV voting. . . .

The useful guide clearly indicates that Browning wasn’t rated highly by conference goers.

That view will be shared by most farmers who would not want him anywhere near the primary industries portfolio.

Frequent commenter here, Dave Kennedy is at 28.


Greens thin-skinned?

March 12, 2014

Shane Jones is unrepentant about insulting  a potential coalition partner and one of its MPs.

Labour MP Shane Jones says Greens are too thin-skinned after the party laid a complaint about his attack on one its MPs.

Greens’ head of staff Ken Spagnolo said he had raised Mr Jones’ comments with Labour head of staff Matt McCarten.

Mr Spagnolo said it was not a formal complaint, but he had told Labour that Mr Jones’ comments about Greens’ fitness to govern were “unhelpful”.

Mr Jones, Labour’s economic development spokesman, had criticised Green MP Gareth Hughes on Radio Waatea for “carrying on like a mollyhawk” in his opposition to offshore mining.

The comments earned him a telling off from leader David Cunliffe, who said that the comments about a potential coalition partner were inappropriate.

Mr Jones was unrepentant this afternoon.

“Is this the same Green Party that complains of Colin Craig being too thin-skinned?” he said.

“I’m from Kaitaia. I know it’s mollyhawk in the north. Further down the line it’s mollymawk. Now I could’ve got my names wrong but people should just loosen up.

“The thought that it’s led to a complaint, I’ll just leave the public to judge that for what it is.” . . .

Th Greens are often likened to watermelons – green on the outside and red inside but melons have thick skins.

Insulting potential coalition partners might not be helpful it you’re trying to appear like a government in waiting, but this does look more than a little thin-skinned when Russel Norman is refusing to retract his comments about Conservative leader Colin Craig.

It’s also a distraction.

Heads of staff are supposed to keep their heads down and stay out of the headlines.

If Spagnolo felt the need to raise the issue with McCarten there was no need to go public about it.

Jones was also in trouble for comments about Asian students.

Meanwhile Cunliffe confirmed he had spoken to Jones about straying outside his portfolio areas and using strong language to attack the Green Party.

But he had not been disciplined

“I’ve spoken to him. The message to caucus is …that all of us are consulting with our colleagues if we are crossing portfolio and manage our comments in a proper way.”

He said Jones was a much-valued colleague but occasionally his rhetoric crossed the line. There was a clear understanding not to attack potential coalition partners.

At the weekend Jones criticised the number of foreign university students – a responsibility that crossed the roles of Grant Robertson and Raymond Huo. Cunliffe said it was a heat of the moment debate comment and fully understandable. . .

This is straying into New Zealand First’s xenophobic territory. It also highlights tensions in Labour between its factions,  once more gives Jones more attention than the rest of his colleagues put together, albeit for the wrong reasons.


Wee parties spread too thinly

November 28, 2013

Green Party MP Gareth Hughes has been given an exemption from the party’s rule that candidates must contest electorates.

Instead, he will run in 2014 as a list-only candidate so he can focus on boosting the party’s youth vote. He stood in Ohariu in 2011, but the party has chosen Tane Woodley to stand there next year.

Most parties allow a few people to stand as list-only candidates and if Hughes was pulling out of Ohariu and not being replaced it would seriously threaten Peter Dunne’s hold on the seat by boosting Labour votes.

But since another Green candidate has been selected this isn’t a strategic move.

The announcement comes straight after yesterday’s news that the party’s co-leader Russel Norman is being challenged because the party had too few MPs in Auckland.

The Green Party is the biggest of the wee parties but both these stories indicate the problem they all face with fewer MPs and members.

They’re spread too thinly and can’t hope to have nation-wide representation in a geographical or a sector sense.


Can’t write, can’t count

November 13, 2013

Facebook exchange of the day:

Retweeted Gareth Hughes (@GarethMP):

Nice to have dinner with my kids at Parliament & then they came in & watched the debate. Some of the rules from kindy might of come in handy

 

  • XXXXXX “have”

  • XXXXXX That was why I re-tweeted it.

    The Barbarians aren’t at the gate – they’re inside, tweeting illiterately about their kids.
  • XXXXXXX Green grammar.

  • XXXXXXXX Gareth Hughes demonstrates the need for National Standards in literacy. How much do we pay these clowns?

  • XXXXXX Never mind the grammar. They got the vote wrong on a Bill tonight too. Can’t write, can’t count – they need a good dose of national standards!

A big loss is a good deal?

October 6, 2013

Quote of the day:

. . .In terms of repayment, the banks’ “equity” stands somewhere near the contractor who cleans the windows at company headquarters.

If the Green Party really believes that kind of ownership is a kind worth buying, then heaven help the taxpayer when it gets near the purse strings of the Treasury. . . Hamish Rutherford

He was writing about Gareth Hughes’s view that banks taking a huge loss with Solid Energy was somehow privatisation by stealth.

Does he really believe that accepting a big loss in the hope that it will prevent an even bigger one makes it a good deal for the banks?

If so he merely confirms that he and his party don’t understand finance and business.


Some chances should go by

July 22, 2013

The song says never let a chance go by . . .  and the Green Party obviously follows that advice.

Keeping Stock has a graphic over the name of Green Party MP Gareth Hughes making political capital out of the Cook Strait earthquakes.

If the  party eschewed all forms of transport fuelled by fossil fuels the message would have some credence.

But they’re prepared to use fuel from all sorts of places, many of which will have far lower safety and environmental standards than New Zealand so this is just a particularly opportunistic form of NIMBYism.
They’ll use fuel from someone else’s backyard but do their best to stop the economic growth and jobs which would come from extraction in ours.
There are some chances which should go by and this opportunity for a cheap political shot was one of them.

LabourGreen can’t win this one

May 3, 2013

The Mighty River Power float closes at 5pm today.

An experienced investor told me he’d written to David Shearer and Russel Norman thanking them.

Their power play was likely to depress the price so he’d get more shares.

Peter Sherwin at the NBR thinks the price is likely to be lower too:

Potential investors may now hold back because of confusion about the future of the power industry, uncertainty whether MRP will stag at a higher price and a fear the price will go down upon listing.

The lack of take up will dampen the listing price, which is more likely to be at the lower end of the scale, around $2.25 rather than the expected $2.80.

The Greens and Labour may have scored political points, but effectively they have slashed the government’s cash investment to fund health, education and infrastructure programmes. . .

So who pays the price for the opposition’s political gain? Every Kiwi, even those they claim to champion.

Professional and institutional investors will not be daunted by any of this and are making big offers, but with fewer “mum and dad” buyers they may not have to go to the market for as many shares when they are listed on May 10. . .

The investor I spoke to said much the same thing.

The LabourGreen power play was putting off first-time and small investors who had been planning to dip their toes in the water but now have cold feet.

The Hey Clint clip shows that Green MP Gareth Hughes thinks it’s funny. But Patrick Gower points out it’s not:

Now I know a lot of people watch “Hey Clint!” and find it funny.

But to me it showed much more than a bit of humour. It showed what we know – the Greens, like Labour, are trying to act like they are not gleeful that the policy is screwing with the MRP float.

In fact, it looked like Gareth Hughes was stoked. It was in the public interest to run it. No question.

It busted spin, in fact, it blew the spin apart.

It showed that the Greens, like Labour, are trying to come up with ‘lines’ to pretend that it’s not about wrecking the float.

And that’s fair enough; the Greens want to emphasise what they see as the good parts of the policy.

But, thanks to Gareth’s indiscretion, we could show what they really feel. . .

Putting politics before people isn’t the picture LabourGreen wish to portray.

They forgot that what’s good for the economy is good for people and their power play isn’t.

They can’t win on this one.

Support the policy or not, it’s in New Zealand’s best interest for the shares to sell for the best price.

If the float goes well their many attempts – most at the public’s expense – to counter the policy will have failed.

If it doesn’t, they’ll have cost the country millions of dollars.

Either way, they lose.


Green’s not for growth

May 3, 2013

The Green party is soliciting funds for its election campaign with an email that says:

 . . . National’s policies of more mining, weakening environmental protections, poor economic management and growing inequality are not the recipe for a fair society and a better future.

 In contrast to National, we have the ideas to deliver a richer New Zealand. . .

Green is supposed to be the colour of growth but these Greens are really reds promoting the policies that have failed in the past.

Take their plan to bring down the exchange rate. Prime Minister John Key says currency intervention and printing money won’t work:

. . . “It didn’t work very well for Argentina, or Venezuela or Zimbabwe and it could never be done in New Zealand at the sort of magnitude we’ve seen in the United States,” said Key.

As for the New Zealand dollar versus its United States counterpart, Key used a seesaw analogy.

“It’s a bit like being a seesaw and if I weigh 85 kilos and you weigh 170 kilos, I’m going to go up when you sit on the seesaw and you’re going to go down. And that’s really the situation we’ve got at the moment.”

“We kind of weigh 85 kilos and the United States weights 850 tonnes. Right up to this point it (the US) has been very unwell. It has got everything from aids to bird flu. It has really been pretty unwell so the market’s just massively adjusting what they’re doing.”

When people say the Reserve Bank should be printing money, Key said you wouldn’t do that with base rates – the Official Cash Rate – at 2.5%.

“All you do is cut interest rates for a start off. The second thing was even if you printed money, it’s never going to work. I think they’ve printed US$5.5 trillion in the US. I mean it’s massive. So what would we print? NZ$50 billion or something? It wouldn’t make an iota of difference.”

“So my view would be I know we want to get the exchange rate down and I know it’s hurting a lot of companies. But it’s a cycle you’re going to have to ride through and all the Government can do is control the things that are in our control. So get out there and reform the Resource Management Act, make sure we don’t spend too much money, make sure we keep pressure off interest rates, manage the place well,” Key said. . . .

The reds want to increase the burden of government, their policies will lead to higher interest rates and they haven’t a clue about good economic management.

. . . Furthermore, he said intervention in the currency markets never works.

Here Key cited an example from his previous career at Merrill Lynch, where at one time he was head of global foreign exchange. One of Merrill Lynch’s biggest clients was the Bank of Japan, which used to intervene in the currency markets through Merrill Lynch.

“To tell you how bad it got, one night we were sitting there and the Bank of Japan rang up and the US$-yen was about 90 or something and they didn’t want it to go down lower. And the guy said to me ‘I want you to start buying dollars at 90’. And I said ‘how many do you want me to buy’, and he said ‘well, I’m going out for three hours so I’ll give you a yell when I get home.’ And I said ‘yeah, but how many do you want me to buy?’ And he said ‘I’m going out for three hours, don’t you understand the conversation?’

“I bought US$4.5 billion in three hours. He said ‘where is it (the US dollar-yen exchange rate)’ and I said ‘it’s 90, you bought US$4.5 billion. And he said ‘ah, well I’m off to bed now give me a ring in the morning’,” said Key.

“It never worked, it just never worked. I don’t know how much money they lost on intervention but it was massive.” . . .

Who do you believe – someone who has worked in international finance and has managed the country through the global financial crisis or people who want to print money and whose power policy would have a chilling effect on on private investment? Rob Hosking writes:

. . . There is something essentially frivolous about anyone who would cheerfully rip up the value of some of the country’s largest firms, and the value of the investment in those firms, simply for a political positioning exercise.

This is why the exchange caught by TV3 between Green energy spokesman Gareth Hughes and party spin zambuck Clint Smith was so telling.

For those who missed it, Mr Hughes was asked if the party was pleased at the reaction: Mr Hughes paused, turned to Mr Smith and asked “Hey, Clint – are we pleased?”

It was telling that he even had to ask.

But the almost palpable glee coming out of the Green and Labour camps at the destructive impact of their policy is highly revealing. 

It underlines – not for the first time – the problem with the makeup of both parties. They are dominated at the MP and the staff level by the sub-genus homo politicus.

That is, they are full of people who have done nothing in their lives apart from politics. All parties have a complement of this group, but with Labour and the Greens the group has reached critical mass.

This group has been involved in politics at university, moved from there to various political/union offices and then into parliament. 

There is little real world experience and everything is viewed through a very narrow prism of political advantage.

It’s the sort of attitude which means the value destruction seen this week can be just laughed off.

There will, unless we are careful, be more such frivolous policies to come.

I would use a far stronger word than frivolous and the business community certainly isn’t taking it lightly.

In an open letter to LabourGreen they say the policy would harm jobs, growth and investment, causing interest rates to rise, reducing KiwiSaver retirement savings and making people less well off.

. . .Business shares your concerns about constantly rising power prices and their impact on our global competitiveness. Businesses and consumers work hard every day to minimise their spending on electricity in order to stay in business and

to make their household budgets stretch further.
However, we do not think that electricity policies based on subsidies and greater state control are the right answers. Such policies have been tried in the past and have been shown to be incapable of meeting the challenges of a modern economy
with a complex, real-time electricity market.
 
Putting aside the sheer complexity of their implementation, policies that protect businesses from the full costs of the inputs they use ultimately dull the incentive to innovate and make them less, not more internationally competitive. Reducing retail
prices below the full marginal cost of production encourages households to use more than they should.
Of particular concern with the policies announced is their chilling effect on investment across the entire economy.
 
We are especially concerned at investment analyst reports noting the potential for $1.4 billion of shareholder value to be wiped off the books of the private power companies. A similar amount, if not more, will come off the value of the public power companies.
 
 
Capital destruction on such a scale will severely undermine business confidence.
It sends signals to investors, on whom the New Zealand economy relies, that their wealth and the benefits it provides are not welcome.
 
Investment plans and job creation opportunities are foregone.
 
Rather than remote and intangible, this dampening of investment intentions will have a direct and real economic impact on those of all walks of life who seek to accumulate wealth by working hard to save, invest and grow. It causes interest rates
to rise, depletes retirement savings held in KiwiSaver accounts and means that other economic opportunities such as first homes are foregone and new business ventures as savings are unexpectedly reduced.
 
Individuals are less well-off as a result.
 
With the good of all New Zealanders in mind we ask you to withdraw these damaging policies. We offer to work with you in increasing public understanding of the operation of the electricity market and in ensuring consumers, both small and large,
have better choice from one of the increasingly competitive electricity markets in the world.
 
Yours sincerely,
 
 Phil O’Reilly Chief Executive BusinessNZ
 
Ken Shirley Chief Executive Officer Road Transport Forum
 
Catherine Beard Executive Director Manufacturing NZ
 
Ralph Matthes Executive Director Major Electricity Users Group
Chris Baker Chief Executive Straterra

John Scandrett Chief Executive Officer Otago Southland  Employers’ Association

Raewyn Bleakley Chief Executive  Business Central–Wellington

Kim Campbell Chief Executive EMA

Peter Townsend Chief Executive CECC

Michael Barnett Director  New Zealand Chambers of Commerce

These people represent people who employ people, the ones who need certainty and confidence to make investment that creates jobs, earn export income and pay taxes.

These are people who work in the real world.

They know there’s nothing funny about bad policy that would take the country backwards, cost jobs and make us all poorer.

They know that Green isn’t for growth and it doesn’t mean go.

Green economic policy is bright red and it will mean stop to economic growth and job creation.


Fifth rate speech rates fifth

January 29, 2010

One of the measures of a state of the nation speech is how much prominence the media coverage of it gets.

Was it a deliberate ploy by Jeannette Fitzsimons to exact revenge on Labour by announcing her resignation on the day Phil Goff tried to make himself and his party relevant?

Whether or not it was, two stories related to it and stories featuring Steven Joyce and John Key knocked Goff’s speech in to fifth place on the Stuff politics page:

Meet the Green Party’s new MP

A man once arrested while dressed up as Ronald McDonald is to be the new Green Party MP.

Driver’s licence cost could go up

 The cost of getting a driver’s licence is to go up, with more sweeping changes possible in future as the whole system gets reviewed.

Troubled youth visit hits Key

By MICHAEL FIELD – Stuff.co.nz

Prime Minister John Key has told how he and Prince William last week met a 15-year-old girl who had tried to kill herself the day before.

Fitzsimons resigns after 13 years

By TRACY WATKINS – Stuff.co.nz

Green MP Jeanette Fitzsimons has confirmed she will resign from Parliament with her efforts praised by PM John Key.

Cap salaries, Goff says

 Labour leader Phil Goff has called for a cap on public service chief executive wages so they do not get paid more than the prime minister.

Mind you, bottom of the list is about where a speech like this belongs.

His “many not the few” is more than a little rich when it comes from the leader of a party which spent three terms dividing the population into groups whose votes it could buy.

Even the attack on bludgers fails. Labour actively encouraged bludging by making dependent on government handouts so many people who ought to be able to cope with their own resources.


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