What they’ll need to do

12/07/2014

Vernon Small muses on one of MMP’s downsides – the need for coalition partners:

. . . In Cunliffe’s case, he can be relatively certain Internet-Mana will be there.

His bigger concern is the political Centre’s negative views of Harawira, his Left-wing allies and Internet founder Kim Dotcom – and more generally about the increasingly fractured Centre-Left vote.

Labour’s vote softened measurably after the Internet-Mana deal became known. It believes that was not because the new party took Labour votes but more because it was a bridge too far for floating voters to contemplate a four or five-way alternative government.

And Labour knows – because it has already started – that National will use that against it.

It is a difficult line for Cunliffe to walk. He needs to emphasise the stability of a three-way deal with the Greens and NZ First – both of which have the advantage of being parties that win in their own right and will, if in Parliament, have achieved more than 5 per cent support. He can contrast that with National’s vassal parties, there only at Key’s favour.

Voters could choose a weak Labour Party propped up by the Green and NZ First parties with the added frightener of Internet Mana or a strong National Party with two or three very small coalition partners.

That’s a choice between instability, uncertainty and backwards policies from the left or stability, certainty and forward momentum from the centre right.

But strategising at the party’s weekend Congress pointed up the problem. Labour was stacking up its potential pluses just to get over the line.

It could push up to about 30, with a good ground game and organisation, the Greens bring about 12 per cent, NZ First would add another 5-6 per cent and Internet-Mana would add the final cherry on top. Presto, 51 per cent.

Over at the National conference the previous week, the mirror-image argument was being played out by its strategists.

Achieve close to 50 per cent and we govern alone. Fall to the mid 40s, and Labour with its allies could get the numbers. Subtext? Deals with our minor allies may be crucial, so brace yourself for Key’s announcement of deals with the minnows.

Memo to Cunliffe and Key: if you are counting them into your thinking, so will the voters.

Memo to voters: look less at what they say they will do and more at what they may need to do to win power.

A weak Labour Party would have to do, and concede, a lot more than a strong National party would.

We're for stable government.


Labour stands firm with no proof

10/07/2014

The Labour Party is standing firm on its claim the Government has influenced police statistics, despite admitting it has no proof to back it up.

That stance isn’t confined to these accusations which not only smear the government but are an attack on the integrity of police too.

Labour is standing firm on several policies although the facts don’t support their stand.

Examples include:

* The belief that increasing tax rates will increase the tax take.

* The assertion that a capital gains tax will restrain property prices rises even though family homes are exempt and a CGT has not restrained property prices in other countries.

* The contention that adding fewer than one teacher per school will be better for children than improving the quality of teachers.

* The belief that what’s good for unions is good for workers.

* The belief that increasing the minimum wage will not have a negative impact on employment and business.

* The belief that adding costs and complexity to employing people won’t harm jobs.

* The claim that inequality is worsening.

* The belief that changing  KiwiSaver contribution rates would be a viable tool for reducing inflation.

* The assertions that National’s policies aimed at helping people from welfare to work are beneficiary bashing.

* The belief that governments are good at running businesses.

These are just a few of Labour’s policies and beliefs which aren’t supported by facts.

But the most erroneous belief is that they, a party riven by internal divisions, could lead a stable government with the support of the Green, NZ First and Internet Mana parties.


Cunliffe says nah yeah to Internet Mana

07/07/2014

Labour leader David Cunliffe isn’t ruling out going into coalition with the Internet Mana Party:

Deal or no deal? That’s a question Labour Party leader David Cunliffe is facing.

He’s trying to have it both ways with Internet Mana, leaving the door open to working with them in government, but not to the cabinet table. . .

Rousing the party faithful, Labour has one goal in mind – to change the Government. That means hello Internet Mana and its cash-cow, Kim Dotcom.

“After the election we will work with whomever we need to work with to change the Government,” says Mr Cunliffe. “We will have our door and phone line open to whoever wants to change the Government.”

It’s a political dead rat Labour may have to swallow. Some are fighting against, wanting to rule out working with Internet Mana in government.

That includes some of his caucus and at least one candidate.

Phil Goff is on record calling the deal a rort, with Dotcom buying influence. Chris Hipkins says they’re “unprincipled sell-outs” and Dotcom is a “discredited German”.

“I don’t have much time for Kim Dotcom at all to be honest,” says Napier candidate Stuart Nash.

Mr Nash says the same about Hone Harawira. . .

Mr Cunliffe knows he may need the Dotcom, Harawira, Laila Harre combo but doesn’t want them too close.

“Frankly I would be surprised to see anybody other than the Greens and perhaps New Zealand First at our cabinet table,” says Mr Cunliffe. “I think that’s extremely unlikely, extremely unlikely, they’ll be ministers – extremely unlikely.”

So that means no seats in cabinet but a deal still possible.

Internet Mana is a political weakness for Labour and Mr Cunliffe is trying to have it both ways. . .

Like a lot of his other positions it’s a yeah nah – or in this case a nay-yeah one.

He doesn’t want them but he’s not ruling them out and neither Hone Harawiara nor Laila Harre are the sort of people to roll over without being thrown a bone or two which may well include a place in the top kennel.

That won’t go down well with some in Labour on principle and also because they are already facing missing out on cabinet places to accommodate Green and NZ First MPs.

It won’t go down well with either of those other prospective partners and it won’t go down well with most voters.


Strong economy not end in itself

30/06/2014

Prime Minister John Key began his speech to National’s conference yesterday by looking at what motivates him and the party:

 . .  I know that what motivates me also motivates you.

It’s about working for New Zealand to make this country the best it can be.

It’s about being proud to call yourself a New Zealander.

I want to tell you that what we do is making a difference.

When National came into office the economy was in tatters.

Getting it back on track has been tough.

But this month we recorded the third-highest growth rate in the developed world.

Our country’s trade surplus is at a 20-year high.

And next year, after all we’ve been through as a country, I’m proud to say that the Government’s books will be back in the black.

Ladies and Gentlemen, those are all good things.

They are economists’ measures and they’re hugely important.

But actually, they’re not the way most people measure progress.

Most people use measures that are closer to home and closer to their hearts.

Their questions are more likely to be: “Can I provide the best for my family?”; “Will my kids get a job when they’ve finished their education?”; “Will the health system be there when my family needs it?”; “Am I safe in my home and on our streets?”; and “Will my parents be looked after in their retirement?”.

In answer to all of those questions, we can say “yes”.

A strong economy isn’t an end in itself.

It’s a way of delivering the things people care most about.

A strong economy matters because without it we can’t afford the other things that matter.

And my real sense is that New Zealand has become a much more assured and much more optimistic country.

People are confident they can make a difference in their own lives, and that their children and grandchildren have good prospects.

New Zealanders know that our country is well managed and on the right track.

And they are demonstrating that by their actions.

When we first came into office, a net 3,000 people every month were leaving New Zealand to live in Australia.

That’s now dropped to only 200 a month because people know they’ve got a brighter future here in New Zealand.

We have a plan, and that plan is working for New Zealand.

Over the last year an extra 84,000 jobs were created.

Wages are rising every year, faster than inflation.

New Zealanders have worked hard to get our country back on its feet.

And the Government is ensuring that families share the dividends of that growth.

That’s why the heart of this year’s Budget was a $500 million package for families.

We’re increasing paid parental leave, we’re boosting support for families with new-born children, and I’m proud to say that we’re the party that’s bringing in free doctors’ visits and prescriptions for children under 13.

In our party we believe in supporting families.

Some people think that caring about people and their families is solely the territory of the Left.

Well that is complete and utter nonsense.

And the actions of our government are proving that.

I’m in politics because I care about other New Zealanders, particularly those families who need a hand to pick themselves up.

My family was one of those and I’ll never forget it.

I know where I come from.

My government has been very focused on making sure that the taxpayers’ money we spend helps people lead more independent, productive and hopeful lives.

You’d be surprised at what a novel approach that is, compared to the previous government. . .

This government has focussed on the quality of spending rather than the quantity.

In doing so it’s made positive differences to the lives of individuals and their families and significantly reduce the long-term liability of welfare.

We’re seeing positive change.

It’s under a National-led government that around 1,500 people a week are coming off welfare and into work.

Compared with two years ago, nearly 30,000 fewer children are living in homes dependant on welfare benefits.

I want to share with you a story I read in the paper a little while ago.

It was about a woman who’d raised six kids on the sole parent benefit.

She’d been on it for close to 20 years, until one day her nine-year-old daughter said, “It’s cool being on the benefit. I’m going to go on the benefit like you.”

That sentence – that simple sentence from the mouth of a nine-year-old – made her mother stop in her tracks.

She went out and she got a job.

I don’t imagine it’s easy for her – far from it.

But I absolutely do know that work offers the sort of independence, opportunity and self-esteem that a life on welfare never can.

I’m proud of our welfare reforms under the leadership of Paula Bennett, and I know you’re proud of her too.

The work we are doing in that area is one of the unsung stories of this government, and it’s led to profound changes that are truly transforming people’s lives.

There are other great stories to tell.

Achievement at school is rising and under our Government, more apprentices are being trained.

Just this week I was at WelTec and a young man got up to speak to us.

He said he wasn’t too proud of his past but he’s had the opportunity to do a Pacific trades training course, he’s completing his apprenticeship, and he’s already had job offers – including on the McKay’s to Peka Peka roading project.

To me, that’s what we mean when we talk about investing in our young people.

That’s what we mean when we talk about changing peoples’ lives.

And that’s what we mean when we talk about a brighter future.

We have in front of us right now the best opportunity in a generation to have a long, stable period of rising incomes, as long as we stick to the path we’re on.

But that opportunity will be lost without another National-led government.

It’s just 83 days to the election.

In that time we will be putting in front of New Zealanders a range of exciting new policies.

Our policies will build on the strong foundations we’ve laid over the last six years.

We are proud of what we’ve done, but there is so much more to do.

We’ll have new health initiatives.

We’ll have new ideas to raise achievement in our schools.

We’ll have new policies in economic development, transport, science, justice, welfare, law and order, and the environment.

And that’s not all.

Of course, all the policies we’ll announce are underpinned by our strong commitment to grow the economy and carefully manage the Government’s finances.

We’ll continue to focus attention on what matters.

And we’ll continue to support Christchurch through the rebuild.

I want to specially thank Gerry Brownlee, who has a huge commitment to his city and his community.

We made a commitment to the people of Canterbury on day one and we will not waver from it.

Ladies and Gentlemen, the future is positive for New Zealand.

National is the party for people who care about that future.

It’s for people who want to ensure that New Zealand keeps moving in the right direction.

And not just next year, but well beyond that, so New Zealanders find opportunities in an economy that values their skills and produces new jobs and higher wages.

Treasury is forecasting 170,000 more jobs in the economy over the next four years, together with rising wages – if we stick to the path we’re on.

Our challenge is to match and better those predictions.

I know we can.

But as I said yesterday, there is another way things could play out in this year’s election.

National is ahead in the polls at the moment but this election is going to be much, much tighter than many people realise.

We’re going to have to work hard for every vote.

Because that’s what our opponents will be doing, despite their shortcomings.

Labour has David Cunliffe, who takes himself so seriously that other people don’t have to.

The Greens have two co-leaders who want to be co-deputy-prime ministers in some kind of bizarre job-sharing experiment.

Internet Mana – the Maori radical meets file sharing party – is a strange mix standing for goodness knows what.

So if our opponents got into government it would be a complete circus – a recipe for political and economic instability that would be hugely damaging for New Zealand.

The weaker the bigger party is the more power the wee parties have.

A government led by a weakened Labour Party dominated by the Green and New Zealand First parties and also beholden to the Internet and Mana Parties would indeed be a circus and a very unstable one at that.

Our opponents will be cavalier in their spending promises. It’s already started.

They can do that because if they waste money they’ll simply tax you more.

In only five years, the last Labour government increased its spending by 50 per cent, driving mortgage rates into double digits.

In contrast, National respects New Zealanders and their hard-earned incomes.

If we can’t use that money as well as you can, you should keep it.

That will be one of the choices we’ll have as we post surpluses in the years ahead.

Repaying debt, spending a bit more on public services, putting money into the Super Fund, investing in infrastructure and modest tax reductions are the kinds of choices we’ll have.

One of those will be our investment in infrastructure.

Over the last six years, our Government has invested heavily in vital infrastructure to make up for years of underinvestment – from ultra-fast broadband, to schools and hospitals, to roads and rail.

I think of national infrastructure like the framing in a house.

Framing is not usually visible, or glamorous, but everything else in a house depends on it being solid and reliable.

The solid framing of this country is our infrastructure, and households and businesses depend on that.

On good roads, for example, you get better public transport, more efficient freight movement, faster journeys and – very importantly – safer trips for New Zealand families.

One of the key things we did on coming into government was designate seven Roads of National Significance in, or around, our largest population centres.

Of those important projects, we’ve already completed the Victoria Park Tunnel.

The huge tunnel boring machine, affectionately known as Alice, continues to drive progress on the Waterview connection in Auckland.

We are making rapid progress on the Waikato Expressway, the Tauranga Eastern Link, the Kapiti Expressway and the Christchurch Southern Motorway.

And the first sod will soon be turned on the long-awaited Transmission Gully project north of Wellington.

A lot of time was spent discussing and debating these projects in the past.

Under a National-led Government, we’re getting on and making them happen.

Our Government has also been busy in the regions.

We’ve built the Kopu Bridge on the way to the Coromandel, and the Kurow bridges in North Otago.

We’ve extended the Hawkes Bay Expressway and Dunedin’s Southern Motorway.

But there are still more regional roading projects that need to get underway.

The National-led Government has always recognised the vital importance of our regions.

The regions have led this country’s economic recovery and the regions supply a lot of the exports that pay our way in the world. . .

National has already made significant improvements to transport infrastructure and plans more.

The chances of a left-wing government in which the Green Party held sway placing any importance on keeping the regions moving are slight.

. . . Taken together, these roading projects represent a significant new commitment in our regions.

They are another example of the Government’s focus on ensuring that the benefits of the recovery are spread across all of New Zealand.

And they are an example – just one example – of our economic plan to support growth in a modern economy.

Ladies and Gentlemen, fellow National Party members.

Our country is firmly on the right track.

Our party is in good heart.

Our government – our National-led government – is delivering strong and stable leadership.

The choice at this election could not be clearer.

That choice is between a positive direction for New Zealand, or a leaderless circus of parties that would do great damage to our country.

That’s why we need you to redouble your efforts to ensure that the choice this country makes on September 20 is the right one.

Together, let’s keep working for New Zealand!

The right choice is the one that’s working.

The wrong choice would reverse the gains made and destroy many of the dividends of the hard work that’s been done.


It’s the party vote that counts

28/06/2014

The absence of so many of Labour’s sitting MPs and candidates from its list raises questions about those people’s focus.

The confusion is compounded by comments like this from Dunedin South MP Clare Curran:

. . . ”I’m 100% committed to the party vote around Dunedin and the region. My total focus will be on this campaign and that is behind my decision to withdraw from the list.” . . .

Not being on the list sends a strong signal that she’ll be campaigning to hold her seat as the only way to remain in parliament. Quite how that helps maximise the party vote isn’t clear.

National won the party vote in Dunedin South in 2011. The first priority of its candidate, Dunedin born-and-bred Hamish Walker is to build on that but Curran is vulnerable in the seat too.

So are at least four other Labour MPs.

. . . In a sign that National is taking nothing for granted sources say it has also targeted four Labour MPs in seats it thinks it can win – Trevor Mallard in Hutt South, Ruth Dyson in Port Hills, Damien O’Connor in West Coast and Iain Lees-Galloway in Palmerston North.

National’s strategy could disrupt Labour’s efforts to maximise the party vote, given that the survival of those MPs could hinge on them campaigning for the electorate vote instead to keep their political careers afloat. . .

A majority of the electorate votes will keep an MP in, or get a candidate into, parliament.

But it’s the party vote which gets them in to government.

That should always be the priority and in spite of the polls, there is no certainty over which parties will be in government after the election:

. . . With a string of polls showing National around 50 per cent, Key will warn them that voter turnout could be the decider and not to assume the election is a done deal.

‘‘I will reiterate the message that while National is doing very well in the polls in reality this is going to be a very tight election,’’ Key said yesterday.

‘‘This is a race to 61 seats and despite the fact Labour is polling very poorly it could still hold hands with the Greens and NZ First, potentially Internet-Mana, and form a government. So there is no room for complacency within National.’’  . . .

Labour’s dismal polling and unpopular leader should make an election win easy for National, but it’s the total block of party votes for right or left that matters and that will allow one or other of those parties to lead the next government.


Labour’s yeah-nah on IMP & Te Tai Tokerau

25/06/2014

In May David Cunliffe said Labour was going to be trying to win all seven Maori seats.

. . . Mr Cunliffe said he expects that Kelvin Davis, who was 1165 votes behind Mr Harawira at the 2011 election, to run a vigorous campaign. He said there would be no deals with other parties until after the election on 20 September once it is known what voters want. . .

Earlier this month he said he’d be open to a post-election deal with Internet Mana.

Labour leader David Cunliffe confirmed he would still be open to a post-election deal with Internet Mana despite making the abolition of “coat-tailing” under MMP a priority for a Labour-led Government. . . .

However, ranking its Te Tai Tokerau candidate Kelvin Davis at 18 on the list is sending mixed messages:

The list, released yesterday, had Mr Davis at number 18 – but if Labour wins the 27 electorates it expects to, it will need 29 per cent of the party vote for Mr Davis to return to Parliament, if he does not win the seat off incumbent MP and Mana leader Hone Harawira.

On current polling, that will be a challenge. . .

A better place on the list and it would be a clear signal that the party was protecting Davis and was prepared to sacrifice him in the electorate to help Mana leader Hone Harawira and give it a potential coalition partner.

A worse  place on the list would signal his only route to parliament was by winning the seat and that Labour was not wanting a post-election deal with Internet Mana.

As it is it’s sending  a yeah-nah, may be-maybe not message.


Who’s pulling IMP strings?

18/06/2014

Who is pulling the Internet Mana Party’s strings?

This profile of Kim Dotcom gives some answers:

Using the hacker name “Kimble”, after the character Dr Richard Kimble in The Fugitive, Dotcom claimed in German media interviews in 1992 that he had bypassed Nasa, the Pentagon and Citibank security systems, as well as hacking hundreds of private branch exchange (PBX) systems belonging to US companies and selling the access codes for $200 (£120) each.

Dotcom was arrested in 1994 for trafficking in stolen phone-calling card numbers, and eventually convicted of 11 counts of computer fraud and 10 of data espionage. He was given a two-year suspended sentence since at 20, he was still under age when the crimes were committed.

Dotcom set up premium toll chat lines in Hong Kong and the Caribbean and then used a “war dialer” software program to call the lines using the stolen card numbers, which earned him €61,000. . .

2001 Dotcom bought €375,000 in shares in a nearly bankrupt company, Letsbuyit.com, a victim of the dotcom crash. . .

Dotcom declared his intention of investing €50m in the company and the news caused the stock price of LetsBuyIt to surge. Dotcom then cashed out, making a profit of €1.5 million.

2002 In January 2002, Dotcom decided to go into exile.

TÜV Rhineland and BMP went into damage control mode and Dotcom was cut out of management in all the companies, with the authorities starting to take an interest in a loan he had taken out when he started Monkey.

“Everything that has grown up around Mr Schmitz is, to say the least, somewhat dubious,” TÜV spokesman Tobias Kerchoff told the German business site Handelsblatt.com in June 2001.

The German hacking community had also turned against him, so Dotcom decided to “flee Germany“. He ended up in Thailand but was promptly arrested and sent back to Germany, where he pleaded guilty to embezzlement charges.

2003  He was sentenced to two years’ probation and fined €100,000 in Germany. After that he moved to Hong Kong where he registered several companies – Trendax, Kimvestor Ltd, Monkey Ltd and Data Protect Ltd.

2005 Dotcom changed Data Protect to Megaupload, and he started a file-hosting website, which is where he really made his millions.

Anyone could register to have an account with Megaupload, where they could host both their own legitimate files, as well as pirated movie and music content, which could then be shared with people on forums and file-sharing websites. . .

How could Hone Harawira, Laila Harre and their fellow travellers have allowed themselves to be bought by this man?

And what will having a political party led by people who’ve been bought by the man pulling its strings do to New Zealand’s reputation as the least corrupt country in the world?

 


Political story of the day

17/06/2014

The round-up of political stories while Politics Daily is taking a break seemed  like a good idea but it was taking too much time.

Instead, I’ll feature a political story of the day and welcome you to add others.

My pick won’t necessarily be the most important one, it can, as today’s does, raise a point no-one else does.

The story on this morning’s Herald-DigiPoll survey said Internet Mana would have two seats.

Over at Stats Chat Thomas Lumley reminds us of the margins of error:

. . . That’s probably 9 respondents. A 95% interval around the support for Internet–Mana goes from 0.6% to 2.4%, so we can’t really tell much about the expected number of seats. . .

 

A small change in a small number can appear to be far more significant than it is.


The importance of volunteers

17/06/2014

The many thousands of people who give their time, energy and skill to help others is being celebrated in National Volunteer Week.

Community and Voluntary Sector Minister Jo Goodhew is encouraging people to take part:

“This is a week, co-ordinated annually by Volunteering New Zealand (VNZ), which is set aside to celebrate the contribution volunteers make in their communities,” says Mrs Goodhew.

This year’s theme is “Naku te rourou nau te rourou ka ora ai te tangata.” Translated as “With your contribution and my contribution the people will live.”

The Maori proverb refers to co-operation and the combination of resources to get ahead. It suggests that if we pool our ideas, with equal respect for all parties, we will get a better result and everyone will benefit.

“I commend VNZ for selecting such an appropriate proverb. It really captures the essence of volunteering,” says Mrs Goodhew.

“Kiwis like to muck-in and help-out.  New Zealanders are among the best volunteers in the world with nearly a third of us volunteering collectively about 270 million hours every year.

“Our volunteers freely donate their time and energy to keep our communities running. They are the backbone of our sports and social groups, search and rescue organisations, and the arts and cultural sector.

“This government recognises the significant contribution of volunteers and is working to make resources and support more readily available to community organisations.”

 

Volunteers play an important role in our communities.

An active volunteer sector is a sign of a healthy communities and society.

Volunteers work with and for people in churches, interest groups, service and sports clubs and a whole range of other interest groups and organisations, including political parties.

Working in the latter isn’t usually regarded as community service but it is.

Wanting to make a positive difference is what motivates most members and candidates.

There’s always been an exception to this with paid union people adding to or replacing volunteers in parties on the left.

The Internet Mana Party has made an unwelcome addition to that – its candidates are being paid.

The problem with that is it’s impossible to know where their loyalties lie – with the party or the paymaster.


Why don’t they lead by example?

16/06/2014

The Internet Mana Party has launched a petition wanting to end the 5% threshold and get rid of the coat-tail prevision.

Internet Party leader Laila Harre is relying on Hone Harawira to win his northern Maori seat in order to get into Parliament as the alliance is only attracting 1.3% of the vote.

However, despite a plan to do it, Internet and Mana want the coat tailing provision gone.

“So what happens at the moment is a person can win an electorate seat with less than 7,000 votes but if you don’t have an electorate seat then you’ve got to get 100,000 (votes) just to get your member into parliament now that’s ridiculous, it’s unfair,” says Mana Party leader Hone Harawira.

Tonight the alliance is launching an online petition calling for the immediate scrapping of coat tailing and the lowering of the MMP’s 5% threshold. . . .

They will be pushing this petition at the same time they’re campaigning to be elected as the oddest-couple MMP has yet served up to voters.

Is there no end  their hypocrisy?

If they want the coat-tailing provision gone they should lead by example and decouple their two disparate parties.

 

 


H is for . . .

15/06/2014

Rodney Hide reminds us that H is for Harawira, Harre and hypocrisy:

I used to think politics was all about achieving good government. That proved invariably disappointing. These days, politics is no longer my responsibility. I’m happy if it just proves interesting.

That’s why I am for the Internet-Mana Party. They’re the best entertainment in years. If they were a parody they would be too improbable to be believed.

Maori nationalist Hone Harawira calls Pakeha the rudest of names and the wrong colour to date his daughter. But he’s jumped into bed with whiter-than-white Kim Dotcom.

Harawira trumpets Mana and His People but that’s not stopping him using his electorate to coat-tail Dotcom’s party into Parliament. His price? $3 million.

It’s easy to accuse Harawira of hypocrisy but he has a ready reply: it’s a lot of money. At $3m his double standard is good and high.

That raises two questions – could he be bought for less and what would he do for more?

Laila Harre wasn’t elected leader of the Internet Party. She was hired. She’s been selected and paid for by Dotcom. The former coffee picker for the Sandinistas is New Zealand’s first corporate-hire political leader.

A mate rang after Harre’s appointment splitting his sides, “All they need now is Pam Corkery”. Corkery was appointed press secretary that day.

Willie Jackson considered standing but wanted $250,000. That’s his price for standing up for his principles. . .

That raises a question about principles that can be bought – if the buyer doesn’t like them, would the seller come up with others that might attract the right price?

And what will happen if the buyer isn’t satisfied with his purchase?

. . .  Dotcom set out to destroy Banks for not rushing to rescue him from Mt Eden Prison. He expected a minister to jump for a $50,000 political donation. That’s his character. Imagine what he expects for $3m.

And imagine how he will perform when he doesn’t get it. Pure entertainment.

Entertaining?

It would be if the potential consequences weren’t so serious.

The election outcome is on a knife-edge and the country will be left cut and bleeding if Dotcom and his hired hypocrites have any power.


Penalising efficiency

08/06/2014

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.

 

 

 


Cunliffe chucks stones from glass house

06/06/2014

Prime Minister John Key said he was not in a position to offer the former Auckland mayor, now Act MP, John Banks advice.  

. . . “It’s not for me to offer a view on that,” Key said in Nelson this morning.

“In the end he is the leader of another political party.

“I can’t offer him advice any more than I could offer David Cunliffe advice on whether he should resign.”

Asked about Cunliffe’s claims that the Government was being propped up by a “corrupt” politician, Key said Cunliffe should rule out working with the Internet Party.

“I’m not going to be lectured by David Cunliffe,” he said.

“If he was the man of principle he says he is, he’d be ruling out the Internet Party and Kim Dotcom who’s before the court and is a convicted fraudster, but he’s not going to do that. Most people will see it for what it is, which is politics.” . . .

The PM didn’t have to sack Banks as a minister because he resigned.

He doesn’t have the power to sack him as an MP.

Banks was elected by the people of Epsom. Unless or until he’s convicted he can resign, which would be the honourable thing to do, or tough it out for another few weeks until parliament rises but he can’t be sacked.

Cunliffe should be very careful about criticising the PM over this because he’s chucking dirty great stones from a glass house.

He does have the ability to rule out any deal with the Internet Mana Party but won’t because he knows he might need the support of its MPs to govern.


What about the workers’ money?

04/06/2014

Last week five Hollywood studios filed papers in the Auckland High Court seeking to get Kim Dotcom’s assets frozen.

Today four recording companies filed a legal bid to freeze his assets.

If they are successful, will this have any impact on funding for the Internet Mana Party – or has that money already theirs not his?

If it’s theirs will the left wing politicians who’ve jumped aboard the Dotcom vehicle feel any compunction about campaigning with money which is alleged to be owed to other people, many of whom are workers whose rights they supposedly champion?


Labour will end coat-tailing

04/06/2014

David Cunliffe  told Firstline this morning that Labour will introduce legislation to end coat-tailing.

That would stop parties which win an electorate getting any more MPs until they got 5% of the vote.

This will be popular.

It’s good politics but it’s bad policy.

Electoral law should have wide cross-party support not be changed as a vote-chaser during an election campaign.

Whether Labour would get that support is doubtful because on current polling it would need the Internet Mana Party to govern and that party would be unlikely to have any more than one MP if it wasn’t for the coat-tailing provision.

Does this mean Cunliffe has tested the wind and thinks there’s more to gain by letting Kelvin Davis seek to win Te Tai Tokerau which would mean IMP would lose the seat and have no MPs?


Politics Daily

03/06/2014

New Zealand Politics Daily is taking  a break.

I don’t have the time or inclination to provide the same service of a reasonably comprehensive list of links to news stories and blog posts on issues of the day.

However, I’m willing to start with a few and invite anyone who has read anything I’ve missed to add a link to it in a comment.

I won’t pretend to be balanced – there will be more links to blogs of a bluer hue. Anyone who wants the red and green end of the spectrum better represented is welcome to leave links.

John Key in Samoa

BeehiveNZ to invest $1 million into Samoa’s tourism sector:

Prime Minister John Key has today announced New Zealand will invest $1 million to help boost Samoa’s tourism sector. . .

Tova O’Brien – Pacific voters warming to National:

With large sections of New Zealand’s Pacific Island community now gravitating towards National, the battle for the Pacific vote has gone offshore. . . .

Immigration

David Farrar @ Kiwiblog – So what will Labour cut?

is claiming that it will cut migrant numbers by somewhere between 20,000 and 35,000 to get net migration from 40,000 to somewhere between 5,000 and 20,000. . .

Pete George @ Your NZ – Cunliffe still vague on immigration:

Cunliffe was interviewed about immigration on Q & A on Sunday. . .

Housing

Hannah McLeod @ Southland times – State house sales reap $4m:

Millions of dollars from state housing sales in the south could be going towards new homes in Auckland. . .

Catherine Harris @ Stuff – ‘Holistic’ plan for housing sought:

New Zealand needs a wider discussion about housing affordability and the issues that surround it such as migration, say senior figures in local government. . .

RadioNZ – Fast-track housing plan for Taruanga:

Tauranga City Council wants special rules to speed up housing developments.

 Labour Party

Andrea Vance @  Stuff – Labour MPs not happy with Mana Internet:

Senior Labour Party MPs have used social media to attack the alliance struck between Mana and the Internet Party. . .

Inventory 2 @ Keeping Stock – White-anting in Labour? Surely not…:

Is David Cunliffe being white-anted again? You’d have to wonder after reading Andrea Vance’s story on Stuff: . . .

Cameron Slater @ Whale Oil – Things are falling apart in Labour:

When something happens that isn’t going the way a political party particularly wants, they need to get together, work out a strategy, and communicate that coherently. . . .

 Isaac Davison @ NZ Herald –   Labour looks at changing $10m-for-residency scheme:

Labour is looking “very closely” at changing the rules for foreign investors who can get residency in New Zealand by paying $10 million. . .

IMP

Chris Keall @ NBR – Laila Harre NBR interview part 2: Baboom offshoring jobs; getting paid; the UFB; how she rolls:

Chris Keall – Where’s all the Baboom development taking place? . . .

Cameron Slater @ whale Oil – Internet Mana Party “a joke from the far left” – Key:

Unlike our media, John Key is refusing to take the Internet Mana Party seriously. . .

Josie Pagani @ Pundit – Say no to the cup of Te:

No way should Labour do a ‘Cup of Te’ deal.

Labour should stand up for its own strong values. . .

Danyl Mclauchlan @ Dim Post – On the logic behind a strategic loss:

Rob Salmond makes fun of Bomber, which is something we can all enjoy. But I do think that Bomber’s theory that a faction within the Labour Party would prefer a National victory in 2014 if the alternative is a Labour/Greens/New Zeland First/Mana/Internet Party government is pretty plausible. . .

Q & A @ TVNZ –  Laila Harre   interviewed by Susan Wood:

SUSAN: Long time unionist and left wing politician Laila Harre is back, she’s been a member of Labour, New Labour, Alliance, and the Greens, and now she’s taking the helm of the Internet Party, she joins me now good morning. Most political parties are built on something positive, on a movement, on beliefs. How can the Internet Mana Party which is built on yes, wanting to change a government, but an almost pathological dislike of the Prime Minister work? How can it be a force for good? . . .

Carbon Tax

Andrew McMartin @ TV3 – Carbon tax means nothing without Labour – English:

The Green Party’s carbon tax policy “means nothing” without Labour support, Finance Minister Bill English says. . . .

Peter Cresswell @ Not PC – The Greens cutting taxes?

Let’s start with the good news. . .

Lindsay Mitchell – Support for the Greens carbon tax surprises:

The Taxpayer’s Union has come out in support of a carbon tax that is revenue neutral. On balance they find it preferable to the Emissions Trading Scheme.

I wonder why we need either. . . .

Mark Hubbard @ Life Behind the Iron Drape – Green Naivety: Carbon Tax:

Julie Anne Genter is a New Zealand Green MP, and promoting the NZ Green Party policy this election year of a carbon tax, including on agriculture – dairy, initially, with other livestock to follow presumably. . .

Election

Rob Hosking @ NBR – Election 2014 – The Minors’ Strike:

The Green party must be quite relieved its conference was this weekend . . .

Scoop – Northland Leader Backs Kelvin Davis in Te Tai Tokerau:

Northland Kaumatua Rudy Taylor says Labour MP Kelvin Davis has the heart and the mana along with total support to win the seat of Te Tai Tokerau in the upcoming general election. . .

Scott Yorke @ Imperator Fish – How to win an election:

It’s all about the party vote. Electorate contests can be distracting, because in most cases they will be irrelevant to the result. A few electorate results will be critical, but only where they would allow a minor party to enter Parliament. . .

Scoop – iPredict Ltd 2014 Election Update #19: 30 May 2014:

Key Points:
• Internet Mana forecast to win 3 seats
• National expected to sneak in with minor parties’ support . . .

Christchurch

Beehive – Vodafone to anchor Innovation Precinct:

Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee and Science and Innovation Minister Steven Joyce today released the spatial framework for the Christchurch Innovation Precinct and announced that Vodafone’s new South Island headquarters will anchor the precinct. . .

The Christchurch Innovation Precinct will bring together some of our most innovative people to help create an exciting and vibrant future for Christchurch. http://ntnl.org.nz/1oq447h

Education

Beehive – Budget 2014: $28.6m investment in ICT Grad Schools:

The Government will invest $28.6 million operating funding (including $11.8 million of contingencies) over the next four years in three Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Graduate Schools to help address significant high-level skills shortages in the rapidly growing ICT industry, Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment Minister Steven Joyce says. . . .

Beehive – $359m boost for student achievement moves forward:

Education Minister Hekia Parata has welcomed advice from sector leaders on the Government’s $359 million initiative to raise student achievement, saying it maintains momentum and strengthens the path forward. . .

Other

Trans Tasman – Trans Tasman Announces Government Department and Government Department CEO of The Year:

Trans Tasman’s 5th Annual Briefing Report – New Zealand Government Departments People and Policy, 2014 Edition , has announced its top performing Government Department of the Year and the best Government Department CEO. The pair is chosen by a 16 strong Independent Board of Advisers . .

Hamish Rutherford @ Reserve Bank governor named top chief executive:

A former top international banker, who stared down the Beehive with lending restrictions and official cash rates rises months from the election, is this year’s public sector chief executive of the year.  . .

Matthew Beveridge – Green Party AGM:

Queen’s Birthday Weekend was also the weekend the Green Party held their annual conference. As one would expect, there were a number of policy announcements, free doctors visits for up to 18 year olds and a change from the ETS to a Carbon Tax system. . .

Bob Jones @ NZ Herald – A message to screaming John Minto: Shut up:

If Parliament proposed a nationwide synchronisation of clocks and watches, then at a given date and time, invited everyone who’s had an absolute gutsful of the screaming skull, otherwise known as John Minto, to go outside and jump up and down for two minutes, imagine the reaction. . .

Lindsay Mitchell – More welfare changes on the way:

The government has announced a rewrite of the Social Security 1964 Act, which is a massive maze of dated legislation. . . .

Cameron Slater @ Whale Oil – Political porkies:

It seems the minor parties are able to get away with making stuff up, or flat out lying.

As a new service we will now start calling out these ratbags. . . .

David Farrar @ Kiwiblog – The new blockbuster:

It’s a poster of Dr No, you’ll have to pop over to see it.

Adam Bennett @ NZ Herald – Peters rubbishes claim he paid Harawira’s protest fine:

Current and former MPs and “ordinary people” banded together to pay the $632 fine Hone Harawira received last year for defying police at a 2012 Auckland housing protest. . 

Inventory 2 @ Keeping Stock – Pay your own fine Hone:

Hone Harawira is in trouble over trouble he was in last year. If that sounds confusing, hopefully the Herald will explain: . . .

NBR – Labour might revisit MMP’s ‘coat-tail’ provisions if elected — Cunliffe:

David Cunliffe says Labour may revisit MMP’s “coat-tail” provisions if elected . . .


GIMP but not LIMP?

03/06/2014

Labour leader David Cunliffe has been dancing on the head of a pin when asked his view on the Internet Mana Party.

That suggests he’s testing the wind before he works out what he thinks.

Several other Labour MPs have already made up their minds they don’t like it.

Senior Labour Party MPs have used social media to attack the alliance struck between Mana and the Internet Party.

Former leaders Phil Goff and David Shearer, and Rimutaka MP Chris Hipkins, are among those who have objected to the deal. It could see MPs from Kim Dotcom’s fledging political vehicle enter Parliament on the ‘‘coat-tails’’ of a victory for Hone Harawira in Te Tai Tokerau.

The strong opposition from within Labour could make post-election coalition talks tricky.

Goff says he feel strongly about Dotcom’s ‘‘pure political opportunism’’, citing his previous donations to ACT MP John Banks, now the subject of a court case. ‘‘He wants to be able to influence and control politicians.’’

Goff says he was previously ‘‘very critical’’ of National for exploiting MMP and failing to implement recommendations from the Electoral Commission to abolish the provision.

‘‘I’m scarcely likely to endorse another rort …I’m being entirely consistent,’’ he said. . . .

Interesting no-one in Labour called it a rort when National voters in Ohariu kept Peter Dunne in the seat which made him a Minister in the Labour-led government.

Goff says he made his feelings clear to the Labour caucus. ‘‘It will be the decision of the party leadership…but I see problems in creating a coalition where the philosophies and principle of people that you are trying to enter into a coalition with is unclear because they seem to be coming from diametrically opposed positions.’’ . . .

Coalitions are by nature unstable even when they have something positive in common.

A coalition built on nothing more than a hatred of John Key and determination to oust National would be a recipe for instability.

Those  views were also reflected in a passionate Facebook post at the weekend. Shearer also used the social media site to write that although he wished the Internet-Mana ‘‘marriage’’ well, he knew ‘‘it’s going to end badly.’’

And on Twitter last week, Hipkins posted: ‘‘The good old days, when political parties formed from movements. Now all it takes is a couple of million and some unprincipled sellouts.’’

All three MPs were linked to the Anyone But Cunliffe [ABC] faction – who were opposed to David Cunliffe assuming leadership of the party. However, a Labour source played down talk of more division, saying all three were close to Te Tai Tokerau candidate Kelvin Davis.

Davis himself posted on Twitter: ‘‘Bro, I think of the people of Te Tai Tokerau, not Sergeant Shultz.’’  He was referring to Dotcom’s German origins. . . .

More than half the caucus is in the ABC faction which makes the party itself unstable.

On present polling a left-wing government would have to consist of Labour and the GIMPs – Green, and Internet Mana parties.

A concerted effort by Labour backing Kelvin Davis to win Te Tai Tokerau would seriously challenge Harawira’s hold on the seat.

If the ABC faction prevails it won’t be LIMP – Labour and the Internet Party and that would leave the GIMPs facing a huge battle for power and relevance.


Once were youngsters

02/06/2014

Among the many ironies of the Internet Mana Party is the aim to attract young voters when its candidates are middle-aged and older:

David Farrar said  Laila Harre leading the internet party because she uses the internet, would be like him leading the Greens because he sometimes eats them.

I think that’s the sort of logic these baby boomers are using – they can attract young voters because they once were young.

National, by contrast, has young MPs and candidates.

Among them is Cabinet Minister and Auckland Central MP Nikki Kaye who is in her early 30s.

Botany MP Jami-Lee Ross was only 11 when Harre first entered parliament so was National’s Dunedin South candidate Hamish Walker.

The party’s Clutha Southland candidate Todd Barclay, was only just at school when she first became an MP.


Money can buy a leader

01/06/2014

Money can’t buy love but it can buy the leader of a political party:

Internet Party leader Laila Harre has revealed she is being a paid back-bench MP salary as leader of the Internet Party

A backbench MP is paid $147,800, plus perks including travel and accommodation expenses plus super.

The usual remuneration for the leader of a minor party out of power is nothing.

Leaders could expect to have expenses covered or reimbursed but in any other party it’s a voluntary position.

“I have just agreed to a contract which is in line with the already public intention of the party to pay candidates the same as a backbench MP. . .

How does this fit electoral law which limits election spending?

Kim Dotcom, who made his fortune from Megaupload (for which he faces piracy, money laundering and racketeering charges), and sister sites including Megaporn and Megaerotic, has revealed he is bankrolling Internet Mana to the tune of $3 million.

Earlier, Internet Party CEO Vikram Kumar told NBR that other sources of funding paled next to the money being tipped into the campaign by one of Mr Dotcom’s family trusts. . .

This in effect means she’s not being paid by the party but by Dotcom.

If he’s paying the piper he’ll also be calling the tune.


Too hard, too early

31/05/2014

Laila Harre has political experience but Chris Keall thinks she has let her enthusiasm get away of her:

Yesterday, I praised Laila Harre’s strategic nous. I spoke too soon.

It looks like she has gone too hard, too early and too publicly, painting Mr Cunliffe into a corner where he had little choice but to back his man in Te Tai Tokerau (naturally, Labour leader maintains it was never in doubt). . .

Hone Harawira holding Te Tai Tokerau is essential to the Internet Mana Party’s plans.

IMP is unlikely to win any other seats or get at least 5% of the vote.

Cunliffe’s view isn’t clear but Labour’s candidate in the seat, Kelvin Davis,  is definite that he wants to win the seat.

In a tweet that’s now been deleted he said:

Bro, I think of the people of Te Tai Tokerau, not Sergeant Shultz.

 He has the support of others in caucus:

Phil Goff is also with him, Kiwiblog (at the link above) has a Facebook post from him:

Goff says (correctly) Dotcom is trying to buy the political system. His Facebook post also appears to have now been deleted, so it looks like the leadership is trying to whip the caucus into line and stop them criticising the Mana-Dotcom Alliance. Because the more they criticise it, the harder it is for Cunliffe not to rule them out of a coalition.

I’ll be very very interested to see a poll in Te Tai Tokerau. I’m not sure voters there will be any more keen on Kim Dotcom purchasing a political party, than these Labour MPs are. David can win the seat by just campaigning on this issue. The question is – will he be allowed to? . .

If the IMP could increase the votes for the left it would be in Labour’s short-term interests to throw the seat to Harawira.

But votes gained by IMP are likely to come from within the left and even if they come from previous non-voters the idea of  a weak Labour supported by the GIMPs (Green and IMP) is highly likely to scare at least of many voters towards National.

And Labour’s chances of leading a stable government in the medium to long term would be greater without the hard left marriage of convenience that is the IMP.


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