Little hints

March 9, 2015

Labour leader Andrew leader can’t quite bring himself to tell Northland voters not to vote for his party’s candidate Willow-Jean Prime but he’s dropping little – or should that be Little? – hints:

Mr Little told TVNZ One’s Q+A programme that Labour will not pull its candidate Willow-Jean Prime from the by-election contest, despite a Q+A Colmar Brunton poll showing Mr Peters would win if she was not in the running.

However, he called for left voters to be “realistic” with their candidate choice.

“They’ve got a vote they should use it. If they want to vote to send a message to the Government …

“They are intelligent enough to see how they can do that.” . .

Every election Labour has criticised National for electoral accommodations in Epsom and Ohariu but now he thinks it would be too his advantage, Little is indicating he’s willing to do just that.

He’s throwing his candidate under the wheels of Peters’ bus, not to help Labour or Northland but, as Rodney Hide points out, to get a New Zealand First list MP in Invercargill and give more power to Peter Dunne:

. . . A Peters win would destabilise the Government and power up a Wellington electorate MP. Ohariu would benefit – not Northland. On winning Northland, Peters would resign as a list MP to clear the way for the next candidate on New Zealand First’s list. That candidate is Ria Bond … from Invercargill.

That’s right. In choosing Peters, Northland voters would be electing an MP from Invercargill.

Those in the Far North would elect a candidate from the deep south.

But it gets better.

Peters lives in Auckland. Parliament is in Wellington. That’s how he divides his time. Kerikeri is 250km north of Auckland. So Peters is asking the people of Northland to vote for an Aucklander to elect an MP from Invercargill and empower an MP from Wellington. . .

This would not bring down the government but it would make it more difficult for it to pass legislation and give Dunne and the two other government partners – Act and the Maori Party – a lot more bargaining power.

That won’t help Labour this term, nor will it make it any easier for it and its potential coalition partners to gain enough seats to govern next term.

In fact it might make it more difficult because the Little hints make him look downright shifty.

When National campaigns in Epsom and Ohariu it is open about campaigning only for the party vote and it ensures its candidates are high enough on its list to get into parliament.

Little isn’t being open, he’s trying to have a bob each way. He hasn’t clearly said voters should ditch Prime for Peters but nor has he said they shouldn’t. Yet he’s prevaricating enough to handicap his candidate and there’s no list seats up for grabs in a by-election to compensate her for her wasted efforts.

And what’s in this political playing for the people of Northland?

. . . Peters is 70 this year. It’s a long way from Auckland to Northland. It’s even further across the electorate. Peters will be bogged down and busy doing the bare minimum needed to be local MP. I doubt the region will be much troubled by him.

And he would lose in 2017. Northland will return a National candidate in a General Election.

It has been 40 years since Peters stood for Northern Maori. He’s late in rediscovering the north but his campaign is exciting.

I believe he prefers a close second. Winning would be altogether too much work.

Little is willing to sabotage his candidate to help Peters who will have neither the will nor the energy to service the large Northland electorate and its many communities while also attending to the demands of party leadership.

We can but hope the people of Northland will have learned from Tauranga voters who saw through him and send both him and Labour a message: they need an MP who lives in the electorate who will be in government and who will represent them well and work hard for them.

There’s only one of those standing – National’s Mark Osborne.

 

 


Peters standing to give Invercargill MP at Northland’s expense

February 27, 2015

New Zealand First leader Winston Peters is standing in the Northland by-election.

. . . He said today that standing in the by-election was not an easy decision, but he had a long held concern for “Northland’s forgotten people”.

National had forgotten Northland for years, and the region was stagnating, Peters said. . .

He will be hoping that Northland voters have forgotten, or never knew, about the vagaries of MMP.

Should he win the seat he will become an electorate MP and the next person on NZ First’s list will get into parliament. That’s Ria Bond from Invercargill.

Quite how Peters will persuade the good people of Northland they will be represented by voting him in as an electorate MP with his reputation for talking big and doing little and in the process losing an MP from their end of the country and gifting parliament one from the other will remain to be seen.

Labour has confirmed Willow-Jean Prime as its candidate, and the Act Party will stand Whangarei orchardist Robin Grieve.

The Green Party and the Maori Party are not standing candidates.

If Labour sabotage their candidate in an attempt to unite opposition votes behind Peters it could happen.

Voters often punish the governing party in a by-election and a new candidate usually doesn’t attract the same level of votes a sitting one did.

The 2014 election results show:

NZ First didn’t bother standing a candidate in Northland last year. Mike Sabin won the seat for National with 18,269 votes and a majority of 9,300 over Prime who got 8,969 votes.

National gained 17,412 party votes; Labour got 5,913 and NZ First 4,546. the Green Party managed to get 3,855 votes and its candidate gained 3,639 votes.

National members in the electorate will select their candidate tomorrow.

The five in contention are: Grant McCallum, Mita Harris, Matt King, Mark Osborne and Karen Rolleston.

 

 

 

 

 


Sarah Dowie’s maiden speech

October 23, 2014

Invercargill MP Sarah Dowie delivered her maiden speech yesterday:

Mr Speaker, Prime Minister, Parliamentary Colleagues and the National Party team.

As I deliver my first words in this awe inspiring Chamber, I am mindful of the journey that I have travelled to be here.  I am reflective of the definitive decisions I have made, the key opportunities I have seized, my discipline, my faith in the end goal, and the overwhelming loyalty of my supporters. 

Many try to get here and fail but with the support and sacrifice of my husband Mark, my children Christabel and Hunter, the help of my parents Ann and Alan Dowie, my National Party friends – in particular, Garry Thomsen. Anne McCracken and Jon Turnbull for their colossal efforts and now, with the mandate of the good people of the Deep South, I am standing here – humbled, feeling surreal. I also acknowledge our party president Peter Goodfellow and board member Roger Bridge for their encouragement and wise counsel.

Mr Speaker, I congratulate you on your re-election.  I have learned much already from your own experience as a Minister and Member in Opposition and, I now look forward to learning from you as to the rules of engagement in the House. 

I am Invercargill electorate’s first elected woman MP and the moment is not lost on me.  The Invercargill electorate has, in the past been coined conservative, but is now charging forward into a new era. 

The Invercargill electorate is a mixture of both urban and rural.  It takes in the Catlins to the east with its ecological fame. It includes a yellow eyed penguin colony, a Hector’s dolphin pod, and the petrified-forest. Riverton and westward encompasses rolling hills, wind-swept forests and stunning rugged coastline scenes.  To the north there is Edendale and Wyndham’s fertile plains.  To the south is Bluff with its oysters and traditional port activities, as well as Rakiura that contains our newest and most remote National Park.  Finally, there is the city of Invercargill, our southern-most provincial city – steeped in Scottish tradition and one which holds on to that pioneering spirit. 

It is an electorate of can do’s, aspiration, innovation.  Businesses carving out new niches, capitalising on the tried and true of the primary sector, education, and tourism.  Developing and manufacturing new products for export. It is a quiet storm which is building to success. 

However, Southland will be tested moving forward – we need to build on the industries we have and ensure we develop opportunities for the future.  Industry productivity is challenged through a failure to attract more skilled people and families to the province.  While Southland’s economy needs to continue to grow based on its strengths in an environmentally sensible way it must also diversify to sustain it.  It also faces some real challenges in funding for essential services, especially when the spread of those services is across isolated areas. 

Despite these challenges, Southland continues to box above its weight per capita by generating over 12 per cent of New Zealand’s total export receipts.  We enjoy higher than average household incomes, high employment rates and we are some of the happiest people in the country, according to the latest annual Regional Economic Activity Report. 

There has been much media coverage in recent days and months about the cost of housing in Auckland so I say to those  Aucklanders who want a great lifestyle and affordable housing … does Invercargill have a deal for you!

I am deeply passionate about the region and will fiercely advocate for development that has already been identified to create more varied jobs, generate more wealth and more opportunities for Southlanders.  I will assist and support those who have innovative new ideas and I will be vocal on the delivery of effective essential services across the region.  That goes for anyone who wants to bring their businesses to one of the most cost-effective provinces in the country.

Mr Speaker, I intend to champion Southland’s progression to make it a province of choice for our people and families to thrive in and gain their fortune.

I am a proud mother of two pre-school children and while I am acutely aware of the juggling that I will have to do to ensure I do the job well but also to maintain that all important relationship with my family, I am not afraid to say that having children has changed my perspective for the better and driven me to contribute at this level. 

It is very hard to articulate the change in perspective as a mum but it’s a bit like going from watching black and white television to colour.  Or for the Generation Y’s out there, digital to HD.  I intend to use this breadth of view and colour in my approach to policy making.  One that is holistic.  I don’t view my life in a silo and hence I am supportive of the Government’s efforts to break down the silos of Government in its problem solving.  My opinions are mainly moderate, centre-right, and my approach to policy making will be for the benefit of all New Zealanders.

I am also the daughter of two police officers and by trade a solicitor, so law and order and justice is in my blood.  I was raised with a strong ethic of  ‘you reap what you sow’.

The consequence of crime and the reality of it was in the forefront of my upbringing.  My mother’s first husband, Constable Donald Stokes, was brutally murdered at age 23 while in the line of duty in Dunedin in 1966.  I was raised with his photos on the walls yet the tragic end of his life has been etched into my mind from a young age. 

On 13 November 1990, death on the job was again a reality as my father received a call from HQ to advise that one of his best friends, Sergeant Stewart Guthrie, had been shot dead at Aramoana.  I remember him methodically and soberly getting dressed in his uniform and walking out the door.  The sum of the following 22 hours, with helicopters flying across the airspace of Dunedin and the general unknown, was not lost on anyone in Dunedin.  However, it was obviously more pronounced for those with loved ones who were murdered or connected in some way. 

The sacrifice of brave men and women who put themselves on the front line to defend our liberties and the way of life which we hold dear in New Zealand is never far from my thoughts.  I take this country’s security and our personal security very seriously and as such I promise to uphold it, making sure that the Police and other agencies have the resourcing and tools required to mitigate threats and reduce crime. At the same time, I want to assure equal access to justice and the rule of law.   New Zealand as a safe and fair community is something to always be vigilant about.  

But nurturing and growing a safe community is not enough on its own, well not enough for me.  I believe in the concept of social justice in so far as it relates to enabling every New Zealander the opportunity to lead a fulfilling life and achieve their hopes, dreams, and aspirations.  This cannot be done, however, by keeping people down on an endless series of hand-outs.  It’s about creating an environment where people are supported to take responsibility for and to navigate their own lives.  For they are best placed to make those decisions.  It’s about helping people gain the skills to get them into work and, with a bit of can do attitude they will find they have options.       

I believe as did the Honourable Ralph Hanan, Invercargill’s last Minister in –

“…. Further(ing) the real progress of all the people …”

Mr Speaker, I am here to serve all New Zealanders to build on the wins that this Government has already achieved.

I am here because it is our duty to build a New Zealand in which the next generation, our children, are proud of. Where there is opportunity to get ahead in a country that has a heart to help those less fortunate but also rewards those that have the determination to work and make their own luck.  I want our children to be pleased with the legacy we have left but also have the fortitude to build on this Government’s platform and drive forward initiatives for the betterment of all.   

On a lighter note, I remember Sunday nights at 7.30pm in front of the telly with mum and dad watching Our World, a series of fascinating nature documentaries that are probably responsible for fuelling my interest in science.  I studied ecology at the University of Otago and coupled with a law degree it became a powerful combination in helping my all round understanding of environmental issues and conservation.

It was a desire to still use my law degree but more of my science degree which saw me working for the Department of Conservation for five years.  However, the department at that time is certainly not what it is today.  The culture back then was that of dogmatic “no” and ultimately I became frustrated when well put together, environmentally sensible proposals were shut down with no logical thought to the greater picture of conservation. 

It should be noted that I believe there is a place for preservation in New Zealand but there is also a place for sustainable development.  The idea of protectionism which, is often seen as competing with development, recreation, and enjoyment can be effectively balanced.  We are ultimately part of our environment – we are not separate from it.  We are dependent upon the environment for our wellbeing and our living.  These two concepts are not mutually exclusive.

However, this frustration was nothing but a godsend as it catapulted me back to private practice and wanting to stay involved in environmental issues at a higher level, I joined the Bluegreens.  Our rationale is that economic growth goes hand in hand with improving the environment and therefore, resonates with me. 

Inevitably I was drawn into the main stream of the National Party, party conferences, policy days, and candidates’ training – the final step that sealed my fate as to seriously consider politics as a career.  I am therefore sincerely grateful for the advice and friendship of Glenys Dickson whose gentle, well-timed, and highly effective nudges steered me here today. 

As Amelia Earhart once said: “Adventure is worthwhile in itself.”

So Mr Speaker, what I have learned in my short 40 years on this earth and what attitude I will bring to Parliament is:

I believe a superior understanding of the rules wins every time – I guess therefore Mr Leader of the House that I will be a regular attendee at Procedures Meetings.

I believe you should play the cards you are dealt, play them well and then wait for the re-deal.  With hard work and perseverance, eventually things must go your way.

Fight hard but fight fair and never lose sight of who you are or where you are from.  Humility is a characteristic that should never be underrated. 

I believe that one should be kind because you never know when you may need kindness in return to get you by. 

On winning the seat of Invercargill I was told by a friend to “dream big”.  In response I defer to one of the most powerful symbols of triumph over adversity, someone who achieved and inspired despite the odds. 

Helen Keller said: “One can never consent to creep when one feels an impulse to soar.” 

I promise to listen, to learn, to work, to dream and to do my best to soar. 

Mr Speaker, thank you.


All I want for Christmas . . .

July 30, 2014

A happy juxtaposition of hoardings at Wallacetown in the Invercargill electorate:

jkchristmas 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

Captions are welcome – witty not nasty.


Sabotaging own candidates

May 24, 2014

There’s something amiss with Labour’s selection process.

Nominations for the Rangitata seat were opened, closed without anyone applying and re-opened.

Nominations for Invercargill were opened, closed with the previous candidate, and former MP, Lesley Soper applying but reopened when the news the electorate MP, National’s Eric Roy, was retiring. Someone else applied but Soper was selected anyway.

Nominations for Tamaki Makaurau opened some time ago, were held open pending the outcome of TVNZ’s inquiry into Shane Taurima’s use of his work place and resources for political purposes.

Since then the party declined to give Taurima the waiver he needed to get the nomination and now the party is seeking further nominations:

The NZ Council of the Labour Party has resolved to invite further nominations for the Labour candidature in the Tamaki Makaurau seat, with the support of the Tamaki Makaurau Labour Electorate Committee. . .

Further nominations suggests they have already got at least one but, as in Invercargill, aren’t widely enthusiastic about whoever it is.

The seat is held by Pita Sharples who isn’t standing again which, means Labour would have had a better chance of winning it.

However, the Maori Party has already selected its candidate, Rangi McLean, who will have had the best part of a month campaigning before Labour’s candidate is selected.

Once more Labour is giving every appearance of sabotaging its candidate by its inept handling of its selection process.

 


If party didn’t want her, why would electorate?

March 10, 2014

Lesley Soper, the woman Labour didn’t really want to run for Invercargill, has been selected as its candidate.

The Labour Party reopened nominations for the Invercargill electorate in January, citing the retirement of National MP Eric Roy.

A selection meeting held yesterday saw her go up against Michael Gibson.

About 200 members of the Labour Party and unions affiliated to it attended the meeting and a floor and panel vote both opted for Ms Soper. . .

Mr Gibson, who had previously said he wanted to rejuvenate Labour in Invercargill and overhaul the party, could not be reached for comment last night.

Labour was happy for Soper to do the donkey work in a contest they knew she couldn’t win against Eric Roy.

When he stood down they thought the electorate might be more winnable so re-opened the selection.

They struggled to get anyone to put a hand up and, locals tell me, got someone at the 11th hour.

Several weeks later they’ve finally held a selection and chosen the woman they showed they weren’t confident was the best one to run against a new National candidate.

This begs several questions:

* If she wasn’t the preferred candidate in January, why is she in March?

* Was she chosen because she was the best of the two nominated, or because she’s a woman and the other wasn’t?

* If the Labour wasn’t really confident about Soper representing the party, how can the people of Invercargill be enthusiastic about her representing their electorate?

* Why didn’t the party prepare the unsuccessful candidate for a comment?

* If a party can’t run a selection smoothly how can it run the country?

Labour has handicapped its candidate from the start.

Meanwhile Sarah Dowie, National’s candidate, selected by the members in the electorate with no influence from head office, unions or anyone else, has the support of her party and is working hard to win the support of the electorate.


Sarah Dowie for Invercargill

March 1, 2014

Sarah Dowie has been  selected by National Party members as their candidate in Invercargill.

As the party’s regional chair it was my duty, and pleasure, to chair last night’s selection meeting.

The official media release says:

The National Party has announced local legal professional Sarah Dowie will be its candidate for the Invercargill seat at the 2014 general election

Ms Dowie was endorsed by a meeting of local party members in Invercargill tonight.

“National is taking nothing for granted in Invercargill this year, and the selection of a candidate of Sarah’s calibre reflects that,” says National’s Southern Region Chair, Ele Ludemann.

“The electorate and the party have been well served by retiring MP Eric Roy. Sarah will be working hard to win the support of the community to continue that strong local leadership. She is well aware of the challenges ahead, but I know we have the right person.”

Ms Dowie says she is immensely proud to have been selected to contest the electorate for National.

“Invercargill is a great place to live, work, and raise a family. I enjoy people and am passionate about this community,” says Ms Dowie.

“I believe we have some real opportunities ahead as a region. Our challenge is to ensure strong leadership and responsible policies which create more jobs and growth.

“I would be thrilled to earn the trust and support of our communities to serve them in Parliament, help secure those opportunities, and keep Invercargill’s strong voice in John Key’s National Party.”

Sarah Dowie – Biographical notes

Sarah Dowie is an Invercargill-based solicitor. As the daughter of two police officers, justice and law and order issues are part of her DNA.

After graduating from Otago University and being admitted to the Bar in 1998, Sarah established a successful career practising commercial and environmental law.

39-years-old, Sarah lives in Invercargill with husband Mark Billcliff and their two pre-school children. Mark is a former first class cricketer and Southland representative, who now gives back by coaching local youth.

Sarah is an appointee to the Otago-Southland Lotteries Board. Instinctively community-minded, she also provides free legal services to community groups.

She is a former manager for the Department of Conservation in its tourism and concession wing and is now a trustee and Deputy Chair of the Dog Island Motu Piu Conservation Trust, which is working to eradicate pests on the island and restore it as a viable habitat for tuatara.

An active member of the Invercargill Rotary Club, Sarah currently holds the Directorship of Youth/New Generations. She is also a member of the Invercargill Women’s Club, attends All Saints Anglican Church, and is a former executive member of the Waihopai Playcentre.

In her acceptance speech, Sarah paid tribute to Eric and said his will be big shoes to fill.

The unofficial photo shows how big the shoes she will have to fill are:

shoes 2

For the record, his shoes are size 15, and Sarah is up for the job.


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