Let MPs be real – John Carter

June 8, 2011

Let MPs be real. This was the heartfelt plea from John Carter in his valedictory statement to parliament yesterday evening.

The MP known for his colourful jokes said that while MPs needed to be serious they also needed humour.

MPs were coming under more and more scrutiny, particularly from the media who were trying to turn them into saints.

“We need to be real otherwise how can we represent real people? Let us be real,” he said in one of the few serious moments in a very funny speech.

John has been in parliament since 1987. He sought, and received, permission to table a paper on his superannuation showing how much of his own after-tax earnings he had paid into it.

He also had a message for the racing industry: “The people in racing are wonderful but until they realise that the change that needs to happen needs to happen from within it won’t. If the racing industry doesn’t change it is doomed.”

John said he had been proud to be part of the parliamentary rugby team and it held the Parliamentary World Cup. “The All Blacks could take a leaf out of our book.”

He has been an MP for nearly 24 years and in every election except 1993 he increased his majority.

When he finished speaking MPs from across the house went up to shake hands and hug him. It was a reminder for those of us watching from the gallery that although it is MPs’ differences that are usually highlighted, they also work together and their is respect and even camaraderie across political parties.

UPDATE: Keeping Stock has the video of the speech.

Foss takes over from Carter

June 7, 2011

Northland MP and minister outside cabinet John Carter delivers his valedictory speech today.

The NBR reports that Tukituki MP Craig Foss will takeover his portfolios: Racing, Civil Defence and Senior Citizens, and also become the Associate Minister of Local Government and Associate Minister of Commerce.

Leaders don’t win or lose alone

March 30, 2011

Election campaigns have become more and more presidential with most attention on party leaders.

That focus on the leaders continues between elections too but a leader doesn’t win or lose alone.

The seeds of National’s defeat in 1999 were sown before the 1990 election when Jim Bolger made stupid promises which were then not kept. Those seeds were fertilised before the 1996 election when too many MPs whose seats disappeared with the reduction in the number of electorates stayed on as list MPs.

Having failed to jump before the 1999 election many of those MPs were pushed in the 2002 one. Not only were many of them the tired face of National which the electorate had rejected three years before, many weren’t united behind the leader. The involuntary clean-out in the election provided the foundation for rebuilding which enabled the party to win in 2008.

Labour is following a similar path. It has had some refreshment but not enough.  Parties need a balance between experience and freshness and it hasn’t got it.

It’s led by one of the longest-serving MPs in parliament and too many of his caucus are associated with the people and policies which lost voters’ support over successive terms. Further more they have done too little to persuade the public they have new and better ideas for running the country again.

MPs will have many reasons for clinging to their seats, the good of the party isn’t usually one of them.

The influx of new MPs in 2005 and 2008 refreshed the National caucus. Involuntary resignations by Richard Worth and Pansy Wong and decisions not to stand again by John Carter, Wayne Mapp, Simon Power and Sandra Goudie has provided the opportunity for several new faces in the next term.

All the blame for Labour’s dysfunction is being laid at Phil Goff’s door. He’s made mistakes but his caucus members need to look at themselves too. Sticking with him because there is no viable alternative isn’t a resounding vote of confidence in him which the electorate shares. But a lack of unity and refusal to stand aside by some of the longer-serving or more ineffectual MPs is also part of the problem.

Ranking the list is never an easy job and the number of tired old faces among the sitting MPs will make it even harder for Labour this time. However, if its MPs and the party don’t make some hard choices about who stays and who goes themselves, voters will do it for them as they did for National in 2002.

John Carter not seeking re-election

November 8, 2010

Northland MP and Minister John Carter is not seeking re-election.

“It is time for me to relinquish my position as MP in Northland,” Mr Carter said. “After lengthy consideration, I have come to the conclusion that I will not seek re-election in 2011.  

 “This is my eighth term as MP for Northland, the region where I was born and bred. I believe I have represented Northland well for 23 years.  The investment I have made in the region for all of my constituents over this time has been hugely enjoyable and rewarding.  However, the time has arrived for me to move on in my life, thus giving an opportunity for new representation in Northland.

“I have had an incredible journey during my 23 years in Parliament, with many great experiences and an accumulation of achievements that I feel have steadily improved the lot of the people who have consistently put their faith in me to represent them.

“Being a Minister is the pinnacle of an MP’s career and I am enjoying the portfolios I have this term (Minister of Civil Defence, Minister for Racing, Minister for Senior Citizens and Associate Minister of Local Government).

“Civil Defence has certainly stood out and I hope I was able to give some assurance to the people of Canterbury in the early days after the 4 September earthquake.

 “I have also enjoyed being part of the team that prepared the legislation to set up the super city of Auckland.

“Politics is about people and as politicians we have to spend a lot of time listening to what people want. I chaired the Auckland Governance Legislation Committee and believe we reflected the views of the different interest groups involved with the legislation for a unified Auckland city in the best possible way.

“I have also seen first hand, how responsive our Civil Defence Emergency Management Plan is in securing the safety of people. We are leaders in the world in this regard.

“As anyone who knows me will know, I will be working hard for the people of Northland and for those whose interests I represent with my portfolios until the day I leave Parliament Buildings towards the end of next year.”

John has been a very popular and hard working MP in one of the North Island’s biggest electorates and one of the country’s poorest.

He is an enthusiast who loves his job and was thrilled to become a Minister two years ago.

This won’t have been an easy decision for him but it’s important to have renewal in caucus and his resignation will provide the opportunity for a new candidate.

Permanent disaster law better than legislation on the hoof

September 27, 2010

Radio NZ reports the government is considering permanent legislation to deal with natural disasters.

While the Canterbury Earthquake Response and Recovery Act has been criticised for overriding existing laws, Civil Defence Minister John Carter says it’s already proving its worth.

And Mr Carter says the Government is considering whether new legislation is needed to deal with disasters, rather than having to rush through emergency laws, as has happened after the earthquake.

The Canterbury Earthquake Response and Recovery Act was passed without dissent but has attracted a lot of criticism since then because of its all encompassing nature and the power it gives to the Minister.

Legislation made with public input and careful consideration will almost always be better than that made on the hoof.

One step back two steps forward

July 24, 2010

If the government had carried on with plans to investigate mining potential on schedule 4 conservation land it would have been accused of not listening to the people.

Now that it has taken heed of the vociferous opposition to the plan and not only said there will be no mining on this land but added more to it, it’s been accused of doing a u-turn.

It’s one of those damned if they did, damned if they didn’t situations but Trans Tasman has found some positives in it for the government:

. . . Brownlee says “NZers have given the mineral sector a clear mandate to go and explore that land, and where appropriate…utilise its mineral resources for everyone’s benefit.”

Therefore, on his analysis the biggest backdown since National came to office was “a valuable exercise” and he could be right. It hasn’t lost anything which really matters, it listened and it learned, and its opponents have been cut off at the knees. And the industry, far from being disappointed, says it’s getting what it has wanted for a decade-aero magnetic surveys of regions expected to yield deposits worth billions.

One step back from schedule 4 land has led to a couple of steps forward in other areas. Northland MP John Carter and West Coast Tasman MP Chris Auchinvole are showing a lot of enthusiasm for the possiblity of mining in their electorates.

And Grey District Mayor Tony Kokshoorn said city people shouldn’t use his region to ease their environmental consciences:

 . . . Aucklanders need to deal with what he calls “the mountain of carbon emissions” their highways are spewing out before blocking a small amount of mining on the West Coast.

He says it is not right that urban people should stop the region’s development.

Mr Kokshoorn says the area proposed for exploration was only “a few thousand hectares” out of the two million hectares of conservation land on the West Coast.

He said there is a currently a balance between eco-tourism and mining on the West Coast and further mining would not compromise the environment.

He said the Government’s decision not to mine on schedule four conservation land was hugely disappointing.

People who marvel at natural beauty as they drive through it at 100 kph or take a closer look on an occasional holiday have a right to their views. But while they stand up for the environment they forget the sustainability stool has two other legs – the economic and social ones.

Local people need work which mining could provide and the infrastructure and services which would come with it.

They have a far greater interest than visitors in ensuring mining doesn’t come at the cost of the environment because it will be done in their backyard, and no-one’s suggesting mining at any cost.

The Resource Management process will be able to ensure mining is done with minimal disruption and damage and the requirement to leave the land in the same or better state when the work is finished.

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