Dissolution delayed

August 12, 2020

The dissolution of parliament has been delayed until Monday.

. . . This means Parliament will continue to function. The Government and Cabinet could have continued without Parliament, but it would have no way to pass new legislation if that was needed to respond to an outbreak.

Former National Leader Simon Bridges urged an election delay, saying the amount of media attention the Prime Minister would attract during a second outbreak of Covid-19 would stack the odds of victory in her favour.

“I’ve just cancelled public meetings and a lot of volunteers doorknocking.

“Meanwhile, Labour, while suspending campaigning, continues with all machinery of Govt and thus the power of the airwaves,” Bridges said in a Tweet.

Both National leader Judith Collins and ACT leader David Seymour had called for the ending of the 52nd Parliament to be delayed, as Auckland heads into Covid-19 alert level 3 and the rest of New Zealand into alert level 2. . . 

Delaying the dissolution of parliament is the right decision.

Postponing the election should follow.

It is just over a couple of weeks until early voting begins and little more than a month until election day.

Candidates can’t campaign at lockdown level 2, let alone level 3 which is where Auckland is.

These restrictions are only supposed to last a few days but news that one of the people who has tested positive to Covid-19 travelled to Rotorua doesn’t give a lot of confidence that the lockdown will not be extended in time and area.


Pull No Punches

August 5, 2020

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A journalist phoned me a couple of days ago to say the National Party should serialise Judith Collins’ autobiography as a really positive contribution to the election campaign.

Having just finished reading it, I can understand why he said that.

The book begins with Judith’s childhood on a dairy farm. Hers was a typical post-war country childhood, growing up with little more than necessities in the material sense but rich in love.

Her parents were Labour voters. It was a confrontation with a union when she and her husband, David Wong Tong, owned a restaurant that turned her off that party. The union staff was there for the union, not the workers they were supposed to be representing.

Judith worked as a lawyer and set up her own firm before entering politics.

Her story shows some of the work good electorate MPs do for their constituents and the hard work they have to do in parliament, and even more in government. She also shows her appreciation of the party volunteers and the loyalty and service of electorate, parliamentary and ministerial staff.

Most people recognise Judith’s intelligent head, the book also shows her heart in a story told with wit and warmth.

Her final paragraph would be a good basis for an election manifesto:

That valuing of all is crucially important for New Zealand. With our small population, we can’t afford to have parts of the country feeling left out of our grand plans. We need to build a culture of tolerance, not of discord. Remember we are all immigrants or the descendants of immigrants. Whether they came to New Zealand on waka or sailing ships or by plane, our ancestors all came here for a better life – and they all came to New Zealand for opportunity. They brought with them the resilience of my forebears, a drive and determination to make a difference. Let us embrace that as we live in our present.

This book should be compulsory reading for political tragics. It will be of interest to anyone who wants to learn about the person behind the politics and would be instructional for those who aren’t familiar with the good work of politicians that rarely, if ever, gets reported.

Pull No Punches by Judith Collins, published by Allen & Unwin.


Quotes of the month

August 1, 2020

Nearly every day….I get a random stranger go out of their way to walk up to me in the street and say ‘I want to let you know I’m very grateful for what you do’. So at some point you decide do you want to listen to the one negative person, or 50 positive people?.’ – Paula Bennett

Homeowners in Kelburn who like the idea that we lead the world in banning plastic bags (we don’t) and seeing statues of Captain Cook replaced with Pohutukawa trees are going to spill their almond milk at the prospect of paying an annual two per cent tax on their unrealised capital gains. Wealthy Green voters, I am willing to wager, prefer looking good to doing good.Damien Grant

Let’s understand that dying is an intrinsic part of life. Let’s talk about what end-of-life care actually is and strengthen, extend and improve what we already have in our palliative care. Such care is a commitment, one we need to make. Euthanasia is an avoidance of this commitment. – Serena Jones

Without food, there is no life. The trick is to produce it in ways that also yield rich soils, thriving forests, healthy waterways and flourishing communities. As the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment pointed out 10 years ago, in tackling climate change, it’s vital to avoid perverse incentives and bad ecological outcomes. he farmers are right. At present, the incentives in the ETS are perverse, and they’re taking us in the wrong direction. It needs to be fixed before it’s too late. – Dame Anne Salmond

 Don’t jack up taxes during an economic crisis. Don’t add to the burden. Give us a break. What’s the better alternative? Blitz the low-quality spending and accelerate economic growth to generate the revenue to deal to the debt. – Mike Yardley

If sex isn’t real, there’s no same-sex attraction. If sex isn’t real, the lived reality of women globally is erased. I know and love trans people, but erasing the concept of sex removes the ability of many to meaningfully discuss their lives. It isn’t hate to speak the truth.” – J.K. Rowling

When transgender women and women are indistinguishable, women are unable to access the rights they would have if they were distinctive. . . Yet being tolerant of transgender women does not mean that one loses the ability to defend the rights of women who were born female. . . The main reason for this silence, as I see it, is the twisted logic of identity politics and its adherents. This ideology promotes a worldview that is wholly based on power structures and relationships. All of society is viewed through the prism of oppressors and oppressed. The ideology focuses on traits, such as race, gender or sexual orientation, some of which are deemed unalterable, others a matter of personal choice. Yet individual agency is generally devalued, to the benefit of collective identities that are increasingly ideologically fixed. An individual has less and less room to carve out room for her own views within each collective. A matrix has formed where those who have a higher number of marginalized traits rank higher on the victimhood ladder; their “truth” therefore counts more. – Ayaan Hirsi Ali

More funding does not address the issues of choice, accountability, value for money, and individual and community needs.Brooke van Velden

If your test is, it doesn’t matter whether someone is nice to the Labour Party, it matters if they are nice to the waiter, then Judith Collins is a very nice person. – Ben Thomas

Collins does not deal in ambiguity and nor is she likely to deliver it.Liam Hehir

You can’t be focussed on New Zealanders when you’re busy playing politics.One of the things I’ve learned over the years is you only ever learn from your mistakes, you don’t learn from your successes. The National Party is very focussed on not repeating any mistakes.” – Judith Collins

Elections are the means by which the Government has legitimacy and power; not minor inconveniences on the path to Covid-19 recovery.Henry Cooke

Collins, like Muldoon, speaks to a New Zealand that sees itself above class and race. She imagines a country where the language of political correctness has no place and anyone who works hard can get ahead. Don’t underestimate how many New Zealanders share that vision. – Josh Van Veen

Twitter is not on the masthead of The New York Times. But Twitter has become its ultimate editor. As the ethics and mores of that platform have become those of the paper, the paper itself has increasingly become a kind of performance space. Stories are chosen and told in a way to satisfy the narrowest of audiences, rather than to allow a curious public to read about the world and then draw their own conclusions. I was always taught that journalists were charged with writing the first rough draft of history. Now, history itself is one more ephemeral thing molded to fit the needs of a predetermined narrative. – Bari Weiss

To me, the point of a strong economy is to enable New Zealanders to do the most basic things in life well. A strong economy improves our chances of finding satisfying and well-paying work so that we can look after ourselves and our families – the most fundamental task each of us have. A society based on the assumption that its average citizen can’t or shouldn’t be expected to look after themselves and their families is doomed. – Paul Goldsmith

Here we had intimations at least that the prim, prissy, prudish neo-Puritanism, the Woke-Fascism unleashed on the nation by the Marxist Jacinda Ardern might have met its match. – Lindsay Perigo

She is creating a climate of terror designed to keep people cowed and bowed. It’s cynical, and I believe she was acting in the best interest of the country in the beginning, and now it’s become almost a mania. – Kerre McIvor

National’s approach to infrastructure is simple: Make decisions, get projects funded and commissioned, and then get them delivered, at least a couple of years before they are expected to be needed. That is the approach that transformed the economies of Asia from the 1960s.Judith Collins

It wasn’t that long ago when much of the global elite had conclusively decided that climate change was our world’s top priority. Then came a massive sideswiping by a global pandemic, of which we have only seen the first wave, along with an equally massive global recession. It serves as a timely reminder that an alarmism that cultivates one fear over others serves society poorly. – Bjorn Lomborg

I have no doubt that in the ranks of both main Parties there are numerous MPs with a strong Green personal agenda. If the Greens see a Parliamentary role then that should be to go into coalition with any majority Party so as to push their agenda. The indisputable fact is they’re frauds. – Sir Bob Jones 

A wealth tax is far more punitive than a capital gains tax, since rather than being raised on profits after an asset is sold, it must be found each year by people who may be asset rich but cash poor. It would become an unaffordable burden on many New Zealanders, especially those who are retired. – Dr Muriel Newman

Increasingly throwing money at dysfunctional families provides no assurance parents will suddenly become better budgeters, or not simply spend more on harmful behaviours. Gambling and substance abuse don’t just hurt the parent. They hurt the child directly (damage in the womb, physical abuse or neglect under the influence) not to mention indirectly through parental role-modelling that normalizes bad behaviours, especially violence, to their children.-  Lindsay Mitchell

My warning, however, would be that it’d be dangerous for National to become a conservatives’ party rather than a party with conservatives in it. It’s better to share power in a party that governs more often than not than it is to be the dominant force in a party that reliably gets 35% of the vote. . . The National Party is not an ideological movement. It is a political framework that allows members unified by their opposition to state socialism to pursue their various goals incrementally and co-operatively. Nobody ever gets everything they want but that’s a fact of life. – Liam Hehir

And that defines the New Zealand First dilemma. They must now campaign on the basis that they were part of a Government so they can’t credibly attack it, but they were not a big enough part to have a major influence. Richard Harman

We think it’s very important that we have everybody involved in it (planning). But I think it’s really important too is that consultation actually should be consultation, not the farce we have at the moment where everybody gets a say, and nobody gets the answer. –  Judith Collins

For me every day is now what they refer to as ‘Blursday’ because I really wouldn’t know. – Melina Schamroth

Properly funded end of life care is what needs to happen before, in my opinion, we push the nuclear button on the option of euthanasia. – Maggie Barry

It is about this time in the election cycle that the media starts crying out for policy. They want to know exactly what a party will do if elected. The problem for parties has always been that the amount of effort that goes into writing an election policy is not reflected in the amount of consideration given to it by voters. – Brigitte Morton

Laying hundreds off is no different to laying one off if you’re that one. And the reason this will play into the way we vote is because the halcyon days of the lock down are well past, and we have moved on with the inevitable, what next scenario. . .If The Warehouse, having taken the wage subsidy, can still lay off the numbers they are, and they’re far from the only ones, how many more join that queue come September 1st? And how many of those jobless quite rightly ask themselves whether teddy bears in windows, closed borders and a tanked economy with no real answer outside welfare is really worth voting for. – Mike Hosking

Hypocrisy is a normal but irritating aspect of human behaviour. We’re all hypocrites to some extent, but true hypocrites are almost admirable in their chutzpah because, unlike hypocrites who are caught doing what they try to hide, real hypocrites are outraged by vices which they themselves do in public. Their hypocrisy is so blatant that, after a while, nobody notices – it fades into the background like muzak in a shopping centre. – Roger Franklin

On behalf of environmentalists everywhere, I would like to formally apologize for the climate scare we created over the last 30 years. Climate change is happening. It’s just not the end of the world. It’s not even our most serious environmental problem.  – Michael Shellenberger

Peters can only win if voters see only his crafted image and ignore the reality of who he really is. But once the tricks become obvious – when the threadbare curtain concealing him is pulled back – the show man can no longer pass himself off as the Wizard of Oz. – Andrea Vance

By any measure it is the coming together of the narcissist and the plain wacky coated in self-delusion. – The Veteran

A strong economy improves our chances of finding satisfying and well-paying work so that we can look after ourselves and our families – the most fundamental task each of us have.
A society based on the assumption that its average citizen can’t or shouldn’t be expected to look after themselves and their families is doomed.  
Paul Goldsmith

Just think about it, when you step into a polling booth on September 19 you will be a bit like a practising Catholic going into a cathedral, dipping your fingers into the holy water font and blessing yourself.

After you’ve washed your hands with the sanitiser, you’ll bow over the ballot paper in the booth and be reminded how lucky you are to be alive.  – Barry Soper

Those on welfare don’t need sympathy. They need to be backed, encouraged, and supported to plan their future and see a path off welfare dependency. . . . I have always believed the answers to long-term dependency, child abuse, and neglect, and violence are in our communities. There is no programme that a politician or a bureaucrat can design that will solve these complex issues – Paula Bennett

Money is currently being thrown around but with no accountability. We have to be bold, brave. How can throwing millions and millions of dollars around and hoping some gets to those that need it most, through Government agencies and community organisations, and yet watching more people in despair be OK. – Paula Bennett

I’m far from perfect, and I know that, but my intent, my heart, my integrity has meant that I have slept well. This place is brutal. It will pick up the spade and bury you if you let it. It is relentless, but we sign up knowing that. So I went hard and full-on. For me to have not made a difference and not given it everything I’ve got would’ve been wasted time. So I end this chapter half the size but twice the woman thanks to this experience.  – Paula Bennett

Why is it through the toughest moments of our lives we learn the most, we feel the most, we have the greatest power to contribute and experience beauty? Through COVID, we saw this. Through fear, desperation, and hardship, heroes emerged. Teachers taught children from their living rooms while supporting their own families. Nurses, doctors, and checkout operators had the courage to turn up even when they were petrified. The lesson is: character and courage emerge out of trauma and hardship. The question for any generation of political leaders is: have we had the courage and character to step up and solve the hard economic and social issues of our time?  – Nikki Kaye

The National Party has been a strong force in New Zealand politics because of its values of freedom and personal responsibility—a place where social conservatives and social liberals can work for the common good. As a party, we are at our best when there is balance. That is when we are truly representative of this great nation. – Nikki Kaye

To the parliamentarians: I’ve always said I believe there are two types of parliamentarians in this place. Those that are in it for themselves and those that are in it for the country. Be the latter. Be brave and have courage. Don’t leave anything in the tank. – Nikki Kaye

In my three years as justice Minister, it very quickly became clear to me that the best thing we could do to reduce crime was to intervene many, many years before the offenders ever turn up in court. That was the basis of my absolute adoption of the importance of social investment as championed by Sir Bill English. Yes, it’s early intervention but it’s so much more and involves radical change to our delivery models if we’re going to make progress on the hard intergenerational issues.  – Amy Adams

Colleagues, the jobs we hold matter. They matter so much more than any one of us. We need good people to want to step into this arena, and we need them to do it for the best of reasons. I worry that increasingly the scorn and the vitriol that is heaped on politicians—often fairly—discourages those good people from stepping up. These jobs are tough. The life is brutal, and the public will never really see the hours, the stress, the impossibility of the perfection that is required, and the impact that life in the public eye has on our families. While you are here in your political role, it is your life. Friends, family, and our health get what’s left over, and often that’s not much. But this job deserves that level of devotion. – Amy Adams

If I have any advice for those who follow me, it would be pretty simple: do the right thing and let the politics take care of itself. Be brave, stand up on the divisive issues, and never lose sight of the difference you get to make in the time that we are here. – Amy Adams

I had the privilege of sharing a breakfast with Julia Gillard, the Australian Prime Minister at the time. Neither of us were into cold pastries or cold meat, so she ordered toast. I thought, “What are we going to put on this toast?” She said, “Don’t worry, Nathan. I’ve got it in hand.”, reached down—”Craft peanut butter. Vegemite.” We had a great discussion. The Anzac bond is incredibly strong. – Nathan Guy

It’s easy to sit on the side lines and criticise. It’s a lot more difficult to stand up and be counted. – Nathan Guy

While everyone is in recession it is a wee bit difficult to believe that we are going to be out of it. . . . We are heading into massive deficits. Households will tend to buckle down in the face of that and eventually government will have to tighten up as well. One of the things about this recession is the way it cuts across your usual categories of who is hit and who isn’t. Get ready for a long haul.- Sir Bill English

You should be concerned about systems that randomly allocate public resource to businesses under pressure. – Sir Bill English

 


Media release ready not shovel ready

July 23, 2020

The delay in releasing the list of shovel-ready projects is putting jobs at risk while playing politics:

National Leader Judith Collins is demanding Labour Leader Jacinda Ardern release the list of the shovel-ready projects her Government has agreed to fund but is keeping secret for political reasons.

Ms Ardern told Parliament today that the list of projects was signed off by her Government nearly a month ago, on 29 June.

Her Deputy, Winston Peters, told the Wellington Chamber of Commerce yesterday that “I have the list; the whole lot”.

“This is not a game, Ms Ardern and Mr Peters,” Ms Collins said.

“The livelihoods of more than 200,000 construction workers and their families depend on getting the shovels out of the shed, the diggers on the roads and hundreds of new projects underway.

“The construction industry needs to see the list to keep those people employed.

“Stop playing games with Kiwis’ jobs, Ms Ardern and Mr Peters, and release the list today.”

Why won’t the government release the list?

Could it be they want to drip feed it milking opportunities for photo opportunities?

Or is the problem that the list is not of shovel-ready projects but media release ready ones, perpetuating grounds to accuse the government of being much better at making announcements than delivering on them?

Even if there is a far better reason than either of these, it would be difficult for it to be good enough to justify the delays that are putting jobs and even businesses at risk.


Getting rid of handbrake

July 20, 2020

The announcement of National’s $31 billion infrastructure package by Judith Collins included an important enabler:

. . .Now, for the elephant in the room – the Resource Management Act.

I’m going to say what you’re thinking: How can we possibly deliver all these projects – or even any of them – with the RMA standing so firmly in our way? You’re right to think that. The RMA is New Zealand’s biggest barrier to future development.

Aucklanders, and all New Zealanders, are sick of:

· The diabolical processes and never-ending but insincere consultation.

· The endless cost and delays the RMA gifts to seemingly every development.

· Good projects falling-over in Court.

It has to stop.

Previous Governments have made the mistake of tinkering around the edges with amendment after amendment. It’s all been well-intentioned but it hasn’t worked. Eighteen RMA Amendment Bills have been passed since the RMA was first legislated in 1991. As a result, the RMA is now an 800-page beast, decipherable only by an ever-growing industry of lawyers and consultants.

That’s why I am making a very firm commitment that the National Government I lead will repeal the RMA altogether. It won’t be “reformed” – it will go.

We will replace it with two new pieces of law: an Environment Standards Act, setting our environmental bottom lines; and an Urban Planning and Development Act, giving clarity and consistency. We will begin this work in our first 100 days. We will introduce new legislation by the end of next year.

That process, though, is too slow for the projects I have announced today – and those we will announce in the next few weeks. The RMA fast-track legislation passed in response to Covid-19 provides a useful interim framework. The current Government has restricted its reach to a handful of pet projects. In and of itself, that is a stunning indictment of how the RMA has failed us.

National will make far more extensive use of the fast-track Act. New Zealand is facing an extraordinary jobs and economic crisis; and it demands a proportional response. We simply cannot let the RMA stand in the way of urgently needed infrastructure development. In Auckland and right around the country, we will work with local government to try to make existing RMA procedures more efficient.

But I want to tell you all right now, we will legislate for our projects if necessary. We will be respectful of local government and local stakeholders, most particularly mana whenua, and the likes of NZTA and the Infrastructure Commission.

But if we are chosen to form a Government this September, we will regard ourselves as having a democratic mandate to proceed with the projects I have announced today.

And that is what we shall do. . . 

The RMA was well intended but the main beneficiaries from it are bureaucrats, consultants and lawyers.

It is a handbrake on progress and the government has accepted this with its RMA fast-track legislation.

If the Act isn’t fit for purpose now, it isn’t fit for purpose at all.

It’s a handbrake on progress that can’t be fixed by tinkering.

Amendments and attempted reforms have added to its problems.

Repeal and replacement with fit for purpose legislation that will safeguard the environment without the delays,  high costs and handbrake on progress that the RMA imposes is the solution.

 

 


Fair? Right?

July 18, 2020

Two opinion pieces.

The first on Labour leader Jacinda Ardern from Kerre McIvor:

“She is creating a climate of terror designed to keep people cowed and bowed. 

“It’s cynical, and I believe she was acting in the best interest of the country in the beginning, and now it’s become almost a mania.”

The second on National leader Judith Collins from Josh Van Veen:

 While Collins and Muldoon are on opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to economic management, they share the same philosophic outlook. Collins, like Muldoon, speaks to a New Zealand that sees itself above class and race. She imagines a country where the language of political correctness has no place and anyone who works hard can get ahead. Don’t underestimate how many New Zealanders share that vision.

Is the first fair?

Is the second right?


Getting NZ moving

July 17, 2020

National leader Judith Collins has announced a $31 billion infrastructure package to get New Zealand moving:

About half ($17 billion) would be invested in the upper North Island – home to half of all New Zealanders.

“Auckland and the Upper North Island are broken by congestion, worsened by the current Government’s incompetence, and everyone knows it,” Ms Collins says.

“Congestion means goods being delivered late to our ports, parents being late to pick up the kids from rugby practice, and a tradie only doing two, rather than four, cross-town trips per day.”

This has a huge cost in human, economic and environmental terms.

To fix this, Ms Collins said National would go ahead with everything Labour has said it will do in transport – with the exception of Phil Twyford’s light-rail Ghost Trains, and the probable exception of the $360 million Skypath 2 – but would go much further.

First, Ms Collins said National would connect Whangarei, Auckland, Hamilton and Tauranga with four-lane expressways – including tunnels under the Brynderwyn and Kaimai mountain ranges – to create a genuinely integrated region of 2.5 million New Zealanders.

“National’s vision is to transform the four cities to be one economic powerhouse, unlocking their potential so the upper North Island becomes Australasia’s most dynamic region.”

Second, Ms Collins announced National would complete Auckland’s rapid transit network, including rail to the airport and new busways, as envisaged by its former mayors Sir Dove Myer-Robinson and Len Brown, and former Auckland Regional Council chairman Mike Lee.

“One rough definition of a city is that it is a place you can get from one side to the other in an hour, or a place that the average time to get to work is 30 minutes. National will measure our progress against the goals of 30 minutes to get to work and one hour to get across the city.”

Third, Ms Collins announced work towards an additional harbour crossing would begin immediately, with the intention of work beginning on the ground in 2028.

“National’s Plan is that the crossing should be a tunnel or tunnels, and be for both road and rail, and new public transport technologies that come on line.”

Ms Collins announced Auckland’s ferry network would be expanded to reduce congestion on road and rail. National’s Plan also includes new walking and cycling links as well as expanded park-and-ride facilities.

National’s projects will be sequenced over the next decade and beyond, but work will also begin immediately on $300 million worth of digger-ready projects in Auckland – and throughout the country in 2021 – to fix potholes, roundabouts, and crash corners.

The $17 billion earmarked for the Auckland and upper North Island projects, and the $14b for soon-to-be-announced projects in the southern half of the country, would come from the current Government’s Covid fund. NZTA will also be allowed to better leverage its balance sheet by borrowing up to $1 billion a year, and there will be tolls on the new Brynderwyn, Waitemata and Kaimai tunnels.

Ms Collins said her Government would be different from Labour, saying “it’s time for boldness and long-term vision”.

“National’s approach to infrastructure is simple: Make decisions, get projects funded and commissioned, and then get them delivered, at least a couple of years before they are expected to be needed. That is the approach that transformed the economies of Asia from the 1960s.

“Today’s plan is one that New Zealanders – including Aucklanders – have been waiting for, for generations.”

The Transport Funding summery is here and says:

National intends to make a major change to the way we fund transport investments in New Zealand.

This simple yet profound shift in thinking fundamentally changes the game by allowing us to significantly invest more on an annual basis, develop a pipeline of projects, and invest in important projects before they become urgent.

We call this the intergenerational approach.

Our policy
National will let Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency (NZTA) borrow significantly more on its own balance sheet, using the $4 billion of annual revenue it receives from fuel tax and road user charges to service the debt. 

The current Government has recently made a similar move with Kāinga Ora.

Transport infrastructure has intergenerational benefits, it is fair to take an intergenerational approach to paying for it.

While this was Judith’s first big policy announcement, and she was happy to share the attention:


Judith Collins’ reshuffle

July 16, 2020

Judith Collins has announced her caucus reshuffle:

“I’m proud to be leading the strongest team in New Zealand politics – one that is dedicated to delivering a better way of life for New Zealanders than the current Government can.

“I’m particularly pleased that Simon Bridges and Todd Muller, as former leaders of the National Party, have accepted my invitation to take up senior roles on my front bench.

“The education portfolio will be in safe hands with Nicola Willis who has shown a tremendous work ethic and aptitude in other challenging portfolios. I’m confident she will continue to contribute to the high standard that we all expect.

“Chris Bishop will be taking on the extra role of Shadow Leader of the House on the front bench. He has been a standout performer in Parliament and as the MP for Hutt South. I have full confidence that he is up to this demanding role.

“Dr Shane Reti has proven himself already as Associate Health spokesperson. As a senior medical practitioner, he is the right choice at this time to hold the Government to account in the demanding health portfolio. Dr Reti takes the position of number five on the front bench of the National Party.

“This refreshed line-up showcases the diverse range of talent and wealth of experience among the National Party ranks.

“National has the experience and vision needed to get our economy back on track.”

The full list is here.

It is one based on matching skills to portfolios that manages to tick the diversity boxes because these are able people and not just tokenism.

 


Feeding on fear no substitute for policy

July 16, 2020

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern called a press conference yesterday morning.

A quick look at main New Zealand news websites had several, by and large positive, stories about Judith Collins the new leader of the Opposition but I had to look hard to find anything about the PM’s speech.

That was a good thing because if you go to the Beehive website and read the speech you’ll find it was a cynical attempt to feed fear about Covid-19.

It speaks about the risk of the disease spreading in the community and what will be done should that happen.

That didn’t tell us anything new.

Anyone who follows international news doesn’t have to look far to understand that in spite of more than 70 days with no cases of community spread, it could still happen when New Zealanders who are infected are coming home and what the response would have to be.

So why make that speech and why yesterday?

It was a cynical and deliberately timed attempt to take media attention away from new National leader Judith Collins, feed the fear many still have of an outbreak of Covid-19 and distract from Labour’s lack of policy.

Then Ardern had the gall to pretend she wasn’t politicking:

After a speech setting out how New Zealand would respond if another Covid-19 outbreak was to occur, the Prime Minister was asked about the front-page news of the day: Judith Collins.

Jacinda Ardern demurred, offering neither congratulations nor commiserations for the National Party and its new leader.

“I’m spending more time about New Zealand’s response and economic recovery from Covid-19,” Ardern said.

“I accept there will be politicking this year. I accept we have an election. But if I’m being brutally honest, my mind hasn’t been focused on that to date.”

Honest? That is anything but.

“I absolutely accept that there is an election this year – and there is no avoiding that – but at the moment it’s taking up a bare minimum of my attention.”

Is this an admission that she can deal with only one thing at a time?

It’s also quite an odd way of putting it. Ardern doesn’t have the choice to “accept” whether there is an election this year. Elections are the means by which the Government has legitimacy and power; not minor inconveniences on the path to Covid-19 recovery.

This kind of language plays into a wider strategy that is emerging from Ardern and Labour to basically pretend there isn’t an election. With the global pandemic continuing to dominate the news cycle it makes total sense to stick to governing, or at least look like you are. “Politicking” is something other parties who are in trouble do, what with their leadership changes and leaking drama, you just get to govern. After all, people like Prime Minister Ardern much more than Labour leader Ardern, and the best campaign is a well-governed country. . . 

The response to the pandemic, particularly the claim about going hard and early, can be debated but the result that allows most of us to live life as normal, bar international travel, can not. However, government’s success in many other areas, in particular Labour flagship policies such as KiwiBuild and reducing child poverty, are open to attack.

That’s why Ardern wants to keep the attention on Covid-19 and away from other issues which she and her largely lacklustre team are ill-equipped to handle.

Thus far Labour has released a single election policy, which deals with afforestation of farmland and seems mostly engineered to give Kieran McAnulty a good shot in Wairarapa. When you ask about other policy areas, MPs either say “maybe soon” or point to wider government policy on an issue. But the Government is not the Labour Party, it is a set of compromises between Labour and two parties with wildly different views. Kiwis can’t vote for “the Government” – much like they can’t vote for Ardern herself. They can vote for a party, and they deserve a coherent set of values and promises to make that decision on. . .

A coherent set of values and promises to make a decision on would only remind voters that three years ago Labour campaigned on let’s do this and has been much better at speeches and media releases than actually doing anything.

Collins promised to not underestimate Ardern as a foe. Ardern is unlikely to be underestimating Collins in return. But she can only float above the partisan fray for so long. At some point she will need to dig in and fight a real ideological battle with the National Party – especially as its leader is now making promises to “take our country back”. That’s what elections are for.

They are, and National’s chances of winning have been greatly enhanced by the leadership change. Heather du Plessis-Allan says Collins nailed her first day as leader:

You can see the strategy. Collins is going to try to show Ardern how the job should be done.

And if she pulls it off, it could well look like the grownups have finally arrived.

That would be grown ups who understand there’s a lot more to governing than good communication, it takes a lot more than three or four people to run a country and feeding fear of a pandemic is no substitute for robust policy and the ability to deliver it.


Judith Collins National leader Gerry Brownlee deputy

July 14, 2020

Judith Collins is National’s new leader.

Gerry Brownlee is her deputy.

 


National’s refreshed responsibilities

May 25, 2020

Todd Muller has announced the refreshed responsibilities for his MPs:

He has taken Small Business and National Security.

His deputy Nikki Kaye has Education and Sports and Recreation.

Amy Adams, who had announced her retirement, is staying on with responsibility for Covid-19 Recovery.

Judith Collins:  Economic Development, Regional Development, is Shadow Attorney-General and takes on Pike River Re-entry.

Paul Goldsmith keeps Finance and has responsibility for the Earthquake Commission.

Gerry Brownlee: Foreign Affairs, Disarmament; GCSB; NZSIS and Shadow Leader of House.

Michael Woodhouse keeps Health, is  Deputy Shadow Leader of the House and Associate Finance

Louise Upston: Social Development and Social Investment.

Mark Mitchell: Justice and Defence

Scott Simpson:  Environment, Climate Change and Planning (RMA reform)

Todd McCLay:Trade and Tourism

Chris Bishop has Infrastructure and Transport

Paula Bennett: Drug Reform and Women

Nicola Willis: Housing and Urban Development and Early Childhood Education

Jacqui Dean: Conservation

David Bennett: Agriculture

Shane Reti: Tertiary Skills and Employment,  Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations and Associate Health

Melissa Lee: Broadcasting, Communications and Digital Media and Data and Cybersecurity

Andrew Bayly:  Revenue, Commerce, State Owned Enterprises and Associate Finance

Alfred Ngaro: Pacific Peoples, Community and Voluntary, and Children and Disability Issues

Barbara Kuriger: Senior Whip, Food Safety, Rural Communities

Jonathan Young:

Nick Smith:

Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi:

Matt Doocey:

Jian Yang:

Stuart Smith:

Simon O’Connor:

Lawrence Yule: Local Government

Denise Lee:  Local Government (Auckland)

Anne Tolley: Deputy Speaker

Parmjeet Parmar:  Research, Science and Innovation

Brett Hudson:  Police, Government Digital Services

Stuart Smith: Immigration, Viticulture

Simeon Brown: Corrections, Youth, Associate Education

Ian McKelvie: Racing, Fisheries

Jo Hayes:  Whānau Ora, Māori Development

Andrew Falloon: Biosecurity, Associate Agriculture, Associate Transport

Harete Hipango: Crown Māori Relations, Māori Tourism

Matt King: Regional Development (North Island), Associate Transport

Chris Penk: Courts, Veterans

Hamish Walker Land Information, Forestry, Associate Tourism

Erica Stanford: Internal Affairs, Associate Environment, Associate Conservation

Tim van de Molen: Third Whip, Building and Construction

Maureen Pugh: Consumer Affairs, Regional Development (South Island), West Coast Issues

Dan Bidois: Workplace Relations and Safety

Agnes Loheni:  Associate Small Business, Associate Pacific Peoples

Paulo Garcia: Associate Justice

At the time of the announcement SImon Bridges was considering his future, he nas subsequently announced he will stay on in parliament and contest the Tauranga seat again.


Quotes of the month

May 1, 2020

The most galling aspect of the current lock down is that we could’ve prevented it. If we had introduced strict quarantine at the border and made provision for widespread testing much earlier, like South Korea and others, we probably wouldn’t be in the situation we now find ourselves. We all have to pay a high price to bring this disease under control and that cost is now as much in our liberty as our wallets. I don’t think there is anything to be gained at this time in castigating the Government for their earlier inaction, but let’s not give them undue credit either. Hopefully there will be a reckoning after all this is over. – Kiwiwit

One should never underestimate the power of amnesia in human affairs. Even catastrophes on a vast scale are often soon forgotten, at least by those who were not directly affected by them. The young in Eastern Europe, it is said, know nothing of the ravages of communism, though they lasted decades and still exert an influence, and quite a lot think that socialism might be a good thing to try, as if it had never been tried before. Moreover, no memory exerts a salutary effect by itself unaided by thought and reflection: memory (even where accurate) has to be interpreted, and where there is interpretation there is the possibility of error and disagreement. – Theodore Dalrymple

With a full belly, everyone knows better than farmers how to manage land, and how to care for the countryside. – James Rebanks

This is our wake-up call to respect farming once more — not uncritically: we have an absolute right to want more nature on farmland, high welfare standards for farm animals, and safe and healthy food. –James Rebanks

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a column in the Listener in which I was too dismissive of the health risks of the Covid-19 threat. The reaction was furious and often vituperative – which is another thing we have all become accustomed to these days. My column that would normally be spinning off the printing press right now, said, “I got it wrong”.

I did get it wrong, but our job is to scrutinise, and I remain more afraid of the economic fallout of New Zealand’s response to Covid-19 than I am of the virus itself. – Joanne Black

I don’t jeer at smokers, though. Nicotine is a drug, you get hooked on it, and it takes a lot of effort to stop – I had someone doing it with me and we could console and help each other when it got too hard. It was also a time when I didn’t have any money worries, but really, in the end I kept it up because I was determined I wasn’t going through withdrawal symptoms ever again. I hated that I couldn’t just stop without enduring what seemed like punishment instead of the congratulations I deserved. Renée

That cast iron aversion to enforcing personal responsibility is baked in to our law in numerous areas. . . Shame (whakaama) is the mechanism at the cultural heart of nearly all successful systems for control of anti-social behaviour.  – Stephen Franks

It is as if the government is afraid of confronting and dealing with real hard choices –  and being honest on what they value, what they don’t –  and just prefers now to deal in simplistic rhetorical absolutes, when not much is very absolute at all.Michael Reddell

 Bauer’s exit is further evidence that foreign control of New Zealand media is generally ruinous. Australian ownership did grave – some would say irreparable – damage to both our major print media companies and it seems the Germans are no better. Overseas owners have no emotional stake in the country and no long-term commitment to our wellbeing. They don’t understand our culture and ethos and are largely indifferent to New Zealand affairs. They are interested in us only for as long as they can make a profit, and when that ceases, they cut and run. – Karl du Fresne

Many politicians and voters don’t seem to appreciate the reality that every dollar spent by the government needs to come from taxpayers, who need to earn that dollar in order for the government to take and spend it. Even when the government borrows money to fund its splurge, it is just postponing the bill to future taxpayers. Kiwiwit

We will decide to end social isolation and take to the cafes (those that have survived) with gusto. It will be our duty to support what is left of the economy and keep people employed. We will rush to businesses that the COVID-19 Czars deemed non-essential and hope we have the cash to spend and hope they survived. – Judith Collins

Consistency, at least in matters of public policy, is no doubt the hobgoblin of little minds, and not every argument has to be followed to its logical conclusion. Philosophical abstractions cannot be the sole guide to our political actions, though neither can they be entirely disregarded. The man with no principles is a scoundrel; the man with only principles is a fanatic.Theodore Dalrymple

The feminization of society isn’t  the overlay of feminist values. No. It’s the overlay of natural feminine tendencies. Don’t tell me they don’t exist. Most females become mothers. They are biologically designed to nurture. To bond through touch and soft murmurs. To provide their bodies to their babies (and lovers) as cushions and warmth. They placate, they adjudicate. They practice kindness with reasonable ease because that is at the core of the jigsaw puzzle piece they are.

Mine is a traditional but organic view of what a women is. She is not less than a man. And she is not more. – Lindsay Mitchell

When the New Zealand public looks back on the response to Covid-19 they won’t be judging success by whether we went ‘faster’ or ‘harder’ than other governments. Instead, we will want to know whether the Government’s response was balanced and proportionate.

Specifically, was the response proportionate to the risks posed to the citizenry from the virus? Were the short-term and long-term consequences to health and wellbeing appropriately balanced? Were the impacts on younger members of society who bear the brunt of the financial consequences appropriately weighed against the interests of the elderly members who carry the highest health risks? And were the impacts on low-paid wage earners and disadvantaged communities who will fall deeper into poverty appropriately considered and compensated?

Certainly, extending the lockdown beyond four weeks and prolonging border closures would be the right thing to do only if it saves more lives than it costs. Grant Guilford

 I get home and just try to catch up on all the news I missed while I was writing it. As with March 15, I find filtering the horrible events through the filter of a news story that I am writing the best way to numb myself to their power. If you have to sit back and think about the world shutting all its borders for years to come, of a recession deeper than any we’ve felt in a century, of needless deaths if we don’t resist all the things that make us feel alive, then it all gets a bit much. When you get to write it out as a news story its just data to feed into a well-worn formula, a coping mechanism that also happens to be your job. – Henry Cooke

 The best battery of all is a lake. Water management allows more investment in plant based proteins, better management of waterways, and more green industry. If we want this renewable future then as a country we need to have a mature discussion about water storage which must be, and will be, a net positive for the environment. – Rod Drury

One of the lessons from the animal world, is that every disease has its unique characteristics that determine the specific strategy. But every time, one way or another, it requires a track and trace that is carried out with speed and rigour. – Keith Woodford

I write my way into a story, a poem, a play and I write my way out. One thing I know for sure – there’ll be sticking points, hurdles. Writing that flows like it was effortless and easy to write comes only after hard work. Renée

There must be many other people in these strange times who find that having the time, no longer trying to stuff too many duties and activities into their day, they can now discover the world of small things around them, and find it utterly loveable. Birds singing, leaves unfolding, spiders spinning their miraculous webs – all these things can be food for the soul and can remind us of the goodness of life even in ‘these interesting times’, in the words of the Chinese proverb. –  Valerie Davies

What other industry is allowed to steal the product of another industry’s endeavour and pay nothing for it, while at the same time steal their livelihood through advertising? Because that’s what social media does. They pay absolutely nothing for the product that is the lifeblood of their operation and that is the news content made and paid for by news media organisations.

“I know of no other industry where you can steal something and not only get paid for it through advertising but get the government’s backing for it as well. – Gavin Ellis

So let’s use every nuanced tool we have available to us. Let’s protect the vulnerable, require businesses to prove they can operate safely before reopening, seriously consider regional alert levels, and continue with our physical distancing and virus hygiene protocols. But let’s also move quickly to staunch the bleeding of our troubled economy. Otherwise, we may need to start including suicide statistics, domestic violence call-outs and bankruptcy numbers in our daily briefings. – Lizzie Marvelly

My mum has probably never shown up in the GDP. Men can be pretty shit with a tape measure when it comes to women. No offence. But she could help you with that. Run it down your arm. Around the cuff. Calculate costs in an instant. Show you where you went wrong. Pins askew in her mouth. Glen Colquhoun

We’ve been bemoaning the fact that no one wants to listen to the good stories for years. Who would have thought it would take a global pandemic to give us a window to be able to have that voice again? It seems bad taste to be observing silver linings and opportunities whilst so many are suffering however, an opportunity to connect and support our country can only be a positive for everyone in my books. The primary sector’s social licence and our economy depends on it.  – Penny Clark-Hall

The people that we are talking about now are not the sports stars, not the celebrities, they are the people at the front line -the health workers – the Jenny’s from Invercargill, they are the special people. – Sean Fitzpatrick

One of the problems with Government money is that it always feels like other people’s money, doesn’t it? At the end of the day it’s ours or at least future generations’, who will have to pay it back in some way. We ought to be just as cautious with that money as we would be in our own businesses.

If you give cheap or free Government money to enable businesses to continue, in doing so you may be destroying the very thing that is valuable in business, which is the ability to evaluate risks and to take risk where the benefits that flow are greater than the costs. – Rob Campbell

Not all deaths have the same social cost. The death of a 90 year old can be sad, but the death of a child or young adult is almost always a tragedy. Burden of disease estimates often adjust for the number of life years lost and this adjustment should be made in assessments of the benefits of intervention options.Ian Harrison

Is there any rail network in a sparsely populated narrow and skinny country like ours that has ever paid its way? Perhaps the Greens can enlighten us if there is. The Greens will probably say that there is a financial cost to an economy where climate change is front and centre, but we already know what a carbon-free economy in the year 2020 is like – we just have to reflect on the economic destruction that has taken place during the Covid-19 lockdown.

Rail is not an asset – it’s a liability. And it’s not a stimulus package, any more than spending money on people digging holes in the ground is. Stimulus money should be spent on work that will facilitate commerce and enhance the economy in the long-term, not destroy it, which is what the Greens are proposing. – Frank Newman

If the government wants to build on its success so far and continue running an effective public health campaign against Covid-19 at minimal cost to the economy, it needs a robust decision-making framework that will allow rapid response to changing circumstances and reflect a broad range of health, social and economic considerations. – Sarah Hogan

The more the government can show it is learning and carefully considering the complex sectoral, health, social and economic trade-offs at each alert level – most likely by comparison with a ‘no intervention’ alternative – the more likely it is that decisions will prove durable.

Without more structure, rigour and intense communication effort, the gains won so far against the virus risk unravelling if public scepticism and weariness combine to thwart the battle in the months ahead. – Pattrick Smellie

We shouldn’t take our culture and heritage for granted because it has helped us to strengthen our resolve and courage in such an uncertain time.

I have found that looking out for each other and valuing our culture makes us stronger and although it has been tough we will come out stronger as a community. – Hana Halalele

It does stick in my craw that even the most self-reliant of us have all become dependent on the state. I can’t help thinking that this is seen by those in power as a useful by-product of their Covid-19 response. The metaphysical basis of almost all political belief today is social, cultural and economic collectivism. We are all just part of one big, global village, and, as in any village, every person should be concerned with everyone else’s business. Self-reliance is seen as selfishness and is not to be tolerated, and if you think you know what is best for your own life, you simply don’t know what is good for you. – Kiwiwit

As leader of the nation, Ardern is unparalleled. But her performance as leader of the government is less flash. – Matthew Hooton

Amid the coronavirus implosion I’m guessing productivity failures won’t even get much attention this election.  But they should, and any serious recovery plan should go hand in hand with a strategy that has some credible chance of finally beginning to reverse decades of failure.  Turning inwards and looking more heavily to the state is most unlikely to be such an answer. – Michael Reddell

Any one country trying them will quickly find that tariffs meant to protect domestic steel producers, for example, ruin domestic industries that use steel. And when everyone turns protectionist, the complex international supply networks that deliver us everything from cars to phones seize up. –Eric Crampton

Given that a supply chain these days can take in the entire globe, how is the official to know whose making “essential” parts and who’s not? How, even, are manufacturer’s to know, if the screws they’re making are just the ones that are needed to hold together this machine that when running properly makes thatmachine, and that machine is the one that makes ventilators, say. – Peter Cresswell

Here’s what politicians don’t understand: The economy isn’t a lightswitch that can be turned off quickly, then turned back on without consequence. Economic freedom isn’t just an integral part of the American dream, it’s a prerequisite for prosperity.

Most importantly right now? Everyone’s livelihood is essential to them.

Economic activity is, at its heart, a human activity. To disregard some as non-essential is a mistake with heavy consequences. – Amanda Snell

I find myself wondering if people can identify with what I have written about how it feels to be diagnosed with cancer and whether they have found themselves glimpsing the world I live in. In some strange way it could be possible that people are experiencing to one degree or another, what it feels like to have the rug abruptly pulled from under their feet and to wonder if they are going to die. Right now, people are facing one of the greatest challenges in life that they could ever imagine, just as I and many like me faced when we were given our cancer diagnosis. No words can ever describe what it’s like living with cancer but maybe an experience such as what we’re currently living through might provide a glimpse. Like with a cancer diagnosis, this pandemic will change lives and for many life will never return to what they have always known. It will change the way they view their lives and the world, perhaps even their priorities so post-pandemic life becomes a new normal for them. That phrase is one that everyone who has experienced cancer will have heard at some point because life post-cancer is never the same again, it actually does become a “new normal”.  – Diane Evans-Wood

You know, the theatre has kept going through the plague in the 1600s and it has a 2000 year-old history. Performers are part of that whakapapa and there will always be a need for human beings to connect…and, of course, that is what the arts does for us. – Jennifer Ward-Lealand

We need to balance the ability to be financially sustainable while being environmentally sustainable, not be expected to reach lofty targets set when the world was burning more fossil fuels and living beyond its means before the pandemic.

For NZ those targets need to be readdressed as soon as possible. We must lift the lid on the pressure cooker the primary industries have been under as we look to the future. – Craig Wiggins

One thing I do know is that what has become important now has always been important – food, shelter and good company – Craig Wiggins

Everyone who has a job in this economy is an essential worker. Every single job that is being done in our economy with these severe restrictions that are taking place is essential. . . People stacking shelves, that is essential. People earning money in their family when another member of their family may have lost their job and can no longer earn, that’s an essential job. Jobs are essential – Scott Morrison

Merit of action should be based on decisions made (or not made), the application of reason and science, and of course, the final results. Merit and accolade should never be given simply because of person’s age, gender, belief system, or political leanings. Sadly, we are seeing a commentariat very willing to continue its pursuit of identity politics where the ‘who’ is more important than the ‘what’ and ‘how’.  Simon O’Connor

Whether a farmer, café owner or self-employed plumber, the driving force behind most small businesses is the dignity of self-employment. For some people (me for starters) that’s a huge factor overwhelming any other consideration. – Sir Bob Jones

And yet, if there are any two countries that could pull off a clear if hermetically sealed victory — offering a model of recovery that elevates competence over ego and restores some confidence in democratic government — it may be these two Pacific neighbors with their sparsely populated islands, history of pragmatism and underdogs’ craving for recognition.Damien Cave

You are going to be part of a team facing tradeoffs.  Will we cancel the upgrading of the Tauranga to Katikati highway where there are too many road deaths so we can plant trees on good farm land to suck up CO2?  Will we delay buying equipment for an isolation strategy in a probable flu epidemic or build a cycleway on the Auckland harbour bridge?  Should we introduce tough new water quality measures while farmers are struggling and suiciding?  Will Pharmac get more money for new drugs to save five to ten lives or will we build a tramline to the airport?  Can we afford to close maternity hospitals in Southland risking mothers and babies lives so we can shift the Port of Auckland to Whangarei? – Owen Jennings

I have been alarmed to see that disdain for the mainstream media has spread to the mainstream media itself. Recently I was contacted by people who should know better, asking me to send them a copy of my column because they refused to fork out the readies to breach this paper’s paywall. The total required at the time was $1 a week. This much they would not sacrifice because of their aversion to one columnist. They would forgo the fine work produced by many excellent writers who did not have that columnist’s attention-grabbing profile and gift for alienating readers. . . .

Now more than ever, mainstream media which, for all its flaws, continues to uphold basic journalistic standards has a vital role to play in society.

As I explained at the time, refusing to share my column with my stingy friends, if you think life without magazines is bad, wait until you live in a world without newspapers.Paul Little

We must never again allow a situation where the law allows a young woman with much charm and little real world experience, to legally take such dictatorial powers.

The current legislation needs to be reconsidered in Parliament. While it’s conceivable such situations could arise in the future requiring such a heavy-handed approach, the supporting legislation should require say a 75% Parliamentary vote. Sir Bob Jones

There are two clear dangers for New Zealand.

The first is the virus – or more specifically, the prime minister’s strategy of eliminating the virus; how many lockdowns can we endure?

And the second is our prime minister, who fundamentally believes in state control, and is being given a free rein to embed her agenda deep into the heart of our democracy.  – Muriel Newman

Instead of adding to the deficit by throwing expensive shovels at projects, and thereby taking the public sector’s share of total spending up even further than its current, very high, level of 40 per cent of GDP, let’s hold the line on spending and cut tax revenues for a while, and let the households and the business sector sort out the shovelling for themselves. – Tim Hazeldine

For a Government, public confidence is the most precious of commodities. In ordinary times, it allows businesspeople to take more risks, invest in plant and technology, open new markets, start new ventures, employ more staff. It allows householders to decide yes, we will buy the new fridge, take a bigger holiday, eat out more often. Confidence turns the wheels of the economy. Simon Wilson

We are right to take a strong stand to value life and be against premature death. What we should now ask of our leaders is that they be consistent and place equal value on the risks, both physical and mental, for all people. One of the important roles of teachers in a crisis situation is to hear students’ questions and concerns with an open mind and allow them to work their way through things. Suppressing this process can only lead to conformity for the sake of it and a deep sense of helplessness. – Alwyn Poole

We’ve flattened the curve; we don’t need to flatten our country. Indeed, we now need another curve, an upward growth curve – growth, jobs, and a track back to normality.Simon Bridges

 The instinct of the Labour/ New Zealand First government will be to assume that a committee of Wellington politicians and officials, with a couple of business folk, a union rep and two iwi leaders should steer our path into the new economy. The likes of Shane Jones and Phil Twyford will implement it. . .

But the core engine of growth will always be private sector investment – men, women and their businesses taking on new ventures, rebuilding their businesses, expanding, hiring people – taking mad risks. No committee would have thought Kiwis should get into rockets, or into online accounting systems.

The recipe hasn’t changed. Successful economies make it easy for the investment to flow to more productive activities – they welcome investment, they don’t over regulate or over tax, they provide clear and consistent rules, properly enforced, and don’t go changing them all the time. – Paul Goldsmith

This is not a time to panic or point fingers. It is time for us to reveal our true character. Sir Don McKinnon

We need to speak very plainly about this: these three career politicians have absolutely no idea what sectors of the economy are doomed, which have a future, and whether any particular commercial proposal makes sense. Add Economic Development Phil Twyford to the mix, and it risks the appearance of a circus run by clowns. . .

Free-market capitalism works not because it is individualistic — although it is — but because it collectivises everyone’s best guesses and analysis. In contrast, collectivist economic systems reply on the brilliance of individuals or, worse, committees. Again, we should speak plainly: central planners are not just often wrong, but invariably wrong, just like most of us. – Matthew Hooton 

If you have one tenth the number of intensive care beds per capita that Germany does, if you don’t have contact tracing in place, then if you don’t have that level of resourcing available, you’ve got to focus very hard on the keep-it-out strategy. The fact that we’ve had to work so hard to stamp it out can only mean we’ve failed to keep it out. – Des Gorman


Not the time for contentious legislation

April 7, 2020

The government is, rightly, expecting the opposition to support it through the lockdown.

In return it ought to hold back on contentious legislation.

Instead we have this:

The Government is using Parliament’s select committee process to sneak climate change provisions into the Resource Management Act, National’s RMA spokesperson Judith Collins says.

“A recently-released report by the Environment Select Committee recommends several changes to the Resource Management Amendment Bill, including provisions for climate change considerations in RMA decisions.

“These late changes are an abuse of the select committee process because they were made after public feedback was called for, meaning submitters have not had the opportunity to properly consider the new bill.

“The climate change considerations were not in the original bill, and it appears only some of the people who submitted were aware of them.

“The amended bill also gives submitters the right to cross-examine each other during RMA applications. This would significantly increase the time and cost of hearings.

“The Government’s expert review panel is likely to recommend significant reform when it reports back in May so it makes no sense to proceed with these changes now.

“Last week, Environment Minister David Parker said he was working on ways to improve the speed and certainty of consenting. This bill will have the opposite effect.” 

Could there be a worse time to add such contentious provisions to the Bill?

Now is not the time to be adding contentious, expensive and time-consuming hurdles to the RMA.

Now of all times, the government should understand the need to relook at everything that could hamper the recovery.

When the lock down is over we’ll be facing a new, and much poorer, normal. We need to be reducing red tape and simplifying regulations not adding to it and complicating them.


RMA reform welcome and needed but

July 25, 2019

The government plans to reform the Resource Management Act:

The Government is overhauling our resource management system, focusing on the Resource Management Act 1991 (RMA) – the primary legislation governing the use of our land, water and air resources. 

The Government wants the RMA to support a more productive, sustainable and inclusive economy. It also wants the RMA to be easier for New Zealanders to understand and engage with. The Government is approaching this in two stages. 

It plans to start by amending the RMA.

The Government is proposing several specific changes to the RMA through an amendment bill. The aim of the bill is to make the RMA less complex, give people more certainty on RMA issues, and increase opportunities for public participation.

The bill will address issues with resource consenting, enforcement and Environment Court provisions within the RMA. It may also include some other policy proposals. 

The bill is currently being drafted and we are working to introduce it to Parliament later this year. Public submissions will be called for when the bill is referred to a select committee. . . 

Then there’s the second stage:

The Government is undertaking a comprehensive review of the resource management system. This review will examine the broader and deeper changes needed to support the transition to a more productive, sustainable and inclusive economy. 

The aim of the review is to improve environmental outcomes and enable better and timely urban development within environmental limits. . . 

Few if any will argue with the aims to support a more productive, sustainable and inclusive economy and to make the RMA easier to understand and engage with.

Media releases from right, left and centre support the proposal. Reform is welcome and needed but getting agreement on that is the easy part.

The difficulty will be getting those who support the need for reform to agree on the details of any changes that are proposed.

Federated Farmers says reform will be a huge challenge:

The organisation agrees with Environment Minister David Parker that because of frequent amendments, the RMA is now overly cumbersome, costly and complex.

“The review will be no easy task. It will need to consider wide and diverse opinions and concerns. There are few organisations which have been more intricately and routinely involved in resource management processes across the country since the Act first came into force than Federated Farmers, so we consider our active input on the review panel will be vital,” Federated Farmers resource management spokesperson Chris Allen says.

The Act is a source of much frustration for resource users across the country. It is now twice the size it was on enactment in 1991 and while it has created a booming market for planners, lawyers and other experts, this has been at the expense of resource users, ratepayers and the environment.

Federated Farmers would support amendments that made the Act, in the Minister’s words, “fit for purpose in the 21st century”, and approve of any attempt to remove unnecessary complexity, delays and costs.

“But we have a word of caution – it’s hard to make processes move faster, when regional and district councils are already under-resourced and facing increasing public pressure and inadequate central government support,” Chris says.

There is also insufficient weighting given to the economic impacts of regulation on farms, rural communities and the regions of New Zealand. Economic impacts should be considered in balance with environmental, social and cultural wellbeing, instead of just the quick skim currently given.

“The trend appears to be for central government to push national regulation onto local government, expecting them to both resource and fund processes. This isn’t a case of local government being given too much power, rather it’s a trend of central government putting out cookie-cutter national rules and regulations, and expecting local councils to ‘make them work’.

“We have real concerns over central government interfering with local processes, as many regional councils are well underway in developing plans to address water quality and quantity,” Chris says.

Some of these plans are already in place, and other regions are wrestling with tricky questions around how plans can be tailored so they are both efficient and effective. Anything that interferes with these processes, and the considerable economic and social investment already made by our communities, could be a step-backwards for water quality management in New Zealand.

There has been a massive investment in time and money into changing farm practices and infrastructure, and getting a better understanding of the implications of activities on land to the environment.

This groundswell of change has been happening across the country, from landowner level through to catchment groups and wider district efforts. These efforts do not result in improved outcomes overnight, but trends are indicating we are on the right track.

“Ultimately, we don’t want to see this timely opportunity to reform the RMA, being instead used simply to put up as many affordable houses as possible, with an overly urban focus, to the peril of fixing other key issues with the Act,” Chris says.

The previous government’s attempts at reforms were vehemently opposed by the parties in the current government and it won’t be easy to reconcile those parties’ differing views on what needs to be done and how to do it.

At a press conference on Wednesday, Parker said that no RMA reform legislation would be introduced until after the 2020 election because the working group would take nearly 10 months to make its recommendations.

Collins called this “cynical timing.” Given that the next government to consider legislation could well be a National one, she believes Labour should be consulting the Opposition. But Parker refused to consider including the Opposition in the reform process until legislation is introduced, insisting it was the “parliamentary process”.

Given this, the latest effort at fixing the RMA is unlikely to succeed, Collins believes. “You’ve got New Zealand First going around the provinces saying, ‘We’re going to sort out the RMA and stop all these impediments to development.’ You’ve got the Greens saying, ‘We’re gonna stop all these developments.’ It just must be a nightmare for Labour.”

Winston Peters didn’t disagree with her. When asked if he thought New Zealand First would be on the same page as Labour and the Greens about RMA reform, he answered simply, “No”.

“I cannot agree with their race-based approach,” he said of Green Party support for a Māori role in the resource management system. . . 

That isn’t an encouraging start to the process.

Getting consent through the RMA is process is a long and frustrating process, reforming the act won’t be any easier.


Paying price for unpreparedness

December 10, 2018

Got a problem? The government almost certainly has a review to consider it:

New figures released by National show that since being sworn in, the Government has announced 206 reviews and working groups, or one approximately every two days, at a cost of almost $700,000 dollars a day, National Leader Simon Bridges says.

“The Government has abandoned New Zealanders and delegated the job of governing to officials, think tanks, consultants and former politicians while it focuses on tidying up after itself and cashing its coalition negotiation cheques,” Mr Bridges says.

“This is a Government whose parties had three terms – nine years – to develop their own ideas, but they’re now farming the thinking out to others and charging the taxpayer as they do.

Instead of using opposition to prepare for government, Labour spent the best part of nine years on in-fighting and looking inwards. We are paying the price for their lack of preparedness  for government.

“The Government has no plans for growing the strong economy it inherited, or for improving the lives of New Zealanders. Rather than having a plan and a vision for New Zealand it’s focused on keeping the Coalition together and treading water while we wait for the ever-growing list of reviews and working groups to report back with instructions.

“Meanwhile taxpayers are forking out half a million dollars a day to pay for this Government’s laziness.

“The total cost so far is around $280 million but it is set to be much higher. The Government doesn’t know the cost of 79 of their reviews, so taxpayers could be looking at a $450 million bill. At a time when cost of living is on the rise, rents are going up, and more taxes and regulations are being piled on, New Zealanders don’t need this wasteful spending as they feel the pinch at Christmas time.

Some external consideration and advice is sensible, but 206 reviews and working groups at a cost of $700,000 a day is simply wasteful.

“It is flabby spending. National would cut the waste, stop mulching trees and rolling out free fees, and invest taxpayer dollars in a more considered, targeted way. Savings from these reviews alone could fund the Roxburgh children’s village for the next 90 years, end the teacher strikes, fund 5,600 cochlear implants or axe the regional fuel tax.

“Kiwis can go into this Christmas knowing that only National will be doing the hard yards all summer to hold this Government-of-missed-opportunities to account. We’ll do the work so we’re ready should we earn the right to govern again in 2020.”

That one of the expensive working groups is working on ways to tax us more is particularly galling.

If the government spent less and spent more wisely there would be no need for it to take more tax.

Judith Collins sums it up: Rather than $700,000 per day being spent on Working Groups to tell the Government what to do, wouldn’t it be better to just have a WORKING GOVERNMENT?

 


$600,000 is cheap?

March 26, 2018

Housing Minister Phil Twyford announced what looked like a big boost to Auckland’s housing supply yesterday.

It didn’t take National’s housing spokeswoman Judith Collins to point out it was old news:

“The previous Government signed off on Unitec’s investment plans to consolidate their campus and develop the spare land for housing.

“The plan change has already been through Auckland Council. We know that because various local councillors were opposing the development.

“All that has happened here is that a land development that was owned by one part of Government is now owned by another arm of Government. A pure re-badging exercise.

“The development at Unitec has already been factored into the plans and predictions for housing development in Auckland.

“All that seems to have happened here is that Mr Twyford wants to use taxpayers’ money to subsidise the building and selling of homes that were going to happen anyway. . . 

Involving the government is likely to add to costs and delays.

It would be far better to leave building to the private sector rather than tying up taxpayers’ money with all the complications that brings.

Then there’s the cost which Corin  Dann raised on Q&A:

PHIL: So, you’re talking medium-density, as pretty much all the KiwiBuild homes in Auckland are going to be medium-density, apartments, flats and town houses, terraces. 500,000 to 600,000 is the kind of range we’re talking about.

CORIN​: So somebody is going to get a $600,000- what, two-bedroom, three-bedroom house in Mt Albert?

PHIL​: Yes. Two to three, yes.

CORIN​: That’s really cheap.

PHIL​: Sure.

Cheap? Since when has $600,000 for a two to three bedroom house been cheap?

Since demand for houses outstripped supply so badly and as Act MP David Seymour pointed out the government isn’t addressing the root cause of that problem:

. . . The Government’s own officials have said that, in Auckland, land use regulation could be responsible for up to 56 per cent, or $530,000, of the cost of an average home.

“ACT has revealed from Written Parliamentary Questions that Cabinet hasn’t even decided whether to consider reviewing the Resource Management Act – rules that determine what can be built where – after 150 days in the Beehive.

“New Zealand does not have a free market in housing. It is a market created and manipulated by government.

“The Government – whether central or local – controls the Resource Management Act, zoning, consents and other factors that influence the market.

“Our housing market isn’t a case of market failure but an example of regulatory failure. New Zealand has planning rules which mean that the market is not able to increase the supply of houses in response to increases in demand. . . 

The RMA and zoning are a big part of the housing cost problem.

So too are building regulations.

Economies of scale with bigger populations don’t explain all of the difference in the cost of building a house in Australia and New Zealand.

If the government is serious about affordable housing it needs to look at building regulations which require more expensive materials on this side of the Tasman than the other.


Steven Joyce’s maiden speech

February 20, 2018

National’s finance spokesman Steven Joyce is standing for National’s leadership.

I posted Mark Mitchell’s maiden speech yesterday and those of Amy Adams, Simon Bridges and Judith Collins on Saturday.

Here is Steven’s:

Hon STEVEN JOYCE (National) : Firstly, I would like to congratulate my local MP, Lockwood Smith, on his election to the role of Speaker.

Could I start by saying a fond greeting to Jeremy Greenbrook-Held of Oriental Bay. In the letters to the editor in the Dominion Post on 24 November, under the heading “Just who is this man Joyce?”, Mr Greenbrook-Held lamented that I had made it into my role without giving a single interview. This will come as a surprise to a number of journalists who had interviewed me prior to that time, but I will nevertheless attempt to fill some gaps for Mr Greenbrook-Held today.

I live north of Auckland but I am a Naki boy—born and raised in New Plymouth. It is a wonderful part of the world, and I love to go back to visit the mountain, the parks and the wild west coast. However, I have to say I am a fan of pretty much all of this country; I am actually a bit of a greenie, just not the type who sits over on that side of the House.

As it is for all of us, my family came here from lands far away. My father’s family are Irish Catholics. My great-grandfather Eugene Joyce arrived as a young man on the Invercargill in 1879. He married Ellen and they settled in Taranaki, where they had seven children. One of them was my grandfather Len, a bee-keeper who lived with his wife, Eileen, in Eltham, which is where my father grew up.

On my mother’s side, my great-grandmother Granny Hooper was a Cockney. She migrated with her family in 1878, landing in Nelson after 4 months at sea. She must have liked it here because she lived to 101, and I can vaguely remember her 100th birthday party, held when I was about 5. My mother was born in Kaponga. Her father was a lawyer turned insurance salesman, and a lay preacher in the Anglican Church. Their family were staunch Anglicans, my father’s family were staunch Catholics, and that was a time when those differences did matter. It tested both families when my parents married in 1961, now nearly 50 years ago. I am thrilled they are both here together in the gallery today.

My parents scrimped and borrowed and bought a Four Square dairy in New Plymouth. They were not greatly educated—they both left school at 15—but they worked really hard to make a go of their business and their family. They ran a 7-day business and brought up five kids at the same time. From where I am sitting today, that seems pretty heroic. My family, then, is from a long line of small-business people. Apart from a few years managing a supermarket, my father and mother always owned their own businesses, including their own supermarket. So it is probably not a surprise that I did the same.

I had my first taste of radio when I was finishing my zoology degree at Massey University in 1983. A bunch of us worked at Radio Massey. In 1984, members may recall, there was an election, so we decided to run a series of current affairs shows in the style of the political television shows of the time, with intercut interviews. With seriously inferior equipment, a fearless group of us worked 24 hours at a time to bring to air the hugely important Radio Massey election specials on political issues of the day. We interviewed luminaries like the late Bruce Beetham and the late Trevor de Cleene, and put those shows to air for audiences of roughly 50 people each night, probably 48 of whom would have preferred to hear the latest Joy Division track.

So I could have been a journalist, maybe. I have a brother and a sister who are members of that truly esteemed profession. Instead, it was during those late-night sessions at Radio Massey that five of us decided to start a commercial radio station of our own. We each put in $100, and Energy Enterprises—which became RadioWorks—was born with $500 in the bank. Energy FM ran as a summer station in New Plymouth for 3 years, which was all we were allowed to do under the law at that time, each time making a bit of money to help pay for our full-time FM licence application. We chased down shareholders and a board of directors, went to a licence hearing with the Broadcasting Tribunal, then waited 15 long months for a decision to be released. During that time we lost three of our number—I think they got bored—and found one more. In mid-1987 Energy FM got a licence to start broadcasting across Taranaki, and on 30 November that year we went to air.

Running one’s own business is hard work. It is hard work a lot of the time, and fantastic fun some of the time. Running one’s own radio station is even more fun. The three of us poured all we had into that business. We continued to live like university students for years, on the grounds that if we did not become used to a more comfortable lifestyle, we would not miss it. We bought stations in Tauranga and Hamilton. We started The Edge, and Solid Gold FM, and built those two and The Rock into national, satellite-delivered networks. We added stations by growth and acquisition, until by 2000 we had offices in every major town and city in the country, and 650 staff across four networks and 18 local radio stations. It was an amazing ride. We all learnt a huge amount about growing and running companies, organisational cultures, and getting the best out of people. I met, and worked with, hundreds of fantastic people, many of whom I count as friends today. Throughout, we had mostly the same board: Norton Moller, Derek Lowe, and John Armstrong. They were my mentors commercially, and I am greatly indebted to them.

CanWest raided our share register on the stock exchange in 2000. Some of us held out for a while, but eventually we realised the dream was over, and I retired from my role as chief executive officer of RadioWorks on my 38th birthday.

It was time to take stock, and time to give something back. I joined the gym. I started running; unfortunately, I later stopped running. And I joined the National Party. I put my name forward, and nearly stood, in 2002, but as it turned out it would have been a purely academic exercise. Instead, I got my first National Party job after the election. I was asked to join the campaign review, and then the full strategic review of the organisation. It was an absolute honour to do both, and to be trusted by a set of people who had no history by which to trust me. The party in 2002 was hurting pretty badly, and I was conscious of the need to take real care.

The rebuilding of the National Party was a team effort, and I am very proud to have played my part. However, a lot of the credit must go to our party’s president. Judy Kirk is now coming up towards 7 years in the role. In 2002, when she took over as president, an opinion poll that week rated the National Party at 18 percent. For the first time in its history it was in danger of no longer leading the centre-right in the New Zealand Parliament. In the 2008 election—1 month ago—the National Party achieved 45 percent of the party vote, the highest vote by any political party under MMP, and the highest vote full stop since 1990. It is a fantastic turn-round, ably led from the front by our new Prime Minister, the Hon John Key, and, prior to him, our previous leaders, Don Brash and Bill English. However, any great leader needs an organisation to lead, and Judy Kirk rebuilt that organisation, without sacrificing either her decency or her principles. When all is said and done, I am confident her name will be up there as one of the National Party’s great presidents, alongside the name of her mentor, Sir George Chapman, and that will be no more than she deserves.

It is traditional to thank your electorate workers in your maiden speech for helping you get to Parliament. I am, of course, one of the lesser beasts—a list MP—and, worse still, one who did not stand in an electorate. But I did run a campaign of sorts. It was a little bit dire in places, according to some of my critics, but redeemed by a fine candidate who shone through despite the poor support he received from his national campaign chair! There are many people I can and do want to thank for that campaign, particularly those at campaign HQ in Wellington, and the thousands of volunteers around the country who put up with the rather dictatorial requirements of the Wellington crew. I will not mention names today. They all know who they are. Can I just say that I could not hope to work with a finer bunch of people.

So, via a stint running another marvellous, proud, smallish New Zealand company with another great team of people, Jasons Travel Media, I arrive here in this building, this hermetically sealed vortex, which is our Parliament. So what contribution can I make to this place? Who do I represent? Well, I think I can be a voice for the people who always pay their taxes and who want to see them go to a good home. Primarily because I have been in business for most of the last 21 years, I can bring an understanding of the thinking of business people—small and medium sized business people in particular, who organise most of the wealth creation that takes place in this country.

I understand the mentality of those who become frustrated at Government getting in the way of their doing their job, who chafe at needless regulation and the sight of wasted tax money, who become frustrated by poorly performing infrastructure. I understand the fear they have of Government organisations muscling in on their industries by spending public money to compete with them in their marketplace for no good reason.

I bring a real understanding of the value of a dollar. From the time I was a little tacker, sitting at my family dining table as my parents added up the week’s takings, I understood that there was no money around if you did not go out and earn it yourself. I understand those people who see Wellington as a “great sucking sound” that hoovers up more and more of the nation’s money so that politicians can look like heroes when they spend it—people who are happy to pay their share but are not happy to see it wasted. I also understand what drives people: the desire to better the lot of themselves and their families under their own steam, and to not have to rely on Government handouts.

I understand that as a country we have limitless calls on our resources, and limited resources. I know that the only way we are going to progress in the manner we all hope for and provide for those less fortunate is by spending wisely the money we have, and spending most of our time working out how to grow faster to pay for all the things we need. And I think I understand what is possible in organisations that think small and nimble, where the frontline is encouraged and well resourced and the back office is pared back, and that are tuned to what the customer is seeking.

One of the distinctive features of this country is that we are a small group of islands at the bottom of the world. There are only 4.25 million of us. Small can be tough. It means small home markets, not as many resources, and not as big a pool of talent as some bigger countries have. However, our smallness need not be a negative; it can be a strength, and it should be more often. Individuals with ambition and drive have shown throughout history that they can achieve a lot more here a lot more quickly than they can in bigger countries. One great running coach, one great rowing coach, can achieve amazing things. Our smallness means that a high proportion of us are interconnected. People used to talk a lot about the six degrees of separation; in New Zealand I am sure that half the time it is just two or three degrees.

Our smallness can translate to nimbleness: the ability to change course, move quickly, make things happen. Sadly, from a vantage point outside the Government and, now, from inside it, I can see that we get wrapped up in the fact that this new regulation or law, or entitlement, or initiative is world best-practice, that by doing it we are suddenly right up there with the EU, or the UK, or the US. Maybe a world-beating, all-singing, all-dancing, multilayered process is the correct approach for a large country. Maybe for us we can trim it down, shorten it, and, dare I say, spend less money doing it. Put it this way: if we cannot, how can we compete with much larger countries? I am all for fair and sensible rules of commerce and social interaction; we just need to scale them to our size and look for the simpler way.

I believe we have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity in this country, and a corresponding risk that goes with it. We can recapture our mojo and become the feisty, resourceful, exciting, No. 8 wire sort of place that enabled all our forebears to make a success of themselves way down here at the bottom of the world; or we can fade away and continue on the path of figuratively, and maybe one day even literally, being the smallest and poorest also-ran state of Australia.

I do not believe I bring any pretensions to this new role. I am honoured to be provided with the opportunity to serve, and I will work diligently to repay the confidence that has been shown in me by my party, by my leader, and by New Zealanders. When it comes to work I am a believer in doing the hard yards. In rugby terms, and I stress that my familiarity with the code has pretty much always been as a fan, I like to grind it out—nothing too flashy.

I also, these days, like to have a little balance. Members may ask what I am doing here! Apparently, it is a little bit tricky in this Parliament to have balance, but I find that it helps people to keep perspective—which also might be a bit tricky here. I have an inspiration, though: my wonderful wife, Suzanne; our daughter, Amelia; and Gemma the retrodoodle. I know they will insist on seeing me regularly, no more than I will insist on seeing them.

Mr Speaker, I will work diligently to help make this country a stronger, more successful, and proud place. That is why I am here—for no other reason. If I can help to do that, then I will be able to hold my head high when I report back to New Zealanders when my time here is done.


Judith Collins’ maiden speech

February 17, 2018

Three MPs have entered the race to be the next National Party leader.

Who are they and what do they stand for?

Some of the answers to those questions are in their maiden speeches.

I am posting each of them this morning, in alphabetical order.

JUDITH COLLINS (NZ National-Clevedon): Since this is the first time that I have spoken in Parliament, I take this opportunity to congratulate the Speaker on his
appointment, an appointment, I note, that was made with the full support of this House.

I am proud to represent the electorate of Clevedon on behalf of the New Zealand National Party. Clevedon is a diverse electorate, located both to the south and to the east of Auckland. It is 80 percent urban and 20 percent rural. Included in its boundaries are the historic township of Papakura, the rural areas of Clevedon, Orere Point, Kawakawa Bay, Brookby, Alfriston, Whitford, and Ardmore-which, incidently, is home to the busiest airport in New Zealand. It encompasses the coastal townships of Maraetai and Beachlands, and to the north, New Zealand’s fastest-growing residential areas: Dannemora, Somerville, Shamrock Park, Point View, and Shelly Park.

The people of Clevedon are ethnically diverse. The population includes European New Zealanders. Maori New Zealanders, Pacific Island New Zealanders, and, increasingly, New Zealanders who have migrated mainly from Taiwan, Korea, India, China, South Africa, and Fiji. It is an electorate of schools with the highest decile ratings, and schools with the lowest decile ratings.

Clevedon is an electorate of old and new traditions, of Christian churches and Buddhist temples. On the one hand it is the home of the present Minister of Justice; on the other hand it was the home of Michael Choy until he was brutally slain. It is New Zealand as it is today.

I am the youngest of six children born to Percy and Jessie Collins of Walton in the Waikato. We were dairy farming people. We were not wealthy people but we were not
poor. We were and are middle New Zealand. In a way, we were very privileged. We had two parents, discipline, responsibilities, plenty of love, and, more than anything else, we had security-a family in reality, not just in name. I decided to become a lawyer. I did not know any, but I had seen them on television and I knew that lawyers could, if they wanted to, do a lot of good for people.

That vague ambition was made solid when someone made the mistake of telling me that I could not do it. The exact words were: “You won’t be a lawyer. You’re a nice girl; you’ll get married.” Well, at university I met and later married my husband, David Wong Tung, who was then a police officer. David had come to New Zealand as a child from Samoa. I have been a lawyer for over 20 years, and in that time I have also been a restaurateur, a public company director, a Law Society politician and regulator, a gaming regulator, a business person, a wife, and a mother. So the nice girl did get married, she did become a lawyer, and she did a little bit else, as well.

My ancestors came from England, Ireland, Wales, and Germany. All were looking for a better life: a life of freedom, opportunity, and security. The first of them sailed into
Nelson harbour in 1842. But, like many of my generation and of later generations, this country is my only home. It is a country of which I am immensely proud and a country for which I am prepared to upturn my life, and that of my family, in order to serve here in Parliament. · 

When I look around this profoundly beautiful debating chamber, I am moved by the knowledge that this is a war memorial. War memorials, like Anzac Day services, are not about the glorification of war but are, instead, about the commemoration of the sacrifice made by individual citizens for others. I am proud that my family has contributed to New Zealand in both peace and war. In this country they were farmers, breaking in the lands of Taranaki and the King Country, and they served their country in the New Zealand wars in Taranaki, in both World Wars, and in Vietnam. When I look around these walls, I see commemorated so many famous battles, including battles that my father told me about and battles where he fought-El Alamein and Monte Cassino, to name just two. 

I take this opportunity to pay tribute to my family. I pay tribute to my parents, who personified to me the New Zealand spirit and the New Zealand culture: honest,
hard-working people who called a spade a spade. I thank my husband, David Wong Tung, and our son, James, who have always been supportive of me, and whose sacrifices I appreciate. I thank my mother-in-law, Flory Wong Tung, who has been a wonderful grandmother to James and friend to me.

Winning Clevedon, against the odds and with a healthy majority, took some doing. It also took an incredible team, led by campaign chairman Chris King, and electorate
chairman Roger Burrill. Five of my campaign team have travelled to Wellington today to support me. I would put my campaign team up against any other, any time-I will not say any place-and we would still win. I thank the people of Clevedon for the faith they have shown in me.

At this time, I pay tribute to two former parliamentarians. The first is my good friend Annabel Young, who is here today and who has long been a promoter of my coming into Parliament. The second is the long-serving Hunua member Warren Kyd. Warren served Hunua and its predecessors faithfully and well for 15 years, and when I won selection as National’s Clevedon candidate, Warren called on voters to support me, in the gracious and generous manner that one expects of him.

A maiden speech should include what a politician stands for. I have a vision for New Zealand. I have a vision that recognises and supports business, as well as New Zealanders at every level of society, that encourages opportunity, that celebrates success, and that rewards hard work-a New Zealand that will grow. All through the pre-election campaign, I have said that there is nothing wrong with this country that a change in attitude would not fix. I say that again today. As a lawyer, I know that laws affect attitudes. Good laws help to make good attitudes. Parliament makes the laws and shapes the attitudes, and that is why I am here. I am here to make a difference to those attitudes.

I have told the people of Clevedon what I stand for. I stand for one standard of citizenship for all, for one justice system for all, for one country, and for one sovereignty.
Conversely, I do not stand for political correctness. I do not stand for dividing this country-my country, our country-along the lines of race. I stand for all young people
knowing, as I did, that they can achieve anything they want, if they are prepared to use their talents and their energy and to make sacrifices. Conversely, I do not stand for young women leaving school to go on the domestic purposes benefit because they think that is an easy option. It is not; it is a trap. I stand for a safety net, not a welfare trap. 

I stand for a robust justice system that gives the police the resources and, just as importantly, the political backing to sort out the criminal gangs. It is those gangs that
manufacture the methamphetamines currently fuelling much of the increase in violence in the south Auckland region, and that fill the gaps left by absent or incompetent parents.

The criminal gangs recruit from and are affiliated to the youth street gangs. They have turned whole districts of this country into cannabis plots, and they are said to run the prisons.

I stand for business, particularly small business. Eighty-five percent of business in New Zealand is small business. I know first hand what it is like to mortgage our home in
order to go into business. I know first hand the hours and the money spent on completing silly little forms that seem to go nowhere, and do not achieve anything, anyway.
We have heard a lot over the years about the changes brought about in the 1990s.

Well, I remember what this country used to be like before the 1990s, and the changes that the previous National Government put into place. I remember how every Christmas holiday, the ferries and the airlines could be counted on–counted on to go on strike. I remember how every time there was a drought, the freezing works could be counted on–counted on to go on strike. I remember what it was like to try running a business with 28 percent interest rates. I remember what it was like under compulsory unionism, as an employee, being forced to pay union fees and never once seeing a union delegate. I have seen plenty of small-business owners put the welfare of their staff first, but I have yet to see a union put a worker first and the union second. Big unions might have a place in big business, but they have no place in small business.

I stand for sensible defence. I stand for New Zealand committing to its allies, pulling its weight, and growing up. Conversely, I do not stand for bludging off other countries. I do not stand for us, as a country, riding on the coat-tails of our SAS force and believing that that is all we have to do.

I stand for First World health-care and education, and I know that only a strong, growing economy can deliver them. There is a form of poverty in
this country, but it has little to do with poverty in a monetary sense. The poverty of which  I speak is a poverty of responsibility, a poverty of courage, a poverty of truth, a poverty of love, and a poverty of faith.

And that brings me to my final point. I stand for the dignity of the individual. I believe in God, and I believe that every human being is created with free will to do either
good or evil. That is what I stand for, and the people of Clevedon have generously told me that they agree. I pledge to the people of Clevedon that I will stand up for them, and that I will represent them and their views to the very best of my ability. And, Mr Speaker, you can be assured that I shall.


Head and heart

February 15, 2018

Good leaders have strong heads and warm hearts.

National’s ABC of leadership contenders – Amy Adams, Simon Bridges and Judith Collins all have good heads.

All were lawyers, all have been successful ministers.

I have no doubt they all have warm hearts too, to succeed they must be able to show that in leadership.

Sir John Key and Bill English both did however, there is still a lingering misconception that National has a stronger head and weaker heart.

The challenge for the new leader will be to demonstrate both steel and compassion.


Cabinet changes

December 18, 2016

Prime Minister Bill English has announced changes in and outside Cabinet:

Prime Minister Bill English has today announced his new Cabinet line-up which builds on the success of the last eight years and provides new ideas and energy heading into election year.

“Over the last eight years National has provided a strong and stable Government which is delivering strong results for New Zealanders,” says Mr English.

“This refreshed Ministerial team builds on that success and provides a mix of new people, alongside experienced Ministers either continuing their roles or taking up new challenges.

“This new Ministry is focused on providing prosperity, opportunity and security for all Kiwis, including the most vulnerable in our communities.”

Deputy Prime Minister Paula Bennett will remain the Minister of State Services and Climate Change Issues and will pick up the Police, Women and Tourism portfolios.

“I am looking forward to working with Paula as my deputy and I am delighted she is taking on the Police and Women’s portfolios.

“As only the second woman Deputy Prime Minister of New Zealand Paula is well placed to take on the Women’s portfolio and represent the interests of women at the highest level of the government.”

Steven Joyce will pick up Finance and Infrastructure, while Gerry Brownlee will remain the Leader of the House and retain Supporting Greater Christchurch Regeneration, Defence, and the Earthquake Commission portfolios. He will also be appointed as the Minister of Civil Defence.

“Steven and I have worked closely together in the Finance portfolio over the last eight years, and as Economic Development Minister he has delivered strong leadership of the government’s Business Growth Agenda.

“As Infrastructure Minister Steven will have a key role in overseeing the significant investments the government will be making in the coming years.

“I am delighted to have Gerry continue in his senior roles, including Leader of the House, and also to have him pick up the Civil Defence portfolio in which he has provided such leadership during the aftermath of the Kaikoura earthquake.”

Simon Bridges and Amy Adams have both picked up additional senior ministerial responsibilities.

Simon Bridges continues as the Minister of Transport and will pick up the Economic Development and Communications portfolios and Associate Finance, while Amy Adams retains Justice, Courts and picks up Social Housing, Social Investment and Associate Finance. Amy Adams will take a lead role in driving the Government’s social investment approach.

“Simon and Amy are two high performing Ministers who are ready to take on more responsibility. I am confident they will work well with Finance Minister Steven Joyce,” says Mr English.

At National’s Mainland conference, Amy told delegates she’d asked for money to be directed into social portfolios because that was the way to address the causes of crime.

She is well qualified for the extra responsibility for social investment.

Jonathan Coleman continues in his Health and Sport and Recreation portfolios, and will play an important role on the front bench.

“All New Zealanders care deeply about the health system, and Jonathan’s focus on ensuring that the needs of people young and old in accessing quality health care is a very strong one.”

Michael Woodhouse has also been promoted up the Cabinet rankings, retaining Immigration and Workplace Relations and Safety and picking up the ACC portfolio.

“I would like to congratulate Michael on his promotion. He has been a solid performer and I know he still has a lot more to contribute.”

Anne Tolley has picked up Local Government and will also be appointed Minister for Children, where she will continue her work on improving outcomes for children and young people.

Hekia Parata will retain the Education portfolio until May 1, at which point she will retire from the Ministry to the back bench.

“I am keen for Hekia to see through the education reforms which she is well underway on, and she will work closely with other Ministers to ensure there is a smooth transition in May.”

There will also be a transition of ministers in the Foreign Affairs portfolio.

Murray McCully will retain the Foreign Affairs portfolio until May 1at which point he will retire from the Ministry to the backbench. A decision on his replacement will be made at that time.

“I am keen for Murray to stay on for this transitional period to ensure I have the benefit of his vast experience on the wide range of issues that affect New Zealand’s vital interests overseas.”

This ensures there will be no need for a by-election if he leaves parliament when he’s no longer a minister. It also leaves the door open   for another couple of back benchers to get promotion next year.

Judith Collins takes on new responsibilities in Revenue, Energy and Resources and Ethnic Communities, and is well placed to oversee the significant business transformation work occurring at Inland Revenue.

A number of Ministers largely retain their existing responsibilities, including Chris Finlayson, Nathan Guy, Nick Smith, Todd McClay, Maggie Barry and Nicky Wagner.

Paul Goldsmith and Louise Upston have been promoted into Cabinet.

“I would like to congratulate Paul and Louise on their promotions which are all well-deserved,” says Mr English.

There are four new Ministers. Alfred Ngaro who goes straight into Cabinet and Mark Mitchell, Jacqui Dean and David Bennett who have been promoted to Ministerial positions outside Cabinet.

I am especially pleased that Alfred and Jacqui are being promoted.

He was an electrician before entering gaining a degree in theology and has extensive experience in community work. (See more here).

Jacqui is my MP, serving one of the biggest general electorates in the country. She c0-chaired the Rules Reduction Taskforce and was Parliamentary Private Secretary for Tourism and Local Government.

“The National party Caucus is a tremendously talented one, and as Ministers finish their contribution it’s important for the government’s renewal that we give members of our caucus an opportunity. Alfred, Mark, Jacqui and David have worked hard and performed well in their electorates and as select committee chairs, and deserve their promotions.”

There will be 21 positions in Cabinet until May 1 and a further six outside Cabinet (including two support party Ministers) keeping the total number of Ministerial positions at 27 plus the Parliamentary Under Secretary David Seymour.

“I would like to thank our support party leaders Peter Dunne, Te Ururoa Flavell, and David Seymour for their continued contribution to a strong and stable government.”

Mr English said that he expected to make announcements on the two further new Ministers to replace Ms Parata and Mr McCully just prior to their 1 May retirements from the Ministry.

Ministers Sam Lotu-Iiga, Craig Foss and Jo Goodhew are departing the Ministry.

“I would like to thank Sam Lotu-Iiga, Craig Foss and Jo Goodhew for their service to New Zealand as ministers. I am sure they will continue to be great contributors to New Zealand society in the years ahead.”

The full list of portfolios and rankings is here.


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