$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.

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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.


366 days of gratitude

December 8, 2016

The left and the more excitable of the commentariat have been acting like Chicken Little.

Prime Minister John Key has announced his resignation but the sky isn’t falling and the National caucus is not falling apart.

Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Bill English has more than enough support from his colleagues to become party leader and PM when they meet on Monday.

Minister Judith Collins and Jonathan who were keen for a contest have withdrawn and pledge their support for the PM in waiting.

The leader of the party and the country is changing but stable government, focussed on the issues that matter, maintaining careful management of finances to enable better public services will continue.

I’m very grateful for that.


Poor parenting not confined to poor people

October 13, 2016

Police Minister Judith Collins says many of the problems of child poverty can be blamed on poor parenting:

. . . Ms Collins responded by saying the government was doing a lot more for child poverty in New Zealand than the UN had ever done.

In New Zealand, there was money available to everyone who needed it, she said.

“It’s not that, it’s people who don’t look after their children, that’s the problem.

“And they can’t look after their children in many cases because they don’t know how to look after their children or even think they should look after their children.”

Monetary poverty was not the only problem, she said.

“I see a poverty of ideas, a poverty of parental responsibility, a poverty of love, a poverty of caring.”

As the MP for Papakura, she saw a lot of those problems in south Auckland, she said.

“And I can tell you it is not just a lack of money, it is primarily a lack of responsibility. . . 

Poor parenting isn’t the only cause for the increased likelihood of poor health, poor educational outcomes, criminal convictions and increased risk of joblessness which characterise child poverty.

But it is one of the causes.

There are good parents who find themselves financially stretched or over-stretched but who love and care for their children.

There are also parents who through ignorance, accident or deliberate poor choices give children neither the emotional nor physical care they need to be happy and healthy.

Poor parenting isn’t confined to poor people but the consequences for children are more likely to be worse in poorer families than those in which lack of money isn’t one of the problems.

Denying that poor parenting is one of the causes of child poverty is the sort of blind stupidity that gets in the way of solving at least part of the problem.


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