We need more MPs

19/01/2021

Alex Braae says it won’t be popular but  we need more MPs.

He’s right on both counts.

When MMP was introduced the South Island was given a maximum of 16 electorates. The island’s population was divided by that to set the number of people in each seat by that amount, plus or minus 5%.

Whether that was too many people is arguable but there is no doubt too many of the provincial and Maori electorates were far too big geographically.

The biggest, Clutha Southland, covered an areas of 37, 378 square kilometres. Contrast that with the smallest, Epsom, which covers just 20 square kilometres.

Clutha Southland  got a little bit smaller when Queenstown was put into it put it. It was renamed Southland and lost a wee bit more in area when electorate boundaries were redrawn after the last census. But it, its neighbour Waitaki, that electorate’s neighbour West Coast Tasman, and Kaikoura to the east are still far bigger than is fair to the MP trying to service it and their constituents. So are the bigger North Island and Maori electorates.

It’s now not only the area that is covered by these electorates that is the problem. The population has grown by more than a million people since MMP meaning every electorate MP has to service considerably more constituents.

Then there’s the problem of less proportionality.

The increase in the number of electorates as the North Island grew faster than the South has led to fewer list seats.

Unless there is a change, census by census, the number of electorates will increase and the number of list seats decrease, until there are no list MPs at all.

The answer to that is not fewer electorates.

Some already cover too big an area and all have a lot more people than when the formula was devised before the 1996 election.

The only alternative is more MPs – both electorate and list.

Braae is right that won’t be popular with the people, possibly a majority,  who think we already have too many politicians.

It would almost certainly fail if put to a referendum.

The government has the votes to pass any changes by itself but a constitutional reform like this shouldn’t go through that way,

It would be much better to be agreed by a super majority in parliament and if the issue was handled carefully in a non-partisan way it could be.


Rural round-up

21/08/2017

Labour needs to provide detail on water charging policy:

New Labour Party leader Jacinda Ardern’s plan to charge water royalties for commercial bottlers and irrigation schemes is a pre-election crowd pleaser.

It capitalises on the outrage some people feel when they read of pure New Zealand water being shipped off in bottles overseas for the profit of foreigners. The idea that revenues raised can be redirected into cleaning up our stressed and polluted waterways also speaks to valid environmental concerns.

But the policy has come out of nowhere, and the lack of detail is worrisome. Voters could be excused for thinking it is a glib, once-over-lightly headline-grabber.

If they find themselves on the Treasury benches after next month’s election, Labour might learn the lesson with water that US President Donald Trump learned with healthcare – who knew that it could be so complicated? . . 

Te Mana brings the fat back into lamb to appease even the harshest critics – Pat Deavoll:

Chef and co-owner of the Wanaka Gourmet Kitchen, Dale Bowie reckons he can get even the most ardent critic to enjoy a lamb rack thanks to a product called Te Mana Lamb.

“We’ve had customers here say they don’t like lamb, but when others on their table start saying how great it is, they try some and think it’s brilliant,” Bowie says.

A generation of Kiwis has grown up with the mantra that fat is bad, yet Bowie’s table guests are told that Te Mana Lamb has a high level of Omega-3 fatty acids and polyunsaturated fats that are good for you. . .

Poo-powered electricity, hot water – Pam Tipa:

A biogas recovery system using methane from dairy effluent to generate electricity and heat water was one of three finalists in the Energy Technology of the Year award in the 2017 Deloitte Energy Excellence Awards.

The system was installed by John Scandrett of Dairy Green Ltd with Fortuna Group Ltd.

The ground-breaking project implementing a prototype methane recovery system on a 950-cow farm in Southland has demonstrated for the first time commercial viability of this technology within a cool climate, says Dairy Green in its award entry. . .

Getting off the well-worn farm track – Jamie Gray:

New Zealand’s farming model will have to change as lab-grown meat gobbles up the low-cost market, and Landcorp can lead the way, says chief executive Steven Carden.

Carden, who heads up the country’s biggest farming company, says the old model – producing bulk commodities at low prices – has served the country well for the last century or so.

Until now.

“We see headwinds coming around the traditional protein farming model, [that’s] meat and milk,” he says. . .

Selling our meat is a game of two halves – Craig Wiggins:

Over the past few months I’ve emceed a fair share of rural awards and conferences where mention of synthetic proteins and insect flour scared many a middle-aged farmer.

The talk that’s being shouted from on high about being prepared for these new products to take over the world of food production as we know it was more than enough to cause many a listener to question their future as sustainable farmers of the future.

A synthetic steak, a petri dish hamburger and cricket flour chocolate mudcake all sound like a taste test from hell. However, we’re being led to believe these products won’t only be palatable but taste more like the real thing than the real thing. . .

FMG board revamp:

Three agribusiness leaders have been elected to the board of rural insurer FMG.

Geoff Copstick, Murray Taggart and Steve Allen were elected by FMG members at its annual meeting in Hanmer Springs this week.

Copstick was chief financial officer of Gallagher Group in Hamilton for nine years. He is now on Gallagher’s board and chair of its audit and risk committee. Copstick also serves as an independent advisor to Northland Regional Council on finance, audit and economic development issues. . .

Scarred country creates pest nest – Tim Futon:

Earthquake damage has helped gorse, broom and pest animals fan out across Kaikoura.

Kaikoura’s pest liaison committee chairman Derrick Millton said the region faced an explosion of deer, goats and possums.

Parts of the Clarence back-country were full of Red deer and there was serious risk of more erosion and fouling of waterways if they weren’t kept in check, he said. . .

Two NZ wineries sold to fine wine start-up – Lauren Eads:

Two prominent New Zealand wineries have been acquired by a newly-established fine wine company co-founded by the man who launched Craggy Range and a US-based wildlife conservationist.

Pyramid Valley Vineyards in Waikari, North Canterbury, and Lowburn Ferry Wines, Central Otago, have both become the first purchases of Aotearoa New Zealand Fine Wine Estates Limited Partnership (ANZFWE) – a new venture between Brian Sheth, sole director of US-based Sangreal Wines LLC, and Steve Smith MW, sole director of LandbaseWineNZ Ltd. . .


Knowing when to go

18/12/2013

Kaikoura MP Colin King lost a selection contest against vineyard owner Stuart Smith.

. . . “National’s selection process is highly democratic. Nothing is pre-determined and I congratulate Stuart for securing the nomination,” said Canterbury-Westland Regional Chairman Roger Bridge.

“Stuart has been an advocate for Marlborough communities for many years and will offer voters a strong voice in John Key’s National Party at the next election.

“I also wish to acknowledge Colin King. Colin has worked hard as the MP and served these communities well

Mr Smith is a fourth generation South Islander, former Chairman of the New Zealand Winegrowers Association, and a founding member and current Chairman of the community-owned Southern Valley’s Irrigation Scheme.

Based in Blenheim on the Smith-Small family-owned vineyard Fairhill Downs, he is married to Julie and is father to three teenage children.

“I am very grateful for the confidence that the Party have shown in me tonight,” said Mr Smith.

“National’s plan to build a stronger economy is delivering real opportunities for us in Marlborough and North Canterbury, but regional New Zealand is facing many challenges and there is still much more to be done.

“I will be working hard to win the support of our communities to ensure we can keep building on this progress after the next election. 

Colin King, who was elected as the MP for Kaikoura in 2005, is encouraging local members and supporters to get in behind the new candidate and help return National to Government next election.

“It has been a tremendous privilege to serve as the MP and I have greatly enjoyed making a contribution to the growth of our region,” said Mr King.

“While I am disappointed that I will not be able to represent Kaikoura after the next election, I want to express my support for the National-led Government and encourage members and supporters in the electorate to get in behind Stuart and National in 2014.

“The next election will be vital for the future of our region. I will be working hard to support the Government to keep delivering on its positive plan.”

Losing a selection is a sad way for an MP to end a career but National’s rules leaves selection to members in the electorate.

Sometimes they have a different idea about when it’s time for an MP to go than the MP does.

UPDATE – Gravedodger pays tribute to King at No Minister:

First met Colin when as a very good shearer he shore a few hundred of my greasy old corriedales in what is now the Waipara Wine district c1974.
He was a very different guy then, intelligent, well read, and smart enough to recognise that being fit, logical and organised was better than the traditional, drinking cussing, inefficient unfit model that Godfry Bowen transformed, only he was 40 years younger.

Saw Colin win the Golden Shears title at Masterton from a right hand stand, that being a lefty, forced King to waltz each of his 20 sheep through 180 degrees to align it with the handpiece and  then maneuver the shorn animal to a porthole in the wrong position. He still won and then twice more after the dinosaurs that ran the show arranged for a designated “Lefty stand”.

When he stood for the Kaikoura seat nearly nine years ago he reinforced my belief that National party candidates were grounded in life skills that gave an enormous advantage in their approach to the very limited power they have to make meaningful change. . .


Maori Seats too big – Flavell

25/11/2013

Maori Party co-leader Te Ururoa Flavell is concerned about the size of Maori electorates:

The Representation Commission has proposed no changes to the boundaries of the seven Maori electorates, because they are within their population quota.

Mr Flavell says it does not address the ”ridiculous” situation that the Tai Tonga MP is expected to represent over half of the land area of Aotearoa, which spans 18 general electorates.

He says the size of the Maori electorates is a major problem it has discussed with the Electoral Commission and MPs, but says there is no political will to change it.

He’s right about  Te Tai Tonga which covers 161, 443 square kilometres – that’s the whole of the South and Stewart Islands and part of Wellington Region.

But the next biggest seats are general ones. Clutha Southland covers 38,247 sq kms and West Coast Tasman covers 38, 042 sq kms.

Then comes the Maori seat of Te Tai Hauauru at 35, 825 sq kms and  the general seat of  Waitaki  which covers 34,888 sq kms.

Ikaroa-Rawhiti, a Maori seat, covers 30,952 sq kms then another general seat Kaikoura is 23, 706 sq kms.

The next two Maori seats are Waiariki at 19,212 sq kms and Te Tai Tokerau at 16, 370 sq kms. Then comes three general seats – East Coast (13,649); Taranaki-King Country (12, 869) and Northland (12, 255) and the smallest Maori electorate Hauraki-Waikato (12,580).

Mr Flavell says electoral law guarantees there will be at least 16 general electorates in the South Island so each one won’t be too big, and that approach should apply to Maori electorates.

The law actually says there will be 16 South Island seats and two of  those – Clutha Southland and West-Coast Tasman are bigger than all but Te Tai Tonga, Waitaki is bigger than all but that and Te Tai Hauauru ; Kaikoura is bigger than Waiariki and Te Tai Tokerau and the three biggest North island seats East Coast, Taranaki-King Country and Northland are all bigger than Hauraki-Waikato.
Electorate sizes are determined by dividing the South Island population by 16 with a tolerance of 5% over or under that figure.I agree that most Maori seats are too big but so are some of the general ones. MMP gives better representation to parties but bigger electorates provides poorer representation for people.The simplest way to reduce the area electorates cover is to increase the number of seats but that would require more MPs or reduce the number of list seats and so reduce proportionality which is one of MMP’s strengths.Another way to reduce the area MPs have to service is to get rid of Maori electorates and keep the total number of seats we have now. That would add a seat in the South Island and make all electorates a bit smaller but I don’t think that will get any support from Flavell.


Maori seats don’t give representation

26/04/2013

Maori are being canvassed to register on either the general or Maori roll.

If they’re in Te Tai Tokerau and want decent representation they should be opting for the general roll because their MP, Hone Harawira, is a rare sight in parliament.

Mana Party leader has been absent for 49 of the 120 sitting days since the 2011 election.

Mana leader Hone Harawira described himself as going “to battle for those without a voice in Parliament” at his party’s conference this month but he has been a rare sight in Parliament this year. . . .

Speaker David Carter said a formal attendance record for MPs was no longer kept, but Mr Harawira had been given 49 days of leave since the 2011 election, during which Parliament has sat for about 120 days. Party leaders have more responsibilities than other MPs, but most, including Prime Minister John Key and Labour leader David Shearer, attend on two of the three sitting days. . .

Most Maori seats are considerably bigger than the average general seat which means even a very good MP would struggle to service the electorate well.

However, Harawira has the second smallest Maori seat so can’t use electorate size as an excuse.

Te Tai Tokerau  at 16,370 square kilometres is less than half the size of the three biggest general seats, Clutha Southland, West Coast Tasman and Waitaki,  and a fraction the size of Te Tai Tonga which covers an area of 161, 433 square kilometres.

Te Tai Hauauru covers 35, 825 square kilometres, Ikaroa Rawhiti is  30,952 square kilometres in area, the general seat of Kaikoura covers 23,706 square kilometres, and Waiariki covers 19,212 square kilometres.

A party leader does have other duties but if the Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition generally make it to two of the three sitting days each week, Harawira can’t use that as an excuse either.

Although he is costing us more than any other MP who isn’t a minister:

Despite the cutback in travel to Wellington, Mr Harawira’s travel expenses for the first three months of the year were still higher than any other non-ministerial MP, including Mr Shearer.

Tariana Turia said Maori seats didn’t give Maori a voice,   Harawira certainly isn’t giving his constituents a voice in parliament but he’s still racking up a very large travel bill.


Key tops Trans Tasman’s political roll call

07/12/2008

Trans Tasman’s political roll call will be available to subscribers tomorrow but the print edition of the Sunday Star Times gives an edited version which puts John Key in the top spot with a score of 9/10.

Bill English follows on 8.5, Judith Collins, Tim Groser, Anne Tolley and Tariana Turia are third equal with 7.5.

Helen Clark, Pita Sharples, Murray McCully, Chris Finlayson, Paula Bennett and Phil Goff all score 7/10.

The SST reports that the lowest scoring National MP is Colin King on 2.

King, a former farmer and three times Golden Shears camp, took his roasting in good part, saying he “wouldn’t be a bit surprised” about the ranking. But he said while he might be invisable to some Wellington analysts, he’d doubled his election majority in Kaikoura and in his first term had followed the good advice of keeping his mouth shut and breathing through his nose. A log of his work had been “back room” and he was part of a “champion team”.

Trans Tasman’s rankings are determined by six parliamentary insiders. They are based on MPs’ performances in Wellington and doesn’t take into account the work they do in their electorates so King’s response is fair.

He was part of 2005’s large intake of new National MPs, not all of whom can be stars in the house. His electorate majority of 11,077 which was 57.8% of the vote, shows he’s won the support of people of Kaikoura which at 23,706 square kilometres is the fourth biggest general electorate in the country.

He was also 1.5 above the lowest MP in Trans Tasman’s rankings – Labour’s Ashraf Choudhary who dropped from 1 last year  to just .5/10 and he’s a list MP so can’t use the excuse of having an electorate to serve for his non-performance in parliament.


Inequities over staff increases

16/11/2008
One of the unfortunate consequences of MMP is the larger area of electorates. The difficulty and added expense of servicing them has not been recognised by extra resources for their MPs.
However, thanks to one of the clauses in the agreement between National and the Maori Party  that will change.

All Maori MPs and all MPs in general seats which cover an area greater than 20,000 square kilometres will be entitled to an extra staff member, equivalent to three full time out of parliament staffers.

The Electorates which will benefit from this are:

Name

Area sq.km

Te Tai Tonga

161,443

Clutha-Southland

38,247

West Coast-Tasman

38,042

Te Tai Hauauru

35,825

Waitaki

34,888

Ikaroa-Rawhiti

30,952

Kaikoura

23,706

Waiariki

19,212

Te Tai Tokerau

16,370

Hauraki-Waikato

12,580

Tamaki Makaurau

730

The MPs representing them are Rahui Katene, Bill English, Chris Auchinvole,  Parekura Horomia, Jacqui Dean, Colin King, Tariana Turia, Te Ururoa Flavell, Hone Harawira,  Nanaia Mahuta and Pita Sharples.

The area the bigger ones cover definitely justifies more help. But there are 21 general electorates which cover bigger areas than Tamaki Makaurau.

That raises the question of why an electorate covering a relatively small area of 730 square kilometres needs an extra staff member if these, which are bigger, don’t:

East Coast

13,649

Taranaki-King Country

12,869

Northland

12,255

Rangitikei

12,189

Wairarapa

11,922

Taupo

9,101

Selwyn

7,854

Napier

6,866

Rangitata

6,826

Whanganui

5,948

Invercargill

5,617

Rotorua

5,535

Waikato

4,947

Coromandel

4,653

Tukituki

4,277

Dunedin South

2,702

Waimakariri

1,757

Otaki

1,728

Whangarei

1,628

Hunua

1,266

Bay of Plenty

1,188

Rodney

1,051

Helensville

865

 


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