Another hole in water tax bucket

August 29, 2017

Canterbury farmer and former National Minister and MP, Kate Wilkinson pokes another big hole in Labour’s water tax bucket:

This is my “office”. No cows. Actually no rivers. Actually no streams. I am a sheep/arable farmer – trying economically to keep cows off my farm. But…… the latest Labour Party policy to tax me over $8000 a year may force me to consider dairy grazing. Where is the sense in that??? PS I already pay for the privilege of accessing water at a rate of some $6000 plus per month whether or not I access water. AND I pay for water I actually use.

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This shows so clearly that the policy is based on emotion not facts, sentiment not science, politics not practicality.

We all want clean waterways.

The water tax won’t help improve water quality.

It will take money from farmers like Kate who aren’t even near a waterway.

It will take money from farmers who have been spending, and continue to spend, their own money ensuring they are doing everything possible to keep waterways clean.

It will use the money to take responsibility from those who aren’t doing what they should be.

High heels in the High Country 1

August 4, 2014

High Heels in the High Country is CTV’s tribute to women who’ve hung up their high heels and put on their gumboots to earn a living from the land.

The first episode features retiring MP Kate Wilkinson, agribusiness bank manager Pip O’Neill and Penny Zino the creator and owner of Flaxmere Garden.

Kate Wilkinson’s valedictory

July 24, 2014

Hon Kate Wilkinson delivered her valedictory speech yesterday:

Hon KATE WILKINSON (National – Waimakariri): When I first entered this House 9 years ago I was a list member of Parliament in a Labour-held safe seat. I leave this place as the electorate member of Parliament for Waimakariri in a National-held seat. This just goes to show that anything can happen and one should never ever take one’s electorates for granted. Now I will leave this place, never ever to suffer defeat as an electorate MP. I especially want to thank the 16,787 voters of Waimakariri—well, actually, one of them was me—who entrusted me with their electorate vote and with the responsibility of representing them in Parliament. What a tremendous honour and a privilege. Constituency work has always been, for me, the most satisfying aspect of the job. There is nothing better than seeing a constituent come into my office with a problem and leave without it. Of course, not all problems are able to be solved. To the 20,489 Waimakariri voters who had the common sense and wisdom to give National their party vote, well done, thank you, and long may that trend continue, and long may National be the party of choice for you. By the way, when I first stood, our party vote in Waimakariri was in deficit by 6,790 votes. We won the party vote that election by 81 votes, a good reflection that indeed every vote does count. In total that is a turn-round of about 20,000 party votes during my tenure. I have been an Opposition backbencher and a Government backbencher. I have been a list member of Parliament and an electorate member of Parliament, and I do not need to comment on which is better. I have been given the absolute privilege of being a Cabinet Minister. That is like being selected for the * All Black team. Not everyone gets to be an All Black, and not every All Black gets to play 100 test matches. So I feel very honoured and privileged to have been selected for the team and to have been able to play my part. Thanks, in particular, to our Prime Minister, the Rt Hon John Key. Without a doubt, he is one of the best Prime Ministers in New Zealand’s history. I will certainly take some reflected glory in having been selected as part of his Cabinet team for just over 4 years, and for his caucus team. For those who have not yet read the biography, I feature on pages 194 and 215.

Hon Member: It’s a good read.

Hon KATE WILKINSON: It is a good read. The stewardship and governance of New Zealand, shown especially by both the Prime Minister and the Minister of Finance, Bill English, throughout what has undoubtedly been some of our most challenging times has been outstanding, and I will always be proud of being part of that team. Special thanks must go to my electorate team over the years—my National Party volunteers, friends, and family, many of whom are here today and who have travelled so far just to be here.

[Continuation line: It is a bit embarrassing, really]


It is a bit embarrassing, really. If they had not believed in me, supported me, befriended me, advised me, fed me, and looked after me, I would not have been here in the first place, I would not have been able to be here for 9 years, and my tenure here would not have been so fantastic. Thank you also to them and to the National Party for honouring me with this opportunity. To my class of 2005, thank you. To my caucus colleagues, it has been a fantastic journey together. Those remaining do have a huge responsibility to keep looking after our country, making sure it does not get into the wrong hands, protecting both our economy and our environment. I know that you will do this well. To my fellow valedictors, if that is a word, all the best with your post-parliamentary lives. To Natalie, Nat, Natto—she hates that—my executive assistant and then my senior private secretary, you are the best person I have ever worked with. You seemed to understand me, which was no mean feat. You held our team together in room 4.3. I will not embarrass you by tabling in the House your long-awaited reference from me, but here it is. Pick it up later over drinks. To all my team, who are all here except for ______,

[Ms Wilkinson, please supply name. Thank you.]

who I understand is, hopefully, watching this from Russia, thank you for all your support and friendship over the years. They say things happen in threes. Well, I was a member of Parliament in Canterbury. Under my watch the worst natural disaster, the earthquakes, happened. I was Minister of Conservation. Under my watch the worst environmental maritime disaster, the * Rena, happened. And I was Minister of Labour. Under my watch the worst workplace safety disaster, Pike River, happened. Can I say that at least as * Associate Minister of Immigration I did not let ** Mike Tyson into the country. Like every Canterbury member of Parliament, the earthquake events will always stand out for me. What a remarkable time to be a member of Parliament for an electorate and in a home town that was devastated by the earthquakes. I feel honoured to have helped our district in my capacity as MP through what has surely been its darkest time, from shovelling silt during those early days to informing residents of each and every new service and funding the National-led Government provided towards our recovery, as well as the hours and hours of work helping our residents navigate through the repair and rebuild of their homes. We have all learnt so much together, developing a new vocabulary along the way and learning about resilience and community, concepts we lived and which held us together so well. To the Hon Gerry Brownlee, Canterbury and Christchurch owe you a huge debt of gratitude. Your legacy will be remarkable. I have always believed that New Zealand is the best country in the world, and that was certainly borne out during my nearly 4 years as Minister of Conservation. What a fantastic portfolio to have had the privilege of holding. I remember to this day my very first kiwi release. To hold one of those iconic, beautiful birds was a treasure I shall always remember. On this first occasion I was given some very sage advice as I was holding the kiwi firmly, fondly, and possessively. I must admit that the advice was not that welcome. Basically, I was advised in no uncertain terms. They said: “Minister, the idea of a kiwi release is you actually let go of the kiwi and release it.” Thank you, Gavin. One of the absolute highlights, apart from naming one of our * kākāpō Jack—who, by the way, is now 3 years old, fit, well, and starting to boom—

Hon Members: Oh!

Hon KATE WILKINSON: Exactly. One of the highlights has to be taking Prince William to * Kāpiti Island. What a delightful young man. I would not mind hanging him up in my wardrobe. I have a photo hanging in pride of place on my wall of the prince flanked by the Prime Minister and me. I must admit there was a fleeting moment when I considered cropping the photo, but I did not. The trick, as we all know, with photos is to try to stand in the middle so there is no possibility of being cropped out. Sorry, Nathan. I also remember, when I was Minister of Conservation, having to do a media stand-up with my colleague Gerry Brownlee, who was then * Minister of Energy and Resources. There were some critics who said I was not even there, so I just want to put it on the record once and for all that I can assure them I was there; it is just that the camera lens maybe was not wide enough for the both of us. In my time as Minister of Labour there were good times and bad times. The ink on my warrant barely had time to dry when I was told that my 90-day trial bill would be one of the first in our term to go on the * Order Paper. It has now been in place for just on 6 years. The protections we built into the legislation worked, and in that time there has been no amendment needed apart from, of course, extending it from small businesses to all businesses. Indeed, that one piece of policy and legislation was credited with having provided 13,000 new jobs in its first year. We had finally caught up with what had happened in most jurisdictions throughout the world. It would be sad if ideology reversed all this. It has helped so many and hurt so few. Most memorable, sadly, was the Pike River mining tragedy. I cannot resile from the absolute fact that 29 men died under my watch. Although I was not personally responsible, I was the responsible Minister, and it happened under my watch. We all wish we could turn back the clock and prevent such a disaster and keep those men safe. We cannot, but I am proud of the setting up of the Royal commission inquiry and now implementing its recommendations, putting the spotlight on workplace safety. We often have a national culture of “she’ll be right”, but it too often is not right. We lose a worker about once a week and a farmer once a month, and a farmer is hurt about every 30 minutes. So often those deaths and injuries could have been avoided. We need to change that culture and simply look after our workmates. Governments can only do so much and can only be so effective. Workplaces and workmates can do more. The food safety portfolio is a fascinating one, although when I was first given the portfolio, a good friend of mine did comment that if the Prime Minister had looked inside my fridge, he would not have given me food safety. Anyway, it started for me with the folic acid debate—not the most memorable one for me. Throughout all the discussions as to how many slices of bread one would need to consume to get the daily intake of folic acid, it remarkably went unnoticed that, actually, I cannot even eat bread. However, the portfolio ended for me with a success, having negotiated with our Australian counterparts on a joint health claims standard. I even had the Australian Minister who chairs the forum make a special trip over here to see me, not particularly happy about trying to convince New Zealand to go with the Australians and not opt out of a joint standard. We won through in the end; otherwise it would had stifled innovation and cost our businesses millions, if not billions, of dollars. There are two lessons from that. Firstly, we have definitely not lost our sovereignty to Australia, and, secondly, if it is good news, it does not always get the good publicity it deserves. In fact, more column space was spent on my being mistakenly referred to as “**“ Kate Middleton” than on this food treaty success. Our work in select committees, as has been said, often goes unnoticed by the public. They do not often see the collaborative approach to make good law, whatever our respective ideologies and beliefs. My first success in a select committee was changing the word “the” to the word “a”, and one of my last successes was changing “can” to “may”. Words can, indeed, make a difference. Yet we still have some really, really stupid laws, or maybe it is just that we have enabled some of our laws to be interpreted stupidly. Why, for example, can I no longer use my business card in the regulated period? Apparently that is deemed electioneering. It is a business card, for goodness’ sake, and I am not even standing for re-election. Local successes are always the sweeter. I am particularly proud to have been instrumental in obtaining our health hub in * Rangiora, and thanks must go to the Hon Tony Ryall for his support for this and for making it happen.

[Continuation line: This is a milestone eagerly and long awaited]


This is a milestone eagerly and long awaited by residents to supplement our world-class St John paramedic team serving residents after hours, an award-winning response model. It is so much more worthwhile and responsible to look pragmatically and objectively for solutions rather than negatively focusing on the problems. I always preferred to work hard behind the scenes and help solve problems in priority to trying to attract any headline. We all have a best-before date and a use-by date, although I believe that some do not recognise either. But I was reminded of that at a university club day I was attending, to help out and support our wonderful, energetic, and enthusiastic * Young Nats. A student coming up to our stand made the comment to me: “You look familiar. Do I know you?” Not being one to ever use the phrase “Don’t you know who I am?”, one of our helpful Young Nats started to say “Oh, she is a local MP. She is a Minister.”, etc., when the inquirer interrupted and said: “I know. You remind me of my grandmother.” That was a reality check. Still, the alternative to getting older is worse, but it does serve to remind us that this is not a job for life. It goes very quickly and we must make the most of each and every day. Most of us come to this place to make a difference, to make New Zealand a better place. Some do it better than others, some have different views on how to make that difference, some do it differently than others, and probably some do not make any difference at all. I hope in my small way that I have made some small difference to some people. It is a remarkable thing, though. As soon as I made the decision not to stand again, my bucket list magically got bigger and bigger. So now it is time to start emptying that bucket. A big job, I know, but I am up for it. Until 20 September I have a job to do, but then I am away to tick off the first agenda item on my bucket list. It will be the first time in 9 years that I have not had to ask the permission of our whips. Obviously, there will be some things I miss about this place, but there are also things I definitely will not miss. No longer will I have to ask for leave to go to the * Christchurch Show Day or to go on holiday. I will always cherish my time working with and for our residents of * Waimakariri as their MP. I have loved the job. I have valued the opportunity. I have been humbled by the privilege. But now it is time to step away and tread a different path, or, as my GPS frequently tells me, “route recalculation”. As some have been known to say, I have been around for over 30 million minutes so far—not all in this place, although nearly 5 million minutes have been spent here. It is time for me to use those remaining minutes differently. There are now more restaurants and bars in Christchurch than before the earthquakes—more than 120 news ones. I have not tried them all, so I can start working my way through them. Bucket list, here I come. In closing, can I say that in 2005 I was so excited to be here, and now, 9 years later, I am so excited to leave.

Valedictory roster

June 19, 2014

Parliament’s Business Committee has released the roster for valedictory speeches from retiring MPs:

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

(At the conclusion of the General Debate)

4.00pm – 4.15pm Dr Cam Calder

4.15pm – 4.30pm John Hayes

4.30pm – 4.45pm Chris Auchinvole

4.45pm – 5.00pm Colin King

5.00pm – 5.15pm Hon Chris Tremain

5.15pm – 5.30pm Hon Kate Wilkinson

Thursday, 24 July 2014

4.45pm – 5.00pm Dr Rajen Prasad

5.00pm – 5.15pm Darien Fenton

5.15pm – 5.30pm Hon Dr Pita Sharples

5.30pm – 5.45pm Hon Tariana Turia

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

(At the conclusion of the General Debate)

4.00pm – 4.15pm Dr Paul Hutchison

4.15pm – 4.30pm Hon Phil Heatley

4.30pm – 4.45pm Eric Roy

4.45pm – 5.00pm Shane Ardern

5.00pm – 5.15pm Hon Tau Henare

5.15pm – 5.30pm H V Ross Robertson

5.30pm – 5.45pm Hon Tony Ryall

The Herald opined that valedictories should be the preserve of “deserving” MPs:

No fewer than 14 National MPs are retiring at the coming election, plus a couple from other parties. While the turnover is refreshing for public life, it carries a cost if every departee gives a valedictory address. . . .

Few voters could name many of those retiring this year. Many are leaving because they have not been able to make much impact and accept that they should give others a chance. More credit to them, but valedictory time should be reserved for those who have made their mark and will be missed.

That is very ungracious and also shows a depressing level of ignorance about the role of MPs.

Most of the good work MPs do never makes the headlines, much of it can’t because it’s helping people over matters which must remain private.

Maiden speeches and valedictories are among the best speeches given.

All MPs deserve the opportunity to do one and in doing so show their work and parliament in a far better light than it’s normally portrayed.

Doocey for Waimakariri

March 17, 2014

The National Party has selected Matthew Doocey as its candidate for Waimakariri.

Mr Doocey was selected by a meeting of local party members tonight.

“Matthew proved himself an effective campaigner in the Christchurch East by-election, with a real passion for advancing and rebuilding Canterbury. He will be a strong, fresh, and energetic local MP if elected in September,” said Canterbury-Westland Regional Chair Roger Bridge.

“Kate Wilkinson has served the electorate well, winning the seat for National in 2011. However we are taking nothing for granted this election and will be running a strong campaign in Waimakariri.”

Mr Doocey said he was honoured to be selected and looking forward to the challenge ahead.

“It’s an honour to be selected as National’s Waimakariri candidate,” says Mr Doocey.

“North Canterbury has been well-served by a Government which is making the rebuild a priority, investing in infrastructure, and backing rural communities.

“Having a strong local voice inside National has been crucial for Waimakariri. I will be working hard to carry that on if I have the privilege of being elected to serve these communities inside Parliament.”

Matthew Doocey – Biographical Notes

A born and bred Cantabrian, Matthew Doocey (41) lives in Redwood with Hungarian-born wife Viktoria and their new-born daughter Emily.

After pursuing opportunities in the UK, Mr Doocey decided to return home last year to give something back after the earthquakes.

He currently works at the Canterbury District Health Board as a manager in its surgical division.

Mr Doocey went to St Bedes College before studying counselling psychology at WelTec (Wellington). He has a Bsc (Hons) in Social Policy, an MA in Healthcare Management from Kingston University in London, and an MSc in Global Politics from Birkbeck College – University in London. He is also studying towards a Doctorate in Health by distance with Bath University in the UK.

Matthew Doocey has a long career in healthcare management including in the delivery of community health, mental health, and social care services both in voluntary and Government settings.

Kate Wilkinson won Waimakariri from Labour’s Clayton Cosgrove.

If proposed boundary changes are confirmed, the electorate will be a bit bluer than it was.

No room to splash cash

March 12, 2014

Parties on the left like to think the government is the answer to most problems.

By contrast, National recognises the importance of individuals, households and businesses, and careful management of government resources.

Hon KATE WILKINSON (National—Waimakariri) to the Minister of Finance: What will be the focus of the Government’s economic programme going into the election on 20 September?

Hon BILL ENGLISH (Minister of Finance): The Government will focus on building on the recovery that is now under way to support New Zealand households and businesses, to create more jobs, and to earn higher incomes. Now that we have been able to manage through a very significant recession and the impact of the earthquake, and clean up some of the damage done by the last Labour Government, we will look forward to helping New Zealanders organise the capital and the skills required to take advantage of the very substantial opportunities offered by a growing Asia- Pacific region.

Hon Kate Wilkinson: What progress is the Government making with its economic programme and how is this helping households and businesses?

Hon BILL ENGLISH: First of all, the recovery in the economy is principally the work of New Zealand’s households and businesses, supported by Government. Government policy that has helped to support that has been to get the Government finances under control and get back to surplus; and to focus on all those areas across the economy that support growth, such as better infrastructure investment, a tidier, more effective, and more efficient system for giving young New Zealanders skills, reducing welfare dependency, re-regulating the use of our natural resources so that we can be a prosperous economy as well as a clean, green economy, and, of course, there are many other ways we have been supporting New Zealand households and businesses.

Reducing the burden of government is one of the bests ways to help people and businesses.

Hon David Parker: Why is he claiming that everything is going swimmingly when the $1 billion deficit to 31 January in his Government’s accounts is $637 million worse than he forecast in just December?

Hon BILL ENGLISH: As I have pointed out regularly in this House, we can control expenditure to a significant extent but revenue can fluctuate. In this case—

Hon Members: Ha, ha!

Hon BILL ENGLISH: Well, bear in mind that in the previous financial year we finished about $3 billion ahead of budget. On the most recent figures in this year tax revenue is about $800 million

behind budget. The people who should take the most notice of that are the Opposition parties, because it makes it pretty clear there is not room to splash cash everywhere in election year.

Hon Kate Wilkinson: What are some of the ongoing economic challenges the economy faces, and how will the Government work to overcome them?

Hon BILL ENGLISH: Probably the main economic challenge is to manage our way through the next growth cycle, avoiding the excessive damage created during the last growth cycle under the last Labour Government. For instance, it is inevitable that interest rates will rise some time this year, according to decisions of the Reserve Bank. We want to make sure that interest rates are not driven to 10.5 to 11 percent by bad Government policy and excessive Government spending. That is probably one of the best things we can do to support New Zealand households.

Government spending has a significant influence on interest rates.

Labour’s profligacy was a major cause of high interest rates, National’s Presbyterian approach to other people’s money has helped to keep them low.

Hon David Parker: Is it correct that having inherited close to zero net Government debt he is soon to clock over $60 billion of borrowings; and is this more than any other Minister of Finance in New Zealand’s history in nominal terms and the worst in real terms since Muldoon?

Hon BILL ENGLISH: No, but it is another symptom of “Planet Labour”, a place where the global financial crisis and the Christchurch earthquakes never happened. Voters will increasingly see a party marooned on “Planet Labour”—1970s Fabianism at its worst.

Hon Kate Wilkinson: Going into the election on 20 September, what economic policies will this Government reject because they would impose costs on households and cost jobs?

Hon BILL ENGLISH: It is pretty clear from lessons learnt from the last cycle through the early 2000s up to 2008 what policies to avoid. One of those is a sharp increase in Government spending, because that will push interest rates up much faster than they need to go. The second one would be imposing a costly emissions trading system, which is guaranteed to put power bills up by around $500 per year and, in combination with a single-buyer electricity authority, would make household electricity bills significantly more expensive, not cheaper, as the Opposition claims.

Labour and Greens both plan to tax us more, directly and indirectly, and then splash the cash around.

Not only will that leave us with less of our own money, it will fuel interest rates and inflation.

Wilkinson, Shanks won’t seek re-election

November 7, 2013

National MPs Kate Wilkinson and Katrina Shanks have announced they won’t be seeking re-election.

Kate entered parliament as a list MP and won the Waimakariri electorate in 2011.

She was Minister of Labour and Conservation until earlier this year.

“It has been a fantastic privilege to have been both an MP and a Cabinet Minister in the John Key-led Government,” Kate Wilkinson said.

“It has been humbling and satisfying being able to help constituents in the area – especially following the Canterbury earthquake events, when we all learnt so much as a region and as a country.

“One of the most satisfying achievements was obtaining funding for the North Canterbury Health Hub and I certainly want to see that through.

“I first stood as the National Party candidate for Waimakariri in 2005, taking Waimakariri from being a Labour stronghold to ultimately becoming a National seat. Winning the electorate vote in the 2011 election was an absolute thrill.

“I had in mind in 2005 that I would stand for election for three terms. I feel that it is now time to consider fresh challenges and opportunities. I will remain focused on working for the people of Waimakariri until the election and look forward to supporting National’s new candidate.

“I would like to take this opportunity to thank the people of Waimakariri for their ongoing support and for providing me with the opportunity to be a part of so many exciting projects which have assisted in making Waimakariri such a special place.”

Katrina has been in the unenviable position of standing in Ohariu but not seriously contesting the list vote in order to help Peter Dunne hold the seat.

“It has been an incredible privilege to serve in the John Key-led Government,” Katrina Shanks said.

“New Zealand now has one of the strongest economies in the world, an education system which focuses on every child, a healthcare system which is responsive to patients’ needs in a timely manner, and most importantly considers families to be the cornerstone of this great country.

“Working as an MP it has been an honour to be able to meet so many great New Zealanders, especially those who give to our communities through their volunteer work and make a real difference to so many people’s lives.

“I came into Parliament wanting to put the spotlight back on families and highlight the important role which they play in our society today. The work I have performed both in my select committee roles and policy development has allowed me to contribute greatly in this area.

“Working across three Wellington electorates has meant that I have made many friends and been supported by many people. I thank these people for their support of the work that I have undertaken.

“I have decided that now is the right time to leave my career in politics, and look to spend more time being closer to my young family. I look forward to taking up new challenges outside of Parliament.”

These announcements follow similar ones from Chris Tremain, Chris Auckinvole, Paul Hutchison, Cam Calder  and Phil Heatley, and Bill English’s decision to seek a list spot rather than contesting the Clutha Southland seat.

National lost a lot of MPs in 2002 but had big intakes in 2005 and 2008 as well as some new MPs in 2011 and two since then.

This is providing good opportunities for renewal which is healthy and will enable National to campaign with a lot of fresh faces.

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