2014 blogging in review

31/12/2014

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The Louvre Museum has 8.5 million visitors per year. This blog was viewed about 450,000 times in 2014. If it were an exhibit at the Louvre Museum, it would take about 19 days for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Among the stats are most viewed posts:

The top referring sites:

  1. nominister.blogspot.co.nz
  2. keepingstock.blogspot.co.nz
  3. kiwiblog.co.nz
  4. twitter.com
  5. lindsaymitchell.blogspot.co.nz

No Minister is consistently the site from which most visitors come.

Keeping Stock is still a top referrer even though, sadly, it has gone into recess.

And the five most active commenters:

 

  • 1 robertguyton 1286 comments
  • 2 TraceyS 1197 comments
  • 3 Dave Kennedy 1045 comments
  • 4 Mr E 984 comments
  • 5 Andrei 645 comments

Thank you all for reading and even more for contributing to conversations.

I’ve been blogging much less since late September. Readership has dropped as a consequence – I’m hoping that’s a case of less quantity and more quality. 🙂

P.S. Thanks to WordPress and its staff who provide the platform for this blog, give prompt and helpful assistance when it’s required and provide such good service.

 


Foulers cry foul

14/09/2014

Internet Mana  is complaining about Prime Minister John Key’s decision to declassify documents which will prove accusations against him are baseless.

. . .In a joint statement, Mr Harawira and Ms Harre say the reported intention of the Prime Minister “to arrange the selective declassification and release of documents for his own political purposes” represents an abuse of the Prime Minister’s authority in his capacity as the Minister in charge of the GCSB and the SIS. . .

If the PM didn’t release documents they’d accuse him of hiding something but when he says he will release documents they’re still complaining.

This is a case of the foulers crying foul.

They’re the ones who’ve allowed themselves to be bought by Kim Dotcom who is doing his best to interfere in the election.

The PM not only has the right to release this he has a duty.

This isn’t just about him. It’s about New Zealand, New Zealanders and our security.

Those who don’t understand that should read Charles Finny’s excellent guest post at Kiwiblog:

. . .  The Labour Government that saw us through World War II, and those from 1957-60, 1972-75, 1984-90 and 1999-2008 have not sought to change our position in “five eyes” because the leaders and senior Ministers of those Governments have realized how lucky we are to be part of this agreement and knew how fundamental the intelligence derived from it was to the security of New Zealand.  Ultimately the most important function of government is to protect the people.  “Five eyes” plays a very important role in our ongoing security.  There was a wobble under Lange which saw New Zealand denied access to some processed intelligence from the US, but access to the raw communications intercepted by the four allies continued throughout.  Under Helen Clark the full flow of processed intelligence resumed.

I cannot believe what I have just heard saying about today.  What we now call is as much a creation of Labour as it is the National Party.  It is crucial to our continuing security.  It protects us against the hostile actions of foreign governments, terrorist organizations, and international criminals.  Of course the same foreign governments, terrorist organizations and criminals hate the ‘’fives eyes agreement” and want it dismantled because it stands in their way.  I can’t believe that a Labour Leader would align himself with these forces and put this agreement and our position in it so much at risk.  If his senior colleagues do not call Cunliffe on this, shame on them too.  Our national security is too important to be put at risk by short term political opportunism.

Even when Helen Clark thought we lived in a benign strategic environment her government didn’t short-change  or subvert our security the way the left is now attempting to.

 

 


National Party 2014 list released – UPDATED

27/07/2014

The National Party has released its list for the 2014 election:

The National Party list for the 2014 election brings together a strong mix of both experienced political leaders and fresh new talent, says National Party President Peter Goodfellow.

“Our 2014 list shows the benefit of our ongoing rejuvenation programme. If National was able to match its election result from 2011, we would bring in as many as 13 new MPs, alongside 46 returning MPs.

“With the depth of talent we have to choose from, settling on a list that balances new blood alongside valuable experience was not an easy task. However, we believe we’ve struck the right mix that will allow for renewal and continued stability in a third term.”

A list ranking committee made up of about 30 delegates from around New Zealand gathered in Wellington yesterday to settle on the List rankings for the September 20 election.

Mr Goodfellow believes the list underlines National’s credentials as a strong economic manager which is working hard for all New Zealanders to deliver more jobs, better public services, and higher wages.

“Our list draws on people from all walks of life, from the social sector, to medicine, business, and agriculture. We have a good blend of candidates from a variety of diverse backgrounds.”

Mr Goodfellow says that sitting MPs and Ministers have been broadly ranked in their current order, but also notes there are a number of electorates with new candidates who are likely to join #TeamKey in September.

“The Party is in great heart, and I want to thank all those MPs who are retiring at this election for their contribution to their country. I also want to thank their families for the sacrifices so many of them have made to support a busy MP.

“Despite positive polling the National Party has a huge task ahead to ensure our supporters get out and vote at this election. An unstable far left coalition remains a very real risk to New Zealand’s positive outlook.

We’ll be working very hard until polling day to sell our positive cohesive plan for New Zealand that builds strongly in what the country has achieved over the last six years.”

The National Party List for the 2014 General election is:

 

1 John Key Helensville
2 Bill English List
3 David Carter List
4 Gerry Brownlee Ilam
5 Steven Joyce List
6 Judith Collins Papakura
7 Hekia Parata Mana
8 Chris Finlayson Rongotai
9 Paula Bennett Upper Harbour
10 Jonathan Coleman Northcote
11 Murray McCully East Coast Bays
12 Anne Tolley East Coast
13 Nick Smith Nelson
14 Tim Groser New Lynn
15 Amy Adams Selwyn
16 Nathan Guy Otaki
17 Craig Foss Tukituki
18 Simon Bridges Tauranga
19 Nikki Kaye Auckland Central
20 Michael Woodhouse Dunedin North
21 Jo Goodhew Rangitata
22 Chester Borrows Whanganui
23 Todd McClay Rotorua
24 Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga Maungakiekie
25 Nicky Wagner Christchurch Central
26 Lindsay Tisch Waikato
27 Louise Upston Taupo
28 Tim Macindoe Hamilton West
29 Jami-Lee Ross Botany
30 Paul Goldsmith Epsom
31 Melissa Lee Mt Albert
32 Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi Manukau East
33 Jian Yang List
34 Alfred Ngaro Te Atatu
35 Maurice Williamson Pakuranga
36 Jacqui Dean Waitaki
37 David Bennett Hamilton East
38 Jonathan Young New Plymouth
39 Brett Hudson Ohariu
40 Maggie Barry North Shore
41 Ian McKelvie Rangitikei
42 Mark Mitchell Rodney
43 Simon O’Connor Tamaki
44 Mike Sabin Northland
45 Scott Simpson Coromandel
46 Paul Foster-Bell Wellington Central
47 Joanne Hayes Christchurch East
48 Parmjeet Parmar Mt Roskill
49 Chris Bishop Hutt South
50 Nuk Korako Port Hills
51 Jono Naylor Palmerston North
52 Maureen Pugh West Coast – Tasman
53 Misa Fia Turner Mangere
54 Todd Barclay Clutha-Southland
55 Andrew Bayly Hunua
56 Matt Doocey Waimakariri
57 Sarah Dowie Invercargill
58 Barbara Kuriger Taranaki-King Country
59 Todd Muller Bay of Plenty
60 Shane Reti Whangarei
61 Alastair Scott Wairarapa
62 Stuart Smith Kaikoura
63 Wayne Walford Napier
64 Simeon Brown Manurewa
65 Hamish Walker Dunedin South
66 Lewis Holden Rimutaka
67 Karl Varley Wigram
68 Candidate TBA Kelston
69 Linda Cooper List
70 Letitia O’Dwyer List
71 Mark Bridges List
72 Boris Sokratov List
73 Matthew Evetts List
74 Carolyn O’Fallon List
75 Christopher Penk List

I was a member of the list-ranking committee whose deliberations are confidential.

It is not breaching that to point out that both the rejuvenation and depth of talent provide a stark contrast with Labour.

UPDATE:

David Farrar has the effective list places and percentage needed for list candidates to get into parliament.


Right on top of blog rankings

01/07/2014

Open Parachute’s monthly blog rankings show the right on top:

Visit Rank Blog Visits/month Page Views/month
1 Whale oil beef hooked 1758095 2957997
2 Kiwiblog 445721 771086
3 The Daily Blog 218234 345266
4 The Standard 201495 443470
5 Auckland Transport Blog 155853 160244
6 Throng New Zealand 53729 94004
7 The Dim-Post 53509 75134
8 Sciblogs 39662 50631
9 Liturgy 36160 50478
10 Keeping Stock 33807 53244
11 No Right Turn 26757 35029
12 Homepaddock 26471 36951
13 NewZeal 21726 35094
14 No Minister 20898 27292
15 Music of sound 14879 18833
16 Imperator Fish 13552 17547
17 13th Floor 12544 17630
18 Save our schools NZ 12355 14307
19 Keith Johnson Wellington NZ 12120 12574
20 Offsetting Behaviour 11835 16377

 

The combined total of the top left-wing blogs, which are at third and fourth, is still less than Kiwiblog which is second and miles from Whale Oil in first place.

Dim Post from the left is seventh and Keeping Stock from the right is 10th. I’m at 12, No Minister, which is more right than not is at 14th and Imperator Fish which is left is 16th.

I ditched Sitemeter because I kept getting a window asking me to sign in to it and now rely on StatCounter to record visits:

stats6.14

 

 


No place for the faithful?

24/06/2014

Labour’s rules state it should have 65 list candidates but it has ranked only 64.

Five sitting MPs have opted not to be on the list and so have at least three candidates who are trying very hard to win an electorate.

There is something in that for them – they will be able to say to voters the electorate vote is the only way they can stay in, or enter, parliament.

But there is also danger in that for Labour.

It’s the party vote that counts and these people will have divided loyalties between campaigning for their own jobs and for the wider good of the party.

That they jumped suggests they knew they wouldn’t get good list places anyway – though if they’re confident of winning electorates that might dent their egos but do no other harm.

Whether they jumped before or after list ranking deliberations doesn’t matter, it’s another sign of internal ructions in the party.

Given that, what puzzles me is why several candidates who are standing in seats they can’t possibly win weren’t included in the party list at all?

Kiwiblog shows 14 candidates unranked.

It’s a thankless task campaigning in an unwinnable seat even if you console yourself that there could be party votes for the picking.

Why then wouldn’t the party dignify them with list placings instead of showing that it appears to have no place for these faithful foot-soldiers and their small teams of volunteers?


Stones from glass house

16/06/2014

The Labour Party has been caught throwing stones from a glass house – again:

A wealthy Auckland businessman, whose links to the National Party led to a minister’s resignation, also made a secret $15,000 donation to the Labour Party – and hosted a Cabinet minister at a lavish dinner in China.

The Labour Party has previously accused the Government of “cash for access” deals with Donghua Liu, who received citizenship after lobbying from National minister Maurice Williamson and whose hotel was later opened by Prime Minister John Key.

But the Herald can reveal Liu, 53, also paid $15,000 at a Labour Party auction in 2007 for a book signed by Helen Clark, the Prime Minister at the time, according to a party source.

The source said Liu also hosted Rick Barker, the then Internal Affairs Minister, at a dinner in his hometown of Chongqing.

Mr Barker, who is now a regional councillor in Hawkes Bay, confirmed he was a guest at the dinner and also visited Liu’s cement company while on holiday in China

But he said he was not aware Liu was a Labour donor and he was not in China on official business as a minister. . .

Political donations made at fundraising auctions or dinners are not recorded individually, but the total amount raised is declared. . . .

Kiwiblog corrects that last statement:

. . . If a donation at an auction or dinner is larger than the disclosure threshold it must be declared with the identity of the individual who made it.

The disclosure limit in 2007 was $10,000. Liu donated $15,000 to Labour. The party should have declared him as a donor. . .

This is yet another Labour failure to abide by the disclosure rules.

There is another interesting aspect to this story – it comes from a party source.

That points to instability and unhappiness in the party’s ranks and raises some questions:

Who knew about the donation then who is in caucus now or still active in the party?

Why didn’t s/he/they warn the MPs attacking National over Liu that they were throwing stones from a glass house?

What has prompted the source of the story to talk now and what else does s/he know that the public ought to know too?


Lower welfare costs fund surplus

20/05/2014

A reduction in welfare spending is funding the surplus.

Economic growth has helped but a faster than expected drop in the cost of welfare is the bigger contributor:

English told an audience of business people that in 2010 the Government had expected to be spending $11.5b on welfare this year.

However in following Budgets it trimmed the forecasts and this coming year it would be spending about $10.5b.

“The welfare bill is going down and going down faster than we expected. . .

English said governments in the past had been passive on these costs but National had tightened up the system and the expectations of people on welfare.

It got experts to work out what the 290,000 people on welfare would cost in the long run.

Their total liability was $76b. Apart from superannuation it was one of the big costs that underpinned the tax bill.

That is a huge amount of money, and National has proven that with the right policies it is possible to reduce it.

Two thirds of the liability came from people who first got a benefit under the age of 20. “So it confirms what grandma told you. “Don’t let those young people get off the rails because when they do it’s very expensive.”

The experts told the Government that if a person got a benefit once it made them much more likely to get a benefit again. If a young woman under 20 with a child went on a benefit the average length of stay on the benefit was 20 years.

“That’s expensive, very expensive,” English said.

A couple of years ago the Government put a supervising adult with the 4600 mostly young women under 20 with a child who were on a benefit. They typically had little education and lived in old, cold houses and had been left to sink or swim on their own.

That number had now shrunk by 40 per cent to 2600.

“And that’s going to save us hundreds of millions.”

Kiwiblog has a budget slide that illustrates the savings:

welfare

The savings aren’t just in welfare spending.

Health and educational outcomes are better for children in families supported by work rather than welfare.

Those savings aren’t just financial either – there are significant social dividends from stopping people going on to welfare and helping those who can work to work.

 

 


Nat voters non-voters

06/05/2014

One of Labour’s strategies for winning this year’s election is to motivate the million or so people who didn’t vote.

That’s obviously based on the assumption that most of those non-voters would have voted for them, or at least one of their potential coalition partners.

A Kiwiblog reader has done some analysis which suggests many of the non-voters were National voters and concludes:

. . . Contrary to “received wisdom” it was National that suffered from the reduced turnout in 2011. Additionally, the NZ First vote was boosted primarily by defections from National. Uncontroversially, it is confirmed that Conservative votes came overwhelmingly at National’s expense.

My theory that the above phenomena were a result of complacency in the face of the widespread expectation of National waltzing home with a win remains only a theory. But it is one that fits the facts quite well.

However, it seems to me that if true, the greatest danger for National in 2014 is, again, complacency and a failure of potential supporters to vote for the party (whether by staying home or by risking a vote for other parties that may not meet the threshold criteria or may not support National after the election).

There is absolutely no complacency in National.

As Deputy leader and Finance Minister Bill English warned on Sunday, there is a very real risk that Labour and whoever it needs to get at least 51% of the vote, could win.

Last election’s 47% support was a very good result, but it won’t be enough to guarantee a National-led government this time.

National has a good record, but voters wont vote on what’s been done, they’ll vote on what they can believe will happen in the next term.

The Opposition hasn’t come up with anything workable that will make a positive difference to most people yet.

But there’s still a danger they could cobble together a coalition unless National convinces even more people to support them than voted for them three years ago.


Electorate boundaries finalised

17/04/2014

Electorate boundaries have been finalised with changes to 46 seats.

The Electoral Act 1993 imposes strict electoral population limits binding on the Commission.  These provide an overall constraint to ensure that there are approximately equal numbers of people in each electorate so that they have equality of representation in Parliament.  All electorates must contain electoral populations varying not more than ±5% from the following quotas which are calculated in accordance with the Act:

  Quota ±5% Allowance
North Island General Electorates 59,731 ±2,986
South Island General Electorates 59,679 ±2,983
Māori Electorates  60,141 ±3,007

There’s an interactive map of old and new boundaries here.

Jadis, guest blogging at Kiwiblog has winners and losers:

Winners:

, Auckland Central – Having won and held Auckland Central by less than a thousand votes in 08 and 11 Nikki will be overjoyed to see ALL of Grey Lynn move into Mount Albert. . . .

, Christchurch Central – I am really pleased for Nicky as she was gutted when the provisional boundaries came out as they made it a strong red seat. . .

, Hamilton West – Hamilton is unique as it is the only urban centre held by the Nats .  Similar boundaries to the provisionals means that by crossing the river MacIndoe has gained some strong blue areas in a high growth zone.  . .

, Waimakariri – While there are no changes since the provisional Waimakariri is well and truly one of the most marginal seats in the country. . .

Losers:

Ruth Dyson, Port Hills – Dyson is the biggest loser in this boundary review.  Her majority has been reversed with the Nats stronghold of Halswell moving into the seat, and Anderton’s old stomping ground of Sydenham moving into Christchurch Central. . .

, Hutt South – This is the surprise of the final boundaries.  Mallard has gained all of the  Western Hills (good Nat territory) and lost super red areas of Naenae and Rimutaka. Labour should have been able to stop this occurring but appear to have put up no fight.  Mallard should be furious with his party for failing to keep Hutt South a real red seat. . . .

, Maungakiekie – Labour were grumpy in 2008 when Sam took one of ‘their’ red seats in Maungakiekie, so they will no doubt be pleased that the blue booths have almost all been taken out of Maungakiekie.  Beaumont would be silly to think her win is a foregone conclusion as Sam will throw everything into his beloved electorate and is able to cross party divides for electorate support.  This seat is too close to call.  Another true marginal.

It looks like National has gained more and lost less than Labour which could well end up with fewer electorates than it has now.

Does this mean Labour, having failed to get its dead wood to go voluntarily is prepared to lose seats in the hope of renewal in three year’s time?

Or is it just another sign the party can’t get its act together?

 


Take a bow NZ

07/04/2014

Kiwiblog lists New Zealand’s place in a variety of  international rankings:

  • Rule of Law 6th
  • Economic Freedom 5th
  • Best to do business in 2nd
  • Least Corrupt 1st
  • Open Data 4th
  • Prosperous 5th
  • Best to be a woman 7th
  • Competitiveness 18th
  • Peaceful 3rd
  • Democratic 5th
  • Human Development 6th
  • Best for working women 1st
  • Freedom 1st
  • Open Budget 2nd
  • Best to be a mother 4th
  • Humanitarian responses 3rd
  • Smallest gender gap 5th
  • Generous 1st
  • Least failed 7th
  • Trade competitiveness 4th
  • Social progress 1st

No-one is suggesting there isn’t room for improvement in many areas.

But this is a list of which we can be proud.

Take a bow New Zealand.


It is about trust

01/04/2014

The latest poll shows trust matters to voters.

David Cunliffe’s problems with the trust he used to hide donations has turned off voters.

In the latest 3 News-Reid Research poll, when asked if his actions were worthy of a Prime Minister, 65 percent of voters, almost two-thirds, said “no”, while only 27 percent said “yes”. . .

Kiwiblog shows support for most opposition leaders goes up after they’re elected but Cunilffe’s trend has been all down hill.
Given he’s been caught faking his CV, bungling policy announcements, using a trust and then trying to say he wasn’t wealthy, this is no more than he deserves.

Free enterprise best anti-poverty measure

27/01/2014

Dr. Mark J. Perry provides the chart of the century:
wordpoverty2-600x387

 

. . . the chart above could perhaps qualify as the “chart of the century” because it illustrates one of the most remarkable achievements in human history: the 80% reduction in world poverty in only 36 years, from 26.8% of the world’s population living on $1 or less (in 1987 dollars) in 1970 to only 5.4% in 2006. (Source: The 2009 NBER working paper “Parametric Estimations of the World Distribution of Income,” by economists Maxim Pinkovskiy (MIT) and Xavier Sala-i-Martin (Columbia University).

What accounts for this great achievement that you never hear about? AEI president Arthur Brooks explains in the video below, summarized here:

It turns out that between 1970 and 2010 the worst poverty in the world – people who live on one dollar a day or less – that has decreased by 80 percent (see chart above). You never hear about that.

It’s the greatest achievement in human history, and you never hear about it.

80 percent of the world’s worst poverty has been eradicated in less than 40 years. That has never, ever happened before.

So what did that? What accounts for that? United Nations? US foreign aid? The International Monetary Fund? Central planning? No.

It was globalization, free trade, the boom in international entrepreneurship. In short, it was the free enterprise system, American style, which is our gift to the world.

I will state, assert and defend the statement that if you love the poor, if you are a good Samaritan, you must stand for the free enterprise system, and you must defend it, not just for ourselves but for people around the world. It is the best anti-poverty measure ever invented.

Politicians on the left like to think they are the champions of the poor.

Yet they fight tooth and nail against free trade, denounce globalisation and promote policies which would get in the way of free enterprise.

Rather than policies which assist free enterprise they proffer ones which get in the way of it, favouring redistribution rather than growth.

Hat tip: Kiwiblog

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


2013 in review

01/01/2014

The clever WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

The Louvre Museum has 8.5 million visitors per year. This blog was viewed about 370,000 times in 2013. If it were an exhibit at the Louvre Museum, it would take about 16 days for that many people to see it. . . 

The top referring sites were:

  1. nominister.blogspot.co.nz
  2. keepingstock.blogspot.co.nz
  3. kiwiblog.co.nz
  4. nzconservative.blogspot.co.nz
  5. twitter.com

The most prolific commenters were:

  • 1 TraceyS 1383 comments
  • 2 robertguyton 811 comments
  • 3 Andrei 722 comments
  • 4 Viv 629 comments
  • 5 Armchair Critic 448 comments

Thank you to the people who write the blogs which refer readers here, the people who visit and the people who comment.

Click here to see the complete report.


This doesn’t mean Maori are over-represented

10/12/2013

Kiwiblog makes an interesting observation on the make-up of parliament:

Incidentally with Williams and Hayes both replacing non-Maori MPs, the number of MPs in Parliament of Maori descent is a record 25 out of 121, or 21% of Parliament. That is a significant over-representation. The makeup of the Maori MPs in Parliament is:

  • Maori seats 7
  • General seats 6
  • List seats 12

Very very hard to claim you need the Maori seats to continue, to maintain effective Maori representation in Parliament.

The breakdown of the 25 Maori MPs is also interesting:

  • National 9
  • Labour 7
  • Greens 3
  • Maori 3
  • NZ First 1
  • Mana 1
  • Independent 1

That might be over-representation as a percentage.

It doesn’t mean Maori are over-represented.

As Te Ururoa Flavell pointed out most Maori seats are too big which makes effective representation much more difficult.

The solution isn’t more Maori seats, it’s getting rid of them.

That would add another general seat in the South Island and several in the North, all of which would be smaller and easier to service than the biggest electorates are now.

The Royal Commission which designed MMP said there would be no need for Maori seats under this voting system.

That the majority of Maori MPs hold general or list seats proves that.


Learning to be leader

12/11/2013

As  backbencher you can pick your fights. An opposition leader can too but has to be careful about which s/he picks.

On the lists of things you should be above are attacks on a by-election candidate in a seat your party is expected to win but David Cunliffe made the mistake of getting stuck in to Matthew Doocey, National’s candidate for Christchurch East.

That has provided Doocey with the free publicity of a letter to the editor:

I am writing to express my surprise at the personal and desperate attack on me by the Leader of the Labour Party. I was not given the opportunity to respond to comments from David Cunliffe which were published on Friday November 8.

For the record I have expressed no interest and am not even thinking about any other election other than the one taking place right now in Christchurch East. I have been working hard nor for a number of weeks in what to date has been a positive campaign: my Facebook page demonstrates this.

Mr Cunliffe has inadvertently given my campaign another confidence-building boost, as I attempt to make history and take thsi seat from labour.

It was only one week ago  that the prime minister launched my campaign and it would appear I am already seen as a threat the the Opposition leader. Surely this must be some kind of political record.

For Mr Cunliffe to target me as some sort of carpetbagger is both insulting and wrong. I grew up in Christchurch and I”ll be here long after the by-election. Unlike other candidates I was was not parachuted in from Auckland at the expense of local nominees.

I’m running a strong campaign in Christchurch East and have had tremendous support from almost all of the senior MPs in John Key’s National caucus.

I can only assume Mr Cunliffe’s outburst is a symptom of desperation and.or poor polling for Labour in Christchurch East, where the community is questioning where the nearly 100 years of Labour representation has got them. Matthew Doocey, National candidate Christchurch East.

As is the way today, the free publicity doesn’t stop with The Press.

The letter has been picked up by CoNZervative, Kiwiblog and Keeping Stock.

When a mammoth attack a mouse and loses, the mammoth looks much smaller.

An aspiring Prime Minister shouldn’t even notice a by-election candidate from another party, let alone launch a personal attack on him.

This is the second time in a week Cunliffe has got publicity for looking less than leader-like.

The first was for his refusal to appear on The Farming Show with Jamie Mackay in case he didn’t get a fair hearing and would be made fun of.

I covered that here and the story has also been picked up by Keeping Stock and Kiwiblog.

When you’re opposition leader you can pick your challenges but an aspiring Prime Minister wouldn’t turn down a regular slot on nationwide-radio for fear of being made fun of.

This was a mistake on several counts, the three biggest being that the slot is now taken by Green co-leader Russel Norman; that he’s supposedly rediscovered the regions and is trying to appeal to them and that’s where the show gets blanket coverage; and  it makes him look like a lesser leader.


Right and wrong not left and right

23/10/2013

A former Labour MP who worked with people from across the political spectrum on a local body campaign said he’d come to the conclusion that left wing people were far more likely to see things through a political lens than those from the right.

Some people are trying to turn Len Brown’s affair into a right wing conspiracy.

It’s not.

Cameron Slater, who broke the story on his blog Whaleoil, is from the blue end of the political spectrum.

But he doesn’t let that get in the way of his posts. He’d have run the story regardless of the mayor’s political affiliation.

That’s one of the reasons his blog is so popular. Like David Farrar on Kiwiblog, he’ll give praise and criticism where it’s due regardless of the subject’s politics.

Other people from the right had some involvement with Bevan Chuang but Jane Clifton points out:

There’s been much tut-tuttery about the fact that the source of the story was Cameron Slater’s Whale Oil, one of the country’s best-read blogs, which is aggressively pro-National Party to boot. Slater’s father ran the campaign for Brown’s closest mayoralty rival, a campaign Brown’s inamorata was close to through her friendship with another campaign activist. This has brought claims she was secretly working for the other side. Which just goes to show there’s plenty of hypocrisy, paranoia and self-delusion to go around. It’s common for journalists and political junkies in the twittersphere to denounce Whale Oil as “gutter” blogging. But not for the first time, the gutter-shunning media have piled onto Slater’s ruck without a second’s hesitation.

Allegations that this is a deliberate smear campaign generated from within the National Party to destroy a left-leaning mayor are somewhat ambitious. To the best of my knowledge, the National Party cannot make a married man have an affair. For two years. Or trick him into sending silly texts that might be kept and used against him. Or force him to conduct how’s-your-father in the Ngati Whatua conference room of the council chambers.

There’s also the inconvenient fact that the blog did not run the story till after the local body elections in which Brown was safely re-elected. He is unsackable. . .

But the political views of those involved in the affair and its exposure is irrelevant anyway.

This isn’t about right and left, it’s about right and wrong.

Andrew McMillan provides a timeline of events which show:

Brown, who portrayed himself as a loving family man  and committed Christian had a prolonged affair.

He had a sexual trysts in council premises on council time.

The woman with whom he had the relationship was on a council advisory board. That’s not a direct employee but as mayor he was in a position of power and she could be considered to be vulnerable.

He wrote her a reference, and as a side issue he admitted writing worthless references:

Was it an abuse of power to provide a reference for Bevan Chuang?

It was the very early stages of us knowing each other. I have provided many references in supports of lots and lots of friends and people that I know. The letter of support I wrote was a reasonable letter. I tend to be quite positive in my writing for the many people I write references for. It wasn’t a reference that was requested or provided for that was out of the norm. It was, for me, a fairly typical reference done at a time when, quite frankly, we hadn’t known each other all that long. . .

A reference from the mayor would carry considerable weight but his words suggest he dashes them off frequently and in this case without knowing the subject all that long.

Whether that is appropriate for a mayor might be moot but the impact on his family from his infidelity and what it says about his character is not.

Whatever his politics and those of the people who exposed him, he is in the wrong.

Whether or not it will require a resignation will depend on the outcome of a council inquiry.

But whatever it determines won’t make his behaviour right.


One of biggest electorates will get smaller

08/10/2013

Statistics New Zealand’s release of census data yesterday gives the first indication of changes in electorates.

  • The number of electorates will increase from 70 to 71 at the next general election.
  • The number of North Island general electorates will increase from 47 to 48.
  • The number of Māori electorates will remain at seven.
  • The number of general electorates in the South Island is set at 16 by the Electoral Act 1993.
  • In a 120-seat parliament (excluding any overhang seats), a total of 71 electorates will result in 49 list seats being allocated. This is one less list seat than in the 2011 General Election.
  • The Representation Commission can now review the electorate boundaries for the next general election.

The excel sheet under downloads on the link above shows population changes in electorates.

Kiwiblog has checked that out and found:

Since the 2006 census, the SI electoral population has grown by 3.7%, the NI by 6.6% and the Maori electoral population by just 0.9%.

The seats that are the most over quota and must lose territory are:

  1. Auckland Central 70,406
  2. Hunua 68,951
  3. Helensville 68,026
  4. Selwyn 67,818
  5. Rodney 67,134
  6. Wigram 65,433
  7. Waitaki 64,962
  8. Hamilton East 64,577
  9. Waimakariri 64,454
  10. Wellington Central 64,374
  11. Rangitata 64,142
  12. East Coast Bays 64,005
  13. Maungakiekie 63,274
  14. Epsom 62,990
  15. Tāmaki 62,779
  16. Tauranga 62,741

So those 16 seats must shrink. What seats are under the 5% tolerance and must grow:

  1. Christchurch East 45,967
  2. Port Hills 53,667
  3. East Cost 53,960
  4. Christchurch Central 54,104
  5. Rangitikei 56,364

The other 49 seats can stay the same size in theory. But it is likely many will have some change because of flow on effects from neighbours.

The migration after Christchurch’s earthquakes is probably the reason for most of the growth in Waimakariri and Selwyn.

They will lose some ground to boost the Christchurch electorates which now have too few people.

Selwyn might have to push south into Rangitata which will then extend into Waitaki, both of which are over quota. It would make sense for the area closest to Timaru which moved from what was the Aoraki Electorate into Waitaki, to be in Rangitata.

Waitaki will have to shrink. It is now 34,888 square kilometres in area, the third biggest general electorate in the country. Any reduction in its size will be welcomed by its MP Jacqui Dean and her constituents.


Labour threatening superannuation

09/09/2013

Kiwiblog points out that if Labour enacts what is an effective minimum wage of $18.40 it will have an impact on superannuation.

The pension is based on 66% of the average wage for a couple. If the average wage goes up, as it will if the ‘living wage’ is introduced then superannuation will too unless Labour changes the way it is calculated.

The party is already proposing to increase the age of eligibility for superannuation because it says it’s not affordable now.

What changes will they have to make to ensure it’s affordable if they keep it based on 66% of the average wage?

Even if, as is inevitable, they have to accept that the ‘living wage’ is unsustainable, one of their other policies will impact on superannuation.

They’re promising tax increases.

The pension is based on the average wage after tax.

When taxes fall, as they have under National, the average after-tax wage increases and so does the pension.

When taxes increase the average after-tax wage will fall. It would be political suicide to cut the pension but if they increase taxes and do nothing else pensions won’t increase or will do so more slowly.

Whichever of the policies you look at, the current rate of superannuation is under threat under a LabourGreen government.


Hollow promises from hollow men

04/09/2013

Kiwiblog has a useful guide to which aspiring Labour leader is promising what.

But how much are these promises worth?

When Jamie Mackay said on the Farming Show yesterday, that the leadership race was turning into a lolly scramble, Labour MP Damien O’Connor said:

“There’s no kind of lolly scramble because we don’t have the lollies to give away unfortunately. . .

Then Mackay mentioned the living wage and O’Connor said:

“That’s one of the proposals from one of the candidates. . .  well, maybe two . . . I’m sure caucus when we appoint the new leader will go through, look at all the ideas that were thrown out through this process and make sure we have a credible bunch of policies in the lead up to the next election. . . “

So these are merely ideas that are being thrown out, and expensive ideas that even one of their backbench colleagues recognises as being unaffordable.

They’re not real promises about real policy.

They’re empty exercises in vote-buying.

They’re hollow promises from hollow men.


New face, old ideas

01/09/2013

Yesterday’s speeches by Labour’s aspiring leaders (reported in the Herald, Stuff and Kiwiblog) show that even when the party has a new face it will still have old ideas.

Their ideas are focussed on redistribution rather than growth.

Their ideas are based on higher taxes to enable higher spending.

Their ideas are bad ideas.

They are worse than those of Helen Clark’s government which put New Zealand into recession before the global financial crisis hit the rest of the world.

They are ones which show they haven’t learned from recent history and that they are blind to the improvements National has made, delivering better results with less money.

They are the ones which reward their union funders with policies which are ultimately to the detriment of workers.

They are the same old failed policies which would take the country backwards, make it poorer and make life even more difficult for the most vulnerable.

Regardless of which face is pedalling these old ideas, he will provide everyone who understands the stupidity of veering left, undoing the good that’s been done, and reversing much needed improvements, with the imperative to vote centre-right.


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