Vote them out #3

24/01/2023

The attempt to entrench part of the Five Waters legislation was an abuse of power and an attempt to pervert democracy.

Hansard recorded the debate attempting to undo the mess.

SIMON WATTS (National—North Shore): Thank you very much, Madam Chair. It’s a pleasure to rise to speak on Supplementary Order Paper (SOP) 310. And isn’t it ironic that we’re back here in the House when only a few—or literally last week, or the week before, we were in here under urgency undertaking a debate in the committee of the whole House stage lasting nearly 10 hours and a debate that went well into the night and bright and early in the next morning. But the fact is, we’re here today because of, basically, a significant mistake that was made on that evening. And there should be lessons that are taken from what occurred at that point from the Government, in terms of the decisions that were made and the impact of that decision, in terms of the controversial nature of it—and also, I think, what was a dangerous precedent in terms of our democracy. . . 

So I go back to my questions to the Minister: how did we get to where we are today? This is not a new concept. Never in the history of this country have we seen an ability or an action by a Government to try and institute entrenchment around such public policy. This was well understood. So what does that say about this Government and their ability to make decisions and to lead this country into the future? Whether this mistake was deliberate, or simply one where Government of the day here did not care—irrespective; it doesn’t matter. The reality is the decision was made, the vote was taken, and we are now dealing with a colossal mess of having to reverse that change and that is completely inappropriate in a democracy such as ours in this country—one of the earliest and longest-lasting democracies—to have that occur. 

NICOLA WILLIS (Deputy Leader—National): Today we have the grovelling back-down, but the stain on our democracy, the damage to our constitution, will remain. And that must sit on the conscience of the members opposite, who sought, under urgency, in the dark of the night, to entrench a policy position against all constitutional norms, against all democratic norms. Not content with confiscating community – owned water assets, not content with introducing a byzantine co-governance structure without the support of the people, not content with riding roughshod over the hundreds of thousands of New Zealanders who have spoken out against three waters reform, of the councils up and down the country who have begged to maintain ownership and control of their assets, this Government thought it would push its votes even further. And it took the extraordinary, unprecedented, non-constitutional step of entrenching a matter of public policy.

Hon Chris Hipkins: It’s not non-constitutional, otherwise it wouldn’t have passed.

NICOLA WILLIS: And these are not my words, Minister Hipkins. These are the words of the New Zealand Law Society, who said that it was undemocratic, constitutionally objectionable, and inappropriate. And be that on the conscience of the members opposite, that when given the opportunity that is how they sought to abuse their seats in Parliament. . . 

Now, I think my colleague Simon Watts has been charitable. He’s accepted that this was a grand and incompetent mistake. I’m inclined to see something a little darker going on here, which is that the members opposite thought they could get away with it—they thought they could get away with it. That is the arrogance that has set in to this Government—that they are prepared to thumb their noses at basic principles of our democracy if they think they can get away with it. Well, they got caught this time. They tried doing it under urgency, they tried doing it at night, and they got caught. And I say thank you to the constitutional experts and lawyers across the country who raised the red flag and said, “No, not in our New Zealand.” Because we can too easily take for granted the principles that have underpinned the continuous democracy that we have in this country, the unwritten constitution which has been respected by blue Governments, red Governments, and all the bits in between, but it took a Labour-led Government with its majority to abuse those principles.

And today in the House, they attempt to turn back the clock. Well, New Zealand will not forget, because those who are prepared to act in an antidemocratic way when they think people aren’t watching, they are people that can’t be trusted. And this is not the first step. First they came for one person, one vote with the Rotorua bill. Then they decided to push on with three waters without public mandate nor council consent. Then they went for entrenchment. New Zealanders will remember. And when you’ve woken up and decided who you’re going to blame, they’ll be listening and they will remember that the only people to blame are the Labour Party, its leadership, and every member opposite. . . 

The leader has changed but the rest of the caucus has not.

They’ll be trying to convince us they can be trusted to have another term.

The only way to ensure they can’t abuse voters’ trust is to vote them out.


A contest of Christophers

21/01/2023

Chris Hipkins is Prime Minsiter presumptive:

Chris Hipkins is set to become New Zealand’s next Prime Minister, after he was the only nomination for Labour’s leadership today.

In a statement, Labour’s whip Duncan Webb said the caucus would meet at 1pm on Sunday to endorse the nomination and confirm Hipkins as party leader.

Hipkins will become Prime Minister once Jacinda Ardern formally resigns the post. It is not yet clear exactly when that will happen. She announced her resignation on Thursday.

Carmel Sepuloni is almost certain to be deputy leader to Hipkins after Kiri Allan rules herself out. . .

This will make the election a contest of two Christophers – National’s Luxon and Labour’s Hipkins.

Brigitte Morten reminds us of the latter’s record:

Hipkins and Ardern share a start in student politics. Hipkins was the VUWSA President in 2000 and 2001. But Hipkins’ political judgment demonstrates, that unlike Ardern, he has struggled to leave the student politicking aside.

His start in politics was unremarkable. In opposition, Hipkins as Labour’s education spokesperson was seen as a puppet of the unions. He opposed and later dismantled charter schools despite support from many of his Māori caucus colleagues.

He had a disappointing first day in government in 2017 when as Leader of the House, he failed to manage the vote for then Speaker Trevor Mallard and was forced to make an embarrassing compromise with the new opposition on select committee composition.

But these examples can be dismissed as shaky starts.

What is more demonstrable of what a Hipkins’ prime ministership may look like is the recent examples of him reacting under pressure. Ardern has been criticised for not being accountable on issues but rarely goes on the personal attack to defend her actions. Hipkins has an unfortunate tendency to play the man rather than the ball.

She four lists examples:

In October 2021, Northland was sent in to an 11-day lockdown after three allegedly “sex workers” with possible gang connections crossed the Auckland border.

Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins accused them of using “false information to travel across the border”. But it was later revealed through OIAs that Hipkins knew at the time that a blunder by officials had been the reason and the women were at no fault at all. He has never apologised or corrected the record, nor has he bothered to even correct the reports that these were gang-related sex workers.

He was the Minister responsible for the MIQueue of misery which grounded so many Kiwis, keeping citizens and residents out of the country and separating families, including keeping them from death beds of relatives.

In the case of Charlotte Bellis, he was forced to apologise and correct the record. But only because the Kiwi journalist, then pregnant and stuck in Afghanistan took legal action.

Hipkins, in his defence of the government’s MIQ system used Bellis’ personal information as a political weapon and made incorrect statements about her circumstances, including that she ignore consular assistance.

Late last year, in defence of the Minister for Local Government Nanaia Mahuta and government contracts awarded to her husband, Hipkins dragged Bill English and his family in to the response. He later made an apology to Parliament withdrawing his comments. . .

In 2017, in what was perhaps the most concerning case of questionable judgment, Hipkins used Parliament to dig up dirt for the Australian Labor Party. At the time, the Australian federal government was rocked by citizenship sagas. A number of MPs and senators were forced to resign after it was discovered they unconstitutionally held dual citizenships.

Hipkins used parliamentary questions to get information on the status of then Australian deputy prime minister.

It is a key tenant of diplomatic relations that politicians do not interfere in the democratic affairs of another country, especially by ‘taking sides’ with one of the political parties involved. . .

Then there’s his record as a Minister. He has been regarded as one of Labour’s better performers, but given the government’s record of delivery that’s not a high bar.

Hipkins, may have been successful at putting out the fires in other ministerial portfolios but it has come at a cost to his own. The polytech merger has been delayed as budgets have blown out and leadership turned over. In the compulsory education sector, numeracy and literacy performance is down and schools have struggled to manage through the pandemic. It is not the record of performance you want to take to an election. . .

He hasn’t made any improvement to the Police portfolio either.

An election ought to be a contest of ideas and policies, not personalities but Labour has a tendency to make it personal and it’s now lost one of its attack cards – that National’s leader is inexperienced.

In the contest of Christophers, it is Luxon who is the more experienced.

He has a lot more out of parliament leadership experience than Hipkins.

He has also had more than a year leading National during which he’s instilled much need discipline and focus, taking his party ahead of Labour in the polls and exhibited statesmanship qualities.

He is leading a government in waiting.

Hipkins, will be leading a government in the doldrums, facing several crises and problems it has neither the ideas, nor the competence, to solve.

No election result is predictable and MMP adds uncertainty.

But at this stage, and in the contest of two Christophers, it is National that has the better chance of a win because Labour’s leader has changed but caucus competence hasn’t.

Nine months is time enough to grow a baby but its not enough to change a record of non-delivery.


No political capital left

20/01/2023

One theory about Jacinda Ardern’s early retirement is that she couldn’t get the Maori caucus to moderate their demands, realised she couldn’t win the election if she gave in to them so gave up.

Or was it this:

 

The new leader needs support of  2/3 of the whole caucus or the leadership will go out to the wider party.

Whether or not Ardern lost the battle with the Maori caucus, its members will have a big say in the vote for the party’s next leader and Prime Minister.

What policy promises will they extract as a price for their support and what will that do for the political capital of the new leader and the party as a whole?


Vote them out #1

11/01/2023

It’s election year and there are a lot of very good reasons for voting this government out.

The way their actions and policies have widened the racial divide is one of them, in particular co-governance.

There is no comfort in the decision to kick that particular can of worms down the road until next year.

The Government has slammed the election-year brakes on New Zealand’s plan for upholding the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

The Cabinet agreed on Monday that ministers wouldn’t receive any further reports on developing a draft plan in response to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples until 2024, Newsroom can reveal. . . 

That means we won’t know what the draft plan proposes until after we vote.

The only way to stop it is to vote Labour out of government and the only way to achieve that is to vote for a National-led government which requires voting for National or Act.


Survey explains polls

21/12/2022

An online survey isn’t a scientific poll, but the majority opinion on four big government policies provide a reason why it’s sinking in real polls.

This would be spending far, far too much money fixing something that isn’t broken.

Taking assets from councils which own them, creating four layers of expensive bureaucracy, adding co-governance of five waters . . .  All very good reasons to vote for a National-led government that will repeal and replace this badly flawed policy.

The Spinoff says this should be first off Labour’s to-do list:

. . . The scheme is huge, costing an estimated $3.5 billion each year. Administration of the scheme alone is estimated at $500 million per annum. This bill is to be funded by a 1.39 percent tax increase on wages, matched by an equal levy on employers. As Inland Revenue has advised, most of the employer levy will eventually be passed on to workers via reduced wage increases, reducing strained family incomes by nearly 3 percent in the middle of a cost-of-living crisis. 

A lot of people, including the self-employed, many migrants, and some precarious workers, will not be eligible. For those who are, the scheme sounds generous – anyone who loses their job because of redundancy or illness will qualify for 80 percent of their lost wages for up to six months. That in itself is a problem because it sets up a two-tier welfare system with higher rates – one might think of it as Koru club welfare for insurance recipients, compared to other beneficiaries in cattle class. . . 

It’s an expensive scheme that will give most to people who need it least and least help to those who need it most.

 

 

The government got rid of the legislation outlawing blasphemy and now wants to replace it with one protecting religion.

All these policies are deeply flawed and the survey shows they are also deeply unpopular.

 


Rural round-up

16/12/2022

Labour’s emissions pricing plan has turned into a self-inflicted wound – Craig Hickman :

No matter whether you are for He Waka Eke Noa, the proposed method for calculating how agriculture will pay for their greenhouse gas emissions, or vehemently against it, I think everyone can agree on one thing: the plan was a stroke of political genius from the Labour Government.

In October 2019, Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor and Climate Change Minister James Shaw announced that the Government would enter a five-year partnership with primary sector organisations and Māori. Their job would be to develop a system that would incentivise farmers to measure, manage and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The formation of this partnership, He Waka Eke Noa (HWEN), was almost universally celebrated by the farming sector while being roundly mocked by environmentalists for the same reason; it allows farmers to remain outside the emissions trading scheme (ETS) for five years while the proposal was developed, and possibly indefinitely if the partnership was successful.

This was the first clever part of the Government’s strategy, placing responsibility for devising a way to charge farmers for emissions at the feet of farmers themselves. If the partnership failed to deliver then agriculture would simply be rolled into the ETS, and the blame would lie squarely on farmers’ shoulders for not having seized the opportunity they were so generously given. . .

Investor wants tech farmers not tax – Sally Rae:

New Zealand-American businessman Tom Sturgess said he placed full-page advertisements in newspapers this week to “stimulate a debate” around livestock emissions.

Under the headline “Let’s do right by farmers, and our planet”, the advertisement said he was worried an opportunity was being missed to “truly do something about methane” and that the primary sector would be hurt in the process.

Mr Sturgess, the founder of New Zealand’s Lone Star Farms, is an American-born businessman who served with the United States Marine Corps in Vietnam before gaining a master’s degree in business administration at Harvard.

He later embarked on a highly successful corporate career in private equity firms, food service, aluminium manufacturing, housing and office products. . .

Retailers increase their margins on soaring food prices – Jonathan Milne:

From fertiliser to grow the grass on our dairy farms, through to supermarkets’ profit margins, we investigate the different costs contributing to the $1 rise in a simple two-litre bottle of milk

Add Covid to the “costs” column of Richard McIntyre’s ledger. The Horowhenua dairy farmer would often be up early milking, but this morning his workers are doing it all, while he tries to recover from a dose of the coronavirus.

McIntyre’s costs column is a lengthy one. The cost of urea fertiliser has doubled to $1370 a tonne this year – and for a 200ha farm like McIntyre’s, that’s $80,000. Farmers are paying more for diesel. They’re paying more on environmental costs like riparian planting and effuent systems.

They’ve been able to pay those costs, because the farmgate price they’re paid by Fonterra and other dairy companies has also increased this year. But the AgFirst dairy financial survey shows that farmers need a price of $8.48 per kg of milk solids to cover their farm working expenses, debt servicing, drawings, depreciation and taxes. . .

United Fresh market report 2022 finding value in the freshest Kiwi produce :

As we near the end of a rollercoaster year of recovery from the global pandemic, New Zealand’s fresh fruit and vegetable growers will be taking a deep breath before they leap into 2023.

United Fresh President, Jerry Prendergast, says the challenges faced by those in our $6 billion horticulture industry this year have been significant.

“Despite the overwhelming media around COVID-19, the weather has actually been the largest cause of disruption to growers throughout the year. A particularly wet autumn left many around the country struggling to maintain a steady supply through the winter months.,” he says.

“Unusually for Aotearoa, the weather bombs that disrupted early plantings hit in virtually every region, rather than just in isolated areas, so the impact was felt nationwide. Further damaging spring frosts in early October gave the blueberry crop a real knock and caused significant damage to both kiwifruit vines and apricot trees,” says Prendergast. . .

Rejecting ag technology can be costly – By Stuart Smyth & Robert Paarlberg:

Over the past 25 years, many governments have faced the decision of whether to approve agricultural biotechnologies and their resulting products, genetically modified crops.

Governments that decided to approve GM crops have benefited from higher yields and reduced greenhouse gas emissions. The evidence of lower agricultural productivity for countries that opted to not adopt GM crops becomes glaringly apparent when comparing agricultural production in the European Union with that of the United States.

As we know, the U.S. has approved GM crops, whereas the EU decision found the costs of adoption to be greater than the benefits.

Between 1995 and 2019, the agricultural production index for the 27 countries of the EU increased by only seven percent, while agricultural production in the U.S. increased by 38 percent. Further evidence of the cost of the EU’s failure to adopt GM crops as consistently as in the U.S. found that EU agricultural greenhouse gas emissions are 33 million tonnes higher than if they had adopted GM crops, equalling 7.5 percent of total EU agricultural GHG emissions. . . 


Labour he used to know

14/12/2022

Sir Ian Taylor writes of the Labour Party he used to know:

I have been wondering for some time now what happened to the Labour Party that I have supported all my life.

I am 72, which means I was voting Labour before the current Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, was even born.

When she was elevated to the top job, I travelled the world bathing in the glow of her international reputation. Her initial response to the Covid pandemic was the envy of the world. Reasoned, compassionate and effective. That was the message so many of her supporters, me included, proudly shared with our international colleagues who marvelled at what was happening in our small corner of the world.

My answer to them was simple – the world needs more leaders like ours.

But somewhere things changed and I wondered where it had all gone wrong.

Last week four events coincided that helped answer that question for me.

The announcement of the Royal Commission on Covid; Willie Jackson’s “train wreck” interview with Jack Tame on the merger of RNZ and TVNZ; the Three Waters constitutional “mistake”… and the Prime Minister featuring on the front page of the New Zealand Woman’s Weekly. . . 

Having access to the designer clothes the Prime Minister featured in the article must have seemed like some far-off fantasy land where the cost of living was never an issue. But it wasn’t just the pictures.

In the article, the Prime Minister extolled the importance of being together as a family – especially in challenging times.

Well, times didn’t get more challenging than they did at the height of the Covid pandemic. Imagine how those hundred of thousands of Kiwi citizens who found themselves locked out of their country by a totally unfit-for-purpose MIQ system, felt seeing the PM finally acknowledging that being together as a family was important.

Being there when a loved one was dying. Being there for the birth of your child. Being there because you were now an illegal overstayer holed up in a foreign country with no money and no way to earn it.

The stories that were shared with me during my fruitless attempts to engage with the Prime Minister’s office over ways we could use new technologies to start bringing our fellow Kiwis home, safely, will remain with me forever.

Stories like the father who didn’t meet his son until he was two years old. Stories like the son who had tested negative on his final test in MIQ (his third negative) but wasn’t allowed to leave a day early to be at his terminally ill father’s bedside. There would have been thousands of people reading the Woman’s Weekly with similar stories.

Then there were those whose health was placed at risk because of a one-size-fits-all lockdown of hospitals. An estimated 35,000 women placed at risk of breast cancer is just one of the numbers that are overlooked by those who argue “but look how many lives we saved!”

We will be measuring the costs long after today’s politicians are retired on their taxpayer-funded superannuation schemes. And that brings me to the Royal Commission on Covid.

The convenient statement that it will not be looking to blame anyone begs the question. Why not? That’s called accountability and there is nothing to prevent that accountability being measured by the circumstances under which decisions were made. . . 

He  points out many more failures with the Covid response and then moves onto other failures:

And finally, there is the Three (and growing) Waters and the RNZ/TVNZ merger.

When the Labour government became the first under MMP to win complete control of the House, I really believed that at last there was a party in power that would use that privilege to show the compassion, leadership, collaboration and transparency that was needed to address some of the major issues around the growing social and economic divide that was facing Aotearoa New Zealand.

Instead, transparency has disappeared, the economic and social divide has grown and the dangers of a party led by ingrained and inflexible ideologies have come to the fore.

And into this gap has stepped Willie Jackson and Nanaia Mahuta.

I don’t need to highlight the concerns around the ideology-driven agenda that appears to have taken control of Cabinet. Both ministers did that for us last week.

What the five Māori MPs in Cabinet (and 15 Māori MPs in the Labour caucus) need to reflect on is the damage they are doing to those who argue that Māori have an increasingly important and constructive contribution to make to the future of Aotearoa New Zealand. I believe the majority of Kiwi share that view, but the increasingly inflexible, we know best, we are owed this, stand some of our Māori ministers are taking has opened the doors for those who don’t.

This is a future we can all grow together. It is a future we need to pursue, with dignity, for the benefit of our mokopuna. That was the Labour Party I used to know. 

Jamie Mackay interviewed Sir Ian on The Country yesterday.

 


Examining entrails of Hamilton West

12/12/2022

The candidate vote for the Hamilton West by-election was similar to the trend of recent polls giving National and Act more than half the support.

The National caucus will welcome their new MP Tama Potaka and the party will be heartened by his success.

The Act candidate, James McDowall, had the advantage of being a sitting MP and gained a lot more votes than he did when he entered parliament in 2020.

Given the multiple debacles Labour has overseen in the last couple of weeks, its candidate Georgie Dansey was lucky not to have done worse.

No Green candidate stood but the former Labour MP Gaurav Sharma came fourth and was more likely to take votes from the left than the right.

His result confirmed what happens to most MPs who leave a party and start another – it’s very, very hard to do that and get enough support to win a seat.

The minor parties and two independents gained the sort of support they usually do – not very much.

What does this mean for the 2023 general election?

Turnout was low which poses a challenge to engage the disengaged.

A lot could happen between now and polling day.

But the trend is encouraging for National and Act, and will be worrying Labour.


Hamilton West results – live blogging

10/12/2022

From the Electoral Commission’s results website:

All booths counted, Tama Potaka will be Hamilton West’s MP.

The National and Act candidates together gained more than 50% of the vote which follows the trend of recent polls.

Mike Hosking yesterday:

. . . As for National, they are sort of stuck. They have to win and they should win.

They should win because they deserve to win. They have formed themselves into a proper opposition, the bitching is gone, the leaking is gone, they are winning in the house, they have their act together and they look credible.

Put them up against a haphazard Government and you have no excuse not to win.

Which is why they have to win. If you can’t beat this lot in a bell weather seat – well, that is a nightmare they don’t want to even begin to comprehend.

What about ACT? ACT need to turn out a vote that broadly represents their national number, somewhere between 10-12 percent.

They need to carry on looking credible.

Although the poll we saw was only 400 people, and other small polls in things like mayoral races have proven ropey, the numbers we saw this week feel about right – National winning by a comfortable margin.

Add their vote and ACT’s vote and look how close to 50 percent you get.

And that is why they call Hamilton West bellwether. Where it goes, the country goes.

Saturday’s result is most likely next year’s result.

8:40:

8:15:

8:10:

8:06:

Gaurav Sharma, whose resignation precipitated the by-election has 957 votes.

8:04:

VOTES COUNTED: 11,041 68.6%
LEADING CANDIDATE: POTAKA, Tama 5,083
2nd CANDIDATE: DANSEY, Georgie 3,362
CURRENT MARGIN: 1,721

 

8:00

<>VOTES COUNTED: 10,649 62.9%
LEADING CANDIDATE: POTAKA, Tama
2nd CANDIDATE: DANSEY, Georgie
CURRENT MARGIN: 1,663

7:50:

VOTES COUNTED: 48.6%
LEADING CANDIDATE: POTAKA, Tama
2nd CANDIDATE: DANSEY, Georgie
CURRENT MARGIN: 1,561

 

7:45 :

VOTES COUNTED: 9,357 42.9%
LEADING CANDIDATE: POTAKA, Tama
2nd CANDIDATE: DANSEY, Georgie
CURRENT MARGIN: 1,542

 

 


A tale of two headlines

07/12/2022

One News and RNZ reported on the OneNews Kantar poll.

The One News headline said: Poll: National and ACT strengthen, Luxon closes gap on Ardern

The RNZ headline said: Latest political poll has Labour, National locked in head-to-head battle

They were reporting on the same poll that showed support for National up 1% to 38%, Labour down 1% to 33%, ACT up 2% to 11%, and the Green Party steady on 9%.

Taking in the margin of error a gap of five percent isn’t a big one but 38% is not head to head with 33% and the RNZ story contradicts its headline:

. . . Under these numbers National and ACT would have enough support to form a government.

Translated to seats in Parliament, National (49) and ACT (15) would be expected to secure 64 MPs based on the poll numbers – more than the 61 needed to govern.

Labour (42) and the Greens (11) would be expected to win 53.

Labour’s result of 33 percent is its joint-lowest result since winning the election in 2017. . . 

That begs the question: did the headline writer not understand the result or did it display the writer’s wishful thinking or even bias?

The question of bias is a very important one in the wake of the Q&A interview with Broadcasting Minister Willie Jackson on Q&A on Sunday.

Whatever the answer to that question, with polls it’s the trend that counts and the trend is showing growing support for National and declining support for Labour which reinforces the error of the head-to-head headline.


There’s another question

05/12/2022

It took a week from the first accusations of constitutional outrage, but the government finally did the right thing yesterday :

The entrenchment clause in the Three Waters legislation that sparked outcry has been labelled a mistake by Leader of the House Chris Hipkins and will be removed.

Hipkins announced the backdown today after lawyers labelled the provision undemocratic last week. . . 

“It was a mistake to put the entrenchment clause in and the Government will fix the issue as soon as the House resumes on Tuesday. . .

The mistake is being rectified but there are still a lot of unanswered questions about the whole saga, one of which is who knew what about the entrenchment clause in the Five Waters legislation? :

Labour’s top brass somehow missed the memo at their caucus meeting last week that the Three Waters amendment they were backing was a constitutional bear trap.

The prime minister, the attorney-general and other senior ministers were present when Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta put forward the Greens’ controversial 60 percent entrenchment provision.

The question remains whether they were inattentive, or the proposal put forward was either undersold, or simply unclear. . . 

There is another question – were they attentive and supported it anyway?

There was a storm of criticism after Labour and the Greens passed an amendment during the committee stages of the Water Services Entity Bill under urgency, entrenching an anti-privatisation clause at 60 percent; this means any future government would have to muster at least that level of support to repeal it.

The problem is that goes against legal advice the Three Waters legislation did not meet the constitutional bar for using entrenchment, which is reserved for matters of electoral law. The amendment could create a precedent, paving the way for this government, or those in the future, to entrench laws they felt strongly about.

There are still questions around whether or not Ardern and other senior ministers specifically knew Labour’s vote would be cast in support of the Green MP Eugenie Sage’s proposal for an achievable 60 percent entrenchment clause, given the fact the red flags had already been raised – including at Cabinet.

Leader of the House Chris Hipkins, in charge of running the parliamentary agenda and business of the House, said he “was not aware until after the fact”.

When asked on Monday if she knew an amendment with a 60 percent threshold was going to the House, Ardern did not directly answer the question.

“I know there was discussion around 75 percent, the level of awareness, I could not tell you around the lower threshold.”

When pressed further, Ardern said “the principle of entrenchment has generally attracted a 75 percent threshold… everyone in Labour was very aware of that”.

“What would have been happening in real time is you had both an entrenchment position but a different threshold.” . . 

That avoids the question about real time at the caucus meeting where the entrenchment position with a different threshold was discussed.

One possibility is, despite Mahuta raising it in caucus, the detail offered was not enough to alert MPs and senior ministers present the proposal was for 60 percent and therefore able to pass, as opposed to the original 75 percent.

It’s a Minister’s responsibility to give enough detail to ensure colleagues understand what is being proposed.

If she didn’t, it’s a sackable offence. If she did then the caucus, including The Attorney General, Leader of the House and Prime Minister knew exactly what was being proposed.

Ardern was asked about this again on Thursday in Hamilton. She confirmed she was at the caucus meeting, but added she had “already discussed and pointed out that entrenchment is generally understood to be a threshold of 75 percent”.

When asked about the caucus’s view on the proposal and whether there was any dissent, Ardern said “conversations in caucus are kept in caucus” but reiterated Labour’s position of wanting to ensure a “public asset like water is absolutely protected from privatisation”.

“Entrenchment is commonly understood to be a super majority, 75 percent, what came before Parliament was a more novel approach,” she said. 

That doesn’t answer the question and leaves open the possibility that she knew what was being proposed and supported it.

If she really didn’t know, or understand, Tracy Watkins says the saga goes against the no surprises policy:

There is no possible right explanation for how a contentious entrenchment clause came to be slipped into Labour’s controversial Three Waters legislation under the cover of urgency, and with so little debate even the Opposition didn’t notice.

Either the Government knew what was happening – which is bad – or they didn’t, which is even worse.

If Three Waters was already emblematic of much that many voters don’t like about the government, the entrenchment debacle – the clause has been panned as undemocratic, and unconstitutional – has only likely solidified opinions. . . 

Add openness and transparency to the long list of not-achieved by them.

The official line appears to be that the clause was cooked up by a Green MP and the Local Government Minister and inserted without the knowledge of just about everyone, including the prime minister, Cabinet, caucus and an army of Government advisers.

This beggars belief from a government that has taken the “no surprises” rule to such extreme lengths that even the most inconsequential Official Information Act requests are required to be sent to ministers’ desks as a deliberate stalling tactic.

But if true – if it really is believable for an MP and a minister to fly solo on what legal experts are calling a “dangerous constitutional precedent” – what on earth does that tell us about the state of decision-making in the Beehive?

Is anyone even in charge any more?

What also beggars belief is Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s explanation that “it’s not something I would necessarily be aware of”.

If a hotly contentious clause in a deeply unpopular piece of legislation isn’t exactly what the no surprises rule is supposed to cover, what is?

If it was a surprise when it was on the agenda of a caucus meeting that Ardern chaired, she should sack the responsible Minister and also question her own behaviour and control of her caucus.

If it wasn’t a surprise she’s lying.

Either way it raises questions of why this happened.

Astute Left wing commentator Josie Pagani perfectly summed up Labour’s current state of mind: “People with different ideas are wrong. The Government is righteous, opponents are bad.”

So rather than admit it might be out of step with public opinion on Three Waters, or gangs, or crime, or the parlous state of the health system, or the cost of living, the Government plays political games, and does things like plant mini hand grenades for its opponents, should they happen to get into office.

There’s a name for that – third-termitis, which is when ministers get too arrogant, when there are too many political sideshows and the Government starts blaming the messenger rather than the message for its slide in the polls.

Is this a sign it’s come early?

Labour has belatedly admitted its mistake over this clause but is still pushing ahead with the legislation and Fran O’Sullivan points out it’s concerning that it has taken this debacle to get major legal attention on the Bill:

. . . This is a consequential piece of work. Not only does it entrench what many councils see as the legislative “theft” of water infrastructure assets built over many years through ratepayer levies, but — and this is another egregious aspect — it hands considerable power to Māori iwi regulators to make what are essentially proprietorial calls over the use of that water.

None of this has been appropriately debated, let alone discussed through a national conversation which probes the real extent of co-governance and indeed the engineering which exposes those four new regional water entities to financial risk.

The Government has simply resorted to its legislative might to push these reforms through — buying off council resistance with a $2 billion support package called Better Off funding which is a sweetener for the effective loss of their assets. . . 

Franks Ogilvie gave a legal opinion contradicting the government’s assertion that councils will still own their assets.

The Water Users’ Group is seeking a judicial review of Three Five Waters.

. . . We want stop the Government proceeding with Three Waters. In particular, the parts of the scheme that would see water infrastructure removed from Councils, and therefore ratepayer control, and the co-governance model that is proposed for the four new entities.

We need to know if our Courts think that Minister Mahuta’s references to pan-Maori treaty interests are justified in law. We need to know if our Courts think such interests can require or justify taking rate-payer funded infrastructure and turning it into a source of patronage for a tribal elite.

We want the Court to go back to first principles and make sure the Treaty is interpreted consistently with the rules of law. We want the Court to say there is no legitimate legal basis for the proposed co-governance model or any part of the Three Waters scheme that purports to carve out a greater role for Māori than the general public. . . 

They are waiting for a date for the court appearance, Given the government’s move to pass the legislation this year, it might be too late, even if it isn’t they might lose so what then?

If the Court concludes that Treaty interests do justify putting water infrastructure paid for by ratepayers into bizarre new corporations under the effective control of Māori nominees outside democratic dismissal, New Zealanders will know that the remedy can’t come from Court cases. We’ll know unambiguously that it is idle to look to lawyers and the Courts for protection our inherited rule of law traditions. The remedy will have to come from elections to our sovereign Parliament.

Polls show the majority of people oppose the policy. If the government continues to bulldoze it through the only way to undo the damage is to vote for a National-led government next year.

National and Act have both pledged to repeal the legislation and work with councils to develop policy to replace it.


Mandate makes a difference

29/11/2022

Eugenie Sage tried to justify her move to entrench part of the Three Five Waters legislation by referring back to National ignoring a referendum.

She ignores a very important point.

National campaigned on the partial privatisation of a few state assets, won the election and so had a mandate to carry out that policy.

Labour didn’t campaign on Three Five Waters.

She also tries to justify the move by saying the entrenchment clause responds to public submissions.

That justification also holds no water because tens of thousands of submissions weren’t even considered because they came via a Taxpayers’ Union tool, even though many were personalised; and the overwhelming number of submissions against the legislation were ignored.

The entrenchment is a constitutional outrage, the policy is a very expensive mistake and no attempts to justify either can make them right.


Admission of defeat

29/11/2022

Labour could have reversed the entrenchment clause in the Three Five Waters BIll.

Instead it’s referring it to parliament’s Business Committee.

Labour is in the early stages of a backdown on its controversial decision to entrench parts of the Three Waters legislation – a move constitutional experts said set a “dangerous precedent”.

The move came as Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Leader of the House Chris Hipkins admitted to not being aware that a fresh move to entrench a part of the bill had been put until after it was passed. Official advice provided to Local Government minister Nanaia Mahuta more than a year ago warned that even Labour’s original entrenchment proposal could be constitutionally damaging.

Ardern said Cabinet considered the issue of the entrenchment clause on Monday and resolved to kick the matter back to Parliament’s Business Committee – a cross-party group of MPs that discuss the running of Parliament. . . 

This will ensure the matter stays in the news for longer giving the many critics even more ammunition against the whole proposal.

Labour dug itself a hole over this from the start and has kept on digging in spite of overwhelming opposition from the councils which own the assets the government plans to take and the majority of people in several polls.

Why, instead of slowing the whole process down and trying to take councils and the public with it, is it bulldozing it through under urgency and why did it try to entrench some parts of the legislation?

Could it be an admission of defeat?

Could it be that it knows it can’t win next year and is trying to get as much done, and done as soon as it can and in such a way as to make it harder for the new National-led government to undo it?

Fortunately the undoing will be possible and Stephen Franks has helpfully drafted a way it could be done.

It’s just a pity that even more millions of dollars will be wasted on the bulldozing before that can happen.


Bulldozing democracy

28/11/2022

Labour has gone to great lengths to counter accusations they are taking assets from councils.

They keep telling us all, that councils will still own their assets.

A legal opinion from Franks Ogilvie states that is wrong:

Ministers have repeatedly asserted that Councils will have “ownership” of the four new “entities” (actually bespoke statutory corporations) to take over three waters assets under Minister Mahuta’s scheme. The Water Services Entities Bill (the “Bill”)contains statements that Councils will “co-own” the corporations in “shares” to be allocated to them. In this opinion the assertions that Councils will share ownership are referred to as the “Claims”.

The claims are false, misleading and deceptive. The Councils will have none of the bundle of rights that define and are conferred by ownership in any sense familiar to lawyers, or understood as the common significance of ownership. Councils are expressly denied the rights of possession, control, derivation of benefits, and disposition that are the defining attributes of ownership. . . 

In spite of this, the government keeps telling us that councils will still own the assets.

However, by entrenching the clause in the Water Services Entities Bill (the one that was about Three Waters and is now about Five Waters), that stops the entities being sold, it loses that argument.

If the councils still own the assets whose business is it if they wanted to sell them?

Its theirs, their ratepayers’ and residents’ business, not the government’s.

If it’s not the business of councils, ratepayers and residents, but the government’s, the government admitting that councils won’t continue to own their assets.

That is an important issue, but not as important as the government’s entrenching the clause and thereby attempting to bind future government’s to a partisan and deeply unpopular measure.

Entrenchment has until now been for constitutional matters. Requiring a super majority for them is a democratic safeguard.

Entrenching a highly contentious and politically partisan measure like this is an attempt to bind future government’s to the current one’s will and that is the antithesis of democracy.

Law professor Andrew Geddis explains what happens when MPs entrench legislation and why it matters and concludes :

. . . The point being, what happened on Wednesday was a potentially momentous broadening out of an existing wrinkle in our system of parliamentary governance. Since 1956, our law has said that some key bits of our electoral system are so at risk of partisan gaming that we can’t trust a bare majority of MPs to decide them. Now, the amended three waters legislation also says that there is a basic policy issue that is so overwhelmingly important as to justify today’s MPs placing handcuffs on tomorrow’s MPs when dealing with it.

If that is indeed the case, what other sorts of issues might a supermajority of MPs think rise to that level? And, in this brave new world, what happens to our system of parliamentary law-making, based as it is on the assumption that the view of the current majority is always subject to revision by the future’s?

David Farrar has a few suggestions for policies past governments could have entrenched and  future government could entrench.

There would be an uproar if a future National-led government attempted to entrench these or any other partisan policies which illustrates just how dangerous the precedent Labour, aided by the Greens whose MP Eugenie Sage moved the Supplementary Order Paper to include entrenchment.

There is an uproar on social media, and the issue was discussed on NewsTalkZB yesterday afternoon it ought to be making headlines everywhere.

Labour has been bulldozing Five Waters with no concern for democracy from the start but until now there was the knowledge that a change of government could easily repeal the legislation and replace it with something far, far better in proper consultation with the councils which own the assets.

Entrenching the clause has made that a bit harder and shown how little regard Labour and the Greens have for democracy.

Garrick Tremain says it all:


Paying more for government’s spending

24/11/2022

The Reserve Bank announced yesterday it would increase the Official Cash Rate by  0.75 basis points to 4.25%.

That’s the biggest increase New Zealand has ever had and it could get worse:

This increase will push up mortgage rates for Kiwi households, many of which are coming up for renewal in the next few months. New Zealand families are already facing significant pressure on their household budgets due to the extremely high levels of inflation.

The Bank’s Funding for Lending programme—which allowed banks to borrow from the Reserve Bank at the Official Cash Rate to offer cheaper mortgages—also runs out next month. Kiwibank has estimated that this could be the equivalent of a further Official Cash Rate hike of between 15 and 50 basis points.

New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union Campaigns Manager, Callum Purves, says:

“The Reserve Bank has been forced to put up the Official Cash Rate because of its failure to keep inflation below 3%.

“The extremely high levels of inflation we are facing are in no small part down to the double whammy of reckless Government spending that went well beyond what was necessary to respond to the pandemic and the Reserve Bank’s own money printing programme that is already forecast to cost the taxpayer billions in losses.

“Government tax revenues and expenditure are at record highs. The Government urgently needs to reign in its addiction to excessive spending and bring expenditure back down to pre-pandemic levels at the very least. New Zealanders cannot continue to afford this toxic combination of high taxes and high inflation.” 

Tax revenues are high because inflation pushes up prices, which increases the GST take. It also leads to higher wage increases which pushes people into higher tax brackets.

Some of the blame can be laid at international factors, but Labour’s addiction to spending is also responsible.

It’s not just the poor who are struggling with the cost of living crisis, middle income people are too and increased mortgage rates will add to the pain.

Much more pain is on the way for Kiwis as out of control inflation has forced the Reserve Bank into New Zealand’s first ever 75 basis point Official Cash Rate hike, National’s Finance spokesperson Nicola Willis says.

“Never before in the history of the OCR have we seen such a dramatic interest rate increase. This comes as the ninth rate hike in a row, as the Reserve Bank is forced to screw ever tighter on interest rates to try and put a lid on rampant inflation.

“Ominously, the Reserve Bank is not only forecasting a year-long recession, but it believes inflation has not peaked, and will still be higher at the start of next year than it is now.

“This spells yet more worry for the growing group of Kiwis being kept up at night concerned about the growing size of their mortgage payments.

“Kiwis are now paying the price, literally, for Labour’s ‘fire-hose’ approach to government spending.

“Half of the mortgages in New Zealand will come up for refixing in the next 12 months. Many already stretched New Zealanders will now have to find hundreds of extra dollars a week to meet their payments.

“Kiwis are getting squeezed in all directions – rent, groceries, and mortgage payments. Under Labour, the only way these costs are going is up.

“New Zealand needs careful economic management and fiscal responsibility to get us through this difficult period.

“National has a plan. We would rein in wasteful spending, stop adding new costs and taxes, refocus the Reserve Bank on price stability, let Kiwis keep more of what they earn, and remove bottlenecks in the economy like Labour’s overly restrictive immigration settings.”

The election could be a year away.

How much harder will life be for far too many people by then?


Would you trust him?

21/11/2022

If National had ruled out working with New Zealand First in 2017, would it have made a difference?

Polls showed about half of NZ First’s supporters wanted the party to go with National, but we’ll never know if ruling the other party out would have helped National.

Now that Winston Peters has apparently ruled out working with Labour, would it help National to rule out working with him?

I say apparently because there is wriggle room in his statement:

“No one gets to lie to me twice,” he says this week.

“We are not going to go with the Labour Party, this present Labour Party crowd, because they can’t be trusted.

“You don’t get a second time to lie to me, or my party and they did.”

He starts with the Labour Party then says this present Labour Party crowd but what does that mean?

If Labour had a different leader, which is possible if the polls consistently show it would be unlikely to win a third term, would that be enough for Peters to change his mind?

Who knows? Would you trust him?

If we can learn anything from the past, it’s that what he says doesn’t necessarily mean that’s what he’ll do.

Apparently being clear about ruling out Labour ought to give voters certainty but there is some wriggle room, and it also takes away his party’s options which weakens it, making it more like the Greens and Maori Party who will never go with National, and Act who will never go with Labour.

The party could sit on the cross benches and if National and Act or Labour, the Greens and Maori Party didn’t have more than half the MPs needed to govern. They would they would then be forced to negotiate with Peters issue by issue.

That would be a disaster.

The country is in a mess and the mess will be worse by next year’s election.

A mess that bad needs a government we can trust and gives us certainty, neither of which can be assured if NZ First is in the mix.

Besides, one of that party’s strongest platforms is policy that both National and Act would deliver without it anyway – one person, one vote, no co-governance of public assets, and assistance based on need not race.

What then would we get if enough people vote to allow NZ First back into parliament? Uncertainty and instability if it was needed in government or sitting on the cross benches. Both could still allow Labour back into government.

That brings me back to the final comments in my previous post. If people don’t want a Labour-led government after next year’s election, they must vote for a National-led one and the only way to get that is to vote for National or Act.


Five Waters – where’s the outrage?

21/11/2022

It started with Three Waters but Graham Adams points out it’s it’s now Five Waters :

Thomas Cranmer notes it’s goes even further to Five Waters and a park:

Mike Hosking calls it a stinker of a policy:

Given all this, Bruce Cotterill is right to ask where is the outrage?

. . . Even without knowing the contents of the revised bill, haste is something we should be concerned about. It’s a pace of activity that is usually reserved for matters that the Government wants dealt with immediately; either because it is vital for the national interest or it is so unpalatable that they want to shut down the debate as quickly as possible. It would seem that the latter was their only justification. 

I’m told by a highly regarded former MP that for a matter of this nature, it’s a pace that is unusually rushed, and in the context of Parliament’s rules, technically inappropriate.

Not that we can do too much about that. Let’s face it, this Government has been in an “inappropriate” hurry on Three Waters from the start. Despite the changes not yet being signed into law, they have already recruited a heap of people and leased high-quality and expensive office space in Auckland at least and possibly elsewhere. Every step has been action ahead of the democratic process. . . 

They process has been appalling. From the advertisements telling us how bad our water was, when it wasn’t, saying it would be voluntary for councils to opt in, when it isn’t, saying they’d listen, when they didn’t to the truncated select committee process and Friday’s late afternoon document dump with the addition of two more waters plus parks and reserves.

For the benefit of the uninitiated, the Three Waters legislation is about the management of freshwater, wastewater and stormwater. However, as result of the select committee’s most recent rewrite, it’s no longer just about Three Waters. You see, they’ve added a couple of new categories. Hydro, the water that flows through New Zealand’s world class and sustainable electricity system is one.

Oh, and they also added another category. Coastal. That’s right folks, the seabed and foreshore is back in play. This time, with the highly controversial and undemocratic co-governance proposals locked in.

And finally, just for good measure, they’ve also seen fit to include, at the eleventh hour, an option to include parks and reserves. Parks and reserves currently owned and operated by the ratepayers through the councils that represent them.

New Zealanders should be upset or even angry. We’re not though. We either don’t know about the changes being proposed, don’t understand what’s going on, or don’t care. I deeply suspect that, if Kiwis understood what was happening we would care very much. . . 

A lot of people I’ve talked to do know what’s happening but don’t know what to do about it when the government is determined to steamroller the legislation through.

We should be ropable that this is happening. And we should be stomping mad that neither of our top-rating TV news channels ran the story of the bill’s passing on their 6pm bulletins on Thursday evening. What the hell is going on here NZ?

This is major constitutional reform, involving the deliberate confiscation of assets from ratepayers and the councils that represent them, to a government and a policy that will be controlled by iwi-based or tribal interests. The consultation process around it has been minimal and most of us would say what little consultation has occurred has been ignored.

The French would have people marching in the streets and tractors blocking the freeways if this was occurring in their country. Not us. Let’s just sit back and let it happen! . . .

If a policy this bad was being promoted by a National-led government the left would be marching in the streets.

Why’s no-one up in arms now? Labour supporters don’t usually march against their own, and people on the right are much less likely to protest.

Despite not mentioning it during the 2020 election campaign, the new majority Labour government hit the ground running immediately after the election and launched a plan that would see the Government taking control of the infrastructure and services that deliver all three water assets – drinking water, wastewater and stormwater.

Despite the fact that, in most parts of the country, our fresh water is among the best in the world, they used a single event in Havelock North a few years ago as an example of what could occur if reform didn’t happen quickly.

Has anyone seen any data showing that our water is anywhere near as bas as the government is trying to make us think it is?

Has the government bothered to look at any other answers to the problems that exist in some areas?

Has anyone got any idea how much we’ll be paying for our water once they impose this overly-bureaucratic system on us?

Their plan was accompanied by a very expensive and highly misleading advertising campaign telling us that we would have brown sludge coming out of the taps unless the Government took control of the water assets from the councils.

Organisations like The Taxpayers’ Union and Democracy NZ have funded court action which asserts that the minister and her government have acted illegally. That court action is ongoing. Farmers and business owners have banners out the length of the country asking the powers that be to “Stop 3 Waters”.

And yet, despite ever-increasing opposition from a wide cross-section of New Zealanders, the Government has pressed on with its plans. Centralisation of water assets, they say, will occur, just like the already unsuccessful centralisation efforts in Health and Tertiary Education.

Most of us don’t have daily interactions with the health and tertiary education systems. All but a very few of us depend on the safe delivery of fresh water and proper dispersal of waste water many times, every day.

As a result, we have the latest steps, as outlined above, that will see Three Waters expanded to Five Waters and maybe even a few Parks.

So we see, finally, after all this time, what Three Waters has been about all along. It’s not about brown sludge coming out of your taps. In fact, it’s not about water at all. It’s about an asset grab of not only the water assets we thought, but also for a slice of our hydro schemes and for the highly contentious foreshore and seabed. By the time the third and final reading comes around, you can bet that the country’s parkland will no longer be an option. It will be included.

Perhaps the inclusion of the foreshore and the parkland will get us animated and angry.

We should be staggered that this legislation, delivering major constitutional change, is sleepwalking its way through Parliament via an aggressive majority government, while it appears that there is nothing that opposition politicians can do about it.

You see, unless New Zealanders do something, I’m guessing that the third and final reading will go much like the second reading this week. A few opposition politicians putting up a brave fight against the tyrannical majority before quietly leaving the stage defeated and deflated.

By the time next year’s election campaign is run, Three Waters final reading will have been completed and this most extraordinary and controversial series of changes will have become law. The assets will be operated by undemocratic Government-appointed boards, and the councils that paid for them will be left out of pocket, and we, the people, will be one step closer to losing our collective democratic voice. Despite overwhelming opposition, Three Waters will be law.

It would be tempting to throw in the towel. And yet, despite everything that has happened, Three Waters should continue to be a central election issue in 2023. Those parties currently in opposition must run a campaign to totally repeal this legislation and if elected they must do so promptly.

And we may as well brace ourselves for it now. Taking things away from people is always much harder than giving them out. Repealing this law will be messy and disruptive and difficult. But it must happen.

That’s why we have elections. When governments become this corrupt, they and the laws they created must go.

National and Act have both been very clear they will repeal the Three (now Five) Waters legislation and replace it with a better system in proper consultation with the councils that own the infrastructure.

If we don’t want this dreadful, racist policy we have to vote Labour out and the only way to do that is to vote for a National-led government.

Doing that means voting for National, which is my preference, or Act.

Any other vote will not guarantee a change of government or will be a wasted vote.


Mood of the show

11/11/2022

“Just get it done!”

This was the message I heard a woman at the *Christchurch Show give to National leader Christopher Luxon and it summed up the mood of many who talked to me.

It’s three years since the last A&P show in Christchurch and the mood then wasn’t positive.

Then, two years into the Labour-New Zealand First government, there was lots of criticism of them but also reservations about National.

Three years on the mood against the government has hardened.

People are very, very angry and upset about the wasteful spending, anti-farmer and other divisive policies and disdain for democracy; and worried about how much worse things will get before there’s a change of government.

The mood towards National is much, much more positive.

Wednesday and Thursday at the show usually attract a lot of farmers and people involved in agribusiness who are more likely to be at the blue or yellow end of the political spectrum but not since the ag-sag of the 1980s have I heard such vehemence against the government and such strong support for change.

Agitation over taxing farm emissions with the threat of one in five sheep and beef farms being killed off, good pastoral land being planted in pines and 13,000 job losses – that’s the total population of Oamaru – was expected.

So too was concern over impractical regulations, the imposition of extra costs and the threat of unfair pay agreements.

But people who spoke to me were just as concerned about the crises in health and education, worker shortages and the related immigration debacles, crime and the cost of living crisis.

The radical policies of the Lange-Douglas Labour government that led to the ag-sag generated a lot of angst at the time. There are valid questions over how it was done but I don’t know anyone who now thinks it shouldn’t have been done.

Those changes were hard at the time but farming, and the country, are stronger because of them.

The changes this government is foisting on not just farmers but the wider economy, environment and society are adding long term costs without even short-term benefits.

If the mood of the show is a barometer of wider opinion, the chances of Christopher Luxon being in a position to “get it done” are good but they are not certain and the worry remains of just how much worse things will get before a National-led government can “get it done”.

*I know it’s now the New Zealand Agricultural Show, but most still call it the Christchurch Show.


Tama Potaka For Hamilton West

08/11/2022

National’s candidate for Hamilton West is Tama Potaka:

Tama Potaka has been selected by local party members as National’s candidate in the Hamilton West by-election.

Mr Potaka is currently the chief executive of Ngāi Tai ki Tāmaki. He has also worked as a senior advisor to the NZ Super Fund and spent several years as a general manager for Hamilton-based Tainui Group Holdings.

“I’m honoured to be selected by local party members to fight the Hamilton West by-election as National’s candidate,” says Mr Potaka.

“Hamilton West has a unique chance to send a message to the Labour Government before next year’s General Election – New Zealanders need more than good intentions and band-aid solutions. They want and deserve direction, clear action and delivery.

“National offers that plan and delivery. Only National and Christopher Luxon have a plan to competently manage the economy, deal with inflation and tackle the cost-of-living crisis hitting Hamilton families in the pocket at the checkout and through rapidly rising mortgage interest rates.”

Mr Potaka says New Zealand also needs a strong economy so cities like Hamilton benefit from more investment in public services like Police.

“Hamilton families need the Government to keep the economy strong in order to prioritise the tide of crime making many people feel unsafe in their own homes and when they, and their children, out in the community.

“Headlines every day about ram raids and smash and grabs across the city make it clear that Labour’s approach to law and order is not working. We need a strong economy so we can prioritise more deterrents and more consequences for offenders.

Throughout his career, Mr Potaka has been focused on listening to people, working to understand the issues they face and delivering results for people who trust him to stand up for them.

“That’s exactly what I’ll prioritise if I earn the right to represent Hamilton West as the electorate’s strong local MP inside a Christopher Luxon-led National team.

“Labour won this seat by more than 6,000 votes last election but I’m determined to campaign relentlessly on the issues that matter to Hamilton West and turn the seat blue.

“I’m hitting the ground running and will be meeting as many people across Hamilton West as I can so I can earn the right to advocate for them.”

He will join a growing number of people opposing the Labour government, including Labour’s candidate in the by-election:

National’s Campaign Chair Chris Bishop has welcomed Labour’s Hamilton West by-election candidate to the growing movement opposing the Labour Government.

“While it’s strange to see reports Georgie Dansey attended a protest against the Labour Party so soon after being selected as its candidate in the by-election, National is thrilled to have her support in opposing the Government,” says Mr Bishop.

“According to Stuff, Labour’s candidate was part of a protest today berating senior minister Andrew Little over tertiary education workers’ pay being outstripped by rises in the cost-of-living.

“Rents in Hamilton have shot up by $115 per week under Labour, meaning a family paying the average rent is having to find an extra $6,000 a year than in 2017. Labour’s addiction to wasteful spending has fuelled the cost-of-living crisis that’s hitting Hamilton families in the pocket.

“Labour’s new candidate joins a growing list of Hamilton West Labour candidates who appear to deeply dislike the Labour Party. If Labour’s own candidate can’t support Labour, how can the people of Hamilton West?

“With even Labour’s candidate protesting the Government, it’s clear people in Hamilton West are crying out for change. While National is the underdog in this race after Labour won the seat by more than 6,000 votes, we will campaign relentlessly to offer that change to Hamilton West.

“A strong National MP will be laser-focused on delivering for Hamilton West as part of a Christopher Luxon-led National team. We’ll address the cost-of-living crisis, restore responsible management of the economy and deliver better outcomes in core services like health and education.” . . 

A poll put the National candidate ahead, before he was selected.

But David Farrar explains it’s not nearly as good as it looks:

 has reported on a poll Curia did for ACT in Hamilton West. It shows National ahead of Labour by 8.1% on the decided vote, and was done before any actual candidates were selected.

But as you would expect, there were large numbers undecided or not planning to vote. On the total vote you had just a 4.5% gap between National and Labour, which is within the margin of error for a poll of 400 people. That means there is a non-trivial (greater than 10%) chance that Labour is in fact slightly ahead in the seat. . . 

Sunday’s Reid Research Newshub poll showing Labour at its lowest result since Jacinda Ardern became leader nationally and voters in a by-election often use the opportunity to send the government a message.

But the high number of undecided voters mean it is far too soon to have much confidence in the eventual outcome.


What’s Labour’s biggest fail?

27/10/2022

National asks a question that ought to be easy to answer:

National has today launched a new website outlining Labour’s extensive record of failure over the past five years, says National Party Campaign Chair Chris Bishop.

“Today is the fifth anniversary of Labour coming to power and Kiwis are frustrated at the Government’s lack of delivery. Our new website lets people vote for what they believe is the biggest fail – is it the cost of living crisis, the housing catastrophe Labour has overseen, an education system slipping backwards, Labour’s soft-on-crime approach or a health system under huge pressure?

“This is the most wasteful and incompetent Government in New Zealand history. Labour is addicted to spending and is now spending an extra $1 billion per week compared with 2017 – but it has nothing to show for it other than increased taxes and a massive increase in government bureaucracy.

“When Jacinda Ardern said “let’s do this” in 2017, she presumably didn’t mean more children in poverty and living in cars, the cost of living rising twice as fast as wages, Auckland Light Rail having not even started despite promises it would be completed by now, or KiwiBuild delivering 1.4 per cent of the promised 100,000 houses.

“Labour must be held to account for its lack of delivery. The tired old Labour formula of good intentions, endless working groups, and big spending has failed.

“Rents are up $140 per week on average, the state house waitlist has increased by 20,000 families, emergency department wait times and surgical waitlists are at record highs, there is one ram raid every 15 hours, fewer than half our kids are attending school regularly with over 100,000 chronically absent, and gangs are recruiting twice as fast as Police.

“The good news is, there is a better way. National has a plan to better manage the economy, deal with the cost of living crisis, deliver better public services and get New Zealand moving forward again.”

National is inviting Kiwis sick of Labour’s lack of delivery to vote on Labour’s biggest fail at www.laboursbiggestfail.co.nz

It ought to be easy to answer that questions but what makes it hard is there are so many fails from which to choose:

Labour is addicted to spending and you are paying the price

Labour is spending nearly $1 billion more every week.

Inflation is at 7.2%, the highest in three decades, forcing you to pay more for everything .

Prices are rising twice as fast as wages.

Filling up a 60L tank of petrol has increased by $35.

So has your weekly grocery shop (up by $35).

Rents have increased by $140 per week on average – that’s $7280 a year.

Weekly mortgage interest payments are $300 higher or $15,600 more per year (RBNZ & REINZ).

A 20% deposit on an average home is up $60,000 to $160,000.

Even well-off people are complaining about prices, many who ought to be comfortably off are finding balancing their budgets hard and the poor are struggling.

Labour is taxing you more

Labour is now collecting $33 billion more in tax every year. 

Labour has introduced several new taxes….

Aucklanders are paying a 10c per litre Regional Fuel Tax every time they fill up

Farmers and tradies buying utes to do their jobs now pay a Car Tax of up to $5000 – which is subsidising Teslas for wealthy people.

Labour extended the bright-line test to 10 years after explicitly promising not to – it’s a Capital Gains Tax by stealth.

Labour removed mortgage interest deductibility for landlords (a Tenant Tax) which officials told them would likely increase rents.

And they want to increase taxes even further

Labour is planning a Jobs Tax where everyday Kiwis earning $60,000 will pay $834 more every year

Taking so much more in tax would be bad in itself, it’s worse when so much is being wasted.

Labour is wasting billions of your hard-earned money 

$650 million in corporate welfare to subsidise businesses to cut emissions they would have done anyway.

$586 million to restructure the health system during a global pandemic, including $168 million for a separate Māori Health Authority.

$370 million to merge TVNZ and RNZ.

$100 million on a business case for the Lake Onslow project.

$65.9 million on Auckland Light Rail without a single kilometre having been built.

$51 million on the cancelled Auckland cycle bridge, including $600,000 on an empty waterfront office!

$35 million subsidising people to buy Tesla’s.

 $24 million on Kainga Ora office renovations.

$2.75 million for the Mongrel Mob to run a meth rehab programme.

Shareholders in any private business that wasted a fraction of this amount would be sacking all the directors.

And what has Labour delivered for all of this increased spending and tax?

New Zealand is going backwards.

New Zealand’s global competitiveness ranking has fallen from 16th to 31st.

50,000 more people are on the Jobseeker Benefit, despite businesses crying out for workers.

Instead of lifting 100,000 children out of poverty by 2020, 400 more children are living in poverty (RNZStats NZ). 

The state housing waitlist has grown by over 20,000 applicants.

480 Kiwi families live in cars, up 350% in the last five years.

$1 million is spent every day housing people in motels and other emergency accommodation.

Just 1.4% of the 100,000 promised KiwiBuild houses have been built.

Let’s Get Wellington Moving has delivered only a set of new traffic lights and a pedestrian crossing (no, really)

Less than half of Kiwi kids are regularly attending school, and over 100,000 are chronically absent.  

The number of kids not receiving any education at all has doubled to 8,500. 

Two-thirds of students failing a basic NCEA writing assessment, with just 64% passing the reading standard, and 56% passing numeracy.

New Zealand pupils used to do well on international comparisons, not any more.

The average Emergency Department wait time is just under 5 hours – the worst in a decade.

More than 200,000 Kiwis are sitting on a health-related waitlist.

People waiting longer than four months for their first appointments with hospital specialists has grown from less than 1000 under National to almost 30,000 under Labour.

No change in access to mental health services despite spending $1.9 billion .

A shortage of at least 4,000 nurses but the Government still refuses to put nurses on the fast-tracked straight to residency visa path.

The health system has been under growing stress for years,. Labour has made it worse by wasting millions on restructuring the system without addressing the need to improve services and the people who deliver them.

There are 2,676 more gang members, a 50% increase.

Gangs are recruiting twice as fast as Police, with 1.7 new gang members for every new Police graduate.

There are 2,742 fewer offenders in prison but violent crime is up 21% (Corrections & NZ Police Data).

Firearm violence is the worst in decades, 1335 offences were recorded in 2021 up from 981 in 2017.

518% increase in youth ram-raids.

109% increase in serious assaults 

Despite poor service delivery, NZ now has 14,000 more public servants

We’re paying more, the government is spending more and we’re getting far, far, less for it.

New Zealand imported almost four times as much coal last year as 2017.

Remember the declaration that climate change action was our nuclear-free moment?

It wasn’t supposed to mean taking the country backwards with economic, environmental and social devastation caused by the fallout.


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