Do you want your taxes to fund political parties?

September 3, 2019

Another attempt to get state funding of political parties is underway:

. . .Green Party co-leader Marama Davidson wants foreign donations banned altogether, anonymous donations limited to just $1000 (it’s currently $15,000) and an overall cap of $35,000.

“At the moment big business can buy influence over our political system – there is no limit to what they can donate… At the moment, our current laws are ripe for dodgy dealing.” . . .

But without donations, political parties will have to rely on taxpayer funding to run their campaigns. Hager says this would be preferable to the status quo.

“Rather than them going off to get all sorts of slightly dodgy, slightly mildy legal but corrupt kind of ways from everyone who’s got lots of money, you just pay some public money… It’s just like we pay our police so they don’t have to collect bribes… we pay MPs so they don’t have to work on the side.”

If a politician can be bought for less than $15,000 we’ve got the wrong people as MPs.

If any politician can be bought for more than that we’ve got the wrong people as MPs.

The current law requires donations of $15,000 or more to be declared so any influence would be visible.

While many taxpayers would object to that, Hager says the cost would be a “tiny fraction of a percentage” of the “tens of billions” of dollars the Government spends every year, and worth it to ensure big business and wealthy foreigners don’t have undue influence over our politicians. . . “

If foreign donations are the problem, the law could require all donors to be citizens. It could go further and require all donors to be people and not organisations.

That would excite the unions and the parties they prop up. Matthew Hooton pointed out on RNZ yesterday it’s not just the money they contribute there’s the time and people power they put into supporting their chosen parties.

The cost of public funding of parties might be a ‘tiny fraction’ of government spending but that tiny fraction would be better spent on almost anything else the government funds or left in taxpayers’ pockets.

It’s hard enough to stomach some of the ideologically driven projects governments waste money on without expecting people to fund parties whose philosophies and policies they vehemently oppose as well.

Some parties have fewer, if any more, members than the 500 minimum required to register. Should they make it into parliament MMP gives them power well in excess of their size. Funding them as well would exacerbate the unfairness.

Parties are voluntary organisations. If they can’t attract enough volunteers and supporters to fund them, that’s their problem and not one which taxpayers ought to be forced to solve.


Participation best protection from corruption

October 23, 2018

Taxpayer funding of political parties has raised its ugly head again:

“The Greens are cynically taking advantage of this week’s political scandal to push their agenda of taxpayer funding for political parties,” says New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union spokesman Louis Houlbrooke, responding to Marama Davidson’s statement today.

“Introducing ‘state money for electioneering’ (which is currently illegal) will only entrench the position of incumbent political parties like the Greens, and suppress political start-ups that could challenge existing powers.”

It will also further erode grassroots participation in the political process and reduce the importance of party membership.

“We must not replace the right to independently, privately fundraise with a system where unaccountable bureaucrats decide what makes political groups eligible for funds.”

“Finally, there’s the powerful moral argument that taxpayers shouldn’t be forced to promote ideas that they disagree with or even find morally reprehensible.”

“The proposal is opportunistic, self-interested, objectionable, and would have a corrosive effect on our democracy.”

Amen to that.

If parties can’t attract enough members and supporters to fund themselves the solution isn’t taxpayer funding.

It is sadly ironic that MMP which gives parties far more power has coincided with a serious decline in party membership and participation.

Other parties, and some media, question National’s fundraising. They either don’t understand, or ignore, the fact that the bulk of the money the party gets comes from members through subscriptions and relatively small fundraising activities.

That’s a very real strength of strong membership.

However, like every other party, and most if not all voluntary organisations, National’s membership is well below its peak. That, and the inability of any other party in the country to count its members in the 10s of thousands is a very real risk to democracy.

Democracy by definition should be participatory and strong participation is the best protection from corruption.


Social sabotage

October 2, 2018
AM show host Duncan Garner called Green co-leader Marama Davidson incompetent for good reason yesterday morning:

The Green Party co-leader appeared on the show on Monday morning to discuss her party’s commitment to raising benefits by 20 percent, but was unable to say how much it would cost. . .

I am staggered by the lack of facts and detailed knowledge that she showed in her interview with me this morning,” Garner said after the interview.

“No detail at all. She’s exposed herself as being underdone at best, and completely incompetent at worst. It’s called flaky. . .

Flaky is a charitable description of the policy she couldn’t give costings for too:

Increasing the baseline amounts for benefits is pretty clear. That increase hasn’t followed wage increases or inflation for far too long. And removing sanctions which we’ve been very, very vocal about, which is about trying going away from that punitive or punishing approach.

Not only doesn’t she know the cost, she doesn’t know the current policy. Benefits do increase with inflation. When it’s low as it has been for some time, the increases aren’t big but they do increase with the cost of living. No sanctions? That means people who, for no good reason, don’t turn up for interviews, don’t try to find work, don’t pass drug and alcohol tests will face  no consequences. People in work are expected to turn up in a fit state to work when and where required, what’s wrong with similar expectations for beneficiaries? No sanctions will also allow non-custodial parents to get away with making no contribution to the support of their children.

Changing the threshold for benefit reductions. There are so many people who want to work, even part time, while raising young children in particular. But those incentives are just really clumsy, confusing , messy, and they don’t make it worth it,” Davidson said.

It’s sad that people regard getting paid for work which gives them a measure of independence as not worth the effort. There might not be much difference financially but even a small increase on what comes from a benefit should be regarded as a bonus, especially when it could be a stepping stone to more work and eventual freedom from benefit dependence. Davidson is right that benefit abatement for people in part-time work are less than ideal, but the alternative is worse.  If the benefit isn’t abated when people start earning, beneficiaries in part-time work would earn more than some people in full time work.

The Greens would also look at combining the in-work tax credit and family tax credit and making them less discriminatory.

They also wanted Work and Income to stay out of people’s personal lives by “moving towards entitlements based on individual needs rather than a blanket policies around starting new relationships and losing entitlements”, Davidson said.

This would mean a beneficiary could be living with someone more than capable of supporting them both and any children, and still be able to keep claiming a benefit. National put a lot of effort into social investment based on the indisputable  financial and human costs of benefit dependency. The Green policy would be social sabotage, creating an underclass of benefit dependents with neither the expectation nor hope that they might become self-supporting. They would turn the welfare safety net into a noose that would entrap people on benefits and saddle the rest of us with the financial and social costs that would result.  

What dirty deal bought Greens?

August 2, 2018

Bryce Edwards has a leaked document showing the Green Party lied about having to support the wake jumping legislation:

. . . The Greens have never been willing to front up over how they were going to deal with this contentious bill. First, when the coalition was formed, we were told by co-leader James Shaw that his party wouldn’t vote for any policies that they disagreed with. The Greens later changed this to say that they would support the waka-jumping bill through the first stages of the legislation, but wouldn’t guarantee that they would vote for it in the end.

Then last week the party finally revealed that they would indeed vote for the legislation, even though they still opposed it. They justified this capitulation with the notion that their hands were tied by the coalition agreement that they signed up to with the Labour Party – especially the part in which they promised to deal in “good faith” with Labour to fulfil coalition agreements with New Zealand First.

It turns out that the Greens have always known that there is nothing in the coalition agreement they signed with Labour that obliges them to vote for the waka-jumping bill. A leaked Green Party caucus document from January, titled “Advice to caucus – Electoral (Integrity) Amendment Bill”, reports on official advice informing the Greens that there is nothing in their coalition agreement that binds them to provide support.

This is what the document says about the “good faith” provision in their agreement with Labour: “Advice from the Cabinet Office is that firstly this is a political statement around how we’re endeavouring to work with the Government. It commits us to work through areas of concern in good faith, but does not bind us to support everything set out in the Labour/New Zealand First coalition agreement”.

Why pretend it did?

The fact that the Greens have tried to tell the public the opposite therefore raises some big questions about why they’ve mislead the public on this, and what the real reasons are for their U-turn on the bill.

There are two main possible explanations: weakness or opportunism. In the “weakness” explanation, the Greens have acted like doormats – the leader of New Zealand First has simply demanded that the Greens vote for the bill, or there will be some sort of very negative consequence (perhaps even threatening to walk away from the coalition Government). In this scenario, the Greens have meekly rolled over and given away their principles easily.

Under the “opportunist” explanation, the Greens have demanded some sort of price for voting against their principles. Perhaps it was the oil and gas exploration ban. Perhaps there is an upcoming policy announcement about mining on conservation land, or a deal on the Kermadecs sanctuary. What other horse-trading deals are being done between the three parties in government?

The problem is we will likely never know. We now have an opaque Government in which the official coalition agreements aren’t the full story, and instead we’re being governed by backroom deals that the public isn’t allowed to know about. It seems therefore that the waka-jumping deal epitomises the continued decay of principled and transparent politics, and how even so-called principled politicians such as the Greens are willing to buy into it all. . .

Principled? If they ever were they certainly aren’t now.

Not when the MPs’ line has been they are supporting the Bill because they have too and just last week co-leader Manama Davidson said: “We are doing this because the confidence and supply agreement holds us to it.

MMP requires an occasional diet of dead rats, it doesn’t require lies.

We might never know which of Edwards’ two explanations for them swallowing this large and very dirty rodent is the right one.

Both wrong their supporters and the rest of us who have to suffer them in government.

If the MPs have rolled over because they’re scared of the consequences of sticking to their principles what else might they acquiesce to?

If they did a deal, what is the price of their principles and what dirty deal bought their support?

Whatever the answer to that question is, the fact that someone leaked the document suggests someone in the Green camp is very, very unhappy and isn’t afraid to hurt the party because of it.


Greens go redder

April 9, 2018

If political parties had to adhere to the Trade Descriptions Act the Green Party would be called the Reds and they’ve just voted to go redder:

South Auckland-based MP Marama Davidson will join James Shaw in the role of Green Party Co-leader, after the result of the leadership contest was announced this morning in Auckland.

Ms Davidson secured 110 delegate votes. Julie Anne Genter, the Minister for Women and Associate Minister of Transport and Health, also contested the Co-leadership role and won 34 votes. . . 

The party is split between members with a radical left social and financial agenda and those whose focus is the environment.

Davidson represents the radical left side. She has a lot in common with the woman she replaced, Meteria Turei, and is more likely to reopen the wounds Turei and her departure created than heal them.

Her radical left agenda could also cause more headaches to the government her party supports.

It is also more likely to prove true Heather du Plessis-Allan’s prophesy that the party will disappear in a decade:

 

. . . If you assumed the co-leadership contest between Julie Anne Genter and Marama Davidson was simply about two women interviewing for a job, you’d be wrong. It was so much more than that.

These women are the yin and yang of the Greens. . . 

This leadership battle was really a death match over which is more important to the Greens: the environment or beneficiaries. . . 

This is why the Greens won’t last 10 years unless they make big changes. The split personality can’t go on living together. Not only is the animosity in the party too great, but not all voters who care about the environment also want to give hand outs to beneficiaries. . .

Oddly enough the biggest threat is coming from the party the Greens are mostly likely to hiss at: National.

There’s a long tradition of Blue-Greenness within the Nats and things are really starting to ramp up. In his first interviews in the job, new leader Simon Bridges couldn’t have made it clearer he plans to go greener.

Once all the other parties go green, the Greens will lose their big point of difference. And what are they when that’s gone? . . .

They’re a radical left party as shown by the small group of Young Greens who threatened to resign if Genter defeated Davidson.

Passing quickly over their disdain for democracy, there is an element of karma in that for Genter.

She called for old white men to get of boards . She is white and old (in comparison to the youth wing). But she is 38 and lost to the older (44) brown woman.


No-one asks to be raped

November 7, 2013

My laptop was stolen at an airport.

I’d put it down with my suitcase to pay for parking, paid, picked up the case but not the computer.

I realised my mistake minutes later, ran back but the computer was gone.

Thanks to some very good police work it was recovered a few weeks later.

Was I careless?

Yes.

Did I ask for the computer to be stolen?

No.

Did my carelessness make it any less a theft?

No.

Had it been an honest man who found the computer, he’d have called me back, phoned the number inside the case or handed it in to someone in the airport.

He wouldn’t have taken it, found a way round the password, loaded his contacts onto it and used it until the police caught up with him.

My inattention provided an opportunity for the crime but it’s one an honest person wouldn’t have taken.

So it is with rape.

Some discussion on the Roast Busters has turned to what the victims were wearing and that they were drinking .

There’s been suggestions this somehow excuses the behaviour of the young men who plied them with alcohol, raped them and boasted of their exploits on Facebook.

It doesn’t.

There is no excuse for rape.

Regardless of what the young women might have been wearing and doing, and whether or not they should have been where they were and drinking, they were not asking to be raped.

Asking to be raped is an oxymoron.

Rape is unconsensual sex and someone who is comatose cannot give consent.

Among those who seem ready to excuse the perpetrators and blame the victims are Radio Live hosts John Tamihere and WIllie Jackson.

I didn’t hear the programme but have heard enough of the reaction to it to be disgusted by what they said, the apology for an apology and apparent inability to understand why they “caused offence”.

The best response to it comes in an open lettter from Dr Leonie Pihama and Marama Davidson of the Te Wharepora Hou Maori Women’s Group:

Tena korua John and Willie

Yesterday we were sent the link to your radio programme of your discussion with ‘Amy’. Listening to your programme is a rare event in both of our whare. Why? Because the views you espouse are on the whole conservative, often ignorant and nearly always sexist. So we are not surprised with the misogynistic undertones of how you spoke to ‘Amy’.

What is saddening is the fact that you seem to have absolutely no awareness or experience of the impact of rape on the lives of it’s victims and survivors.

What is disturbing is that you show no empathy for the pain and ongoing distress caused by sexual violence on entire whanau.

What is alarming is that with all the involvement you have in providing programmes within urban Maori communities that you remain ignorant of the destruction caused by rape culture.

What is disconcerting is that you have no sense of understanding for how difficult it is to talk to others about being raped, about sexual violence, about family violence let alone what it means to be 14, 15 or 16 years old.

What is disgusting is that you seem to revel in the deep-seated ignorance on these issues.

Rape, whether it be of a woman abducted, or of a mother catching a bus home after work, or of a young woman out for drinks with her friends, or of any woman in her own home by someone she knows – is rape.

Rape, John and Willie, is rape.

Rape, John, is not about “how free and easy are you kids out there these days”.

Rape, Willie, is not about how you are too young to have a drink out with friends.

Rape has nothing to do with if they are good looking. ‘Good looking’ men rape too Willie.

Rape – John and Willie – is rape. . .

More questions over police handling of the issue were raised yesterday when they released a statement saying a complaint against the group had been made two years ago:

Police investigating allegations involving the “Roast Busters” group can confirm a complaint was received in December 2011. An investigation was launched and the complaint was thoroughly investigated.

Whilst this was a distressing situation for the girl and her family, Police determined that there was not sufficient evidence to bring a prosecution.

Out of respect for the victim and her family Police are unable to discuss the specific details of this particular situation any further, however the victim’s complaint is still part of the continuing investigation and should new supporting evidence come to light as part of the ongoing enquiry , the decision in this case not to prosecute will be reviewed.

Police discussed this matter again with the victim’s family this morning and re-stated their absolute commitment to doing their best by their daughter.

Inappropriate and offensive comments that are alleged to have been made to the victim in this case by Police are under investigation.

I can understand that finding enough evidence to make an arrest would be difficult.
But I can’t understand why police were unable to have the website shut down and to warn people about the abhorrent activity of the group far, far sooner.

Regions grow by taking opportunities

June 29, 2013

The first release of regional GDP data shows that regions which take their opportunities had better growth.

Taranaki, Southland, and the West Coast experienced the largest increases in gross domestic product (GDP) from 2007–10, while Auckland was responsible for over one-third of the country’s economic production, new research from Statistics NZ showed.

Statistics NZ released today GDP for 15 regions across New Zealand.

“This is the first official measure of New Zealand’s regional economies. It covers the 2007 to 2010 period and so provides a useful benchmark for future analysis,” regional statistics manager Peter Gardiner said.

“The increase in economic activity over the period was mainly centred in rural regions, reflecting a strong period for the primary industries. Manufacturing slowed in 2009, contributing less to GDP in urban regions.”

Taranaki’s economy increased 46.9 percent in size over the four years, the largest increase for any region, due to expansion in oil and gas production. Supporting industries such as construction and manufacturing also increased from 2007 to 2010.

The West Coast and Southland economies also increased in size substantially, 23.8 percent and 23.3 percent, respectively. This increase was driven by dairy farming, which lifted the South Island’s overall contribution to national GDP by 0.6 percentage points to 22.3 percent. . .

All the candidates in the Ikaroa Rawhiti by-election have campaigned against  mineral  exploration.

On mining and balance between jobs and the environment
Meka Whaitiri: Until we have some sound research that says [mining] doesn’t have any environmental impact, I can’t support that.
Marama Davidson: Ban it! Risky off-shore drilling, mining and fracking are all industries we want to get away from. Today we are releasing a package of green jobs for Ikaroa-Rawhiti that don’t ruin our environment.
Na Raihania: I am absolutely opposed to mining and drilling our Mother Earth. And this idea it will provide jobs for everybody is stretching it.
Te Hamua Nikora: As far as mining goes, we say frack off. No thank you.

 

Their region desperately needs better growth and the jobs that come with it but it is the industry which has boosted Taranaki’s growth that they oppose.

Oil and gas production and dairying, which helped Southland and the West Coast, are industries which the Green Party would like to see less of.

But Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce says the data shows the value of regions exploring all their economic opportunities.

“It shows regions who have taken their economic opportunities, such as Taranaki, Southland and the West Coast, have significantly increased their GDP – despite the effects of the recession and the global financial crisis.

“These are regions that have successfully balanced economic growth and jobs for families in their regions while looking after the environment.” . . .

Many regions have made further progress in the three years since the period covered by the regional GDP data, as New Zealand’s national economy has built momentum on the back of a number of more positive indicators and support from the Government’s economic programme.

“It is my expectation stakeholders will want to use the regional GDP data to compare and contrast the economic fortunes of different regions around the country, and ask themselves what lessons and opportunities there are for growth and jobs in their region,” Mr Joyce says.

“Nothing creates jobs and boosts incomes for New Zealand families better than business growth. For New Zealand to build a more productive and competitive economy, we need all of our regions to achieve to their potential.”

Opposition to growth opportunities is usually based on fear of environmental consequences and ignorance of what can be done to minimise potential problems.

If we want first world education, health, other services and infrastructure we need first world incomes.

That requires more growth and doesn’t have to come at the expense of the environment.


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