Support person not action

September 28, 2018

The leaked report on the investigation into allegations that then-Minister Meka Whaitiri assaulted a staff member don’t reflect well on her :

. . . David Patten, the Wellington lawyer who conducted the inquiry for Ministerial Services, the employer of ministerial staff, found on the balance of probabilities that the staff member’s version was the more likely explanation.

He found that Whaitiri did not pull or drag the press secretary outside from the foyer of the building where the meeting was taking place.

But he found it more probable that Whaitiri approached the staffer from behind and grabbed her by the arm and that Whaitiri spoke in a raised voice to the staffer.

In evidence to the inquiry, the staff member said Whaitiri had blamed her for missing the media standup with the Prime Minister.

Having a paddy because she missed the stand-up is bad enough by itself even without any grabbing and raised voice.

“It was during … the break so I’d gone out into the hallway, gone to the bathroom and I’d just gone out into the hallway into the vestibule for a bit of a breather and that’s when she came over,” the staff member said.

“She grabbed me by the arm and pulled me outside and said she needed to talk to me and when we were outside she raised her voice.

“I wouldn’t say yelled but she did raise her voice to me and asked me if I knew what I was doing in my job and did I realise I’d missed a media opportunity and that that was embarrassing to her because it was her electorate.”

The staffer originally told the inquiry that Whaitiri had pinched her arm but changed that to grabbed.

“It was hard and it scared the living daylights out of me,” she said.

In other parts of her evidence, she said: “She was definitely angry, and was definitely mad that I had screwed up. It scared me a lot and I didn’t want to return to that [work environment].” . .

Patten’s finding in the draft report is: “The photographs taken by Morag Ingram on August 30 2018 of [the press secretary’s] upper right arm showing a bruise on that arm … are consistent, in my view, with someone being approached from behind and grabbed by a
right-handed person“. . .

In the urgent debate Labour MPs did a lot of defending and supporting Whaitiri without condemning her actions.

It is possible to do both, especially when this is the party that purports to stand up for workers. It’s the party that purports to abhor violence.

Its actions, in this instance, don’t reflect its words.

Political blood is thicker than water but that is no excuse for putting loyalty to a colleague before the principles of fair treatment of staff and not showing that in supporting her they also condemn the use of physical force.

How strident would Labour be if a National minister mistreated staff?

They wouldn’t accept the loss of ministerial warrant as sufficient punishment. They’d be calling for the MP to resign altogether.


If don’t need them now . . .

September 21, 2018

The government has lost its second minister this month.

Jacinda Ardern has relieved Whaitiri of her ministerial responsibilities which will be taken over by other ministers.

This begs the question – if the government doesn’t need two more ministers now, why were taxpayers burdened with the costs of having them in the first place?

It also raises the question of how many more ministers could we happily do without.

And while we’re asking questions, why did it take Ardern so long to get to the conclusion Whaitiri had to go?

Why did she go to the trouble of a lengthy investigation when she could have simply summoned Whaitiri into her office, asked her what happened and sacked her then and there?

And just a day after 125 years of women’s suffrage was celebrated, David Farrar notes:


From misfortune to carelessness

August 30, 2018

The government has lost a second minister in less than a week:

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has accepted Minister Meka Whaitiri’s offer to stand aside from her portfolios, while an investigation is carried out into a staffing matter in her office.

Newshub understands the probe follows allegations of a physical incident with another staff member in her office, which involved some shoving. . . .

The announcement comes just six days after Ms Ardern removed Minister Clare Curran from Cabinet for failing to disclose a meeting she had in relation to the Government’s Chief Technology Officer (CTO) role. . .

If Lady Bracknell was commenting on events of this week, she might well say, To lose one minister may be regarded as misfortune, to lose two looks like carelessness.


Travellers’ time saved

August 26, 2018

Departure cards for international travellers are being scrapped:

Travellers currently fill out a total of 6.5 million departure cards each year.

But Customs Minister Meka Whaitiri said the cards are no longer needed to account for all people crossing the New Zealand border.

She said they now have smarter systems which can identify information and travel movements electronically.

“Information captured by the departure cards is now mainly used for statistical purposes,” Ms Whaitiri said.

“Stats NZ has developed an alternative way to produce migration and tourism statistics, based on actual movements rather than passengers’ stated intentions on the departure cards.” . . 

The requirement to fill out cards will be end in November.

The Government says it will save more than 100,000 hours of time and allow a faster and smoother process.

Each time I’ve passed through the electronic passport control I’ve wondered why there is still a requirement to fill in a departure card.

There isn’t any longer which will save travellers’ time and ought to also save the time and money that has been spent on processing them.


Divided they lost

July 1, 2013

Only around 12,000 of the nearly 35,000 people on the electoral roll in Ikaroa-Rawhiti bothered to do vote in the by-election.

Labour’s Meka Whaitiri won the seat with just 4,368 votes and a sorry 35.8% turnout.

Is that a record low?

The Mana Party will be delighted that its candidate  Te Hāmua Nikora came second with 2,607 votes.

The Maori Party will be very disappointed that its candidate Na Raihania, was third with 2,104.

The win might be enough for those in Labour’s caucus who were aiming their knives at their leader’s back to set them down, for now.

But something all three parties need to think about is that the combined total of Nikora’s and Raihania’s votes was greater than that of Whaitiri’s.

Pita Sharples says the Maori Party, rather than its candidate, is responsible for its result. He didn’t mention, but he ought to be thinking about, his unwillingness to loosen his hold on the leadership.

However, as Matthew Hooton points out:

Had Mr Harawira not split the Maori Party in 2011, it is almost certain it would have won last night’s Ikaroa-Rawhiti by-election.  It would most probably have held on to Te Tai Tonga in 2011 so that it would now hold six of the seven Maori electorates and have much greater leverage over Mr Key and Labour. . .

There is no single Maori view but one party targeting the Maori seats would have had a very real chance of challenging Labour for them and being in a very strong position to go with a government led by either National or Labour.

But divided they lost the by-election and will almost certainly be too weak separately to do nearly as well as they could together.

Harawira put his personal feelings before political strategy, opening the way for Labour to retake most of the Maori seats and that could well bring about the demise of these electorates.

The idea of  New Zealand First in a governing coalition is the stuff of nightmares. But there would be one small consolation if that was the only way for National to stay in government, both parties favour culling the Maori seats.

National conceded that policy when it invited the Maori Party into coalition in 2008.

Should the Maori Party not be in a position to help National into government and, perish the thought, New Zealand First be a potential coalition partner, the Maori seats could go.

If Harawira had bothered to take a longer view beyond his personal agenda he would have been aware of that possibility and the risk he was taking in splintering from the Maori Party.


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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