Rural round-up

22/11/2021

Feds honours the life and work of John Luxton:

Federated Farmers wishes to pass on its condolences to the family and friends of former Minister of Agriculture and dairy industry leader John Luxton who passed away today.

“We pay our respects to acknowledge and praise the work John did for New Zealand agriculture, especially the dairy sector,” Federated Farmers national president Andrew Hoggard says.

John was a Member of Parliament from 1987 to 2002 and his political contribution was significant across numerous ministerial roles, including his time as Minister of Agriculture.

“The dairy sector would not be the same if it weren’t for John’s work towards forming DairyNZ and then chairing the organisation between 2008 and 2015. . .

Farmers helping feed Auckland families this Christmas:

Farmers and growers are being asked to help put fresh food on the Christmas table for Aucklanders in need this year.

Federated Farmers has launched a “Farmers Feed Families” campaign aimed at raising funds for the Auckland City Mission.

Feds Gisborne President Toby Williams was dismayed to learn how many more Auckland families were struggling as a result of COVID-19 fallout, including loss of jobs or cutbacks to hours.

“It only costs $135 to provide a box of food for a family of four, with enough good ingredients for about four days’ worth of meals. We are asking fellow farmers to help families pay for good, fresh food for Christmas. . .

Rural connectivity not ready for Covid-19:

Rural New Zealand is facing a COVID crisis thanks to the Government’s failure to secure their digital future, says National’s Digital Economy & Communications and Rural Communities Spokespersons Melissa Lee and Joseph Mooney.

“Alongside the Government’s failure to provide New Zealanders with a plan to get our country back in business and end the MIQ Lottery of misery the Government continues to leave rural connectivity behind causing real fears that families across our regions will be unable to access critical health services and information when COVID strikes their towns.

“Rural New Zealanders have already had to do the hard yards during lockdowns of the past 18 months facing network congestion, poor connectivity options and data limits that have seen many of them having to choose between their child’s education or keeping their businesses afloat. This is morally bankrupt for those working in the primary sectors keeping our economy intact. . .

Crunch is coming for agricultural contractors :

Federated Farmers’ concerns about the serious shortage of experienced agricultural machinery operators is proving justified as summer approaches.

A shortage of experienced operators is being felt across rural New Zealand, and the pressure is building on both farmers and rural contractors, Feds immigration and employment spokesperson Chris Lewis says.

“Unfortunately, we all saw this coming a long way out. Federated Farmers has repeatedly explained the implications of having no international seasonal rural workers to the Immigration, Primary Industries and Workplace Relations and Safety Ministers, the Primary Production Select Committee and the CEO of WorkSafe.

“The shortage is leaving both contractors and farmers in the lurch and we have serious concerns for the coming season. These are complex machines that require experienced operators,” Chris says. . .

IrrigationNZ makes big strides with plans to deliver more in 2022 :

IrrigationNZ has made great strides in the last 12 months, with a revitalised strategy put to work propelling the organisation to new heights.

The organisation held its annual general meeting (AGM) via Zoom yesterday, and revealed to members that for the first time in three years the organisation has ended the financial year in the black.

Chief Executive of IrrigationNZ Vanessa Winning, who has been in the role for a year, is proud of her team’s performance, and is looking forward to continuing the good work into 2022.

“I joined IrrigationNZ just before last year’s AGM. We had just completed a restructure, decided to move the head office to Wellington, and were close to another annual loss,” says Ms Winning. . .

Producer prices increase :

Producer prices increased more in the year ended September 2021 than in any other year for more than a decade, Stats NZ said today.

In the year ended September 2021, prices received by producers increased 6.2 percent, and prices paid by producers increased 7.0 percent.

“The increases in prices received and paid by producers in the year ended September 2021 are the largest increases since the years ended March 2009 and December 2008 respectively,” business prices delivery manager James Mitchell said. . .


Rural round-up

24/06/2021

Carbon farmers bought swathes of NZ promising to create native forests — but researchers doubt it will work – Eloise Gibson:

A carbon farming business has bought swathes of the country and planted it in pine trees, promising it would one day regenerate into native forest – but researchers who’ve studied the concept doubt it will work.

New Zealand Carbon Farming (NZCF) has quickly grown to be one of the country’s biggest landowners, with more than 89,000 hectares either owned or leased. NZCF says it is the biggest provider of carbon credits in Australasia, and the biggest participant in New Zealand’s Emissions Trading Scheme.

The business model is to find farmland with remnants of native forest nearby to act as a seed stock, then plant pine, which grows quickly and supplies a stream of income from carbon credits. The company says it selects sites with enough rain and decent soil, and that it will thin the pine and control pests, such as deer and possums, to enable indigenous forest to grow underneath (and eventually take over).

But two forestry scientists who helped pioneer the pine-to-native forest concept in New Zealand question whether native regeneration will happen on the scale the business is attempting. . .

DoC’s Mackenzie project dubbed a disaster – David Williams:

A $2.6 million Mackenzie Basin project abandoned its business case, lacked oversight, and achieved little. David Williams reports

A drive for greater protection in the fragile South Island high country turned into a “complete disaster”, according to a review ordered by Department of Conservation senior managers.

The external review report, released to Newsroom under the Official Information Act, says the $2.6 million Mackenzie Basin project announced in the 2018 Budget had “no formal governance”, the partnerships section of DoC running it did not have “formal project management skills”, and external partners and stakeholders were “disillusioned and have heavily criticised the project”.

Some external parties, such as private landowners, hadn’t been contacted for nearly two years. Relationships with mana whenua were described as strained “at best” . .

Minister not plugged into community signal struggles:

It is unacceptable that a town just 10 minutes from Greymouth has such poor digital connectivity that they are not able to even receive Civil Defence warnings, National’s Digital Economy and Communications spokesperson Melissa Lee says.

Ms Lee has been advocating for rural communities which are being left behind by a lack of digital and communications infrastructure.

Dunollie is a small town on the West Coast and in March, Melissa Lee, along with National List MP based in West Coast-Tasman Maureen Pugh, visited its frustrated residents. Despite having a cell tower on the beach to enable tourists to stay connected, a hill between the beach and the township prevents the locals from accessing the signal. . . 

New Zealand pig farmers demand imported pork measure up to NZ’s animal welfare standard – Lauren Hale:

New Zealand pig farmers are supporting a petition calling for imported pork to be required to meet the same animal welfare standards as New Zealand pork.

Approximately 60 per cent of pork consumed in New Zealand is imported with most of it being produced in countries that farm pigs using practices that are illegal in this country.

“New Zealand’s pork sector operates to high welfare standards compared to many other countries who have less rigorous health, welfare and environmental regimes,” says David Baines, chief executive of NZPork, which represents New Zealand pig farmers.

“Our commercial pig herd also has a high health status and is not affected by the diseases that are having a very serious impact on pork industries in many other countries.

Homegrown Butcher named Supreme Champion at 2021 Outstanding NZ Food Producer Awards

Dion Kilminster produces top-quality beef and lamb — but the road to success constantly challenges him.

It was by chance that farmer-butcher Dion Kilmister met marketer Ali Scott in a Wellington pub on St Patrick’s Day nine years ago. But together, they’ve overcome the odds in more ways than one.

This year, their mixed box of gourmet beef and lamb took the Supreme Champion gong at the 2021 Outstanding NZ Food Producers Awards. “Pure beefiness,” commented one of the judges of the pack, which includes many different cuts of meat as well as gourmet sausages.

In 2018’s honours (see NZ Life & Leisure, May/June 2018), Dion and Ali’s Homegrown Farm Fresh Meats won the Ara Wines Paddock Champion award for its lamb. . . 

Invest Like a Farmer: the surprising similarities between how farmers and venture capitalists think – Sarah Nolet:

As a venture capitalist working in agriculture, I’m constantly surprised by the similarities between how farmers and investors think.

I came to agriculture in a roundabout way. I grew up in Silicon Valley and moved to Boston to study computer science and later work in the defense industry. It was during an accidental gap year in South America, where I was pulling weeds on an organic tomato farm in Argentina, that I first saw the potential to apply my systems background to agriculture.

I realized that much of the technology that was being developed was missing the mark because the people making it — while they were accomplished technologists — didn’t understand the culture, science, or business of farming. That’s when I began to develop my own investment thesis for agtech.

Agriculture has historically been a very different world to the heavily urban-focused startup and technology ecosystem. But though the lines between these two worlds are blurring, there’s still a huge gap between the two; not just in technology application, but also in language, culture and trust. . . .


Quotes of the month

01/06/2021

If policy is developed by ministerial staff and implemented by DPMC, what do all of Robertson’s ministerial colleagues and their thousands of highly paid advisers do all day? Because the description of the Implementation Unit sounds an awful lot like the current role of a ministerial office. – Danyl Mclauchlan

Are we, as mere minions of this Labour government, just voters not to be trusted with a report that suggests a fundamental change to New Zealand society? Peter Williams

Frankly, we have to have a major talk in this country about two things – what is self-determination, and what is indigenous? And until we have those defined we really can’t go any further can we? – Peter Williams

This government has no moral authority to tell private sector employers that they have to quote ‘improve wages,’ when they themselves are not going to do it for the next three years.  Something’s going to have to give; either this government abandons the wage freeze or abandons the fair pay agreements.

But they cannot tell businesses around this country to do something they are not prepared to do. The hypocrisy is blinding. – Heather du Plessis-Allan

As it stands, I don’t trust the media and I’m in it, but I trust bits and in that is the key.

Trust requires work. The media as a whole in this country is in a parlous and decaying state. Journalism sadly is frequented by too many inexperienced people, naïve people, thick people, and people on band wagons. – Mike Hosking

Unions have good reason to celebrate. Their power will soon outstrip what would be justified by their membership. It will take much longer for better conditions to be felt by large numbers of workers.

Given the sheer number of public sector workers likely to be hit by the pay freeze, this week appears to have been much more about improving the strength of unions than it was about helping workers.Hamish Rutherford

This Labour Government is growing more interventionist by the day. It has not met a problem it doesn’t think can be solved through more centralisation, regulation, bureaucracy, and more power in the hands of the Government. – Scott Simpson

It seems odd and increasingly criminal we can be recognised for a solid Covid response but because of our own fear and lack of planning cut ourselves out of the joining the rest of the world. – Mike Hosking

You know how the whole cancel thing works, right? It’s pretty simple. First you do a bit of due diligence on a scheduled speaker or soon-to-be-published author. Find something ropey they once said (easy in my case, but I’m only an email away if anyone needs direction). Then head for the open sewer running through the Dickensian lunatic asylum that is Twitter. Declare yourself upset beyond belief. Don’t worry about grammar or humour or context or any of that boring stuff. Repetition is what counts. Consider hammering the point home with an amazingly colourful word that rhymes with “bunt”. And don’t forget to use a nifty hashtag. – David Cohen

Cancel culture goes after writers by harnessing something old (the desire of the mob to scalp dissenters) with something relatively new (the ubiquity of social media) and something else that sounds rather borrowed (crypto-religious demands for demonstrations of public piety). And as the former Sex Pistols frontman John Lydon pointed out the other day, while the language the ringleaders use to rally the troops is often collectivist, the tone is all Me Me Me. Every second sentence seems to start with a, “Speaking as a …” – David Cohen

But is opinion what it’s about anyway? More and more, it seems to me, what’s happening doesn’t seem to be in the interests of fostering the vigorous exchange of views or even correcting people who may have got something significantly wrong. At heart, I think, cancel culture is part of a wider linguistic turf war currently being fought on many fronts over who gets to control the language.  David Cohen

I’m not a Labour Party Māori or an on-the-marae Māori. I can be pretty frank about that, there’s reasons for that, I just wasn’t brought up that way. These are things we all have to reconcile in our heads but what is true is it doesn’t make me less Māori. We don’t think you’re only Scottish if you wear a kilt.  It’s a free world, my whakapapa is what it is, and I’m proud of it. – Simon Bridges

There is also always a place for punishing those who traumatise others, who destroy the lives of other people, who kill, murder, rape.Those things must be treated with the force of the law, and I won’t apologise for that. – Nicola Willis

I have to say, to blow the health system up when you’re trying to vaccinate 4 million people, that’s not particularly clever timing, is it? . . . This lack of planning, I mean, this is an iterative problem. We’ve got to take it away from politicians and away from doctors like me – may I add – and put it in the hands of professional governors and managers.Des Gorman

Yes there is an argument that vaccination has most application in countries with rampant disease, but there’s an equally strong argument we’re like a shag on a rock, and we’ll be a shag on a rock until we’re vaccinated, and our economy suffers. The next GFC, the next earthquake in Christchurch, we can’t buffer it. – Des Gorman

For the most open honest transparent government, things haven’t been looking too transparent of late. The pulpit of ‘truth’ is proving a stretch, are they being ‘too definitive?’ – Kate Hawkesby

This is why everyone should fight against cancel culture. Everyone has led lives of imperfection. I want a society that doesn’t judge people by the worst thing they have ever done, but by their overall contribution. – David Farrar

This, of course, is the great weakness of unionism. Most pay rises are not productivity based; they are threat based. Pay us or we are out. – Mike Hosking

So just who is it they’re appealing to? Do you have the same trouble British Labour now has? There isn’t a working-class Kiwi who would touch them. It’s the party of socialist ideologues who hang out at universities, NGOs, and pressure groups.

This smacks of whack-a-mole government. No vision, no big picture, no strategy, just a trail of bewildered, disowned, and disenfranchised supporters who no longer know who they’re dealing with. – Mike Hosking

The window of opportunity for New Zealand to attract talent is evaporating rather rapidly as the developed world becomes vaccinated.- Peter Gluckman

Also if you can print me a steak, you can also print me up a takahe drumstick or a slab of whale. I could munch on endangered animals with impunity. There is a small, but creepy, seam of wannabe cannibals on the internet who are also excited about this avenue. – Nicola Dennis

And there you have the three reasons people help others: they’re bullied, they’re paid, or they love. – Rodney Hide

Why they matter is because these stats drive taxation/redistribution policies. They influence how much is taken from Paul to give to Peter. Doesn’t matter how hard Paul worked, what sacrifices he made, how careful he was not to have more children than he could personally afford to raise. If he is defined as ‘rich’ and Peter is ‘poor’ you know the outcome. – Lindsay Mitchell

What has suddenly changed is the slavish, craven and witless embrace of identity politics that has swept through government, academia, the media, the arts, the corporate sector and even sport. – Karl du Fresne

The advertising business likes to celebrate itself as edgy, idiosyncratic and anarchic, but it strikes me as deeply conformist, risk-averse and prone to groupthink. Its suspiciously abrupt, across-the-board conversion to the virtues of diversity suggests much the same level of fearlessly independent thought as you’d find in a mob of romney ewes. – Karl du Fresne

And I’m sorry, but as long as Labour ministers like Chris Hipkins just don’t care whether our money is wasted in uneaten school lunches, as long as that happens, Labour will be perceived to be the party that just throws cash away. Pay freeze the nurses all you like, that perception will stick, because it’s warranted.Heather du Plessis Allan

A state broadcaster rigorously excluding any and all voices dissenting from the official line, is something most New Zealanders would expect to encounter in Moscow or Beijing – not in Wellington. – Chris Trotter

Vegans and vegetarians are the gullible foot soldiers for the processed food industry and religious ideology. – Dr Gary Fettke

History has us at our healthiest from a metabolic aspect when our diets were predominantly animal based. – Dr Gary Fettke

Generally, plant-based diets require supplementation for at least vitamin B12 and iron. It’s almost not fair to compare beef and rice. To get the protein in 200 grams of beef you need to eat nearly a kilogram of rice, and still you would be missing the micronutrients.Dr Gary Fettke

We often get people in this country whom we consider – and I hate the word – but we often call them ‘low value’ but they work hard and they have incredible work ethics and that goes through to their children – Erica Stanford

They are starting a new life. There is always that sword of Damocles hanging over them. They have got to keep working hard to stay here to get their residence and they do – they know this is a new chance, a new life and they do work very, very hard.

These people were quite vulnerable. They didn’t have any rights. They didn’t know the system. Sometimes they couldn’t speak English very well and they would often make mistakes or get themselves in trouble and just being able to help them and change their lives was so rewarding. – Erica Stanford

Right now the top priority for New Zealand is to make this country the most desirable place for migrants to want to come to because if we want the best migrants, which we do, the most skilled, the ones that have a lot to offer our economy and our society, we need to be their best option and right now, we are far from that.  – Erica Stanford

 I am quite close to this but I can’t turn away. I cannot turn away. How can you turn away from their grief and their anxiety and their stress? A lot of them have terrible mental health problems and are beside themselves because they haven’t seen their partners and their children.

“I can’t turn away turn away from that. I can’t walk away. I can’t not scream from every rooftop, every chance I get to give these guys a road map to reunification so they can see their families again. – Erica Stanford

The world isn’t rejecting left-leaning progressive thinking for no reason, they’re rejecting it because it doesn’t work. – Mike Hosking

We’ve got to make sure we’re taking an approach to it that doesn’t lead to some particularly grim financial outcomes, which a lot of what we’ve seen in recent times certainly do. 

We need to make sure people have an appreciation of what those things mean. Some people are happy to accept the cost being worn by someone else, rather than contributing themselves, and we’re hearing a lot of that in the zero carbon space. – Jared Ross

The government is not only doing too much, it is doing too much of that too much too badly – Eric Crampton

With New Zealand’s democracy now white-anted by racist policies, we will also deservedly become a laughing stock if our politicians and bureaucrats continue to pay obeisance to primitivism.  – Amy Brooke

The kind of values needed to raise children with their wellbeing absolutely utmost cannot be learned from a government. They cannot be replaced by unearned income. – Lindsay Mitchell

Give a family another $20 or $50 a week and, hey presto – just like that – 33,000 children are lifted out of poverty. In itself that is heartless isn’t it? That poverty is only measured by money. But is the life of those 33,000 kids going to be noticeably better in 12 months time? I would doubt it unless the attitude and approach to life of their parents or caregiver had shifted significantly. Will that person have made moves to get a job? To make the children’s lunch? To ensure they go to school at least 90 percent of the time?  – Peter Williams

If it takes “true grit” to be Opposition leader, then Judith Collins has it in spades. – Fran O’Sullivan

It is not racist to suggest that proposals such as those contained in the He Puapua report should be openly debated rather than sitting in some drawer in a Cabinet Minister’s office.Fran O’Sullivan

It was hard to give the Budget much credence after reading the Auditor-General’s report on the Covid-19 vaccination programme this week. The gulf between word and deed in Government has probably never been greater.

From the moment the Cabinet gave the vaccination programme entirely to the Ministry of Health you just knew it wouldn’t turn out well. Ministries these days do what the Auditor-General calls “high-level” planning. He doesn’t mean high quality, he means the plans made on high that do not get down to the harder work of deciding exactly who will do what, when, where and how. – John Roughan

“High-level” planning isn’t just disconnected from practice on the ground, it thinks up needless things that get in the way of practical work. But mostly it just wastes time and high salaries thinking of the bleeding obvious.  – John Roughan

Being in Parliament sometimes feels a bit like a kindergarten. There are squabbles, the occasional tantrum, and many questions that can seem quite repetitive to the public, and irritating to the Government too. The ability to question is vital for democracy. As politicians, it’s our job to question the policies and intentions of the Government in order to make sense of where we’re heading as a country. What laws will the Government pass? What problem are they trying to solve? How will the change impact the life of a child just starting school, the pocket of a solo mum, the small business owner struggling to find staff and pay taxes? How will we know if the policy’s been a success or failure? – Brooke van Velden

It is not racist to question policy that creates two systems for New Zealanders. Brooke van Velden

I want to live in a country where we can acknowledge our differences and seek better outcomes for all children regardless of race. It’s time to focus on our common humanity rather than constantly looking for division. We need better ideas, and to have honest conversations. Accusing others of racism when they challenge your idea is simply lazy. It stifles debate and breeds resentment.

It speaks to a growing sentiment I’m hearing across New Zealand. People are more and more cautious to express their opinions because others choose to take offence at ideas they don’t support. We should all be respectful in the way we deal with each other, whether we agree or disagree. We should show leadership by standing up for the ability to freely think and ask questions in our Parliament. How can we teach our children the importance of critical thinking, if we don’t expect it from our leaders? – Brooke van Velden

The issue should not be about race, as some would like to make it out to be. It is about which vision is more likely to give every child born in New Zealand the best chance to succeed. I don’t really care if our country is called New Zealand or Aotearoa. How about we focus on the outcomes for kids?Brooke van Velden

Can I give Craig, your good selves and, for that matter, the current Speaker, Trevor Mallard, a last piece of media advice? Do not endlessly and obsessively relitigate a losing argument. Take it on the chin. Move on. The public have short memories and it is sometimes possible to rebuild your reputation. Keep arguing a lost cause and you will not. – Bill Ralston

If, as looks increasingly likely, the vaccination programme turns out to be another KiwiBuild rather than another Covid elimination effort, all bets are off. Ardern had better hope Robertson’s announcement of the $1.4b for the vaccination programme turns out to be one of those old-fashioned Budget initiatives that turn out to be at least somewhat correlated with reality.- Matthew Hooton

The people who feed this misinformation online have no idea what it is like to live through a deadly virus.  We could have died, and we would have been a loving memory for our whānau, but we lived, and we lived with side effects. Death is a clean option.

Surviving is the hard and dangerous part. Those keyboard warriors don’t know what survival means – that fight is forever. And we see that with Covid-19 survivors most have recovered from the immediate effects but [some] have ongoing side effects that are far more damaging than anything else.

So when they say [on social media] Covid won’t kill you, they don’t realise that death is the clean way out and surviving is the scary part. John Forbes

Getting vaccinated isn’t about just you, it’s about protecting the ones you love. It’s an act of aroha. –  Maea Marshall

Getting doctors and nurses into poorly-serviced regions will improve Māori health. Economic growth that lifts New Zealanders out of poverty will improve Māori health. Better education will. Vaccinations will. Actually, building decent housing will. Shifting all health decisions to Wellington will not. – Judith Collins

National’s view is that every dollar spent must be spent on growing New Zealand’s economy. This is the key difference between National and Labour.Labour spends money on initiatives designed to keep people dependent on government. National spends on money on initiatives that empower New Zealanders by creating opportunities for every individual, every family, and every whānau to be in the driver’s seat of their own lives.Judith Collins

For the record, disparities are a statistical observation: they don’t think or act. They can’t themselves be racist. They are a fact. They can no more be racist than a rock or the sun.  – Rodney Hide

Everything measured differs on average from group to group. It would be odd if it didn’t. But the difference now is racism. It doesn’t require anyone past or present to have done anything racist. It requires averages only to differ. It’s difficult to know what to do about racist numbers. Would racism be reduced if I took up smoking? Or got fatter?Rodney Hide

But we should take comfort in another racist disparity: Maori women are more likely to be married or partnered to a non-Maori than a Maori. The same is true for Maori men. We are not just brothers and sisters but husbands and wives raising children together, living together, working together.

The government and the media are running a separatist agenda. It appears they are making a good play as they make up the daily news. But they are not. That’s because the rest of us are just getting on with our lives. Together.  – Rodney Hide

Labour and compliance issues aside, water in all its components, quality and quantity, is one of the major issues currently facing the rural sector, and for that matter, most of the urban centres throughout the countryBrian Peacocke

 The draft has the air of a 21st century revival of the 18th century Enlightenment concept of the ‘noble savage’, children of nature in an undisturbed state. – Philip Temple

The impact and lasting influence of the Musket Wars on New Zealand history, right up to the present day, need to be understood. If we are to teach our country’s history honestly, usefully and in a balanced way then the accounts and lessons from scholarship such as Ron Crosby’s Forgotten Wars must be included along with what one media outlet describes as ‘Our Story’ of the crimes and misdemeanours of British colonisers. We need a warts’n all history about the whole of ‘Our Story’, Pākehā  and Māori. For our children, we do not need a curriculum that tiptoes through myths of goodies and baddies with the omission of whole tranches of history. They – indeed everybody – need a set of interwoven truths we can all understand, relate to and accept. Philip Temple

It has become the norm for people of part-Maori descent to recite iwi connections, but without any reference to their European lineage. That inconvenient part of their ancestry is routinely erased.

I say “inconvenient” because I suspect it suits many part-Maori activists not to acknowledge their bicultural heritage, the reason being that their bloodlines demonstrate that New Zealand is a highly integrated society. This conflicts with their aim of portraying us as intrinsically and irreparably divided, with one side exerting dominance over the other. – Karl du Fresne

The truth, to put it in simple terms, is that we’re all in this together. We’re all in the same waka.

If this were truly a racist country, those “Maori” activists with distinctly European features and Anglo-Saxon surnames – testimony to a high degree of historical intimacy between Maori and Pakeha – would not be here. They exist because somewhere in their past, Maori and European partners were attracted to each other and procreated on equal and willing terms. That hardly seems indicative of a racist society. – Karl du Fresne

It suits 21st century agitators to overlook the fact that they carry the DNA of their supposed colonial oppressors and therefore have inherited their supposedly racist legacy. But if those of us who are descended solely from European colonisers carry the taint of racism, then so do they. Have they disowned their Pakeha bloodlines, or are they in denial? Do they, in dark moments of the soul, confront their forebears’ wicked acts as colonisers? I keep waiting for someone to explain how they reconcile these contradictions, but I suspect it’s easier to ignore them. –  Karl du Fresne

This selective exploitation of racial heritage is just one of many awkward incongruities and half-truths that go unremarked in the divisive propaganda with which New Zealanders are bombarded daily.- Karl du Fresne

None of this should be taken as meaning we shouldn’t honour and respect our Maori heritage. It is a rich part of our history and one that’s too often invisible, certainly to most Pakeha.Karl du Fresne

The truth is that a great deal of beneficial cross-fertilisation has taken place between Maori and Pakeha, and a deep reservoir of mutual goodwill accumulated. Most New Zealanders would probably agree this is something unique in the world and worth preserving. We should steadfastly resist those who place it at risk by trying to drive us into angry opposing camps.  – Karl du Fresne

The reason I am so concerned about our cyber education is simple; the Internet is our new border and we are at a growing risk of malicious damage to our nation through online actors then we are now through our airports, particularly during COVID times. Millions upon millions is lost out of our economy due to the damage that one email with a virus can contain and we must do more. The State has to take far more responsibility as our democracy, our health and ultimately, our lives are now at risk. It is not hyperbole to say that when clinics and hospitals across the Central North Island are facing one of the greatest crisis our nation has seen. – Melissa Lee

Ultimately, this situation goes beyond the Labour Government not doing their job. It is seeing individual New Zealanders being harmed at their most vulnerable being forced to travel the length of the country for medical treatment and with growing anxiety about what unknown hackers know about their personal lives. – Melissa Lee

If gangs are trying to get me sacked, I must be doing something right – Simeon Brown

 My dad was a meter reader. There wasn’t a lot of money to buy books, but we were a reading family. Library books were piled by each bed, beside the bath and on the dining table where we propped them against the teapot and read, rather than risk the conversations that would turn inevitably to argument. Library books were our salvation, our way out, our way up.  – Fiona Farrell

Libraries are many things to many people, but for me as a writer, they have been primarily a resource, like Mitre 10 for a builder or a patch of bush for an eager botanist. Their contents have formed the foundation for everything I have written over 30 years. The internet has its uses, but the things I read online always feel curated, universally available, ordinary. I encounter everything in an identical format, on the same screen, with the same levels of light and intensity. A library shelf lined with books, however, is eccentric. A book is such a perfect geometry, narrow and rectangular, to contain fact or fancy, word or image. A library shelf presents the possibility of random juxtapositions, discovery, surprise. I value that. Fiona Farrell

Freedom of speech in a democracy means having to tolerate the expression of diverse views. It works in both ways, people are entitled to voice their views and others are entitled to criticise those views, but they should be able to speak nonetheless. – Judith Collins

Health and safety should not be allowed to be used as an excuse to ‘deplatform’ speakers unless there are threats to physical safety. . . The small vocal group of self-appointed opinionators who complained about this need to mind their own business and let adult citizens in a free society mind theirs. David Seymour

For if despite everything, immigrants or people of immigrant descent, especially those of different races, are prospering and integrating well into society, there is no need of a providential class of academics, journalists, bureaucrats, and others to rescue them from the slough of despond supposedly brought about by prejudice and discrimination. Many a career opportunity would be lost if there were no systemic injustices of this sort to untangle. –  Theodore Dalrymple

The aggregation of all ethnic minorities into a single category (when there are sufficient numbers of each for meaningful disaggregation to be undertaken) is designed to disguise or hide the real differences between the minorities, precisely because if such differences were admitted, they would not only threaten, but actually refute the whole worldview of the providential class, namely that the society is so riddled with prejudice and discrimination that something akin to a revolution is required, rather than, say, dealing with problems on a case-by-case basis as they arise. – Theodore Dalrymple

For the providential class, nothing succeeds like the failure of others: it therefore needs there to be perpetual grounds for grievance by minorities, creating a constituency that looks for salvation by political means. – Theodore Dalrymple

There is a huge issue of fairness and independence with this local Government process alone.  The consultative process of local government is usually along the lines of – “Tell us whether you agree with what we have decided” and therein lies the problem. Genuine consultation has to occur at the formative stages which simply doesn’t happen or is rare to say the least. – Gerry Eckhoff

I have a term for it: Righteous prohibition.

I define that as the willing – or enforced – suppression of information because people believe it may have negative effects. It ranges from preventing a man from whipping up a lynch mob to neutralising a language because specifics may make a small number of people feel excluded. – Gavin Ellis

Paraphrased, that means legislators are hard-pressed to draught laws that define hate speech in such a way that society is protected while its rights and freedoms are held intact.

Unfortunately, hate speech is what we want it to be. The devil is in the definition. – Gavin Ellis

I believe it was the result of our language becoming sterilised, as more and more develop what I might call idiomatic mysophobia or a pathological fear of the use of certain contaminating words in case someone might have their feelings hurt. – Gavin Ellis

People can lose their jobs or find themselves cancelled when labelled as racist (whether or not they are), or prejudiced against different sexes, or religions. Yet as a Christian in a Christian country you may not wear a cross on a chain, though you may wear a hijab or a turban. –  Valerie Davies

These are strange and apocalyptic times. There is no stopping the human tide of peoples who want a piece of the peace and plenty and prosperity of Europe. But perhaps they have to make some compromises in order to preserve that way of life. It is ironic that so called liberals have castigated and condemned the past, decrying the evils of colonialism, while ignoring the hospitals and schools, railways and roads, law and order that colonialism brought to so many corners of the globe; while at the same time too, so many people in deprived places around the world, want to be part of the very culture and society that western protesters of all kinds and colours and beliefs sneer at. Yet until much maligned colonialism arrived, tribes in Africa, for example, faced the same poverty and oppression, murder and mayhem from their own people, that so many refugees are fleeing now. –  Valerie Davies

But we can create our own world of goodness and human connection. The human connection is what in the end sustains us, and always will, whatever lies ahead. As we all take this unavoidable evolutionary leap into the void of the future, we have each other. Valerie Davies

It would be nice to think that opinions in this forum and others are the result of expertise, scrupulous consideration of all the facts, relevant experience and an understanding of all factual material and different perspectives.

I suspect, however, that most opinions are more the result of feeling than thinking. That is not to say there is always a right opinion but rather that temperament and emotion play a much bigger role in opinion than we would like to think. It’s said that character is your fate. It might also be said that character is your opinion. Facts used to support a view are often chosen to support a stance, after the stance has formed. – Martin van Beynen

As an opinion writer, it’s easier to identify what you oppose rather than what you support. I don’t like being told I’m to blame. I don’t like zealots and young know-nothings telling me what to do. I don’t like wokeness or virtue signalling or cancelling people for some trivial perceived infringement of current sensibilities. I don’t like being told I’m privileged or that I had it too good because of being pale and male. I don’t like tailoring my views to suit a new zeitgeist. I don’t like the implication that everything done to improve people’s lives prior to the latest orthodoxy has been a disastrous failure and that some new system will bring in a utopia.Martin van Beynen

Rapid change, particularly the sort of changes New Zealand is experiencing at the moment, implies we should feel guilty, ignorant, outdated and prejudiced if we want to take a more sceptical and contrary line.

And yet I realise that society moves on and a new generation taking over will always seem naive and dogmatic to old-timers like me. – Martin van Beynen

I remain very much in favour of free speech with the usual riders. I think the media is too much dominated by a polite conversation with strict self-imposed boundaries on what can be said or tolerated. What we need are some thunderous voices from the silent majority. Declaring some views beyond the pale doesn’t mean they go away. They fester in the dark and grow more potent. No-one has a monopoly on truth and morality.Martin van Beynen

Having failed to teach NZ history properly in the last 50 years, it is important that the curriculum presents the most relevant facts and context, in order that our children can reach a balanced and informed view.   It appears however those involved in drafting the curriculum, have decided to skip that stage and go straight to themes.  This is a terrible mistake. – Barrie Saunders

Third, there is a strong sense running through the document that a primary purpose of studying history is to judge the past (and those in it) rather than to understand it.   Particularly when such young children are the focus, and when the curriculum is designed for use in schools across the country (attended by people of all manner of races, religions, political and ideological views), that focus is misplaced.    Understanding needs to precede attempts at judgement/evaluation, but there is no sign – in this document, or elsewhere in the curriculum – of children being equipped with the tools that, as they move into mature adulthood, will allow them to make thoughtful judgements or (indeed, and often) simply to take the past as it was, and understand how it may influence the country we inhabit today.    There is little or no sense, for example, that one reasonably be ambivalent about some aspects of the past or that some people might, quite reasonably, evaluate the same facts differently. Michael Reddell

If a New Zealand history curriculum is to be anything more than an effort of indoctrination by a group who temporarily hold the commanding heights in the system, this draft should simply be scrapped and the whole process begun again with a clean sheet of paper.  – Michael Reddell

Fourth, not only does the document seem to operate in a mode more focused on evaluation and judgement than on understanding, it seems to champion a particular set of judgements, and a particular frame for looking at the history of these islands (evident, as just a small example, in its repeated use of the term “Aotearoa New Zealand”, a name with neither historical nor legal standing, even if championed at present by certain parts of the New Zealand public sector).     This includes what themes the authors choose to ignore – religion, for example, is not mentioned at all, whether in a Maori context or that of later arrivals, even though religions always (at least) encapsulate key aspects of any culture’s understanding of itself, and of its taboos).   Economic history hardly gets a mention, even though the exposure to trade, technology, and the economic institutions of leading economies helped dramatically lift average material living standards here, for all groups of inhabitants.   Instead, what is presented in one specific story heavily focused on one particular (arguably ahistorical) interpretation and significance of the Treaty of Waitangi.  These are contested political issues, on which reasonable people differ, and yet the curriculum document has about it something very much of a single truth.Michael Reddell

We should be deeply suspicious of the phrase “public interest journalism”. It sounds harmless – indeed, positively wholesome – but it comes laden with ideology.

Like “social justice”, it’s a conveniently woolly term with no settled definition. It sounds like something we should have more of. Who couldn’t be in favour of it? But those who promote “public interest journalism” generally have a very clear idea of what they mean, and it’s not necessarily how ordinary people might interpret it.- Karl du Fresne

Public interest sounds noble. I mean, who could object to something being done for the public good? The crucial question, though, is who decides where the public interest lies. That’s the trap with so-called public interest journalism, because it usually reflects a narrow, fixed, elitist and ideologically slanted view of what’s best for the public. Whether or not the public actually wants it is often immaterial. They’re left out of the equation.

To put it another way, public interest journalism is a coded term that disguises an ideological project. Far from viewing the role of journalists as being to convey information in a non-partisan way, advocates of “public interest” journalism regard journalism as a tool for the pursuit of particular goals. – Karl du Fresne

 It’s true that journalism can lead to systemic change, and often does, but that shouldn’t be its purpose. To put it another way, journalism provides the information that often serves as a catalyst for change; but to actively work toward that end leads to the arrogant assumption that idealistic young reporters know what’s best for society and should be free to angle their stories accordingly, emphasising whatever supports their case but excluding evidence or opinions they disagree with. Karl du Fresne

Objectivity in journalism is fashionably denounced as a myth, thereby giving reporters licence to decide what their readers should know and what should be kept from them. The worthy idea that journalists could hold strong personal opinions about political and economic issues but show no trace of them in their work, which used to be fundamental, has been jettisoned.   Karl du Fresne

The PIJF should be seen not as evidence of a principled, altruistic commitment to the survival of journalism, which is how it’s been framed, but as an opportunistic and cynical play by a left-wing government – financed by the taxpayer to the tune of $55 million – for control over the news media at a time when the industry is floundering and vulnerable. Karl du Fresne

Ask yourself which is preferable: a hollowed-out news media, unable to properly fulfil its functions (which, to all intents and purposes, is what we have now), or a more powerful one whose priorities are determined by apparatchiks of the state? I’m sure I know which presents the greater hazard. Karl du Fresne


No room for leakers

21/10/2020

People who know my National Party affiliation keep asking me if I’m in mourning. I’m not, but I am both sad and angry and I’m not the only one:

Melissa Lee – who is one of those still in a job – said the result was “devastating”.

“We’ve always been very close friends and we’ve all become, you know, brothers and sisters. I love every single one of my colleagues and I feel terrible for those who did not make it this election,” she said.

So far as the leaking during the campaign is concerned, she said: “That’s something I’m really angry about. I just think New Zealanders will be very disappointed in us. We just look like politicians who can’t actually keep it together.

“I’m really disappointed whoever it is and hopefully it will stop.” . . .

The only ones to win if the leaking doesn’t stop are Labour and the media.

Lee said the problem with emails was they were sent to not just MPs but also their staff and possibly other people. She added she was not accusing staff of being behind the leak of the email she sent.

She advised any National MP who was leaking to media about Judith Collins being dumped as leader to “shut up”.

Departing Hamilton West MP Tim Macindoe who has been in Parliament for 12 years, said his message for his colleagues was to be decent.

“To be fit to govern you must be absolutely united, you must demonstrate a very clear vision for what is important … and also demonstrate fundamental decency.

“You have to be a team that people can respect and want to have lead a nation.”

He said the National caucus needed to focus entirely on being fit to govern, otherwise “it would be a difficult way back”.

For nearly nine years Labour didn’t look like it was fit to govern. National should have learned from that.

Macindoe said Collins had done a good job in “extraordinarily challenging circumstances”, and it would be a mistake “to get the knives out” for her.

Taranaki-King Country MP Barbara Kuriger said the caucus was united behind Collins. Three leaders, departing MPs and board members and leakers had made for a difficult year but Collins had “kept a smile on her face every day”.

She said there was no room in caucus for leakers.

Whoever has been leaking obviously doesn’t understand that the media is never a politician’s friend. A journalist will welcome leaks and use them, but won’t give any favours in return.

She agreed it was ironic that the team ran on a strong team banner.

“We weren’t the best team… You can have all the best players, it’s no different to the rugby. If you’ve got people dropping the ball, or not being able to do the right thing, then you don’t win, and that’s what happened.”

This was the election that Covid-19 stole but National’s result was far worse than it would have been if it wasn’t for the damage inflicted by the disloyalty and leaks that sabotaged the team.


Um, ah, ah

06/09/2018

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern might still have confidence in Clare Curran but the minister doesnt’ appear to have confidence in herself:

. . . Curran stumbled over her answers in Parliament’s debating chamber, as she was forced to admit that Government business was conducted on her personal email. She was not forthcoming with a response about why she used her Gmail account for official business from “time to time”. 

Asked “what Government business has she conducted via her Gmail account”, Curran appeared flustered and claimed she’d answered the question before being told by the Speaker she had to answer it directly – she then required Lee to ask it again. 

Curran answered: “To the best of my recollection, um, ah, ah, I haven’t, um, I haven’t used my, um I’ve answered um OIA, ah, ah, OIA responses and personal, um and parliamentary questions correctly and to the best of my recollection, um, ah, you know, that, that has, that’s what I’ve done.”

It pales in comparison to the email controversy surrounding former United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, during her 2016 presidential run against US President Donald Trump, but has raised similar questions over security and transparency of information.  . .

When you read Nick Smith’s speech in Tuesday’s snap debate about Curren’s sacking, it is easy to see why she might be lacking confidence in herself:

“We have a Minister of Open Government—actually, the very first Minister of Open Government that’s ever existed in this Parliament—and the promise of the Minister of Open Government was to be the most open and transparent Government that this country has ever had, and then what we find out from that Minister is that not once but twice that Minister behaved in a secretive, in a sneaky, and in a dirty way.

“Now, let’s come to the events that have led to Clare Curran’s resignation as the Minister of Open Government. Firstly, we had the incident with Radio New Zealand.

“Let’s understand how important that is. A free, politically neutral media goes to the heart of how our democracy works.

“We are not …  one of those countries where we have a State media that just spins the Government line, like you might get in a North Korea or a Zimbabwe. Here we have Clare Curran having private, secret meetings with the head of news—not some public servant.

“What is the Minister of Broadcasting doing having meetings—secret meetings—with the head of news at Radio New Zealand? There wouldn’t be a member in this House, not even my newest colleagues, that wouldn’t have a feeling that, well, that doesn’t feel quite right. ‘I’m the Minister of Broadcasting; I shouldn’t really be having secret meetings with the head of Radio New Zealand news.’

“But here’s the part that has me gobsmacked: the week after this Parliament admonishes her for being dishonest about the secret meeting, guess what Clare Curran does? She arranges another secret meeting, this time wearing the portfolio as the Minister of Digital Technologies.

“I’ve been here for 28 years. I’ve seen some Ministers goof it up. What I have never seen is a dicky Minister commit exactly the same crime just one week after there’s a massive controversy.

“Now there are only two possibilities here. Either she’s dumb, or she’s dishonest. I’m sorry, there can only be two explanations for that course of events that has occurred. . . 

Dumb or dishonest?

Oh dear, neither of those are qualifications for a minister inside or outside Cabinet and it says little for Ardern’s judgement that she couldn’t see that.

By taking the soft option of demoting Curren from Cabinet but allowing her to stay on as a minister, Ardern has made her a target and bought herself an on-going headache.

And while we’re not he subject of ministers who are out of their depth, this exchange between National’s Chris Finlayson and Labour’s deputy Kelvin Davis is instructive:


Key #1

04/12/2014

Prime Minister John Key is Trans Tasman’s politician of the year:

This year’s 10th annual Roll Call can reveal John Key as its Politician of the Year. It was a straightforward choice. Key has stood head and shoulders above the rest in the polls, and his party romped home in its third election, the third time in a row it has added extra seats as well.

Key polled highest among the Trans Tasman Editors, contributors and their Capital insiders who make up the panel which compiles Roll Call, and despite signs there may be trouble ahead for Key if he is not careful, 2014 was his year.

Of course winning a fourth term will be dependent as much on the party’s support staff and their management as the Parliamentary team. The same goes for Labour as it battles to rebuild after its shattering defeat.

Roll Call says Key is “still phenomenally popular and if he comes through a third term without serious damage, a fourth could be within his grasp. But he’ll have to be careful.”

Trans Tasman’s Editors note “Key has not only performed strongly at home, he has become an international figure as well, cementing his and NZ’s reputation abroad with his election as chairman of the International Democratic Union.”

“However there are clouds. The fallout from the “Dirty Politics” saga continues. It should have been firmly put to bed in the campaign. And Key’s tendency to “forget,” or “mishear” the question is becoming a worrying feature of the way he involves himself in the Parliamentary and media discourse.”

“He has the respect – almost the love – of the voters, he needs to be careful he does not treat them with contempt. A fourth term does beckon, but the PM’s tendency to be just a bit smug, a bit arrogant, and at times a bit childish could derail it.”

“For now he is a titan, but Labour has a new leader and a new sense of purpose, and the next election is a long way away.”

National’s Front Bench performed exceptionally well in 2014, with just a single Cabinet Minister losing ground. Nikki Kaye fell from 6.5 to 6, after the “bright young thing” nearly lost Auckland Central. Roll Call suggests she must work harder.

Steven Joyce adds half a mark, taking the man most see as John Key’s successor to 8. “He doesn’t drop the ball and handles a raft of senior portfolios with calm confidence. Outside Parliament he was National’s campaign manager and must share some of the credit for its victory.”

Bill English, last year’s Politician of the Year, maintained his score of 9 out of 10. He is still “the safest pair of hands in the cabinet. Cautious, dependable and now mostly steering clear of debating chamber rhetoric.”

After a bad year in 2013, Hekia Parata has battled back to take her score from 5 to 7. “Key believes she’s competent and wasn’t going to hang her out to dry. He’s giving her the benefit of the doubt in delivering on a gutsy vision for the Education sector.”

Murray McCully takes his score from 6.5 to 7.5 after putting together the team which won NZ a seat on the UN Security Council and doing many of the hard yards himself, while Maggie Barry gets kudos for fitting in well to Conservation and being who “some say is the most popular National MP behind Key himself.” Her score jumps from 3 to 5.5.

The Ministers outside Cabinet are more average with Craig Foss, and Jo Goodhew, going down in score, Louise Upston and Paul Goldsmith staying the same and just Nicky Wagner boosting her score from 4.5 to 5.

Both support party Ministers, Peter Dunne and Te Ururoa Flavell boosted their scores. Dunne from 4 to 5 “gets a point for coming through a horrible year with his head/hair up” while Maori Party leader Flavell goes from 6 to 6.5. “We’ll make a call and say he’s going to be an outstanding Minister.”

The dubious honour of low score for National goes to Melissa Lee. “Hard working but faded after a good start.”

Among the thoroughly shattered Labour MPs, there was little to write home about. David Cunliffe’s score falls from 7.5-6 after the election defeat. But “history may judge him more kindly than last week’s headlines. Is he NZ’s Kevin Rudd?”

Andrew Little’s star starts to shine though. His score jumps from 4.5 to 7. “No-one is going to die wondering what Little thinks. He’s a tough talking union man from way back who isn’t going to compromise his beliefs.”

Labour’s low scorer is Rino Tirikatene who stays on just 2.5 out of 10. “Do still waters run deep or are they just still? Has had time to find his feet and still no impact.”

For the Greens co-leader Russel Norman is the standout, holding his score on 7 out of 10. “After John Key Norman works the media better than any other party leader… If the Greens had gone into coalition with Labour he would have been hard to handle.”

And of course the old war horse Winston Peters is still there, blowing a bit harder than usual. He boosts his score from 7 to 7.5. “Does he have the will and the stamina for another three years on the opposition benches and a campaign in 2017?”

This year for the first time Roll Call also looks at the impact those MPs who left Parliament at the election had, and it is here we find this year’s low scorers Claudette Hauiti and John Banks, both on 1 out of 10.

As for the numbers:

Of National’s 60 MPs, 30 improved their score on last year, 7 went down, and 10 stayed the same. There were 15 new MPs who were not ranked.

Of Labour’s 32, 12 went up, 8 went down, 5 remained on the same score as last year and 7 were unable to be ranked.

ACT’s single MP was unable to be ranked. Of the Maori party’s 2 MPs 1 went up, and the other was unable to be ranked, while United Future’s single MP improved his score.

The Greens had 3 of their 14 MPs improve their score, 4 went down while 6 remained the same, one was unable to be ranked.

For NZ First 2 MPs improved their scores, 1 went down and 2 remained the same. 6 were unable to be ranked.

Of the National MPs able to be rated this year, 32 had a score of 5 or higher, while 13 scored below 5, while for Labour it had 16 of its MPs rated 5 or above, while 9 scored below 5.

The 2014 roll call is here.

 

 


Subs should have dirty minds . . .

20/05/2009

. . . or at least the ability to spot a double entendre so they spot the problem with a headline like this from TV3:

Melissa Lee turned on at heated Auckland University debate


Feel, Speak, Think – uh oh

14/05/2009

One of the – many – reasons I’d never consider a career in politics is that I have a tendancy to feel then speak and only later do I think.

Of course that means that sometimes what I think is uh-oh as no doubt Melissa Lee did after saying the new motorway might keep criminals from South Auckland away from Mount Albert.

It was a stupid thing to say and she has acknowledged that and unreservedly apologised for saying it.

Of course Labour made a meal of it and is determined to keep dishing it up again. I’m not questioning that because that’s what happens in politics.

The media has made a meal of it too and while I’m not questioning them reporting it I do have some questions about the prominence it was given and the fact it’s still getting it.

I accept that a statement made at a public meeting during a by-election was fair game. But usually in cases like this if an MP admits a mistake and apologises the oxygen goes out of the issue.

Why then was this silly story still leading radio news bulletins all afternoon and why has it just been previewed as the major item for the late TV news, long after the apology was made?

Is this really the most important thing happening in the world today?


Conference no-show cans candidate selection conspiracy theory

09/05/2009

Remember the fuss earlier this week about Melissa Lee being described as the list MP for Mount Albert in the National Party’s Mainland Conference agenda?

Well, now she’s not attending because she’s too busy campaigning.

That supports the view that there was no conspiracy over her selection because had it all been stitched up she’d never have accepted the invitation to speak at the conference in the first place.


No-one ever said democracy is perfect

07/05/2009

From today’s NZ Herald:

“Well you won’t be getting my vote because I don’t think we need any Asians in Parliament,” the pharmacist shot back tartly.

Korean-born Ms Lee, a former journalist who has been in New Zealand for 21 years, asked brightly, “Why not?”

Mr Baird said he had his reasons. “They are very difficult people to deal with. They don’t spend any money. I don’t see that they bring any money into the country. Another problem is their English is very bad.

“You’re all right,” he told the candidate later. “You are almost 100 per cent. But, seriously, we find it difficult, particularly old people. We have Titus here to talk to them.”

Guess how he voted in the last election.


Lee National candidate for Mt Albert

04/05/2009

I’ve been surfing to find the results of National’s candidate selection for the Mount Albert by-election and Kiwiblog is the first with the news that Melissa Lee  has been selected.

Ravi Musuku, the only other nominee, will be disappointed but in spite of conspiracy theories, National has a very democratic selection procedure which gives all votes to its members.

If the electorate has sufficient members who have belonged to the party for at least six months then all those who vote will be from the electorate. If not, delegate numbers are topped up with members from neighbouring electorates.

In spite of conspiracy theories the rules make it very difficult, if not impossible for the board or caucus to influence selection.

In fact, my experience of National Party people suggests that if they were told to vote for a candidate they’d favour another because they don’t like being told what to do 🙂

P.S. National, the party which is often attacked by others for lacking gender and ethnic diversity, is the only one which hasn’t selected a middle-aged bloke of European descent as its candidate.

UPDATE: I credited Kiwiblog as being first with the news but I note that Whaleoil  posted 12 mintues earlier – not that either of them are competitive 🙂


The scoop that wasn’t

04/05/2009

The Herald thought it had a scoop:

National party ‘names’ candidate for Mt Albert by-election

National is holding a meeting in Auckland suburb Mt Albert this evening to select its candidate – but someone in the party has already decided who it is going to be.

The National Party Mainland Conference agenda lists Mt Albert candidate MP Melissa Lee as a speaker.

But it’s the paper that’s got it wrong. I’ve got a copy of the official programme and it says:

Address by Mt Albert’s List MP Melissa Lee.

Note the difference between Mount Albert candidate which she may or may not be after tonight’s selection, and  Mount Albert’s list MP which she is.

The programme notes her position as buddy MP for the electorate which isn’t represented by National, it’s not second guessing the selection process.

Hat Tip: No Minister

UPDATE: TV One news has just given the same story, not understanding the difference between a list MP and a candidate.


It’s a blokes’ race so far

03/05/2009

Labour has selected David Shearer to contest the Mount Albert by-election.

The party has often criticised National for not having enough women MPs, but gender obviously wasn’t enough to sway votes in this selection although I think  – and please correct me if I’ve got this wrong – Helen Clark, who held the seat until she resigned last month, was the only woman to hold an Auckland electorate for Labour after last year’s election.

Labour does have Auckland-based female list MPs.

Act selected list MP John Bowscawen yesterday and Green party co-leader Russel Norman is contesting the seat for his party.

National’s selection will take place tomorrow with List MP Melissa Lee and Ravi Musuku, who contested the seat last year, seeking the candidacy.


Getting the numbers

21/04/2009

Commentators seem to be agreed that Melissa Lee is the favourite to win the National nomination for the Mount Albert by-election.

I have no inside knowledge of her, any other candidates or the views of members in the electorate.

But I do know the party rules and that some favourites have been overtaken in the past by nominees who had a better understanding of what was required –  support from more than 50% of members or voting delegates, in the electorate.

Progressive voting is used so if a nominee doesn’t get at least half the votes in the first ballot the name of the lowest polling nominee is removed and everyone votes again, and if necessary, again until someone crosses the 50% threashold.

Providing an electorate has more than 200 members, and I think  Mount Albert does, it is only the members from the electorate who vote.  The members decide at their AGM if voting will be by universal suffrage or if it’s to be done by delegates with one for every set number of members.

Some high flyers in previous selections have either not understood this or have understood but still failed to win over enough delegates and missed out. David Kirk didn’t get the selection for Tamaki after Rob Muldoon’s retirement because Clem Simich had the numbers

But it’s quite simple. Candidate selection in the National Party, unlike other parties which give at least some of the power to its hierachy,  is grass roots democracy. The winning nominee is the one who wins the support of at least half the members or voting delegates in the electorate and that’s done the old fashioned way by letting them get to know you and convincing them you have the skills and abilities to be a good electorate MP.

John Key has announced the by-election date. It’s June 13th which is also the date Simon and Garfunkel will be playing in Auckland and the All Blacks have a test match in Dunedin., not that either will be relevant becasue both will take past after polling closes.

UPDATE: Lou taylor at No Minister  has another perspective on the by-election


They said this about the list

18/08/2008

Even if the election result is not as favourable for National as current polls, the party list indicates the new caucus will be younger, have more ethnic representation and more women than the current caucus.

Tracy Watkins  says:

The elevation of the newcomers reflects National’s push to put up more women and elect a more ethnically diverse caucus.

Dene MacKenzie  says:

National Party campaign chairman Steven Joyce could be a broadcasting minister in waiting after being ranked 16th on the party’s list, released yesterday.

… A study of National’s list shows an emphasis on areas which in 2005 cost the party the election, particularly in South Auckland.

This election, National will have candidates listed high enough in South Auckland seats to ensure they become MPs, with the prospect of lifting the party vote.

Peseta Sam Lotu-liga (standing in Maungakiekie) has been ranked at 35 and Kanwal Bakshi (Manukau East) is at 38.

McKenzie also notes:

Dunedin health manager Michael Woodhouse looks assured to enter Parliament as a National Party list MP judging from the party’s full list released yesterday.

Mr Woodhouse, chief executive of Mercy Hospital, is ranked 49th on the list, meaning National has to poll, on paper, anywhere above 41% for him to become the list MP based in Dunedin.

Several candidates ranked below him are likely to win electorate seats so to be safe, National would have to poll 43% for him to become an MP.

If he does enter Parliament, he will be the replacement for Katherine Rich, who has been the party’s list MP from Dunedin for the past nine years.

Audrey Young  says:

On current polling, the list would produce six Maori MPs, three Asian MPs and a Pacific Islander in National’s next caucus.

The six Maori would be sitting MPs Georgina te Heuheu, Tau Henare and Paula Bennett, joined by Hekia Parata, Paul Quinn and Simon Bridges. The latter may get in Parliament by winning the Tauranga seat.

Pansy Wong, a sitting list MP, expects to be joined by broadcaster Melissa Lee and Indian businessman Kanwal Bakshi.

The party’s Maungakiekie candidate, Auckland City councillor Sam Lotu-Iiga, has been given an assured place in Parliament at number 35 on the party list.

… There are many variables that determine the number of list MPs allocated to a party, including the number of electorate seats it wins, its total party vote and the number of votes cast for parties that are eventually not entitled to any seats.

But under a scenario that sees National polling 48 per cent (and, say, Labour 35 per cent, the Greens and NZ First 5 per cent, the Maori Party with four seats, and one seat each for Act, United Future and Progressives) and with National keeping the electorate seats it now holds, the party would win another 27 list seats, all the way to number 61 – Marc Alexander, a former United Future MP who will contest Jim Anderton in Wigram.

Some polls suggest there might be even more, but lessons from history and a dose of realism make that unlikely because smaller parties usually get more support during the campaign.


Two board nominations for National list

28/07/2008

National Party President Judy Kirk has announced that the party board has nominated Melissa Lee and Steven Joyce as two of the five list-only nominations permitted by the constitution.

Lee is the host of Asia Downunder and a director of the Asia-Pacific Producers Network.

Joyce is chief executive of Jasons Travel Media and National’s campaign chair. He was the party’s general manager and campaign manager at the last election. He co-founded and was CEO of what is now Radioworks.

I was Otago electorate chair when Joyce was leading the party’s constitutional review and when he became general manager. I enjoyed his dry sense of humour which will be an asset for an MP and his experience of working with volunteers will also be very helpful.

Two sitting MPs – Georgina te Heuheu and David Carter, have already been nominated for list-only places.


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