Was not naming father fraud too?

July 22, 2017

Metiria Turei admitted she didn’t admit to having flatmates in order to collect a bigger benefit payment.

Rodney Hide at the NBR and Whaleoil have past quotes which show she didn’t name the baby’s father when she not only knew who he was but ensured he maintained a relationship with his daughter and took money from him and his family.

Is that fraud too?

After earlier saying she’d pay back the money if WINZ asked her to, she’s now decided she’ll pay it back anyway.

Will it be just the extra accommodation payment she got or should she, or the child’s father, also be paying what he would have been liable for had she named him and will anyone be looking into whether the help she got from him, his family and her own should have been declared too?

Life on a benefit wasn’t easy back then and isn’t now.

But a lot of people managed then and manage now without committing fraud.

A lot more people work hard to pay taxes.

Most accept the necessity of doing so to help people in genuine need, a lot fewer are happy to support someone who’s getting more than they’re entitled to through fraud.


Knowing right from wrong

July 17, 2017

Green co-leader Metiria Turei has admitted she is a fraudster:

. . I was one of those women, who you hear people complain about on talkback radio.
Because despite all the help I was getting, I could not afford to live, study and keep my baby well without keeping a secret from WINZ.
Like many families who rely on a benefit, Piu and I moved around a lot when she was little.
We lived in five different flats with various people.
In three of those flats, I had extra flatmates, who paid rent, but I didn’t tell WINZ. I didn’t dare.
I knew that if I told the truth about how many people were living in the house my benefit would be cut.
And I knew that my baby and I could not get by on what was left.
This is what being on the benefit did to me – it made me poor and it made me lie.
It was a stressful, terrifying experience. . .

 

Turei isn’t the first MP to admit to benefit fraud, but this one paid it back:

Parliament is a house of representatives.

I doubt there is any MP who has not done something wrong, just as I doubt any of us who aren’t MPs could put our hands on our hearts and say we’ve never done anything wrong.

Doing wrong is one thing, not knowing right from wrong is quite another.

Turei has compounded the wrong of benefit fraud with no attempt to put it right and with the attempted justification: it made me poor and it made me lie.

What does it say about the morals of the woman who wants to be a Minister?

What does it say to people, especially those on low incomes, who work hard and pay taxes to support people in genuine need?

What does that say to all the people on benefits, all of whom are poor, many of whom don’t have the support Turei had from her baby’s father, her own family and his, and most of whom manage without lying?

It’s a similar message to the one in the policy she announced of removing the penalties and obligations on beneficiaries including the requirement for drug testing and sanctions for not actively seeking work.

Most beneficiaries want to get off benefits, many need help to do so which might include a carrot and a few need a stick.

Without sanctions, fathers of children whose mothers are on benefits will have to pay nothing, people who don’t try to get work-ready and actively seek work will be left to languish on benefits and everyone else will pay directly through taxes and indirectly through the social problems including poor health, low education achievement and higher crime that benefit dependency promotes.

Quote of the day on this goes to Act MP David Seymour:

Green Party policy: If you stay at home and smoke drugs all day you get a pay rise. If you get up and go to work you get a tax hike.

Benefits should help those in genuine need.

Some beneficiaries will need permanent help but for most taxpayer help should be a temporary bridge to help them from dependence to independence.

 


Green’s red roots showing

August 9, 2016

Does the Labour Party know about the Green’s proposal to socialise all health services?:

. . . Green Party health spokesman Kevin Hague said he would get rid of private healthcare altogether. 

“I think that distorts the health sector completely and produces a two-tier system.” . . .

This not only shows the Green’s red roots, it also shows a woeful understanding of how the health sector works.

Medical specialists usually work in both public and private hospitals. The work they do in private hospitals, paid for by individuals or insurance companies, takes pressure off public services.

ACC also uses private specialists to get people back to work sooner than if they had to go on public waiting lists.

But private healthcare isn’t just medical specialists in private hospitals. It’s general practitioners, dentists, orthodontists, optometrists, physiotherapists, radiologists, laboratories  . . .

Does Hague really think all these services should be publicly owned and funded?

The Memorandum of Understanding between Labour and the Green Party included a no surprises clause.

Last week Metiria Turei announced the desire to slash the value of houses by 50%. This week Hague is planning to socialise all health services.

I suspect both came as a surprise to their would-be coalition partner.


Price crashes and higher taxes don’t build houses

August 2, 2016

Green co-leader Metiria Turei’s suggestion of dropping house prices by 50% was described by Prime Minister John Key as ‘barking mad’.

It would make some houses less unaffordable but it wouldn’t build more houses which is the only way to solve the problem of too few houses for the number of people wanting to rent or buy.

Crashing prices, no matter how slowly it was done, would reduce existing homeowners’ equity.

That would only be a paper loss for people who had a low or no mortgage. They’d still have their homes they just wouldn’t be worth as much.

For people with large mortgages, whether they borrowed to buy their home, set up a business or to buy other things, a price crash could leave them with no equity at all, or worse still owing more than the value of what they owned.

If they were forced to sell their houses those properties would be more affordable for some people but the sellers would have nothing with which to buy another house. All that would be have been achieved would be previous owners losing to new owners with major damage to the economy and no increase in the supply of housing.

Greens are also keen on a capital gains tax.

I’m not opposed to that in principle, as long as it was comprehensive and other taxes were lowered so the net tax take remained much the same.

But capital gains taxes don’t build houses and in other countries which have them they have done nothing to make houses more affordable.

Meanwhile schools in Auckland are finding it difficult to recruit teachers.

A survey of Auckland’s primary schools paints a picture of severe teacher shortages across the city and at every school decile level.

The struggle to recruit teachers is being described as “a nightmare” by principals who blame it largely on the high cost of housing in the city. . . 

In a statement, the Ministry of Education told RNZ News that it met regularly with Auckland’s principals to respond to their concerns about teacher supply.

A range of potential solutions were being explored, but in the meantime the ministry was working to smooth the way for overseas teachers to work in New Zealand and helping schools which had hard to fill vacancies.

Diane Manners has talked through possible solution with ministry officials said they would help, but only around the edges.

She wanted greater urgency in dealing with the problem, especially with a growing population that will mean more children needing more teachers. . . 

One solution that won’t work is to get an Auckland differential in the pay scale.

Teachers are paid the same wherever they teach. Paying Auckland teachers more would help those who already own a house but it won’t increase the housing supply. What it will do is give teachers more to spend and therefore, like any other measure which increases buying power without addressing supply, further inflate prices.

The housing problem is simply one of supply and demand.

The solution is equally simple – increase supply and/or lower demand.

The easiest way to do that is to build more houses and for some people living in areas of high demand and low supply to move to areas where demand is lower and supply is higher.

That will get supply and demand back into kilter without the collateral damage which crashing prices and increasing taxes would inflict.

P.S.

A Cromwell man has come up with an affordable, albeit compact, answer to more affordable homes:

They are warm, quiet, easily moveable and cost a fraction of a regular house to buy and Cromwell’s master of small spaces, Darryl Taylor, reckons his tiny shipping container homes could help solve Central Otago’s temporary accommodation woes. 

Taylor does admit it requires a mental leap in many people’s thinking to see a big metal box as a desirable home but following much research and experimentation, he says his converted containers are as comfortable to live in as a regular house. . . 

The containers have a “warrant-of-fitness” and are all still cargo-worthy. . . 

Some people wanted new, others liked the rustic look, Taylor said.  Built inside a warehouse, they are issued with a code of compliance from the Central Otago District Council before they go on site.

Considerable research and trial and error had gone into fitting the units out so some details would remain trade secrets, Taylor says.  He had consulted experts in engineering and other fields to help perfect the conversions, particularly in relation to ventilation. Bernice is in charge of painting the units and the pair continue to fine-tuning the finishings.

“We can now fit out a twenty footer in around six weeks and they go out the door fully code compliant. There is no condensation, they’re all double-glazed, insulated and ventilated.  They actually exceed council requirements but you do still need a building consent for your foundations.”

Ship containers were already watertight, bulletproof and resistant to earthquakes and extreme weather.  Inside Taylor added sound-deadening insulation, wooden lining, tiny bedrooms, kitchens and bathrooms of all specifications.  Drop-down decking using an electric winch could be added, or normal decking built on, once the container was in place. . . 

Taylor says he sells the 6m containers for about $42,000 fully converted for small-space living.  

A 12m would cost closer to $75,000 and two this size can be bolted together to form a four bedroom home. . . 


Slower growth still growth

July 10, 2015

Chicken Little would feel right at home with opposition politicians and media who are wanting us to believe the sky is falling.

This season’s dairy payout was low and next season’s might not be much better but banks aren’t going to be forcing farmers out of business.

Providing farmers are prudent and work with their banks they’ll get through.

Dairying is a large part of the economy and those who service and supply farmers will find business tougher as farmers spend less, but the impact of that still won’t push us into the recession some of the gloomier forecasters would have us believe is coming.

Trans Tasman puts it into perspective:

“Complacency” is what Labour finance spokesman Grant Robertson called John Key’s attitude to the economy this week. His leader Andrew Little went further, saying NZ faces a “perfect storm” of economic bad news. Both called for the Govt to do something, although just what remained a bit vague, apart from a generalised call for more spending to stimulate the economy. Key’s “What? Me Worry?” persona can grate at times, but this is all a bit over-egged.

Much of the egging came from the media, of course, with broadcasters being the worst. One has come to expect a certain amount of arm-wavy economic illiteracy from TV news, but what was more surprising was hearing Radio NZ follow suit, discussing the economy as if a recession 
is imminent.

Essentially there is a buy-in to the Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei’s claim the Govt needs to “start spending again” to avoid a recession. It’s a statement which appears oblivious to the Govt loosening the fiscal purse strings in the May budget, and also of the fact no reputable economist thinks a recession is imminent. Rather, it is a slowdown from a bit more than 3% to probably around 2% growth in GDP.

This means both Treasury and the Reserve Bank’s most recent forecasts are wrong, and not in a minor way. The presumption of 3% GDP growth this year, and for the next two years, now looks just that – highly presumptuous.

But it is not a recession. Growth is still happening. It is just considerably slower than expected. Interest rates and the NZ dollar are adjusting – finally – to take account of this.

Growth may be slowly, but slow growth is better than no growth and still, thankfully, there’s no imminent danger of the sky falling.


Quote of the day

March 19, 2015

 At the end of the day I think the member actually does a disservice to the fantastic parents and caregivers out there, the overwhelming bulk of whom actually do provide their kids with breakfast and lunch. They do a damn good job, and the member should stop telling them that they do not. – John Key.

He was responding to questions from Metiria Turei about feeding children in schools.


Strike two

February 18, 2015

Labour has been plagued by political mismanagement under its last three leaders and it hasn’t got any better under this one.

Strike one for  Andrew Little came with the very tardy payment of a contractor. Bad enough in itself from a former union head and at least of bad a reflection on his office:

. . . Any small business owner will tell you that the one thing they really hate is people who don’t pay their bills.

But one of the worst aspects of this is the shocking political management. Someone, anyone on Little’s team should have paid this bill. It was obvious that Cohen would go feral.

Even when Cohen wrote about it in the National Business Review, Labour still didn’t pay, allowing Steven Joyce to expose and embarrass Little in Parliament.

Why didn’t chief of staff Matt McCarten step in and clean up the mess?

All for the sake of $950 and a bit of internet banking.

First strike on the hypocrisy front for Andrew Little.

And strike one for mismanagement.

Strike two was Little’s failure to consult other parties on the membership of the  Intelligence and Security committee:

Climate change targets, deep sea oil drilling, the Trans Pacific Partnership … there are many thorny issues that could divide Labour and Greens.

In fact, all it took was membership of a parliamentary committee and some clumsy manners from Andrew Little.

The Labour leader raised the hackles of out-going co-leader Russel Norman by excluding his party from Parliament’s Intelligence and Security committee, instead choosing David Shearer.

The Green party learned of the decision through the media – Little had not even informed his own chief of staff Matt McCarten.

To further rub salt into the wound, Little then slighted co-leader Metiria Turei by suggesting she could not compete with Shearer’s knowledge, skills or understanding of security issues.

He appeared to under-estimate the Green Party’s anger, quipping “ask them [if they are upset] tomorrow” when pressed on how he would smooth ruffled feathers.

Little’s first mistake was in seemingly breaking the law by not consulting with the other opposition parties. Refusing to take Norman seriously was his second – and the Greens retaliated with fury. . .

Little is right about Shearer being better qualified than Turei or, as David Farrar points out, any member of the Green Party:

 The Greens are effectively opposed to the very existence of the intelligence agencies. Hence appointing them to an oversight committee means that their interest is just to find ways to discredit the agencies, not to play a constructive role in oversight. . .

However, that doesn’t excuse Little’s failure to follow the law in consulting other Opposition parties.

Political leaders don’t get a very long honeymoon, these two strikes signal Little’s is over and that he’s dogged by the problems of mismanagement which dogged the last three Labour leaders.

P.S. the column in which David Cohen raised the issue of the non-payment is here.

. . . What I was being asked to provide was not media advice or training, after all, but to take out a few hours to talk with Mr Little and then independently distill his views as they might sound to an outsider. Mr Matthews seemed to think his man could do with a bit more clarity. 

As assignments go, it sounded offbeat but I’ve taken far odder ones in my time.  . .

As a nosey-parker, too, I was interested to know more about the opposition’s calamitous recent history and perhaps even some of its current internal tensions. 

Happily on that last point, this was something Mr Matthews immediately hinted at with a number of less-than-enthusiastic references to Grant Robertson and Jacinda Ardern, along with a slightly baffling digression on how the party’s fortunes will yet be reversed by installing the MP for Kelston, Carmel Sepuloni, as deputy party leader ahead of the next general election. 

Scrolling back through a number of more recent clips of his television interviews, though, I could see why Mr Little’s friends might feel he needed a touch more clarity. 

Like many trained lawyers, and indeed working journalists, I think he tries to parse tumbling thoughts into cogent words as he speaks. Sometimes this serves him better than others. There were occasions when I couldn’t make head or tail of what he was saying. . .

 The atmosphere was congenial if a touch odd. Nobody had thought to turn the lights on, which lent a slightly film noir-ish air to the next couple of hours.

But the conversation was illuminating enough. We talked about Mr Little’s view of his own personal attributes – a lifetime of private sector engagement, an intimate knowledge of the organisation and a track record for bringing people together – and how these may or may not rejuvenate his party. 

We chatted about his time representing journalists as a union leader. He spoke about his general engagement with the media. 

From there, the conversation moved on to last year’s ghastly election campaign, Labour’s perceived image problems and what seems to me to be the piquant irony of a party claiming the mantle of diversity and yet almost consistently refusing to welcome businesspeople into its ranks. 

Interesting stuff. I wrote up my notes as best I could, and sent them off along with an invoice for the time spent. Both were received with thanks.  

Then came the silence.

Four months, many inquiring telephone calls and gazillions of emails on – as of the time of this writing – I’m still none the financially richer for having taken this oddball assignment.  Not by a bean. I’ve been left feeling rather like a one-man nocturnal performer in a Christchurch insurance office. 

Oh well. Isn’t that how things so often are for we self-employed and small business types grinding away in the engine room of the economy? 

This supports my theory that Labour and unions want to be tough on employers because of their own poor record with employees.

There are bad employers and bad employees but they are the minority. Employment law should not be designed as if all employers and sinners and all employees saints.


Greens aiming for Mana voters

January 27, 2015

Green co-leader didn’t deliver the speech she’d prepared to deliver at the Ratana celebrations but she got the publicity she was seeking from it anyway:

Greens co-leader Metiria Turei launched a stinging attack on John Key in his absence at Ratana today, saying his view of New Zealand’s history was “warped, outrageous and deeply offensive”.

She also said Mr Key was a prime example of the “ignorant, uneducated Pakeha” economist Gareth Morgan had talked about the day before. . .

Ratana elders usually frown upon using the occasion for a political speech, but Ms Turei was unrepentant.

“This is a political event. We need to come here and front up to Maori about our Maori policy, our Treaty policy and explain ourselves. And that’s what I’m doing.”

She said Mr Key had to be taken to task for a “disgraceful way to describe New Zealand’s history”.  . .

The Prime Minister wasn’t there but his deputy was:

Mr English said the Greens were “nasty” on occasion and it didn’t serve them well.

“John Key has developed a very positive relationship with Maori even though there isn’t very strong political support among Maori for National. He has focused on a lot of areas they want him to focus on. So I don’t think the audience will be too impressed by it.” . . .

Nor would those member of the Green Party who take their values, which  include engaging respectfully without personal attacks, seriously.

However, neither the people at Ratana nor Green members were her intended audience.

She was dog whistling to Mana voters.

The chances of Mana returning to parliament now the party doesn’t have an MP are very slight. Turei’s outburst looks like  an attempt to gain its supporters’ attention.

If that’s the strategy it’s a risky one.

Anything aimed at voters from the radical Maori left of the spectrum are likely to scare away more moderate voters towards the centre and make the idea of a Labour-Green government less attractive to both Labour and many of its supporters.

Meanwhile, the Deputy PM showed better manners and a more positive outlook:

Deputy Prime Minister Bill English spoke for National, beginning by acknowledging the iwi leaders at the event and the work of the prophet. The Finance Minister got some laughs when he added that he was also interested in another type of ‘prophet’ – “profit. The one we can tax.”

Mr English also spoke about the privilege he had to be involved in Treaty settlements. He acknowledged Dame Tariana Turia, who was sitting on the paepae, saying he would miss being nagged by her. He said he would also take care of ‘your baby, Whanau Ora.”

He also referred to the relationship with the Maori Party and Maori voters’ preference for Labour.

“They’re not waiting for the government you want – they’re working with the Government you’ve got.”

He said there had been gains under that.

“We’re a long way forward.”

He also nodded at Ratana’s allegiance to Labour. “There’s been discussion about how Ratana votes, we’ll get to that in three years’ time, because there’s young Maori there who need us next week.”

While the Green Party is seeking headlines in opposition National is working with the Maori Party, and other coalition partners, to make a positive difference for all New Zealanders.

 


Environment not Green priority

August 20, 2014

The Green Party has confirmed the environment isn’t their priority, it’s their socialist economic and social agenda which matters most.

Green co-leaders Russel Norman and Metiria Turei want to be in a full coalition with Labour and have senior Cabinet positions that reflect their party’s priorities, social justice and the economy. . .

They’ve always denied the accusation of being a watermelon – green on the outside, red inside. But confirming the environment isn’t a priority proves they are.

The thought of Green MPs in senior cabinet positions, and sharing the position of Deputy Prime Minister will not be attractive to many Labour voters and will be even less so to Winston Peters.

Throw Internet Mana and their puppet master Kim Dotcom into the mix and a potential Labour-Green government becomes even more expensive and unstable.


Gotcha doesn’t get voters

July 29, 2014

John Armstrong writes on the disease of gotcha politics:

It sure ain’t pretty. It sure ain’t enlightening. It is most definitely insidious. It is a creeping cancer of the New Zealand body politic.

Regardless of whether it is John Key or David Cunliffe who has the numbers on election night to pick up the reins of power, so-called “gotcha politics” is almost guaranteed to be the big winner of the 2014 election campaign.

If it is voters will be the losers.

“Gotcha politics” is all about focusing voters’ attention on the gaffes and mistakes of opponents rather than trying to win the election by winning the battle of ideas.

It is personality-based politics, not issue-driven politics. It is all about wrecking your opponents’ campaign by landing major hits on their credibility.

It is also negative.

That’s what makes Labour’s exhortation to vote positive so oxymoronic because they’ve spent so much of this parliamentary term being so negative.

At its worst, gotcha politics can be an old-fashioned witch-hunt dressed up in modern-day notions of accountability. None of this new, of course.

What has changed is the extent and intensity of gotcha politics.

Even the Greens are not immune. Last Friday, that party joined others in stressing its campaign would focus on the issues, rather than the sideshows.

Was this the same Green Party whose co-leader Metiria Turei had spent much of the week demanding a prime ministerial apology for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs blunder regarding the granting of diplomatic immunity to a defence attache at the Malaysian High Commission charged with sexual assault?

No matter that various apologies had already been forthcoming. No matter that the State Sector Act and the Cabinet Manual set clear boundaries to prevent ministers interfering in operational matters – thereby begging the question of exactly what John Key was supposed to be apologising for. No matter that the Greens had politicised the whole affair to the point of jeopardising the prosecution of the Malaysian official.

When politicians get ahead of the judicial process justice for both the victim and the accused are the losers.

It is unfair to single out the Greens. Both National and Labour are just as guilty, if not more so. National’s being in Government makes it more likely to be a target of such attacks, however.

One reason “gotcha politics” is becoming more endemic is that Key has neutralised so many issues that Opposition parties are having to resort to personality-based attacks to make any kind of impact.

It’s the Opposition’s role to hold a government to account but it should be able to do that on issues rather than personalities.

If it can’t then it is not ready for government.

The other major factor is conflict-driven news media. The seemingly insatiable 24-hours-a-day appetite of internet news sites means quality has to be sacrificed for quantity when it comes to investigations and analysis.

In these circumstances, it is temptingly easier to manufacture the news through the media playing their own version of gotcha politics by trying to catch politicians out.

And an election campaign provides the happiest of all hunting grounds for such practices.

I am sure this is one of the reasons so many people are disenchanted with politics and that voter turnout is dropping.

Serious analysis and intelligent debate of issues has been replaced by a focus on personalities and sideshows.

Gotcha politics might be entertaining but it doesn’t get the majority of voters, on the contrary it turns many off.

 


Winning team won’t necessarily be winner

June 29, 2014

A party enjoying poll ratings which show it could govern alone might be in danger of complacency.

There is absolutely none of that at the National Party conference where the very clear message was

Prime Minister John Key told Patrick Gower:

. . . I know the polls look strong for us. And I know on the 3 Reid Research poll we’ll be able to govern alone and I’m really personally desperately hope that’s what election night looks like. But you and I both know it’ll probably be tighter than that and there’s every chance that we don’t win.. .

Chris Finlayson and Steven Joyce gave a similar message to the conference:

. . . Attorney General Chris Finlayson talked about the “hydra” this morning that grows new heads when the old ones are chopped off.

“Cut off Phil Goff and up shoots David Shearer and Hone Harawira. Saw off David Shearer and up springs David Cunliffe and Laila Harre.

“The fragmentation on the left hasn’t made the hydra weaker,” said Mr Finlayson “only more unstable if it can force its way into power again.”

Campaign chairman Steven Joyce warned delegates that the campaign was “still a little puppy” and that anything at all could happen in the next 84 days before the election – the wackiest thing imaginable, he said.

“A retired Maori activist who has become an MP working with a hard left unionist and let’s just throw in a wealthy German millionaire right-winger, they could form a political party,” said.

“That’s the sort of wacky thing that could happen between now and September 20.

“If Laila Harre, Hone Harawira, Pam Corkery, Kim Dotcom, Russel Norman, Metiria Turei, David Cunliffe, Matt McCarten, and John Minto are the answer, can we please have another look at the question?” . .

National’s got a winning team but it’s up to voters to decide whether to give the winning team the support it needs to  be the winner, or whether they’re going to trust government to the hydra on the left led by a weak Labour dominated by the Green, NZ First and Internet Mana parties.

With less than three months to go, there's no room for complacency. Join #TeamKey today.  http://mynational.org.nz/support


Left’s getting crowded

May 30, 2014

National has been a victim of its own success as its popularity makes it difficult for potential coalition partners to gain traction.

Labour has the opposite problem, the left’s getting crowded and the Internet Mana Party has added to the crowd on the far left:

Although the IMP’s aim is to get rid of National, it is competing with other parties trying to do the same thing and the Green Party is most at risk.

. . . Ms Harre has been a Labour Party member, a founding member of the New Labour Party, an Alliance Party MP and was a Green Party staff member up until last December.

She has most recently worked for the Council for Trade Unions on their get out and vote campaign – experience she will take to her new role.

Ms Harre says getting young people to vote is a key reason she is returning to politics.

That puts her and her new party in direct competition with the Greens for that vote. Every election campaign the Greens run their own Get Out The Vote campaign, and their support base has always included a lot of young people.

The slick branding of the Internet Party, and the cult status of Kim Dotcom, must surely have some appeal to the voters that both parties want.

When asked for comment on Ms Harre taking on the Internet Party leadership, Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei was diplomatic, saying Ms Harre could do what she liked and that the Greens are focussed on their own party.

But there will be some nervousness within the Green Party ranks about Internet-Mana eating into their party vote. . .

The Internet-Mana alliance poses a threat to at least part of their support, and they’re disappointed at Ms Harre’s decision to opt to stand for a rival political party. . .

Once more the Green party is a victim of its radical left agenda.

If it was strong on environmental issues but moderate on social and economic ones it would be in a powerful position in the middle of the political spectrum able to work with National or labour.

But its radical policies put it at the far left where it’s now got another competitor.

The flipside is that she also has experience of being part of a political alliance which spectacularly blew itself apart; she admitted to Mary Wilson on Radio New Zealand’s Checkpoint programme that alliances can be tricky things.

However, she says she and her new colleague, Mana leader Hone Harawira, have a strong mutual respect for each other. That may be so but there is a third person in the relationship – Mr Dotcom.

Ms Harre says she initially turned the job down but a meeting with Mr Dotcom made her rethink her decision.

She says she already had an impression of Mr Dotcom as a thoughtful, intelligent man and meeting him confirmed that. She insists she has no view on the fact that he is wanted in the United States on piracy charges.

It’s hard to believe someone with strong opinions like hers has no view on this and it calls into question her principles and judgement.

This is where the credibility of the new political vehicle falls down. It looks too obviously like a marriage of convenience. Mr Dotcom wants to bring Prime Minister John Key down, the Mana Movement needs resources and Ms Harre has unfinished business in politics. . .

Mr Key says Mr Dotcom is using the vehicle of the Internet Party and MMP to get a few MPs into Parliament so they can overturn his extradition charges, and he believes New Zealanders will see through that.

Mr Key continues to paint Labour and the Greens as the radical far-left opposition, and the addition of the Internet-Mana Party, will just add more fuel to those accusations.

What it does mean for the left, even though there’s likely to be some shifting around of support, is that there is the potential for a Labour-Green-Internet-Mana block to present a Government in waiting. . .

To oust National there’s no point swapping votes round the left. They have to grow the left block.

That is very hard to do from the far left and the addition of the IMP – and thought of David and the GIMPs – could well do the opposite.

It could  scare people from the right of Labour and centre over to National.


Political playground

April 8, 2014

Trans Tasman takes politicians back to school:

Hone Harawira, one suspects, used to specialise in Chinese burns and other playground tortures when he was at school. The Mana Party leader has the kind of air about him redolent of such schoolyard antics. John Key was probably the cheeky kid who cracked enough jokes to be popular with the other kids but who nevertheless did his homework assiduously and kept on authority’s good side. David Cunliffe was the greasy goody two shoes, bright, geeky and probably a bit of a sneak. Peter Dunne – swotty pants. Russel Norman – ditto, but a more argumentative version of the same. Metiria Turei: the slightly flaky party girl (a bit like Paula Bennett, in fact).

We had classic playground diversion stuff this week when it was suggested Harawira is the lone electorate MP Kim Dotcom has signed up to his party. It’s not me, sir, Harawira protested – pointing indignantly to the class swot Peter Dunne sitting quietly in the corner. Key of course has rubbished the idea his support partner might be in talks with the Internet pirate who has promised to bring the Prime Minister down. “Not a dog show,” the PM laughed, which prompted a few to remember the Country Calender spoof about the remote controlled sheep dogs, and to ponder Dunne’s resemblance to a slightly affronted Scottish Rough Collie.

Former Labour leader David Shearer – the decent kid  everyone used to pick on – is the other candidate who has been suggested, but this looks even less likely than Dunne. Dotcom has historically held a somewhat awkward relationship with the truth which has occasionally brought him to the attention of the authorities. This looks like another of those occasions. . .

An awkward relationship with the truth, may or may not apply to the 2000 members his Internet Party claims to have.

It’s applied to register as a political party.

. . . Following registration the Internet Party will need to submit its rules providing for the democratic participation of members and candidate selection within the time period specified by law. . .

It’s constitution is here but Russell Brown raises questions on whether they allow for democratic participation by members:

1. There is a special role called ‘party visionary.’ This is defined as Kim Dotcom, or a person selected by Kim Dotcom. THis visionary has the automatic right to sit and vote on the party’s executive and policy committee and cannot be kicked out by the membership.
2. To stand for election to the party’s executive, in addition to being nominated by current members of the party you’ve got to be nominated by a current member of the National Executive. This locks in the incumbents.
3. The party’s executive has nearly unfettered control over the list: they put together an initial list, send it out to the membership to vote on, and then they ultimately decide what the final list should be having regard to the member’s choices.
4. The national executive chooses who stands in what electorate. No local member input at all.
5. The party secretary has a very important role (eg they get to solely arbitrate over disputes; they set out the process for amending the constitution, they decide the process for electing office holders; they’re a voting member of the National Executive). The only problem is they’re legally an employee of the party’s shell company, meaning that it is very hard for the members to exercise democratic control over the secretary (you can’t just fire an employee).
6. On a related note: the way the Internet Party is structured is so all its assets are kept in a shell company (Internet Party Assets Inc), away from the party itself. I don’t know what the purpose of this one was TBH. (the rules of this company were meant to be attached to the constitution in a schedule, but as far as I can see they’re not there)
7. They’re using the old ‘vote in Parliamentary caucus’ decides leader method. To be fair, most parties use this though. There is a bit of a quirk though that until we know their list we don’t know who their party leader is, because if they’re outside of Parliament their party leader is just whoever is at number 1 of the list. (I also note there’s no way to remove a leader if they don’t have representation in Parliament).”

Not so much of, for and by the members as of, for and by Dotcom.

But the silver lining to the Dotcom cloud is that every bit of media attention he’s getting – and he’s getting a lot – is less for the rest of the opposition.


Norman helps National again

March 30, 2014

Undecided voters in the centre generally don’t like parties on the extremes of politics.

They don’t wholeheartedly support National or Labour but they prefer them to those at the more radical end of the political spectrum.

They are more likely to favour a stronger major party because of that, knowing that any of the wee parties which are needed to form a government will have a lot less leverage.

That’s one reason labour is struggling.

Some who might support it aren’t at all keen on the thought of the influence a Green Party with a third as many MPs as Labour would have.

Any flexing of muscles by the Greens might appeal to its supporters but it sends those to the right of the left and in the centre further right.

Russel Norman’s announcement he wants to be deputy Prime Minister will excite his party’s grass roots but it will scare a lot of undecided and swinging voters.

Green Party co-leader Russel Norman wants to be deputy prime minister if Labour and Greens become government after this year’s election.

Any cabinet formed after the September election should be proportional, and the deputy prime minister role would certainly be on the table, Dr Norman told The Nation today.

“Obviously it depends on the size of the vote,” he said. . .

Keeping talking like that, Russel, it will hurt Labour and help National.

P.S.

Does this ambition on Norman’s part expose the nonsense of co-leaders. After all, if he and Metiria Turei are truely equal as leaders, why would he be deputy PM ahead of her?


Why stop at $15?

February 25, 2014

Labour Minister Simon Bridges announced the minimum wage will increase from $13.75 an hour to $14.25.

 . . The Starting-Out and training minimum wages will increase from $11 an hour to $11.40 an hour, which is 80 per cent of the adult minimum wage.

“Setting these wage rates represents a careful balance between protecting low paid workers and ensuring jobs are not lost,” says Mr Bridges.

“The increase announced today balances the needs of both businesses and workers and will have minimal impact on the wider labour market and inflationary pressures.

“This increase will keep the minimum wage at around 50 per cent of the average hourly rate, which is the highest rate in the OECD.

“The Government is firmly focussed on growing the economy and boosting incomes. Through our Business Growth Agenda we are creating opportunities to help grow more jobs in New Zealand, for New Zealanders.” . . .

That nearly half those surveyed think that’s not enough goes to show most people don’t understand the issues.

The only sustainable way to increase wages is by economic growth.

Without an increase in productivity and profit, an increase in wage rates will result in a decrease in job numbers.

The Green Party doesn’t understand that.

The Greens would have immediately raised the minimum wage to $15 an hour, Green Party Co-leader Metiria Turei said today. . .

Why stop there?

“Around 125,000 kids live in families where the adults earn less than the living wage. It is in the government’s hands to end poverty for working families and improve the lives of those kids. . .

Those families get Welfare for Families through which those with two children pay no net tax until they earn $50,000. Any increase in their pay will reduce their welfare. That’s less money from public coffers but they’ll be no better off and could be worse off if jobs are lost.

That living wage is an arbitrary figure and last week’s increase in it was based on different methodology from the original figure:

The ‘new’ living wage has shifted the goalposts and appears to be more about politics than public policy, says BusinessNZ.

Last year the living wage campaign said $18.40 should be the living wage, calculated on the basis of the living costs of a family of four.

The promoters now say the living wage for this year should be updated to the higher rate of $18.80.

“But the report shifts the goalposts,” BusinessNZ Chief Executive Phil O’Reilly said.

“The increase from $18.40 to $18.80 is not based on the same methodology as last year.

“Using the same methodology, for the same family of four, would show the new living wage should really be $22.89.

“If last year’s formula said $18.40 was needed for a living wage, and the same calculations now show $22.89 is required, why isn’t the campaign seeking $22.89 an hour?” Mr O’Reilly asked.

“Either the original calculations were flawed, or the campaign is just picking numbers out of thin air.”

Mr O’Reilly said decision makers could not have confidence that the living wage figures were soundly based.

“This switch in the figures used is important for taxpayers and ratepayers who are being asked to pay for the campaign. Wellington ratepayers are now funding the living wage policy for council employees and taxpayers would be funding it for all government employees under Labour Party policy.

“There can be no confidence in a living wage proposal set on an arbitrarily changing basis.”

The whole concept of a living wage which decrees everyone should be paid enough to support a family of four, regardless of what the work they do is worth, is flawed.

For the record, all our staff are paid more than the minimum wage.

That’s a decision we make in negotiation with them taking into account their skills and experience, what they’re required to do, the value of all of that and what the business can afford.


Hypocrisy nothing to do with race

January 31, 2014

Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei is accusing East Coast MP and Police Minister Anne Tolley of racism after remarks in parliament yesterday.

. . . Speaking during the debate on the Prime Minister John Key’s opening statement to Parliament, Tolley said she was insulted by Green Party claims that she was out of touch.

She said said her role as an electorate MP included meetings with constituents who were among the poorest in the country.

“I’m actually insulted to be lectured about how out of touch I am with average New Zealand by a list MP who has no constituents, lives in a castle and comes to the House in $2000 designer jackets and tells me I’m out of touch,” Tolley said. . .

Asked about Tolley’s comments, Turei said racism was behind the attack.

“I’m shocked that the National Party would attack me and my home and my appearance. I think it is a racist attack,” she said.

“I think they seem to think it is all right for them to wear perfectly good suits for their professional job but that a Maori woman from a working-class background is not entitled to do the same. I think it is pure racism.” . .

Rubbish.

She was being criticised for hypocrisy, her race had nothing to do with it.

Opposition MPs, and the left in general,  like to think they are champions of the poor and the only ones who understand poverty.

What they don’t understand is that many on the right have been poor but they’ve done something about it.

Two excellent speeches in parliament this week provided very good examples of that.

One from one of the longest serving MPs, Act’s John Banks, the other from National’s newest MP, Joanne Hayes.


Always a risk with candidates

December 2, 2013

No matter how rigorous selection processes are, political parties run a risk with candidates.

No matter how good their credentials are and how well they appear to fit what a party needs when they’re selected, there’s always a danger they won’t stick to the party script.

At best they might not campaign well enough to win votes and they might even lose them.

The danger of rogue candidates is particularly high in seats they’re unlikely to win because it can be harder to find people willing to stand in them unless there’s a good chance they could get list seats.

The risks are bad enough for bigger parties with good back up from MPs, experienced volunteers and the party machine.

They are even greater for wee parties where the talent pool is much shallower and MPs, volunteers and party machine are stretched much more thinly.

It appears that at least some in the Green Party weren’t happy with the way their candidate David Hay performed in 2011.

That could be fair enough – standing for parliament takes a fair bit of self-confidence and candidates’ opinions of themselves can sometimes be considerably higher than that of others.

What doesn’t seem fair, if his version of events is accurate, is the way the party handled the matter:

David Hay today revealed the reason for his leadership challenge, saying that Metiria Turei and Russel Norman had betrayed the core principles of the Green Party and should resign as co-leaders and MPs.

Outside the Green Party offices in Auckland this afternoon, Mr Hay gave journalists a print-out of emails that had passed between himself and Jon Field, the party’s General Secretary, following his interview for the candidate pool. A copy is attached to this release.

The emails reveal that Megan Salole, the Green Party’s 2011 Campaign Manager, had recommended in her secret post-campaign debrief report that Mr Hay should not be accepted into the candidate pool for the 2014 election.  

Mr Hay said “I couldn’t believe the party would allow a recommendation like that to be made, without first raising concerns with the candidate directly and trying to resolve them. I made a formal complaint, which was properly investigated. The party has acknowledged that I was denied natural justice, and has apologised.” 

“But this also raises serious questions about the party’s leadership.  Metiria and Russel must have read that report, and must have known about the recommendation. At no time in the past two years have they, or anybody else, attempted to discuss their concerns with me and try to resolve any perceived problems.”

Two years is a very long time to let something like this fester.

“Metiria and Russel’s actions and omissions in this case have been contrary to the core principles of the Green Party charter principles of appropriate decision making and social justice, and the party’s values.”

“What also concerns me about this is the political risk they took and the folly of their actions.  I these two, with others, set a trap for me two years ago and then sprung it during the candidate selection process.  I can’t understand how they thought that was going to play out. It was a stupid, stupid thing to do.”

“I have completely lost confidence in Russel and Metiria’s ability to lead the Green Party. I no longer trust them or believe what they say. Neither should party members, or New Zealand voters. That is the real reason behind my leadership challenge” said Mr Hay.

“The Green Party is better than this” said Mr Hay. “We have many good, hard working, people in the party who uphold its principles and values. We don’t need these two any more. It is time for them to go.”

This tweet raises a good question about that:

That question aside, the party prides itself on its democratic processes and transparency.

If this version of events is true that’s an idle boast.

If it’s not, it shows the risk parties run with disaffected former candidates.


House ownership has never been easy

September 30, 2013

The Herald has a story on MP’s buying their first houses.

Two points stand out – prices were lower but interest rates were much higher than they are now; the first step on the housing ladder often has to be modest.

Housing Minister Nick Smith:

. . .  bought his first home, a former state house in Riccarton, Christchurch, in 1985 while he was a 22-year-old at Canterbury University. He paid $24,000 for it, just before interest rates “went through the roof”, hitting 24 per cent.

“As a consequence, I spent the holiday building a new room on to it so I could get a new flatmate to pay the mortgage.

“I confess I was capitalist and I thought the economics worked in getting into the property market early, getting a heavy mortgage and trying to service it with four flatmates,” the minister said. . .

Auckland mayor Len Brown:

. . . recalls the difficulty of securing finance, and the cost of it, with interest rates of up to 23 per cent. “It was terrible. I don’t know how anyone ever owned any homes at all in those days,” the mayor said.

He believed the challenges in getting finance meant it was as difficult 34 years ago as it is now for first-home buyers. Back in the late seventies, “there was probably more housing available at relatively better prices”.

“Now it’s difficult because of the way prices are generally and because you’ve got to put together a 10, 15 or 20 per cent deposit.

“But the one thing I will say is if you’re prepared to start at a practical and realistic level in a community that you can afford, then you can still get a house, whether it’s an apartment at $200,000 or a standalone house at $350,000 to $400,000. That’s still available for you but you can’t afford to be too choosy.”

Justice Minister Judith Collins makes the same point:

. . . With interest rates around 20 per cent, it was “a huge struggle” to make payments.

She accepts it is difficult now, and says first-home buyers should be prepared “to buy a place that needs to be done up and to have a first home that may not be your last home”.

“I moved into a two-bedroom flat, I didn’t move into a five-bedroom mansion.

“What you have with your mum and dad is probably not what you’re going to get for your first home.”

It has never been easy to buy a house – high interest rates on lower mortgages were as least as difficult to service when these people were paying off their first homes as lower interest rates on higher-priced houses now.

Then we have Green co-leader Metiria Turei:

. . . She and her family left Auckland in 2002, partly because of the cost of housing on an MP’s salary.

She says there were good homes available in Dunedin for $140,000 to $180,000 when she was house hunting.

But her bank wouldn’t lend her less than $200,000 as she had no deposit and had to take out a 100 per cent mortgage.

She couldn’t cope with the cost of housing on an MPs salary and had no deposit saved?

That is a very sorry reflection on her financial management and a chilling reminder of how dangerous she could be in government.

People who can’t manage their own money shouldn’t be taking and spending other people’s.


Greens adopt one policy for all

April 3, 2013

The Green Party has adopted a single policy statement to fit all situations.

Co-leader Russel Norman said the policy to have a single policy statement was consistent with the party’s policy on waste minimisation.

“We’ve decided there’s no point spouting forth, cluttering up the airwaves, clogging up bandwidth or cutting down trees to produce multiple policy statements when no-one takes any notice of them,” he said.

“It’s a waste of resources which is contrary to our philosophy and principles.”

Co-leader Metiria Turei said the new policy was entirely consistent with the party’s global warming policy.

“We’re worried about hot air and don’t want to be contributing to any more than we absolutely have to,” she said.

“We took baked beans off the breakfast menu but felt we had to do more  – or rather less – and our single policy statement is doing that.”

When asked what the new single policy statement was, the pair clasped hands and said in  unison, “They will have to stop the asset sales.”

“We’ve been saying that since before the last election. We like the sound of it and can’t think of a single situation where it’s not an appropriate statement,” Ms Turei said.

“It will also save us having to think up any policies for the next election which is also consistent with our energy conservation and waste minimisation policies,” Mr Norman added.


Herstory of Waitangi

February 8, 2013

Trans Tasman has suggests the history of the Treaty of Waitangi might be being re-written as a herstory:

There’s a generation of school kids growing up under the impression the Treaty of Waitangi was signed between Governor Hobson and Titewhai Harawira.

This is not so much an indictment on our school system: more on the way Harawira manages to plant herself at the epicentre of our annual national day.

It isn’t clear quite how this happened. True, she managed to make Helen Clark cry, and for some of us there’s always a hope Titewhai – who has become a sort of Kiwi version of a fierce Wodehousian aunt as imagined by one of the more bizarrely gothic Dutch painters – would have a similar impact one of Clark’s successors. There doesn’t seem much chance with the current lot.

If she were to try such a stunt today, John Key would either declare himself relaxed about it, or just have one of his memory lapses. Labour’s David Shearer probably would not notice, unless a staffer or his autocue told him about it. NZ First’s Winston Peters and Act’s John Banks would respond with inarticulate belligerence, and United Future’s Peter Dunne probably with a milder, if more articulate, form of same.

The only ones discombobulated would be Green co-leaders Russel Norman and Metiria Turei: they are more used to being part of protests than being on the receiving end of them.

So what does Waitangi Day, our national day, tell us about ourselves – you know, apart from the fact we are suckers for being bullied by stroppy old ladies?

Well, we’re still working on this treaty stuff, and we’re not very comfortable about the whole race issue. But also we’re not ignoring it and we’re kind of muddling our way through it all, if a little noisily and apologetically.

Apropos of understanding the history of the treaty, I have to confess that I went through school under the impression it ended the land wars.

It was only when I did a New Zealand history paper at university that I learned that wasn’t the case.


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