Demand the debate

12/07/2021

We can quietly accept what the governmet is trying to foist upon us or we can demand a debate:

Leader of the Opposition Judith Collins says New Zealanders are being left out of important decisions by the Labour Government and today she has launched a campaign for Kiwis to ‘Demand the debate’.

“The Labour Government continues to make policy announcements that were never campaigned on and will have a significant impact on New Zealanders.

“From the Car Tax, cancelling promised infrastructure projects, the $785m Auckland cycle bridge, rushed law changes to deliver Māori wards, to the hastily announced oil and gas exploration ban; New Zealanders are starting to feel left out.

Not just starting to feel left out. We are being left out.

“At the same time more than 4000 children are left to grow up in motels, mental health services are in crisis, the Government is looking to criminalise speech they disapprove of and tell you what car you can drive.

“Let’s be clear, Labour was elected on a Covid-19 mandate and nine months later we are still waiting for border workers to be properly vaccinated and MIQ beds sit empty while migrant families wait in desperation to be reunited. We are still last in the developed world for Covid-19 vaccinations. Kiwis deserve better.

“Every week, I’m contacted by thousands of Kiwis who are worried they just don’t have a say in the future of their country anymore. They’re being kept in the dark and their questions go unanswered by Ardern’s Government. So today, we launch the first in a series of billboards on important issues that Kiwis deserve to have their say on.


“The first campaign relates to the Government’s 2019 He Puapua report. Kiwis were never told about it at the time and it was never campaigned on by Labour. It has recently been considered by Cabinet and is being consulted on with a select few New Zealanders.

“The He Puapua report contains recommendations for fundamental changes to our legal, constitutional, and democratic governance arrangements. Changes like separate health and justice systems, separate RMA rules, and separate electoral arrangements. These proposals must be taken to an election so all Kiwis can have their say.

“While they claim publicly it’s not their policy, the Labour Government has already started to implement large parts of He Puapua like Māori Wards and a Māori Health Authority, without the wide-ranging public debate that these changes deserve.

“The Government’s parliamentary majority is not a mandate for Labour to promote their ideological wish list. New Zealanders deserve a say on their country’s future and together we must demand the debate.”

Some background on He Puapua:

In 2019, the Labour-NZ First Coalition Government set up a Working Group to devise a plan to give effect to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

The vision laid out by the Working Group, in the document they called He Puapua, makes wide ranging and fundamental changes to our legal, constitutional, and democratic governance arrangements across New Zealand.

The Working Group behind He Puapua was given two months to draft their plan, and they themselves acknowledged in their plan that they have “been constrained by time, which has hindered our capacity to review and take into account relevant initiatives, policies and laws including recommendations of advisory and other working groups on related kaupapa.”

In line with their terms of reference, the mandate of the working group also ignored New Zealand’s previous position of support for the declaration, our past and present implementation of the Declaration, or whether a Declaration plan or engagement is required. (Pg 1 and 2).

To refresh everyone’s memory of the context in 2010 and the caveats that were put in place, the Declaration was signed in 2010 with the understanding that it:

    • reaffirms the legal and constitutional frameworks that underpin New Zealand’s legal system, noting that those existing frameworks define the bounds of New Zealand’s engagement with the declaration.
    • does not confer the right of veto over Government decisions.

Labour Ministers, and the Working Group, willfully ignored this information, instead choosing to dismiss the context in which the declaration was signed and push their own new agenda.

The Working Group report (He Puapua) was delivered to then Māori Development Minister Nanaia Mahuta in late 2019. Against the advice of the Working Group, He Puapua was never released or acknowledged publicly by the Government at the time, nor was it sent to Cabinet for discussion.

Coalition Ministers in Cabinet were also not aware of it, and it wasn’t raised during the 2020 Election Campaign.

We’ll never know if its release would have made a difference in an election that was both dominated and derailed by Covid-19. But tht it wasn’t suggests those in the know thought it would and would hurt them.

You can find a copy of He Puapua here.

Even though He Puapua has finally been acknowledged as not being official Government policy, nearly two years after it was received by Nanaia Mahuta, Jacinda Ardern’s Government has spent that time implementing numerous recommendations from the report behind your back:

  • Māori Wards in Local Government – Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta progressed legislation under urgency in Parliament, and against official advice, to establish Māori Wards. A recommendation of He Puapua – Pg 54.

The way this was done suggests a government that thinks democracy is only for some of the people.

  • Separate Māori Health Authority – Health Minister Andrew Little has begun work on restructuring the Health Sector to create a two-tier system based on race. A recommendation of He Puapua – Pg 90.

Does anyone seriously think that the millions of dollars that will be wasted on the setting up and administration of a separate authority improve health outcomes for anyone?

  • Education Curriculum – Education Minister Chris Hipkins is currently rewriting the compulsory history curriculum to reflect Māori History, colonization and the effects of power. A recommendation of He Puapua – Pg 38.

History is supposed to help us understand and learn from the past, not indoctrinate us with dogma of the present.

  • Water – The Labour Government established Te Mana o Te Wai, resource management reform that provides a role for Māori in decision-making, and work on Māori rights and interests in freshwater. A recommendation of He Puapua– Pg 66.
  • Land – Department of Conservation (DOC) was consulting on proposals to transfer Public Conservation Land, reform conservation governance to reflect Treaty Partnership at all levels, and provide for the delegation, transfer and devolution of functions and powers within the conservation system to tangata whenua. A recommendation of He Puapua – Pg 65.
  • Infrastructure – Nanaia Mahuta is working to establish four new super entities to manage drinking water and waste water. She is proposing that each entity is run on a co-governance model where half of entity board members will be elected and the other half represent mana whenua. Auckland Mayor Phil Goff has pointed out this will mean the organisation will lack rate payer accountability and risks becoming self-serving.

The proposal is that water infrastructure owned by councils, paid for through rates and uses charges will be taken over by central authorities and half given to Iwi.

These are just a few examples of policy being implemented by Jacinda Ardern and the Labour Government. It would seem that He Puapua is Government policy in all but name.

In the spirit of being open and transparent, National has made its position clear on Labour’s plans. We believe many of their ideas are a step too far.

It is right that we acknowledge and address the wrongs of the past, which is why National continues to support targeted programmes based on need. We can also be proud of supporting initiatives like Kōhanga Reo; Kura Kaupapa Māori; Whare Wānanga and Whānau Ora, just to name a few. These initiatives demonstrate the commitment from National and National-led governments to upholding the Crown’s unique and enduring relationship with Māori.

Maori were wronged in the past and consequences of that are still being felt today but that is neither a reason nor an excuse to implement an undemocratic and separatist agenda.

We are better off addressing the flaws within the current systems that aren’t working for Māori. Ethnicity should not divide us. We are better together.

Putting resources – people and money – into addressing real problems of poverty, poor education and health, crime and other areas where Maori are over represented would do far more for all of us than most, perhaps all, the He Puapua recommendations the government is foisting on us.


Trampling democracy

22/02/2021

Fast forward to a future political cycle when National leads a government with Act’s support.

Neither party campaigned on radical changes to local government legislation but the government decides to make them under urgency.

It introduces a Bill that reinstates the right for residents to petition a council for a referendum on Maori wards and it goes further.

It adds a clause to allow people who own more than one property, a vote for every property whether or not they are in the same local authority area.

It then cuts the Select Committee process form its usual six months to six days and the time to lodge submissions from 20 days to just one.

Adding anti-democratic insult to authoritarian injury it advises groups it knows will support the move six days notice to prepare submissions for the Select Committee and alerts those it knows will oppose the Bill just one day before submissions are due.

Imagine the uproar that would ensue.

The Minister responsible would be pilloried by the media which would also give wide coverage to anyone who took issue with the Bill and the process.

Why then has there been hardly a ripple to the way Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta is doing exactly this:

The Government’s parliamentary process on its Bill to allow Councils to have separate Māori Wards has been a sham, National’s Local Government spokesperson and Electoral Reform spokesperson Christopher Luxon and Dr Nick Smith say.

“Electoral law is important as it determines how we are governed, yet the Government is running a sham process and giving supporters an unfair advantage through the short Select Committee process,” Dr Smith says.

“Labour cut the normal Select Committee process from six months to six days and the time for submissions to be lodged from the normal 20 days to just one day,” Mr Luxon says.

“What’s more appalling is that Councils supporting the Bill were told on Friday February 5 of the Bill’s timeline, that the Select Committee process would be exceptionally short and to prepare to lodge their submissions by February 11.

“Giving those who support the Bill six days’ notice and those opposed just one day would be called insider trading in the business world.”

“To have read the submission on the Bill in the timetable set by the Government, I would have had to read three submissions every minute with no sleep for three days,” Dr Smith says.

“Further, the Labour Chair told the Committee there was insufficient time to consider any amendments to the Bill, raising the question as to why the Government bothered with a Select Committee.”

“Labour is making a mockery of Parliament with this Bill. New Zealanders deserve a better process on the laws that determine how we are governed,” Mr Luxon says. 

The Taxpayers’ Union says the process has been so badly screwed the Bill should be referred back to the Select Committee:

The New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union is condemning Local Government Minister Nanaia Muhata’s decision to give local councils supporting her Māori wards legislation advance notice of the short submission process.

This decision was revealed by National MP Dr Nick Smith during Question Time this week.

Union spokesman Jordan Williams says, “The Minister gave her allies a five-day head start to prepare submissions on the Bill to entrench Maori wards. Meanwhile, members of the general public were given just one day’s notice to prepare for the disgracefully short two-day submission window.”

“The Minister knew perfectly well what she was doing. The decision to warn her mates before blindsiding the general public can only be read as a cynical attempt to manipulate the consultation process and limit the contributions of New Zealanders opposed to the Bill.”

“The Taxpayers’ Union has 60,000 subscribed supporters, thousands of whom would have likely produced personalised submissions on the legislation, had they been given the time. Instead, these voices were effectively silenced while the Bill’s allies were able to spend six days writing screeds for the select committee.”

“If a National Government did a favour like this for corporate special interests, Labour would rightly be up in arms.”

“This is a complete betrayal of the promise of open and transparent government. It shows a complete disrespect for not just the public, but Parliament as an institution. It undermines trust in the Select Committee process and justifies the Speaker stepping in so that public submissions are reopened.”

Local body elections are nearly two years away. There is plenty of time to go through the proper process of consultation.

That her government has a majority is even more reason to follow correct processes.

By using urgency, truncating the submission process and giving her allies nearly a week more to prepare than the Bill’s opponents, the Minister is trampling all over democracy and opening herself, and her government, up to accusations of acting like a dictatorship.

 


Wasting time

12/02/2021

I wasted my time yesterday making a submission on the Bill that seeks to trample’s over local democracy.

I submitted:

I write to oppose the Local Electoral (Maori Wards and Maori Constituencies) Amendment Bill.

The Bill undermines local and direct democracy and I oppose both the manner in which it is being rushed through urgency and the Bill itself.

  1. Local body election are nearly two years ago, that’s plenty of time to let the Bill go through the proper democratic process without ramming it through under urgency. .
  2. Decisions on local government should be made by local people in their own local communities. Aiming to abolish the right of ratepayers to veto decisions by councils to establish Maori wards without a community mandate, as this Bill does is an unprecedented attack on local government democracy.
  3. The percentage of Maori councillors is very close to the percentage of Maori in New Zealand. They got elected on their merits not race, they don’t need this patronsing legislation.  Minister of Local Government Nanaia Mahuta claimed in her media release, “Polls have proven to be an almost insurmountable barrier to councils trying to improve the democratic representation of Maori interests. This process is fundamentally unfair to Maori. Increasing Maori representation is essential to ensuring equity in representation and to provide a Maori voice in local decision making.”That is wrong. A survey carried out by Local Government New Zealand in October 2020, showed the proportion of Maori elected to local authorities is now 13.5 percent. With the 2018 census showing Maori as 13.7 percent of the adult population, there is no under or inequitable representation.
  4. It is racist to suggest there is a single Maori view on rates, rubbish, and other business that local authorities deal with; and that Maori can only be represented by Maori. 
  5. The argument that no veto applies to any other change of wards is irrelevant. Changes to wards are administrative not political; they do not change the voting system which Bill proposes to do. If however, the minister thinks the difference between changes to general wards and the establishment of Maori wards is the problem then legislation should be ammended to allow petitions to veto ward changes. This would enhance democracy not trample it as this Bill does.
  6. Parliament should be focusing on the many far more important issues confronting local government and the country.
  7. This measure was not part of Labour’s election manifesto.

Conclusion

I oppose this Bill because in a democracy the voting system is sacrosanct and needs protecting to prevent those in power from manipulating it. I support local people in local communities making decisions about their local government, not central government running roughshod over the top. I’m not opposed to communities establishing Maori Wards, but the people affected by that decision should have a say in it.

The 78 councils across NZ already have well established obligations, under legislation, to work with Māori and help the Crown comply with its Treaty obligations. They should work out together how best to improve and deepen their relationship.

There is no good reason why this change is so critical and the most pressing priority right now with everything else that is going on in the local government sector.

This Bill is being rammed through under a shameful, arrogant and undemocratic process with no meaningful public consultation.

It didn’t take long thanks to some inspiration from the New Zealand Centre for Political Research and the National Party

Why was I wasting my time?

Because the whole process is a sham, only one day was allowed for submissions and they will be ignored.

So why did I bother submitting?

Because the government should be left in no doubt that this process is an affront to democracy and the Bill itself is unnecessary.

This is the second instance Labour has burned its political capital this week.

Neither National’s attempt to pass a vote of no confidence in the Speaker Trevor Mallard nor this Bill and the way it is being rammed through under urgency may matter to anyone but political tragics now.

But political capital is far easily lost than won and burning some of that precious commodity so early in the sitting year provides the Opposition with the opportunity to keep stoking the fire that will, sooner or later, become hot enough for voters to notice and move away.


Separate wards not needed

05/02/2021

The government’s move to rush through legislation cancelling the right to a referendum on the establishment of Maori wards on local councils is based on a big lie:

The Government is planning to rush through Parliament under urgency retrospective legislation that will cancel nine local referendums on whether or not to establish a Maori Ward in nine local authorities. This will disenfranchise several hundred thousand New Zealanders.

They effectively argue that it is vital to have Maori wards, because without them, racist New Zealanders will not vote for Maori and they will be under-represented in local Government. Nanaia Mahuta said that “Increasing Māori representation is essential to ensuring equity in representation”. This implies that there is a huge under-representation. . .

If you click on the link above you’ll get to Kiwiblog where a graph shows a positive trend with the proportion of local government elected officials who are Maori tripling from 4.2% in 2004  to 13.5% now .

That is only fractionally less than the percentage of Maori in the population.

These people will have stood for a variety of reasons and on a variety of platforms. People will have voted for them for a variety of reasons, which might include their ethnicity.

Why they stood, on which platforms and why people voted for them is irrelevant. What matters is that they were free to stand, did so and succeeded without the assistance of government patronage.

Why then is the government rushing through legislation to cancel nine local referendums on whether or not to establish a Maori Ward in nine local authorities, disenfranchising hundreds of thousands of residents in the process?

The Taxpayers’ Union has the answer to that question:

The Taxpayers’ Union has launched a nationwide petition against Labour’s plan to entrench Māori wards for local councils.

Union spokesman Jordan Williams says, “Nanaia Mahuta’s legislation has nothing to do with equity or justice. It is quite simply an attempt to dominate local politics, guaranteeing more councils will be controlled by Labour-aligned councillors. These councillors will consistently vote for higher rates to fund the pet projects that Labour supports.”
 
“It has been a long tradition that electors can vote on, and veto, fundamental changes to local voting systems. For example, voters get to approve any change from an FPP voting system to an STV one. Labour now plans to disenfranchise voters, overturning convention in order to privilege its local candidates and allies.”
 
“Labour knows perfectly well that new Māori ward candidates will disproportionately come from the political Left. That’s already true for Māori electorate seats and in existing Māori wards and statutory boards.”
 
“In short, the Government is ramming a law change through Parliament under urgency to cancel referenda because they think people will vote the wrong way. It’s a disgraceful hijacking of local democracy that we must oppose with all our strength. We’re calling on ratepayers across the country to add their names to the cause.”

If you oppose the government’s plan to hijack local democracy by ramming a law change through Parliament under urgency to cancel referenda because they think people will vote the wrong way you can sign the petition here.


Discrimination doesn’t solve discrimination

02/02/2021

The government has major problems to address.

Among them are dealing with Covid-19, including issues with border protocols, shortcomings in MIQ and lack of certainty around when and if we’ll get vaccines; the housing crisis; and increasing numbers of people in poverty.

Is it an admission it has no answers to these problems that instead of focusing on these, it is going to prioritise a law change to take away the right for people to petition against Maori wards on local councils?

The government is to introduce legislation to uphold council decisions to establish Māori wards, said Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta who made the announcement in New Plymouth today.  . .

Mahuta said the rules needed to change.

“The process of establishing a ward should be the same for both Māori and general wards. . . “

Maori and general wards are very different – the latter apply to all people in the area, the former doesn’t.

If that difference isn’t a strong enough argument against the change and the issue is that general and Maori wards are treated differently a better solution would be to allow petitions over changes to all wards.

Discrimination isn’t solved by more discrimination, although a lack of Maori wards isn’t discrimination when Maori have the same rights as other New Zealanders to stand in local body elections.

If the issue is that in spite of this there are too few Maori on councils, the solution isn’t special wards, it’s addressing whatever stops more standing for councils in existing wards.

There is no single Maori view that will be given a voice by separate wards but this law change will give some Maori more control over councils with less accountability than general wards provide.

That is another good reason to support the Taxpayer’s Union’s call for the right to petition for recall elections:

Stronger accountability tools for local government will be needed if the Government succeeds in entrenching Māori wards, says the New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union.

Union spokesman Louis Houlbrooke says, “As more councils introduce Māori wards, a significant proportion of our local representatives will be accountable to just one segment of local of voters. This loss of accountability needs to be offset with new accountability tools.”

“An obvious example is recall elections: when a councillor breaks a promise or brings disgrace to their authority, voters shouldn’t have to wait until the next election to vote them out of office. Voters should be able to petition to recall a councillor. Under this model, as practiced in the UK and many parts of the United States and Canada, if the petition reaches a given threshold of signatures a recall election will be triggered for that ward.”

Last year the Taxpayers’ Union, the Auckland Ratepayers’ Alliance, and Northern Action Group jointly released a paper proposing recall elections. It is available at www.taxpayers.org.nz/recall_paper

Disfunction in several councils in recent years provide good arguments for the ability to petition for recall elections. Losing the right to petition against Maori wards is another one.

What makes this worse is that it appears this was on Labour’s agenda before the election but wasn’t in the party’s election policies.

That wouldn’t have made a difference to the outcome but it is a very bad look for a government that aspires to be open and transparent.

 


That was then

07/12/2020

Cast your mind back a few years to when a National Minister sacked Environment Canterbury councilors and appointed a commissioner.

What was the response from the Opposition?

The Labour Party has complained to the United Nations over the continuing denial of democratic elections for Environment Canterbury (ECan) councillors.

“The National government took away the right of Canterbury people to elect councillors on ECan and in doing so denied them their democratic rights contrary to international agreements we are party to,” Labour MP for Port Hills Ruth Dyson says. . . 

Ms Dyson is no longer an MP which may be just as well because Labour is now now in government and look what is about to happen:

Nanaia Mahuta, the Minister of Local Government, has revealed she plans to appoint a Commission in response to governance problems at Tauranga City Council.

The deeply divided council has recently been slammed as being made up of “petty politicians” in “desperate need of progressive thinking”, by Tauranga’s outgoing mayor Tenby Powell. . . 

“I have been closely watching the conduct of the Council for a number of months. I have grown increasingly concerned at the governance issues, and the impact this has on Tauranga ratepayers and significant investment in the region,” she said. . . 

What’s the difference between National sacking ECan councillors and replacing them with a commissioner and Labour doing the same to Tauranga City Council?

That was then, this is now.

This isn’t the first time Labour has done what they criticised National for doing. Labour in opposition had a prolonged protest against the planned Trans Pacific partnership. In government they signed up to, albeit by a slightly different name.

There’s a lesson in this – Opposition MPs should be very careful in choosing which cars to bark at lest they find they catch them in government and have to do with them what they were so critical of their opponents doing when they were in the driver’s seat.


Rural round-up

25/08/2019

Powering up well-beings could power up costs :

Federated Farmers is concerned the call on councils to “power up” the four well-beings re-introduced into local government legislation will pile on more costs for ratepayers.

“Councils up and down the country have lost the battle to keep rates increases in touch with inflation, and debt levels are soaring.  Many can’t keep up with the costs of activities and infrastructure maintenance/replacement that most residents would count as core – water, stormwater, flood protection, local roads, rubbish and recycling collection,” Feds President and local government spokesperson Katie Milne says.

“Yet Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta has just exhorted councils to power up ways communities can realise their ambitions for social, economic, environmental and cultural priorities.”  . . 

Food giant Danone signs deal to grow Waikato sheep milk industry – Andrea Fox:

New Zealand’s emerging sheep dairy industry has graduated to the big league with the launch of a sheep milk toddler formula by global food giant Danone.

Nutricia Karicare toddler sheep milk powder will be 100 per cent New Zealand sheep milk from Maui Milk, which operates two farms on the western shores of Lake Taupo.

And Danone plans to launch a full sheep milk formula range next year under the Nutricia brand. . . 

‘Learn so much about yourself’ at dairy awards – Yvonne O’Hara:

One of Bridget Bell’s goals was to place in the top five of this year’s Southland Otago Dairy Industry awards.

She first entered the farm manager of the year section in 2018 and did not place, but she tried again this year and came second, which she was thrilled with.

Mrs Bell also won three merit awards: The Shand Thomson leadership award; the AWS legal employee engagement award and the Fonterra dairy management award.

”I really wanted the Fonterra award,” Mrs Bell said. . . 

Master farrier keeps his foot in the industry after 51 years – Gordon Findlater:

Brian Wilson (85) is a name anyone in the horse racing industry will recognise. The former farrier can still be found at Riccarton as the club’s plating inspector. On Saturday, August 10, race three in the Grand National Festival of Racing’s first event was named ‘Brian Wilson 51 years a farrier’ in his honour. Gordon Findlater catches up with him

Can you remember the first time you shoed a horse?

I would have been 14 or 15 on the West Coast and one of the guys that did have a horse was Jock Butterfield, who played for the Kiwis, and he wanted to put some shoes on this horse, so they gave me some tools and to this day I feel sorry for the horse. That was my first experience of shoeing a horse.

What was it like growing up on the West Coast back then?

I quite enjoyed it, but there wasn’t a great future. You worked in the forestry or the bush as we called it, or the mines. I came over here in 1951 and that’s when I really got involved in the horses. My brother was an apprentice jockey, so I thought, well, I’ll see how I go, but it wasn’t to be. . . 

IHC hopes for sheep farmers’ support:

This spring, IHC is launching its new Lamb Programme, urging sheep farmers to join with dairy farmers to support people with intellectual disabilities and their families in rural communities.

IHC’s Calf & Rural Scheme was hit hard last year by Mycoplasma bovis, losing half its usual income, in what was an incredibly difficult year for many dairy farmers.

IHC National Fundraising Manager Greg Millar is hoping farmers will now pledge a lamb or sheep to support children and adults with an intellectual disability in rural communities. . . 

The average US farm is $1.3 Million in debt, and now the worse farming crisis in modern history is upon us – Michael Snyder:

We haven’t seen anything like this since the Great Depression of the 1930s.  Leading up to this year, farm incomes had been trending lower for most of the past decade, and meanwhile farm debt levels have been absolutely exploding.  So U.S. farmers were desperate for a really good year, but instead 2019 has been a total disaster.  As I have been carefully documenting, due to endless rain and catastrophic flooding millions of acres of prime farmland didn’t get planted at all this year, and the yields on tens of millions of other acres are expected to be way, way below normal.  As a result, we are facing the worst farming crisis in modern American history, and this comes at a time when U.S. farms are drowning in more debt than ever before.  In fact, the latest numbers that we have show that the average U.S. farm is 1.3 million dollars in debt

Debt-to-asset ratios are seeing the same squeeze, with more farms moving into a ratio exceeding 80%. Barrett notes each year since 2009 has seen an increase in the average amount of total debt among farmers, and 2017 was no exception. Average debt rose 10% to $1.3 million. The biggest increase was in long-term debt, such as land.

Farming in the 21st century has become an extraordinarily risky business, and countless U.S. farmers were already on the verge of going under even before we got to 2019.

Now that this year has been such a complete and utter disaster, many farms will not be able to operate once we get to 2020.

Minnesota farmers Liz and Bob Krocak were hoping for better days ahead as this year began, but things have been really tough and their debts have become overwhelming.  During a recent meeting with their creditors, Liz was so distraught that she literally burst into tears


That was then . . .

18/04/2018

Remember how hard Labour and the Green Party campaigned against the then-National Government’s appointing commissioners to Environment Canterbury?

That was then, this is now:

National Party spokesperson for Greater Christchurch Regeneration has welcomed the decision by Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta to follow the previous National Governments’ approach to keep the current Environment Canterbury (ECan) board.

“Nanaia Mahuta is making a sensible decision to keep the current ECan Board and returning to a full democracy at the 2019 local body election, as the previous National Government had planned,” Ms Wagner says.

“Labour made plenty of noise about the lack of full democracy in Canterbury whilst in Opposition. Both present Ministers Eugenie Sage and Megan Woods led an aggressive campaign to have full elections immediately.

“Yet again, now that Labour is in Government it has abandoned its policy and is continuing with the plan started by National.

“Our long-term approach whilst in Government was designed to improve the standards at ECan. In 2009, the previous Government appointed commissioners to ECan following repeated poor performance by the council in achieving their regulatory requirements.

“Thanks to the hard work of the commissioners and the strong, sensible leadership of Dame Margaret Bazley and David Bedford, Canterbury now has one of the best performing regional councils in New Zealand.

“This has always been about making good decisions for Canterbury. The commissioners were put in to complete the water management plan for Canterbury which had languished under the leadership of the previous council.

“Nanaia Mahuta’s decision shows that the long-term plan started in 2009 has been effective. Half of the members on ECan were elected in 2016 and the plan had long been for the full council to be elected in 2019.”

ECan wasn’t working with elected councillors.

Commissioners have improved performance. Half the board are now elected members and as National planned, all members will be elected at the next local body elections next year.


Mahuta aiming for deputy?

15/10/2014

Nania Mahuta says she’s in the Labour leadership race to win:

Senior Maori MP Nanaia Mahuta insists she’s “absolutely” in the race to win the Labour leadership. . .

But is she really aiming for deputy?

But not all in the party are welcoming Ms Mahuta’s candidacy with some saying it’s PC gone mad that the next deputy must be a woman or Maori. . .

She is both a woman and Maori but neither one nor both of those should trump merit for either leader or deputy.

If she is the best candidate, she deserves to win and given it’s not a particularly strong field she could be.

But if she isn’t the best and wins it could do more harm than good to her, women, Maori and her party.

Labour has more than enough problems without adding to them by adding to it’s reputation for focussing on what doesn’t matter to most people.

Update:

The four nominees for the leadership and those nominating them are:

Andrew Little
(nominated by Poto Williams and Iain Lees-Galloway)

Nanaia Mahuta
(nominated by Louisa Wall and Su’a William Sio)

David Parker
(nominated by Damien O’Connor and Jenny Salesa)

Grant Robertson
(nominated by Kris Faafoi and Rino Tirikatene).
The election will now proceed, with ballot forms being distributed electronically and by post from Monday 20th October onwards. Voting closes and the result will be announced on Tuesday 18th November.


If satirists were choosing the leader

01/09/2013

Imperator Fish thinks David Cunliffe should be the next Labour leader.

I thought that was a genuine view as a member of the party.

But he’s also got a gift for satire and Steve Braunias’ Secret Diary of David Cunliffe made me wonder.

MONDAY

Hallelujah! A new day. A new day for New Zealand. A new day for New Zealand in a new way, and it only added to the excitement when I cut myself shaving with a new razor. I sent out a press release. A crowd gathered. They watched me bleed for New Zealand.

When they left, I got busy. There was a job of work at hand. I bent my head to the task. I applied a dab of Endymoion cologne (a sensual fusion of citrus, spices and leather, $225), ran a Kent switchblade comb (handmade from sawcut resin, $35) though my hair, and looked at my reflection in a pair of Joseph Cheaney shoes (oak bark soles, $895). I liked what I saw.

That left five minutes to kill before the press conference announcing my bid to lead the Labour Party, so I analysed the latest Treasury reports, studied the economic situation in Japan, Ghana, and Sweden, and ironed my Marcoliani socks (cashmere, $117).

The conference went well. A crowd gathered. I felt at peace.

TUESDAY

. . . Met with my own troops. Looked them up and down. Didn’t want to look too closely. Nanaia Mahuta. Louisa Wall. William Sio. Sue Moroney. Someone called Iain Lees-Galloway.

Oh well. It could be worse. Maybe. . .

THURSDAY

Mike Hosking has come out in support of Grant Robertson, and so has Titewhai Harawira.

Poor old Grant. No one deserves that. . .

Just as cartoonists favour certain politicians whose faces lend themselves to caricature, satirists might be biased towards those who make their work easy.

On that basis, if satirists were choosing the leader I think they’d opt for Cunliffe.


Minding the baby

28/05/2013

If a mother took a young baby into a casino late at night she’d be criticised and possibly reported to CYFS.

The debating chamber is hardly any more suitable a place for a wee one with a similar level of noise and artificial light.

If an official complaint was made about Nanaia Mahuta taking a baby into the chamber late at night, it hasn’t been made public but there’s been plenty of justified criticism of her and her party.

Rodney Hide points out that was nothing more than a poorly executed political stunt.

Mahuta complained, saying she was “forced” to attend a late-night Budget debate with her 5-month-old daughter but had to leave before the vote because her daughter started crying.

She complained to Speaker Carter, declaring: “No child should be in the workplace from nine ’til midnight”. Mahuta is exactly right. Babies at night should be tucked up nice and warm in bed. They certainly shouldn’t be sitting in Parliament.

But her complaint to Speaker Carter is grandstanding and false. Mahuta’s workplace is already the most flexible on the planet. It’s not the Dickensian workhouse that she portrays. There is absolutely no need nor requirement for a mum to be with her baby in the debating chamber until midnight.

Not one of Labour’s 33 MPs was required by Parliament’s rules to be in Parliament that night. The only requirement is for a presiding officer and a Government Minister. Two MPs on their own can conduct the business of the House.

Indeed, if no Labour MP had turned up the Budget and associated Bills would have quickly passed. Everyone would have gone home early. And Labour’s absence would not have made one jot of difference. The Budget and all Budget legislation were guaranteed to pass whether or not the Labour MPs turned up. . .

That Mahuta was in the house with her baby late at night was her choice, bad organisation by Labour Whips and/or a sign that none of her colleagues cares about her or her baby.

Whichever is the case it’s a very poor reflection on all of them and it’s done nothing for the cause of mothers in the paid workforce.

Andrei asked: Could a minimum wage, supermarket checkout operator take her suckling infant to her place of employment?

It’s not just a minimum wage worker or supermarket, what other workplace would be suitable for a mother and young baby? A classroom, a hospital ward, a courtroom, a radio station, a restaurant, an office, a factory?

I don’t think so.

Mothers working in few other places except for parliament would be able to take their babies to work, for the sake of the babies and the workplace.

It’s not being baby unfriendly, it’s simply that few workplaces are appropriate places for babies who need what they need when they need it. Late at night that includes quiet and low or no light.

Whatever Mahuta was thinking of it wasn’t her baby and if she was trying to make a political point on behalf of nursing mothers wanting to return to the paid workforce, she’s failed badly.

Instead she’s given ammunition to those who believe babies should be at home with at least one of their parents – for the sake of the babies if not their parents.


Is the baby a political pawn?

22/05/2013

Labour MP Nanaia Mahuta wants more baby-friendly rules for parliament after complaining she had to take her baby into the House during urgency on Friday.

But is it parliament’s problem or Labour’s?

Parties are permitted to have 25% of their MPs absent and Labour could give Mahuta priority. Was there no other MP who could take the late slot on Friday?

The House isn’t unlike a casino with its artificial light and noise. Was there no quieter, darker place for mother and baby than the chamber?

MPs have to be in parliament but they do not have to be in the House. If she had to be in the buildings, why didn’t Mahuta stay in her office with her baby?

Parties can ask for a pair – ie Labour could ask National to take away an MP to cancel out Mahuta’s absence. Did Labour seek a pair?

Ruth Richardson wrote in her autobiography that Labour refused her a pair when she was feeding her baby.

That was about three decades ago.

If Mahuta is using her baby as a political pawn the party hasn’t improved in that time.

Life with a new baby has its challenges under the best of conditions. Trying to balance breastfeeding and full-time work make it even harder.

But the cause of working mothers won’t be advanced by MPs playing silly beggars by deliberately making parenting more difficult for political purposes.


And then there were five

30/11/2011

When Helen Clark resigned the leadership of the Labour Party on election night three years ago, there was no competition for her job.

Phil Goff was handed the worst job at the wrong time.

Leading a party thrown out of office after nine years in government in opposition to a new government and very popular Prime Minister is a thankless task. It was made worse by the ill-discipline and disloyalty of caucus.

In spite of dissatisfaction with him and his leadership, none of his colleagues had the courage to challenge him, preferring him to take the fall for the inevitable election loss.

Now that’s over and Goff has resigned, there are at least five lining up to replace him.

Among those to put up their hands for the leadership or deputy role were David Parker, David Cunliffe, David Shearer,  Grant Robertson, and Nanaia Mahuta, although Mr Goff said he could not rule out other candidates. 

With that many contenders it is possible the new leader won’t be the most popular, but the least unpopular.

 


Increase in women MPs slowed under MMP

25/09/2010

MMP was supposed to help women enter parliament but has it?

Scrubone has a graph which shows the increase in the number of women MPs has slowed since MMP was introduced:

Pre the 1980s, clearly there was an upward trend for many years followed by some stagnation. But after 1978, numbers of women MPs shot up from 5% to 22%.

After the first MMP election however, something strange happened. The improvement has been much slower. Slower than the pre-MMP, and vastly slower than the 80′s and early 90′s trend. So things are getting better, but slowly – that’s point 1.

Now, think about this. Those big gains were made when all MPs were electorate MPs.

Scrubone also found that not only had the increase in the number of women MPs slowed, it was even slower for electorates.

There’s another, very obvious conclusion that can be taken from exactly the same data. MMP has meant that parties don’t need to take seriously the idea of equality anymore. Why bother to get a wide range of candidates in seats when you can just promote them in the list? That to me is a should be listed as a negative.

So is MMP really better for women’s representation in parliament? I see a reduction in the rate of increase that could hardly be more clear, plus a change in behaviour in that women are pushed from electorates into the list.

Is that really progress?

He’s got graphs to show that too . He worked on percentages so this trend has nothing to do with there being fewer electorate seats since MMP was introduced.

MMP has made electorates bigger geographically which makes them more difficult to serve and much harder to balance work and family responsibilities. That could put women off standing, but women MPs hold  some of the biggest electorates.

Rahui Katene is MP for Te Tai Tonga (161,443 square kilometres), Tariana Turia is MP for Te Tai Hauauru (35,825 sq kms), Jacqui Dean holds Waitaki (34,888 sq km),  Anne Tolley holds East Coast (13,649),  Nanaia Mahuta holds Hauraki-Waikato ( 12,580 sq kms),  Louise Upston holds Taupo (9,101 sq kms), Amy Adams is MP for Selwyn (7,854 sq kms) and Jo Goodhew is MP for Rangitata (6,826 sq kms).

Something which may partly explain why more women are on lists than in electorates is  that only three parties, National, Labour and the Maori Party, hold electorate seats so all Act and Green MPs are list MPs.

But that doesn’t explain why the increase in the number of women in parliament has slowed under MMP.

The may be other factors other than the electoral system which have impacted on the number of women MPs since 1996. But MMP was supposed to make parliament more representative and it hasn’t lived up to that promise when it comes to gender balance.


Labour not interested in Maori or provinces

15/03/2009

Is Labour in denial or do they no longer care about the Maori vote and the provinces?

Their ill informed crticism on the extra funding to enable MPs in big electorates, including two of their own MPs, to employ an staff member suggest it’s the latter.

Maori Party leader Tariana Turia didn’t miss the opporutnity this gave her:

For Labour to suggest this is ‘outrageous’ or ‘secret’ is bizarre when they have sat on the same committee I have, year in, year out, hearing about the inequities of this issue”.

“Even more bizarre, when two of their MPs, Nanaia Mahuta and Parekura Horomia, have also been saddled with the burden of travelling across large electorates, and will also receive the extra support”.

“I guess it shows what value Labour places in meeting the needs of the Maori electorates”.

Wee parties might survive with niche support but it’s not good for democracy or the country if a party which is supposed to be a major one writes off Maori and provincial voters.


Wanna know a secret?

13/03/2009

TV3’s expose on the “secret” deal  to fund a third staff member for Maori electorates and general electorates larger than 20,000 square kilomtres was really old news.

Kiwiblog points out, both he and I covered the story when the government announced it in November as part of the coalition deal with the Maori Party.

The shock-horror coverage of old news as a supposed cover-up puts the story in Macdoctor’s spam journalism category.

It also shows that the journalist doesn’t understand that a large part of electorate MPs’ responsibilities are in their electorates; nor that while each electorate has more or less the same number of people in it for a very good reasons , it is much harder to give them the service they require when they’re spread over 10s of thousands of square kilometres than if they’re contained in a city.

The extra money isn’t for the MPs personally, it’s to employ an extra staff member to help their constituents. That it doesn’t appear to be coming with any extra for office space, telephone and other costs means it’s not quite as helpful as it appeared to be at first. But it will still pay for a real human being to assist the people who require the services of an MP and in spite of technological advances like Skype, face to face meetings are what most constituents need when they’ve got problems.

However, TV3 has done us a service by showing us that Labour doesn’t understand the needs of their constituents either:

Labour believes the deal stinks and it is accusing National of secrecy.

Don’t they realise that they still hold two Maori electorates so their MPs get this extra funding too and ought to have known about it since it was announced in November?

What on earth do their MPs Parekura Horomia and Nanaia Mahuta do if they don’t know how many staff members they are entitled to employ?

The table below shows the area of each electorate, colour coded by the party which holds each one. Labour’s ignorance on this issue which shows they don’t understand the needs of people in the larger electortates  explain why there was a blue wash at the last election.

Te Tai Tonga

161,443

Clutha-Southland

38,247

West Coast-Tasman

38,042

Te Tai Hauauru

35,825

Waitaki

34,888

Ikaroa-Rawhiti

30,952

Kaikoura

23,706

Waiariki

19,212

Te Tai Tokerau

16,370

East Coast

13,649

Taranaki-King Country

12,869

Hauraki-Waikato

12,580

Northland

12,255

Rangitikei

12,189

Wairarapa

11,922

Taupo

9,101

Selwyn

7,854

Napier

6,866

Rangitata

6,826

Whanganui

5,948

Invercargill

5,617

Rotorua

5,535

Waikato

4,947

Coromandel

4,653

Tukituki

4,277

Dunedin South

2,702

Waimakariri

1,757

Otaki

1,728

Whangarei

1,628

Hunua

1,266

Bay of Plenty

1,188

Rodney

1,051

Helensville

865

Tamaki Makaurau

730

Dunedin North

642

New Plymouth

579

Nelson

565

Rimutaka

518

Auckland Central

499

Mana

321

Hutt South

311

Papakura

255

Waitakere

254

Mangere

155

Hamilton West

148

Wellington Central

146

Ohariu

130

Port Hills

115

New Lynn

97

Tauranga

89

Christchurch East

78

Palmerston North

46

Wigram

40

East Coast Bays

37

Hamilton East

37

Manurewa

37

Maungakiekie

37

Botany

36

Tamaki

36

Mt Albert

34

Manukau East

31

Pakuranga

29

Christchurch Central

28

Ilam

27

Northcote

27

Rongotai

27

Te Atatu

27

North Shore

25

Mt Roskill

24

Epsom

23


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