Rural round-up

December 9, 2019

Rural rates chan pulls tighter – Richard Rennie:

The Federated Farmers rates report for the year has highlighted the continuing ability of council rates to outstrip other cost indices, with property owners experiencing a 170% increase over the past 20 years.

That rise has left standard cost indices for dead, even when compared to typically high-rising products like alcohol and tobacco, Federated Farmers president Katie Milne said.

Those two products rose 120% over the same period, with significant tax increases on them through that period.

Food prices increased 50% over the same period while transport costs went up 30%.

Farmers are desperate for a handbrake on rates rises but concerned councils appeared to be signalling further rises are likely. . . 

Minister failing to give farmers the facts:

Damian O’Conner has badly let down rural New Zealand by not requesting economic and social analysis on his Government’s freshwater proposals, National’s Agriculture spokesperson Todd Muller says.

“Ministry for Primary Industries officials revealed today in Select Committee that they did not conduct any economic or social modelling prior to the release of the proposals, nor did the Agriculture Minister ask them to.

“It is Damien O’Connor’s responsibility to look out for rural communities and make sure the facts are laid out before hammering them with the most significant policy proposal farmers have faced in years. . . 

Massive high-tech pest control operation in Perth Valley declared a success – Lois Williams:

The company that carried out a massive pest control operation in South Westland’s Perth Valley this year is declaring it a success.

Zero Invasive Predators (ZIP) supported by DOC blitzed the remote river catchment near Whataroa with 1080 pellets in two aerial drops, in April and July, following intensive pre-feeding with non-toxic pellets.

But it also set up a network of 700 traps for rats and possums, all connected by radio and satellite to rangers phones and laptops, along with 142 cameras to detect stoats.

The company’s aim is to rid the Perth Valley of all predators and keep them out – something that has never been achieved outside of fenced sanctuaries and islands. . . 

Dairy compliance on the up and up:

The Dairy industry and Hawke’s Bay Regional Council have adopted the shared goal to achieve 100% compliance with all resource consents, and are almost 80% towards the goal, celebrated at this week’s Dairy Compliance Awards.

The Dairy Compliance Awards recognise Hawke’s Bay dairy farmers who consistently achieve full compliance with their resource consents.

This is the sixth year of the Dairy Awards, covering water takes, farm dairy effluent and air discharge consents. Over the years, overall compliance has improved from 71% in 2012-13 to 78% in 2018-19. . . 

Good sense sold up the river – Alan Moran:

Earlier this week some 3,000 irrigators and their supporters rallied in Canberra against government policy on Murray-Darling irrigation and management.  With the  cacophony of dozens of semi-trailers’ blaring horns, it was certainly noisy. Ominously for the National Party, their representatives were treated with considerable hostility, particular anger being directed at water Minister David Littleproud. Enduring the jeers, the Nationals would have been especially dismayed at the warm welcome for Pauline Hanson and Malcolm Roberts.

The current drought has exacerbated a contrived water shortage that government policy has engineered in the Murray. Having set a cap on water extractions in 1999 — roughly a third of the average flow — the productive uses of this “working river” have been gradually reduced.  As a supplier of a vital agricultural input to a formerly barren area that grew to supply 40 per cent of the nation’s farm produce, the river has been de-rated.  At a cost of $13 billion, some 20 per cent of the flow has been diverted to “environmental” use. This has caused a five- to ten-fold increase in the price and forced thousands of farms out of business. . .

Winston Nutritional secures Chinese Government approval for infant formula production:

Winston Nutritional is one of only two New Zealand manufacturers in 2019 to secure approval from China to produce infant formula.

Winston Nutritional (17888) has achieved infant formula plant registration from the General Administration of Customs of the Peoples’ Republic of China (GACC) for its Auckland-based blending and canning facility. It secured a general dairy registration in 2017.

Winston Nutritional (17888) has achieved infant formula plant registration from the General Administration of Customs of the Peoples’ Republic of China (GACC) for its Auckland-based blending and canning facility. It secured a general dairy registration in 2017. . . 


Mud sticks . . .

October 17, 2018

Mud sticks to the hand that throws it and yesterday Jamie-Lee Ross left himself splattered with the muck he chucked at Simon Bridges and the National Party.

In making the accusations he did, he appeared to incriminate himself.

His lack of self-knowledge is confirmed by his determination to stand in the by-election he has triggered by resigning.

He had a majority of nearly 13,000 in last year’s election but that was under the National Party banner and the party vote was at a similar level.

I can think of only four MPs who have left their party and regained their seats.

For each of those there are others who resigned and failed to win the seat again but I’m struggling to name more them because without the party backing they lose and sink into obscurity.

The only way Ross could win would be if no other parties stood and supporters of them united to vote for Ross against the National candidate.

 

 


Still supporting Simon

October 16, 2018

Why are some in the media saying the Ross saga is a threat to Simon Bridges’ leadership?

His expenses were leaked, he asked for an inquiry, the Speaker appointed someone to do one, cancelled it for no good reason, then secretly got one done anyway.

The PwC report didn’t find conclusive proof of who the leaker is but the evidence “points to Mr Ross”.

Bridges released the report and the caucus will meet to discuss it this morning.

None of this provides grounds to destabilise his leadership.

Even if Ross wasn’t the leaker his bizarre texts show he has ruled himself out of caucus.

If he has mental health issues, and those texts indicate he has, he should get the help he needs, but he should resign while he gets it.

Otherwise, I can’t see that caucus will have any choice but to expel him.

Rather than threatening Bridges as some in the media are forecasting, this will strengthen his leadership, and anyone I’ve spoken to in the party (admittedly a very small number) will support that.

Yes, his personal support in polls is reportedly low. That is inevitable for any leader of the opposition at this time in the electoral cycle.

Although there have been very few public polls, no-one who knows is disputing that National’s party support remains around the same as it was at the election.

Anyone who wants to challenge the leader when the party has that level of support doesn’t have the wisdom and sense to lead.

It might not be much fun being in opposition, but the road out of it is not paved with internal dissent and disunity under a revolving leadership.

Until this blip National was doing a very good job of being united, highlighting faults in the government – and there have been more than enough of them – and working on policy development in preparation for the election.

The decision for caucus is a no-brainer – expel the dissident, carry on united under Bridges’ leadership and earn the votes to return to government.

The alternative is to follow the bad example of Labour which left them wandering in the wilderness of opposition for nearly nine years.


Tribalism trumps principles

November 9, 2016

Had I been true to my principles I wouldn’t have voted for the National Party in 1984.

The big government, protectionist, high tax and spend policies Robert Muldoon and his government were pursuing did not align with my views on what was best for New Zealand.

I could have voted for Bob Jones’ New Zealand party, but I didn’t.

Why not?

I was a member of National, though not an active one, but still tribalism, my loyalty to the party, trumped my principles.

This must be what is happening in the USA.

So much of what Donald Trump stands for must be anathema to Republicans who want small government, a lightly regulated economy and free trade.

At least some Democrats must be more than a little concerned about Hillary Clinton.

But, even though polls show both candidates have more people who don’t want them than do, tribal loyalty will trump voters’ principles. They will vote/have voted for their party’s candidate and one of other of these unpopular people will become president.

Commentators who know far more about the USA, its politics and people than I do, are forecasting trouble whoever wins.

But political tragics forget that most people aren’t as wrapped up in the minutiae of politics and politicians as they are.

They overlook the fact that, imperfect as democracy in general and the way it’s operating in the USA at the moment in particular, is,  the vast majority of people where it’s been working, for better or worse, for hundreds of years, will accept the result.

And they don’t realise that, barring a major calamity, people carry on doing what they do as much in spite of governments and their actions as because of them.


Environment not preserve of left

January 3, 2015

The Green Party continues to isolate itself on the left of the political spectrum:

. . . Since the election, several high profile commentators – including the businessman, Gareth Morgan – have suggested the Greens ditch some of their left-leaning policies. . .

Radio New Zealand invited Mr Morgan to take part in a discussion panel along with the Greens’ co-leader Metiria Turei and her predecessor Jeanette Fitzsimons.

Mr Morgan argued that the Green Party’s stance means they could only ever go into Government with Labour.

“I want to see the environment represented inside the tent. I don’t want the environment to have about a 50 percent chance of being in power.”

The environment is represented in the current government. The BlueGreens are a strong group within the National Party and caucus.

He said many middle-of-the-road voters cared about the environment but won’t vote for the Green Party because of its more left-wing policies.

Greens co-leader Metiria Turei says that approach would cost them a significant amount of support.

The failure to moderate the party’s radical left social and economic agenda is costing it support.

The Green Party was one of the losers in last year’s election.

With Labour doing so badly it ought to have picked up support but it didn’t. If it can’t increase it’s vote when Labour is at its nadir then it will have a great deal of difficulty doing it as Labour’s support improves.

“You cannot just isolate one aspect as a silo and expect that that will have an influence across the whole of the programme.”

She said the party’s economic, social, and environmental policies are all interconnected.

“We simply will not and cannot … give up on our value set that recognises ecological wisdom, social justice, and the economy as an opportunity and a tool for improving on both.” . .

The environment, economy and social issues are inter-related but none of them are the preserve of the left.

National has followed a moderate path which has helped foster economic growth and improved social outcomes as well as introducing policies to protect and enhance the environment.

The hard left-wing environmental, economic and social policies the Greens favour are expensive and impractical.

By hampering growth and entrenching dependence they would create more problems than they solve and reduce the ability to afford better environmental protection and enhancement.


Change of govt poses risks to farming

June 12, 2014

Bernard Hickey was one of the speakers at Alliance Group’s Pure South conference a couple of weeks ago.

I wouldn’t have put him at the blue end of the political spectrum but his list of risks to farming under a Labour/Green and whichever other parties they would need to govern could well have been used to recruit people to National.

The annual KPMG Agri-Business Agenda picks up on some of those risks:

Leaders in the agri-business sector fear the loss of the traditional political consensus favouring free trade agreements if there’s a change of government, but are equally fearful that a Labour-Greens coalition will see heavier regulation against environmental harm and will start charging farmers to use water and other “natural capital”, says the annual KPMG Agri-Business Agenda publication.

While enthusiastic about Labour’s research and development tax breaks, which could help develop new technologies to improve environmental outcomes, farming and food sector leaders fear the lack of visible progress towards environmental goals could see what the report coyly refers to as “a new coalition government” impose new costs and regulation on the industry to force a faster clean-up.

“The need for the primary sector to improve its performance around core sustainability issues, such as water quality and nutrient management, is not disputed,” KPMG’s global head of agri-business, Ian Proudfoot, writes following a series of “roundtable” meetings and surveys with sector leaders around the country.

“While significant investment has been made to address these issues, the benefits are not immediately apparent. There is a concern that the lack of runs on the scoreboard may result in a new coalition government increasing the regulation on the industry and imposing charging mechanisms for the use of natural capital.”

A major concern is the prospect that the “time the industry needs to resolve its challenges may be reduced or completely removed.”

Degradation of waterways has happened over time and has many causes. A lot of work is being done to repair, protect and enhance water quality but problems which developed over years aren’t solved overnight.

On trade policy, the report suggests that agri-business leaders regard the expansion of “high quality” free trade agreements as “higher priority” than in the past, at the same time as Opposition parties appear to be cooling towards them.

“This reflects the benefits that are being derived from the agreements in place, and constraints being experienced when competing in key markets, such as Europe and South Korea, where competitors have preferential market access over our companies.”

However, there were indications the history of cross-party cooperation on trade policy “may no longer be guaranteed”, especially given the extent of opposition to the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, currently under negotiation but apparently stalling.

Labour’s policy on trade liberalisation is confused. The Green Party’s is clear – and negative.

The report also suggests the sector has a poor image among urban communities and needs to take a coordinated approach to communicating its importance to the country. . . .

That image isn’t helped when Labour and Green politicians are anti-farming in general and dairying in particular.

A change of government poses serious risks to farming and the people who rely on it.

Given how big a contribution it makes directly and indirectly to the economy, and exports in particular, that’s all of us.

 

Photo: We’ve helped primary sector exports hit record highs, and there’s more to come with exports expected to grow 22 per cent for the five years to 2018. http://ntnl.org.nz/1hxY6lZ

The KPMG report is here.

 


Recycled poli to lead IM party

May 29, 2014

Former Alliance leader Laila Hare is to lead the Internet Mana Party:

The NBR says she joined the Green Party only 18 months ago and worked as its “issues director” in Auckland. . .

Reusing or recycling an ex-MP could fit the green, but not necessarily the Green, credo.

Whether or not it helps the IM Party gain votes is moot but it will split opposition votes by giving those wanting a more socialist approach another option.

However it’s not likely to help the party appeal to the young tech-savvy non-voters. And yet another hard-left unionist on the red part of the spectrum could also persuade voters in the centre towards the blue end.

The idea of a weak Labour propped up by the Green, NZ First and Internet Mana parties will make a National-led government more attractive to moderates.

 Bryce Edwards at Liberation has the top tweets on the issue which include:

Laura McQuillan ‏@mcquillanatorz  

Laila Harre first entered Parliament in 1996. Incidentally, people born that year will be able to vote for the first time this year.

 

Laura McQuillan ‏@mcquillanatorz  

And I’m sure knowing the Internet Party leader was first an MP in the year of their birth will be a voter drawcard #rtpt

 

brent simpson ‏@simp  

Um … so the new leader of the Internet Party @lailaharre has made like 27 tweets. Has she really got the quals for this?

 

Andrew Robertson ‏@Unimatrix_0  

Interesting conflict. I bet people who wouldn’t consider voting for Mana or the Internet Party *would* consider voting for Laila Harre.

Lew ‏@LewSOS  

Seriously tho, what does it say about the NZ left that the old guard is being hauled out of retirement, while the right is appointing yoofs?

 

Toby Manhire ‏@toby_etc  

Harré Houdini.

 

michael fletcher ‏@fletchermj  

Which paper will be first with “Harrewira”?

Right Wing Fat Cat ‏@rightwingfatcat  

Mana has absolutely pulled a fast one on the #Internetparty ! Gets all thier funding, dominates the list & have installed a plant as leader!

 

Right Wing Fat Cat ‏@rightwingfatcat  

Internet party supporters have been sold a pup! Laila Harre has more in common with #mana & the greens than #Internetparty supporters #nzpol

 

StoogetalkZB ‏@mattedwords  

i’m betting the Greens are wishing that Dotcom had been extradicted about now.

 

David Farrar ‏@dpfdpf  

Internet Party also announcing tomorrow that their campaign manager will be Simon Lusk.

Dave Guerin ‏@daveguerin  

Laila Harre doesn’t say “Internet” to me, but she might get more votes for a very left-wing party than Mana’s existing candidates

 

James Cardno ‏@jamescardno  

I’d love to know what Harre feels she can get advancing leftist causes via Mana/IP that she felt she couldn’t achieve with the Greens

 

Chris Finlayson ‏@chrisfinlayson  

Laila Harre’s loan from Greens to Mana-Internet Party a sign that planning for Lab-Grn-NZF-Mana-Internet coalition is well advanced?

 

Chris Finlayson ‏@chrisfinlayson  

If Metiria Turei doesn’t back down, that means 5 deputy PMs for David Cunliffe. Six if he can’t convince caucus to bypass @grantrobertson1

Hamish Price ‏@hamishpricenz  

What were the principles that caused @suebr to quit Mana, but @lailaharre to join the @internetpartynz?

Warwick Rasmussen ‏@beanbiz  

So will Jim Anderton be kinda like an Internet-Mana Obi-Wan Kenobi now?

David Farrar ‏@dpfdpf  

If Laila can be the Leader of the Internet Party as she has used the Internet, I think I should be the Leader of the Greens as I eat them

 

Philip Matthews ‏@secondzeit  

Every waka jumper and MMP rorter ever is having a crack at the Harre-Dotcom alliance.

Gareth Richards ‏@garethmr  

Surprised Dotcom didn’t draft Ahmed Zaoui as Leader. That guy knows how to get anti-extradition results #nzpol

 

Cactus Kate ‏@CactusKate2  

Hone, Harre, Sykes and Minto – can John Key be having a better month than this one?

Joshua Hitchcock ‏@jcphitchcock  

Was really expecting someone with, you know, experience and knowledge in the tech sector.

 

Gareth Richards ‏@garethmr  

Laila Harre joins the Aotearoa Legalise Copyright Infringement Party #nzpol

 

Nick Cross ‏@NW_Cross 

So the left is assembling a team of washed up 1990’s egos to contest the election. Lets be kind and call them the ‘Social Justice League

 

Coley Tangerina ‏@ColeyTangerina  

You can’t put Sue Bradford Lite at the head of a Party & make people forget the founder is a neo-liberal DJ version of Mr Burns.

 

Andrew Chen ‏@bobsalive  

So… Green Internet Mana Party (GIMP) alliance?

 

Cactus Kate ‏@CactusKate2  

Laila Harre under the command and control of the millionaire German convicted fraudster. The left just gets funnier every day.

 

Edward Bowie ‏@edbowie 

Laila Harre is great but the whole stitch up undermines the concept of the Maori seats and marks the beginning of the end of their existence

 

GCSB Intercepts ‏@GCSBIntercepts 

”  Why, why, why the Laila?  “

 

Idiot/Savant ‏@norightturnnz  

Wow, Laila harre. Really? I bet Sue Bradford is feeling a little stupid now.

 

Christopher Bishop ‏@cjsbishop  

In 2002 the Alliance was beaten by the Outdoor Recreation Party #facts

 

Bryce Edwards ‏@bryce_edwards  

The Greens really let that possible candidate slip through their fingers.

 

Bryce Edwards ‏@bryce_edwards  

The Greens will be absolutely livid about Laila Harre as Internet Party leader. This will be very damaging for their party vote.

> Danyl Mclauchlan ‏@danylmc  

@thomasbeagle @bryce_edwards She’s pretty formidable. OTOH, Matt McCarten was supposed to have saved the election for Labour.

Toby Manhire ‏@toby_etc  

If it is Laila Harre, bit rude of @KimDotcom not to be following her on Twitter. (The Internet Party and Vikram Kumar both are)

 

Liam Kernaghan ‏@liamkernaghan  

Laila Harre? This story just gets more bizarre as the days go along

 

Patrick Leyland ‏@ProgressReport  

I guess Hone and Kim will be hoping Laila does better than she did against Lynne Pillay. #nzpol

 

Bryce Edwards ‏@bryce_edwards  

I wonder what portfolio Laila Harre would be after in Cabinet this time.

> Rob Hosking ‏@robhosking  

@bryce_edwards Minister of All the Parties.

 

Tova O’Brien ‏@TovaOBrien  

3 News understands Laila Harre to lead Internet Party – her fifth political party

 

Toby Manhire ‏@toby_etc  

@ChrisKeall What did she say when you asked her for comment?

> Rob Hosking ‏@robhosking  

@toby_etc @ChrisKeall I left messages asking, Why why why, dear Laila?

 

To which I add: if Harre is the answer, what was the question?


1 + 1 – disaffected = ?

March 25, 2014

Dim Post does the maths on a possible Mana and Internet Party alliance:

. . . I guess both parties are going into this with the fantasy that 1% of the vote plus 1% of the vote will give them 2%, thus an extra MP. But if the merger costs each party more than 50% of their potential voters because the complementary party is anathema to them then they’ll go backwards.

What Dotcom, who is bankrolling the Internet Party, and Mana have in common is an extreme dislike of John Key and National. But the enemy of you enemy isn’t always your friend, nor one your other friends will stomach.

If you’re an adviser to Kim Dotcom or Harawira then a merger must look awful attractive, because it’ll make your life a whole lot easier. But voters don’t vote for parties on their track-record of making life easier for their MPs and staffers.

Most voters also dislike naked opportunism and tend not to like extremists. This Facebook Post from Jevan Goulter introduces several of those from the radical left:

Guys, MANA DOTCOM!
Ok so we would be helping a rich fella with a bunch of money, but it would obviously help MANA to! I’m not saying I think it’s a good idea either, and it’s only my opinion, I speak on behalf of myself, just wanna be clear! The parties would not merge, we would share a list, and guaranteed MANA would have the top spots to start! If we did it, the difference could be 2 or 3 MANA MPs, and we remain our own party! It’s not all doom and gloom ! Could be the difference of having say John Minto and Te Hamua Shane Nikora in the House! Didn’t mention Annette Sykes cause she will already be there. . .

The though of those radicals in parliament is enough to drive centre voters to the safe haven of National.

There is a chance that an alliance of the Internet and Mana parties could get more of their MPs into parliament than either could achieve alone.

But the risk of butchering their own support and frightening enough swinging voters to the centre right is greater.

One plus one, minus the disaffected from the individual parties could deliver less support for both and more for the party which can be depended on for stability.


2 new faces for Act

February 2, 2014

The Act party has a new leader and a new candidate for Epsom:

Writer and philosopher Jamie Whyte is Act’s new leader and David Seymour will be the party’s candidate in Epsom at the election later this year.

The decision was made by the Act board today and is due to be officially announced at 3 pm.

Dr Whyte is expected to take over in about a month at the party’s AGM.

Dr Whyte, aged 48, has recently returned to live in New Zealand from abroad and has only recently become active in the party.

Mr Seymour, aged 30, first stood for Act in 2005 in Mt Albert against former Prime Minister Helen Clark.

Last election he stood in Auckland Central.

He has been working for a think-tank in Canada and may well have returned permanently had he not been made candidate for Epsom. . .

This gives the party two new and younger faces.

It also provides an opportunity to re-brand itself.

If the party can win Epsom it would help National but if it manages to look more credible than it has it could also take party votes from National’s right flank.

However, this is not a good start:

As Labour has shown only too well for the last few years, a party needs discipline, unity and good management.

Leaking an announcement like this displays none of that.


From vicious circle to virtuous cycle

December 1, 2013

No-one who can work should be better off on welfare than work.

Rodney Hide shows how to achieve that:

. . . We can’t legislate high wages or jobs. If we could, we would be rich already.

The only answer is more productivity. The key here is more investment and more people in work. The key to more investment is lower tax. The key to lower tax is less welfare spending. The key to more people in work is less welfare. Oh hang on, did I just propose the solution?

The politics and propaganda of welfarism is a vicious circle. The solution is a virtuous circle for everyone bar politicians and government pushers. That’s the shame of it, because they are the ones who run and profit from it all.

He is right about the need for more productivity.

He is wrong that all politicians want continued dependency.

National definitely doesn’t and that’s why there’s such a concerted effort to help people who could work into jobs.

It’s better for them, it’s better for the economy, it’s better for society.


Still growing despite drought

September 20, 2013

The impact of last summer’s drought wasn’t confined to farmers and those who service and supply them.

It hit the wider economy but in spite of that annual growth still compares well with that in other OECD countries.

New Zealand’s economy continues to grow steadily, maintaining one of the higher annual growth rates in the OECD, Finance Minister Bill English says.

As expected, the severe drought earlier this year slowed economic growth in the June quarter, with statistics out today showing gross domestic product grew 0.2 per cent in the three months to June 30.

However, annual growth – from the June quarter 2012 to the June quarter 2013 – remained relatively strong at 2.5 per cent. This compares with growth over the same period of 2.6 per cent in Australia, 1.6 per cent in the US, 1.4 per cent in Canada, 1.3 per cent in Japan, 1.5 per cent in the UK and -0.5 per cent in the Euro area.

“It’s pleasing that despite the worst drought in 70 years, New Zealand still achieved one of the higher annual growth rates in the OECD,” Mr English says.

“While the June quarter was affected by a fall in agricultural production – down 6.4 per cent – growing conditions since then have been good, business and consumer confidence have been high and the Canterbury rebuild continues apace.

“All these factors mean that we can anticipate relatively strong growth resuming in the September quarter. As the Reserve Bank Governor has noted, New Zealand is one of the fastest growing economies in the developed world and that growth is expected to be maintained, and become more broadly based over the next couple of years.

“However, real risks and challenges remain in the global economy, especially for our most important trading partners. Today’s GDP result demonstrates the importance of the Government sticking with its proven policies aimed at keeping tight control of its spending, reducing the need for borrowing, and encouraging the job growth that in turn supports New Zealand families.”

Growth depends on both luck and management.

The drought was bad luck, that its impact wasn’t even worse was due to good management, including irrigation development.

The continuing uncertainty on the global financial scene is beyond our control, but good management by the government is having a positive impact on things it can control.

Much of the credit for that goes to the Finance Minister who is getting recognition for what he’s achieving.

. . . widespread respect for English, following his steady, careful performance as minister of finance through the worst financial crisis of the past 80 years, has been growing.

A complimentary remark by a respected American economist on English’s performance at a conference in Sydney recently, was not untypical and it prompted a highly regarded New Zealand economist, Matt Nolan, to comment: “This is not the first time I’ve heard people overseas sing Bill English’s praises [it is probably in double-digits now] . . . we have a finance minister who understands the issues and tries to communicate them clearly.”

English came to office with an economy that had already been in recession for almost a year, when the global financial crisis hit. He had a measure of luck – there was no housing bust and although there were nervous moments, the New Zealand banking system did not buckle.

But English responded to the crisis pragmatically and skilfully, avoiding severe retrenchment but focusing determinedly on reducing government debt and balancing the budget. Contrary to opposition propaganda, the government did not bring with it any dogma or hidden agenda.

A shock could, of course, upset things. The balance of payments deficit and overseas debt continue to be relatively high and to cause concern. But English’s overarching goal of getting the Government’s books in order, which looked hopelessly remote five years ago, now seems achievable, if only by a whisker, next year.

He has also made it a habit to lucidly explain not just the benefits, but also the trade-offs his policies involve. There may be much in the economy to criticise, but it has not been possible to persuasively do so with cheap populism and glib sound-bites. . .

In spite of criticism from the left, the government’s policies haven’t been slash-and-burn ones.

They’ve been a careful mix designed to reduce the burden of government, maintain public services and encourage export-led growth.

Some policies have required an increase in funding but that’s been done with the knowledge that more spent now in some areas will pay-off with reduced costs in the future. Helping people from welfare to work is an example of this.

National is on track to surplus next year in spite of the financial and natural disasters it’s faced.

Labour was forecasting a decade of deficits before the global financial crisis struck and promises made by its new leader David Cunliffe during his campaign show growth we’d be going backwards again if they were in power.


Spoilt for choice

August 2, 2013

 Colin James has been crystal ball gazing:

Political analyst Colin James has tipped environment minister Amy Adams as a potential ‘dark horse’ successor to John Key, in a speech to the New Zealand Contractors’ Federation’s annual conference.

National is in the fortunate position of having a leader who enjoys the confidence of his caucus, party and the wider public so the issue of succession is not a pressing one.

Should it need to find a successor, the party would be spoilt for choice with a talented caucus. Amy is one of many who would be up to the very tough task of following one of the country’s most popular leaders.

The contrast with Labour couldn’t be starker.

Its leader doesn’t have the confidence of his caucus, party or wider public.

Its caucus isn’t awash with talent and it’s so divided it can’t find a successor on whom they can agree to replace David Shearer in spite of his unpopularity.

Mr James also told delegates at the event in Queenstown that his gut feeling was that there would be a third term National government, but the civil construction industry should plan ahead for the “90 per cent probability of a Labour/Greens based government in 2017.” . . .

Winning a second term isn’t a given but it’s more common than not.

A third term is much more difficult, a fourth is rare and has yet to happen under MMP.

 


That didn’t last long

December 2, 2012

Yesterday John Tamihere said he was going to behave.

Today, the RadioLive host pledged to behave.

Mr Tamihere said he can’t take back what he said in 2005 but he has no intention of repeating it in the future.

He hasn’t repeated those comments but  less than 24 hours later:

John Tamihere is back. And it seems nothing has changed. This time he’s calling one of National’s women MPs “fat”.

The former MP who in 2005 suffered a calamitous fall from grace has been allowed to become a member of the Labour Party once more.

But he’s vowing not to tone down his opinions or toe the party line. As if to prove his point, in an interview over a beer in a Henderson restaurant yesterday, Tamihere says he intends to be as outspoken as ever.

“People have got to get over themselves. There are some really fragile, brittle people in the Labour Party. When you give them a bit of a rev-up they get broken and bitter and twisted and hold it ’til the day they die.” . . .

He’s right about the fragility and brittleness of some in his party, but only when the insults are aimed at ones they consider their own, which this wasn’t:

. . .So, in the immortal words of fellow Westie MP Paula Bennett, we ask whether his return to politics will force him to “zip it sweetie”.

Tamihere laughs a big belly laugh. “Not for that bloody fat girl up here, I’m going to tell you that right now.” . . .

Had he referred to one of them as a fat girl there would have been objections to both the adjective and the noun.

There is very unlikely to be a response since it was aimed at a National MP.

Nor will you find National men condescendingly rushing to her defence as Trevor Mallard did to Jacinda Ardern last week.

In National men accept women as equals and don’t need blokes blundering in when they are perfectly capable of sticking up for themselves.

 

 


Why walk to opposition wilderness?

July 27, 2012

The Maori Party’s opponents were very keen for it to walk out on its coalition agreement with National.

But difficult as coalitions and the compromises it requires can be, the party knows where it can achieve most:

This week in the clearest statement she has made on why the Maori Party will not walk away from its coalition agreement with National, Turia (who many regard as the true leader of the Maori Party) said: “Why would we jeopardise the greatest opportunity Maori have ever had to benefit from political influence by abdicating our responsibilities and disappearing into the crowded wasteland of the opposition?”

In this single sentence she encapsulated what she thinks the Maori Party can achieve in alliance with National, but also her distaste for what she calls “the Labour House” where she says, when she was in it, she “had huge difficulty in learning by rote the key lines of the day.” She says the Maori Party contributions at Cabinet Committees have a free and frank flavour which leaves little room for doubt “if we have concerns.” She says “just as importantly we acknowledge the compromises made in our favour: the transformation across all sectors through Whanau Ora, and the increased priority given to addressing poverty and a range of social issues.”

Labour had the Maori seats sewn up for so many years it took them, and Maori, for granted.

National showed respect for the party after the 2008 election by inviting it into coalition when it didn’t need to.

Yesterday, the government completed the third reading of the Ngai Tāmanuhiri Claims Settlement Bill during which Tariana Turia struggled with tears .

Three other settlements were also finalised and several MPs made Facebook entries saying how moving the waiata from the gallery were.


We shouldn’t have to pay for these

October 30, 2011

If I wasn’t a political tragic I probably wouldn’t have watched Friday’s party political broadcast; had I started I wouldn’t have sat through them all.

Last night I was in the car when the wee party broadcasts started. Andrew Geddis managed to sit through the politics on the radio without pictures on Friday, I listened to a few minutes of Act’s last night and gave up.

Others might have a higher tolerance for such things but if the viewer numbers for Friday’s is  any indication it’s unlikely that is was very many.

So why carry on with them when there are so many more effective, and less expensive, ways of communicating with voters?

I second Whaleoil who says:

This is a complete waste of taxpayers money. These ads are all funded and paid for out of the parliamentary services rort that rewards incumbency. Effectively it is a state funded subsidy to media channels in election year to the tune of millions.

The videos are available on youTube for those who want to watch them and if parties want to broadcast on television let them pay for it with their own money.

Apropos of the youTube clips, National’s and the Green Party’s allow people to rate them. Labour’s  does not.

That reminds me of the child who’s too scared to look under the bed in case there’s a monster there.


Ill health forces Peachey resignation

October 5, 2011

Tamaki MP Allan Peachey, who is battling cancer, has decided to stand down at the election.

Severe illness isn’t helped by hard work. This is the best decision for him, his family and friends, the electorate and party.

National party president Peter Goodfellow said:

“This has been an understandably difficult decision for Allan who has remained committed to serving Tamaki as its Member of Parliament.  We wish him well, and plan to do him proud by running a strong campaign in this important electorate,” says Mr Goodfellow.

The party will re-open a shortened candidate selection process in the electorate.

Nominations will be called tomorrow, close on October 14 and the selection will take place on around October 25.


Better than bad not good

September 13, 2011

The newly formed Conservative Party claims to have more members than most parties in parliament.

In four weeks, property millionaire Colin Craig says his party has signed up 1050 members.

“I understand ACT only have around 800 members after being around for 17 years, and United Future have struggled ever since 2004 to keep 500” says Mr Craig, adding that New Zealand First only managed to attract 300 people to their annual conference, and United Future, only 60.

This isn’t so much a positive reflection on the new party as a poor one on most of the others and being better than bad isn’t good.

The requirement to have only 500 members to register, and stay registered, as a political party is a very low hurdle for a group which can end up in parliament and government.

I was the National Party’s Otago electorate chair from 2002 – 2005. With a small team of volunteers and no MP I managed to keep the membership well above that of most parties and National still has electorates with memberships well above 500.

MMP gives most parties representation proportional to voting support. 

That has the potential to give the wee ones  power that is hugely out of proportion to their membership which is not how participatory democracies should work.


Point was to make political point

September 9, 2011

If you’re arranging a debate for entertainment or intellectual exercise the moot is irrelevant.

If , like  Hampden Community Energy you’re arranging a debate to make a political point then you frame the moot to achieve that and confirm what you already believe.

The first debate the group organised was a couple of years ago.  I was asked, at the last minute, to take part to represent the National Party, arguing the affirmative on a topic to the effect that all economic growth was good.

I was already committed to something else on the date and explained that even if I hadn’t been, it was the role of MPs, not volunteers, to speak on policy.

My caller said he’d asked MPs, including the Prime Minister, but they weren’t available. I said given the short notice that wasn’t surprising. He said that the date was arranged to suit one of the other speakers, I said that MPs in general and the PM in particular were usually booked up weeks, sometimes months, in advance and if he’d really wanted them he’d have to be prepared to work round their diaries first.

He said  the debate was important and they’d cancel prior commitments to go to a funeral. I said, funerals were usually unforeseen and there was little room for negotiation on when they happened.

He repeated the debate was important and the PM and other MPs should cancel something else to attend it. I asked how he’d feel if they committed to his event then pulled out because they got a better offer?

He reiterated how important it was, I could see nothing I could say would help and ended the call.

The debate went ahead with a former Act MP, and another couple taking the affirmative.

HCE arranged another debate on the topic of the sustainability of growth 15 months later. The PM and other ministers declined invitations but Waitaki MP Jacqui Dean, Invercargill MP Eric Roy and Selwyn MP Amy Adams accepted.

The organiser wasn’t satisfied with that and complained in the media that the team would be comprised of  MPs not ministers. Jacqui, understandably decided she shouldn’t ask her colleagues to waste their time when they weren’t wanted and pulled the team. That debate went ahead too.

HCE planned a third debate, this time on the partial sale of state assets but when no National MPs were available the organisers cancelled it.

They shouldn’t be unhappy with that outcome though. The point of the debate was to make a political point and get publicity for their point of view and they have.


List discriminates against unionists

September 7, 2011

The National Party list discriminates against unionists according to occupational diversity specialist Professor Really Petty.

“The party list covers almost every other occupation group except unionists and that’s blatant  occupational discrimination,” Prof Petty says.

“The current caucus and probable new entrants include people who’ve worked in business, education, health, farming, finance, manufacturing, the media and theatre, in the public and private sector and for NGOs.

“They are or have been diplomats, doctors academic,  dental and medical; economists, engineers civil and horticultural; farmers, nurses, actors, police, lawyers, teachers, a minister and a valuer. Their backgrounds include arc welding, animal science, arts administration, banking, exporting, health management, hospitality, human resources, foreign relief, information technology, local bodies, real estate, retail, security, shearing and tourism.

” They’ve even got a former beneficiary and a man who was a house-husband. They cover so many occupational backgrounds it makes it easier to see what’s not there than what is and the glaring omission in the National Party list is unionists.”

Prof Petty says that as an oppressed minority unionists are used to being ignored but it’s a very poor reflection on a major political party when it makes not even a token gesture towards including anyone from this endangered class.

“It’s all very well to go on about gender and ethnicity, you can see they’ve got a variety of them. But it’s discrimination you can’t see that hurts the most and what you don’t see in the National list is one single person who identifies as a unionist.”


FPP govt & MMP opposition

September 5, 2011

Successive polls are showing support for an FPP government and an MMP opposition.

This is a result of a very popular Prime Minister leading a stable and cohesive National Party in contrast to the instability and multi-factional Labour Party.

Unfortunately it would be most unusual for National’s support to stay above 50% on polling day

But could it be the polls are signalling people want a bit more certainty in government than multi-party coalitions provide but don’t mind variety in opposition where parties have far less power?


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