Bulldozing democracy


Labour has gone to great lengths to counter accusations they are taking assets from councils.

They keep telling us all, that councils will still own their assets.

A legal opinion from Franks Ogilvie states that is wrong:

Ministers have repeatedly asserted that Councils will have “ownership” of the four new “entities” (actually bespoke statutory corporations) to take over three waters assets under Minister Mahuta’s scheme. The Water Services Entities Bill (the “Bill”)contains statements that Councils will “co-own” the corporations in “shares” to be allocated to them. In this opinion the assertions that Councils will share ownership are referred to as the “Claims”.

The claims are false, misleading and deceptive. The Councils will have none of the bundle of rights that define and are conferred by ownership in any sense familiar to lawyers, or understood as the common significance of ownership. Councils are expressly denied the rights of possession, control, derivation of benefits, and disposition that are the defining attributes of ownership. . . 

In spite of this, the government keeps telling us that councils will still own the assets.

However, by entrenching the clause in the Water Services Entities Bill (the one that was about Three Waters and is now about Five Waters), that stops the entities being sold, it loses that argument.

If the councils still own the assets whose business is it if they wanted to sell them?

Its theirs, their ratepayers’ and residents’ business, not the government’s.

If it’s not the business of councils, ratepayers and residents, but the government’s, the government admitting that councils won’t continue to own their assets.

That is an important issue, but not as important as the government’s entrenching the clause and thereby attempting to bind future government’s to a partisan and deeply unpopular measure.

Entrenchment has until now been for constitutional matters. Requiring a super majority for them is a democratic safeguard.

Entrenching a highly contentious and politically partisan measure like this is an attempt to bind future government’s to the current one’s will and that is the antithesis of democracy.

Law professor Andrew Geddis explains what happens when MPs entrench legislation and why it matters and concludes :

. . . The point being, what happened on Wednesday was a potentially momentous broadening out of an existing wrinkle in our system of parliamentary governance. Since 1956, our law has said that some key bits of our electoral system are so at risk of partisan gaming that we can’t trust a bare majority of MPs to decide them. Now, the amended three waters legislation also says that there is a basic policy issue that is so overwhelmingly important as to justify today’s MPs placing handcuffs on tomorrow’s MPs when dealing with it.

If that is indeed the case, what other sorts of issues might a supermajority of MPs think rise to that level? And, in this brave new world, what happens to our system of parliamentary law-making, based as it is on the assumption that the view of the current majority is always subject to revision by the future’s?

David Farrar has a few suggestions for policies past governments could have entrenched and  future government could entrench.

There would be an uproar if a future National-led government attempted to entrench these or any other partisan policies which illustrates just how dangerous the precedent Labour, aided by the Greens whose MP Eugenie Sage moved the Supplementary Order Paper to include entrenchment.

There is an uproar on social media, and the issue was discussed on NewsTalkZB yesterday afternoon it ought to be making headlines everywhere.

Labour has been bulldozing Five Waters with no concern for democracy from the start but until now there was the knowledge that a change of government could easily repeal the legislation and replace it with something far, far better in proper consultation with the councils which own the assets.

Entrenching the clause has made that a bit harder and shown how little regard Labour and the Greens have for democracy.

Garrick Tremain says it all:

Disdain for democracy


Three Waters was bad, Five Waters is worse and a sneaky addition has made it worse still:

The Government has been caught sneaking a rarely-used legal provision into the proposed Three Waters legislation which will make it harder for Parliament to overturn, National Justice Spokesperson Paul Goldsmith and Local Government spokesperson Simon Watts say.

This week, while Parliament sat under urgency pushing legislation through, Labour and the Greens added a provision that means once Three Waters becomes law, it would take 60 per cent of MPs to overturn it, instead of a simple majority which applies to almost every law passed, except for a few constitutional matters.

That is a very high threshold.

Applying it to non-constitutional matters sets a very dangerous precedent that any future government could follow.

“Entrenched provisions are used rarely in New Zealand for good reason and until now they have been reserved for core constitutional issues like parts of the Electoral Act,” Mr Goldsmith says.

“Labour and the Greens have now colluded to entrench in law a contentious policy position, without any real debate and while the House was sitting under urgency.

“Entrenched provisions in law should be reserved for matters largely above politics, and when used they should be subject to careful scrutiny and debate. The exact opposite has happened in this case.

“As constitutional lawyer Dr Dean Knight has said, “this is unusual and doesn’t sit well with our current constitutional traditions… it’s regrettable this significant constitutional development only came to light in committee of the whole stage and was not subject to scrutiny and public submission”.

“The passing of this SOP sets a very dangerous precedent. If a National Government had passed a provision like this over, say, for example, the three strikes sentencing regime, Labour and the Greens would be outraged,” Mr Goldsmith says.

Local Government spokesperson Simon Watts said Labour has used the veil of urgency to ram through an unconstitutional clause to block future changes to a broken bill, which National will repeal and replace.

“Labour and the Greens need to immediately walk this move back. When the House resumes in December, National will move to recommit the Water Services Entities Bill back to the committee of the Whole House Stage to excise this unconstitutional and undemocratic clause. We urge the government to vote for it and for cool heads to prevail.”

The headline to this media release calls it skulduggery.

It is also constitutionally dodgy.

It’s a very dangerous game that could be played by future governments.

Three Five Waters has steamrolled over democracy and democratic conventions from the start.

From the lies in the advertisements, through reversing the promise that councils wouldn’t be compelled to be part of the scheme and not even looking at  tens of thousands of submissions to this.

Labour has the numbers to push the legislation through and given its disregard for even the most reasonable attempts to dilute the damage it’s inflicting with this legislation, it will.

The only way to undo the damage and get a government with far higher regard for democracy is to vote this lot out next year.

Paying more for government’s spending


The Reserve Bank announced yesterday it would increase the Official Cash Rate by  0.75 basis points to 4.25%.

That’s the biggest increase New Zealand has ever had and it could get worse:

This increase will push up mortgage rates for Kiwi households, many of which are coming up for renewal in the next few months. New Zealand families are already facing significant pressure on their household budgets due to the extremely high levels of inflation.

The Bank’s Funding for Lending programme—which allowed banks to borrow from the Reserve Bank at the Official Cash Rate to offer cheaper mortgages—also runs out next month. Kiwibank has estimated that this could be the equivalent of a further Official Cash Rate hike of between 15 and 50 basis points.

New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union Campaigns Manager, Callum Purves, says:

“The Reserve Bank has been forced to put up the Official Cash Rate because of its failure to keep inflation below 3%.

“The extremely high levels of inflation we are facing are in no small part down to the double whammy of reckless Government spending that went well beyond what was necessary to respond to the pandemic and the Reserve Bank’s own money printing programme that is already forecast to cost the taxpayer billions in losses.

“Government tax revenues and expenditure are at record highs. The Government urgently needs to reign in its addiction to excessive spending and bring expenditure back down to pre-pandemic levels at the very least. New Zealanders cannot continue to afford this toxic combination of high taxes and high inflation.” 

Tax revenues are high because inflation pushes up prices, which increases the GST take. It also leads to higher wage increases which pushes people into higher tax brackets.

Some of the blame can be laid at international factors, but Labour’s addiction to spending is also responsible.

It’s not just the poor who are struggling with the cost of living crisis, middle income people are too and increased mortgage rates will add to the pain.

Much more pain is on the way for Kiwis as out of control inflation has forced the Reserve Bank into New Zealand’s first ever 75 basis point Official Cash Rate hike, National’s Finance spokesperson Nicola Willis says.

“Never before in the history of the OCR have we seen such a dramatic interest rate increase. This comes as the ninth rate hike in a row, as the Reserve Bank is forced to screw ever tighter on interest rates to try and put a lid on rampant inflation.

“Ominously, the Reserve Bank is not only forecasting a year-long recession, but it believes inflation has not peaked, and will still be higher at the start of next year than it is now.

“This spells yet more worry for the growing group of Kiwis being kept up at night concerned about the growing size of their mortgage payments.

“Kiwis are now paying the price, literally, for Labour’s ‘fire-hose’ approach to government spending.

“Half of the mortgages in New Zealand will come up for refixing in the next 12 months. Many already stretched New Zealanders will now have to find hundreds of extra dollars a week to meet their payments.

“Kiwis are getting squeezed in all directions – rent, groceries, and mortgage payments. Under Labour, the only way these costs are going is up.

“New Zealand needs careful economic management and fiscal responsibility to get us through this difficult period.

“National has a plan. We would rein in wasteful spending, stop adding new costs and taxes, refocus the Reserve Bank on price stability, let Kiwis keep more of what they earn, and remove bottlenecks in the economy like Labour’s overly restrictive immigration settings.”

The election could be a year away.

How much harder will life be for far too many people by then?

Cameron Brewer Nat candidate for Upper Harbour


Former chief executive of the Newmarket Business Association, Cameron Brewer, has been selected to contest the Upper Harbour seat for National:

Cameron Brewer has been selected by local party members as National’s candidate in Upper Harbour for the 2023 General Election and is excited to hit the ground running and campaign hard for the seat.

“I’m thrilled to win the support of local party members and will be working hard to earn the support of Upper Harbour as National’s candidate,” Mr Brewer says.

“Upper Harbour is growing fast as more young families choose to make it their home. The issues they face are the ones I’ll focus on relentlessly, particularly addressing the cost-of-living crisis and cracking down on the crime we’re seeing across the electorate.

“Families in Upper Harbour are being buffeted by skyrocketing mortgage repayments or rents and are confronted by the realities of Labour’s economic mismanagement every time they fill up the trolley or the gas tank.

“National’s plan to address the cost-of-living crisis will restore discipline to government spending, provide tax relief to hardworking Kiwis and back our businesses to get ahead, instead of saddling them with higher costs.

“I’ll advocate for clear plans for Upper Harbour when it comes to things like transport, infrastructure and core services and I’ll deliver. What I and National won’t do is prioritise a failed light rail scheme down Dominion Road at the expense of the rest of Auckland.

“I’ve spent most of my career fighting and delivering for Aucklanders and will do exactly that for Upper Harbour if I earn the right to be their new MP as part of Chris Luxon’s energised National team.”

Paula Bennett held this seat until her retirement in 2020.

It was won by Labour in the red tide but given the extended Auckland lockdowns and other problems facing the city for which the government can be blamed, Brewer will have a reasonable chance of winning it back.

Speed doesn’t necessarily kill


National has launched a petition to stop widespread speed reductions :

National is calling on the Labour Government to scrap its proposed blanket speed limit reductions on State Highways, which would slow drivers down without actually improving road safety, National’s Transport spokesperson Simeon Brown says.

“This week, NZTA released its Interim State Highway Speed Management Plan which proposes to reduce speed limits on State Highways across New Zealand, with some highways having their speed limit slashed from 100km/h to 60km/h. 

“This is a short-sighted, quick-fix attempt to address the problem of road safety that doesn’t deal with underlying issues like poor road maintenance and the proper enforcement of road rules.

“While National supports variable speed limits outside schools during pick-up and drop-off times, this proposal is the first step towards reducing the speed limits on all State Highways across the country to a maximum of 80km/h.

“Blanket speed limit reductions will increase travel times for Kiwis, increase the costs of moving freight, and frustrate motorists trying to move around the country.

“Instead of investing in our roads to make sure they’re fit for purpose and safe to drive on, Labour is taking the easy way out once more, with a simplistic solution that won’t make a meaningful difference.

“Kiwis need both safe and efficient transport routes, especially for our rural communities and the freight companies that help move our goods around New Zealand.

“National opposes blanket speed limit reductions and we are encouraging New Zealanders to speak up against this radical proposal, and sign our petition urging the Government to dump it.”

You can sign the petition here.

The government, and Waka Kotahi, are trying to convince us that speed limits need to be reduced because speed kills but that isn’t always the case:

The police and government are pushing discredited road safety strategies, says the car review website dogandlemon.com.

Editor Clive Matthew-Wilson, who is an outspoken road safety campaigner, says:

“For years we’ve been told that lowering speeds and a heavy enforcement of speed limits would lower the annual road toll. This has proved to be untrue.”

Matthew-Wilson gave the example of Saturday’s tragic head-in collision that killed three members of the same family.

“The simple fact is: if there had been a median barrier on that stretch of road, this accident could not have occurred. As I’ve been saying for years, New Zealand’s roads are like a staircase without a handrail: you make a mistake, you’re probably going to get hurt.”

Matthew-Wilson adds that the police anti-speed messaging is consistently based on doubtful science.

“If the police ‘speed kills’ theory were true, then one of the fastest legal roads in the country: the Waikato Expressway (110km/h), would also be the most dangerous. In fact, the opposite is true: the Waikato Expressway is one of the safest roads in the country.”

Road safety science tells us two things: safe roads protect people from their own mistakes, and that speed, by itself, is not the problem.

“As a matter of scientific fact, few ordinary motorists cause speed-related fatalities. Almost all speed-related fatalities are caused by a small group of yobbos and reckless motorcyclists, and they’re often blotto when they crash. Yobbos and blotto drivers don’t read speed signs, rarely think of consequences and are effectively immune to road safety messages.”

“The government has repeatedly promised to fix our Third World roads but has failed miserably. Now the government is attempting to lower the road toll by lowering speed limits yet again, despite the fact that the widespread lowering of speed limits has not reduced the annual road toll.”

Further lowering will increase driver frustration and add time and expense to journeys but it won’t by itself lower the road toll.

“The overall road toll is actually not as bad as people think. The road toll last year was close to a third of the annual road toll in 1973.”

“While any road deaths are a tragedy, the overall road toll has been trending downwards since the 1980s. In 1973 the New Zealand population was around three million, but the road toll was 843. In 2021, the population was round five million but the road toll was 319.”

“Drivers have not improved. The big improvements have been in the cars, roads and the medical system.”

“I’d like to say enforcement has also improved, but the police simply aren’t doing their job in many cases. In country areas, drinking and driving are often normal, and the locals generally get away with it. The police have also failed to effectively enforce seatbelt laws or laws against the use of cellphones while driving. However, the police are very good at issuing millions of speeding tickets, even though 85% of the road toll occurs below the speed limit.”

“Despite the overall downward trend, the annual highs and lows of the road toll tend to follow the economy. Right now, there’s a lot of building going on. That means lots of builder’s labourers with money to spend on booze, drugs and fast cars. It means lots of trucks carrying heavy freight down highways. The housing boom has also paid for middle-aged men to buy large motorbikes. This group are killing themselves at a typical rate of about one a week. “

The simple graph that explains the road toll | Scoop

“As the economy dips into recession, the annual road toll will almost certain dip with it. In the meantime, we have national roading system that belongs in the Third World. We also have a trail of broken promises from the government, and a trail of disproved theories from the police.”

“Let’s be clear, one a tiny group of motorists causing most road speed-related deaths, and this tiny group tends to drive at insane speeds. But this tiny group is not the average driver. Ticketing a family for going 3km/h over the speed limit does nothing to lower road toll, but it alienates ordinary motorists.”

Alienating motorists reduces the social licence needed to keep people obeying limits.

“I appreciate that the police are totally sincere in wanting to save lives. However, they need to accept that the current police and government strategies are clearly not working. It’s time for both the police and government to take a deep breath and change the direction of our national road safety strategy.”

Matthew-Wilson is also frustrated that both the police and the government ignore simple, affordable and effective ways of substantially reducing the road toll.

Cars with Daytime Running Lights on are up to 25% less likely to end up in fatal daytime collisions, yet this simple lifesaving technology isn’t even on the government’s agenda. What’s gone wrong with our government?” 

Lots has gone wrong with the government, including a focus on the wrong things and a failure to base policies on facts, data and science.

That, and an apparent dislike of cars, will do nothing to lower the road toll.


Katie Nimon Nat candidate for Napier


National has selected Katie Nimon as its candidate for the Napier electorate:

. . .“It’s an honour to be selected as National’s candidate in Napier and I’ll hit the ground running to earn the right to represent the area I love as part of Chris Luxon’s National team,” says Ms Nimon.

“I’m passionate about Napier and I’ve dedicated my career to delivering for our city and Hawke’s Bay. Now I’m fighting for the opportunity to keep delivering for Napier as its next local MP.

“It’s clear Labour’s approach isn’t working. Families in Napier are drowning in higher mortgage repayments and the average rent in Napier has skyrocketed by $180 per week, or more than $9,000 a year under Labour. People in Napier are confronted by the reality of Labour’s economic mismanagement every time they fill up the trolley or the gas tank. We need a change of government.

“National has a plan to address the big issues people in Napier face every day. Our plan to tackle inflation will restore discipline to government spending and fix the problems holding our businesses back.

“People in Napier also want to be listened to on issues like Three Waters. These reforms strip us of local control over our water assets and hand it to unelected and unaccountable bureaucrats. National is listening, we’ll repeal and replace Three Waters.

“National offers an alternative to the soft-on-crime approach that’s left people across Napier feeling unsafe in their own communities. Gang membership in the Eastern Police District has increased by over 60 per cent under Labour and you can see the effects of that across Napier. National’s plan would back our police with the tools they need to tackle gangs and the misery they create.

“I’m really aspirational for our city and if I earn the right to be Napier’s new MP, I’ll be accessible, hardworking and laser-focused on the issues that matter to Napier.”

Biographical notes:

Katie Nimon, 32, started her career in advertising, before taking up a marketing role with the family business Nimon & Sons. She then worked for three years as the company’s general manager and has worked as the transport manager for the Hawke’s Bay Regional Council since 2021.

Katie was born and raised in Hawke’s Bay, attending Iona College before gaining a Bachelor of Design (Honours) and later an Executive MBA from Massey University.

In her spare time, Katie volunteers as a mentor for young women through the Shine Programme, and previously served on the advisory panel for EIT’s School of Hospitality and Tourism.

Katie lives in Napier with her partner Jeremy. They are getting married in December.

Would you trust him?


If National had ruled out working with New Zealand First in 2017, would it have made a difference?

Polls showed about half of NZ First’s supporters wanted the party to go with National, but we’ll never know if ruling the other party out would have helped National.

Now that Winston Peters has apparently ruled out working with Labour, would it help National to rule out working with him?

I say apparently because there is wriggle room in his statement:

“No one gets to lie to me twice,” he says this week.

“We are not going to go with the Labour Party, this present Labour Party crowd, because they can’t be trusted.

“You don’t get a second time to lie to me, or my party and they did.”

He starts with the Labour Party then says this present Labour Party crowd but what does that mean?

If Labour had a different leader, which is possible if the polls consistently show it would be unlikely to win a third term, would that be enough for Peters to change his mind?

Who knows? Would you trust him?

If we can learn anything from the past, it’s that what he says doesn’t necessarily mean that’s what he’ll do.

Apparently being clear about ruling out Labour ought to give voters certainty but there is some wriggle room, and it also takes away his party’s options which weakens it, making it more like the Greens and Maori Party who will never go with National, and Act who will never go with Labour.

The party could sit on the cross benches and if National and Act or Labour, the Greens and Maori Party didn’t have more than half the MPs needed to govern. They would they would then be forced to negotiate with Peters issue by issue.

That would be a disaster.

The country is in a mess and the mess will be worse by next year’s election.

A mess that bad needs a government we can trust and gives us certainty, neither of which can be assured if NZ First is in the mix.

Besides, one of that party’s strongest platforms is policy that both National and Act would deliver without it anyway – one person, one vote, no co-governance of public assets, and assistance based on need not race.

What then would we get if enough people vote to allow NZ First back into parliament? Uncertainty and instability if it was needed in government or sitting on the cross benches. Both could still allow Labour back into government.

That brings me back to the final comments in my previous post. If people don’t want a Labour-led government after next year’s election, they must vote for a National-led one and the only way to get that is to vote for National or Act.

Five Waters – where’s the outrage?


It started with Three Waters but Graham Adams points out it’s it’s now Five Waters :

Thomas Cranmer notes it’s goes even further to Five Waters and a park:

Mike Hosking calls it a stinker of a policy:

Given all this, Bruce Cotterill is right to ask where is the outrage?

. . . Even without knowing the contents of the revised bill, haste is something we should be concerned about. It’s a pace of activity that is usually reserved for matters that the Government wants dealt with immediately; either because it is vital for the national interest or it is so unpalatable that they want to shut down the debate as quickly as possible. It would seem that the latter was their only justification. 

I’m told by a highly regarded former MP that for a matter of this nature, it’s a pace that is unusually rushed, and in the context of Parliament’s rules, technically inappropriate.

Not that we can do too much about that. Let’s face it, this Government has been in an “inappropriate” hurry on Three Waters from the start. Despite the changes not yet being signed into law, they have already recruited a heap of people and leased high-quality and expensive office space in Auckland at least and possibly elsewhere. Every step has been action ahead of the democratic process. . . 

They process has been appalling. From the advertisements telling us how bad our water was, when it wasn’t, saying it would be voluntary for councils to opt in, when it isn’t, saying they’d listen, when they didn’t to the truncated select committee process and Friday’s late afternoon document dump with the addition of two more waters plus parks and reserves.

For the benefit of the uninitiated, the Three Waters legislation is about the management of freshwater, wastewater and stormwater. However, as result of the select committee’s most recent rewrite, it’s no longer just about Three Waters. You see, they’ve added a couple of new categories. Hydro, the water that flows through New Zealand’s world class and sustainable electricity system is one.

Oh, and they also added another category. Coastal. That’s right folks, the seabed and foreshore is back in play. This time, with the highly controversial and undemocratic co-governance proposals locked in.

And finally, just for good measure, they’ve also seen fit to include, at the eleventh hour, an option to include parks and reserves. Parks and reserves currently owned and operated by the ratepayers through the councils that represent them.

New Zealanders should be upset or even angry. We’re not though. We either don’t know about the changes being proposed, don’t understand what’s going on, or don’t care. I deeply suspect that, if Kiwis understood what was happening we would care very much. . . 

A lot of people I’ve talked to do know what’s happening but don’t know what to do about it when the government is determined to steamroller the legislation through.

We should be ropable that this is happening. And we should be stomping mad that neither of our top-rating TV news channels ran the story of the bill’s passing on their 6pm bulletins on Thursday evening. What the hell is going on here NZ?

This is major constitutional reform, involving the deliberate confiscation of assets from ratepayers and the councils that represent them, to a government and a policy that will be controlled by iwi-based or tribal interests. The consultation process around it has been minimal and most of us would say what little consultation has occurred has been ignored.

The French would have people marching in the streets and tractors blocking the freeways if this was occurring in their country. Not us. Let’s just sit back and let it happen! . . .

If a policy this bad was being promoted by a National-led government the left would be marching in the streets.

Why’s no-one up in arms now? Labour supporters don’t usually march against their own, and people on the right are much less likely to protest.

Despite not mentioning it during the 2020 election campaign, the new majority Labour government hit the ground running immediately after the election and launched a plan that would see the Government taking control of the infrastructure and services that deliver all three water assets – drinking water, wastewater and stormwater.

Despite the fact that, in most parts of the country, our fresh water is among the best in the world, they used a single event in Havelock North a few years ago as an example of what could occur if reform didn’t happen quickly.

Has anyone seen any data showing that our water is anywhere near as bas as the government is trying to make us think it is?

Has the government bothered to look at any other answers to the problems that exist in some areas?

Has anyone got any idea how much we’ll be paying for our water once they impose this overly-bureaucratic system on us?

Their plan was accompanied by a very expensive and highly misleading advertising campaign telling us that we would have brown sludge coming out of the taps unless the Government took control of the water assets from the councils.

Organisations like The Taxpayers’ Union and Democracy NZ have funded court action which asserts that the minister and her government have acted illegally. That court action is ongoing. Farmers and business owners have banners out the length of the country asking the powers that be to “Stop 3 Waters”.

And yet, despite ever-increasing opposition from a wide cross-section of New Zealanders, the Government has pressed on with its plans. Centralisation of water assets, they say, will occur, just like the already unsuccessful centralisation efforts in Health and Tertiary Education.

Most of us don’t have daily interactions with the health and tertiary education systems. All but a very few of us depend on the safe delivery of fresh water and proper dispersal of waste water many times, every day.

As a result, we have the latest steps, as outlined above, that will see Three Waters expanded to Five Waters and maybe even a few Parks.

So we see, finally, after all this time, what Three Waters has been about all along. It’s not about brown sludge coming out of your taps. In fact, it’s not about water at all. It’s about an asset grab of not only the water assets we thought, but also for a slice of our hydro schemes and for the highly contentious foreshore and seabed. By the time the third and final reading comes around, you can bet that the country’s parkland will no longer be an option. It will be included.

Perhaps the inclusion of the foreshore and the parkland will get us animated and angry.

We should be staggered that this legislation, delivering major constitutional change, is sleepwalking its way through Parliament via an aggressive majority government, while it appears that there is nothing that opposition politicians can do about it.

You see, unless New Zealanders do something, I’m guessing that the third and final reading will go much like the second reading this week. A few opposition politicians putting up a brave fight against the tyrannical majority before quietly leaving the stage defeated and deflated.

By the time next year’s election campaign is run, Three Waters final reading will have been completed and this most extraordinary and controversial series of changes will have become law. The assets will be operated by undemocratic Government-appointed boards, and the councils that paid for them will be left out of pocket, and we, the people, will be one step closer to losing our collective democratic voice. Despite overwhelming opposition, Three Waters will be law.

It would be tempting to throw in the towel. And yet, despite everything that has happened, Three Waters should continue to be a central election issue in 2023. Those parties currently in opposition must run a campaign to totally repeal this legislation and if elected they must do so promptly.

And we may as well brace ourselves for it now. Taking things away from people is always much harder than giving them out. Repealing this law will be messy and disruptive and difficult. But it must happen.

That’s why we have elections. When governments become this corrupt, they and the laws they created must go.

National and Act have both been very clear they will repeal the Three (now Five) Waters legislation and replace it with a better system in proper consultation with the councils that own the infrastructure.

If we don’t want this dreadful, racist policy we have to vote Labour out and the only way to do that is to vote for a National-led government.

Doing that means voting for National, which is my preference, or Act.

Any other vote will not guarantee a change of government or will be a wasted vote.

All principals equal?


A principal, who stood for Labour in an election, isn’t happy at the idea not all principals are equally good:

A school principal has slammed National Party leader Christopher Luxon for blaming “mixed standards of leadership” across schools for low attendance levels. 

It comes after Newshub revealed last week that just 40 percent of Kiwi kids are attending school regularly, according to fresh figures out from the Ministry of Education.

Figures obtained by Newshub show the breakdown of students who’ve been unenrolled for more than a year by region. Of the nearly 1000 Kiwi kids not attending school for 13 months or more, 527 are in Auckland, 122 are in Waikato and 71 are in the Bay of Plenty. They make up 74 percent of the total.

Luxon told AM on Wednesday the level of kids not attending school is “really incredibly sobering” and there is a “mixed standard of leadership” across New Zealand’s schools.

“So the first thing is we’ve got to make sure the Government is actually putting resources into truancy officers, getting kids to school. We need to make sure we’ve actually got leadership in schools that are actually very much focussed on getting kids into school,” Luxon told AM co-host Ryan Bridge. 

Putting resources into truancy officers and getting kids to school shouldn’t be controversial, nor should the view that not all schools have good leadership. Principals, like any other group have a range of abilities and competence.

Bridge questioned Luxon, saying there are no school leaders in New Zealand who aren’t focused on getting kids into school, but the National Party leader disagreed. 

“There is a mixed standard of leadership across our schools and across our principles which actually means they are not focussing as strongly only on getting kids to school as they can,” Luxon said. 

Hora Hora School principal and Tai Tokerau Principal Association president Pat Newman hit back at Luxon’s remarks, saying his comments point more to a “mixed bag of leadership within politicians”.

There is a mixed bag of leadership within politicians, just as there is in any organisation, including schools.

Luxon said New Zealand doesn’t need to accept “abysmal results” when there are pockets of excellence like Manurewa Intermediate School.

When pressed by Bridge about what school leaders are accepting “abysmal results”, Luxon said there is a mixed standard across the country.

“What I’m talking about is we have standards of excellence where you can get a decile one school delivering high levels of attendance and yet across the whole country, we can’t [deliver high rates of attendance], and it requires a systemic response to say we’re not going to make any more excuses,” Luxon said.

“You can’t run a country and have a future when you have 40 percent of your kids attending school, that’s just not going to cut it. It’s a moral failure.  It’s a social failure. It’s an economic crisis. So we have to all, Government schools and parents, be really accountable for getting our kids to school. That’s what matters most in our education system.”  . . 

Failing children at school is failing their futures and the future of the country.

The reasons for the failures are many, some are complex and start long before children get to school, but school leadership is one of them.

Children know the difference between good, mediocre and poor principals as do parents, and teachers.

North Otago has recent examples where one principal left the school doing very well, the next dragged it down and his replacement has had to work very hard to bring it up again.

If a principal, and union head, doesn’t recognise that not all principals are equally good, he’s part of the problem.

And given the issue is political, shouldn’t the fact that he was a Labour Party candidate be mentioned?

Making bad worse


The government is still not listening on Three Waters:

Despite overwhelming opposition to its Three Waters reforms, the Government has failed to use the opportunity to listen and make material changes to the Bill, National’s Local Government spokesperson Simon Watts says.

“The Government has not made any significant changes to improve its broken Three Waters model.

“The Bill that has come back to Select Committee today shows Labour still isn’t listening.

“Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Local Government Minister Nanaia Mahuta gave assurances that they would consider the alternative Three Waters model proposed by the Auckland, Christchurch and Waimakariri mayors.

“I lodged a motion in select committee last week to extend our deliberations in order to properly consider the mayors’ proposal, but Labour MPs used their majority to block the motion – ensuring the Bill would be sent back to the House without adequately considering the new proposal.

“It shows that Jacinda Ardern and Nanaia Mahuta’s promises of consideration and open dialogue with mayors about their alternatives are just talk. Labour has no intention of making any real changes to their reforms.

“The Government is intent on ploughing ahead with their highly-centralised, co-governed mega-entities, no matter how strong the public opposition is. Labour wants this Bill passed and out of the public eye as soon as possible.

“National would work with communities to develop solutions that work for them, instead of going from the top down. We will repeal Labour’s Three Waters disaster.”

This is another very good reason to vote for a National-led government next year.

The Taxpayers’ Union says the government is gaslighting us:

Nanaia Mahuta is gaslighting the more than 80,000 New Zealanders who took the time and effort to submit on her flawed Three Waters Bill, which will take community-owned water assets from councils and put them into the control of unaccountable and expensive entities.

Mahuta “thank[ed] the committee for its careful consideration of more than 80,000 submissions” and claims that “extensive changes have been proposed” in a statement published on the Beehive website and sent to media.

“The dishonesty of Ms Mahuta knows no bounds” says Taxpayers’ Union co-founder Jordan Williams. “This is gaslighting at its finest.”

“Far from ‘carefully listening’ to submitters, the Government majority on the Committee specifically blocked officials from reading, reviewing, and summarising the 68,661 submissions from our supporters.”

“First they made us print and deliver hard copy submissions – rather than accept by email – then they didn’t even bother to get officials to read or summarise them. The Committee even turned down our offer to use software to pull out unique points submitters made. In what world is that ‘listening’ to the public?”

I was one of the 68,661 who submitted using the TU’s template and I made sure that it wasn’t just a cut-and-paste-what-they-said. I took a lot of time to personalise my submission.

It was a waste of time for me and all those other submitters, and the TU staff who had to print and deliver hard copies. It was also a waste of paper when they weren’t even read.

“The number of submissions ranks this bill among the most submitted on in the history of our Parliament. But the Government majority cut short the time listening to submitters – travelling the country for just five days. As I told the Committee – it is pathetic that we can do better, getting out on the road for more than a month on a roadshow tour to listen to New Zealander’s concerns.”

Ms Mahuta also claims that ‘extensive changes have been proposed’. What nonsense. Rather than promote democratic accountability, the proposed changes actually double down. Te Mana o te Wai and Te Mana o te Wai statements will be even more powerful and tie the hands of the half of the ‘Regional Representative Groups’ who are accountable to elected councils. The Government has ‘listened’ to councils, so more council representatives can sit on the ‘Regional Representative Groups’ – but the 50/50 requirement for unaccountable iwi appointments remains the same.”

“One of the changes is for councils to have annual ‘shareholder meetings’. That in and of itself is dishonest misrepresentation – councils still won’t have any rights of ‘shareholders’ or ownership. There will be absolutely nothing to talk about, and certainly no control exercised.”

“We are glad to see the Green Party’s minority report making many of the same points as the Taxpayers’ Union. They say the councils should have the equivalent level of control to a council-controlled organisation, akin to WaterCare, and the C4LD proposal supported by the Taxpayers’ Union.”

“Ultimately, Three Waters will cost ratepayers with higher water costs, more bureaucracy, no local control, and less democracy. It needs to be stopped.”

The government keeps telling us rates will go up if Three Waters doesn’t go ahead. They conveniently ignore the extra costs that we’ll all pay for water because of the layers of bureaucracy they’re inflicting on us.

The only way to stop it is to vote out this government which is not only planning to confiscate water assets, it might also take over local parks and reserves:

Labour’s Three Waters reforms are now taking control of much more than local water assets, with the Government now eyeing up community parks and reserves, National’s Local Government spokesperson Simon Watts says.

“Provisions in the Water Service Entities Bill suggest that ownership of some community parks and reserves that link to the stormwater system, like Waitangi Park in Wellington, will be taken out of the hands of the local council and given to the mega water entities.

“These public spaces are crucial parts of community life. It’s where kids play rugby and soccer, families have picnics, and dog owners take their pets for a run-around.

Their control and management should be with communities, not co-governed and within unaccountable mega entities.

“The lack of clarity around what assets will and won’t be confiscated from community control is just another example of the incompetence of these broken reforms and how Labour can’t be trusted.

“National is calling on the Local Government Minister to rule out transferring any local parks and reserves to these new mega entities as part of its Three Waters reforms.”

It takes a special level of ignorance and arrogance to make a deeply unpopular, wastefully expensive and undemocratic proposal even worse, but that’s what the government is doing.



Mood of the show


“Just get it done!”

This was the message I heard a woman at the *Christchurch Show give to National leader Christopher Luxon and it summed up the mood of many who talked to me.

It’s three years since the last A&P show in Christchurch and the mood then wasn’t positive.

Then, two years into the Labour-New Zealand First government, there was lots of criticism of them but also reservations about National.

Three years on the mood against the government has hardened.

People are very, very angry and upset about the wasteful spending, anti-farmer and other divisive policies and disdain for democracy; and worried about how much worse things will get before there’s a change of government.

The mood towards National is much, much more positive.

Wednesday and Thursday at the show usually attract a lot of farmers and people involved in agribusiness who are more likely to be at the blue or yellow end of the political spectrum but not since the ag-sag of the 1980s have I heard such vehemence against the government and such strong support for change.

Agitation over taxing farm emissions with the threat of one in five sheep and beef farms being killed off, good pastoral land being planted in pines and 13,000 job losses – that’s the total population of Oamaru – was expected.

So too was concern over impractical regulations, the imposition of extra costs and the threat of unfair pay agreements.

But people who spoke to me were just as concerned about the crises in health and education, worker shortages and the related immigration debacles, crime and the cost of living crisis.

The radical policies of the Lange-Douglas Labour government that led to the ag-sag generated a lot of angst at the time. There are valid questions over how it was done but I don’t know anyone who now thinks it shouldn’t have been done.

Those changes were hard at the time but farming, and the country, are stronger because of them.

The changes this government is foisting on not just farmers but the wider economy, environment and society are adding long term costs without even short-term benefits.

If the mood of the show is a barometer of wider opinion, the chances of Christopher Luxon being in a position to “get it done” are good but they are not certain and the worry remains of just how much worse things will get before a National-led government can “get it done”.

*I know it’s now the New Zealand Agricultural Show, but most still call it the Christchurch Show.

Dan Bidois Nat for Northcote


The National Party has selected Dan Bidois as its candidate for Northcote :

Dan Bidois (Ngāti Maniapoto, Ngāpuhi) has been selected by local party members as National’s candidate in Northcote for the 2023 General Election.

“I’m excited to be selected as National’s candidate for Northcote and grateful for the support of our local party members,” Mr Bidois says.

“Northcote is my home and I’m incredibly passionate about seeing this beautiful part of Auckland become the best place to live, work and raise a family.

“Here in Northcote, we’ve had a front row seat to Labour’s complete inability to deliver. The Government has spent up large on a cycle bridge we didn’t want – wasting $51 million on consultants and fees before scrapping it anyway.

“Labour’s wasteful spending is fuelling inflation and making everything more expensive. Christopher Luxon and our National team have a plan to restore discipline to government spending and responsibly manage the economy to address the cost-of-living crisis and help Kiwis get ahead.

“Despite the skyrocketing spending, outcomes are getting worse in core areas like education, health and public safety. I know the value of a good education – it was my ticket to a better life. I was shocked to see nearly two-thirds of students fail the writing standard in a recent NCEA literacy pilot.

“In our area, over 96 per cent of emergency department patients were seen within six hours under National. Under Labour, that number has plunged by almost 13 per cent. Northcote simply can’t afford another three years of Labour.

Mr Bidois says people in Northcote want an aspirational government that can deliver for them.

“National is laser-focused on responsible economic management to address the cost-of-living crisis and ensure we’re investing in better results across core services to improve the lives of all New Zealanders.

“I’m getting to work straight away campaigning hard for Northcote’s support so I can earn the right to advocate for our area as part of a Christopher Luxon-led National team. . . 

Dan Bidois, 39, is currently an engagement manager for global management consultancy Partners in Performance. He was also the MP for Northcote from 2018 to 2020. After leaving Parliament, Dan ran his own consultancy. His earlier career saw him work as a senior executive for Foodstuffs and in economist roles for the OECD in Paris, several economic think-tanks and Deloitte.

After dropping out of Howick College at 15, Dan completed a butchery apprenticeship with Woolworths. He went on to graduate from the University of Auckland with a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Commerce before being awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to attend Harvard University, where he gained a Master of Public Policy in Economics.

In addition to his day job, Dan is a member of the executive of Northcote’s Chelsea Estate Heritage Park and sits on the board of trustees for the Grandparents Raising Grandchildren Trust.

Dan is getting married to Courtney in two weeks. They live in Northcote with their dog Mylo.

His maiden speech, delivered in 2018, is here.

Tama Potaka For Hamilton West


National’s candidate for Hamilton West is Tama Potaka:

Tama Potaka has been selected by local party members as National’s candidate in the Hamilton West by-election.

Mr Potaka is currently the chief executive of Ngāi Tai ki Tāmaki. He has also worked as a senior advisor to the NZ Super Fund and spent several years as a general manager for Hamilton-based Tainui Group Holdings.

“I’m honoured to be selected by local party members to fight the Hamilton West by-election as National’s candidate,” says Mr Potaka.

“Hamilton West has a unique chance to send a message to the Labour Government before next year’s General Election – New Zealanders need more than good intentions and band-aid solutions. They want and deserve direction, clear action and delivery.

“National offers that plan and delivery. Only National and Christopher Luxon have a plan to competently manage the economy, deal with inflation and tackle the cost-of-living crisis hitting Hamilton families in the pocket at the checkout and through rapidly rising mortgage interest rates.”

Mr Potaka says New Zealand also needs a strong economy so cities like Hamilton benefit from more investment in public services like Police.

“Hamilton families need the Government to keep the economy strong in order to prioritise the tide of crime making many people feel unsafe in their own homes and when they, and their children, out in the community.

“Headlines every day about ram raids and smash and grabs across the city make it clear that Labour’s approach to law and order is not working. We need a strong economy so we can prioritise more deterrents and more consequences for offenders.

Throughout his career, Mr Potaka has been focused on listening to people, working to understand the issues they face and delivering results for people who trust him to stand up for them.

“That’s exactly what I’ll prioritise if I earn the right to represent Hamilton West as the electorate’s strong local MP inside a Christopher Luxon-led National team.

“Labour won this seat by more than 6,000 votes last election but I’m determined to campaign relentlessly on the issues that matter to Hamilton West and turn the seat blue.

“I’m hitting the ground running and will be meeting as many people across Hamilton West as I can so I can earn the right to advocate for them.”

He will join a growing number of people opposing the Labour government, including Labour’s candidate in the by-election:

National’s Campaign Chair Chris Bishop has welcomed Labour’s Hamilton West by-election candidate to the growing movement opposing the Labour Government.

“While it’s strange to see reports Georgie Dansey attended a protest against the Labour Party so soon after being selected as its candidate in the by-election, National is thrilled to have her support in opposing the Government,” says Mr Bishop.

“According to Stuff, Labour’s candidate was part of a protest today berating senior minister Andrew Little over tertiary education workers’ pay being outstripped by rises in the cost-of-living.

“Rents in Hamilton have shot up by $115 per week under Labour, meaning a family paying the average rent is having to find an extra $6,000 a year than in 2017. Labour’s addiction to wasteful spending has fuelled the cost-of-living crisis that’s hitting Hamilton families in the pocket.

“Labour’s new candidate joins a growing list of Hamilton West Labour candidates who appear to deeply dislike the Labour Party. If Labour’s own candidate can’t support Labour, how can the people of Hamilton West?

“With even Labour’s candidate protesting the Government, it’s clear people in Hamilton West are crying out for change. While National is the underdog in this race after Labour won the seat by more than 6,000 votes, we will campaign relentlessly to offer that change to Hamilton West.

“A strong National MP will be laser-focused on delivering for Hamilton West as part of a Christopher Luxon-led National team. We’ll address the cost-of-living crisis, restore responsible management of the economy and deliver better outcomes in core services like health and education.” . . 

A poll put the National candidate ahead, before he was selected.

But David Farrar explains it’s not nearly as good as it looks:

 has reported on a poll Curia did for ACT in Hamilton West. It shows National ahead of Labour by 8.1% on the decided vote, and was done before any actual candidates were selected.

But as you would expect, there were large numbers undecided or not planning to vote. On the total vote you had just a 4.5% gap between National and Labour, which is within the margin of error for a poll of 400 people. That means there is a non-trivial (greater than 10%) chance that Labour is in fact slightly ahead in the seat. . . 

Sunday’s Reid Research Newshub poll showing Labour at its lowest result since Jacinda Ardern became leader nationally and voters in a by-election often use the opportunity to send the government a message.

But the high number of undecided voters mean it is far too soon to have much confidence in the eventual outcome.

Redefining, undermining democracy


The government’s review of local government has resulted in a report that gives more reasons to change the government:

The Government’s Future for Local Government report released today is yet another attack on local democracy from Labour, say National’s Paul Goldsmith and Simon Watts.

“This is just more of the same from Labour – a whole lot of ideological waffle that does nothing to deliver on the core issues facing communities around the country,” Local Government spokesperson Simon Watts says.

“In almost 300 pages there is nothing that will help deliver better infrastructure, housing and transport systems for our cities, regions and communities – which is what Kiwis need from local councils, not more navel gazing from Labour.”

Justice Spokesperson Paul Goldsmith says National rejects the co-government proposals in the report, just as National rejects co-governance of public services.

“The report’s authors are proposing mana whenua appointments to councils and a shift away from one person, one vote. National disagrees – equal voting rights are a fundamental tenet of our democracy.

“The working group also wants to lower the voting age to 16 and extend the term between elections. These are not the issues we should be focusing on when local infrastructure and services are at breaking point.

“Voters will have a clear choice at the next election, between Labour which is determined to pursue its co-governance agenda and National which will govern for all New Zealanders and most importantly get things done.” 

The report’s recommendations redefine and undermine democracy.

Taxpayers’ Union board member Peter Williams wrote in an email that the proposals would fundamentally shift local councils from democratic institutions into unaccountable ‘co-governed’ fiefdoms:

The proposals include:

  • Transferring a laundry list of powers that currently fall before elected council directly to hapū/iwi and other Māori organisations;

Democracy isn’t perfect, but it gives us some control over councils and their powers which we would lose if they were gifted to hapū/iwi and other Māori organisations.

  • Appointing unelected positions by mana whenua to be given equal status as elected members (including voting rights). But unlike the councillors, the mana whenua representatives cannot be removed at the ballot box;

The government took away our right to vote on Maori wards on councils, but those still adhere to the democratic principle of equal representation. Imposing unelected appointees from manu whenua, and giving them full voting rights, steamrolls one-person, one vote and the equal representation that gives.

  • Requiring council staff to conform with ‘te ao Māori values’ by law;

What does that mean, and is it compatible with freedom of religion and speech?

  • Funding of ‘Tiriti-based partnership in local governance’ (no matter the cost to ratepayers, apparently); 

That sounds like less democracy and more costs.

  • Removing the requirement for local referenda before changing the voting system (for the remaining councillors to be elected) by imposing STV across the country; 

STV can elect mayors and councillors on votes from people whose first, second, third and sometimes several subsequent choices didn’t get enough support. Does getting through on people’s low preferences really give a stronger mandate than first past the post?

  • Lowering the local voting age to 16. 

A Curia poll showed only 18% support for doing this; 88% opposed it and 4% were unsure.

One of the arguments in favouring lowering the voting age is to increase participation. The number of people voting might go up but there is any evidence to show the percentage of eligible voters voting would increase?

The low numbers of people voting in local body elections is concerning but lowering the age would not address the causes of that.

You couldn’t make this up: the future of democracy is at stake.

In what is either an Orwellian misstep, or an attempt to gaslight you, Mahuta’s Panel literally claim that these recommendations are to “strengthen democracy”. Imposing co-governance does not increase democracy.

There is now no denying where Ardern, Mahuta and the Government want to take New Zealand.

They want to take us backwards economically and socially and forwards to a racially divided, undemocratic future.

A media release from the TU says the review virtue signals the end of local democracy:

. . . Taxpayers’ Union Campaigns Manager Callum Purves says:

“These reforms would further erode local democracy in New Zealand by transferring more power from elected members to unelected groups without any democratic accountability. This will worsen, not improve, the democratic deficit in local government.

“The only people who should be making decisions in the council chamber on how taxpayers’ money is spent are elected representatives who are directly accountable to their constituents.”

The Taxpayers’ Union met with the Review panel in July on request. The panel confirmed that it had not directly sought feedback from any ratepayer groups as it did not consider this a ‘good use of time’.

That shows the review panel had no regard for the people who fund councils, instead it was driven by the government’s attempts to redefine and undermine democracy.



What’s Labour’s biggest fail?


National asks a question that ought to be easy to answer:

National has today launched a new website outlining Labour’s extensive record of failure over the past five years, says National Party Campaign Chair Chris Bishop.

“Today is the fifth anniversary of Labour coming to power and Kiwis are frustrated at the Government’s lack of delivery. Our new website lets people vote for what they believe is the biggest fail – is it the cost of living crisis, the housing catastrophe Labour has overseen, an education system slipping backwards, Labour’s soft-on-crime approach or a health system under huge pressure?

“This is the most wasteful and incompetent Government in New Zealand history. Labour is addicted to spending and is now spending an extra $1 billion per week compared with 2017 – but it has nothing to show for it other than increased taxes and a massive increase in government bureaucracy.

“When Jacinda Ardern said “let’s do this” in 2017, she presumably didn’t mean more children in poverty and living in cars, the cost of living rising twice as fast as wages, Auckland Light Rail having not even started despite promises it would be completed by now, or KiwiBuild delivering 1.4 per cent of the promised 100,000 houses.

“Labour must be held to account for its lack of delivery. The tired old Labour formula of good intentions, endless working groups, and big spending has failed.

“Rents are up $140 per week on average, the state house waitlist has increased by 20,000 families, emergency department wait times and surgical waitlists are at record highs, there is one ram raid every 15 hours, fewer than half our kids are attending school regularly with over 100,000 chronically absent, and gangs are recruiting twice as fast as Police.

“The good news is, there is a better way. National has a plan to better manage the economy, deal with the cost of living crisis, deliver better public services and get New Zealand moving forward again.”

National is inviting Kiwis sick of Labour’s lack of delivery to vote on Labour’s biggest fail at www.laboursbiggestfail.co.nz

It ought to be easy to answer that questions but what makes it hard is there are so many fails from which to choose:

Labour is addicted to spending and you are paying the price

Labour is spending nearly $1 billion more every week.

Inflation is at 7.2%, the highest in three decades, forcing you to pay more for everything .

Prices are rising twice as fast as wages.

Filling up a 60L tank of petrol has increased by $35.

So has your weekly grocery shop (up by $35).

Rents have increased by $140 per week on average – that’s $7280 a year.

Weekly mortgage interest payments are $300 higher or $15,600 more per year (RBNZ & REINZ).

A 20% deposit on an average home is up $60,000 to $160,000.

Even well-off people are complaining about prices, many who ought to be comfortably off are finding balancing their budgets hard and the poor are struggling.

Labour is taxing you more

Labour is now collecting $33 billion more in tax every year. 

Labour has introduced several new taxes….

Aucklanders are paying a 10c per litre Regional Fuel Tax every time they fill up

Farmers and tradies buying utes to do their jobs now pay a Car Tax of up to $5000 – which is subsidising Teslas for wealthy people.

Labour extended the bright-line test to 10 years after explicitly promising not to – it’s a Capital Gains Tax by stealth.

Labour removed mortgage interest deductibility for landlords (a Tenant Tax) which officials told them would likely increase rents.

And they want to increase taxes even further

Labour is planning a Jobs Tax where everyday Kiwis earning $60,000 will pay $834 more every year

Taking so much more in tax would be bad in itself, it’s worse when so much is being wasted.

Labour is wasting billions of your hard-earned money 

$650 million in corporate welfare to subsidise businesses to cut emissions they would have done anyway.

$586 million to restructure the health system during a global pandemic, including $168 million for a separate Māori Health Authority.

$370 million to merge TVNZ and RNZ.

$100 million on a business case for the Lake Onslow project.

$65.9 million on Auckland Light Rail without a single kilometre having been built.

$51 million on the cancelled Auckland cycle bridge, including $600,000 on an empty waterfront office!

$35 million subsidising people to buy Tesla’s.

 $24 million on Kainga Ora office renovations.

$2.75 million for the Mongrel Mob to run a meth rehab programme.

Shareholders in any private business that wasted a fraction of this amount would be sacking all the directors.

And what has Labour delivered for all of this increased spending and tax?

New Zealand is going backwards.

New Zealand’s global competitiveness ranking has fallen from 16th to 31st.

50,000 more people are on the Jobseeker Benefit, despite businesses crying out for workers.

Instead of lifting 100,000 children out of poverty by 2020, 400 more children are living in poverty (RNZStats NZ). 

The state housing waitlist has grown by over 20,000 applicants.

480 Kiwi families live in cars, up 350% in the last five years.

$1 million is spent every day housing people in motels and other emergency accommodation.

Just 1.4% of the 100,000 promised KiwiBuild houses have been built.

Let’s Get Wellington Moving has delivered only a set of new traffic lights and a pedestrian crossing (no, really)

Less than half of Kiwi kids are regularly attending school, and over 100,000 are chronically absent.  

The number of kids not receiving any education at all has doubled to 8,500. 

Two-thirds of students failing a basic NCEA writing assessment, with just 64% passing the reading standard, and 56% passing numeracy.

New Zealand pupils used to do well on international comparisons, not any more.

The average Emergency Department wait time is just under 5 hours – the worst in a decade.

More than 200,000 Kiwis are sitting on a health-related waitlist.

People waiting longer than four months for their first appointments with hospital specialists has grown from less than 1000 under National to almost 30,000 under Labour.

No change in access to mental health services despite spending $1.9 billion .

A shortage of at least 4,000 nurses but the Government still refuses to put nurses on the fast-tracked straight to residency visa path.

The health system has been under growing stress for years,. Labour has made it worse by wasting millions on restructuring the system without addressing the need to improve services and the people who deliver them.

There are 2,676 more gang members, a 50% increase.

Gangs are recruiting twice as fast as Police, with 1.7 new gang members for every new Police graduate.

There are 2,742 fewer offenders in prison but violent crime is up 21% (Corrections & NZ Police Data).

Firearm violence is the worst in decades, 1335 offences were recorded in 2021 up from 981 in 2017.

518% increase in youth ram-raids.

109% increase in serious assaults 

Despite poor service delivery, NZ now has 14,000 more public servants

We’re paying more, the government is spending more and we’re getting far, far, less for it.

New Zealand imported almost four times as much coal last year as 2017.

Remember the declaration that climate change action was our nuclear-free moment?

It wasn’t supposed to mean taking the country backwards with economic, environmental and social devastation caused by the fallout.

Funding programmes that work


National plans to fund a programme that delivers positive social change:

Social investment will be the organising framework for the next National Government’s approach to the funding and delivery of social services, said National’s Social Investment Spokesperson Nicola Willis in a Guest Lecture hosted by Victoria University today.

“Kids ram-raiding shopping malls, thousands of families living in motel rooms and cars, soaring truancy rates, and a growing list of social problems are of great concern to New Zealanders.

“Despite the increasing billions spent on well-intended programmes, endless Government strategies and thousands more people employed to help, traditional public systems and services are still failing many New Zealanders in most need of community support.

Labour mistakes throwing money at problems, and a growing bureaucracy to address them, for solving them.

“I’m determined that the next National Government will bring the Social Investment approach back to life. The basic idea underpinning Social Investment is that if Government intervenes earlier and more effectively for our most disadvantaged citizens then their lives could be so much better. 

“National’s Social Investment approach will identify, fund and scale up the actions that will have the most positive impact on people in the long run. It will make use of sophisticated data and evaluation approaches to identify what works and, crucially, what doesn’t.

This is very different from Labour’s approach which, in spite of it trumpeting a Wellbeing Budget, is overseeing a deterioration in every wellbeing measure.

“This bold new approach to delivering social services will be supported by a new Social Investment Fund. The Social Investment Fund will invest in programmes that promise to change the lives of New Zealanders with the greatest needs. It will start small and scale up over time.

“Initial funding would be provided by Government through the Budget process, and would be topped-up each year, including by redeploying funding from any Government initiatives that may have received disappointing social impact evaluations.

“I can imagine, for example, a National Government might deploy the Social Investment Fund to tackle the task of delivering secure, sustainable housing for people currently living for extended periods in emergency housing. 

“My hope is that the Social Investment Fund would become so effective at delivering results that ultimately New Zealanders seeking positive social change for the disadvantaged might choose to invest their funds with it. 

“There could be huge power in combining the forces of Government social investment experience with the capital and expertise of the philanthropic and charitable sector.

“I want results. If private capital can be better deployed to help change the lives of more New Zealanders, then I will not be afraid to use it. The next National Government will be focused on doing what works.” 

Results. That will be a welcome change from announcements and announcements of announcements and promises with no targets and an inability to deliver.

It is also refreshing that this policy will help people on need.

Bill English introduced social investment which was resulting in positive changes to people’s lives under the last National government.

It is to Labour’s shame that it abandoned the policy for purely political reasons for which we’re all paying the price.

A change of government will bring a welcome and much-needed change of focus, using earlier intervention and targeting assistance at those who need it most.

Sharma’s kamikaze move


The independent, once Labour, MP for Hamilton West, Dr Gaurav Sharma , has resigned in what looks like a kamikaze move:

Dr Gaurav Sharma was up in political Siberia on Tuesday, sitting alone in the backbenches of the House taking on the Prime Minister. He sat through jeers as he asked his question.

Moments later, there was Sharmageddon in the form of a bright pink Facebook post. He’s gone – resigning his seat – forcing a by-election. . . 

Over the weekend Dr Sharma became convinced Labour was going to boot him out of the Parliament altogether using the waka-jumping legislation.  . .

Dr Sharma claims the plan was to waka jump him later next year. If an MP leaves within six months of a general election, no by-election is held to replace them.

So he took things into his own hands, blindsiding Labour’s top brass.  . .  

Labour says they weren’t going to invoke the waka jumping legislation.  Why would the party do that when the tide is going out against the party even if doing it late enough to not trigger the expense and distraction of a by-election?

“We have not and are not considering the waka jumping provisions nor do I know the basis of Gaurav Sharma’s speculation,” Jacinda Ardern said.  

“Gaurav may wish to reconsider his decision given he is unnecessarily costing the taxpayer hundreds of thousands of dollars to trigger a by-election he then intends to stand in.” . .

She backed one of her MPs in Wellington’s mayoral election and wasn’t concerned with the costs of the by-election that would have been triggered had he won.

In going Sharma fired some shots at his former colleagues:

The reason I have had to resign is to prevent Labour from taking away the voice of Hamilton West by invoking Waka Jumping 6 months before the General Election. Labour will now try to spin my decision by talking about the cost of the by-election.
But before they do that here are a few things to ask the Labour Party:

1. Labour’s own MP Paul Eagle has been getting paid from taxpayers purse while running as a Mayoral candidate. He also used the MP funding to send a letter to 20,000 houses in Rongotai asking for what local issues mattered the most to people – this was within days of announcing his bid for Mayoralty. Not only this, if Paul had won, a by-election would have been triggered in the Rongotai electorate for MP.

2. Over the years many Labour MPs have triggered by-elections for one reason or another – in fact Labour MP David Shearer resigning and triggering a by-election is how Jacinda Ardern won the Mt Albert electorate seat in 2017.

3. Since stepping down as the Speaker Trevor Mallard has been sitting in the House with no Select Committee duties, no Bills to speak on, no constituent work. In the last 2 months he has been paid well over $25,000 to just enjoy his retirement. Soon he will be on the gravy train to be the Ambassador of NZ to Ireland. And don’t forget he is on the old Parliament contract which means he gets free business class flights for life.

4. Also a quick reminder of government’s failed recent spending

– $51m spent on axed Auckland harbour cycling bridge project

$500k in office rent paid after Auckland cycle crossing canned

– $66 million on Dominion Rd Light Rail report – $44million out of this is on external consultants
– $350 million on TVNZ/RNZ merger

– $200 million on Te Pukenga botched polytech reform

He’s not going quietly but it’s difficult to understand why he’s planning to stand again.

He won the seat from National and Labour won the party vote in the red tide that swept the country at the 2020 election.

That tide is now going out.

But if Sharma stands again, and several of the wee parties also field a candidate, he might inadvertently help his former party by splitting the anti-Labour vote.

Rural round-up


Rural internet snag – Jessica Marshall:

Despite its importance to the sector, many farmers and rural customers are still managing with subpar internet and mobile phone service.

That’s according to the recent 2022 Federated Farmer Rural Connectivity Survey. 

The survey found that more than half of the approximately 1,200 farmers who responded had reported download speeds at or less than 20 megabytes per second.

Federated Farmers national board member and telecommunications spokesman Richard McIntyre says broadband and mobile are vital to farming businesses. . . 

a2 Milk strikes a distribution deal with Chinese partner and sets sights on 2bn annual revenue – Point of Order:

While  the  big  co-op Fonterra  is  the  dominant force  in the  NZ  dairy  industry,  injecting nearly $14bn into regional  economies  through its payout  to  farmers, some  of  the  smaller  companies  have  become  spectacular performers.

Point of  Order  last week   drew  attention  to  how  the  specialist  Waikato processing company Tatua had  outstripped  Fonterra  with  its  2021-22 payout.

This  week a2 Milk  grabbed  a  headline  by  telling the   market it  had renewed exclusive import and distribution arrangements with a Chinese company for five years. This  triggered   fresh interest in  the  company,  which  is  sitting  on  a cash  pile  of $816.5m  It  plans  to  spend $150m of this in a  share buy-back

China State Farm Agribusiness has been a2 Milk’s strategic distribution partner in China since 2013 and is the exclusive import agent for its China label products, including a2’s China label infant milk formula. . . 

Agricultural emissions MOU a positive step :

The new memorandum of understanding between the Government and agribusiness leaders as part of the Centre for Climate Action on Agricultural Emissions is a step in the right direction, National’s Agriculture spokesperson Barbara Kuriger says.

“The $172 million over four years committed to tools and technology, including $7.75 million in this financial year, is a constructive spend of committed Budget funds.

“National supports the Government’s current emissions targets and budgets.

“Our agricultural sector is currently worth $52 billion to New Zealand, and our farmers are already the world’s lowest emitters.  . . .

Rewarding to invest in renewable power – Tim Cronshaw:

Solar power is only part of the environmental equation that adds up for a Canterbury vegetable and crop grower, writes Tim Cronshaw.

Robin Oakley’s call to put in 564 solar panels at his Southbridge vegetable and arable operation was done with his head and heart.

The ground-mounted solar line-up sits next to the packing shed and powers 40% of the site’s energy needs each year.

Within seven years, the payback from electricity generated by the panels will have covered the capital outlay of $400,000. . . 

Milestone for NAIT as CRV becomes first accredited provider under new standards :

Dairy genetics company CRV NZ has become the first service provider to achieve NAIT accreditation under OSPRI’s more rigorous five-step process.

Representatives from OSPRI today officially presented CRV with its accreditation certificate in Hamilton.

National Manager Quality, Compliance and Assurance Melissa Bailey says the intention of the new voluntary accreditation system is to give farmers more confidence that organisations handling and managing their NAIT data, such as saleyards and meat processors, meet the highest industry-agreed standards.

Under the old system, more than 150 providers were accredited. Farmers were getting notices for not complying and there were some instances where the movements were recorded incorrectly. . . 


NT government releases plan to address banana freckle disease outbreak in the Top End – Alicia Perera:

Since first being detected in May, banana freckle has spread to more than 40 properties across the Northern Territory’s Top End region.

One of those is Julie-Ann Murphy and Alan Petersen’s farm, Rum Jungle Organics.

The only commercial farm caught up in the outbreak, they’re now facing the prospect of losing their entire banana plantation for the second time in a decade, as the NT government takes steps to tackle the disease. 

“It’s pretty devastating to do it a second time,” Ms Murphy said. . . 

Rural round-up


Government ban is cancellation over collaboration :

A future National Government will review today’s law change banning live cattle exports, National’s Animal Welfare spokesperson Nicola Grigg says.

“Despite National’s opposition, Parliament has today passed the Animal Welfare Amendment Bill into law, banning the export of live animals by sea from April next year.

“As New Zealanders grapple with a cost of living crisis made worse by the Labour Government, today’s decision signals more economic pain for farmers and consumers.

“An Infometrics Economic Impact Report says this ban will reduce New Zealand’s gross domestic product by $472 million and cost export cattle breeders between $49,000 and $116,000 per farm, every year. . . .

Live cattle export ban a golden opportunity missed for NZ ag – Nicola Grigg:

New Zealand has been robbed of an opportunity to shape welfare standards in the global trade of live animals, with the upcoming passage of a law that will end exports from this country as of April next year.

Once again, we have before us another example of a government that prefers a cancel culture, rather than a constructive culture. This ban came about on the back of the sinking of the Gulf Livestock 1 in 2019, in which two New Zealanders died.

That was a tragedy, and I do acknowledge those families involved.

But the livestock trade will continue whether or not New Zealand is part of it. Now, unfortunately, other countries with less rigorous animal welfare standards will make up for the gap in the market as New Zealand withdraws. . . 


Another record payout for Tatua’s 101 farmer shareholders –  Point of Order:

It  is  only  a star on the  horizon for  the  bulk  of  dairy  farmers — but  this is  what  they  may  aspire  to.  How  about  a  payout of  $11.30kg/MS?

That’s what the 101 farmer-shareholders in  the Waikato  specialist-product-co-op  Tatua  will receive — a  record — for the 2021-22 year.  Tatua will still retain close to $20m  to reinvest in the business.

Tatua  has reported group earnings equivalent to $12.65kg before retentions for the year ended July 31. This was up on the previous year’s earnings of  $10.43kg and was achieved in spite of Covid-related disruption and shipping issues.

The company said group income was $444m ($395m the  previous year), with earnings available for payout of $186m. Retentions were equivalent to $1.35/kg. . . 

Why keeping tabs of Tata suggests O’Connor should be quickening the pace in push for an FTA with India – Point of Order:

Among the many issues related to the performance of the export sector and how the Government might further help it is the case for negotiating a  trade deal with India.

Australia has secured a free trade deal with  what  is  the  planet’s  fifth-biggest economy.

In contrast, Agriculture and Trade Minister Damien O’Connor says concluding a free trade agreement between NZ and India “is not a realistic short-term prospect”.

Intensive negotiations were held between India and NZ in the context of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership FTA negotiations, especially in 2018 and 2019, before India withdrew from the RCEP negotiations in November 2019. . . 

Pasture-raised advantage New Zealand :

New Zealand scientists have conducted a ground-breaking research programme to explore the differences between pasture-raised beef with grain fed beef and alternative proteins.

Most of the global research around the nutritional, environmental and health impacts of producing and consuming red meat have been based on grain-finished cattle.

However, New Zealand specialises in free-range, grass-fed farming without antibiotics and hormones. Not only are the farming styles different, but so too is our pasture-raised meat.

Researchers, scientists, dietitians and nutritionists from AgResearch, the Riddet Institute and the University of Auckland recognised that difference and have undertaken a ground-breaking new research programme that compared pasture-raised beef and lamb against grain-finished and protein alternatives – products like plant-based alternatives. . . .




New research to future-proof New Zealand’s wine sector :

A new experimental vineyard in Blenheim will help enhance the supply of quality grapes for New Zealand’s wine sector into the future.

The new Experimental Future Vineyard facility, based at the New Zealand Wine Centre – Te Pokapū Wāina o Aotearoa, will provide a unique resource for research into wine grape production. Operated by Plant & Food Research, the Experimental Future Vineyard will support productivity and quality aspirations of the New Zealand wine sector by developing new growing practices with improved environmental outcomes.

The new facility will be based within a 600m2 shelter, allowing researchers to control the vineyard environment and build knowledge that will ensure the wine sector is prepared for future challenges. The facility will enable research to be conducted within the vine and beneath the soil, and allow researchers to control aspects of the environment such as soil type and temperature and water availability.

“We’re excited to be a part of Te Pokapū Wāina o Aotearoa,” says Dr Damian Martin, Science Group Leader Viticulture and Oenology at Plant & Food Research. “We know climate change will add to challenges facing wine production in New Zealand, with warmer days and more insect pests and diseases able to establish here. We also know that consumer expectations will continue to evolve, with increased focus on sustainability credentials. Being able to understand how best to grow excellent grapes that allow winemakers to meet their environmental, financial and societal requirements will ensure our wine sector can continue to grow.” . . 

Stop the jobs tax


National has launched a petition to stop the jobs tax:

Labour wants to take more of your hard-earned cash, with a plan to impose a new 1.39% Jobs Tax on every worker and every employer.

The Jobs Tax would make a typical worker (earning $60,000) $834 worse off every year. That’s $834 less for your groceries, your power and other bills, and your own savings. Employers would also be forced to pay the tax for every employee on their pay roll. Yet another cost on business that will put pressure on prices and make it harder to get a pay rise.

The Jobs Tax has been dreamt up by the Government to pay for Finance Minister Grant Robertson’s latest pet project: an “income insurance scheme”. This gold-plated welfare scheme would allow those made redundant to stay off work for up to 6 months on 80% pay. This despite businesses crying out for skilled workers!

The Jobs Tax joins the long line of other taxes Labour has introduced to fleece New Zealanders of their hard-earned cash, all while delivering worse outcomes for you and your family.

Help us stop Labour’s obsession with spending your money. Sign our petition to stop Labour’s Jobs Tax today.

Want to know how much Labour’s Jobs Tax will cost you? See how much worse off you’ll be HERE.

That link takes you to a table that shows someone earning $35,000 would pay $487 a year, the employer would also pay that making a total of $974  taken from the worker and the business in extra tax.

Someone earning $60,000 would have $834 taken from them, so would the employer making a total of $1,668 taken from the worker and the business by the government.

May be an image of 2 people, child and text that says "Labour's Jobs Tax will cost someone earning $60,000... $834 PER YEAR"

Workers earning $135,000 and their employers would pay  $1,820 each, a total of $3,640 taken from those who earned it by the government that promised no new taxes.

That’s a lot of tax that would be taken from workers and employers and who do you think would make better use of the money – the employees and the businesses or the government?

Taking that much tax to redistribute to people who may or may not need it is bad enough. It gets worse when you read Eric Crampton explaining how the scheme would be open to rorts:

A dark part of me hopes the government’s employment insurance scheme is enacted exactly as proposed.

It will be terrible.

But the rorts it will spawn will be the stuff of which economics columnists’ dreams are made.

The scheme really is not insurance. Insurance charges premiums that vary with risk. The government’s employment insurance scheme simply charges a proportion of a worker’s salary.

It’s not an insurance scheme it’s a tax and it’s not needed by many, perhaps most workers.

Has anyone bothered to investigate how many people are really at risk of losing their jobs and how many of those who, in the current environment, would walk straight into another job?

Consider seasonal employment which is only covered if a worker is made redundant before the end of the contracted picking season.

But employers making workers redundant every year will not pay a higher insurance premium.

Clever employers will put seasonal workers on to permanent contracts before making them redundant towards the end of the picking season. Workers in on the bargain will work through the initial four weeks of redundancy covered by the employer if they want to play the game again next season.

And a lengthy period on 80 per cent of their prior salary awaits.

You might even consider it a subsidy scheme for seasonal work. Attracting workers out to the regions is easier if those workers can enjoy six months of government-provided redundancy pay as part of the bargain. . . 

Or consider maternity benefits.

Parental leave provides payments of up to $621.76 per week. But if a parent-to-be were to be made redundant, just consider the benefits for those on higher incomes!

Rather than see their pay drop to a meagre $621.76 per week, they could receive up to about $2000 per week – if they earned $130,000 or more before taking parental redundancy.

It really is brilliant. Labour has come up with a mechanism ensuring higher-earning women face fewer costs when having children, while doing fairly little for women on lower wages.

If a right-wing government had come up with the scheme, it would be accused of doing it deliberately, and possibly with eugenic intentions.

What employer would be so mean as to decline their employee’s request to be made redundant before the birth of their child?

And while parental leave is only available to one parent at a time, both parents in a two-income family could take redundancy. They could enjoy a full year with one parent at home with the new baby, or six months of family togetherness. On an “insurance” payment. . .

Labour has done a lot to make better-off people better-off while the poor have got poorer.

The jobs tax would do more of that and it would foster make-work schemes for employment lawyers:

Under current employment law, it is impossibly difficult to fire underperforming workers in some circumstances. It is too easy for employers to find themselves tied up in personal grievance claims for months – to the benefit of the lawyers.

But if both sides in a fractured employment relationship can agree that the worker will be made redundant, with an “insurance” scheme picking up months and months of redundancy payments at 80 per cent of the worker’s salary, everything becomes easier.

The employer neither needs to come up with a very expensive golden handshake, nor deal with months of workplace toxicity as a personal grievance case works its way through.

The worker can simply be made redundant.

You might even view it as a tidy second-best workaround to dysfunctional employment legislation. It will be far easier for employers to fire problem workers, with their agreement, when the scheme is in place. . . 

If there’s ever a good time to add a new tax, it’s not when all but the wealthy are struggling with the impacts of steeply rising prices.

If there’s ever a good time to make it easier for people to not work, it’s not when there’s a nation-wide shortage of workers.

This is a bad tax made worse by the potential for rorts and really bad timing.




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