Fresh vs stale

02/11/2013

The National Party had a big intake of new MPs in 2005 and another reasonable intake in 2008.

A couple of mid-term resignations and end-of-term retirements brought in more new MPs in 2011.

Five MPs have announced they’re retiring at the end of this term and yesterday Bill English announced he would be standing on the list only.

This gives the party more opportunities for refreshment and will provide a caucus with a balance of experience and fresh faces.

Contrast that with Labour which gained few MPs in the last few elections because it lost electorates and sacrificed newer candidates for older ones on its list.

It’s had one new MP mid-term after the death of Parekura Horimia and might get a second in the Christchurch East by-election.

But so far none of the older long-serving MPs are showing any signs of retiring – not even Trevor Mallard although he’s still a staunch supporter of the Anyone but Cunliffe club.

There are a variety of reasons why some people retire and some stay on.

Among the obvious ones are that retiring National MPs can see life, and work, outside politics while it looks like Labour ones can’t.

That raises a question: if people don’t see opportunities outside parliament, how good are they in it?

Whatever the answer to that the contrast between a fresher National Party in government and stale Labour in opposition is stark.

People in #gigatownoamaru see lots of opportunities in being the Southern Hemisphere’s fastest town.


Better to know bias

23/05/2013

Shane Taurima, general manager of TVNZ’s Maori and Pacific Programmes and Q + A interviewer, is seeking to be Labour’s candidate in the Ikaroa-Rawhiti by-election.

He  said he wasn’t a member of the party last week which, as Keeping Stock, points out, means he will have to get a special waiver from the party’s ruling council.

The party’s rules allow that, and I would be surprised if other parties don’t have a similar rule.

If they are sensible, it’s not one they’d employ often.

Taurima blames his non-membership on his job:

He said Horomia, who died last month after battling a number of health issues, had spoken to him in the past about entering politics. . .

. . . “Given my career choice and the absolute need to be impartial, apolitical and professional I would politely decline his approaches and he respected me for that. It wasn’t my time back then. I wasn’t ready. But I am ready now.” . . .

The need to be impartial, apolitical and professional in his work is unquestioned. But is that achieved by hiding strong support for a party?

Wouldn’t it be better for someone in his position to be upfront about his political leanings?

Isn’t it better for viewers to know about a bias and be the judge of whether that affects his work than to hide it and have them wondering?


People behind politics

06/05/2013

When politics gets personal it’s usually not for good reason.

The genuine goodwill towards Parekura Horomia and genuine sorrow over his death has been a pleasant exception to this rule.

People from across the political spectrum have paid tribute to him and in doing so have provided a far better picture and understanding of him in death than most of us would have had of him in life.

The biographies of political leaders are generally well canvassed but other MPs come, serve and go with the public who put them in parliament knowing little about the people behind the politics.

Even in these days of instant news, there’s room for more in-depth profiles which would tell us more about the people we pay to run the country.

It might help improve the public perception of most politicians and show up the few who should find another job.


Parekura Horomia 1950 – 2013

29/04/2013

Parekura Horomia, MP and Maori Affairs spokesman and former Minister, has died.

In his maiden speech he said:

– I’ve been a fencer, shearer, scrub cutter and printer.
– I’ve also worked in the upper levels of bureaucracy in management roles.

As a Maori Member of Parliament I have a dual responsibility.
– I have a responsibility to my people and the wider public.

– Unfortunately, if we look at the statistics for the people I represent the picture is bleak. We feature disproportionately in negative statistics. . .

. . . – The future for Maori is about acknowledging who we are and determining where we want to go. . . 

– Not every Maori will reap the same success as Michael Campbell but we should be encouraging them all to swing that high.

– We have to set an example for the younger generation and I accept that challenge as a new Maori Member of Parliament.

– Let me take you back a few years to the time when I was a schoolboy. I vividly recall walking to school barefoot with my seven brothers and sisters.

– Everyday, whatever the weather, we walked five kilometres to school and back.

– While this may not have been unusual for Maori children, there was a certain irony about this journey.

– Everyday we would watch the empty school bus drive past us and other whanau to collect the pakeha kids that lived a half a kilometre from our school. This bus would pick them up, turn around, drive back past us and take those kids to the school in Tologa Bay.

– As a child the bureaucrats who made those decisions mattered little. All I knew is that I had to walk and the bus was leaving me and the rest of my whanaunga behind.

– I used to dream of being picked up by that school bus. But as I grew older we became more resilient. We went from wishing it would stop to pick us up …to thinking that if it did stop we wouldn’t hop on anyway.

– I relate that story now because Maori are often told we’ve missed the bus. And many cases Maori have not even had the opportunity to get on the bus.

– The irony in all of this is that I’m now the Associate Minister of Education, responsible for school transport!

– So now I’m not only riding the bus, I’m helping to drive the bus with my colleagues, Mr Samuels, Mr Mallard and Mr Maharey.

– As one of the drivers you can be damn sure I’m going to stop the bus and pick up as many Maori as possible. . .

He held the seat of Ikaroa-Rawhiti since first winning it in 1999. His death will force a by-election.

 


Labour not interested in Maori or provinces

15/03/2009

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Wanna know a secret?

13/03/2009

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Te Tai Tonga

161,443

Clutha-Southland

38,247

West Coast-Tasman

38,042

Te Tai Hauauru

35,825

Waitaki

34,888

Ikaroa-Rawhiti

30,952

Kaikoura

23,706

Waiariki

19,212

Te Tai Tokerau

16,370

East Coast

13,649

Taranaki-King Country

12,869

Hauraki-Waikato

12,580

Northland

12,255

Rangitikei

12,189

Wairarapa

11,922

Taupo

9,101

Selwyn

7,854

Napier

6,866

Rangitata

6,826

Whanganui

5,948

Invercargill

5,617

Rotorua

5,535

Waikato

4,947

Coromandel

4,653

Tukituki

4,277

Dunedin South

2,702

Waimakariri

1,757

Otaki

1,728

Whangarei

1,628

Hunua

1,266

Bay of Plenty

1,188

Rodney

1,051

Helensville

865

Tamaki Makaurau

730

Dunedin North

642

New Plymouth

579

Nelson

565

Rimutaka

518

Auckland Central

499

Mana

321

Hutt South

311

Papakura

255

Waitakere

254

Mangere

155

Hamilton West

148

Wellington Central

146

Ohariu

130

Port Hills

115

New Lynn

97

Tauranga

89

Christchurch East

78

Palmerston North

46

Wigram

40

East Coast Bays

37

Hamilton East

37

Manurewa

37

Maungakiekie

37

Botany

36

Tamaki

36

Mt Albert

34

Manukau East

31

Pakuranga

29

Christchurch Central

28

Ilam

27

Northcote

27

Rongotai

27

Te Atatu

27

North Shore

25

Mt Roskill

24

Epsom

23


Inequities over staff increases

16/11/2008
One of the unfortunate consequences of MMP is the larger area of electorates. The difficulty and added expense of servicing them has not been recognised by extra resources for their MPs.
However, thanks to one of the clauses in the agreement between National and the Maori Party  that will change.

All Maori MPs and all MPs in general seats which cover an area greater than 20,000 square kilometres will be entitled to an extra staff member, equivalent to three full time out of parliament staffers.

The Electorates which will benefit from this are:

Name

Area sq.km

Te Tai Tonga

161,443

Clutha-Southland

38,247

West Coast-Tasman

38,042

Te Tai Hauauru

35,825

Waitaki

34,888

Ikaroa-Rawhiti

30,952

Kaikoura

23,706

Waiariki

19,212

Te Tai Tokerau

16,370

Hauraki-Waikato

12,580

Tamaki Makaurau

730

The MPs representing them are Rahui Katene, Bill English, Chris Auchinvole,  Parekura Horomia, Jacqui Dean, Colin King, Tariana Turia, Te Ururoa Flavell, Hone Harawira,  Nanaia Mahuta and Pita Sharples.

The area the bigger ones cover definitely justifies more help. But there are 21 general electorates which cover bigger areas than Tamaki Makaurau.

That raises the question of why an electorate covering a relatively small area of 730 square kilometres needs an extra staff member if these, which are bigger, don’t:

East Coast

13,649

Taranaki-King Country

12,869

Northland

12,255

Rangitikei

12,189

Wairarapa

11,922

Taupo

9,101

Selwyn

7,854

Napier

6,866

Rangitata

6,826

Whanganui

5,948

Invercargill

5,617

Rotorua

5,535

Waikato

4,947

Coromandel

4,653

Tukituki

4,277

Dunedin South

2,702

Waimakariri

1,757

Otaki

1,728

Whangarei

1,628

Hunua

1,266

Bay of Plenty

1,188

Rodney

1,051

Helensville

865

 


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