Quotes of the month

August 1, 2020

Nearly every day….I get a random stranger go out of their way to walk up to me in the street and say ‘I want to let you know I’m very grateful for what you do’. So at some point you decide do you want to listen to the one negative person, or 50 positive people?.’ – Paula Bennett

Homeowners in Kelburn who like the idea that we lead the world in banning plastic bags (we don’t) and seeing statues of Captain Cook replaced with Pohutukawa trees are going to spill their almond milk at the prospect of paying an annual two per cent tax on their unrealised capital gains. Wealthy Green voters, I am willing to wager, prefer looking good to doing good.Damien Grant

Let’s understand that dying is an intrinsic part of life. Let’s talk about what end-of-life care actually is and strengthen, extend and improve what we already have in our palliative care. Such care is a commitment, one we need to make. Euthanasia is an avoidance of this commitment. – Serena Jones

Without food, there is no life. The trick is to produce it in ways that also yield rich soils, thriving forests, healthy waterways and flourishing communities. As the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment pointed out 10 years ago, in tackling climate change, it’s vital to avoid perverse incentives and bad ecological outcomes. he farmers are right. At present, the incentives in the ETS are perverse, and they’re taking us in the wrong direction. It needs to be fixed before it’s too late. – Dame Anne Salmond

 Don’t jack up taxes during an economic crisis. Don’t add to the burden. Give us a break. What’s the better alternative? Blitz the low-quality spending and accelerate economic growth to generate the revenue to deal to the debt. – Mike Yardley

If sex isn’t real, there’s no same-sex attraction. If sex isn’t real, the lived reality of women globally is erased. I know and love trans people, but erasing the concept of sex removes the ability of many to meaningfully discuss their lives. It isn’t hate to speak the truth.” – J.K. Rowling

When transgender women and women are indistinguishable, women are unable to access the rights they would have if they were distinctive. . . Yet being tolerant of transgender women does not mean that one loses the ability to defend the rights of women who were born female. . . The main reason for this silence, as I see it, is the twisted logic of identity politics and its adherents. This ideology promotes a worldview that is wholly based on power structures and relationships. All of society is viewed through the prism of oppressors and oppressed. The ideology focuses on traits, such as race, gender or sexual orientation, some of which are deemed unalterable, others a matter of personal choice. Yet individual agency is generally devalued, to the benefit of collective identities that are increasingly ideologically fixed. An individual has less and less room to carve out room for her own views within each collective. A matrix has formed where those who have a higher number of marginalized traits rank higher on the victimhood ladder; their “truth” therefore counts more. – Ayaan Hirsi Ali

More funding does not address the issues of choice, accountability, value for money, and individual and community needs.Brooke van Velden

If your test is, it doesn’t matter whether someone is nice to the Labour Party, it matters if they are nice to the waiter, then Judith Collins is a very nice person. – Ben Thomas

Collins does not deal in ambiguity and nor is she likely to deliver it.Liam Hehir

You can’t be focussed on New Zealanders when you’re busy playing politics.One of the things I’ve learned over the years is you only ever learn from your mistakes, you don’t learn from your successes. The National Party is very focussed on not repeating any mistakes.” – Judith Collins

Elections are the means by which the Government has legitimacy and power; not minor inconveniences on the path to Covid-19 recovery.Henry Cooke

Collins, like Muldoon, speaks to a New Zealand that sees itself above class and race. She imagines a country where the language of political correctness has no place and anyone who works hard can get ahead. Don’t underestimate how many New Zealanders share that vision. – Josh Van Veen

Twitter is not on the masthead of The New York Times. But Twitter has become its ultimate editor. As the ethics and mores of that platform have become those of the paper, the paper itself has increasingly become a kind of performance space. Stories are chosen and told in a way to satisfy the narrowest of audiences, rather than to allow a curious public to read about the world and then draw their own conclusions. I was always taught that journalists were charged with writing the first rough draft of history. Now, history itself is one more ephemeral thing molded to fit the needs of a predetermined narrative. – Bari Weiss

To me, the point of a strong economy is to enable New Zealanders to do the most basic things in life well. A strong economy improves our chances of finding satisfying and well-paying work so that we can look after ourselves and our families – the most fundamental task each of us have. A society based on the assumption that its average citizen can’t or shouldn’t be expected to look after themselves and their families is doomed. – Paul Goldsmith

Here we had intimations at least that the prim, prissy, prudish neo-Puritanism, the Woke-Fascism unleashed on the nation by the Marxist Jacinda Ardern might have met its match. – Lindsay Perigo

She is creating a climate of terror designed to keep people cowed and bowed. It’s cynical, and I believe she was acting in the best interest of the country in the beginning, and now it’s become almost a mania. – Kerre McIvor

National’s approach to infrastructure is simple: Make decisions, get projects funded and commissioned, and then get them delivered, at least a couple of years before they are expected to be needed. That is the approach that transformed the economies of Asia from the 1960s.Judith Collins

It wasn’t that long ago when much of the global elite had conclusively decided that climate change was our world’s top priority. Then came a massive sideswiping by a global pandemic, of which we have only seen the first wave, along with an equally massive global recession. It serves as a timely reminder that an alarmism that cultivates one fear over others serves society poorly. – Bjorn Lomborg

I have no doubt that in the ranks of both main Parties there are numerous MPs with a strong Green personal agenda. If the Greens see a Parliamentary role then that should be to go into coalition with any majority Party so as to push their agenda. The indisputable fact is they’re frauds. – Sir Bob Jones 

A wealth tax is far more punitive than a capital gains tax, since rather than being raised on profits after an asset is sold, it must be found each year by people who may be asset rich but cash poor. It would become an unaffordable burden on many New Zealanders, especially those who are retired. – Dr Muriel Newman

Increasingly throwing money at dysfunctional families provides no assurance parents will suddenly become better budgeters, or not simply spend more on harmful behaviours. Gambling and substance abuse don’t just hurt the parent. They hurt the child directly (damage in the womb, physical abuse or neglect under the influence) not to mention indirectly through parental role-modelling that normalizes bad behaviours, especially violence, to their children.-  Lindsay Mitchell

My warning, however, would be that it’d be dangerous for National to become a conservatives’ party rather than a party with conservatives in it. It’s better to share power in a party that governs more often than not than it is to be the dominant force in a party that reliably gets 35% of the vote. . . The National Party is not an ideological movement. It is a political framework that allows members unified by their opposition to state socialism to pursue their various goals incrementally and co-operatively. Nobody ever gets everything they want but that’s a fact of life. – Liam Hehir

And that defines the New Zealand First dilemma. They must now campaign on the basis that they were part of a Government so they can’t credibly attack it, but they were not a big enough part to have a major influence. Richard Harman

We think it’s very important that we have everybody involved in it (planning). But I think it’s really important too is that consultation actually should be consultation, not the farce we have at the moment where everybody gets a say, and nobody gets the answer. –  Judith Collins

For me every day is now what they refer to as ‘Blursday’ because I really wouldn’t know. – Melina Schamroth

Properly funded end of life care is what needs to happen before, in my opinion, we push the nuclear button on the option of euthanasia. – Maggie Barry

It is about this time in the election cycle that the media starts crying out for policy. They want to know exactly what a party will do if elected. The problem for parties has always been that the amount of effort that goes into writing an election policy is not reflected in the amount of consideration given to it by voters. – Brigitte Morton

Laying hundreds off is no different to laying one off if you’re that one. And the reason this will play into the way we vote is because the halcyon days of the lock down are well past, and we have moved on with the inevitable, what next scenario. . .If The Warehouse, having taken the wage subsidy, can still lay off the numbers they are, and they’re far from the only ones, how many more join that queue come September 1st? And how many of those jobless quite rightly ask themselves whether teddy bears in windows, closed borders and a tanked economy with no real answer outside welfare is really worth voting for. – Mike Hosking

Hypocrisy is a normal but irritating aspect of human behaviour. We’re all hypocrites to some extent, but true hypocrites are almost admirable in their chutzpah because, unlike hypocrites who are caught doing what they try to hide, real hypocrites are outraged by vices which they themselves do in public. Their hypocrisy is so blatant that, after a while, nobody notices – it fades into the background like muzak in a shopping centre. – Roger Franklin

On behalf of environmentalists everywhere, I would like to formally apologize for the climate scare we created over the last 30 years. Climate change is happening. It’s just not the end of the world. It’s not even our most serious environmental problem.  – Michael Shellenberger

Peters can only win if voters see only his crafted image and ignore the reality of who he really is. But once the tricks become obvious – when the threadbare curtain concealing him is pulled back – the show man can no longer pass himself off as the Wizard of Oz. – Andrea Vance

By any measure it is the coming together of the narcissist and the plain wacky coated in self-delusion. – The Veteran

A strong economy improves our chances of finding satisfying and well-paying work so that we can look after ourselves and our families – the most fundamental task each of us have.
A society based on the assumption that its average citizen can’t or shouldn’t be expected to look after themselves and their families is doomed.  
Paul Goldsmith

Just think about it, when you step into a polling booth on September 19 you will be a bit like a practising Catholic going into a cathedral, dipping your fingers into the holy water font and blessing yourself.

After you’ve washed your hands with the sanitiser, you’ll bow over the ballot paper in the booth and be reminded how lucky you are to be alive.  – Barry Soper

Those on welfare don’t need sympathy. They need to be backed, encouraged, and supported to plan their future and see a path off welfare dependency. . . . I have always believed the answers to long-term dependency, child abuse, and neglect, and violence are in our communities. There is no programme that a politician or a bureaucrat can design that will solve these complex issues – Paula Bennett

Money is currently being thrown around but with no accountability. We have to be bold, brave. How can throwing millions and millions of dollars around and hoping some gets to those that need it most, through Government agencies and community organisations, and yet watching more people in despair be OK. – Paula Bennett

I’m far from perfect, and I know that, but my intent, my heart, my integrity has meant that I have slept well. This place is brutal. It will pick up the spade and bury you if you let it. It is relentless, but we sign up knowing that. So I went hard and full-on. For me to have not made a difference and not given it everything I’ve got would’ve been wasted time. So I end this chapter half the size but twice the woman thanks to this experience.  – Paula Bennett

Why is it through the toughest moments of our lives we learn the most, we feel the most, we have the greatest power to contribute and experience beauty? Through COVID, we saw this. Through fear, desperation, and hardship, heroes emerged. Teachers taught children from their living rooms while supporting their own families. Nurses, doctors, and checkout operators had the courage to turn up even when they were petrified. The lesson is: character and courage emerge out of trauma and hardship. The question for any generation of political leaders is: have we had the courage and character to step up and solve the hard economic and social issues of our time?  – Nikki Kaye

The National Party has been a strong force in New Zealand politics because of its values of freedom and personal responsibility—a place where social conservatives and social liberals can work for the common good. As a party, we are at our best when there is balance. That is when we are truly representative of this great nation. – Nikki Kaye

To the parliamentarians: I’ve always said I believe there are two types of parliamentarians in this place. Those that are in it for themselves and those that are in it for the country. Be the latter. Be brave and have courage. Don’t leave anything in the tank. – Nikki Kaye

In my three years as justice Minister, it very quickly became clear to me that the best thing we could do to reduce crime was to intervene many, many years before the offenders ever turn up in court. That was the basis of my absolute adoption of the importance of social investment as championed by Sir Bill English. Yes, it’s early intervention but it’s so much more and involves radical change to our delivery models if we’re going to make progress on the hard intergenerational issues.  – Amy Adams

Colleagues, the jobs we hold matter. They matter so much more than any one of us. We need good people to want to step into this arena, and we need them to do it for the best of reasons. I worry that increasingly the scorn and the vitriol that is heaped on politicians—often fairly—discourages those good people from stepping up. These jobs are tough. The life is brutal, and the public will never really see the hours, the stress, the impossibility of the perfection that is required, and the impact that life in the public eye has on our families. While you are here in your political role, it is your life. Friends, family, and our health get what’s left over, and often that’s not much. But this job deserves that level of devotion. – Amy Adams

If I have any advice for those who follow me, it would be pretty simple: do the right thing and let the politics take care of itself. Be brave, stand up on the divisive issues, and never lose sight of the difference you get to make in the time that we are here. – Amy Adams

I had the privilege of sharing a breakfast with Julia Gillard, the Australian Prime Minister at the time. Neither of us were into cold pastries or cold meat, so she ordered toast. I thought, “What are we going to put on this toast?” She said, “Don’t worry, Nathan. I’ve got it in hand.”, reached down—”Craft peanut butter. Vegemite.” We had a great discussion. The Anzac bond is incredibly strong. – Nathan Guy

It’s easy to sit on the side lines and criticise. It’s a lot more difficult to stand up and be counted. – Nathan Guy

While everyone is in recession it is a wee bit difficult to believe that we are going to be out of it. . . . We are heading into massive deficits. Households will tend to buckle down in the face of that and eventually government will have to tighten up as well. One of the things about this recession is the way it cuts across your usual categories of who is hit and who isn’t. Get ready for a long haul.- Sir Bill English

You should be concerned about systems that randomly allocate public resource to businesses under pressure. – Sir Bill English

 


Soft bigotry not kind

July 30, 2020

The government is planning to end the requirement for people on a benefit to return to work 12 months after they have a subsequent child:

Social Development Minister Carmel Sepuloni on Wednesday said the Government planned to change the law to remove the policy in November 2021, as part of a “overhaul” of the welfare system. Labour would have to win the election to bring this policy into effect.

Under the policy, a parent who is on the benefit and has another child is obliged to find part-time work when the child is 12-months old. It was introduced in 2012 by a National Government. . . 

It is ironic that this was announced on the same day former National Minister Paula Bennett said this in her valedictory statement:

. . .As we were well into the global financial crises and many people were losing their jobs, we needed an immediate plan. We quickly implemented the ReStart, redundancy support and job support scheme to respond to the recession. These temporary financial packages have been recently put in place in various iterations to help us during the COVID economic crisis. We also introduced the job opportunities and Community Max programmes to specifically assist young people. Even though these were the hardest times that we had seen for a long time, we were able to see many positive results. Nearly 10,000 young people were helped with the Community Max and job support programmes and 73 percent did not go on benefit when they finished. One third of jobseekers were being exited into jobs before entering the benefit system, but more had to be done. These short-term measures were important, but our welfare system was part of the reason we were seeing intergenerational welfare dependence and too many people stuck in a cycle of hardship, reliant only on State assistance and a belief they would be there for decades.

The system seemed to throw people on welfare and then largely ignore them, and not offer them a path out. Sole parents were not expected to look for work until their youngest child was 18 years old. We too quickly wrote those with disabilities off; ignoring the huge potential many had and their desire to work. We designed a plan to make significant changes to the system that would look at what people could do, to believe that they had a contribution to society that would improve their lives, and also mean that we could reduce the huge welfare bill to taxpayers. I have been truly inspired by sole parents in this country. I understand how difficult it is to raise a child on your own and believe you don’t have the experience or skills to enter the workforce.

Those on welfare don’t need sympathy. They need to be backed, encouraged, and supported to plan their future and see a path off welfare dependency. We are currently taking backward steps, and that’s before COVID. Sympathy and kindness do not put food on the table or pay your bills. We need to understand dependency. We need to understand decades of despair and marginalisation that in too many people’s lives turns to violence, welfare dependency, and a pretty crappy life. But equally we have to be careful that that understanding doesn’t turn into an excuse and we lose our belief in people and their ability and their sense of self-responsibility.

We undertook the biggest welfare reforms that the country had seen. The emphasis was on people being available to work and on what they could do instead of what they couldn’t. We invested more on those that were at the highest risk of staying on welfare long term. We spent more on job support and training, and worked directly with employers and subsidised employment so they would give people a go so they could prove themselves. We saw over 30,000 fewer people on sole parent support because of these changes. I met remarkable people who are living bigger and better lives because they were in worthwhile work and had a huge sense of self-worth.

Working with and for teen parents was personal for me. I met some of the most incredible young people raising their children, studying in teen parent units and being supported by amazing people running homes and programmes. We extended support to them. We changed the welfare system so they received more support, but weren’t just handed hundreds of dollars a week and then ignored like they had been previously. Instead, we paid their rent and utilities, insisted that where possible they be in training. We helped look after their babies and supported them to budget and plan a life that wasn’t welfare dependent. It’s some of the work I am most proud of. And to all those parents, thanks for the baby cuddles. Most days that I was out and about, I insisted that a childcare centre or school be in my diary as I needed children to remind me why we do what we do and just to make my day a bit better.

I have always believed the answers to long-term dependency, child abuse, and neglect, and violence are in our communities. There is no programme that a politician or a bureaucrat can design that will solve these complex issues. Our community and Māori organisations, I believe, are best placed with support from the State to assist those that are living hard lives. We have to set targets and accountabilities, bring in Māori, community leaders, beneficiaries, workers, and the business sector, and know it will take some time but we can improve people’s lives. We need to set communities up to succeed.

Money is currently being thrown around but with no accountability. We have to be bold, brave. How can throwing millions and millions of dollars around and hoping some gets to those that need it most, through Government agencies and community organisations, and yet watching more people in despair be OK? Where is the accountability to the taxpayer, but, more importantly, where is the accountability for those people that so desperately deserve more help? Targets, measures, and accountability have gone. I regret, Bill English, that we didn’t get another three years to truly implement social investment into our bureaucracy and into our communities. We had tested and trialled, had seen people’s lives changing, and we were ready to scale it up significantly. . . .

The measures National introduced were working, rescuing people from long term benefit dependency and all the negative health, social and financial consequences of that.

As Lindsay Mitchell says:

. . .There is a wealth of data analysis showing children added to benefits stay there the longest and have the worst outcomes. But she doesn’t seem to have given the research a second thought.

Last year one in ten babies was added to an existing benefit at birth. For many of them it’s a life sentence to neglect, abuse, transience, involvement with OT and eventually their own criminal offending and custodial sentences.

The proposed policy looks as if it is being kind to beneficiaries it is not.

It is demonstrating the soft bigotry of low expectations that is anything but kind.

Really kind welfare policy gives support where it is needed but also works with all beneficiaries who could work to help them do so for their sakes, that of their children and the rest of us who pay the high costs, in financial and social terms, for long term benefit dependency.


Paula Bennett’s valedictory statement

July 30, 2020

National MP, and former deputy Prime Minister, Paula Bennett delivered her valedictory statement last night:

Hon PAULA BENNETT (National—Upper Harbour): Thank you, Mr Speaker, and thank you for your patience of allowing everyone to come in—

SPEAKER: I wouldn’t go that far.

Hon PAULA BENNETT: OK. I thought you were very patient for you. Fifteen years ago, nearly to the day, I walked into this building as an MP. I loved walking up the outside library stairs into that incredible building. I would drink it in, take a moment, pinch myself, remember what I was here for, and then head to the smallest office in this precinct. I was last in on the National Party list in 2005. I ran for the experience, not expecting to be an MP that year, but National’s result meant I quietly snuck in. Of course, for the next 15 years I didn’t do anything quietly, but we’ll get to that a little bit later.

The Christmas of 2004—while deciding with my family whether to put my hat in the ring—my uncle Mike sat me down. He said, “Go for it, but promise you won’t stay more than three terms—no longer than nine years.” In his mind, MPs lost their way after that and got too full of themselves, and anyway, as a farmer, “It’s not real work”. So last year, as he was sick and dying, I said to him, “I’m sorry I broke our promise.” He laughed and, in his straightforward way, said to me, “Let’s be honest, Paula, when I made you make that promise, none of us actually expected you’d do so well.” It’s been a hell of a ride from list MP to Deputy Prime Minister to deputy leader of the National Party. I know how proud my uncle was of me. In fact, I know how proud all my family are of me.

My Alan has been my rock since I was 19 years old. I often think he is the first feminist I ever met. Even for the couple of decades or so since then that we weren’t together, he was still my rock He believed I could do anything I set my mind to and then has had my back. We married while I was in Parliament. He knew who he was marrying, but I don’t think anything could have prepared him for the toll this job takes, but he has unconditionally loved and supported me. The other week he informed me that he feels unshackled, yeah? He no longer has to come under the scrutiny because of my public profile, and he’s going to go out there—and I’ve got to say, it scared me. And then I thought about it, and thought, stuff it, I’m joining him on the wild side, honey; although, at our age, that is probably coffee after midday and the odd night at 11 p.m. I can’t do justice to my bloke in this speech, and anyway, it’s our private lives that speak louder than any speech I give ever will. Oh, and happy birthday, Alan.

My parents are here today. My mum is a woman of grace and dignity. I got the street-fighter from my dad. They have both put up with a lot over the decades. I am so grateful to them and my brothers, and my close family and friends for always reminding me what is important, and for forgiving me when I missed yet another family event. I am sorry for the intrusion my being an MP has had on their lives at times. One of the major bonuses of marrying Alan—and I remind him of this often—was that his daughter, Willoe, came into my life. I am so lucky to have such a strong, independent, opinionated, and gorgeous woman as you. So go hard, Willoe; I have got your back.

Now, I don’t know how to talk about my daughter Ana in a speech like this without getting really emotional. So holy moly, yep, our journey has been quite something so far. I used to think that you are my biggest accomplishment, and then I realised that that gives me far too much credit. Quite frankly, you are the staunch wahine; the loving, giving, caring, kick-arse woman you are today because it is simply all of who you are. So when I see you with my three beautiful grandchildren, it just blows me away. To our Tia, and our Nate, and Hunter—all that you and Ray are as awesome parents, I am just so damned proud of you.

So I stood for Waitakere, a Labour seat, in 2005. I didn’t win, but came back in 2008 and took the seat off Labour, and man I loved that electorate. It was hard work and I never took it for granted. My westies never hold back. They tell you exactly what they think, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’ve had to break up fights on the streets, avoid a few punches myself, and been owned by them, in a good way. Notoriously, I won Waitakere on election night 2011, lost it on the specials, and won it by nine votes on a recount. I’ve got to say, hats off to Carmel, because she fought hard and I’ve always secretly admired her for it.

I then moved to the new seat of Upper Harbour when Waitakere was no longer. It’s an amazing place. It changes daily with its growth and is one of the most interesting and diverse electorates. So many people have helped me. I have had incredible local National volunteers. I can’t speak highly enough of the people who’ve supported and backed the National Party and have played a vital part. You all deserve a special mention, but that’s too risky, so can I just call out to my electorate chairs Leone Wyatt, Chris Penk, Don Ryrie, and especially to Leigh Morrow. Leigh, we have made quite a team for the last six years. I’ll have the wine ready on 20 September. And those that have worked with me over the years in electorates, I want to sincerely thank you. Constituents have been so incredibly well-served by you. You are professional, understanding, compassionate, and hard working. I thank you all, but make special mention of Jackie Fairweather, who has been with me—she looks terrified at that—for 12 years. She’s tried to leave, but she keeps coming back. And, of course, to Vivienne Brumby, who’s been with me for nearly 10 years. Thank you both so incredibly much.

I have always believed you have to have a plan, and then you need a back-up plan. That goes both personally and professionally. A back-up plan makes you brave. When I entered Parliament in 2005, I left a job in recruitment that I loved. I really got a buzz out of understanding different businesses and then placing people into that business who would help them achieve their goals and fit their culture. So when I came in in 2005, I knew that if politics didn’t work out for me, I could go back to something I loved. The worst thing that could happen is I would end up doing something else that I enjoyed. So I went for it. I gave it everything I had, with the help of some incredible people in those early years like Murray McCully, Katherine Rich, John Key, Bill English, and a very smart, driven staff in the then leader’s office, I took every opportunity that came my way—although help comes in many forms. I remember the first time I got to question a Minister in this House, I was terrified. My knees were shaking, voice was getting quaky. I’m sitting there; I’m literally sweating. The Speaker calls my name. As I’m standing up, McCully leans in and says, “This is big; don’t stuff it up.”—not that helpful.

In 2008, becoming the Minister for Social Development and Child, Youth and Family was daunting and exciting. Nothing can prepare you for a job like that. I was considered by many as the “weak link”. There were bets on around this building as to how many months I would survive—that only emboldened me to prove them wrong.

As we were well into the global financial crises and many people were losing their jobs, we needed an immediate plan. We quickly implemented the ReStart, redundancy support and job support scheme to respond to the recession. These temporary financial packages have been recently put in place in various iterations to help us during the COVID economic crisis. We also introduced the job opportunities and Community Max programmes to specifically assist young people. Even though these were the hardest times that we had seen for a long time, we were able to see many positive results. Nearly 10,000 young people were helped with the Community Max and job support programmes and 73 percent did not go on benefit when they finished. One third of jobseekers were being exited into jobs before entering the benefit system, but more had to be done. These short-term measures were important, but our welfare system was part of the reason we were seeing intergenerational welfare dependence and too many people stuck in a cycle of hardship, reliant only on State assistance and a belief they would be there for decades.

The system seemed to throw people on welfare and then largely ignore them, and not offer them a path out. Sole parents were not expected to look for work until their youngest child was 18 years old. We too quickly wrote those with disabilities off; ignoring the huge potential many had and their desire to work. We designed a plan to make significant changes to the system that would look at what people could do, to believe that they had a contribution to society that would improve their lives, and also mean that we could reduce the huge welfare bill to taxpayers. I have been truly inspired by sole parents in this country. I understand how difficult it is to raise a child on your own and believe you don’t have the experience or skills to enter the workforce.

Those on welfare don’t need sympathy. They need to be backed, encouraged, and supported to plan their future and see a path off welfare dependency. We are currently taking backward steps, and that’s before COVID. Sympathy and kindness do not put food on the table or pay your bills. We need to understand dependency. We need to understand decades of despair and marginalisation that in too many people’s lives turns to violence, welfare dependency, and a pretty crappy life. But equally we have to be careful that that understanding doesn’t turn into an excuse and we lose our belief in people and their ability and their sense of self-responsibility.

We undertook the biggest welfare reforms that the country had seen. The emphasis was on people being available to work and on what they could do instead of what they couldn’t. We invested more on those that were at the highest risk of staying on welfare long term. We spent more on job support and training, and worked directly with employers and subsidised employment so they would give people a go so they could prove themselves. We saw over 30,000 fewer people on sole parent support because of these changes. I met remarkable people who are living bigger and better lives because they were in worthwhile work and had a huge sense of self-worth.

Working with and for teen parents was personal for me. I met some of the most incredible young people raising their children, studying in teen parent units and being supported by amazing people running homes and programmes. We extended support to them. We changed the welfare system so they received more support, but weren’t just handed hundreds of dollars a week and then ignored like they had been previously. Instead, we paid their rent and utilities, insisted that where possible they be in training. We helped look after their babies and supported them to budget and plan a life that wasn’t welfare dependent. It’s some of the work I am most proud of. And to all those parents, thanks for the baby cuddles. Most days that I was out and about, I insisted that a childcare centre or school be in my diary as I needed children to remind me why we do what we do and just to make my day a bit better.

I have always believed the answers to long-term dependency, child abuse, and neglect, and violence are in our communities. There is no programme that a politician or a bureaucrat can design that will solve these complex issues. Our community and Māori organisations, I believe, are best placed with support from the State to assist those that are living hard lives. We have to set targets and accountabilities, bring in Māori, community leaders, beneficiaries, workers, and the business sector, and know it will take some time but we can improve people’s lives. We need to set communities up to succeed.

Money is currently being thrown around but with no accountability. We have to be bold, brave. How can throwing millions and millions of dollars around and hoping some gets to those that need it most, through Government agencies and community organisations, and yet watching more people in despair be OK? Where is the accountability to the taxpayer, but, more importantly, where is the accountability for those people that so desperately deserve more help? Targets, measures, and accountability have gone. I regret, Bill English, that we didn’t get another three years to truly implement social investment into our bureaucracy and into our communities. We had tested and trialled, had seen people’s lives changing, and we were ready to scale it up significantly.

Alongside this work we implemented the vulnerable children’s action plan. We have to do better for the children who are being traumatised and abused in this country. Much of the work that has happened in the last five years was started under my watch. We travelled up and down the country talking to people who worked with or cared for or had been abused themselves, and designed significant changes. Needless to say, there is still much to be done. But can I thank the young people who spoke bluntly about their experiences in the system and the changes needed, the incredible foster parents, grandparents raising their grandchildren, and those that have dedicated their lives to working with the most vulnerable. You have truly humbled me and I salute you. Can I also acknowledge all of those who work in sexual violence. I learnt a lot from you and about the specialised response that victims need. I watched you getting bounced around between different agencies with no one wanting to take responsibility and had to something. I hope me becoming the first Minister to take on sexual violence made a difference

One day, on a busy day of ministerial visits, I was meeting a group of young people. As I turned up I could see the teachers and the parents had put a lot of work into organising the event. As I stepped from the car they said to me how excited the kids were that I was there. I thought, “Yeah, they’d be excited at Richie McCaw. They might be excited at a famous singer. I’m not sure they’re that excited that a Minister is visiting, but we’ll do it, you know.” So inside I speak for a bit and I take questions. I see an adult nudge a young person, and this kid kind of reluctantly stands up and he then asks me the question that every politician should dread: “Minister, can I ask you anything?” So I glue a smile on my face and I nod and say yes, and he stands there and he sort of shuffles his feet and he looks at me and he goes “What did Jesus do as a teenager?”. I’m in my head going: crikey, he was a carpenter, he went walkabout for a while, we’re in a manger—you know. And then it dawned on me—wrong minister!

I have held 14 portfolios and each has challenged me and given me enormous opportunity to change the system to improve New Zealanders’ lives. There are remarkable people up and down the country working in our police. I feel for our tourism industry right now, but also know how positive they are and have the ability to pull through. Social housing was a difficult portfolio, but we were able to reform our State housing into warmer modern homes better suited to New Zealanders’ needs—some of whom are just moving in now.

I focused a lot on women having equal opportunity and felt we needed to tidy up our own backyard before we lectured others on what to do. Women on State sector boards increased to over 46 percent, and I was privileged to see a number of women succeed in chief executive roles within Government. I like action, so within National I led the charge on us mentoring potential women who could influence National, be they potential candidates or office holders. I turbo-charged our Dame Hilda Ross Foundation, raised money, and financially supported women candidates, and ran seminars. I’d like to acknowledge my fellow women MPs Louise Upston, Jacqui Dean, Nicky Wagner, and board member Pat Seymour for the big part that you actually played as well. Louise, I’m looking at you to keep that going and driving that work.

I signed the Paris Agreement on Climate Change and worked alongside our agriculture, forestry, and business sectors to plan true change in how we live our lives to better look after our planet. I visited some of our remotest and hardest-hit Pacific islands and saw firsthand the vulnerability they are exposed to because of climate change. While on that visit at a large gathering where New Zealand was acknowledged for the work that they had done, in the Pasifika way they wanted to give gifts to show their respect. So the EU commissioner who was travelling with us was duly—in front of the hundreds that were there—given a framed picture. McCully stood up and he was duly given a carved canoe. And then they looked at me as the most senior Minister on the trip, and the Prime Minister’s face just lit up, aglow. He was so pleased and he said to me, literally, “Because you’re a woman we’ve made you a laundry basket.” The look on the officials’ faces, as they didn’t know what to do—like, I swear one almost wanted to dive in front of said laundry basket. I graciously accepted the gift, of course, and I may have, a couple of months later when Acting PM for a day, actually called those officials and made them stand for an official unveiling ceremony for said laundry basket.

Through State services we implemented the Better Public Services targets. If you don’t have a target and measure against them, then really you’re just drifting and making decisions based on the best headline and not the best result for New Zealanders. I also worked to make changes to our Government agencies that would see their success measured across all of Government, not in individual agencies. As I heard even in the House this week, people don’t live their lives in a tidy little Government box, and I note that that work is continuing.

I managed to upset quite a few people in local government when I was the Minister, and I don’t resile from that for a moment. You guys need to change dramatically. It is ridiculous to have as many councils, local bureaucracy, and doubling up in assets as we do in a country of this size.

Through all of this I have been supported, encouraged, and held to account by some of the best. I have deep admiration for our Public Service. I worked with professionals who were passionate about improving the lives of New Zealanders. I won’t name you and stuff up your careers, but know that I truly admire what you do and thank you for your service.

John Key backed me and believed in me. He didn’t just open the door. He stuck a wedge in it to stop it whacking me on the backside as I struggled through and occasionally tripped. He kept giving me challenging portfolios and he moved me into his kitchen cabinet. I responded well to his leadership style, it would be fair to say.

Some of you will remember when the rules changed in the Beehive and you could no longer just go up and down at will; you had to swipe in. Let me explain why. So I was giving one of my very motivational speeches, and listening to Alastair, it’s similar. Young people in Parliament and they were young people that were in foster care actually and they were getting awards and it was really cool.

I was doing my best motivational, you know, “Don’t let anyone tell you what you can’t do. Grab opportunities, take a risk, open doors.” One on the autism spectrum took me literally. She then managed to get out of the event that we were at, into the Beehive, and convinced people that she was the Prime Minister’s hairdresser. She then managed to go around the building for a good 30 minutes as we’d kind of get sightings and then she would avoid them and managed to scrape through. I thought she was amazing, yeah—I thought she was absolutely cool. She opened doors, man, and that young woman did not take no for an answer. Anyway—sorry, Wayne—and then about half an hour later, the phone goes and it’s John Key, and I’m like, “Oh, this ain’t gonna be good.” He rings and he just sort of says to me, “I’ve just heard about it. Where is she? I’d love to meet her.”, and I thought, yeah, that’s the measure of it. One of the most intelligent, dedicated, funny and frustrating—and yes, I mean frustrating, because he wouldn’t let me get away with anything. He loved a good debate, and it often took him far too long to realise I was right and we could’ve skipped all of that—Bill English. Thank you to both Bill and John for their support during my career.

Simon, these last couple of years have been really something. They have been fun and interesting and, yes, at times challenging. Thank you for making me watch another video of your children being children when we needed a light moment. Thank you, actually, for the respect that you and Natalie have shown to me, to our caucus, to the National Party, to the country. I have in many ways learnt more in the last two years than I have in the last 10, and I wouldn’t have wanted to do it with anyone else.

National is in my blood. To Judy Kirk, to Peter Goodfellow, presidents—thank you both so much. To present and past board members, especially Andrew and Alastair and Roger and Glenda and Pat, your dedication to this party and support has meant so much. Peter Kiely: I have needed your help far too often. Advice to new MPs: take his advice. To the wonderful National staff, you are a formidable team I have loved working with, but mostly to all the volunteers that stand out in the rain, turn up every time, deliver brochures, give a damn about this country, I have felt so much stronger for your support. Thank you, thank you, thank you. In the words made famous from Journey, don’t stop believing. Judith, Gerry, our caucus: you are the best. Many of you have become lifelong friends. Go well—the country needs you, and you have my support. To the media: I haven’t always liked it, I have seldom agreed, but I actually respect you and the role you play in our democracy. I hope that continued Budget cuts in your industry don’t mean that you don’t have time to investigate and challenge.

Lastly, but by no means least, to the many amazing women—and a few men—I have had the privilege of working with and who’ve worked for me. I’m too nervous to mention you all for fear of missing someone out, but you have been the biggest part of any successes I’ve had. A smart leader should never be the smartest person in the room, and when I shared a room with you, I was never at risk of that. You have been the most driven, smart, dedicated people that I am humbled to know and have worked with. We have cried and laughed and, yes, occasionally partied, but mostly we have been completely driven by trying to do our best, respecting the incredibly privileged roles that we had. I’m going to roast the hell out of you later.

I’m far from perfect, and I know that, but my intent, my heart, my integrity has meant that I have slept well. This place is brutal. It will pick up the spade and bury you if you let it. It is relentless, but we sign up knowing that. So I went hard and full-on. For me to have not made a difference and not given it everything I’ve got would’ve been wasted time. So I end this chapter half the size but twice the woman thanks to this experience. I’m so excited about the future, and I wish you all well.


Quotes of the month

July 1, 2020

The government needed to go big, leaning on the government balance sheet is the best response in the near-term. I have two concerns. I don’t think we have a well thought out economic plan on the other side and I think people will get increasingly concerned about how we’ll get debt down – Cameron Bagrie

I was a good soldier under levels 4 and 3; I obeyed all the rules but now – there’s an oppositionally defiant child in me, screaming to be let out. – Kerre McIvor

Do you honestly think the bright and resourceful, the skilled and experienced, having lost their jobs in a fashion they could never see coming, are going to sit by and watch their prospects, futures and dreams be put on hold … or even worse … welfare? Especially when just three hours away is a country that offers work, a future, and an attitude to Covid and adversity that’s a lesson in balance, risk, common sense, and will ultimately pay greater economic dividends. – Mike Hosking

I think it is also important that farmers feel part of the nation’s family, that they are valued and are not ostracised. Not only for their own businesses, but also the downstream businesses that they support [with] their own farming and horticultural operations. David Bennett

Belonging is a fundamental human need. When this need is not met, it is hard to feel a sense of purpose. Right now, farmers and food producers are starting to feel they belong again; they have a clear sense of purpose – to feed the nation and deliver economic stability. – Lindy Nelson

The mixed messages of recent days notwithstanding, most New Zealanders will welcome and take in their stride the pending return to something approaching the normality they knew, albeit with a typically quiet sense of pride at what they have been able to achieve. They will be hoping Covid19 shows no sign of a significant return during the coming winter months, as we begin to reopen our border. So too will the government and the public health authorities. For they know only too well that the level of sudden public compliance and acquiescence achieved during the lockdowns was but a moment in time – a shocked reaction to what was happening overseas and the abrupt arrival of circumstances that no-one had properly anticipated. It is unlikely to be achievable to the same extent even if future circumstances warrant it. Peter Dunne

I believe the word success is so important and that word success covers winning or it covers growing. – Dame Lois Muir

After suffering a housefire, an underinsured household would likely need to take on debt to deal with the problem – and that could be fine. But if it then took the opportunity to add a swimming pool to the property, while pushing the mortgage amount to the upper limit, one might wonder about the household’s prudence.

Similarly, the elected Government has been adding metaphorical swimming pools to its shopping list by extending the 2020 Budget beyond what was necessary to deal with the Covid crisis. This raises sharp questions about the Government’s commitment both to fiscal prudence and the Public Finance Act.Eric Crampton

Changes in usage and semantics, when imposed, are usually exercises in power. These days, pressure for their adoption, like censorship, comes not from government but from pressure groups, small but well-organised and determined. Resistance in small things to monomania not being worth the effort among the better balance, the changes first go by default and then become habitual. – Theodore Dalrymple

Taking down statues and hiding our history is often not the answer to this problem. Instead, why not discuss moving statues to more appropriate locations? Why not add information around these monuments to present a more complete view of these figures? Take this opportunity to learn and understand the context in which the events commemorated by the monument occurred. . . Equally importantly, we must think and learn about the absent figures. Which people and events are not commemorated in public monuments and why is this the case? Absences can tell us as much about people’s understanding of history as the figures that were chosen. Absences can also show us where there are opportunities for future commemorations: to add these missing groups to our historical understanding as well as to our public record.  . . .

There is no right answer to how we should remember these figures – they come with significant achievements and often major failings. The only answer, for me, is that neither aspect of these figures should be forgotten. History must be allowed to be told in full – warts and all. Let discussion and debate take the place of anger and resentment. Let us use this opportunity as a time to change the way we view history; to shift our understanding of the past and to give future generations the opportunity to see history from a different perspective. . . Let our statues and monuments provoke debate and challenge us to think deeply about our past – let us not hide them all away to be forgotten. – Hayden Thorne

For most journalists, reporting the truth is an art form that leaves no margin for error. You either get it right the first time or your readers become confused about their own responsibilities when reacting to stories that must be taken at face value. Sadly, many in this ancient honourable profession have recently thrown in their lot with political forces that share their personal ideological persuasion with a result that truth is the casualty and the instability that is a consequence continues unchecked. – Clive Bibby

There is great danger in judging history by our standards, or rewriting it to modern tastes. It is simply bad history to morally look down on people who were not equipped to think differently. It’s our failure of imagination not to grasp this. It misses the really important question: why did those societies change? . . . The genius of Western civilisation is its progress through self-awareness and self-criticism. That created the endless debates that led to empirical science, protection under the rule of law, and self-rule through democracy. This allowed it to fix its errors and aberrations, ending slavery, propagating the ideas that undermined its own colonialism, making the sexes equal, and outlawing racial discrimination and intolerance. – AFR View

History, it is what it is. Good, bad and ugly, but I think it’s a good impetus for our country to learn our history. – Meng Foon

Once we stop laughing at ourselves we begin to lose our soulsPaddy Briggs

There is now an immediate need to assign accountability to the individuals or groups responsible for putting the community at risk. And this leads to the greater need for a royal commission to critically examine this current problem and many others, in the overall way that Covid-19 had been dealt with.

From the first national diagnosis of the Covid-19 crisis all the way to the recovery processes, a royal commission should be tasked with reviewing it all: the health, scientific, economic, constitutional, legal and cultural elements of the event.

This would provide a public record of what worked, what didn’t, what gaps were apparent and what could be improved next time. And it is the next time we have to be particularly worried about. Pandemics are an intergenerational problem, and what we are enduring will not be the last such experience. – Alexander Gillespie

The management of people arriving at the border has cost the government $81 million so far. That’s a lot of money to spend on a sieve when you needed – and thought you were buying – a top-quality bucket.  – Point of Order

Many people — and especially those who live in Bristol — have discovered Newton’s Third Law of Statues. Put crudely, it amounts to ‘you wreck one of ours, we wreck one of yours’. . . From the beginning, any protest outside the US reeked of entitlement and thrill-seeking. Everyone involved desperately needs to look up ‘negative externalities’ in the dictionary, although ‘doing something you like while shitting on other people’ is a useful definition. Antifa especially combines monstrous privilege with what philosopher John Gray calls ‘the problem of being lightly educated’.  Helen Dale

Kindness isn’t achievable without action.Andrea Vance

In saying, “we don’t want a witch hunt” what you’re really saying is: We expect you in the private sector to follow all the rules but we won’t. – Kate Hawkesby

Now when I feel sad, I’m gentle with myself, I don’t run from sadness.  I don’t seek to lift myself out of sadness. I have to sit with it. I think about self care, snuggly clothes, being kind to myself.I – Lotta Dann

Even if a prime minister is not technically responsible for the blunders of her ministries, the idea that someone can be in charge but not responsible will seem plainly wrong to most people. In fact, most people’s ideas about leadership can be summed up by the sign that US President Harry Truman’s kept on his desk in the Oval Office: “The buck stops here.” – Graham Adams

To reiterate, we believe in freedom of speech for all; these clients have decided to leave because we did not meet their demands to be re-educated to their point of view.  – Blair Partnership

“In light of the bungles at the border, it’s become abundantly clear that we didn’t beat Covid-19 with competence. . . But good luck won’t build smart borders, get the economy restarted, or pay back the debt. – David Seymour

I make mistakes at work too. And some mornings, around this time of year, after the weather’s changed and the city is wreathed in rain and drowned in mist and I have to commute to campus via a public transport system that’s a chaotic, unreliable mess, I try to persuade myself I should “work from home”. I generally force myself to go into work. But if I do stay home, then find myself making mistakes that might kill hundreds of people and cause billions of dollars damage to the economy, I like to think I’ll go back into the office. Even if it’s raining. – Danyl Mclauchlan 

“Operational matters” aren’t a get-out-of-responsibility-free card. “Operational matters” can be substituted in most sentences for “things that happened”. – Toby Manhire

Is there ever a time when the job of the media, the Opposition and academia should be diverted from the task of speaking truth to power? That’s debatable – but holding back is not what we need now. – Liam Hehir

I’m sick of these politicians making grand promises that we can all see are completely unachievable. Thinking we believe them means two things. They’re either deluded and incompetent. Or they think we’re all stupid and we’ll never notice. It’s probably a bit of both – Andrew Dickens

Holding the powerful to account is the cornerstone of journalism. It is not the only reason for our existence; I like to think we also contribute to the sense of community that binds us; I saw many lovely examples of that during the pandemic. And mostly we like to tell interesting stories about the people and places around us. But we also believe passionately in the power of the written word and its ability to challenge our assumptions. We need that during this election campaign more than any other, surely? – Tracy Watkins

You know, the 17-year-old solo mum who dropped out of school ended up being deputy prime minister of this country, and when I looked at that and what I’d achieve I knew that I could draw a line very proudly and comfortably under that and move on to my next challenge. – Paula Bennett

I set about reforming the welfare system, with more emphasis on what people could do, increasing our expectation on people to get work-ready and look for a job and changing the system so more help was available for them. . . I get that people won’t agree with everything that we did, but we were ambitious and I believed in people and their abilities, and I do despair at the moment that there’s an expectation that a lifetime on welfare can be an option for people and it almost feels encouraged, whereas I think it should be a backstop. – Paula Bennett

I was forced to think about what leadership means – what is the basic statement one can use to describe at a fundamental basis what leadership is. What I came up with, while not anything earth-shattering, was that “leadership is about giving the credit and taking the blame”. – Ben Kepes

She was the galah in a cage of budgies. Claire Trevett

Government essentially reinvented the wheel, and when the wheel eventually turned up, it was wonky. – Louis Houlbrooke

Too many politicians these days are too manufactured, too inauthentic, spend too much time on focus group research and advice on how to talk to people. Here’s a tip – just talk. Be yourself. – Kate Hawkesby


Damned either way

July 1, 2020

Paula Bennett’s retirement announcement has left Todd Muller with a choice.

He can move everyone up a place in caucus rankings or he can do a reshuffle that brings someone who is Maori up several places to appease those focused on identity politics.

He will be damned either way.

But there is a solution.

Simon Bridges who is currently languishing among the MPs who will retire at the election, could be brought up to the shadow cabinet.

He has the experience and ability caucus needs. He also happens to be Maori, not that that seemed to matter to those focused on identity politics when he was leader because to them, it’s not good enough to be in a particular group, you also have to be of the left.

This will require give and take from both men but they, caucus and the party will be stronger for it.


Paula Bennett retiring from parliament

June 29, 2020

Paula Bennett has announced she will retire from parliament at the next election.

. . .Bennett said in a statement she was “looking forward to her next career”.

“Now it is time for the next chapter. I am excited to take the skills I have out of Parliament and into the business world. I have always wanted another career after politics and now is the right time for me to go and pursue that,” Bennett said. . . 

Paula held several ministerial portfolios and was deputy Prime Minister under Bill English.

She has put her heart and soul into her work for the party, her constituents and the country.

I am sorry that she is choosing to leave parliament but happy that she will have the opportunity to use her talents in other ways.


National’s refreshed responsibilities

May 25, 2020

Todd Muller has announced the refreshed responsibilities for his MPs:

He has taken Small Business and National Security.

His deputy Nikki Kaye has Education and Sports and Recreation.

Amy Adams, who had announced her retirement, is staying on with responsibility for Covid-19 Recovery.

Judith Collins:  Economic Development, Regional Development, is Shadow Attorney-General and takes on Pike River Re-entry.

Paul Goldsmith keeps Finance and has responsibility for the Earthquake Commission.

Gerry Brownlee: Foreign Affairs, Disarmament; GCSB; NZSIS and Shadow Leader of House.

Michael Woodhouse keeps Health, is  Deputy Shadow Leader of the House and Associate Finance

Louise Upston: Social Development and Social Investment.

Mark Mitchell: Justice and Defence

Scott Simpson:  Environment, Climate Change and Planning (RMA reform)

Todd McCLay:Trade and Tourism

Chris Bishop has Infrastructure and Transport

Paula Bennett: Drug Reform and Women

Nicola Willis: Housing and Urban Development and Early Childhood Education

Jacqui Dean: Conservation

David Bennett: Agriculture

Shane Reti: Tertiary Skills and Employment,  Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations and Associate Health

Melissa Lee: Broadcasting, Communications and Digital Media and Data and Cybersecurity

Andrew Bayly:  Revenue, Commerce, State Owned Enterprises and Associate Finance

Alfred Ngaro: Pacific Peoples, Community and Voluntary, and Children and Disability Issues

Barbara Kuriger: Senior Whip, Food Safety, Rural Communities

Jonathan Young:

Nick Smith:

Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi:

Matt Doocey:

Jian Yang:

Stuart Smith:

Simon O’Connor:

Lawrence Yule: Local Government

Denise Lee:  Local Government (Auckland)

Anne Tolley: Deputy Speaker

Parmjeet Parmar:  Research, Science and Innovation

Brett Hudson:  Police, Government Digital Services

Stuart Smith: Immigration, Viticulture

Simeon Brown: Corrections, Youth, Associate Education

Ian McKelvie: Racing, Fisheries

Jo Hayes:  Whānau Ora, Māori Development

Andrew Falloon: Biosecurity, Associate Agriculture, Associate Transport

Harete Hipango: Crown Māori Relations, Māori Tourism

Matt King: Regional Development (North Island), Associate Transport

Chris Penk: Courts, Veterans

Hamish Walker Land Information, Forestry, Associate Tourism

Erica Stanford: Internal Affairs, Associate Environment, Associate Conservation

Tim van de Molen: Third Whip, Building and Construction

Maureen Pugh: Consumer Affairs, Regional Development (South Island), West Coast Issues

Dan Bidois: Workplace Relations and Safety

Agnes Loheni:  Associate Small Business, Associate Pacific Peoples

Paulo Garcia: Associate Justice

At the time of the announcement SImon Bridges was considering his future, he nas subsequently announced he will stay on in parliament and contest the Tauranga seat again.


Is it Muller?

May 22, 2020

Newshub reports  :

12:40pm – Sources have told Newshub Simon Bridges has lost the vote. Newshub understands the vote has been won by Todd Muller.

Update: – Nikki Kaye is now deputy.

My loyalty is to National and to its leadership, I congratulate Todd and Nikki.

My sympathy is with Simon Bridges and Paula Bennett who have worked very hard in what proved to be an impossible task.


If it were done

May 21, 2020

Macbeth was talking about murder when he said, If it were done when ’tis done, then ’twere well It were done quickly.

That also applies to leadership tussles and National leader Simon Bridges has made the right call in summoning his caucus to settle the matter on Friday.

Every day’s delay is a day more when the issue festers with all the negative media attention that accompanies it leaving little clear air left to hold the government to account.

I am not going to give my opinion on who should be leader.

I support the party and whoever leads it and will continue to do so whether that is Simon with Paula Bennett as his deputy or Todd Muller and Nikki Kaye.

But I will say that whatever the outcome of the caucus vote, all MPs must be loyal to the leader and the party.

The leaking, the criticism and any show of disunity and disloyalty must stop.

Just a few months ago National was polling higher than Labour.

What changed was Covid-19 and the response to it.

The government’s abysmal record of doing very little it said it would until then has not changed.

KiwiBuild, child poverty, climate change  . . . it’s been lots of talk and very, very little action.

What has also changed is the economy.

The lockdown flattened the Covid curve and in the process has flattened the economy.

The government has voted itself so much money in response most of us can’t comprehend the amount. But worse, it doesn’t have a clear plan on how to spend it and at least as important, it doesn’t have a plan on how to repay it.

As Heather Roy explains in a letter to her children:

. . .By way of explanation, this is why I am sorry about your inheritance. Debt is what you have to look forward to and growth will take some time to return. In the short-term, New Zealand is facing a large rise in unemployment, predicted to peak at nearly 10 percent before falling back to 4.6% in 2022 (optimistic I suspect). Government debt will explode to more than 53 percent of GDP, up from 19% now. . . 

Not all debt is bad of course. It often allows you (and countries) to invest wisely in areas that will be of benefit later, but I fear the lack of vision and planning associated with the government borrowing an additional $160 billion means ‘wisely’ isn’t part of this equation. Vision and hope are important for people. We need to know where we are going – what the end game looks like and that the pain is worth bearing because a better life awaits. Hope too, is important. People will endure a lot if they have hope. I’m afraid I saw neither in the Budget last week. There was lots of talk of jobs, and lots of picking winners but not much in the offing for those already struggling and those who will inevitably lose their jobs when businesses go under.

Figures are tricky things. If you say them quickly, especially the billions, they don’t sound so bad. Most people can imagine what they could spend a million dollars on. Billions are a different kettle of fish. Many of us have to stop and think, how many 0’s in a billion? When figures are inconceivable, people give up trying to work out what they mean. After all, the politicians will look after the money side of things, won’t they? I hope you realise that is very dangerous thinking. To start with it’s not the government’s money – it’s yours and mine, hard earned and handed over to the government for custodial purposes.  We hope it will be spent wisely on health, education, social welfare, but after we’ve voted every three years, we don’t have any say on where it goes.

Beware of those saying we can afford to borrow this much money. Just as when we borrow from the bank to buy a car or house, when government’s borrow, repayments must be made and this limits the amount in the pot for spending in extra areas. The state of our economy is your inheritance: to contribute to your tertiary education, to educate your future children, to provide medicines and hospital treatments when you are sick, to help those who for whatever reason have no income. A mountain of debt places the prosperity of your children in peril.

Picking winners is dangerous too. Government’s love picking winners, especially in an election year. Election year budgets often resemble a lolly scramble with media reporting the “winners and losers”.  The simple fact is when you confer advantage on one group everyone else is automatically disadvantaged. Giving to the vulnerable is understandable but private industry winners are not. As an example, those who had been promised Keytruda (last year) to treat their lung cancer only to have that rug whipped out from underneath them now must be devastated to see the racing industry handed $74 million to build/rebuild horse racing tracks around the country. Flogging a dead horse instead of funding up to date medical treatments is folly and unfair in a humane society. 

I know fairness and equity are important to you all. Your generation has a more egalitarian outlook on life. Partly I think this is because you have not experienced real poverty and why New Zealand’s debt doesn’t bother you as much as it does me.

I have recently read two excellent writings by people I respect and I want to share them with you. The first is a report written by Sir Roger Douglas and two colleagues called “The March towards Poverty”. . . 

The report concludes “ For too long, we have lived with the fiction that we are doing well, lulled by successive governments into believing we truly do have a ‘rock star’ economy. Nothing could be further from the truth. Starting with Grant Robertson’s post-Covid budget, we must admit to the problems facing our economy and begin to deal with them. Otherwise, current inequalities will remain entrenched, we will continue to fall further behind our OECD partners, and the prosperity of our younger generations will be placed at peril”.

While I’m on the topic of legacies, the second article I want to share is by Chris Finlayson, Attorney General in the Key/English Governments for 9 years starting when I was also a Minister. I’ve been worried about the legality of many of the impositions we have experienced since the country was plunged into lockdown. I know you sometimes think all this theoretical  stuff isn’t that important, but in a well functioning democracy how the law is made and enforced is central to an orderly society we can have faith in. Chris has eloquently described these matters much better than I can in his opinion piece  on the rule of law:

“Some readers will no doubt respond that this rule of law stuff is all very interesting for the legal profession and retired politicians but is hardly of any practical impact given what New Zealand has just avoided.

I disagree. The former Chief Justice, Sian Elias, once said that if only judges and lawyers concern themselves with the rule of law, New Zealand is in trouble. She was right. Adherence to the concept of the rule of law would have helped avoid some of the basic failures of the past eight weeks – failures that should give all New Zealanders pause for thought.”

I’m afraid it’s too late to put Ardern’s debt genie back in the bottle. I apologise on behalf of my generation and older that you and your kids will carry this debt for all of us. My advice to you is to do what this government should have done. Cut costs and minimise your liabilities. Spend only on the essentials and invest in assets that will produce a safe dividend. Perhaps most important of all, stay engaged in our democracy and encourage your friends to do the same. If COVID-19 has taught the world anything it is this: politicians need to be closely scrutinised at all times but especially in crises like these.

The government’s arrogance was exposed a couple of weeks ago when ministers were ordered not to speak in the wake of the Covid document dump. It’s carried on this week when Tourism Minister Kelvin Davis refused to attend the Epidemic response Committee because, doing a Facebook Live session instead.

The country needs an opposition focussed on the government’s mistakes and formulating a plan to do much, much better, not on itself and a leadership struggle.

Whatever happens at Friday’s caucus meeting, this is what National must be doing, and doing it together in step with the leader.

And whether or not there’s a change of leader, one thing must not change – and that’s the decision to rule out any deal with New Zealand First.


Just say no

January 27, 2020

If National had ruled out a deal with New Zealand First three years ago, would the latter have got less than five per cent of the vote and the former still be leading the government?

We’ll never know.

But we do know that around half the people who voted for NZ First hoped the party would go with National and that a lot of them are still very unhappy Winston Peters chose Labour and the Green Party instead.

We also know that while Peters was supposedly negotiating in good faith he was also working on legal action against National’s deputy Paula Bennett and then-minister Ann Tolley.

That tells us, once again, that Peters can’t be trusted.

Simon Bridges has said he will announce well before the election whether or not National will rule out New Zealand First.

I hope he does say no to them which will make it quite clear to voters that a vote for that party is a vote for a Labour-led government.

There are risks.

In spite of their many criticisms of National not trying to win Epsom so that Act will get into parliament, Labour and New Zealand First could come to a similar arrangement in another seat in an attempt to secure an electorate for a New Zealand First candidate. If that worked, NZ First would not need to secure five percent of the vote to stay in parliament.

New Zealand First could get back, with or without an electorate,  and National could have too few seats to form a government without it and so be back in opposition.

But there are bigger risks in not ruling out New Zealand First.

It would send the message to voters that New Zealand First might go with National, even though the chances of that are very, very remote.

It would enable Peters to pretend he’ll listen to voters even though last time more opted for National than Labour.

It would give Peters the power he’s had too many times before to play the bigger parties off against each other and extract too high a price for putting them into government.

The worst day in government is supposed to be better than the best in opposition. But if the choice is government with Peters, I’d opt for opposition.

Tracy Martin says this year feels like the beginning of the end for Peters:

. . .So is it time to write Peters off?  Peters has cleverly played up his part as Labour’s handbrake, just as he once pitched himself as a bulwark against National’s extremes.  It’s how he has survived so long in politics – even after the “baubles of office'” fiasco, or Owen Glenn donations scandal.

But you can only play one side against the other for so long and it feels like Peters has played one too many hands.

So is the extraordinary Peters era coming to an end? He is our most familiar face on television; as recognisable as the theme tune to Coronation Street, as well worn as a pair of old slippers.

 But even soap operas eventually have their day.

National ruling out NZ First would make the end of the Peters soap opera much more likely.

Please, National,  just say no.


What a waste

November 14, 2019

WInston Peters has accepted that then-Ministers Paula Bennett and Anne Tolley did not leak the overpayment of his superannuation to the media.

However, his lawyer is still laying blame for the leak on the Ministry of Social Development.

Crown lawyer Victoria Casey QC gave her closing arguments this morning and argued that Winston Peters’ claim his privacy was breached “falls away entirely” when held up against the law. . .

Casey told Justice Venning the only question he needs to consider is whether her clients’ decision to brief their ministers under the “no surprises” convention breached a “reasonable expectation of privacy” and whether it was “highly offensive”.

“The questions is not does the court agree with these decisions to brief, or even whether the court has any reservations about the decisions to brief,” she said. . .

None of them establish whether there was a reasonable expectation in private facts. None of them establish that the communication from the chief executives to the ministers constitute highly offensive publication.

“Winston Peters could not have had a reasonable expectation public agencies with such information would not tell their ministers who have accountability to the House,” she said.

Casey also spoke of the high stakes for her clients, because these allegations go to the heart of their integrity.

She warned that if Peters’ complaints are upheld it would be “catastrophic” and career-ending for them.

“I ask the court to pay due attention to the chilling effect on the public sector and the reputational impact of even a passing comment by the High Court of the judgments exercised by these two senior public servants.

“I submit that it is appropriate that the court should exercise real caution before engaging in a review of matters that are beyond the scope of the pleaded claim,” she said. . .

What a waste of time, and public money this has been.

Peters has breached his own privacy and that of his partner by exposing them to a couple of weeks’ publicity that has done neither of them any credit.

And sadly while might have put some wavering voters off him and his party, it could also have confirmed the views of the deluded who support him that, in spite of the evidence to the contrary that this is a mess of his own making, he is somehow a victim.

The media has given very good coverage of the trail but it’s hard to beat Cactus Kate for pithiness in these posts:

Winston Peters and his reputation for detail

Winston Peters and his reputation for detail II

Tim Murphy v Barry Soper just got ugly

Who knew in advance about WInston Peters’ super stuffup?

The media have been the story for years Barry

Courtroom 13 – the week in review

Respecting WInston Peters

Silence…

Winston Peters and subjudice

And…….Denny Crane


A question of competence

September 12, 2019

The resignation of Labour Party president Nigel Haworth could have put the lid on the controversy over serious allegations against a staff member in the Prime Minister’s office.

But it won’t when so many questions remain over the handling of the complaints which started the saga and the ongoing claims that Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern didn’t know that the allegations were of sexual assault.

The Spinoff gives a timeline of the inquiry and Paula Bennett used yesterday’s general debate to  speak on it: (You can watch and listen to the speech here.)

The Prime Minister says she did not know there were sexual assault allegations against one of her staff members until Monday. I could go through the various media reports since 5 August and my own representation since being contacted by victims to show the inconsistencies in this, but they have already been well traversed in the last 24 hours.

If the allegations were serious enough to hire a QC, were they not serious enough for the PM to need, and want, to be fully informed?

Even if the allegations weren’t about sexual assault, surely they were serious enough for the PM to be fully informed about them?

Even if she wasn’t going to speak to the complainants, as she should have, surely allegations serious enough to warrant an investigation warranted someone senior talking to them and reporting back to her?

Back in 2016, Jacinda Ardern wrote an op-ed about the scandal surrounding the Chiefs rugby team. She said that a resignation is not enough: “It’s the PR quick fix—usher the source of the controversy away. But that solves nothing. After all, apologies followed by silence changes nothing, and change is what we need.”

The resignation today of Nigel Haworth cannot be, in the Prime Minister’s words, “the PR quick fix—usher the source of the controversy away.” Yes, Mr Haworth needed to go, and it should have happened weeks ago, but what is also known is that the Prime Minister’s own senior staff and a senior Minister have known the seriousness of the allegations but have not acted.

The complainants were members of the Labour Party. They genuinely believed that the party would listen to their complaints and deal with the alleged offender appropriately, but nothing happened. It clearly has taken an incredible sense of frustration, disappointment, and disillusion for these people to come to me, a National Party MP, to try and see their complaints addressed.

These are serious allegations. The Prime Minister cannot keep her head in the sand and pretend like it is happening somewhere far, far away. It is happening in her own office, in her own organisation. She is the leader of the Labour Party. The alleged perpetrator works in her leader’s office—he works for her.

Less than a year ago, the Prime Minister was in New York at the UN, trumpeting “Me too should be we too.” Well, who knew that that meant her own office was following the path well trod by all those companies who drew a curtain over sexual misconduct and inappropriate behaviour.

I have been told by the complainants that Jacinda Ardern’s former chief of staff Mike Munro knew about the allegations, her chief press secretary, Andrew Campbell, knew about the allegations, and the director of her leader’s office, Rob Salmond, knew about the allegations. I have been told by two victims who work in Parliament that they went to Rob Salmond around Christmas time and made a complaint about the alleged perpetrator.

That’s a lot of people who would normally report to the PM who purportedly didn’t on this very serious matter.

The Prime Minister has constantly said her office did not receive complaints and, in fact, encouraged the victims to speak to their line managers. They did. They have told me they went to Rob Salmond and nothing was done, and we are expected to believe that none of these men in her own office told the Prime Minister about the allegations—all of this in the aftermath of the Labour summer camp scandal, when the Prime Minister made it very clear she expected to have been told. And are we really expected to believe that she didn’t know that her chief press secretary, Andrew Campbell, embarked on a witch-hunt to try and find out who in the Beehive was talking to the media about the allegations? The complainants certainly felt hunted and scared that he was trying to shut them up and stop them from talking to the media—classic bullying of victims, and hardly a victim-led response.

A victim has told me that the alleged perpetrator has deep alliances to Grant Robertson, that he was involved in his campaign for the Labour Party leadership, and that Grant Robertson has known the seriousness of these allegations. It is unbelievable that he hasn’t discussed this with his close friend and his leader.

This all smacks of a cover-up. This goes straight to the top: to the Prime Minister, to senior Cabinet Ministers, and—

SPEAKER: Order! The member’s time has expired. . . 

Haworth’s time has expired, will anyone else follow?

This debacle does go to the top and at the top we have a woman whose brand is that of compassion, empathy and caring; one who we are expected to believe is a capable leader, who is, like Prime Ministers ought to be, is fully in control.

All of that is at very grave risk as a result of the mishandling of this situation and all the questions that remain over it.

One of those questions is that of competence: if the Prime Minister, her senior colleagues and staff can’t be trusted to run her office properly and safely, how can they be trusted to run the country?


The Genter pay gap

June 27, 2019

Labour and the Greens like to think they’re champions of women but there’s a Genter gender gap at the Women’s Ministry:

Women’s Minister Julie-Anne Genter has confirmed that women are paid less than men at the very Ministry that is focussed on eliminating the gender pay gap, National’s Women’s spokesperson Paula Bennett says.

“Julie-Anne Genter told a Select Committee that the men at her Ministry are paid six per cent more than the women. The pay gap at the Ministry has changed in favour of men since this Government came into power.

“If Julie-Anne Genter wants to have any credibility criticising private businesses or other Government departments, she needs to sort out her own Ministry first.

It’s so much easier to talk about the theory than to have it work in practice.

“This is another example of hypocrisy by Green Party Ministers who have swallowed more dead rats than a hungry stray cat. They supported the Waka-Jumping legislation, they didn’t get their Capital Gains Tax and there’s been no progress on the Kermadecs.

“Under a National Government the Gender Pay Gap decreased from 12 per cent to 9 per cent. It hasn’t changed under this Government.

“There are only 30 per cent women in this Government’s Cabinet, fewer than under the National Government. The Prime Minister has the opportunity to address this tomorrow in her reshuffle.

“The Greens were incredibly vocal in Opposition but they’re finding the reality of Government much harder. It’s time for them start walking the walk, because until now they’ve been all talk.”

One of the reasons the two women who were demoted from Cabinet haven’t been replaced is because the most likely candidates are men.

That poses a problem for a PM and a party that worries more about gender than ability and performance.


Govt knew there was no hack

June 7, 2019

The government knew there was no hack  before Gabriel Makhlouf made his public statements last week:

. . . The Government’s spy agency made urgent calls to the Beehive before Makhlouf’s public statement – we reveal today what they told at least one senior Government Minister. The new details come as Makhlouf faces a State Services Commission investigation over the way he handled claims the website had been hacked. It later transpired that Budget details could be uncovered using the Treasury’s search engine.

The Government Communications Security Bureau phoned the Beehive last week in a desperate 11th-hour bid to stop Treasury Secretary Gabriel Makhlouf from saying publicly that his department had been hacked, the Herald understands.

But it was too late.

The GCSB had already told the Treasury that it did not believe its computer system had been compromised.

The GCSB was sent a copy of Makhlouf’s statement just before it was due to be released on Tuesday night last week. . . 

This just gets messier and messier and needs a wider inquiry than just the States Services Commissioner’s one which won’t ask questions of Ministers.


Budget inquiry must be widened

June 4, 2019

The National Party is calling for the Budget inquiry to be widened:

The Prime Minister must be open and transparent about what questions she has asked her Finance Minister since spurious allegations were made that National acquired Budget documents through criminal activity, Deputy Leader of the Opposition Paula Bennett says.

National has written to State Services Commissioner Peter Hughes requesting the SSC widen its Budget investigation into Treasury and its Secretary to address a number of serious questions about the behaviour of both the department and the Finance Minister.

“The GCSB’s National Cyber Security Centre has said publically that it told Treasury its computer system was not compromised, yet both Gabriel Makhlouf and Grant Robertson chose to issue statements implying National carried out a ‘systematic hack’,” Ms Bennett says.

“Among the many questions that still need answering is what information Treasury and the Finance Minister had at their disposal before they issued those statements.

“The SSC inquiry should also include a complete review of all communications between the Finance Minister’s office and the Prime Minister’s office under the ‘no surprises’ approach.

“It took 36 hours for Treasury to come clean that it was sitting on a lie, and the Prime Minister needs to explain why she allowed her Government to mislead the public for so long.

“Did she and Grant Robertson ask the right questions of Gabriel Makhlouf, or did they take a ‘see no evil, speak no evil’ approach to all of this?

“It is concerning that even after Treasury admitted the Budget information was obtained without any hacking, its statement failed to offer an apology or take responsibility, and continued to disparage the Opposition in an entirely inappropriate way. . . 

John Armstrong isn’t waiting for an investigation he’s calling for resignations:

The chief executive of the Treasury, Gabriel Makhlouf, must resign.

It might have been Budget Day, thereby making his departure hugely inopportune for the Labour-led Government. That’s just tough. Makhlouf has to go. And forthwith. His exit on the most important date in the Treasury’s calendar may have piled humiliation on embarrassment.

It left Grant Robertson’s shiny new wellbeing budget feeling somewhat sick on its first public appearance. That’s just too bad. Makhlouf has to go. He has no choice in the matter. . .

He has to go — and for two simple reasons. Budget secrecy is sacrosanct; Budget secrecy is paramount. That is the bottom-line. It is non-negotiable. Any breach is sufficient grounds alone for heads to roll.

In Makhlouf’s case, there is another factor which should have sealed his fate — competence.

The ease with which National extracted Budget-connected information from the very heart of the (usually) most infallible branch of the Wellington bureaucracy demonstrated the shocking inadequacy of the Treasury’s cyber security.

It seems it is no exaggeration to say that the protections currently in place to guard that information have been at best lax and at worst non-existent. . . .

On top of that, the department’s handling of the aftermath of the breach of security raised further questions of competence.

The rapidity with which Makhlouf referred matters to the police following the hacking which soon enough turned out not to be hacking conveyed the impression that he believed National was responsible.

Although he endeavoured to avoid making that insinuation, in process, he veered dangerously close to soiling the Treasury’s neutrality.
While he might well be as neutral as he ever was, he is no longer seen as neutral. That is unacceptable. . . .

But this isn’t the only resignation Armstrong thinks should happen:

Should Robertson also be tending his resignation as a Cabinet minister or be sacked by the Prime Minister? The answer is an emphatic “yes”.

A breach of Budget secrecy — especially one of this week’s magnitude — is something so serious that resignation is mandatory.The applicability of ministerial responsibility demands nothing less. But it ain’t going to happen.

Robertson is exempt from having to fall on his sword. That exemption is by Labour Party decree. He is just too darned valuable.

Both he and the Prime Minister have made it very clear that they will move mountains to ensure Robertson emerges from this episode as untarnished as possible by placing responsibility for the breach fairly and squarely in the Treasury’s lap. . .

It’s been fascinating following commentary from the left which is trying to paint Simon Bridges as the wrong-doer in the botched Budget saga.

While we are mentioning Bridges, let’s deal with the bogus claims of his critics that his accessing of Budget documents was unethical, even if it was not unlawful. That is nonsense. Since the dawn of time, it has been incumbent on Opposition parties that they expose faults and failings in the policies and procedures adopted by the government of the day.

In revealing that the Treasury’s notion of what passes for Budget secrecy is screamingly flawed, Bridges has acted in the public interest.

Can his critics in Labour’s ranks put their hands on their hearts and affirm they would do things differently if they faced the same circumstances in Opposition? Of course not.

Bridges has simply been doing his job. On this week’s form, it is conceivable that he is going to be doing it a lot longer than both friend and foe have been predicting.

The machinations may be of little interest to any but political tragics but the botched Budget provided the Leader of the Opposition with an opportunity to shine in a week when the spotlight ought to have been on the Finance Minister and his leader, and shine he did.


Who leaked and why?

May 6, 2019

Will we have enough information to vote intelligently in  the referendum on cannabis?:

A Cabinet Paper leaked to National which will be considered by the Government tomorrow shows New Zealand will head into the recreational marijuana referendum with many unanswered questions, National’s Drug Reform spokesperson Paula Bennett says.

“Cabinet will tomorrow consider four different options for the referendum but no matter which option it choses, there are huge holes.

“The Cabinet Paper is clear that smoking marijuana when you’re under the age of 25 is detrimental for development of the brain, and yet it recommends that the legal age should be 20. The legal age seems to have been plucked out of thin air.

“The paper acknowledges that regular marijuana use increases the risk of developing depression, psychosis and schizophrenia and is especially harmful to those under 25-years-old. It also acknowledges that there is a one in six chance of young people becoming dependent. This would result in further demand for mental health services.

“There is no mention about what level of tax will be imposed on marijuana, will it be the same as tobacco and alcohol? Will it really get rid of the illicit market if it’s taxed at 40 or 50 per cent? Will a much higher tax rate be needed if they will test 10 per cent of the product to ensure THC levels are low?

“The Government hasn’t identified any budget for ensuring the public knows about the pros and cons of legalisation in the lead up to the referendum. Given how much this would impact our communities, New Zealanders need to know what they are voting for.

“Only one of the options being considered will give New Zealanders some certainty about what they’re voting for – the other options will mean a huge lack of information.

“Every option takes us straight to legalisation instead of decriminalisation. Many other countries consider decriminalisation first before leaping straight to legalisation.

“National understands that as usual with this Government, the coalition has been unable to reach a consensus and the decision around which option they will choose has been holding up the process.

“The problem with that is there isn’t time for yet more coalition disagreements on an issue this important.”

The options being considered are:

• A general question consistent with the undertaking in the Confidence and Supply agreement: “Do you support legalising the personal use of recreational cannabis?” This would not be accompanied by any legal framework or other policy decisions and it would be left to a subsequent Parliament to determine what to do in the event of a ‘yes’ vote.

• A questions referring to a specific policy framework document setting out the basic principles of what legalisation for personal use of recreational cannabis in New Zealand would entail: “Do you support legalising recreational cannabis in accordance with [published policy document]?” A ‘yes’ vote would result in the duly elected government and Parliament having some moral imperative, but no obligation, to enact law changes consistent with that policy document;

• A question referring to draft legislation that outlines the regulatory model for cannabis: ‘Do you support legalising the personal use of recreational cannabis in accordance with [published draft legislation]?” Similar to option 2, a ‘yes’ vote would result in the duly elected government and Parliament having some moral imperative, but no obligation, to enact the legislation.

• A question referring to legislation already enacted but conditional on an affirmative vote on the referendum: “Do you support legalising recreational cannabis in accordance with the [Drug Reform] Act 20XX?” A ‘yes’ vote would trigger the legislation coming into effect.

Brexit shows the dangers of a referendum when people neither know exactly what they’re voting for nor understand the consequences.

This leaked paper raises serious questions about the questions and whether or not we’ll know enough to make a fully informed vote.

There’s also the question of who leaked the paper and why?

Is it someone who is unhappy about this particular issue or is it someone who is unhappy about the direction – or more accurately lack of direction – of the government and it’s continuing non-delivery of anything of substance nearly half way through what is supposed to be the year of delivery?


April 9 in history

April 9, 2019

32 Jesus Christ ascended into Jerusalem on the first Palm Sunday.

193 Septimius Severus was proclaimed Roman Emperor by the army in Illyricum.

475 Byzantine Emperor Basiliscus issued a circular letter (Enkyklikon) to the bishops of his empire, supporting the Monophysite christological position.

1241  Battle of Liegnitz: Mongol forces defeated the Polish and German armies.

1413  Henry V was crowned King of England.

1440 Christopher of Bavaria was appointed King of Denmark.

1682 Robert Cavelier de La Salle discovered the mouth of the Mississippi River, claimed it for France and named it Louisiana.

1807 – James Bannerman, Scottish theologian and academic was born (d. 1868).

1835 – Leopold II of Belgium  was born(d. 1909).

1850 – Nine Sisters of Mercy arrived in Auckland on the Oceanie with Bishop Pompallier and a number of priests.

Sisters of Mercy arrive in New Zealand

1860 The oldest audible sound recording of a human voice was made.

1865 American Civil War: Robert E. Lee surrendered the Army of Northern Virginia (26,765 troops) to Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Courthouse, Virginia, effectively ending the war.

1865 Birth of Charles Proteus Steinmetz, German-American mathematician and electrical engineer (d. 1923).

1867 Chris Watson, Chilean-Australian journalist and politician, third Prime Minister of Australia, was born (d. 1941).

1867  Alaska purchase: Passing by a single vote, the United States Senate ratified a treaty with Russia for the purchase of Alaska.

1872 – Léon Blum, Jewish-French lawyer and politician, Prime Minister of France  was born (d. 1950).

1898 Paul Robeson, American singer and activist, was born  (d. 1976).

1909 The U.S. Congress passed the Payne-Aldrich Tariff Act.

1916  World War I: The Battle of Verdun – German forces launched their third offensive of the battle.

1917 World War I: The Battle of Arras  started with Canadian Corps executing a massive assault on Vimy Ridge.

1918 World War I: The Battle of the Lys – the Portuguese Expeditionary Corps was crushed by the German forces during the Spring Offensive on the Belgian region of Flanders.

1926 Hugh Hefner, American entrepreneur and publisher, was born.

1927 – Stanley Frank “Tiny” Hill, All Black,  was born.

1929  – Fred Hollows, New Zealand-Australian ophthalmologist was born (d. 1993).

Fred Hollows

1932 Unemployed workers in Dunedin reacted angrily to the refusal of the Hospital Board to offer assistance, protesters stoned the mayor’s relief depot and tried to storm the Hospital Board’s offices, before being dispersed by police batons.

Unemployed disturbances in Dunedin

1934 – Bill Birch, New Zealand politician, was born.

Bill Birch.jpg

1937 The Kamikaze arrived at Croydon Airport – the first Japanese-built aircraft to fly to Europe.

1939 Marian Anderson sang at the Lincoln Memorial, after being denied the right to sing at the Daughters of the American Revolution’s Constitution Hall.

1940 World War II: Germany invaded Denmark and Norway.

1942 World War II: The Battle of Bataan/Bataan Death March – United States forces surrendered on the Bataan Peninsula. The Japanese Navy launched an air raid on Trincomalee; Royal Navy aircraft carrier HMS Hermes and Royal Australian Navy Destroyer HMAS Vampire were sunk off the island’s east coast.

1945 World War II: The German pocket battleship Admiral Scheer was sunk.

1945 – World War II: The Battle of Königsberg, in East Prussia, ended.

1945 – The United States Atomic Energy Commission was formed.

1947 The Glazier-Higgins-Woodward tornadoes killed 181 and injured970 in Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas.

1947 – The Journey of Reconciliation, the first interracial Freedom Ride  started through the upper South in violation of Jim Crow laws. The riders wanted enforcement of the United States Supreme Court’s 1946 Irene Morgan decision that banned racial segregation in interstate travel.

1948 Jorge Eliécer Gaitán’s assassination provoked a violent riot (El Bogotazo) in Bogotá, and a further ten years of violence in Colombia known as La violencia.

1948 – Massacre at Deir Yassin.

1952 Hugo Ballivian’s government was overthrown by the Bolivian National Revolution, starting a period of agrarian reform, universal suffrage and the nationalisation of tin mines.

1957 The Suez Canal in Egypt was cleared and opened to shipping.

1959 Mercury program: NASA announced the selection of the United States’ first seven astronauts,-  the “Mercury Seven“.

1965 Astrodome opened and the first indoor baseball game was played.

1967 The first Boeing 737 (a 100 series) made its maiden flight.

1968 Martin Luther King Jr’s funeral.

1969 – Paula Bennett, National Party Cabinet Minister and Upper Harbour MP, was born.

Paula Bennett.jpg

1969 The “Chicago Eight” pled not guilty to federal charges of conspiracy to incite a riot at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago, Illinois.

1969 The first British-built Concorde 002 makes its maiden flight from Filton to RAF Fairford.

1975 The first game of the Philippine Basketball Association, the second oldest professional basketball league in the world.

1978  Rachel Stevens, English singer (S Club), was born.

1989  The April 9 tragedy in Tbilisi, Georgian SSR an anti-Soviet peaceful demonstration and hunger strikes, demanding restoration of Georgian independence was dispersed by the Soviet army, resulting in 20 deaths and hundreds of injuries.

1991 Georgia declared its independence from the Soviet Union.

1992 A U.S. Federal Court found former Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega guilty of drug and racketeering charges. He was sentenced to 30 years in prison.

1992 John Major‘s Conservative Party won an unprecedented fourth general election victory.

1999  Ibrahim Baré Maïnassara, President of Niger, was assassinated.

2002 The funeral of Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother at Westminster Abbey.

2003 2003 invasion of Iraq: Baghdad fell to American forces.

2005 Charles, Prince of Wales married Camilla Parker Bowles.

2009 In Tbilisi, Georgia, up to 60,000 people protested against the government of Mikheil Saakashvili.

2011 – A gunman murdered five people, injured eleven, and committed suicide in a mall in the Netherlands.

2013 – A gunman murdered 13 people in a spree shooting in the village of Velika Ivanča, Serbia.

2014  – A student stabbed 20 people at Franklin Regional High School in Murrysville, Pennsylvania.

2017 – Palm Sunday church bombings at Coptic Churches in Tanta and Alexandria.

Sourced from NZ History Online & Wikipedia


Fee-free & fewer students

November 21, 2018

The money spent on fee-free tertiary education hasn’t resulted in more students:

The Labour-led Government’s election bribe of fees-free tertiary education has been a complete failure, National’s Tertiary Education spokesperson Paula Bennett says.

“Education Minister Chris Hipkins’ own numbers show there are 2,400 fewer students in tertiary education and training than a year ago.

We don’t know if numbers would have dropped even more had the fee-free policy not been introduced.

But we do know that gifting a fee-free first year to all students, regardless of whether or not they need it, is poor use of public money.

“This expensive policy was designed to attract more students into tertiary education and it has completely failed.

“This policy is costing taxpayers $2.8 billion dollars and we’re going backwards. They should never have over promised and should be spending this money in education areas where it is really needed. . . 

Helping children who start school without the language and other skills needed to learn to read, write and do maths; helping those further through school and failing; helping those with special needs . . .

If the government has spare money to spend on tertiary education it should go on ensuring the quality of teaching; helping people who would otherwise not be able to study.

Then, rather than fee-free education for all, it should expand the policy of the previous government of writing off student loans for people like health professionals and vets who work in areas where it is difficult to recruit staff.

Throwing away money on fee-free study is even worse when teachers have a good case for improved pay and conditions but the government is telling them it doesn’t have enough to meet their demands.

The $2.8 million would be far better spent paying more to people who have successfully completed their studies and are working to educate the next generation than throwing it every first year student regardless of what they’re studying and whether or not they pass.


Priorities, platitudes, no plan

September 17, 2018

Jacinda Ardern has bowed to Winston Peters – her big speech yesterday talked not of a Labour-led governs but either this government or the coalition government.

The speech was an attempt to show coalition unity after the recent shambles, and told us very little new.

She talked of 12 priorities, but when it came to details, it was mostly the what with little how, and the what was more about what they’ve done or already announced than what they will do.

It was full of platitudes like:

. . .We will:

A. Ensure everyone who is able to, is earning, learning, caring or volunteering . . 

And the plan? It was a whole lot more about where they want to go with little about how they’ll get there.

A good government knows where it’s going, and how to get there,  from the start, not nearly one year into a three-year term.

The “plan” such as it is, is here.


Timing deliberate

June 12, 2018

Soon to-be acting Prime Minister Winston Peters is suing the Government.

Peters is suing the Ministry of Social Development, plus it its chief executive, Brendan Boyle, and State Services Commissioner Peter Hughes for $450,000 for breach of privacy – relating to his belief over how details of his pension overpayment were leaked to journalists.

He is also suing former ministers Paula Bennett and Anne Tolley but that is no surprise. They have always been targets.

The really stunning aspect of the new action is its timing so close to the date he is due to become Acting Prime Minister for six weeks.

Even if he had a water-tight case – and there is no evidence that he has – wouldn’t he delay it for the sake of a peaceful transition? . . 

Quite what Peters expects to achieve by wasting taxpayers’ money on this at all let alone on the eve of his taking over as acting PM is hard to fathom.

But the timing must be deliberate and it comes with his waiting until the last minute to pull support for repealing the three-strikes legislation.

Anyone willing to bet that all will be calm and stable while Peters is acting PM?

 


%d bloggers like this: