Divided they’re falling

June 27, 2014

Two Labour MPs crossed the floor to support the windblown timber bill being debated under urgency yesterday:

Damien O’Connor and Rino Tirikatene backed the Government’s bill to allow the retrieval of trees felled in Cyclone Ita from some parts of the West Coast conservation estate, while their colleagues opposed it.

O’Connor attacked the bill during the debate on the first reading, but the debate was completed by 72 to 46 with National, NZ First, Maori Party, United Future, Brendan Horan and two Labour votes in favour.

At the beginning of the debate Conservation Minister Nick Smith said the damage done by Cyclone Ita was substantial and an environmental tragedy. It left a dilemma about what to do with the wood.

The West Coast Wind-blown Timber (Conservation Lands) Bill
had to be passed urgently as the beech which could be recovered would be too rotten by spring, other wood would last longer and this could be recovered over the five year life of the bill.

It would have been complex to allow the timber retrieval under existing rules and the bill would exclude the high conservation value areas such as National Parks, but it would be allowed in some of the conservation estate. There would be conditions over safety and environmental protections.

Smith said arguments the removal of timber would prevent regeneration was wrong because only a small amount would be recovered. He said Labour was split on the issue and claimed West Coast MP Damien O’Connor could cross the floor.

The wood would provide jobs in the West Coast, Smith said.

Labour’s Ruth Dyson said the bill was not a serious attempt to help West Coast, but a political stunt. The Conservation Act provided for storm felled timber to remain on the ground, so forests could regenerate.

If the bill would provide long term jobs on the West Coast, Labour would support it, but there was no commitment in the Bill to this.

Dyson said the bill would rule out Resource Management Act provisions and it would “devastate” the timber sector who had permits to log native timber as the market would be flooded.

West Coast MP Damien O’Connor said he would support the bill if it guaranteed the jobs created by the log retrieval would stay on the West Coast. The Government wanted the logs exported from his electorate, he said.

There was potential from the logs on the ground, but it would be dangerous to retrieve and much of it would have to be helicoptered out.

He had some “interesting and robust” debates with his colleagues; he believed the logs could be removed without environmental damage. O’Connor said he believed only the rimu would be worth extracting and they would be extracted by logging crews from outside the West Coast and processed elsewhere.

The Greens totally opposed the bill as it believed all the conservation estate should be protected, Eugenie Sage said.

NZ First MP Richard Prosser said the bill should not be passed under Urgency, but it would be supported to committee stage where it wanted changes to made. NZ First wanted the jobs created to go to New Zealand companies and preferably West Coast ones with no logs exported and 25% of royalties to go back to the region. It also wanted the RMA to apply to the operations.

Maori Party Leader Te Ururoa Flavell said the cyclone had caused terrible damage, but this was nature at work. Local Maori felt the felled timber should be used without wasting it. The timber would not be taken from National Parks or other high value conservation land and the conditions would ensure a small proportion of logs were removed in a safe and environmentally friendly way.

After the vote on the first reading MPs moved immediately to the second reading.

The bill completed its second reading by 65 to 51 with National, Maori Party, United Future, Brendan Horan and two Labour votes in favour.

NZ First reversed its initial support in the first reading. . . . 

O’Connor  noisily declined a place on Labour’s list before the last election, he’s back on it this time but if he’s prepared to demonstrate the internal divisions in the party so dramatically he would have been better to keep off it again.

The two Labour votes weren’t needed to pass the Bill so the floor-crossing was playing to the gallery in the electorates they hope will vote for them.

That might help them stay in parliament but confirmation of disunity  will make it more difficult for them, and their party, to get into government.

National is united and standing tall, Labour is divided and falling in the polls:

Support for the Labour Party has dropped 2.2 percent to 27.3 percent in the latest 3 News-Reid Research poll – lower than its share of the vote at the last election.

The poll surveyed 750 eligible New Zealander voters between June 19 and 25, amid the controversy over businessman Donghua Liu’s alleged donations to Labour.

Labour leader David Cunliffe received his lowest rating since taking over the role in November last year. Only 26.3 percent of those surveyed think he is performing well as leader of the Opposition.

National is meanwhile polling at 49.7 percent, down 0.6 percent from the last poll – but still indicating it could govern alone with a 63-seat share of a 122-seat Parliament.

John Key has been given his highest rating as preferred Prime Minister since November 2011, with 46.7 percent support.

On this question Mr Cunliffe is polling in single figures, down 0.2 percent to 9.6 percent.

Mr Key has also received his highest rating since November 2011 when it comes to people who think he is a capable leader – 82.3 percent say he is.

NZ First received only 3.6 percent of the vote, dropping 2 percent from the last poll and placing them under the 5 percent party vote threshold for getting into Parliament.

However the Green Party are up 2.5 percent to 12.7 percent, and the Conservative Party are back up at 2.8 percent – equalling their highest-ever poll result so far.

Hone Harawira and Kim Dotcom’s project Internet Mana debuts at 1.8 percent.

The full results are here and give a total of 69 seats to National and its coalition partners and only 53 to the combined left.

It is very unlikely the results will be this good for National in the election but with less than three months until the election there’s not much time for Labour to get better.

And if they keep looking divided they’re more likely to continue falling than start climbing.


Petering out

May 25, 2014

Winston Peters has had more political lives than a cat, but Tracey Watkins thinks he, and the NZ First party which is nothing without him, are petering out:

Anyone who kids themselves that there is life after Winston Peters for NZ First only had to watch the party floundering in the absence of its leader this week.

Frantically trying to head off an attack by their former colleague, expunged NZ Firster Brendan Horan, Peters’ front bench achieved the seemingly impossible feat of making Horan look good by comparison.

They were clueless in the face of Horan’s determination to extract utu from his former party by tabling documents he claimed showed improper use of the taxpayer funded leader’s fund. . .

Not only that, they voted against Labour’s vote of no confidence and had to belatedly ask for their no votes to be counted with the ayes.

Regardless of the ins and outs of Horan’s allegations, however, one thing seems clear: Horan is hellbent on using his last remaining months in Parliament to try to take Peters and the rest of NZ First down with him.

Even if he succeeds he will only be hastening by a few years what increasingly seems inevitable.

With its leader knocking 70, NZ First is a clock that has been slowly winding down since the 1996 election delivered Peters the balance of power. . .

Since the party’s return in 2011, Parliament has been collectively holding its breath waiting for the current team to implode given some of the more eccentric selections – like former North Shore mayor Andrew Williams, notorious for urinating in a public place.

The implosion hasn’t happened yet but there have been plenty of flaky moments. Richard Prosser launched a diatribe against Muslims that prompted hundreds of complaints to the NZ First board. The party’s Pasifika MP, Asenati Lole-Taylor, famously asked questions of the police minister in Parliament about blow jobs and has carved out a cult following on Twitter for her bizarre outbursts. Her most recent was to accuse a press gallery journalist of cyber bullying after he referred to her “shooting the messenger”. Lole-Taylor thought he was alleging she had shot an actual parliamentary messenger. . . 

It’s not quite so funny when you remember we’re paying her salary.

NZ First has never been more than Peters and whichever bunch of sycophants come in on his coat tails.

When he goes the party will go with him.

Whether it’s with a bang at the coming election or a whimper as it peters out over at least one more term is up to voters.

And those who think it could be this election should read Karl du Fresne on Peters in person at a public meeting.

He needs only sway 5% of voters and there could well be enough of the deluded and disenchanted to give him at least one more chance.


NZ First needs a headline

November 29, 2013

Colin Craig is a younger, fresher option for people who might have been attracted to Winston Peters.

Craig’s Conservative Party has been getting headlines and that’s bestirred a New Zealand First MP to go in search of one too.

He found it in NZ First will stop farm sales to foreigners:

. . . New Zealand First is calling for a complete halt to sales of farmland to non resident foreign buyers, its primary industries spokesman Richard Prosser says.

“Under a New Zealand First-influenced government there will be no more sales of farmland to non resident foreigners, full stop.

“This road leads to peasantry and New Zealanders being tenants in our own country,” Prosser said.

Not surprisingly the rhetoric isn’t supported by the facts:

Though there is no formal record of how much land is owned by offshore investors Overseas Investment Office land information manager Annelies McClure said “Current best estimates are that between 1% and 2% of New Zealand farmland is held by overseas interests.”

That figure excludes forestry and land, such as areas of native bush, not in productive use. . .

Prosser’s rant has been prompted by plans for Synlait Milk to sell to the Pengxin Group.

He doesn’t factor in the foreign exchange this will bring into the country and what those who sell their shares might do with the money they’ll get for them.

But then that wouldn’t get the attention-grabbing negative headline he wanted.

It might not do him and his party any good though because the Conservatives are not keen on foreign ownership either.


Unequivocal or not

February 13, 2013

Spot the difference in responses to New Zealand First MP Richard Prosser’s vitriolic attack on people from “Wogistan”.

Judith Collins was unequivocal:

Minister for Ethnic Affairs, Justice, and Minister Responsible for the Human Rights Commission, Judith Collins says comments by New Zealand First MP Richard Prosser are extremely disappointing and may cause international embarrassment for New Zealand.

“New Zealand values diversity and prides itself on being an inclusive society.

“Muslims in New Zealand are also a diverse community – it is simply appalling to profile people based on their religion, skin colour, country of origin, or a perceived stereo-typed ‘look’ as Mr Prosser has done.

“Mr Prosser’s anti-Muslim rant has let New Zealand down and as a Member of Parliament he should know better.

“New Zealand First Leader, Winston Peters, needs to do much more than to hide his MP – he needs to explain why Mr Prosser’s behaviour is acceptable to New Zealand First.

“The Office of Ethnic Affairs works closely with the Muslim community in New Zealand – a community that denounces terrorism and has vowed to work with authorities to counter any terrorism threat.

“We have a strong tradition of human rights in New Zealand. Our Human Rights Act prohibits discrimination based on race and religious belief, and our Bill of Rights Act affirms the right to freedom of religion, including the right to hold views without interference.

“As far back as 1978, New Zealand ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights which underlines the right to freedom of religion.

“I suggest Mr Peters and his caucus familiarise themselves with this legislation to avoid causing further embarrassment to New Zealand,” says Ms Collins.

Prosser’s leader, Winston Peters, made a very brief statement:

I have spoken with Mr Prosser regarding the Investigate magazine article.

He wrongfully impugned millions of law-abiding, peaceful Muslims.

Mr Prosser agrees that the article did not have balance, and does not represent the views of New Zealand First.

Peters would be the first to call for a government MP to resign for a statement far less damaging than Prosser’s.

However, he has been a strident critic of immigration and is no doubt careful about not alienating the supporters attracted by his xenophobic stance.

Labour’s Foreign Affairs spokesman Phil Goff was much firmer:

“Mr Prosser’s statement is unacceptable from an MP and he and New Zealand First should consider whether he has any future in politics,” Phil Goff said.

Labour leader David Shearer was somewhat more equivocal than Ms Collins:

David Shearer says Richard Prosser’s comments were “offensive and completely inappropriate” but wouldn’t say if he would stand him down.

A war of words on Twitter between Green co-leader Russel Norman and Labour MP Trevor Mallard point to problems with one of Labour’s potential coalition partners.

Maybe Shearer’s initial reluctance to take a stand on this was because any tension between his party and the Green Party increases Labour’s reliance on Peters and his party.

Or maybe it’s just another example of Shearer being quick to criticise but much slower to commit himself or his party to action.

Leadership requires the ability to be unequivocal when it matters, Shearer has yet to show he has it.


Maiden speeches

February 8, 2012

New Zealand First MPs Richard Prosser, Andrew Williams,  Tracey Martin, Asenati Lole-Taylor and Denis O’Rourke made their maiden speeches today.

Prosser’s is here, Williams’ here, Martin’s here Taylor’s here and O’Rourke’s here.

I don’t share their philosophy but I was interested in their stories.


Silly little boys

January 31, 2012

 

“Because our society, New Zealand society, Western society in general, has been hijacked by a conspiracy of Silly Little Boys. They’re everywhere; in the schools, in the media, in the public service, in the judiciary, even in Cabinet.

Everywhere we turn, the foundations of feminity, the pillars of female-ness which have underpinned the construction and development of our very civilisation, are being undermined, by Silly Little Boys. And we are putting up with it.”

Those two paragraphs are no sillier than the latest outpouring of stupidity by New Zealand First MP Richard Prosser uncovered by The Hand Mirror.


Now they tell us

December 8, 2011

The election was nearly two weeks ago and only now is there news about one of the new MPs.

One of New Zealand First’s newest MPs is trying to make his mark by saying  burqas should be banned, military training should be compulsory and police, taxi  drivers, dairy owners and bank tellers should be armed.

Had the media been doing its job properly there would have been profiles of all candidates likely to enter parliament before the election.

It could have made a difference to how people voted.

Although when so many people believe in alien visitations and psychic powers, maybe it wouldn’t.

 

 

 


%d bloggers like this: