Te Heuheu to retire

May 10, 2011

National cabinet Minister Georgina te Heuheu has announced she will retire from parliament at the end of this term.

“Now is a good time to go. The National Party is in good heart. It has strong leadership. The National Government has outlined a credible programme for New Zealand’s future, and it’s now time for family and friends.

“I came in under MMP at a time when the National Government had embarked on an ambitious programme to settle Treaty injustices and to work to lift Māori participation in the economy and society. I’m proud to have been part of this key policy direction as I strongly believe it has set the course for a strong and enduring future for all New Zealanders.

“I have had 15 great years as a Member of the National Party Caucus. I have served under three Prime Ministers. Jim Bolger was Prime Minister when I came in and I have had the privilege to serve twice in Cabinet, first under Jenny Shipley and now under John Key.

“During that time I have had the opportunity of contributing to some very challenging issues that go to the heart of who we are as New Zealanders, including promoting the reconciliation of the interests of Māori and their fellow New Zealanders.

“I’ve endeavoured to do this by promoting reasoned debate and hopefully, exercising a degree of calm, and quiet determination.

“I am very proud to have served in the current Cabinet in this term. John Key has a very keen sense of what it takes to build a dynamic, inclusive society and I’ll be working hard up to the election to ensure he gets the chance to carry that leadership on for our country.

“I also hope New Zealanders give him a good mandate to pursue a vision for New Zealand that recognises that every New Zealander has an important role to play in building a strong nation.

“Politics is a brutal game at times. I have tried to focus on the issues rather than personalities. Politics can be all-encompassing and often you forget there are other things in life.

“I know there are other challenges out there, but for now I’m looking forward to going home and enjoying my family. I only hope they’re looking forward to the same thing.”

Mrs te Heuheu entered parliament as a list MP in the first MMP election in 1996.

She was the first Maori woman to gain a law degree from Victoria University and  and be admitted to the High Court as Barrister and Solicitor.

She practised law in Wellington and Rotorua before becoming an MP.

Her career in politics saw her become the first Maori woman to gain election as an MP for the National Party; the first Maori woman to chair the Maori Affairs Select Committee, and only the second Maori woman to be appointed to a New Zealand Cabinet.

Her ministerial portfolios from 1998 to 1999 were Minister of Women’s Affairs, Associate Minister for Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations and Associate Minister of Health.

She is now Minister for Courts, Pacific Island Affairs, Disarmament and Arms Control and Associate Minister of Maori Affairs.

Prime Minister John Key said:

“I want to thank Georgina for the contribution she has made in her career in national politics over the last 15 years, and also for her public service in a myriad of other roles.

“In particular I want to record my appreciation for the role Mrs te Heuheu has played over the years in helping to grow the relationship between iwi and the National Party,” says Mr Key.

Two other ministers, Simon Power and Wayne Mapp, have announced they are retiring at the end of this term; Richard Worth and Pansy Wong have already stood down and Coromandel MP Sandra Goudie has announced she will retire in November too.

Having a turn over of Ministers and MPs is good for the health of the party. It makes it much easier to refresh caucus and cabinet without putting any noses out of joint.


Leaders don’t win or lose alone

March 30, 2011

Election campaigns have become more and more presidential with most attention on party leaders.

That focus on the leaders continues between elections too but a leader doesn’t win or lose alone.

The seeds of National’s defeat in 1999 were sown before the 1990 election when Jim Bolger made stupid promises which were then not kept. Those seeds were fertilised before the 1996 election when too many MPs whose seats disappeared with the reduction in the number of electorates stayed on as list MPs.

Having failed to jump before the 1999 election many of those MPs were pushed in the 2002 one. Not only were many of them the tired face of National which the electorate had rejected three years before, many weren’t united behind the leader. The involuntary clean-out in the election provided the foundation for rebuilding which enabled the party to win in 2008.

Labour is following a similar path. It has had some refreshment but not enough.  Parties need a balance between experience and freshness and it hasn’t got it.

It’s led by one of the longest-serving MPs in parliament and too many of his caucus are associated with the people and policies which lost voters’ support over successive terms. Further more they have done too little to persuade the public they have new and better ideas for running the country again.

MPs will have many reasons for clinging to their seats, the good of the party isn’t usually one of them.

The influx of new MPs in 2005 and 2008 refreshed the National caucus. Involuntary resignations by Richard Worth and Pansy Wong and decisions not to stand again by John Carter, Wayne Mapp, Simon Power and Sandra Goudie has provided the opportunity for several new faces in the next term.

All the blame for Labour’s dysfunction is being laid at Phil Goff’s door. He’s made mistakes but his caucus members need to look at themselves too. Sticking with him because there is no viable alternative isn’t a resounding vote of confidence in him which the electorate shares. But a lack of unity and refusal to stand aside by some of the longer-serving or more ineffectual MPs is also part of the problem.

Ranking the list is never an easy job and the number of tired old faces among the sitting MPs will make it even harder for Labour this time. However, if its MPs and the party don’t make some hard choices about who stays and who goes themselves, voters will do it for them as they did for National in 2002.


Nathan Guy new minister

June 15, 2009

Nathan Guy has been appointed a Minister oustide Cabinet.

He will be Minister of Internal Affairs and have responsibility for Archives New Zealand and the National Library. He’ll also be Associate Minister of Justice and have the new position of Associate Minister of Transport.

Guy is a dairy farmer who entered parliament as a lsit MP in 2005,  won the seat of Otaki last year and has been Senior Whip.

Guy’s appointment follows Richard Worth’s resignation.

Worth was also the Minister for Land Information New Zealand and that responsibility now goes to Maurice Williamson.

Caucus will elect a new senior whip tomorrow.


Richard Worth has resigned from parliament

June 12, 2009

Richard Worth has resigned from parliament.

Dr Worth, who entered Parliament in 1999, said he had gone for the good of the National Party.

“Since I resigned as a Cabinet Minister earlier this month, I have been considering my personal options, and also the welfare of the National Party – a party which I love and have served to the best of my ability for the past nine years.

 “As a result, I have today also resigned as a list Member of Parliament with immediate effect.

“It would be easy for me to be bitter about the avalanche of rumour and innuendo that has led me into making this decision which I regard as being in the best interests of my party.

“I wish only to restate that I have not committed any crime, and I remain confident that when the true facts are established I will be cleared of any and all allegations of criminal conduct. I will steadfastly defend myself in respect of those allegations. But it is impossible to defend oneself in the public and political arena against hearsay, character assassination and scuttlebutt.”

Whatever truth there may or may not be in the allegations concerning him, resigning was the right thing to do because continuing in politics would have brought attacks on him and the National Party.

He was a lsit MP so the next person on National’s list, Cam Calder, will be offered Worth’s seat. He was briefly in parliament after the election but lost his palce after special votes were counted and the Greens got an extra seat at national’s expense.

The person on the list after that is Conway Powell.

Kiwiblog has Richard Worth’s  media statement.


Treading on eggshells

June 4, 2009

Yesterday’s post about reacting personally rather than politically to the news that Richard Worth had resigned was written immediately after the announcement that it was for personal reasons.

That suggested to me it was a health problem or family issue. It was evening when I caught up with the news again and by that time it was clear that was not the case.

I am walking on eggshells here, because there is a police investigation and I’m an office holder in the National Party.

Because of that, had I not made the earlier post I might have chosen not to comment on the issue at all, but since I did, rather than deleting or updating it now it’s been overtaken by events I thought I should do another.

Speaking personally and generally:

A police investigation of a public figure is not a personal matter.

Sexual harassment is deplorable, inexcusable and unacceptable.

Sometimes, even if allegations aren’t proved, enough mud sticks to make a career in politics untenable.


Personal perspective kinder than political

June 3, 2009

Had this been last year and I’d just heard the news that a minister had resigned I’d have looked at it from a political perspective.

Because I know and like Richard Worth I am seeing his resignation from a personal perspective and I’m sorry.

Kathryn Ryan said she will be talking to John Key about this on Nine to Noon  at 10.45.


Last word on that passage to India

April 2, 2009

NBR editor Nevil Gibson provides more light and less heat on Mr Worth’s rocky passage to India.

At worst, Mr Worth, a specialist in the niceties of constitutional law, would be naïve to pretend his role as Internal Affairs Minister would not give him VIP treatment in India – a country where business and politics go together like curry and rice.

Gibson gives background and analysis which can only be appreciated by reading the unabridged version of his comments so I’ll leave it there.


Once is a mistake

March 31, 2009

In the days when rugby was just a game, All Black coach Charlie Saxton encouraged players to think for themselves and said he didn’t mind them making mistakes if they learned from them.

But he said while doing something wrong once was a mistake, failing to learn and repeating it was a cock-up and while he accepted mistakes, he hated cock-ups.

John Key is taking a similar line with his ministers:

Mr Key made it clear when he named his ministers that he wanted “outcomes, results and accountability”. Yesterday, he said if anyone in government “needed a bollocking” it would come from him.

And, unlike the previous Prime Minister who showed unusual tolerance when Winston Peters breached the Cabinet Manual, Key has warned his patience is limited.

It doesn’t matter that Richard Worth was paying for his trip to India himself, acting in a private capactiy and made no personal gain, there was a perceived conflict of interest because he’s a minister and he ought to have realised that.

However, it was a mistake rather than a cock-up and I’m pleased it’s been accepted as that by the Prime Minsiter because Worth has brought a long over due and welcome improvement to the relationship between LINZ and farmers as Minister of Lands.

The previous incumbent had neither understanding of nor sympathy for high country farmers. Worth has done more good in his four months as minister by working to heal the rift in the high country  than the former minister did in the whole of his term.


Healing the rift in the high country

March 26, 2009

Pastoral  lessees head for court with LINZ today to defend their property rights  against an attempt by Fish and Game to establish the right to roam in the high country.

High Country Accord chairman Andrew Simpson estimated it would cost pastoral lessees $200,000 to defend but said the stakes were high.

“It’s a direct threat to our way of life and the ability of pastoral lessees to farm the land. We can’t farm if we don’t have some form of control over who enters our properties,” he said.

The case is being heard in the High Court at Wellington, and if successful would grant the public as-of-right access to pastoral lease land for recreation – so long as it did not interfere with the lessee’s exclusive right to pasture for grazing livestock.

 . . .  Fish and Game chief executive Bryce Johnson said his organisation was seeking a declaratory judgement on whether pastoral leases granted under the 1948 Land Act offered exclusive possession or exclusive occupancy of the land.

He will argue that pastoral leases only grant runholders exclusive rights to the pasture.

I hope the judge is familiar with Shakespeare because I think this argument is similar to the one which prompted Portia’s speech in The Merchant of Venice.

Tarry a little;—there is something else.—
This bond doth give thee here no jot of blood;
The words expressly are, a pound of flesh:

The words expressly, with pastoral leases, are land exclusive of improvements.  The land is publicly owned but the improvements which include the fertility, grass, crops, tracks, trees, fences, gates, and buildings, are the property of the lessee.

I reckon that would preclude the right to roam because no-one could enter the property without touching at least some of those improvements.

Regardless of the outcome of the case, we can be grateful that the government wants to heal the rift which developed between pastoral lessees and the previous administration.

Lands Minister Richard Worth said the relationship between lessees and the previous government had collapsed, with farmers feeling there was no trust between the government as landlord and the lessee.

Mr Worth said in an interview he was committed to a relationship based on three policy planks his party campaigned on at the last election: voluntary, good-faith negotiations between runholders and the Government; ensuring rentals were tied to the earning capacity of the property; and recognition that runholders could be as effective land stewards as the Crown.

The inclusion of amenity values in determining rents for leashold land led to court because some lessees are being charged rentals which exceed their gross income just because the sheep and cattle have a view while grazing.

The case concluded last month but the judgement has yet to be released.

Without pre-empting that, there is no doubt this government has a more reasonable attitude to pastoral leases than the previous one.  As Agriculture Minsiter David Carter says:

“The land is not easy to manage and the fundamental question we now have to ask is how will the Doc manage its already 43% hold of the South Island.”

Mr Carter said Doc and other interested parties needed to work more closely with farming families who, in many cases, had farmed the land for several generations.

“They are the ones who have delivered us the landscapes we see today. They are the ones with the ability to manage it far more sustainably than any government department,” he said.

 The previous government was hung up on ownership. But conservation can be assured and access negotiated without wasting taxpayers’ money on purchasing land and the on-going costs of ownership.


Some thoughts on the new ministers

November 17, 2008

Bill English has a big workload as Deputy PM, Minister of Finance and Minister of Infrastructre.

Federated Farmers has been pressing for irrigation to be included under infrastructure. Agriculture Minister David Carter has always been supportive of that so I hope he convinces Bill and his associate Steven Joyce of its importance too.

Whether or not you accept the science for climate change, it’s a political issue which needs careful handling and we will be very well served in that area by Tim Groser. He’ll be a very able Trade Minsiter too.

I’m also pleased to see Richard Worth as Minister for Lands.

Farmers have very strong feelings over the mishandling of tenure review by the previous minister and Richard will be welcomed for the new and more reasonable perspecitve he’ll bring to this area.

For everyone pleased to be in cabinet, or a minister outside it, there will be more than one MP disappointed to have missed out.

However, John Key has made it clear that some appointments will not run the full term. The experience of longer serving MPs, especially those who’ve been Ministers before, will be appreicated in the interim. But there are plenty of talented MPs waiting to take over and at least some of the senior MPs must know their tenure as Minister will not be for the full three years so that National can present a refreshed line up for the next election.


%d bloggers like this: