Troubles in threes plus

March 22, 2018

If troubles really did come in threes then the Young Labour camp sex scandal, Foreign Minister Winston Peter’s initial refusal to accept Russia’s involvement in the spy poisoning case and questions over Defence Minister Ron Mark’s use of Air Force helicopters would have been the only problems for the government last week.

But Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern had another fire to fight – Ethnic Communities Minister Jenny Salesa spending more than $30,000 on travel in three months.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says Ethnic Communities Minister Jenny Salesa is “hugely disappointed” her travel expenses are so high and is working to fix it.

People don’t know what they don’t know, but it would be helpful if all Ministers did know what was and wasn’t appropriate spending and that they knew about overspending when it was happening and not so long after the event.

The PM had another problem yesterday and was forced to say Minister Shane Jones calling for heads to roll at Air New Zealand was a step too far.

Mr Jones, the Minister for Regional Economic Development, said earlier this week that Air New Zealand had turned its back on the regions.

When the company’s board and chief executive objected to his comments and told him to back off, he then called for people to resign. . . 

That’s three New Zealand First Ministers causing problems in less than a fortnight.

Politik reports tensions between that party and Labour over water and defence.

It would be risky to bet there won’t be more before too long.


Teal deal for Question Time

March 19, 2018

Green Party leader James Shaw has announced he’s gifting most of the party’s questions to the National Party.

James Shaw told Corin Dann on TVNZ’s Q+A programme this morning his party would gift its so-called ‘patsy’ questions to opposition parties as a way of holding the government to account. . .

CORIN Sure. Okay. Let’s get on to this issue. So I’m of the understanding that the Green Party is going to announce that you will give your what are called patsy questions in Parliament – so you get, what, one per session, is that right? Primary question – you’re going to give those questions to the Opposition for the rest of the term. Is that correct?

JAMES That’s right. So it’s about 42 questions this year and about 50 next year, based on what we currently know about the calendar. And that is because – and you know this from your time in the gallery, right – that patsy questions are basically a waste of everybody’s time.

CORIN They make the government look good.

JAMES Yeah, that’s right, but I think question time should be about holding the government to account. This is what we said when we were in Opposition. Now that we are in government, we felt that it was important for us to act consistently with what we said in Opposition.

CORIN But if you’re in government, why are you giving the Opposition an extra chance to bash you?

JAMES I know it sounds crazy, but we are crazy about democracy. So I know it seems like a weird move, but I honestly think that the democracy will be better served if question time does what it is supposed to do, which is to hold the government to account, and we are members of the government. I expect us to be held to account, not to use scripted questions to kind of tell some bright, shiny story. . .

It’s no surprise that National has welcomed the gift.

National Party Leader Simon Bridges has welcomed the Green Party’s decision to give the Opposition its allocated Oral Questions in Parliament to allow it to better hold the weak Ardern-Peters Government to account.

“I said when I became Leader that National would remain firmly focused on being an effective Opposition and in the past weeks we have continued to do that.

“That includes during Parliamentary Question Time when Opposition MPs get Ministers on their feet asking questions of importance to New Zealanders, and those efforts will now be bolstered by the Green Party’s decision.

“National will use the Green Party’s Questions as well its own to continue to focus on the issues that matter to New Zealanders – the economy, law and order, housing, public services and the environment.

“The Green Party’s willingness for this weak Government to be held to account is commendable and we will honour the spirit of this move by doing so strongly.” . . 

Labour and its leader Jacinda Ardern will be less than enthusiastic about this move from their support partner.

They may be thinking their week from hell could get worse: the Young Labour camp sexual assault mess; Defense Minister Ron Mark Ron Mark using Air Force helicopters like taxis; Ethnic Affairs Minister Salesa spending an eye-watering $30,186 on travel and now their support partner is suddenly a lot less supportive.

The Greens are sticking to principles on making a teal deal on patsy questions.

Jacinda Labour might not mind if they follow suit by withdrawing support for the wake-jumping Bill but New Zealand First leader Winston Peters will.

This move also raises another question – if the Greens can do a teal deal on questions, are they opening the door for a teal deal on a future coalition?

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Jump while you can Ron

March 16, 2018

Ron Marks is being accused of using Airforce helicopters as taxis.

Last year he was in the news for the wrong reason for breaking rules for wearing his military medals.

Last year he was rolled as party deputy.

If he jumps from his party now he will be sacked as minister.

But if he doesn’t jump now he’s at risk of being kicked out of parliament altogether when his leader Winston Peters gets his wake-jumping bill passed.


Will Marks be rolled?

February 22, 2018

There were no surprises when Winston Peters was re-elected leader of New Zealand First unopposed.

The man and the party are almost one and the same thing and there would be no question of dissension

But this morning’s Politik newsletter Richard Harman, who is usually well informed, suggests that Peters might be about to depose Ron Mark as deputy in favour of Fletcher Tabuteau.

The waka jumping legislation hasn’t been passed yet.

If Mark was sufficiently unhappy with show of no confidence in him he could leave the party and still stay in parliament.

That would mean he’d no longer be a minister though and he could well find that too high a price to pay no matter how upset he was.

 

 


Mark returning to NZ First

August 19, 2014

Former New Zealand First MP Ron Mark is returning to the fold:

Former MP Ron Mark has rejoined New Zealand First, possibly at the expense of sitting MP Andrew Williams.

Mr Mark, who is the Mayor of Carterton, confirmed today that he would run for the Wairarapa seat. . .

It is understood that Mr Williams, who is currently New Zealand First list’s third-ranked MP, has fallen on a draft list to make way for Mr Mark.   . .

If he gets a winnable position of the list it could solve the party’s leadership succession problem because there is no-one currently on the list who could follow Winston Peters.


Will he be making his mark for Labour?

July 17, 2009

The news that Ron Mark has severed his ties with New Zealand First, mentioned in the Herald yesterday, has been rumoured for some time.

What intrigued me was this comment that he :

. . . would not rule out returning to politics with another party.

The grapevine that spread the rumour about his leaving NZ First, also reckons he’s going to have a tilt at a mayoralty in the lower North Island then stand for Labour in the Wairarapa seat in 2011.


Peters MIA

November 6, 2008

Morning Report  interviewed the leaders of all the wee parties this morning – well all but that of New Zealand First because Winston Peters didn’t turn up.

He didn’t turn up for the RadioNZ  foreign policy debate either.

Does he have a problem with radio or is today’s no-show related to a RadioNZ news story that he’s given up on Tauranga?

Morning Report discussed that in more detail.

And what does Helen Clark’s comment yesterday that he was a victim of a malicious campaign mean?

“It’s one thing to try to take people out of politics on the basis of their policies, it’s another to mount a campaign based on smears and we’ve now had three inquiries which have fallen completely flat on their face.

“Wouldn’t I look a chump today if I had sacked Mr Peters because of those inquiries.”

No, she’d have been seen to treat him as she’d treated other errant ministers and she does look a chump for backing him in the face of the privileges committee censure.

But what happens now?  Will she tell the Labour candidate in Rimutaka to pull back to give Ron Mark a better chance?  

That’s the only electorate where NZ First has a chance and if they don’t win it they’ll need 5% of the party vote which is possible but not probable.


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