It’s only one poll

October 14, 2019

The slide has started:

The age of Jacindamania is over. Brand Ardern has taken its biggest knock yet – and when Labour’s magic weapon loses its power, the party does too.

The latest Newshub-Reid Research Poll shows just how wounded Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Labour have been after the string of crises that have beset them.

Labour was the only party to lose support in Newshub’s poll. It’s now on 41.6 percent – smacked down by 9.2 percent.

Most of that went to National, which is on 43.9 percent – up 6.5. This is enough to overtake Labour, and that’s manna from heaven for the Nats and leader Simon Bridges. . .

It’s only one poll,  has a margin of error of 3.1%, and remember the last Newshub-Reid Research Poll, had National much lower and Labour much higher than the TV One poll that came out the same night.

On this result Labour and the Green Party could still form a government and National and Act would be a couple of seats short.

But while Party support ebbs and flows the trend is more significant, and this echoes other polls which show Labour losing support.

And support for the Prime Minister tends to peak and then fall.

Personality matters but it doesn’t pay the bills and while warm words are well received they can’t counter the fact that the year of delivery has been one of disappointments.


Song sung blue

October 9, 2019

Simon Bridges singing for his supper:


Property rights matter to all

September 24, 2019

Who’s standing up for property rights?

The Government’s handling of Ihumātao has shown it has no respect for property rights, Leader of the Opposition Simon Bridges says. 

“It’s been eight weeks since the Prime Minister told Fletcher Buildings it had to stop developing much needed houses on land that it owns. Since then, Fletchers has not been invited to be part of negotiations. It’s had to sit on the side-line as others have tried to take away its rights.

“It has set an appalling precedent for a Prime Minister to insert herself into the business of a private company and prevent it from building 480 much needed houses.

Does the Prime Minister even have the right to tell a company it can’t go about its lawful business on its own land?

“No wonder business confidence has plummeted when the Prime Minister shows such blatant disregard for businesses and property rights.

“It doesn’t matter where in the world the Prime Minister is, it’s time for her to set the record straight. She needs to tell the protestors to go home, make it clear that the Government won’t be spending taxpayers’ dollars on buying the land and rule out any sort of deal.

“This matter doesn’t concern her. It’s time to butt out and give Fletchers back the land they legally own.”

Jacinda Ardern’s interference has done nothing to solve the problem. It’s made it worse.

If the government gives, or loans, the Iwi anything at all towards purchasing the land, it will open up the opportunity for every other iwi to renegotiate what were supposed to be full and final Treaty settlements.

Worse than that, it has sent a very clear message it doesn’t respect property rights which are a fundamental building block of democracy.

Private property was exempt from treaty settlements for a very good reason. The wrongs treaty settlements were to compensate for were started when Maori property rights were ignored in the past and could not be righted by infringing other people’s, including those of Maori, in the present and future.

Property rights matter for everyone and it is well past the time when the Prime Minister’s interference in Fletchers’ right to exercise theirs must stop.


Full & final

September 20, 2019

The Ihumātao dispute is getting messier and government interference is to blame.

When it began, Mana Whenua had an agreement with Fletchers, who own the land.

Then, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern called a halt to any building while negotiations continued and now Mana Whenua have backed out of the agreement with Fletchers and are siding with the protesters in wanting the land back and she’s not ruling out buying it:

. . . But there was a breakthrough on Wednesday, with the Māori King announcing all mana whenua “want their land returned” and calling for the Government to negotiate with Fletchers “for the return of Ihumātao to its rightful owners”.

While National Party leader Simon Bridges quickly called for the Government to reject entering into such negotiations, Ardern is refusing to rule it out.

Speaking from Japan, Ardern said she was “incredibly grateful” for the work Kiingitanga had facilitated but wouldn’t say what action the Government would take. 

“There is still a bit more work to be done, but we will be mindful, as we go from here, of issues like Treaty precedent, the commercial interests, but also the heritage issues,” she said.

“At this stage, our focus is on picking up the good work that has been done by Kiingitanga.”

She wouldn’t discuss whether Auckland Council should be a party to negotiations with Fletchers, calling that speculative.

Bridges said on Wednesday that Fletchers legally owned the land and if the Government began negotiations, it could set a precedent.

“If this settlement is brought into question then so will all other full and final Treaty of Waitangi settlements,” he said. 

A spokesperson for Kiingi Tuuheitia said on Wednesday that the return of land was “outside of the Treaty of Waitangi settlement process” and called for an “innovative and modern solution that does not financially disadvantage iwi”.  . . 

The government buying the land off Fletchers is not an innovative and modern solution it would be the start of another, very expensive problem.

Treaty negotiations have always ruled out private land and been agreed as full and final.

Wrong was done all those years ago and the amount Iwi have got in settlement of its grievances is well below the value of what was taken, but that doesn’t alter the agreement nor can it open up a re-negotiation when the younger generation feel their elders didn’t get enough.

If the Iwi want to buy the land and Fletchers are willing to sell it there is no problem.

But if Fletchers don’t want to sell and/or the Iwi aren’t prepared to buy it but want the government to, there is a very big problem.

And while all this is going on, the building of the much-needed houses can’t start at great cost to the legal owners of the land.

The government’s interference has made matters worse and is yet another signal that it doesn’t understand and has no sympathy for business.


Nathan Guy to retire

July 30, 2019

Former National Minister of Primary Industries, Nathan Guy will retire from politics at next year’s election.

Mr Guy became an MP in 2005 and a Minister in 2009. He has held the Otaki seat since 2008 and will have served 15 years in Parliament by next year’s General Election.

“I have been extremely fortunate during my time in Parliament and am proud of the work I have done in my Otaki electorate as well as for New Zealand as a whole,” Mr Guy says.

“My number one priority has been to support the people of Kāpiti and Horowhenua, and it’s been a pleasure to have helped thousands of constituents with their wide-ranging issues. I’ve also enjoyed the interactions had with locals at weekend markets, special events, in the streets or on the side-line.

Mr Guy says highlights include winning the Otaki seat and being a Minister for nearly nine years.

He won the seat from Labour’s Darren Hughes.

“During this time I’ve worked with six Mayors, seen huge growth and development in the electorate and had wonderful staff supporting me at my offices in Paraparaumu and Levin.

He served as Minister of Primary Industries, Internal Affairs, Immigration, Veterans’ Affairs, Civil Defence and Racing in the John Key and Bill English-led National Governments, and has also been Associate Minister of Transport, Associate Primary Industries, Associate Justice, and Associate Economic Development.

“As Primary Industries Minister I am proud of my work leading the Government’s response to a blackmail 1080 threat to infant formula, that kept overseas markets open and ended in a successful prosecution

“I have, and will continue to be a strong supporter of rural communities, especially as Minister through adverse events like the dairy downturn, prolonged North Canterbury drought, earthquakes and floods. I advocated hard for water storage projects and helped secure funding for a variety of projects including Central Plains stages one and two.”

Mr Guy believes National can win the 2020 General Election because of the talented, hard-working group of MPs who are focussed on delivering policies that will make a difference to New Zealanders.

He has made the announcement now to give National time to select a new candidate that will continue to work hard to represent the people of Otaki.

“My family has been amazing in their support over the years, and it will be a big change especially for my children who have only ever known their dad as an MP.

“I’m excited about what the future may hold and want to thank the people of Horowhenua and Kāpiti for their support. I will always advocate for the region I’m so proud to call home.”

I have always found Nathan very approachable and there is no doubting his commitment to and advocacy for the primary sector.

The announcement says he’s retiring from politics, that’s not the same as retiring.

He is a farmer and will have plenty of other opportunities should he choose to pursue them.

National leader Simon Bridges has announced a minor reshuffle in the wake of Nathan’s announcement.

Nathan has been a champion for rural New Zealand. As a farmer and a businessman, he understood more than most what the sector needed and he delivered for them.

“Today I am announcing that his portfolios of Agriculture, Biosecurity and Food Safety will be picked up by Todd Muller. He will also keep his Forestry portfolio. Todd is a hardworking and high performing MP who is deserving of a promotion. I have no doubt that Todd will hold this Government to account on behalf of rural New Zealand.

“The Climate Change portfolio will be picked up by Scott Simpson, which will tie in well with his work as our Environment spokesperson. Scott is passionate about the environment and leads our Bluegreens team. Scott will continue our pragmatic approach to climate and environmental issues.

“The Workplace Relations and Safety portfolio will go to Todd McClay, which will fit well with his work as our Economic Development spokesperson. With business confidence already at record lows, New Zealand businesses cannot afford this Government’s radical industrial law reforms.

“National is the strongest team in New Zealand politics. Today’s reshuffle shows that we are brimming with talent and have the best people to hold this shambolic Government to account.”

All three are well-suited to these portfolios.


The other Simon

July 29, 2019

There’s the Simon Bridges some of the media portray, the one they say won’t make it to the next election as leader let alone ever be Prime Minister.

Then there’s the other one, the one those of us at the National Party’s annual conference saw and heard, the one who looked, and sounded like a Prime Minister in-waiting.

He was warm and witty, informed and intelligent, passionate and polished.

Simon got standing ovations before and after his introductory speech on Saturday, the first helped, a little, by the introduction his wife Natalie gave him.

He got standing ovations before, during and after yesterday’s key note address.

They weren’t orchestrated, they were spontaneous demonstrations of appreciation and support from party members.

Last week, several commentators previewing the conference wrote about disunity and leadership doubts. Neither were evident at the weekend and the only questions about leadership were asking why there were any questions.

The enthusiasm and unity at the conference were due to several factors including the content and delivery of all the speeches, and the demonstration of the work that MPs are doing to prepare for government, the diversity and the unity.

But the most significant factor was that we saw and heard the other Simon, not the media manufactured one but the real one and there was no doubt how popular he was.

You can see and hear yesterday’s speech here and read it here.


Unemployment increase > Oamaru’s population

July 24, 2019

Job-seeker beneficiaries have increased by more than 15,000 since the Labour-led government took office:

An increase of 15,500 people on jobseeker benefits under the Labour-led Government shows that they are not motivated to help New Zealanders into work, National’s Social Development spokesperson Louise Upston says.

“The Government proudly announced last June that new policies had led to a 23 per cent daily drop in sanctions. They now say that they have not changed Work and Income’s policies.

“What they claim not to see is the direct link between the removal of work obligations and the rise in people receiving benefits.

A benefit provides temporary assistance for some people when for a variety of reasons they find themselves without work.

But removing work obligations has made it too easy for others for whom a benefit is preferable to a job.

“If the Minister isn’t going to encourage people into work and more fulfilling lives, she should rename the Jobseeker Support benefit, because its recipients are no longer obliged to look for jobs.

“The Government lacks ambition for young people, with 17 per cent more 18 to 24-year-olds claiming Jobseeker Support in the past year. This is clear evidence that this Government isn’t investing in helping young people improve their lives.

The younger people become beneficiaries the longer they are likely to stay dependent on the state with the increased risks of poorer health and likelihood of committing crime that go with that.

“The Government also says it wants to end poverty. If that’s the case, they should be making every effort to reduce the number of benefit-dependent households.

“Benefits are an important safety net, but 8000 more Kiwis were dependent on Jobseeker Support for more than 12 months this June than in September 2017. Benefits are becoming a long-term trap.

“National supports New Zealanders to be aspirational. We believe the best way out of poverty is through work. 

“That this Government is responsible for such a large rise in the number of people on a jobseekers’ benefit while employers are crying out for workers shows its claims of kindness and care to be hollow words.”

The increase of 15,500 on job seeker benefits is a couple of thousand more people than the total population of Oamaru.

That isn’t good for them, nor is it good for the country.

Every dollar spent on a benefit and the associated costs of delivering it to people who could be in work is a dollar taken from tax and not available to provide better social services and infrastructure.

This government is more than half way through its term and is failing to deliver policies that would make a positive difference to the country and its people.

Instead it’s spent more than $300 million on working groups:

The Government’s constant outsourcing of work has left taxpayers with a $317 million bill, Leader of the Opposition Simon Bridges says.

“Over the past 21 months, there have been 279 working groups created or reviews launched. That’s a working group every two days since the Labour-led Government has been in office.

“The Government has used working groups as an excuse to stall on doing any work while the coalition squabbles in the background.

“It shipped off work to the Tax Working Group, the Welfare Expert Advisory Group, the Business Advisory Group and the Fair Pay Working Group. All of these groups reported back with recommendations but the Government has done little or nothing with them.

“New Zealanders will be scratching their heads wondering why their hard-earned taxpayer dollars are being spent on working groups when the work isn’t even being used. They’ll be asking themselves, what is the point of this Government? 

“The Government has broken many promises it made leading into the 2017 election, like $20 million for rare disorders, $10 cheaper GP fees to all New Zealanders and free annual health and eye checks for seniors.

“Not every review is wasteful. We support the Government in calling for a Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Christchurch terrorist attacks, but the constant outsourcing of work takes the focus off the important reviews that really matter. Over the same time period when we were in Government, we had 113 reviews, less than 40 per cent of what this Government has called for.

“The Government has no plans for growing the strong economy it inherited, or for improving the lives of New Zealanders. Rather than having a plan and a vision for New Zealand it’s focused on keeping the coalition together and treading water.

As well as wasting money of working groups whose recommendations it ignores, the government is wasting money on poor policies.

“On top of all the working groups, the Government is making poor spending decisions, including more than $2 billion for fees-free tertiary, which has resulted in fewer students, $3 billion for Shane Jones’ slush fund and $2 billion on KiwiBuild, which has resulted in next to no houses.  

“National would cut the waste and invest taxpayer dollars in more considered and targeted ways. Savings from these reviews alone could fund the Roxburgh children’s village for the next 90 years, fund 5,600 cochlear implants, restore and maintain full facilities at the Lumsden Maternity Clinic for more than a hundred years, or axe the regional fuel tax.

“National is doing the work in Opposition so we’re ready should we earn the right to govern in 2020. We have already released three comprehensive discussion documents and there are six more to come. Our polices will be in place and our legislation will be ready to go in time for 2020.” 

Labour was unprepared for government and we’re paying the price for that.


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