Incompetent or ?

November 9, 2018

A decision to deport a convicted criminal could be made in a very few minutes.

A decision to give residency to one needs a lot more time than it got:

Immigration Minister Iain Lees-Galloway made the decision to grant Karel Sroubek residency in less than an hour.

The revelation has led to calls from the Opposition for Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to sack her Immigration Minister.

Lees-Galloway said he did not read the full file on the Czech drug smuggler, and instead “read the aspects of the file that I thought were necessary to make the decision that I made”. . .

How can you know what you need to read to make a decision if you don’t read all the information you have?

“I took the information that I had and I took the time that I felt was necessary. I read various aspects of the full file. I didn’t rely solely on the summary.” . . 

Various aspects? That’s not the full file and it defies belief that he could have read even some of the information that has made this decision so inexplicable and granted residency.

National Leader Simon Bridges has renewed his call for the Prime Minister to sack Lees-Galloway over the “careless decision” after Lees-Galloway claimed he carefully considered all the relevant information.

He allowed a drug dealing gang associate to remain in New Zealand without reading all the information available to him, Bridges said.

“Either Lees-Galloway has misled the Prime Minister or she’s misled New Zealanders.

“The Prime Minister has defended that decision for the past two weeks, telling New Zealanders it was a ‘difficult decision’ but that she had been assured by Lees-Galloway he had given it ‘careful consideration’.

“We now know he hadn’t.”

An hour was not careful consideration of what was a dangerous decision and it was not acceptable due diligence from a senior Cabinet Minister, he said.

“Lees-Galloway’s credibility is now shot. The Prime Minister cannot expect the public to have confidence in any of his decisions given his careless approach to Sroubek’s residency.

“The Prime Minister now has no choice but to sack Lees-Galloway from Cabinet immediately.”

Woodhouse said Lees-Galloway had arrogantly refused to reveal the evidence upon which he made his decision, saying it was not in the public interest.

“He insisted it was a complicated decision not taken lightly.

“The Prime Minister even went as far as saying Lees-Galloway ‘shared with me the careful consideration that he gave this case… it was clearly a very difficult decision’. Only clearly it wasn’t,” Woodhouse said.

The evidence was now overwhelming that Lees-Galloway didn’t do his job, he said.

“It is now clear he made that call without asking questions and without proper consideration of the facts or the track record of the convicted criminal he was allowing to stay. Sroubek needs to go and Lees-Galloway does too.” . . 

To have read all the relevant information and made that decision indicates gross incompetence or something conspiracy theorists would delight in.


Petrol pain pressures policy on hoof

October 25, 2018

The pressure from the pain of petrol prices has forced a government backdown:

National Party Leader Simon Bridges has welcomed the Prime Minister’s forced backdown on her regional fuel taxes, and called on her to overturn her excise increases and remove the regional fuel tax imposed on Aucklanders.

“After pressure from the National Party over her Government’s decision to impose more and more new taxes on record petrol prices the Prime Minister has today finally backed down and ruled out rolling the regional fuel tax out beyond Auckland while she is Prime Minister.

“This is in spite of her Government introducing legislation which would have enabled the 11.5 cent per litre regional fuel tax to be rolled out around the country from 2021. It has already been imposed on Aucklanders.

“Fourteen other councils had already started discussions with the Government saying they wanted the tax and will be surprised to hear about the Prime Minister’s backdown today.

“Her Transport Minister was also be surprised at his Prime Minister’s unilateral decision. This was forced policy made up on the hoof by a Prime Minister under pressure over her disregard for the costs her Government is imposing on New Zealanders.

Policy on the hoof is becoming a habit. This time it’s doing the right thing but it’s not a good way to govern.

“New Zealanders will be relieved. These taxes on top of record petrol prices are hitting them hard and pricing them out of their cars yet this Government was blindly forging ahead with new taxes because it can’t get its spending under control.

“The Prime Minister needs to go further, do the right thing and throw her numerous new taxes out completely. She should remove the regional fuel tax from Auckland as well as her first four cent national excise tax increase, and pledge not to impose any more new taxes.”

 She can cast blame on fuel companies but nearly half the cost of a litre of petrol is tax.

It was bad enough when all the money collected was spent on roads, it’s much worse now some is being spent on cycleways and public transport most of us will never use.


Rural round-up

October 19, 2018

Fonterra CEO Miles Hurrell responds to claims co-op is a failed experiment:

This week, the Herald published an article by industry observer Tony Baldwin, which argued in some depth that Fonterra has been a failed experiment. What follows is a response from Fonterra CEO Miles Hurrell to that article.

I took the job of CEO of Fonterra because I believe in the Co-op’s potential and the positive difference it makes to New Zealand and consumers around the world.

It’s clear the challenge is big and we don’t always get everything right. I’ve been open about that with our farmers, unit holders, employees and the New Zealand public.

Now our focus has shifted to rolling up our sleeves and getting on with the job. We are well underway with our business review, which will deliver a balanced portfolio of high-performing investments, aligned to strategy and delivering returns across the short, medium and longer term. . .

Hands-on hard yards training – Hamish MacLean:

Colderidge Downs, in the Rakaia Gorge, looks like paradise, but the Coleridge Down Training Farm is home to hands-on hard-yards-style training for youth with a passion for agriculture and the outdoors.

Covering extensive hill country to intensive irrigated pastoral land, the group of central Canterbury farms cover about 10,000ha, run 42,000 stock units, and take on three cadets a year to ultimately gain level 3 and 4 qualifications through primary ITO in a two-year course.

Lachie Mee (18) finished at Waitaki Boys’ High School as a year 12 pupil last year and started at Coleridge Downs in January along with two other first-year cadets.
And when he started, he quickly learned he had entered the workforce. . . 

 

Pāmu Deer Milk Wins Novel Food Award at NZ Food Awards:

Pāmu is excited to announce its success at the prestigious Massey University New Zealand Food Awards, taking home the Novel Food or Beverage Award for its groundbreaking deer milk product.

The announcement was made at the NZ Food Awards Gala Dinner last night, an event which highlights the best New Zealand has to offer in the food and beverage industry.

“The Food Awards are all about rewarding innovation, which makes this acknowledgement very meaningful to us,” said Pāmu Chief Executive, Steve Carden. “We spent over three years testing and trialing deer milk and have been incredibly pleased with the reception it has received amongst the restaurant industry. We knew it had broad appeal for desserts but have been really inspired by the range of savory applications we’ve seen chefs across the country develop. Some chefs have even created deer-milk cocktails.” . . 

Marks & Spencer weave NZ’s troubled wool into new line – Eric Frykberg:

New Zealand’s troubled coarse wool industry could benefit from a new line in sustainable clothing at British retail giant Marks & Spencer.

Six lines of men’s blazers have gone on sale at stores throughout Britain, made with New Zealand product.

Coarse wool has been struggling to earn its keep for years, with greater volumes having to be put onto the market in an often unsuccessful attempt to make up for falling prices.

Only fine fibre from breeds such as merino have helped the wool sector to prosper overall. . . 

‘Have your Say’ campaign launched for Rural NZ:

National Leader Simon Bridges has today launched the ‘Have Your Say’ listening campaign for Rural New Zealand as the next step in National’s 2020 election policy development process.

“We know farmers and growers contribute $42 billion a year in exports that sees 350,000 people employed in the sector, and New Zealand’s success depends on it. This success is underpinned by sustainable business practices that continue to enhance the environment for our children.

“We want to make sure rural communities can access top-quality public services and infrastructure like broadband, rural policing, education and health services. . .

Big cheese competition – Robyn Bristow:

Amateur cheesemakers will pit their skills against one another in the third annual Amateur Cheesemakers Competition at the Oxford Farmers Market on Sunday.

Those with a passion for cheesemaking must have their cheeses entered by 9am to be in with a chance of picking up a $50 prize. A $5 Farmers’ Market voucher will be given to everyone who enters.

Anyone wanting to be part of the taster/judging panel can register for $2, giving them the chance to taste all the entries and pick the three cheeses that tempt their tastebuds the most. . . 


Mad, bad or both?

October 18, 2018

Is Jami-Lee Ross mentally ill, just behaving really badly, or both?

Amateur diagnosticians are using terms like manic depression, bipolar and narcissism to describe his behaviour.

Former colleague, Mark Mitchell, who is in a better position to know spoke to Mike Hosking yesterday about mental illness and said: “He has to take responsibility for his actions, but he must look after himself first.”

That was before the release of the tape that didn’t appear to be the smoking gun Ross said it would be, but did needlessly insult other people, all of whom responded with dignity.

Maureen Pugh tweeted:

Chris Finlayson said:

“Any suggestion that I am upset about the tape is just wrong,” he said.

Finlayson noted he had said plenty of nasty things about people himself over his career that thankfully had not been taped.

“I can wound with my tongue at 100 paces,” Finlayson said. . .

David Carter was equally untroubled:

Mr Carter also said he was not in the slightest bit bothered by comments made about him by Mr Bridges.

Mr Carter said Mr Bridges was clearly set up by Mr Ross in the phone call.

“Looking at renewal that’s inevitably needed by all political parties, I take no offence at all about what was said by Simon Bridges.”

Mr Carter has confirmed he will not be seeking re-election as a list MP.

“He’s made two contacts with me, one before he was leader and one after, on both occasions he actively encouraged me to stay – he said I was very valuable contributor to caucus discussions and particularly in a mentoring role to many or our new MPs.

“I have told him I will stay and complete this term but have no intention of standing beyond the election of 2020.” . . 

These are just three of many needlessly dragged into the mess Ross has made. David Farrar writes of the terrible personal cost:

. . . This self-inflicted scandal is taking a terrible human toll. I’ll focus on the politics in another post, but I find it really sad the damage that has been done.

  • Jami-Lee’s career is destroyed and he may not even be employable in NZ. He’s gone from being a newly promoted front bencher to a pariah
  • His wife has the humiliation of what should be private matters between them laid out in public
  • His children will grow up with articles on the Internet about their father’s relationships with other women. As a father this upsets me greatly. No kid should have to endure that.
  • The four women in the article have obviously been through a horrible experience. I’m not the most sensitive soul out there but I found it hard to read the article. It impacted me emotionally. Forget politics. Those women have had a terrible time.
  • In at least one case, a marriage has split up and you’ll have a husband and children hurting
  • Simon Bridges has had someone who was one of his closest mates in caucus secretly tape record him. That is a huge betrayal of trust. Forget the politics. How would you feel if one if your mates did that to you?
  • Maureen Pugh has been humiliated by the release of the tape with a harsh description of her. She is incredibly upset, as is her family. And those who have campaigned for her and supported her are also upset. Maureen’s public response has been magnanimous and classy. But’s let’s not pretend how terrible she must feel.
  • 40,000 National Party members and supporters are upset. The vast majority of these people don’t want to be MPs. They don’t expect to gain anything in return for their hard work door knocking, donating, delivering etc. They just think that New Zealand does better when National is in Government. They feel betrayed and disappointed that this fiasco undermines their hard work

So there is a terrible personal cost to all this. It is very sad and I hope it stops. . . 

Mental illness might explain the behaviour but it doesn’t excuse it nor justify the hurt inflicted.

As a party member I am appalled that any other member, let alone an MP, could behave in this way and inflict so much damage.

If memory serves me correctly, my electorate donated money to help Ross win the seat in the by-election through which he entered parliament.

The party is strong enough to withstand it and winning the by-election will prove that.

Ironically Ross’s actions have also strengthened Simon Bridges’ position. Even if there was some disquiet about the leadership – and I have no knowledge of any –  everyone in caucus knows they must show 100% discipline and unity so as not to reward Ross.

He may well try to release more of what he sees as ‘proof’ but the media needs to ask itself, if it would be in the public interest and safe for his mental health, to carry on publishing it.

Much of what we has become public was not.

Modern media is in a very difficult position, knowing that if they don’t publish something, it can still become public through social media but that doesn’t justify hurting those who will become collateral damage and there is even more need to tread carefully if someone’s mental health is at risk.


Still supporting Simon

October 16, 2018

Why are some in the media saying the Ross saga is a threat to Simon Bridges’ leadership?

His expenses were leaked, he asked for an inquiry, the Speaker appointed someone to do one, cancelled it for no good reason, then secretly got one done anyway.

The PwC report didn’t find conclusive proof of who the leaker is but the evidence “points to Mr Ross”.

Bridges released the report and the caucus will meet to discuss it this morning.

None of this provides grounds to destabilise his leadership.

Even if Ross wasn’t the leaker his bizarre texts show he has ruled himself out of caucus.

If he has mental health issues, and those texts indicate he has, he should get the help he needs, but he should resign while he gets it.

Otherwise, I can’t see that caucus will have any choice but to expel him.

Rather than threatening Bridges as some in the media are forecasting, this will strengthen his leadership, and anyone I’ve spoken to in the party (admittedly a very small number) will support that.

Yes, his personal support in polls is reportedly low. That is inevitable for any leader of the opposition at this time in the electoral cycle.

Although there have been very few public polls, no-one who knows is disputing that National’s party support remains around the same as it was at the election.

Anyone who wants to challenge the leader when the party has that level of support doesn’t have the wisdom and sense to lead.

It might not be much fun being in opposition, but the road out of it is not paved with internal dissent and disunity under a revolving leadership.

Until this blip National was doing a very good job of being united, highlighting faults in the government – and there have been more than enough of them – and working on policy development in preparation for the election.

The decision for caucus is a no-brainer – expel the dissident, carry on united under Bridges’ leadership and earn the votes to return to government.

The alternative is to follow the bad example of Labour which left them wandering in the wilderness of opposition for nearly nine years.


Two taxes missing

October 13, 2018

On Monday Jacinda Ardern told us fuel companies were fleecing us.

Yesterday we learned two taxes were missing from her numbers:

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s calculation of how much extra tax Kiwis are paying at the petrol pump on Monday did not include the recent excise tax or Auckland’s Regional Fuel tax.

National Leader Simon Bridges said the Prime Minister has got this “badly wrong,” and has made a “staggering mistake.”

But a spokesman for the Prime Minister said her comments were “based on the most accurate information Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) had compiled at that time.” . . 

Between October 27, 2017 and September 28 this year, petrol prices have risen 39c, according to MBIE data – Ardern said just 6.8c of that increase was due to “taxes and levies.”

That 6.8c increase is made up of a 1.77c increase in Emissions Trading Scheme (EST) taxes and 5.04c of GST over the same period, MBIE data shows.

But the 10c a litre Auckland Regional Fuel Tax and 3.5c a litre fuel excise tax, introduced on September 30, were not included in the “taxes and levies” side of Ardern’s equation. 

What’s worse: a Ministry that doesn’t know what almost every motorist could have told them, or a Prime Minister and staff who don’t ensure the numbers are right, which means right up to date?

 


Where’s the consistency?

September 4, 2018

Simon Bridges has facilitated the payment for the medivac of a New Zealand woman from Bali:

Kiwis have paid it forward by fronting $170,000 for the medical evacuation of Abby Hartley, who is in a coma in Bali.

National Party leader Simon Bridges told Newstalk ZB on Monday he was contacted by concerned New Zealanders last week who he knew “pretty well” who didn’t want anything out of it aside from helping the Hamilton family.

“They could see the money was the issue.

“They have underwritten what has happened and paid for the medevac.”

Bridges said he had facilitated the payment for the medevac with Abby’s husband Richard.

“The plane has been paid for, the medevac has been paid for. Now it’s just about when the medical right time for Abby to come back to New Zealand,” he told Newstalk ZB. . .

Hartley’s insurance company wouldn’t pay for their treatment and return to New Zealand.

The family approached the government for help but were turned down.

The government has to be very careful about bailing out people in this way.

It would be too easy to set a precedent that led people to expect public funding to extract them from predicaments.

But this government has repatriated bodies of dead servicemen and is paying millions in an attempt to retrieve dead bodies from Pike River and many more to bail out uninsured property owners in Christchurch.

Then there’s the cost of a special flight for the PM to go to Naru for a short time so she won’t be away from her baby who would have to have a whole lot of vaccinations if she accompanied her mother.

I am not going to join the critics of the Jacinda Ardern over this. Whether Foreign Minister Winston Peters could have stood in for her is a fair question. But if it was important for her to be there, the shorter the trip the better it is for Neve. If we have a PM with a baby there are going to be different compromises and extra costs.

But where is the consistency?

 


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