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.


A tale of two caucuses

June 26, 2019

National leader Simon Bridges announced a minor reshuffle of portfolios yesterday:

“Paul Goldsmith will become the spokesperson for Finance and Infrastructure following today’s announcement from Amy Adams that she will leave at the next election.

“Paul is the natural choice for the Finance role. He has done an outstanding job holding the Government to account in the Economic and Regional Development portfolio.

Shane Jones will be very happy with this change, though he shouldn’t relax, the two taking over Paul’s portfolios will be just as effective at holding the Minister to account.

“Regional and Economic Development will now be split across two spokespeople. Todd McClay will look after Economic Development, while Chris Bishop will take over the Regional Development and Transport portfolios.

“Chris has done a brilliant job as spokesperson for Police and deserves to take on more responsibility.

“Jo Hayes has been appointed the spokesperson for Māori Development and Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations following the departure of Nuk Korako. Jo is a passionate advocate for Māori.

“Gerry Brownlee will pick up the Foreign Affairs portfolio, Brett Hudson will take on the Police portfolio and Tim Macindoe will become the Shadow Attorney-General.

“Other changes include Michael Woodhouse as the Associate Finance spokesperson, Maggie Barry taking over the Disability Issues portfolio, Stuart Smith will be the spokesperson for Immigration, Todd Muller will be the spokesperson for Forestry, Nicola Willis will take on the Youth portfolio and our newest MP Paulo Garcia will become the Associate Foreign Affairs spokesperson.

“I’d also like to take this opportunity to thank both Amy Adams and Alastair Scott for their valuable contributions to the National Party and Parliament. Amy was a brilliant Minister across a range of portfolios. The changes she made to domestic violence laws as Justice Minister have made families in New Zealand safer. Amy has excelled as our Finance spokesperson and has been an outstanding member for Selwyn.

“Alastair should be proud of the work he has done to prevent drug driving, and for the way he has represented and advocated for the people of Wairarapa. I’m pleased they will be here for the rest of the term to help us form policies for the 2020 election.

“National is the largest and most effective Opposition this country has ever seen. I’m proud to lead such a talented and hardworking team.” 

There are no surprises there and there will probably be none in tomorrow’s reshuffle of Cabinet but there is a major difference between the two caucuses – there’s plenty of talent in National’s with many MPs capable of becoming Ministers.

By contrast Labour’s is a shallow pool and, as Barry Soper noted:

. . .The reshuffle will be minor because most of those who should be in Cabinet are already there. And the amount of time Ardern’s taken getting around to shuffling the chairs just goes to show how hard leadership is for a person who clearly finds it hard to be hard. . . 

Ardern doesn’t have much to choose from and, if past form is a guide, will be reluctant to demote the poorest performers.


Alastair Scott standing down

June 25, 2019

National’s Wairarapa MP Alastair Scott will stand down at the next election.

MP for Wairarapa Alastair Scott has today announced that he won’t contest the 2020 election.

“It has been a privilege to serve the electorate of Wairarapa for two terms. I have decided that I will not nominate as a National Candidate in the forthcoming selection for Wairarapa.

“I’m confident that I leave my seat in good shape for the 2020 election. I am announcing today because it is very important to me that we have sufficient time to find and support our new National Wairarapa candidate for the 2020 election.

“I am grateful to the National Party for the opportunities and support it has shown me over the past six years. The party is full of dedicated individuals who are committed to working hard for New Zealand. I will extend my full support to the newly selected candidate.

“It will be business as usual in my office until the election. As always, people should not hesitate to get in touch with myself or my staff.

“I have every confidence that National will claim victory at the next election.”

If MPs aren’t planning to contest next year’s election it is better as Alastair, and Amy Adams  did earlier, to give the party and would-be candidates for selection plenty of notice.

National leader Simon Bridges will announce a minor reshuffle of portfolios this afternoon.


Amy Adams retiring

June 25, 2019

Selwyn MP and former Minister Amy Adams will retire from politics next year:

Amy Adams has announced she will retire from politics at the 2020 election and as a consequence of that decision she has chosen to stand down from the spokesperson roles she holds in the Party.

Ms Adams has been the MP for Selwyn since 2008 and is currently both the Finance spokesperson and the Shadow Attorney General.

“I have been incredibly privileged to serve as the MP for Selwyn and a member of the National Party Caucus for almost 12 years,” Ms Adams says.

“Making the decision to step away from politics has not been an easy one but it is the right time for me and my family and I’m looking forward to whatever the future holds.

“I have every confidence in the National Party under Simon Bridges leadership and their prospects for the 2020 election.  My decision is purely about what is right for me and the life I want to lead going forward. 

“I’ve chosen to make this announcement now as given the seniority of the positions I hold in the Caucus I felt that it was important new people have time to establish themselves in those roles as we head towards 2020.

“From now until the election I will continue to work hard as the advocate for the people of Selwyn.” 

Amy’s popularity hasn’t been confined to National supporters. She came into parliament with a good majority, increased that and has always gained one of the highest electorate votes.

I am sorry that she is going and appreciative of her service as an MP.

Announcing her retirement now shows Amy understands the importance of allowing time for whoever takes over her portfolios to get to grips with them well before the election.

It also shows she appreciates the importance of giving plenty of time for the selection process in her electorate and for whoever succeeds her to do the work necessary to win the seat.


More than half way

June 24, 2019

This government is more than half way through its term and what has it achieved?

Duncan Garner says it’s the least effective government in 25 years.

It’s flagship KiwiBuild policy has flopped and the flop looks even worse now we know how it began:

. . .Senior MP and shadow housing minister Annette King had just the ticket.

King, who declined to comment for this story, had been in a car on the way to an event with Salvation Army head Campbell Roberts and Housing Foundation head Brian Donnelly in the months before the conference, chatting about the emerging problems in housing. Donnelly’s agency had a scheme where affordable homes were built and sold, and the capital immediately recycled to build more. King liked the idea.

“We said there was a supply problem, and there was a need for there to be an increase of supply of affordable entry-level housing. But the emphasis was on the affordable,” Roberts told Stuff.

“To tell you the truth, I was a bit concerned with the speed at which they grabbed it. I don’t think there was pretty much more than our conversation – which was in the car going to something – it was a not a sitdown meeting, and the next thing they were introducing it,” Roberts said.

And then  it grew:

. . .KiwiBuild is an unmitigated disaster. Dreamed up by Annette King in the back seat of a car, she latched on to it and set the original target of 50,000 houses because it sounded good in her head. A wish-list, not a policy.

Legend has it the close breathing of David Cunliffe down David Shearer’s neck was precisely what prompted the last-minute decision to blurt out 100,000 homes on the day of the announcement. . . 

It wasn’t a carefully thought-out and costed policy. It was an idea prompted by a conversation and a number blurted out.

And what else has the government done?

  • Wasted millions on fee-free education for tertiary students, many of whom would have enrolled anyway.
  • Got soft on beneficiaries – ending the requirement to be looking for work and for solo mothers to name their children’s fathers.
  • Wasted millions prolonging the grief of those mourning the lives lost in the Pyke River mine.
  • Wasted millions on good looking race horses.
  • Incentivised overseas purchases of farmland for conversion to forestry.
  • Virtue-signalled on the environment while ignoring the science provided by the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment.
  • Wailed about the road toll while refusing to do anything to deter drug driving.
  • Done nothing about the risk to mothers and babies with the lack of maternity centres in Central Otago and Southland.
  • Failed to increase funding to Pharmac to keep up with inflation.
  • Contributed to a slowing economy and a drop in confidence. . .

And while it’s spending more on doing less, it’s taking more money from us to do it:

Kiwi households will be $1750 a year worse off on average because of the taxes being piled on by the Labour-led Government, Leader of the Opposition Simon Bridges says.

“This Government has increased fuel taxes three times since it came into power, it’s added on a regional fuel tax in Auckland, introduced ring fencing of losses, an Amazon Tax, GST on overseas roaming, extended the bright-line test, increased Worksafe levies and cancelled tax relief.

“When you add all of these taxes together and take into consideration the cancelled tax relief, Kiwi families are looking at $7000 out of their pockets over four years. That does nothing to increase the wellbeing of an average family.

“The economy is continuing to weaken because of this Government’s poor policy decisions. The cost of living is increasing, rents are up an average of $50 a week, petrol and electricity are increasing.

“New Zealanders can’t afford this Government.

“You can’t trust Labour when it comes to tax. National will index tax thresholds to the cost of living and will not introduce any new taxes in our first term. National believes New Zealanders should keep more of what they earn.”

A lot of the commentariat are taking it for granted that this government will have another term.

But it has less than half a term left to earn a second one.

It will have to do a lot more effective in the next few months than it has been in the last 19 if it’s going to translate its warm words about wellbeing into making a positive difference to the country and its people.


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