National in drag difficult sell

30/05/2018

Two polls this week show the National Party still ahead of Labour with about 45% support.

That is encouraging for National and worrying for Labour.

But the latter has two support parties, although New Zealand First is registering below the 5% and the Green Party is hovering close enough  to the threshold to make it possible it might not make it back into parliament and we’d return to a two-party system in spite of MMP.

Possible isn’t probable and in spite of being the most popular party, National lacks any allies with sufficient support to enable it to form a government with more than 50% of the vote.

Act could gain another MP or two, but it hasn’t managed to do that in recent elections and would have to do so without taking votes from National to make a positive difference.

The Maori Party might win back a seat or two, but that too is more possible than probable.

Finding another party which could either win a seat or cross the 5% threshold would not be easy.

Some are suggesting a National MP leaves the party to form another one. But National in drag would be a very difficult sell for party members and other voters, and would only help if it got votes from the left and not the centre-right.

Tariana Turia managed to win a seat when she left Labour and formed the Maori Party; Winston Peters did it with NZ First; Peter Dunne held his seat under several manifestations of what eventually became United Future and former Labour MP Richard Prebble won a seat for Act but they are the exceptions. Any other MPs that I can recall who left a party and formed another failed to hold their seats.

The other option is standing back and making an accommodation to let a new party, which would take votes from Labour, NZ First and/or the Greens, take a National-held seat.

But that would be very difficult to do and would be entering very dubious territory.

National voters gave electorate votes to Dunne but he was a sitting MP when he formed his own party. Act voters opted for Rodney Hide of their own volition and not because National made an accommodation. They supported him and subsequently David Seymour but didn’t have to vote against a sitting National electorate MP to do so.

Trying to persuade National voters to swap support from an MP they voted in for someone from a new party would be a very different matter.

National is a victim of its own success and any attempt to help another party is likely to backfire and sabotage its own support.

It’s also a victim of the failure of MMP to give us a party in the middle that stands for something and could go centre-right but what can it do about without endangering its own support?


New Year Honours

31/12/2014

 

Two new Dames and eight new Knights are among the many people who have been awarded New Year Honours.

Former Minister and Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia is one of the new Dames and a worthy recipient of the honour.

She is a woman of principle who understood the importance of being in government to make a difference rather than just being in parliament to make a fuss.

In her valedictory speech she said:

. . . It is the first time in our history and of the world that an indigenous political party has been truly part of government in a coalition arrangement. It has been exciting, liberating, invigorating, inspiring, and occasionally challenging as well.

We have had a very respectful, honest and upfront relationship with John Key and Bill English – a relationship that has allowed both of us to be direct, acknowledging our different constituencies and agreeing to disagree.

It is been a relationship based on mutual co-operation. We are pleased with what we have achieved, we are also proud of what we managed to change or stop.

I have been driven by a passion, determination, desire and as Bill English would say a stubborn resolve to make a difference. I always wanted us to be in a relationship where what we say matters. To be able to make a difference, not just a noise. To be part of the solution, not limited to picking the problems apart.

While we were unable to achieve all the aspirations of our people, I know we have made a difference in the lives of whānau whatever their circumstances, and in that respect I leave with a feeling of peace that we have always tried to do our best, to do whatever it takes to fly. . .

 

(You can watch her speech on YouTube).

Another former MP to be honoured is Eric Roy who has been awarded a QSO.

This recognises not only his work as an MP over nearly 20 years but all he has done, and will continue to do for the community and New Zealand.

I’ve known Eric for more than 30 years. His community service includes Volunteer Service Abroad, Young Farmers (of which he was both National and World president and is still a patron), school and sports bodies, the church, Rotary and cancer support.

The latter not only includes fundraising and other public activity but a lot of private work, using his experience as a survivor of cancer to help others who are fighting it.

He says the honour recognises the sacrifices his family has made:

. . . It’s something that the family can celebrate.

”And that’s why I was very happy to accept it, noting that it’s not just me who’s made the contribution, it’s been the family.” . . .

This is often the case with community service and especially with politics.

 


Quotes of the year

31/12/2014

Offering to trade fines for sexual favours is not simply sleazy as the judge seemed to view it. It’s about a principle which is absolute, regardless of its nature or monetary dimension. It behoves the Police Commissioner to appeal against this ridiculous sentence so wiser heads can send a vitally important message, namely that corruption is corrosive, strikes at the heart of civil society and will absolutely not be tolerated. Sir Bob Jones

“I love to observe how they process the high school situation. Over the last couple of months I’ve just started to realise that, wow, people in the real world don’t care if your legs aren’t perfect.” Lorde

”I find the chances of it being stolen are pretty minimal, but the chances are even more minimal of it disappearing by itself through two paddocks surrounded by deer fencing,” Bill Keeler

It’s been said that the New Zealand economy is likely to be the “rock star” of 2014 but we all know what happens to rock stars who spend all their money on having a good time. I’ve said it before – the only way we’re going to become a top-tier First World country is by growing the pie.

Sadly, we’ve always been much better at eating them. – Colin Espiner

To judge the dead may give some comfort to the living, but no matter how fervently the misdeeds of previous generations are condemned, they cannot be undone. Therefore, whatever justice we seek to do here and now, let it be to right the wrongs of the present – not the past.

We fair-skinned Polynesians are not – and can never be – “Europeans”. Just as contemporary Maori are not – and can never be again – the Maori who inhabited these islands before colonisation. Both of us are the victims of historical forces too vast for blame, too permanent for guilt.

And both of us have nowhere else to go.Chris Trotter

 

Just 380,000 individuals pay half of all income tax.

If you earn more than $80,000 you are in that group. Most tax is paid by businesses through corporate tax or receipted GST payments. Possibly 80 per cent of the country is taking more from the state than they are contributing.If you are a net contributor most of your money will go to paying for the welfare of others.Most of those who seek to reduce their tax obligations are net contributors to our society. The only complaints against them are they do not pay enough.Beneficiary cheats, by contrast, are providing nothing to start with and seek to enrich themselves further by deception and dishonesty.Judges understand this, which is why beneficiary cheats go to jail for longer, as they should. – Damien Grant

Democracy, certainly at candidate selection level, isn’t generally a process of exquisite delicacy, scrupulous manners and sensitivity to hurt feelings. Oftentimes it’s just a few steps removed from full-on internecine civil warfare, albeit conducted largely out of sight. – Southland Times commenting on Labour’s selection process for the Invercargill electorate.

“The other analogy I have learned quite a lot is this idea that life’s like the drafting race because you learn quickly, farming, all the things that begin with D like drenching and drafting, docking and dagging, getting into debt and dealing with DOC. If you go up the drafting race, even for a ewe you have to look good: You mustn’t limp, head up, eyes forward don’t show your teeth if they aren’t terribly good, clean bum, good digestion, good tits – the whole way – because you want to go to the right, to the mixed age ewe mob, because [then] you get kind dogs and good food. Straight ahead is not much fun because you will end up a chop on the table. – Christine Fernyhough

“Nah, no tear in the eye. I’m from south Dunedin,” he grinned. Brendon McCullum

‘‘A government is a periodic monopoly that needs the threat of other entrants to get it going.’’ – Bill English

We must avoid complacency that might flow from believing today’s good times are permanent.

We don’t want to make a habit of doing the hard work under pressure, then putting our feet up just when the serious long-term gains are within our reach.Bill English

If there are going to be on the ground and social media campaigns, they needs to be led by Australians.  We need to get Australians saying that they want the best products at the best price.  We need Australians to demand choice instead of supermarkets telling them what they’re allowed to buy.  We also need Australians to see how deeply cynical the supermarkets are by reinforcing the values we share, namely, freedom of choice.  This needs to turn Coles and Woolworths market research on its head and hit them where it’ll hurt the most; market share.  That’s the only language they understand.  It is also by reinforcing that Kiwis are kin, something the centennials of the Great War will strongly affirm. – Bruce Wills

Personally, I’ve never heard of an economy taxing its way to greatness but I have sure heard of economies taxed into oblivion.Willy Leferink

And perhaps that’s the every day wisdom of parents at the fore – it’s the minestrone soup solution of life – if you’re short of meal options, throw all the vegetables into a pot, with a sprinkle of flexibility and the seasoning of life, and see what you come up with. – Tariana Turia

The notion that environmental protection and economic development are potentially conflicting goals is not, in my view, a recipe for success. It removes any expectation that businesses should take responsibility for protecting the environment; or that environmentalists need to consider social or economic costs of environmental outcomes.

In my world, economic and environmental considerations are two sides of the same coin. It is hard to be green if you are in the red; but you cannot have long-term social or economic prosperity if you undermine the natural capital you rely on to create it. – Lynda Murchison

People’s first consideration when buying food was price, despite claims they might buy based on factors like organic growth, she said.

While people might think buying organically or from the farmers market was environmentally friendly, research showed carbon dioxide emissions were higher buying that way, Prof Rowarth said. – Jacqueline Rowarth

. . . Even during booms some businesses will fail, and even during recessions some businesses will soar. That is because what ultimately determines the fate of companies is not whether the economy grows 1% or shrinks 1%, but the quality of management and their ability to anticipate and handle changing conditions be they for their markets, their inputs or their processes. . . Tony Alexander

Members of the Opposition believe monetary fairies can make the exchange rate settle permanently lower by forcing interest rate cuts and printing money while letting inflation therefore go up. Given the non-zero possibility that such economically ignorant policies get introduced it is worth getting inflation protection by investing more in property – not less. Tony Alexander

 The global financial crisis was the worst economic meltdown in living memory.

“The 1987 crash was a a blip on the charts by comparison.”

On top of that, the Christchurch earthquakes dealt a massive hit to the government books. “The mythical observer arriving from Mars who saw the accounts in balance after two thumping great shocks like that – you’d have to say someone had navigated pretty smoothly through that.” Donal Curtin

Two thirds of the [welfare] liability came from people who first got a benefit under the age of 20. “So it confirms what grandma told you. “Don’t let those young people get off the rails because when they do it’s very expensive.” – Bill English

That it can sweetly awaken, and joyously strengthen and that you need to give it to get it. Sarah Peirse answering the question: what do you know about love?

“I don’t think our native species care too much as to whether it is public land or private land. Whether it be iwi, or whether it be Sir Michael Fay, what we’re interested in in these partnerships is maximising conservation gain.” Nick Smith

Federated Farmers is an apolitical organisation – “we don’t care who is in government as long as they agree with us”.Conor English

. . . Taxes are not the price we pay for a civilised society. At best they are the price we pay for a civilised government. But they are also the price of overly bureaucratic procedures, unpredictable outcomes, and the loss of freedom to make our own decisions. – NZ Initiative

I make no apology for being a male. I hope I’m seen as a considerate, compassionate and communicable male; I make no apology for that. If I have faults, and I’m sure I do, well I don’t think  I can blame my gender for my behaviour without it being a cop-out. There ain’t nothing wrong in being a bloke if you behave yourself properly! – Chris Auckinvole

Mr Speaker, my second point I wish to make is the importance of valuing hands on learning within our education system. We must appreciate these very important students who in the future will fix things, build things, be it trucks, motor cars, be it buildings, be it bridges, roads, essential infrastructure and all manner of other things.

To do this the education system must equally value these people as much as we do doctors, nurses, lawyers and accountants and design an education curriculum accordingly. Putting it simply, we want to create many Einstein’s, but to create an Einstein you also need 1000 skilled technicians to make those things. – Colin King

“Talking about ponies and horse races, if you think of the economy as a horse race, you know it would be silly to put the hobbles on one of the leading horses so the rest can catch up,”Alister Body.

“I don’t think a party that’s on the extreme edges one way or another is going to be beneficial for Maori,” . . . “I think we as Maori also need to realise that compromise is a part of political involvement in New Zealand politics,”  . . .  Dr Lance O’Sullivan.

. . . if democracy means anything, it means suppressing the savage within and submitting the issues that divide us as individual citizens to the judgement of the electorate as a whole. Even more importantly, it means accepting that collective judgement – even when it goes against our individual contribution to its formation.Chris Trotter

HONG KONG | How did this small city-state of 7.3 million people go from having a per-capita income of only a few hundred dollars per year to a per capita income that is equal to that of the United States in only 50 years? The simple answer is they had the British common law legal system, strong private property rights, competent, honest judges, a non-corrupt civil service, very low tax rates, free trade and a minimal amount of economic regulation. There was no big brother government looking after the people, so they had to work hard, but they could keep the fruits of their efforts. . . Richard W. Rahn

One of our human limitations is that we look at the problems ahead through the eyes of our current technology and from this perspective they can look overwhelming. This myopia traps us into negativity – we think we must go backwards to achieve our goals – Dr Doug Edmeades

For the health-conscious, the prevailing wisdom is that natural food is the best food. But no matter what studies of GMOs say, one scientific fact is inescapable: basically none of our dietary staples are natural. Some 10,000 years ago, our ancestors picked tiny berries, collected bitter plants and hunted sinewy game, because these are the foods that occurred naturally in the wild. Then came agriculture, and with it the eventual realization that farmers could selectively breed animals and plants to be bigger, hardier and easier to manage. David Newland

. . . Most of all they should embrace the modern age and recognise that social and economic salvation and uplifting the underclass does not simplistically lie in ever increasing taxes on the industrious and thrifty and their transfer to the indolent. There’s nothing positive or progressive about that. . . Sir Bob Jones

We think it’s pretty legal, we think these guys are just having a crack and have a bit of an eye for the main chance because it’s an election campaign. – Steven Joyce

I won’t be wanting to see any hint of arrogance creeping in.” . . .

. . . “One of the big messages I’ll be wanting to give incoming ministers and the caucus is that it is incredibly important that National stays connected with our supporters and connected with the New Zealand public.” John Key

“Make sure you know why you’re in it – politics is not about celebrities. And nurture your self worth.

“You can’t afford to mortgage out how good or bad you feel because of tomorrow’s headlines.” – Julia Gillard

New Zealand is not perfect, but we do now have a multicultural society based on a bicultural heritage.Philip Burdon


Stronger voice for Maori with National

08/09/2014

Helen Clark called the Maori Party the last cab off the rank.

That comment soured relationships between Labour and the Maori Party.

John Key recognised the mana of co-leaders Tariana Turia, Pita Sharples and their party by inviting them into coalition in 2008 and 2011 even though he could have governed without them.

Although it voted with  National for confidence and supply the Maori party often voted against it on other legislation and it has said it could support either a National or Labour government.

But David Cunliffe isn’t prepared to offer them that opportunity:

. . . Speaking to Newstalk ZB’s Mike Hosking this morning, Mr Cunliffe said he intended to only include the Green Party and NZ First in any government.

Asked if he was also ruling out the Maori Party, he said he would possibly talk to Maori Party co-leader Te Ururoa Flavell after the election but “I just won’t have them in Government.”

He did not believe Mr Flavell would opt to side with Labour if it was in a kingmaker position, despite Mr Flavell saying they were open to working with either side and would take their lead from what Maori voters wanted.

“People need to know before the election that a vote for the Maori Party is a vote for the National Party.” . . .

This is the man who earlier in the year was doing a Winston Peters in yeah-nahing over whether he’d work with Internet Mana because it was up to voters to decide.

Now he’s ruling out the much more moderate Maori Party.

He’s probably gambling that this will hurt the Maori Party but the message he’s sending Maori is that they’ll have a much stronger voice and more influence with a National-led government.

Tama Iti has already got that message:

. . .  Iti said he had always supported the Maori Party and had decided to stand to boost the party’s support and because he endorsed the work it had done in government.

“Not very long ago I wouldn’t have thought about it but I see there’s more achievement…with National in terms of the treaty settlements so we have come a long way,” he said.

Having a Maori voice in power had led to gains in areas such as health and social services for Maori and it was important for Maori “to be sitting on the table rather than across the road throwing rocks at each other”. . .

Labour took the Maori seats for granted for years and now it’s ruling the Maori party out of any government it would lead.


Right not always popular

13/08/2014

The Maori Party has the endorsement of New Zealander of the Year, Dr Lance O’Sullivan:

. . . O’Sullivan has thrown his celebrity behind the Maori Party saying he believed compromise was the best way to advance Maori interests, and the Maori Party was best placed to do that.

O’Sullivan’s face is plastered over party billboards across the country.

He said that despite warnings it was “reckless and risky” to publicly endorse a party he felt it was necessary.

“I hope that my small – and I do think it’s small – contribution to this campaign could help to bring a positive light to what the Maori Party has achieved and has the potential to achieve,” he said.

O’Sullivan, who also spoke at the party’s campaign launch, cited its willingness to straddle the political divide and its focus on issues such as rheumatic fever and healthy homes as being behind his decision.

“I don’t think a party that’s on the extreme edges one way or another is going to be beneficial for Maori,” he said.

While reluctant to comment specifically on the Internet Mana Party, he said he preferred a positive message over one focused on “pulling down the Government”.

He had been forced to make unpopular but necessary decisions in his own career and the Maori Party was willing to do the same, he said.

“I think we as Maori also need to realise that compromise is a part of political involvement in New Zealand politics,” he said.

“Like I say, sometimes the decisions are not popular . . . it’s hard to be popular and do the right thing at the same time.” . . .

No party can expect to get all the policies it wants enacted.

MMP is supposed to promote consensus but that is rarely possible without at least some compromise.

Small parties tend to get punished for their part in a coalition but the Maori Party has won more than it could have had it chosen to stay in opposition.

One of those gains was the continuation of the Maori seats which would almost certainly have gone had Tariana Turia and Pita Sharples not argued for them in their coalition deal.

Another was Whanau Ora which is making a positive difference to people’s lives.

But perhaps the most significant achievement was proving that the party could work with National and Maori had much to gain by it doing so.

Had it chosen to stay outside the coalition it would be marooned on the left of politics like the Green and Mana Parties.

It’s leaders realised the gains they could make by being in a National-led government, even though it meant accepting compromises.

In doing so they have made real gains.

Tai Tokerau Maori Party candidate Te Hira Paenga has made it clear at a political debate that its relationship with National is to ensure government policies will improve the lives of tangata whenua. . .

In the time allocated to Te Hira Paenga, he said the party made no apologies for striking a relationship with the Government.

He said more tangata whenua needed to work with government agencies in order to provide a better education system, real jobs and living wage.

Mr Paenga also made a subtle dig at his fellow candidates by saying it was time to get rid of the ‘old nets’ referring to the proverb – ka pū te ruha, ka hao te rangatahi.

That translates as: As a old net withers another is remade, meaning when an elder is no longer fit to lead, a healthier leader will stand in his place.

The Maori Party’s two older leaders are retiring.  Paenga’s speech shows he is willing to follow their example and accept that compromise is necessary in government.

So too is accepting that the right decisions won’t always be popular.

O’Sullivan understands that.

It is a message he and the party must get across to voters if it is to survive this election in a state to continue making a positive difference.

 

 


Must not ignore nor accept family violence

03/07/2014

Prime Minister John Key has announced a suite of measures aimed at addressing family violence.

“Quite simply, the rate of family violence in New Zealand is unacceptable,” says Mr Key.

While crime is at a 35-year low, violent crime is decreasing at a much slower rate.

“Almost 50 per cent of all homicides in New Zealand are a result of family violence. That is, on average, 14 women, seven men, and eight children killed by a member of their family every year.”

Mr Key says together with the Government’s focus on vulnerable children, this work will help New Zealand families live without violence and fear.

“Firstly, Tariana Turia has released the Government’s response to the Expert Advisory Group’s report on Family Violence. Of the 22 recommendations in the report, 19 have been accepted in whole or part by the Government, and I thank the Advisory Group members for their work.

“Mrs Turia is building on the work of the Expert Advisory Group to develop a comprehensive, long-term approach to break the cycle of family violence. This work focuses on changing attitudes and behaviours towards family violence, and on early interventions for drug and alcohol addiction.

“Today I am also announcing further measures to address family violence through Justice, Police and Corrections, which will build on the foundation we have laid in place.”

These include:

  • The establishment of a Chief Victims’ Advisor to the Minister of Justice
  • The trial of an intensive case management service for family violence victims at risk of serious harm or death
  • The trial of mobile safety alarms with GPS technology, so victims can alert police to their location in an emergency
  • Introduction of legislation to change the Sentencing Act, which will allow courts to stipulate GPS monitoring of high-risk domestic violence offenders who can’t currently have this condition imposed on them.

“I would like to thank Ministers Judith Collins, Anne Tolley and Tariana Turia for leading the work to foster a long-term change in behaviour, and to protect people from the misery of violence in the home,” says Mr Key.

“This Government has already undertaken a range of work to protect the most vulnerable New Zealanders.

“A great example of this is the recent passing of the Vulnerable Children’s Bill, which ensures that New Zealand’s most at-risk children get priority,” says Mr Key.

The new law provides 10 new Children’s Teams to wrap services around at-risk children early to keep them safe from harm, introduces new vetting and screening checks for government and community agency staff working with children, and puts the onus on parents who have killed, severely abused or neglected a child to prove they are safe to parent subsequent children.

“We have also increased the penalty for breaching protection orders and improved non-violence programmes for offenders,” says Mr Key

“However, it is important to remember that while governments can make laws, it is up to us as individual New Zealanders to change our attitudes to family violence.

“It is time we learned we must not ignore it, nor should we accept it,” says Mr Key.

 

New Zealand families should not have to live with violence and fear. We’re taking practical steps to address this. https://www.national.org.nz/news/features/protecting-families

Groups working with vulnerable children are supportive of the initiative:

The Red Raincoat Trust says the Chief Victims Advisor will give victims a voice:

The Red Raincoat Trust is delighted to hear of Justice Minister, Judith Collin’s plans to appoint a Chief Victims Advisor. “We are rapt; victims will now have an official voice within the criminal justice process. A Chief Victims Advisor will be able to engage directly with the victims enabling them to understand how the criminal justice process works for them. Until now, this hasn’t happened which often left victims vulnerable and re-victimised” says Debbie Marlow, spokesperson for the Red Raincoat Trust.

Ministers Judith Collins and Anne Tolley announced the Chief Victims Advisor today as part of a package which is hoped will help prevent family violence. Other initiatives announced today include an intensive case management service to provide specialist support for domestic violence victims at high risk of serious harm or death and a multi-agency response system for domestic violence.

“The package announced today will help ensure our families and communities are kept safe and it shows us that this government is committed to ensuring that our victim’s voices are heard and agencies are responding to their needs. Well done!”.

The Sensible Sentencing Trust is also supportive:

The Sensible Sentencing Trust has congratulated the Justice Minister, Judith Collins on today’s announcement regarding the establishment of the Chief Victims Advisor.

“Finally victims of crime will be afforded the true advocacy and support that they are entitled to” says Ruth Money Sensible Sentencing Trust.

We have been actively promoting the concept of victim advocacy for years now and this proposed position will go a long way to balancing victims’ rights within the system and ensuring that the Ministry of Justice stays informed regarding the needs of victims” says Money. . . .

“These moves and proactive measures from Minister Collins and the Government must be applauded. For too long the system has seen the rights of the offender or alleged offender come well before those of the victim and public safety, today we see some balance being proposed”

The Family Violence Death Review Committee (FVDRC) welcomes announcements about the trial of an intensive case management service for family violence victims.

The FVDRC is an independent committee that advises the Health Quality & Safety Commission on how to reduce the number of family violence deaths and prevent family violence. Last week it released a report analysing data collected on all family violence homicides that took place over a four-year period. The Committee urged organisations to take more responsibility for preventing abusers from using violence, rather than expecting the victims of family violence to take action to keep themselves and their children safe.

The Chair of the FVDRC, Associate Professor of Law Julia Tolmie, says the Committee’s previous report recommended the development of a nationally consistent high-risk case management process and it is pleasing to see this is being trialled.

“The sheer volume of police call outs for family violence often means the most dangerous cases of family violence do not get the attention they need within the systems we currently have,” she says.

“The aim of an intensive case management service is to bring the key agencies together to share information, as well as to develop, implement and monitor a multi-agency safety plan.”

Julia Tolmie says high-risk case management teams overseas have been highly successful in preventing deaths from family violence. . .

The FVDRC also supports the trial of mobile safety alarms with GPS technology, so victims can alert police to their location in an emergency and the introduction of legislation to change the Sentencing Act, which will allow courts to stipulate GPS monitoring of high-risk domestic violence offenders who can’t currently have this condition imposed on them.

The measures announce deal with reported crime.

Not all abuse and neglect is reported and some isn’t reported until it’s too late.

It is equally important to address the causes of abuse and neglect to prevent them.

The seriousness of the problem is shown by For the Sake of our Children Trust in a 24-year snapshot of 58 deaths of children as a result of neglect or abuse.

It points to clear risk factors:

. . . Based on the 58 known cases listed, 51 cases identified child’s biological parents were NOT married. The perpetrator responsible for the death indicated 27 of the deaths tabulated had a ‘stepfather’ or ‘boyfriend/partner of the mother being responsible or part responsible for the child’s death. The remaining figures for the perpetrator was indicated the mother or relative of the child or unknown.  . . .

Apropos of this, Lindsay Mitchell notes this is a fair assumption given that around 87 percent of children who have contact with CYF appear in the benefit system very early in their lives.

The benefit system has a place as a safety net, but it can also be a trap which increases the chances of poorer outcomes for children, including increasing the risk of abuse and neglect.

Moving families from welfare to work has obvious financial benefits for them and the country.

The social benefits are equally important. they include better educational and health outcomes and a lower risk of neglect and abuse.


Valedictory roster

19/06/2014

Parliament’s Business Committee has released the roster for valedictory speeches from retiring MPs:

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

(At the conclusion of the General Debate)

4.00pm – 4.15pm Dr Cam Calder

4.15pm – 4.30pm John Hayes

4.30pm – 4.45pm Chris Auchinvole

4.45pm – 5.00pm Colin King

5.00pm – 5.15pm Hon Chris Tremain

5.15pm – 5.30pm Hon Kate Wilkinson

Thursday, 24 July 2014

4.45pm – 5.00pm Dr Rajen Prasad

5.00pm – 5.15pm Darien Fenton

5.15pm – 5.30pm Hon Dr Pita Sharples

5.30pm – 5.45pm Hon Tariana Turia

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

(At the conclusion of the General Debate)

4.00pm – 4.15pm Dr Paul Hutchison

4.15pm – 4.30pm Hon Phil Heatley

4.30pm – 4.45pm Eric Roy

4.45pm – 5.00pm Shane Ardern

5.00pm – 5.15pm Hon Tau Henare

5.15pm – 5.30pm H V Ross Robertson

5.30pm – 5.45pm Hon Tony Ryall

The Herald opined that valedictories should be the preserve of “deserving” MPs:

No fewer than 14 National MPs are retiring at the coming election, plus a couple from other parties. While the turnover is refreshing for public life, it carries a cost if every departee gives a valedictory address. . . .

Few voters could name many of those retiring this year. Many are leaving because they have not been able to make much impact and accept that they should give others a chance. More credit to them, but valedictory time should be reserved for those who have made their mark and will be missed.

That is very ungracious and also shows a depressing level of ignorance about the role of MPs.

Most of the good work MPs do never makes the headlines, much of it can’t because it’s helping people over matters which must remain private.

Maiden speeches and valedictories are among the best speeches given.

All MPs deserve the opportunity to do one and in doing so show their work and parliament in a far better light than it’s normally portrayed.


Rural round-up

05/05/2014

Luxury lifestyle pays milksolids dividend – Heather Chalmers:

The middle of the Mid-Canterbury plains is an unlikely place to find two massive barns housing milking cows.

Unlike New Zealand’s typical outdoors pastoral grazing system, the 950 cows from Pannetts Dairies’ herd at Mitcham, near Rakaia, spend most of their milking season inside the purpose-built barns.

While cows are free to wander out to paddocks if they wish, it is no wonder they prefer the indoors life, where their every need is catered for. As well as having a nutritionally complete feed available at all times, cows can rest on one of the 940 individual beds lined with rubber mats and make use of an automated back scratcher resembling a carwash brush. Using the barn system, cows will be milked and calve year round, rather than the more typical spring-calving seasonal production. . .

Living at the mercy of milk prices – Lyn Webster:

Being a non-shareholding supplier, my only vested interest in Fonterra is my cows and machinery.

In the perfect world I should be raking in enough cash to pay my lease, increase production and start buying my own shares.

But at the rate I’m going with drought and drying off early and doing eff-all production, it seems like a bad joke and I continue to rely on the farm owners’ shareholding to supply milk.

I am in a strange position as most dairy farmers own both cows and company shares, but I am also not alone because I bet there are many sharemilkers out there whose contracts changed after TAF and they are receiving milk price only and no dividend. . .

 Truffle season ready to delight – Ashley Walmsley:

THEY probably aren’t going to fill the winter fruit bowl of most kitchens but Australian black truffles are now in season.

One truffle expert is doing her best to educate Australians on exactly what to do with the highly prized delicacy.

Sara Hinchey of Melbourne’s Truffle Hound said even those without royal (French or Italian) blood can revel in the rich yield of black truffles from the colder regions of the nation.

Ms Hinchey’s expertise has led her to team up with several leading Melbourne restaurateurs in a series of special dinners and workshops to showcase a range of ways to prepare and consume this extraordinary and little understood subterranean mushroom. . .

An affinity for the rural sector – Sally Rae:

When David Paterson started work as a rural valuer more than 30 years ago, things were very different.

A day could be spent walking over a farm using rudimentary equipment, as there was no such thing as digital cameras or GPS units.

”When I started in 1981, you’d sit on top of a hill and look down and try and draw on the map where a gully was. Nowadays, of course, technology really has taken control,” Mr Paterson, the Dunedin-based national manager for Rural Value, said. . .

Interest in 9 dairy farms ‘positive‘ – Simon Hartley:

The likely multimillion-dollar sale of nine Southland farms owned by debt-ridden state-owned enterprise Solid Energy appear set to be concluded.

In what was considered one of the largest multi-farm offerings in the country, tenders closed a month ago on the more than 2000ha of the combined nine farms, which covered millions of tonnes of low-grade lignite coal.

PGG Wrightson real estate general manager Peter Newbold had been confident of interest in the farms, given recent demand for dairy land had exceeded supply. . . .

Budget 2014: New funding for rural and Māori housing:

The Government has announced new funding of $16 million over four years to support the repair and rebuild of rural housing, the improvement of housing on the Chatham Islands and the development of Māori social housing providers.

“New Zealanders living in remote rural areas face a number of unique and often difficult challenges, including the cost and availability of decent housing,” Associate Housing Minister Tariana Turia says.

“That is why the Government has allocated funding to improve housing in rural New Zealand, including the Chatham Islands. Compared to the rest of the population, significantly more Māori are experiencing housing deprivation and are more likely to be state tenants or renters than home owners.

“Iwi are incorporating housing into their long-term planning and the Government currently has accords with at least five iwi. Budget 2014 will take major steps to help iwi and the Crown achieve these housing aspirations. . . .


Labour doesn’t deserve Maori vote

21/04/2014

Maori Party Co-leader Tariana Turia told TVNZ’s Q+A programme that Labour doesn’t deserve the Maori vote.

‘I don’t believe they deserve our vote any more. I don’t believe they deserve our vote, I don’t believe they deserve the vote of the Pasifika people, because if there’s one thing I’ve noticed since coming through and being a Minister this time, is the very very poor resourcing of all Pasifika health, social services, you name it.’

When asked whether she is worried that the Labour party might take a large portion of the Maori Party vote , she said, ‘I think that our people have to ask themselves that for all the years that Labour were in government, the nine years of plenty, what is it that changed in their lives? What is it that Labour did that made them feel that things had changed for them, and have made a difference?’ . . .

The answer to that question is not much.

The Maori seat enabled Labour to take Maori for granted.

It was National which started the Treaty settlement process and it’s National which has settled most claims.

The progress report at the end of 2012 showed:

treatyprogress

There have been several more settlements since then, including settlement of the last of the historic South Island claims.

But it’s not just Treaty settlements which make Maori better off with a National-led government than a Labour-led one.

Labour sees electoral gain from keeping people dependent.

National knows it’s better to help people become independent and move from grievance to growth, not just in economic measures but in social ones too.


The MP most likely . . .

28/03/2014

Kim Dotcom is claiming a sitting MP will join his Internet Party.

. . . He repeated his claim that it would be represented in Parliament, whether or not it achieved the 5 per cent MMP threshold for list seats, because a sitting electorate MP would join.

He would not name the person or say which party he or she represented, because of a confidentiality agreement, but it was not Harawira. The MP’s name would be revealed in June. . .

He didn’t know how many MPs were in parliament when asked by Seven Sharp.

There are 121, 70 of whom hold seats.

Given the unity in National and the high probability all those running again will hold their seats any of its 42 MPs would be mad to leap from a rock to sinking sand.

John Banks is retiring and Peter Dunne would have lots to lose and nothing to gain by any dalliance with Dotcom.

Tariana Turia and Pita Sharples are also retiring. The third Maori Party MP, Te Ururoa Flavell would also have too much to lose by leaping from the steady waka into a dotbomb dinghy.

Dotcom says it’s not Harawira and we can take his word on that because while he’s the lone paddler in the Mana waka, he’s not stupid enough to tip it up.

That only leaves Labour.

A few of its MPs might feel uneasy in their seats and most will have some doubt about the probability of being in government after the election.

The prospect of power can do strange things to people but even unhappy Labour MPs wouldn’t be stupid enough to think they’d have a better chance of success by leaping into the unknown.

Who then is the MP most likely to join Dotcom?

Almost certainly someone in his dreams.


McKenzie to succeed Turia

08/12/2013

Chris McKenzie has been selected to succeed Tariana Turia as the Maori party candidate for Te Tai Hauauru.

His work history includes being the lead Treaty of Waitangi settlement negotiator for Ngati Raukawa, a self-employed consultant, education manager at Raukawa Trust Board and teacher at Tokoroa High School.

He is a member of the Te Ohu Kaimoana electoral college and was the previous chair of the Raukawa Settlement Trust. . .

Turia formed the Maori Party when she left Labour over the Seabed and foreshore debacle.

His challenges is to transfer personal support from her to votes for him and the party.


No more Maori seats good sign

09/10/2013

The Maori Party is blaming the Electoral Commission for no increase in the number of Maori seats.

The Maori Party is disappointed at this week’s announcement from the Representation Commission, that no new Maori electorate will be created following the census and the Maori Option.

“Proper investment by electoral agencies in promoting Maori engagement with Parliamentary politics could have convinced another 4% of electors to join the Maori Roll, and secured an eighth Maori seat,” said Co-leaders Tariana Turia and Te Ururoa Flavell. 

“The Electoral Commission’s campaign did not do enough to ensure that people were fully informed of the difference between the two rolls.  The feedback we received from rangatahi is that the information provided from the Electoral Commission left them feeling that they had more choices on the general roll.”

“The Electoral Commission spent around $1.5million on the Maori Option Campaign, but measured their success based on the number of times their advertisements were viewed, not on results or ensuring that the message received by whanau were transformed into action – the action of filling in the forms and sending them back in.” . . .

It’s the Commission’s job to ensure people are informed of their options and to present the facts not to influence them one way or the other.

People are better on the general roll – most seats are smaller geographically making it easier for MPs to service and for constituents to access MPs and electorate offices.

. . . “The Maori Party will be making submissions on new boundaries for the current Maori seats – we think it is quite unrealistic for the whole of the South Island and part of the North Island to be represented by one MP, for example. The lack of access to Maori electorate MPs is a valid reason for Maori electors to opt onto the General roll – which reduces the number of Maori seats. The whole system works to disenfranchise the Treaty partner in Parliamentary politics.”

Te Tai Tonga is too big and poorer access will influence decisions on which roll to go on.

But that problem isn’t confined to Maori electorates. Some general seats are bigger than some Maori ones.

We’d all be better off if there were no Maori seats because more general seats would make all electorates smaller.

No increase in Maori seats is a good sign that people are recognising that, as Tariana Turia said, Maori seats don’t give Maori a voice.

It might also reflect that more Treaty settlements have been concluded and more Maori are moving from grievance mode to growth.


Making a difference of making news

15/07/2013

Several critics of the Maori Party, including Mana leader Hone Harawira, are telling it to distance itself from National.

The party is quite rightly saying it will keep its commitment to support the government until the next election.

. . .Co-leader Tariana Turia says the party will stand by National for the rest of this term of Government, but won’t say who it might work with after 2014.

Te Ururoa Flavell says the party will consult its supporters after the election before making any commitments to other political parties.

Critics don’t realise, or don’t want to understand, that the Maori Party votes against the government more often than not.

However, it votes with it when it matters, on confidence and supply, and a few key areas which are consistent with its philosophy.

Keeping its options open after the next election puts it in a position of power which Mana and the Green Party don’t have because they won’t support National.

The Maori Party strategy is the sensible one for a party which wants to make a difference rather than one like Mana which just wants to make news.


More or fewer?

06/06/2013

Several commentators have been picking there will be an extra Maori seat after people choose which roll to be on.

But so far  more people are switching from the Maori roll to the general roll than from the general roll to the Maori one.

If that trend continues the number of Maori seats will stay the same or there could be one fewer.

This could be a reflection of Treaty settlements which have enabled Maori to move from grievance mode to growth mode.

It could be because Maori realise the size of the electorates makes it much more difficult for their MPs to represent them effectively.

It could be because there is no single Maori voice.

It could also be because people realise the seats have had their day.

The Maori Party isn’t happy about the trend:

Tariana Turia said “When we first entered into a relationship with the National Party in 2008, the first thing we did was negotiate to keep the Maori seats in place. At that time it was a huge deal because National had campaigned on getting rid of the Maori seats. We cannot be complacent, we know that our seats remain vulnerable, and if we don’t use them we risk losing them.”

“Māori voter participation is absolutely crucial to any system of political representation. And yet, for at least the last decade, there has been ample evidence demonstrating that the electoral system is not effectively engaging with Māori. Much more work must be done on all fronts, to encourage Māori uptake on their democratic right, to get on the electoral roll”.

Voter participation and representation do not depend on special Maori seats.

Participation is equally important which ever roll people are on and being on the general roll doesn’t mean Maori aren’t represented.

Turia herself said that Maori seats didn’t give Maori a voice:

I think what our people are starting to realise though is that when they voted Maori people into Labour they never got a Maori voice, they got a Labour voice and that was the difference, and they’ve only begun to realise it since the Maori Party came into parliament, because it is the first time that they have heard significant Maori issues raised on a daily basis.

I don’t know if there are any figures for Maori voter participation on the general roll but voting in Maori seats is usually lower than in general seats. Many who enrol on the Maori roll don’t bother to vote.

One argument used to defend the continuation of Maori seats is that it’s up to Maori to choose.

That’s like saying only those 65 and over should have a say on superannuation. Having Maori seats affects us all.

If those seats were dropped and the current total number of electorates retained the seats would decrease in geographical size which would give better representation for all of us.


Information not persuasion

12/02/2013

This year Maori have the first chance since 2006 to choose whether they’re on the Maori or general electoral roll.

“If you are Maori and on the electoral roll, then this year you get to choose which type of electoral roll you want to vote on,” Enrolment Services national manager Murray Wicks said.

“There hasn’t been a Maori Electoral Option since 2006, so we want to make sure that Maori have access to all the information about the option and what it means before making their decision when the option period begins.

“It’s an important choice, and we want people to be confident to take part.”

The Electoral Commission is bound to present information on the options rather than persuade and says Maori organisation tasked with spreading the word should be strictly impartial.

Kiwiblog noted yesterday that one of those organisations is the Maori Council which is in the midst of legal proceedings against the government.

How impartial will it be?

Other groups, not employed by the Commission are free to persuade and they usually urge people to sign up for the Maori roll.

It would be good to see a campaign explaining the disadvantages of that and the benefits of being on the general roll.

As Tariana Turia said, Maori seats didn’t give Maori a voice:

I think what our people are starting to realise though is that when they voted Maori people into Labour they never got a Maori voice, they got a Labour voice and that was the difference, and they’ve only begun to realise it since the Maori Party came into parliament, because it is the first time that they have heard significant Maori issues raised on a daily basis.

Maori seats not only didn’t give Maori a voice, they gave and continue to give them inferior representation because most of them are too big to service effectively and provide constituents with ready access to their MPs.

Te Tai Tonga covers 161,443 square kilometres – the whole of the South Island, Stewart Island and part of Wellington. Te Tai Hauauru is 35, 825 square kilometres in area, Ikaroa-Rawhiti covers 30,952 square kilometres and Waiariki 19,212 square kilometres.

Maori seats were created when the right to vote depended on the ownership of land. That hasn’t applied for decades and there are now more Maori MPs in general seats and on the lists than representing Maori seats.

This gives them better representation than the Maori electorates which were taken for granted until National invited the Maori Party to be a support partner in government.


Ho hum

04/02/2013

Another Waitangi Day, another story about Titewhai Harawira.

Ngapuhi trustees are trying to oust Titewhai Harawira, from her self-appointed role as the kuia who escorts dignitaries, including the prime minister, onto the lower marae at Waitangi.

But they are concerned Ms Harawira may disrupt ceremonies if she is not allowed to keep her role.

Ngapuhi leader Kingi Taurua said the trustees have decided that other kuia should be given the opportunity to be part of the Waitangi celebrations.

Mr Taurua said that unlike Ms Harawira, other kuia work hard on the marae and should be rewarded for their work. . .

Ho, hum – it’s not so much a news story as deja vu.

Who can blame Tariana Turia who is refusing to return to Te Tii Marae this year because of past displays of violence on Waitangi Day?


Co-leader conundrum

24/12/2012

Sharing the leadership can only work for the wee parties because they know they’ll never be in a position for their leaders to be Prime Minister.

I’m not sure what difference having two co-leaders rather than a leader and deputy makes in practice but it can produce a conundrum when party rules dictate the need for gender balance.

It is especially problematic for wee parties who don’t have enough candidates, or possibly talent, in their ranks, to elevate a sitting MP to the position.

The Green Party faced this problem when Russel Norman became co-leader outside parliament when he wasn’t the next MP on the list.

The Maori Party now have a similar problem.

Tariana Turia has announced she’s not standing again in 2014 and will consider stepping down from the leadership before then.

She’s also asking her co-leader Pita Sharples to step down as leader in favour the party’s only other MP Te Ururoa Flavell.

There may well be good arguments for Sharples to step-down anyway.

But if the party didn’t require gender balance in the co-leadership succession could take place without the need for Sharples to step down.


Turia’s retirement will pose challenges for party

15/12/2012

Tariana Turia’s announcement that she won’t stand in the 2014 election foreshadows the end of an ear for the Maori party.

It doesn’t mean the end of the party but it does pose some challenges for the organisation.

It will be difficult to find a co-leader with her mana.

It might be less difficult to find a candidate to replace her in the Te Tai Hauauru electorate but it won’t be as easy for a new candidate to hold the seat for the party.

Ms Turia began her parliamentary career in labour and resigned from the party on principle over the Foreshore and Seabed legislation. She resigned and stood in the subsequent by-election to prove she had a mandate.

Then Labour leader Helen Clark referred to the Maori party as the last cab off the rank for coalition negotiations.

John Key extended the offer a place in the National-led coalition after the 2008 election, even though he didn’t need the Maori Party’s votes for a majority.

But it gave him options and gave the party the opportunity it could achieve some of its goals in government rather than gaining headlines but making no progress in opposition.

As a small party it has had to compromise to gain some of what it wants, but it has stayed true to its principles and can point to some achievements, due in no small part to Ms Turia’s determination.

Her party will miss her.


No excuse for abuse

13/10/2012

Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia says there is no excuse for child abuse.

“There is no justification for the vile maltreatment, neglect, and abuse of children that has too frequently led to tragic consequences”.

“It does not matter how poor or rich you are – no child should ever be placed in danger. This is one time to put politics aside, and do what is important, in ensuring all our families are supported to care and protect their children”.

“Printing wads of money will not save the lives of our babies”.

“The Māori Party has always said that the situation of over 270,000 children living in poverty is intolerable; and we must work together to create the jobs and opportunities to bring more income into the home.

“But we should all be on the same page with these two issues. Child abuse and treatment must be addressed and the White Paper is a good step in that direction. Whānau poverty must also be addressed – absolutely”.

“But the two are not mutually exclusive – there are well off families who treat their children with contempt; there are also many families living on limited incomes who treat their children as taonga”.

“Like many in my generation, as children we didn’t have a lot to go on, in terms of the material wealth of our household. But we were rich in the support of our extended family. One of the glaring differences between then and now is how difficult it can be for our young parents, isolated in the city, and lacking family around them. Our collective challenge must be to ensure all our families are supported, no matter what their circumstances.

“Whanau, hapu and iwi need to prepare for their tamariki to be returned. We must pick up on the momentum and begin the process of Whanau Ora and ensure our people have capability. This will require the right supports and training in place – much as is already in place with foster care”.

“I had hoped that this might be a time when right across Parliament we could unite in a common call to support our families to fulfil their responsibilities. I resent the interpretation that child abuse is the practice of the poor. Truth is, while those with sizeable salaries can often hide the extent of the harm done, abuse, neglect and trauma can and does occur across all demographics”.

“Let’s be united in our concerted campaign to insist that there is no justification for child abuse – to abuse and neglect your children is not acceptable and never will be”.

She is right.

Poverty is a problem but it isn’t the cause of, or excuse for, the neglect and maltreatment of children.

That isn’t restricted only to the poor. However, children whose parents are on welfare are more likely to be abused and the Opposition parties which have criticised the White Paper have also opposed measures the government is promoting to get those on welfare who could work to do so.


SMOG or playing to gallery?

06/09/2012

From any other politician this would be regarded as a SMOG – social media own goal:

Hone Harawira · 2,262 subscribers

8 hours ago ·

  • Time John Key realised a few home truths like (1) he can tell his little house niggers what to do, but (2) the rest of us don’t give a shit for him or his opinions!

It’s certainly not language befitting an MP but he’s playing to his gallery.

I presume he’s referring to this:

That leaves the Maori Party. Co-leader Tariana Turia says  she doubts they will be attending.

“Well at this point I don’t really see the point in going,” she says.

Fellow co-leader Pita Sharples agrees.

“We believe this is a thing that iwi/hapu have to work out  themselves,” he says.

They are right.

Maori as a whole don’t have rights to water. If anyone has a case it’s individual iwi or hapu.


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