Policy matters

August 21, 2014

Wayne Mapp asks: So is this going to be the first policy-free election?

One would hope not. We are still getting over the aftermath of the GFC of 2008-2011. The inequality debate is directly stimulated by that event. Christchurch has still got a lot of rebuilding to do, with all the different choices that implies.

But over the last week any substantive policy issues were virtually drowned out. How many people know about the Greens’ child and welfare policies, or National’s cycling announcement? And without actually looking it up, I could not think of what Labour has promised in the past week. On checking, it was free doctors’ visits for those over 65.

But that is the problem with non-party actors attempting to hijack election news; it crowds out the policies that will actually be the basis of governing the country. And if people can’t recall the policies of the parties due to their naturally limited bandwidth, they are more likely to revert to their general sense of which party they will support. Of course many would say that is a good enough basis to decide how to vote, but it rather makes a mockery of election campaigns and the manifesto commitments each party makes. . .

Yesterday two people who know I’m active in the National Party opened a conversation about the election.

Both said they had no interest in the side shows, both wanted to know more about policy.

Policy matters but most never gets reported and even less gets serious analysis.


Politics Daily

June 14, 2014

This is an attempt to replace Dr Bryce Edwards’ daily political round-up while he’s taking a break. I’m not pretending to be balanced. While I link to a range of news stories, the blogs I link to are usually from the centre to the bluer end of the political spectrum or the more reasonable or witty bits of the pink to red end. You’re welcome to leave links to other news and blogs in comments.

Election

David Farrar @ Kiwiblog –

Brook Sabin @ TV3 – Paul Goldsmith ‘concentrating on party votes’

Inventory 2 @ Keeping Stock – What the 2014 General Election is all about…

Hamish Rutherford @ Stuff – Bays may be Craig’s best hope of a seat

Cameron Slater @ Whale Oil – With friends like the Conservative Party, who needs enemies?

Cameron Slater @ Whale Oil – No cup of tea needed – ACT gifted Epsom

Pete George @ YourNZ – Key on possible election alliances

Cameron Slater @ Whale Oil – So, the whole police force will vote National, that much is clear

Cameron Slater @ Whale Oil – In business? Hate provisional tax? Vote National

Pete George @ YourNZ – Three MPs for Te Tai Tokerau?

Lindsay Mitchell – Red Alert not so alert

John Armstrong @ NZ Herald – Key’s big treble gamble

Fran O’Sullivan @ NZ Herald – PM must think on what really matters

Trade

Wayne Mapp @ Pundit – Free Trade – the end of the cosy arrangement?

Beehive

Nikki Kay – Support for young environmental leaders

Jo Good hew – Protecting your future made easier

Team NZ

Dana Johannsen @ NZ Herald – Team NZ sailing close to wind: Joyce

David FaRRAR @ Kiwiblog – The Government should say no to more money for Team NZ

Cameron Slater @ Whale Oil – “Sail for the Dole” scheme running out of money

Inventory 2 @ Keeping Stock – Enough is enough

Inventory 2 @ Keeping Stock – Dalton’s audition for a Tui ad

Labour

Chris Trotter @ Bowalley Road – Gut Reactions

Waikato Times – Hipkins misses the mark

Inventory 2 @ Keeping Stock – The Waikato Times on Hipkins’ “epic fail”

David Farrar @ Kiwiblog – A rare letter from the Chief District Court Judge

Inventory 2 @ Keeping Stock – No by-election for Epsom

David Farrar @ Kiwiblog – Cunliffe on Iraq

Cameron Slater @ Whale Oil – Another David Cunliffe “on the hoof” policy revealed

Valedictories

NZ Herald – Keep farewell speeches for deserving MPs only

David Farrar @ Kiwiblog – A silly editorial

Cameron Slater @ Whale Oil – One of the, erm, dumber Herald editorials?

Local Government

Cameron Slater @ Whale Oil – Adams muscles up, rips up Len’s unitary plan

Other

Inventory 2 @ Keeping Stock – Wally of the Week – 13 June 2014

Inventory 2 @ Keeping Stock – Quote of the Day – 13 June 2014

David Farrar @ Kiwiblog – Maybe Lyons should stand for Labour?

 

Cameron Slater @ Whale Oil – If the PM is tainted then so is the Queen

Cameron Slater @ Whale Oil – The nasty left, always rewriting history

 


End of Free Trade consensus

June 13, 2014

Wayne Mapp fears for the future of free trade:


. . . For decades now National and Labour have had a cosy little arrangement when it comes to free trade. Both parties could count on each other to provide a solid bloc of votes in parliament to pass any bill implementing free trade agreements.

So any hyperventialting by the Greens, New Zealand First, the Maori Party or Mana counted for nothing. Jane Kelsey might get to write as many op-eds as she likes, but she has virtually no influence on the actual outcome of the free trade agenda. The solid National–Labour coalition ensures that the relevant legislation will pass.

But will this arrangement prevail after this election?

Clearly, if National is elected they will want to pass legislation implementing various aspects of TPP, in the event that the TPP treaty is finalised and signed between 2014 and 2017. Of course any such treaty will not be exactly as New Zealand wants since it will be a compromise between fourteen nations. . .

New Zealand already has very open borders. Other countries with more restrictions will be held back by powerful lobby groups wanting them to continue.

To get consensus will require compromises.

But the shape of the TPP treaty is starting to emerge. There will be a long drawn-out phase down of tariffs and quotas in agricultural products. The timing of the phase down will be dictated by Japan and the United States, and it will extend over many years, perhaps as many as twenty. Copyright terms will be extended to 70 years or more. State trading entities like Pharmac could lose at least some of their exclusive rights. There will be an international tribunal for major investment disputes.

For National this will be OK. Over time the US, Japanese and Canadian agricultural markets will open up. And provided the loss of the Pharmac monopoly is not too dramatic, it will be seen to be a good trade off. . .

National is quite clear it supports free trade – but labour is no longer.

This election could see Labour down in the low 30s as a percentage of the total vote. If a combination of Labour, the Greens, New Zealand First, the Maori Party and Internet Mana can form a government, Labour is only going to be 60% of the government, at most.

That has risks for more than trade.

All its likely partners have opposed every single free trade agreement over the last two decades. Collectively they could demand that Labour not support the TPP as a price of coalition. And could Labour resist such a demand?

What’s more, if the Left (apologies to Winston who is not really left) do not have enough votes to form a government, would Labour still continue the cosy arrangement of supporting free trade agreements? Increasingly Labour activists, including their left leaning MP’s, oppose TPP. David Cunliffe, supported by Phil Goff and others, has positioned the party to be able to vote for TPP. But that is before the election. An election loss could well weaken the free trade faction in Labour.

Such a result would cause Labour to look deeply at it options, just as did with National when it lost in 2005. The Labour MPs will be looking at three terms in opposition. They will console themselves that this is the normal political cycle in New Zealand. But they will not be able to tolerate the thought of four terms in opposition. They will do whatever it takes to make themselves electable in 2017.

And in the event of an election loss, what will be the fate of Labour’s longstanding support of free trade when they weigh up what they will have to do for 2017?

New Zealand is one of the best performing economies in the OCED because of the efforts successive governments have put into opening our borders and developing new markets.

Returning to the bad old days of protection and subsidies would harm our economy and the social and environmental initiatives which depend on its strength.

And if Labour lurches even further left on trade what other dangerous territory might it enter in a desperate attempt to be elected?


Rural round-up

September 18, 2011

Complete control of supply chain impossible – Allan Barber:

Nuffield Scholar and recently elected Meat and Wool Director, James Parsons, has been promoting the need for an integrated supply chain from farmer to consumer, if farmers are to reap the rewards of their endeavours. His solution for New Zealand to get out of the commodity trap – which means farmers are far removed from the consumer and last in line to receive a share of the returns – is to redesign the supply chain . . .

 In reponse to that he also writes Supply chain debate :

Trudi Baird from Southland has written a very full response to my recent column in Farmers Weekly about the difficulty of controlling the supply chain and I have published her comments in full because I am very impressed by her arguments and the thoroughness of her analysis . . .

New Zealand to host ag-biotech international conference :

The Government is investing $100,000 to bring international agricultural biotechnology experts to New Zealand next year, Minister of Science and Innovation Wayne Mapp announced today.

New Zealand was announced as the host for the 2012 Agricultural Biotechnology International Conference at the closing of the 2011 conference in South Africa.

“This prestigious conference will bring hundreds of international delegates to New Zealand,” said Dr Mapp. “It is a chance to showcase New Zealand and Australian biotech capability.” . . .

North Otago couples’ little piggies got to market – Sally Rae:

North Otago pig farmers Gus and Sue Morton are not only bringing home the bacon – they are selling it direct to the public.   

Mr and Mrs Morton, who market their produce through the Waitaki Bacon and Ham label – focusing on a “farm gate to plate” experience for the consumer, have added a retail shop      to their business.   

A top dogs’ tale – Debbie Gregory:

EFFORTS to make the Whatatutu Sheep Dog Trial Club’s annual dog sale one of the best in the country are paying dividends with the good reputation of the East Coast dogs leading the way.

A top price of $5000 was paid for a three-year-old huntaway bitch offered by Graeme Cook and the top price in the heading dogs was $4600 among 40 dogs offered for sale at the club’s second annual sale during the weekend.

Among the dogs sold were two bought to become celebrities overseas. . .

Farmers urged to clean up act – Gerald Piddock:

Synlait boss John Penno is urging the dairy industry to do more to influence
farmers to improve their environmental record.

The industry’s dairy companies should play a major role in this by ensuring
their farmers produced their milk at a high environmental standard, he told
farmers and environmentalists at the Lower Waitaki River Management Society’s
annual meeting in Glenavy . . .

Good reason for optimism in dairying – Gerald Piddock:

Dairy farmers are going into the new season with a high level of optimism.
This is due to the extremely mild winter and the unchanged opening forecast
payout from Fonterra.

Good autumn growing conditions meant most dairy farms went into the winter
with good pasture covers and cows in good condition.

Covers at the start of calving in August around South Canterbury were high
and some farmers had to bring their cows back earlier from winter grazing to
keep pasture levels under control, Federated Farmers South Canterbury dairy
chairman Ryan O’Sullivan said.

Preparing ewes for triplets now the aim – Gerald Piddock:

Forty years ago a major topic of discussion among sheep farmers in New Zealand was would they be able to manage ewes with twins.

Fast forward to today and a similar debate is occurring over how farmers should be managing triplets, AgResearch scientist Tom Fraser says.

“I think we do have to come to grips with it and I’m not sure what the answer
is,” Mr Fraser told farmers at a Beef+Lamb field day held near Mt Somers.

Grass-fed beef a hit at major Tokyo festival:

Over three quarters of a million Japanese people attended the Super Yosakoi food, music and dance festival in Tokyo recently and many got a taste of New Zealand grass-fed beef. By the end of the festival, 400 kilograms of the beef had been barbecued and eaten.

Introducing Japanese consumers to New Zealand grass-fed beef was the point of Beef + Lamb New Zealand’s (B+LNZ) food stand at the festival and those who tasted the beef loved it, B+LNZ Market Manager Japan, John Hundleby said.

A fistful of whiter than white wool – Jon Morgan:

Alan Johanson stretches down the side of the romney ram his heading dog Ozzie
has baled up for him and clutches a fistful of fleece.

“Feel that,” he offers. “You can squeeze it as hard as you can but you can’t move it. It won’t compress any further. It stays one big thick handful.”

He’s right. A grab of the greasy wool confirms this. It is a solid, unmoving mass . . .

Science still the key to our future – Jon Morgan:

Scientists by nature are cautious. The thoroughness of their methods teaches them that. Even when they arrive at a tried, tested and peer-reviewed result they are reluctant to speak in absolutes.

The word “breakthrough” is anathema to them. They would rather run naked across a Rugby World Cup pitch than use it.

So it was with some surprise that I saw “breakthrough” in the tag line of an email from the Crown science institute, AgResearch . . .


Te Heuheu to retire

May 10, 2011

National cabinet Minister Georgina te Heuheu has announced she will retire from parliament at the end of this term.

“Now is a good time to go. The National Party is in good heart. It has strong leadership. The National Government has outlined a credible programme for New Zealand’s future, and it’s now time for family and friends.

“I came in under MMP at a time when the National Government had embarked on an ambitious programme to settle Treaty injustices and to work to lift Māori participation in the economy and society. I’m proud to have been part of this key policy direction as I strongly believe it has set the course for a strong and enduring future for all New Zealanders.

“I have had 15 great years as a Member of the National Party Caucus. I have served under three Prime Ministers. Jim Bolger was Prime Minister when I came in and I have had the privilege to serve twice in Cabinet, first under Jenny Shipley and now under John Key.

“During that time I have had the opportunity of contributing to some very challenging issues that go to the heart of who we are as New Zealanders, including promoting the reconciliation of the interests of Māori and their fellow New Zealanders.

“I’ve endeavoured to do this by promoting reasoned debate and hopefully, exercising a degree of calm, and quiet determination.

“I am very proud to have served in the current Cabinet in this term. John Key has a very keen sense of what it takes to build a dynamic, inclusive society and I’ll be working hard up to the election to ensure he gets the chance to carry that leadership on for our country.

“I also hope New Zealanders give him a good mandate to pursue a vision for New Zealand that recognises that every New Zealander has an important role to play in building a strong nation.

“Politics is a brutal game at times. I have tried to focus on the issues rather than personalities. Politics can be all-encompassing and often you forget there are other things in life.

“I know there are other challenges out there, but for now I’m looking forward to going home and enjoying my family. I only hope they’re looking forward to the same thing.”

Mrs te Heuheu entered parliament as a list MP in the first MMP election in 1996.

She was the first Maori woman to gain a law degree from Victoria University and  and be admitted to the High Court as Barrister and Solicitor.

She practised law in Wellington and Rotorua before becoming an MP.

Her career in politics saw her become the first Maori woman to gain election as an MP for the National Party; the first Maori woman to chair the Maori Affairs Select Committee, and only the second Maori woman to be appointed to a New Zealand Cabinet.

Her ministerial portfolios from 1998 to 1999 were Minister of Women’s Affairs, Associate Minister for Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations and Associate Minister of Health.

She is now Minister for Courts, Pacific Island Affairs, Disarmament and Arms Control and Associate Minister of Maori Affairs.

Prime Minister John Key said:

“I want to thank Georgina for the contribution she has made in her career in national politics over the last 15 years, and also for her public service in a myriad of other roles.

“In particular I want to record my appreciation for the role Mrs te Heuheu has played over the years in helping to grow the relationship between iwi and the National Party,” says Mr Key.

Two other ministers, Simon Power and Wayne Mapp, have announced they are retiring at the end of this term; Richard Worth and Pansy Wong have already stood down and Coromandel MP Sandra Goudie has announced she will retire in November too.

Having a turn over of Ministers and MPs is good for the health of the party. It makes it much easier to refresh caucus and cabinet without putting any noses out of joint.


Leaders don’t win or lose alone

March 30, 2011

Election campaigns have become more and more presidential with most attention on party leaders.

That focus on the leaders continues between elections too but a leader doesn’t win or lose alone.

The seeds of National’s defeat in 1999 were sown before the 1990 election when Jim Bolger made stupid promises which were then not kept. Those seeds were fertilised before the 1996 election when too many MPs whose seats disappeared with the reduction in the number of electorates stayed on as list MPs.

Having failed to jump before the 1999 election many of those MPs were pushed in the 2002 one. Not only were many of them the tired face of National which the electorate had rejected three years before, many weren’t united behind the leader. The involuntary clean-out in the election provided the foundation for rebuilding which enabled the party to win in 2008.

Labour is following a similar path. It has had some refreshment but not enough.  Parties need a balance between experience and freshness and it hasn’t got it.

It’s led by one of the longest-serving MPs in parliament and too many of his caucus are associated with the people and policies which lost voters’ support over successive terms. Further more they have done too little to persuade the public they have new and better ideas for running the country again.

MPs will have many reasons for clinging to their seats, the good of the party isn’t usually one of them.

The influx of new MPs in 2005 and 2008 refreshed the National caucus. Involuntary resignations by Richard Worth and Pansy Wong and decisions not to stand again by John Carter, Wayne Mapp, Simon Power and Sandra Goudie has provided the opportunity for several new faces in the next term.

All the blame for Labour’s dysfunction is being laid at Phil Goff’s door. He’s made mistakes but his caucus members need to look at themselves too. Sticking with him because there is no viable alternative isn’t a resounding vote of confidence in him which the electorate shares. But a lack of unity and refusal to stand aside by some of the longer-serving or more ineffectual MPs is also part of the problem.

Ranking the list is never an easy job and the number of tired old faces among the sitting MPs will make it even harder for Labour this time. However, if its MPs and the party don’t make some hard choices about who stays and who goes themselves, voters will do it for them as they did for National in 2002.


Good news for wool in spite of word war

January 14, 2011

A war of words has broken out between the Wool Exporters Council and Wool Partners Co-operative.

WEC says the wool co-op will never get over the line and reckons the co-op isn’t answering its questions.

WPC in return says that wool merchants and exporters aligned with the WEC are trying to undermine efforts to float the co-op.

While that’s going on there has been good news for the industry.

Wool Partners has made a second premium offer to growers who can supply high quality wool required by two British carpet manufacturers.

America’s largest carpet manufacturer has joined Wools of New Zealand’s Clean Air Certified programme.

Wool Partners International Chief Executive Officer Iain Abercrombie says Karastan’s certification and adoption of the programme is a further endorsement of the work Wools of New Zealand is undertaking to position New Zealand wool as the premier natural carpet fibre, produced in ethically sustainable manner.

 “This is further verification of the programmes we have been discussing with New Zealand growers to gain the recognition and the true value of the high quality wools they produce.”

 “It is intensive marketing backed by technical expertise developed by Wools of New Zealand, to delight consumers with the sheer luxury of naturally produced New Zealand wool.”

Programmes like this also require research and that’s been given a boost by the government.

Minister of Agriculture David Carter and Minister of Research, Science and Technology Wayne Mapp announced the investment of $17.25 million over five years in a wool research consortium tasked with lifting the economic return of the wool industry.

“The success of the strong wool sector hinges on developing new uses and markets for the industry – and with the growers themselves realising its full potential,” says Mr Carter.

“We are committed to growing New Zealand’s export earnings from wool fibre, and from value-added wool products developed through market-led research programmes,” Dr Mapp says.

The consortium participants are the Wool Research Organisation of New Zealand Inc (WRInc), and other New Zealand industry stakeholders. Key providers will include AgResearch and New Zealand universities. . .

“The wool industry is collaborating across the value chain to address key research questions, and the Government is supporting them,” says Dr Mapp.

Mr Carter says increased research and development for the wool sector was one of the key recommendations of his Wool Taskforce, which presented its report last year.

“The Wool Research Organisation’s constructive engagement through the Wool Unity Group has shown what can be achieved by better cohesion and co-operation within the wool industry,” Mr Carter says.

Collaboration and co-operation are working to good effect for research. It would also help with the marketing and wool exporters would be better employed concentrating on work which would maximise returns for growers than bickering with WPC which is trying to do that.


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