The new Parliamentary website

August 25th, 2016 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Overall the new Parliamentary website is a huge improvement. The layout is cleaner, and information is much easier to find.

It is now much more than just a web version of offline content.  For example the Daily Progress in the House page has hyperlinks to each bill or item before the House.

The draft transcript for each day is no longer one hard to navigate page, but is split up into each debate and much much easier to utilize.

It also has good social media interaction.

But one failing is the site is not responsive. If you look at it on a mobile phone, you get the full site instead of a site designed for phones or tablets. They should fix that asap.

How they voted on the Unitary Plan

August 25th, 2016 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Transport Blog has a chart showing how each Councillor voted on the Auckland Unitary Plan.

It shows the two Councillors who voted against the Independent Panel’s recommendations the most were Mike Lee and Cathy Casey. So they kept voting against measures which would help lower house prices.

Dunne sees sense

August 25th, 2016 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Newshub reports:

A Labour Party Bill that would have ensured contractors are paid the minimum wage is facing defeat because United Future leader Peter Dunne has withdrawn his support for it.

Mr Dunne voted for the Bill on its first and second readings, which it passed by 61 votes to 60.

The Government and employer organisations oppose it.

Mr Dunne now says while the Bill’s intention is sound, he doesn’t think it’s “the appropriate mechanism” to protect vulnerable contractors.

He says he’s been talking to Workplace Relations Minister Michael Woodhouse, and has been given an undertaking that other “meaningful steps” will be taken to address problems contractors are facing.

Labour MP David Parker drafted the Bill.

He says people engaged as contractors have few of the protections given to employees under the Minimum Wage Act.

He uses pamphlet deliverers as an example, saying that when their work is broken down on an hourly basis they often earn less than the statutory $14.75 an hour.

Government MPs say the Bill is too prescriptive.

The Employers and Manufacturers Association, and BusinessNZ, say it would make many contracts unworkable.

I’m glad Peter Dunne saw sense. This bill would have ended up effectively turning contractors into employees.

He did the sensible thing and negotiated some stuff from the Government in exchange for deciding not to back the bill. His release says:

“While the intent of this Bill, to provide protection to vulnerable contractors who fall outside the usual bound of the employee/contractor relationship, is sound, in the end I did not consider it to be the appropriate mechanism to provide the necessary protections to vulnerable contractors.

“This is especially so as the Bill blurs the distinction between contractor and employee in such a way that it could result in an unintended consequence of confusing the interpretation of employment law in those sectors identified in the Bill to the extent of actually placing the contractor in a worse remunerative position.

“There is also a lack of clarity as to how pervasive the problem facing contractors is, as there is, on the face of it, little empirical evidence to suggest there is widespread exploitation of contractors.

“Vulnerable contractors do not win in that situation; the only ones who do are employment lawyers,” said Mr Dunne.

 In light of this, Mr Dunne sought and received an undertaking from the Hon Michael Woodhouse as the responsible Minister to take meaningful steps in addressing the problems that contractors may be facing.

“Minister Woodhouse has confirmed to me today that he has asked the Labour Inspectorate to provide an assessment of the extent of any contractor exploitation that they have investigated or suspect is happening within the workplace,” Mr Dunne said.

“Further, Minister Woodhouse has asked the Labour Inspectorate to identify any issues around resourcing for investigating breaches and has confirmed to me that should any issues be identified that these issues will be remedied through any necessary legislative, regulatory or other appropriate mechanism.

“Finally, the Minister has agreed to address the adequacy of existing definitions of what constitutes an employee and contractor in the modern working environment.

“On the basis of that assurance and in light of the concerns I have about the mechanisms in this Bill, I am no longer convinced that it is the answer to the problem it has set out to solve.

A good outcome.

RIP Justin du Fresne

August 25th, 2016 at 9:18 am by David Farrar

This is very sad news. Justin was a gentleman and a top broadcaster. I always enjoyed going being part of his Friday panels and more recently talking to him on Saturdays. I don’t think he had a mean bone in his body.

Condolences to his family, friends and colleagues.

The Wellington dirty deal

August 25th, 2016 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Whispers have reached Kiwiblog of intense negotiations occurring between Labour and Greens in Wellington to try and conclude a deal. The gist of what is on offer is:

  1. Green Party formally endorses Labour candidate Justin Lester for Mayor
  2. Labour stands down its candidate in one of the three Wellington seats and endorses the Green candidate to give them a parliamentary seat
  3. Annette King goes list only, freeing up Rongotai
  4. If Labour-Greens win, Annette is made High Commission to Canberra
  5. The Labour Deputy Leader would normally be Deputy PM, but if King takes a diplomatioc posting this means they can offer Winston Deputy Prime Minister

The negotiations have hit a snag though. While Labour effectively just needs the agreement of the caucus, the Greens would have to have any such deal agreed by their grassroots members in Wellington and they are less than enthusiastic.

If they do manage to conclude a deal, it would be interesting to see which seat Labour offers up. Wellington Central is the best seat nationally for the Greens (they beat Labour on party vote) but I can’t imagine Grant Robertson wants to give it up.

Rongotai is also strong for the Greens, but it is not guaranteed a Green candidate would win as National did win the party vote there.

Ohariu is attractive for them as CR votes get split between Peter Dunne and the National candidate. But if Labour and Greens did a deal, I suspect the CR voters would vote even more tactically to stop a Green MP.

Some in the Greens say they don’t need an Electorate MP, and at 10% are safely over the 5% threshold. Others have looked at what happens overseas when you finally make Government and are worried that they could be at risk in the future and want an electorate seat as a safety net.

General Debate 25 August 2016

August 25th, 2016 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel

Online teaching

August 25th, 2016 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

School-age students will be able to enrol in an accredited online learning provider instead of attending school, under new Government legislation.

The move has dismayed the primary school teachers’ union who say education is about learning to work and play with other children.

Have they not heard of the Correspondence School? Home-schooling?

The radical change will see any registered school, tertiary provider such as a polytechnic or an approved body corporate be able to apply to be a “community of online learning” (COOL).

Any student of compulsory schooling age will be able to enrol in a COOL – and that provider will determine whether students will need to physically attend for all or some of the school day.

The Ministry of Education says this requirement may depend on the type of COOL.

Regulations will set out the way in which attendance in an online learning environment will be measured.

The change is part of legislation that has been introduced by Education Minister Hekia Parata.

She said it was the biggest update to education in New Zealand in nearly 30 years.

“COOLs will be open to as wide a range of potential providers as possible to gain the greatest benefits for young people,” Parata said.

So basically it is about allowing flexibility.

Te Kura is currently the only correspondence school. The change would open it up to competition.

Act leader David Seymour, who is Under-Secretary to the Minister of Education, said the changes announced today were not about clearing the way for online charter schools.

That was because there was nothing in the current law that would stop a partnership school allowing students to learn online from home.

An application to establish an online partnership school was rejected by the Government-appointed authorisation board in 2013.

“In principle, partnership schools have offered this opportunity for a long time…who knows what future applications will come forward,” Seymour said.

“I think the jury is still out about whether learning content online is a substitute for the social aspects of actually being part of a school community. But, look, it’s quite possible for some kids that’s exactly what they need.”

Dame Karen Sewell, chair of the correspondence school’s board of trustees, welcomed the changes.

“They will give young people and their whanau the right to choose the education that best suits their needs. Students could choose to learn online or face-to-face, or a mix of both, and have access to a much broader range of subjects regardless of the size and type of school they are attending.

“Many of these young people are referred to Te Kura after long periods of disengagement from education and when all other options have been exhausted,” said Dame Karen.

“Under the proposed changes students, with the support of their whanau or school, could choose to come to Te Kura – or to another COOL – and continue with their learning programme in an environment which may be better suited to them.”

Currently about 23,000 students use the correspondence school each year. About half of those students use Te Kura for subjects or curriculum adaptation which their own school does not provide.

The idea of more than one correspondence school is a good one, with the potential for specialist schools.

Idiots and Bigots

August 24th, 2016 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Radio NZ reports:

Yugraj Singh Mahil is pictured on the billboard with another candidate, Anna Casey-Cox. Both are first-time candidates in the city’s east ward, standing as part of the Community Voice group.

Mr Mahil had a busy day handing out leaflets yesterday and did not find out about the defaced billboard, on the corner of Carrington Ave and Vesty Ave, until RNZ told him last night.

“It’s more than insulting,” he said. “People mostly change the appearance of the person but tagging such a group is very harsh, very distressful.”

Mr Mahil said in his 17 years in Hamilton he had never faced that sort of behaviour. “I think this is due to the turban; that happens sometimes, people get confused, they think only Muslims wear turbans.”

The person or persons responsible obviously have a very low IQ, plus equally low decency.

No tag for this post.

Meet the US Green VP candidate

August 24th, 2016 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

The Daily Beast has an article on Ajamu Baraka, the Green Party candidate for Vice-President of the US. They focus on his writing for a book edited by a Holocaust denier which includes an article by someone who once made a video explaining how Hitler was right!

His Wikipedia page gives us a lot of other insights into him. Extracts include:

  • referring to the US as a corrupt, degenerate, white supremacist monstrosity
  • that Israel has more repression than North Korea
  • the kidnapping and murder of three Israeli teenagers was a false flag operation by Israel
  • opposed the 2015 Ukrainian revolution as a US supported coup
  • said the shooting down of MA17 over Ukraine may have been a false flag operation
  • said the Boko Haram kidnapping of 276 schoolgirls is probably exaggerated
  • says TPP is designed to “benefit a parasitic white minority ruling class”


Saving Hillary’s Hut

August 24th, 2016 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

It played a key role in one of Sir Edmund Hillary’s greatest pioneering adventures, one which elevated him alongside the great Antarctic explorers of Shackleton, Amundsen, and Scott.

Hillary’s Hut – the first building at Scott Base – was the launching pad for the famous Trans-Antarctic Expedition of 1957-58.

The coast-to-coast crossing of Antarctica, using the now legendary Ferguson TE-20 tractors, was the first overland expedition to reach the Pole since Captain Robert Falcon Scott’s ill-fated voyage in 1912.

But over the last 60 years, the hut – one of Antarctica’s most precious heritage sites – has slowly fallen into a state of disrepair.

It has a leaking roof, asbestos that needs removing, melt-pools forming under its floorboards, while unique and historically-important memorabilia inside it are showing signs of damage or corrosion.

Today, the Antarctic Heritage Trust has launched a major fundraising drive to help raise $1 million Sir Ed’s Hut which would maintain it for the next 25 years.

I was lucky enough to visit Hillary’s Hut in January. It is a huge part of history and would be awful to see it fade away.

It has revealed ‘Expedition South’, a month-long journey from one of Sir Ed’s favourite places, Piha Beach where he had a bach for many years, to Aoraki Mount Cook, finishing in sight of the Hillary Ridge.

They will travel the same distance of 2012kms that Hillary and his team did on three
tractors – two of them similar Ferguson TE-20 model tractors that Sir Ed and his
team had, the other a new Massey Ferguson MF5600.

Along the way, the Expedition South team will be stopping at various schools, events, and Hillary hot spots to collect donations from the public.

“We are calling on Kiwis to give a fiver,” Antarctic Heritage Trust Executive Director Nigel Watson said.

“The $5 note has Sir Ed’s face on it so we can’t think of a better use for it than saving his Antarctic legacy.”

I’ll definitely be donating.

Hope the kid is okay

August 24th, 2016 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

An Auckland Council candidate’s campaign launch has been violently interrupted by a sword-wielding man.

Ngapuhi leader David Rankin, who is standing in the Waitakere Ward, was joined by former National and ACT party leader Don Brash for the launch on Great North Rd in Glendene on Monday afternoon.

During a media interview with TVNZ a man pulled up in a car with a young child in the passenger seat.

Brash, who was there to support Rankin, said on Tuesday morning that the “enormous” man was clearly agitated and jumped out of the car holding a sword at least a metre long.

“It looked like a ceremonial sword but it looked like it could do some serious damage if used with appropriate force.”

He believed the man had randomly happened across the interview, rather than arrived to interrupt it on purpose.

Most of those present quickly left the scene but Rankin attempted to calm the man, Brash said.

“I think we were all a bit dismayed by the spectacle.”

Brash said police were called and he left the scene shortly afterward.

Rankin said his main concern was for the young boy in the car and he believed the man to be under the influence of drugs.

“He was ranting and threatening us with his sword.”

A police spokeswoman confirmed they had received a call about the man, aged 42, “yelling and waving” a sword about 1.30pm.

When they arrived the man was gone but his car was later located in Kelston.

A low-speed chase ensued and police drove alongside the man, who still had his child in the car, pleading for him to stop.

Police managed to block the vehicle in on Victor St in Avondale and detained the man for treatment under the care of health authorities.

The child was unharmed.

Good that the kid is unharmed but the man involved obviously has some serious issues and I doubt should be in charge of a kid for any period of time.

$43 million from Citizen Yan

August 24th, 2016 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

One of New Zealand’s most controversial citizens will forfeit nearly $43 million to the police following a money-laundering inquiry.

The Herald this morning revealed William Yan – also known as Bill Liu, Yang Liu and Yong Ming Yan – struck a deal as the final settlement in a civil case two years after the police raided his Metropolis penthouse.

Most of the settlement is secret but the police have now issued a press release with some of the key details.

“In accordance with the settlement, the High Court has made assets forfeiture orders in respect of property to the total value of $42.85 million.

“This is the single largest forfeiture that has occurred in New Zealand to date and is the first that relates to crimes alleged to have occurred in China.

“The activity underlying the forfeiture orders is alleged money laundering.”

“This settlement is a full and final settlement of the proceedings under the Criminal Proceeds (Recovery) Act without any admission of criminal or civil liability.”

Heh, there may not be an admission but you don’t get up $43 million unless they have you by the short and curlies.

The $43m settlement is the latest twist in a saga dating back to 2001 when Yan arrived in New Zealand.

He first made headlines for his links to the previous Labour government and the decision to give him a New Zealand passport, despite having multiple identities and an Interpol alert against his name.

Former Labour Minister Shane Jones overruled the advice of DIA officials, who said Yan did not meet the good character test for citizenship, following lobbying from Dover Samuels, a Labour MP at the time.

By coincidence he was a donor to various Labour Party MPs.

Should someone get parole early so they can be deported?

August 24th, 2016 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

A South African psychiatrist who poisoned his wife is unwell and unable to be deported, his lawyer says.

Colin Bouwer appeared via video link before the New Zealand Parole Board from Rolleston Prison, near Christchurch, on Tuesday.

Bouwer, who has served his non-parole period of 15 years after being convicted in 2001 of murdering his wife, has been served with a deportation order by Immigration New Zealand.

“He will be deported at the end of his sentence,” a spokesman said.

However his Dunedin-based lawyer, David More, said his client was unwell and could not return to South Africa. Release was not sought at Tuesday’s parole hearing for that reason, he said.

This is an interesting case. Most prisoners want to get parole but here Bouwer it seems would rather be in prison in NZ than living free in South Africa.

If he had a fixed term sentence, then he would be released eventually even if he never gets parole. But as he has a life sentence, should we continue to pay the bill to imprison him, when we could deport him?

Can you give someone parole against their wishes?

I tend to think he should be released and deported.

Speaking on behalf of everyone

August 24th, 2016 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Robyn Hunt writes at The Spinoff:

I assure David Seymour that assisted suicide is a really big and complicated deal. It is no coincidence that disabled people all over the world oppose it.

Really? Every single one?

Disabled people see assisted suicide as dangerous because of their already marginalised status.

I congratulate the disabled people of the world for having elected Robyn Hunt to speak on their behalf.

There is one small problem.

They didn’t.

A 2015 poll by Populus found higher support for assisted dying or euthanasia laws amongst disabled people, than those without disabilities. The level of support was:

  • Have a disability: 86%
  • No disability or longstanding physical or mental condition: 81%
  • longstanding physical condition 86%
  • longstanding mental condition 89%

It is quite appropriate to raise issues of concern over any proposed law. It is not appropriate to claim to speak for an entire group of people, when you don’t and in fact your view is very much in the minority of that community.

Little on bugging

August 24th, 2016 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

The Prime Minister has weighed in on the All Blacks bugging debacle – and come under fire from the opposition in the process.

When John Key was drawn into the speculation of how the listening device could have made its way into the rugby team quarters – or who could have done it – he revealed that he himself had been a victim of bugging.

In fact, the Prime Minister said he was under the expectation he was being recorded in some instances.

But these revelations didn’t move Labour leader Andrew Little – who doubted the Prime Minister had ever been bugged in New Zealand. …

“I have to say I doubt very much whether he’s been bugged certainly internally in New Zealand. What happens overseas, particularly visiting foreign countries, who would know? But it’s typical John Key – say something outlandish that who knows whether it’s true or not and see what happens. And that’s what he’s done on this occasion.

“I don’t trust him when he says he’s been bugged in New Zealand.

Little again thinks calling the PM a liar is a good political strategy. How has that worked for the last ten years?

Also depending on your definition of bugging there was the secret recording of Key and Banks in 2011 and also in 2008 (off memory) the left activists who secretly recorded National MPs at a function.

Apart from those events already in the public domain, it is now routine for some National MPs and officials to have their offices checked for listening devices, and you don’t do that (which costs a bit of money) for no reason.

As some people think hacking e-mails is a legitimate political activity, why would they stop there and not also try to bug political opponents? My first reaction after the last Hager book was to find out how I could check if my apartment and office were bugged. In the end I concluded a human spy was put into my office, rather than an electronic one. So reassuring.

General Debate 24 August 2016

August 24th, 2016 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel

Gary Johnson almost second with under 30s

August 24th, 2016 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Five Thirty Eight averages the polls for voters under 30 and finds low support for both Clinton and Trump.

  1. Clinton 41%
  2. Trump 20%
  3. Johnson 17%
  4. Stein 10%

If over 30s supported Johnson to the same degree, he would make the presidential debates.

Prime TV’s “Back Benches”: 24 August 2016–Wellington Mayoral Debate

August 23rd, 2016 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

From Backbenches:

THIS WEEK ON PRIME TV’s “BACK BENCHES”—WELLINGTON MAYORAL DEBATE: Watch Wallace Chapman, Hayley Holt, the Back Benches Panel and special guests fight for your vote!

BUSES, TRAINS, BIKES AND AUTOMOBILES:  Worse than London, Los Angeles and Istanbul –

Wellington’s morning traffic is getting worse and at a rate faster than Auckland. What’s the solution? Is it more public transport? Is it better cycleways? Is it finally installing the basin flyover? Do we have the infrastructure to handle our population? Is it expected to keep up with demand?

BANNING BEGGARS?: Wellington is the most generous city to beggars in the nation, so it is no wonder the numbers of those begging on the street has increased. But is banning the practice the solution? Is the solution about finding those on the street employment or a roof over their heads or is it more complex than that?

COOLEST LITTLE CAPITAL IN THE WORLD?:  Wellington claims it is the coolest little capital in the world. But can it make that claim? What makes it cool? What’s the best part about Wellington? When someone visits from out of town—where’s the one place you’d recommend? Is Wellington a destination spot? Would extending the runway make it more enticing to tourists? A study says Wellington isn’t a magnet for tourists. How can we change that perception?

There are two ways to get in on the political pub action:

First, you can join the live audience in Wellington’s iconic Backbencher Pub on Wednesday, 24th of August at 6pm. Filming begins around 6:20pm.

Or watch us that night on PRIME TV at 10:30pm!  

Plus, Follow us on Facebook (BackBenchesTV) or on Twitter @BackBenchesTV.

Our Panel: Jo Coughlan, Andy Foster, Nick Leggett, Justin Lester, Helene Ritchie and Nicola Young.

Simmons on an FTT

August 23rd, 2016 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Geoff Simmons of the Morgan Foundation writes on an FTT:

Some are convinced New Zealand would be better off. They think that bankers and traders are getting more than their fair share of benefit out of the globalised economy, that speculation is excessive, this is contributing to the greater volatility and uncertainty in markets so Kiwis are worse off. Given the billions that pass through the financial sector every day, the idea is that clipping the ticket on each transaction would raise a lot of money and reduce both speculation and volatility in financial markets.

However, not all transactions are bad – when you get paid, for example, or make a payment on your mortgage. Or send money overseas to pay for your upcoming holiday. Would you mind someone clipping the ticket on all of those? Of course, you can specify what kinds of transactions you want to target with a tax, such as house sales (via a stamp duty) or share trades or foreign currency deals. But ordinary people still engage in all of those, at the very least through KiwiSaver.

Sure, some transactions are purely speculative, but an FTT won’t just stop those. It is a sledgehammer and would not discriminate between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ financial transactions.

So an FTT would be very blunt.

Research has found that (unsurprisingly) people respond to FTTs such as stamp duty by reducing the number of taxed transactions made. In other words, house sales drop. This doesn’t alter the intent of transactions, simply the number. Stamp duty hasn’t prevented speculation on housing, nor reduced volatility in the market. Quite the contrary, having fewer transactions can increase the volatility in the market. Fewer transactions can also have their costs in terms of the efficiency of the economy. Stamp duty, for example, makes it more likely for an elderly person to hold on to a home that is too large for them, and therefore makes it more difficult for families to find the houses they need.

The larger you are the easier it would be to avoid. For example huge financial services companies would simply run credit and debit balances with each other and maybe only physically transfer cash once a year for the net amount.

The experience of Sweden’s FTT has been interesting. When it was introduced, revenue was far lower than predicted because of changes in the number of financial transactions. In fact, the lower number of transactions reduced revenue from Sweden’s capital gains tax, so the government ended up with less revenue overall.

New taxes often have unforeseen consequences. The Mexico sugar tax was meant to reduce sales of soda drinks but the tax is bringing in more money than forecast, which means sales have not decreased.

In short, the FTT appeals mainly to those who seek to get at “wicked bankers and evil speculators” but it’s pretty naive. It is unlikely to raise a lot of money unless there is a global agreement; otherwise it would leak like a sieve, penalise quite innocent and necessary trade, impede economic activity unnecessarily – all features of a bad tax. In the meantime, taxes like the comprehensive capital income tax (CCIT) seem to have much more potential to raise serious revenue and benefit the economy by closing existing tax loopholes.

I don’t think an FTT would be good. As Simmons says, it won’t work unless other countries do it also – and even then possibly not.

I do support a comprehensive capital gains tax (on everything including the family home) but it should only apply when gains are realised. The CCIT would apply even if no gains are realised or even if you make a loss as it assumes a minimum 5% return. That’s more a wealth tax than a capital gains tax.

A good return on investment

August 23rd, 2016 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Destiny Church co-leader Hannah Tamaki has treated herself to a second Mercedes-Benz in seven months.

The wife of controversial, self-appointed Destiny leader Brian Tamaki has this time splashed out on a brand new Mercedes-Benz AMG GLE 450 Coupe.

The car has a normal retail price of $153,500.

The Tamakis are obviously shrewd investors. Their decision to invest in the religion market is paying off well, and good on them.

I imagine like all good business people, they looked at what marker would provide the best return on investment. It was probably something like:

  • Residential real estate 10% per annum
  • Commercial real estate 9% per annum
  • Car sales 14% per annum
  • Amway 6% per annum
  • Religion 35% per annum

Deciding to finance their retirement through setting up a religion obviously had the highest potential returns. The risks are greater, but once you cover the capital costs you have perpetual tithe income.

Minto wants employers to be able to cut salaries unilaterally

August 23rd, 2016 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

“So how do you pay for that? We would pay for it by reducing the salaries at the top management level in the council,” Minto said.

There were 317 people being paid more than $100,000 at council, along with 13 receiving more than $200,000, he said.

“What we’re saying is the maximum should be $160,000, which is four times the living wage.

“If I won the mayoral race the very first thing would be I would suffer a reduction in salary from $187,000 to a mere $160,000,” Minto said, adding the chief executive would receive the same pay.

So Minto thinks employers should be able to break employment contracts and unilaterally cut the pay of employees.

I wonder what his mates at Unite think of that concept.

Does NZ have the best designed Government in the world?

August 23rd, 2016 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Dylan Matthews at Vox argues NZ has the best designed Government in the world. He cites three things which are crucial:

  1. NZ’s MMP system which delivers proportional results but also retains electorate seats
  2. NZ’s Unicameral Parliament with no Upper House. He argues Upper Houses tend to be useless and undemocratic.
  3. NZ’s Constitutional Monarchy which provides a Head of State with no legitimacy to interfere in domestic politics

I’d don’t agree with all his arguments but he makes a good case. I’d add a 4th. No state parliaments. No disputes over what is the role of central government and state governments, and no duplication of multiple police forces, education ministries etc.

No tag for this post.

Corbyn called for NATO to be closed

August 23rd, 2016 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The Telegraph reported:

Jeremy Corbyn has called for Nato to be “closed down”, it emerged today as defence chiefs warned his comments about the organisation are “weakening western civilisation”. 

In footage uncovered by the Telegraph the Labour leader said the military alliance was an “engine for the delivery of oil to the oil companies” and called for it to “give up, go home and go away.”

He’s like the left wing version of Trump. Both would be disasters if they ever became Prime Minister or President.

Mr Corbyn on Thursday was criticised after he refused to say whether he would defend a Nato ally if it were invaded by Russia.

There is only one correct answer to that. It is “Of course Article 5 says ‘that an armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all’ so we honour our word without fail.”

Article 5 has been invoked once only. On the 4th of October 2011 after the 9/11 attacks on the US.

In September 2014, Mr Corbyn was filmed declaring: “1990 should have been the time for Nato to shut up shop, give up, go home and go away. Why don’t we turn it around, and close down Nato?

“Nato is an engine for the delivery of oil to the oil companies and the major nations of this world, make no illusions about that.”

Corbyn seems to be upset that NATO stopped the Soviet Union’s expansion.

Mr Rasmussen told the Telegraph: “I am very concerned about his unwillingness to say clearly that Nato of course will defend any ally if they are attacked. Solidarity within the defence alliance is Nato’s raison d’être.

In line with Mr Trump in the United States, Mr Corbyn now raises doubt about this commitment to defend friends and allies. Thus they are tempting President Putin to aggression and they are weakening Nato and the entire Western civilisation.”

Putin knows what weakness is. He would exploit it without mercy.

Lord Roberson, the former Labour defence secretary and Secretary General of Nato, said: “It beggars belief that the leader of the party most responsible for the collective security pact of Nato should be so reckless as to undermine it by refusing to say he would come to the aid of an ally.

“Even in its darkest, daftest days in the past the Labour Party stuck to its commitment to Nato and to the defence of any ally attacked.

“The public will be dismayed and disgusted by what appears to be an abdication of Britain’s responsibility in a dangerous world. “

If Corbyn is re-elected leader, sensible Labour MPs really need to set up their own party and abandon Labour to Corbyn.


Praise for Finlayson

August 23rd, 2016 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Audrey Young writes:

But largely, in terms of parliamentary opposition, it is down to a triumph of process by the minister in charge of the GCSB and Security Intelligence Service, Attorney-General Chris Finlayson.

After the 2013 experience, it became clear that the Prime Minister needed to delegate legislative detail to someone else and future reforms needed to be collaborative.

Finlayson was born to the role.

The tributes flowing from other parties to him in Thursday’s first reading debate were incredible. He has clearly given parties a sense not just that they have been consulted but that their opinions matter.

He has deliberately left undecided the most important definition in the bill, “national security”, for the select committee to debate.

And he is sending it to a select committee of Parliament, not the statutory intelligence committee chaired by Key that heard submissions on the 2013 changes.

This is quite significant that it has gone to the Foreign Affairs and Defence committee rather than the Intelligence Committee which is National and Labour only. A sign of good faith. The FADT Committee also has Greens and NZ First on it.

Finlayson’s meticulous preparation for the bill goes well beyond the respectful treatment of other parties.

Seven Cabinet papers have been released, the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet has issued myriad fact sheets on the proposed changes.

In 2013, it was near impossible to get an official answer to my many questions about what various parts of the bill meant; this time there is information overload.

Which is good.

Meet the future NZ First Minister of Finance

August 23rd, 2016 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

NZ First’s Clayton Mitchell stated:

A predator-free New Zealand by 2050 is likely to cost trillions, not millions as the government claims, says New Zealand First.

“The National government’s promise to make New Zealand predator-free for the bargain price of $28 million is nothing but greenwashing,” says Conservation Spokesperson Clayton Mitchell.

“Zealandia, a predator free plant and bird sanctuary in Wellington, cost $17 million to set up with an operating cost of $867,000.

“Using these figures as a yardstick, the cost of keeping the entire country predator free and maintaining it would see a capital expenditure cost of $1.67 trillion and an operating cost of $91 billion per annum – as New Zealand is 98,000 times larger than Zealandia.

“The operating cost alone would be 40% of New Zealand’s GDP.

This may be the stupidest release put out by NZ First since they complained about the Reserve Bank being owned by foreigners.

They really are the Donald Trump party. Their level of stupidity has hit a new low.

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