No Minister

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Can Collins take votes off Ardern instead of Act?

Just thought this needs repeating (from July this year).

No Minister

So the inevitable has happened – Judith Collins is finally leader of the National Party.

I think this is very good for the country.

The worst government in living memory is sleep-walking to victory. It cannot be allowed to continue down the path is is travelling down, without an effective opposition leader holding them to account, and firmly.

Judith will probably do that in part.

But elections are won in the middle. And Judith and National both have a lot of work to do to convince middle New Zealand to vote for her as their prime minister.

Gareth Morgan (in)famously said you can put liptick on a pig, but it’s still a pig. Since MMP, National has been very wet and soft. Its policies are similar to Labour’s, except they’re just managed better. As an example, Bill English was thumping his chest when announcing his budget was more to the…

View original post 153 more words

Written by Nick K

October 18, 2020 at 11:53 am

Posted in New Zealand

Northcote

I’ll be really pissed off if the shenanigans within National, and its poor campaign in general, result in Dan Bidois losing Northcote to Labour’s Shanan Halbert.

Dan is a fantastic guy, and a very visible and hardworking MP who deserves to be re-elected. He will only lose the seat as a result of the swing to Labour, and nothing else. That swing is largely due to the mess the National Party has been in.

My personal view is that Bidois will win, but it will be close. If he doesn’t get across the line, he’s finished because he doesn’t have a high enough list placing. And he’s the sort of young, energetic MP the Nats desperately need in the future. I hope they haven’t inadvertently screwed his career.

Written by Nick K

October 14, 2020 at 6:00 am

Posted in New Zealand

Trading on the margins of opportunity: Lessons for the Greens

I vote for, and am a member of, Act for many reasons. One of them is because it argues a lot (internally, if not externally) for “achievement politics”. Some examples: Three strikes, Charter Schools and now assisted dying. I have a good friend in the party, a long-time supporter, who calls it, in a MMP environment, “trading on the margins of opportunity”. In classic terms, it’s essentially known as politics being the art of the possible. The Greens need a lesson in all of this.

First, their dogma to have cannabis legalised will almost certainly now lead to a failed referendum result and a lost opportunity for progress on the issue for the country. Nandor Tanczos, bless his sole, put a lot of time and effort, into arguing for personal use of cannabis to be decriminalised, and I think this referendum would have been successful. Even I, a true die-hard classical liberal who believes strongly in personal responsibility and freedoms/liberties and small government, probably won’t vote in favour of legalisation, mostly because I don’t think the country is ready for 20 year olds to be sitting down smoking joints on a Sunday afternon in cannabis cafes. I don’t want that for my neighbourhood. Sure, there are ways to limit it, or prevent it if the referendum passes, and the law is then changed, but I don’t want to walk around my middle-class North Shore suburbs seeing that. I don’t care if people want to smoke it, and indeed, it should never be a criminal law matter – it’s a health issue. But I just think this issue needed two stages: decriminalisation and then perhaps legalisation in five to ten years. But the Greens dogma and ideology overruled any common sense, and they have not observed my rules around the margins of opportunity and politics being the art of the possible. Just dumb.

Then today, another gaffe from these twits: The gap in Auckland Central has closed right up with Chloe Swarbrick potentially throwing a grenade into the Labour campaign and splitting the vote there, allowing Emma Mellow to win.

I’m going to out on a bit of limb here and admit to quite liking Swarbrick, not necessarily her politics nor policies, but her energy, zest and passion. I think we need more of those traits from our MPs. But in Auckland Central, she is just plain dumb. She is not going to win – the gap is too large. All she can do is give the seat to National. It’s too late for her to pull out, and the Greens are far too close to 5% to play that game now, so she has to keep going. Jacinda Ardern will be annoyed, possibly angry, at this stupidity. if she, and the Greens, had half a brain, they should have not contested the seat, in return for the decriminalisation of cannabis bill to be a government bill if they won the election (they didn’t need to announce this). Or they could have done another sly deal somewhere on something else. That’s called achievement politics, and is certainly trading on the margins of opportunity.

But going in all guns blazing with legalisation and now tomfoolery in Auckland Central is going to hand the Greens with two defeats and a lot of internal reflection I suspect in about three weeks’ time.

Written by Nick K

October 4, 2020 at 11:48 am

Posted in New Zealand

Why isn’t the government telling us the source?

We are being told that the government does not know the source of the current Covid-19 outbreak, and that is still being investigated.  Apparently, it might have come from food packaging even though most scientists have rejected that as a possibility.

Over in Australia, when the source of Covid-19 outbreaks are known, apologises are given:

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has offered an unreserved apology to the families affected by the Ruby Princess fiasco, which has been linked to more than 20 deaths and more than 800 positive cases around Australia.
“Can I now apologise unreservedly to anybody who suffered as a result of the mistakes that were outlined in the report undertaken by individuals within the Health Department or the Health Agency and I extend that apology unreservedly,” Ms Berejiklian said.
“In particular to the 62 people who got the virus in secondly or tertiary way.
“Those 62 people who weren’t on the ship, but somehow contracted the virus as a consequence of that disembarkation.”

 

Additionally:

Mr Walker found the delay collecting and testing coronavirus swabs was “a serious failure by NSW Health”.
“The delay in obtaining test results for the swabs taken from the Ruby Princess on the morning of 19 March is inexcusable,” the report reads.

 

Interestingly, even though many people died as a result of this negligence, and apologises were given, the government is not to blame:

Mr Walker said the Australian Border Force, which was involved in migration and contraband processes with the arriving ship, was not to blame for the failures around the Ruby Princess.
“Given its lack of medical or epidemiological expertise, it is well for the public good that the ABF (and, for that matter, the Department of Home Affairs) do not bear any responsibility for the Ruby Princess mishap,” the report reads.
“As this Report was being finished, some interesting journalism was published that advanced the notion that a basic misreading by an ABF officer of negative influenza results as meaning negative COVID-19 results, had somehow contributed to the decision to let the passengers go as they did on 19 March.”
He added: “To repeat, neither the ABF nor any ABF officers played any part in the mishap.”

 

Which brings me back to this post, and my musings on this issue in general.

I find it difficult to understand how the government can expect private businesses to comply with Health and Safety obligations, and undertake to do all things necessary to protect workers and members of the public from hazards in the workplace, but the government gets away with an “all care, no responsibility” excuse.
But it does go some way to explain this propaganda we have been hearing from the bureaucrats recently.
The virus is the problem

Written by Nick K

August 18, 2020 at 5:38 pm

Posted in New Zealand

Interesting Covid detail

I didn’t know that you could go to a government website and drill down on the detail of the confirmed Covid-19 cases.  With a glass of Pinot and a piece of cake at the ready it makes interesting reading, if you’re a trainspotter like me.

Here’s some random data, just picked for fun.  Just a sole male from Australia, amongst a few from Asia and a couple of yanks.  Those Aussies always have been a little bit out there on their own, aye.

Covid confirmed cases

Covid detail

Written by Nick K

August 14, 2020 at 10:19 pm

Covid-19 thought for the day

Are the quarantine facilities PCBUs?

If they are, and that’s almost certain, should the government, or certain Ministers, be prosecuted for failing to take all reasonable steps to ensure health and safety of workers at the facilities, or members of the public?

If people die as a result, is this Pike River or White Island without the explosions?

My suspicious mind is thinking this is possibly why the government is trying to suggest the recent outbreak came via imported food products into a facility they have no control over.HSAWA

HSAWA6

Written by Nick K

August 14, 2020 at 9:12 am

Posted in New Zealand

MMP has failed: Electoral system needs revisiting

As at today, it is easy to confidently assert that there will only be four parties in our parliament following this election: National, Labour, Act and the Greens.  If this is the result, then I think the government following the election should urgently revisit the MMP electoral system.  Because if this is the result, it is an explicit failure of MMP.

For those of us long enough in the tooth, MMP was introduced in 1996 following a perceived failure of representation that FPP permitted.  Pre-1996, FPP favoured the two-party dominance of National and Labour and smaller parties found it hard to gain representation.The common example used in the lead-up the referendum in 1993 was Social Credit.

Social Credit gained 16% of the vote in 1978 and 21% in 1981, yet it won only one and two seats, respectively.  MMP was meant to change that unfairness.  And initially it did.  In 1996, six parties were in the parliament. 1996 results

Encouragingly, there were 16 parties outside of parliament still registered.

1996 non-parliamentary parties

Moving forward to 2005, the comparisons were 8 inside parliament, and 11 outside.  It was from 2011 onwards, where these figures became distorted.  By then, it was becoming clear that, despite eight parties being elected, parties outside of parliament were reducing, evidencing the fact that entry into parliament was becoming more difficult – the complete opposite to what we were promised when MMP was introduced.

2011 election

2011 non-parliamentary parties

Fast forward to 2017, and the situation becomes more bleak – five parties in parliament, and two lost to parliament.  The number of parties outside parliament registered to compete the election increased, and included powerhouse political organisations such as Ban 1080, Internet Party and the Outdoors Party.

2017 election

2017 election outside

So, we’ve gone from six parties represented in parliament in 1996, through to probably four this year, and almost certainly no chance for any other party to enter.  If you think I’m wrong, here’s the list of the remainders for you to choose from.  I welcome a debate on the likelihood of any of these entering parliament this year.  Of those who contested the 2017 election, the total party votes of those parties in 2017 was 4.1% from a total of 7 parties.

2020 outside parties

As I’ve argued before, this year’s election will be a drag race between Labour/Greens and National/Act, with the possibility of a hung parliament.  It is highly likely we won’t have the splitting vote of a Maori Party or NZ First, making it more difficult to pick a winner from the blocs.  Regardless, the fact we will have just four parties there means, surely, that MMP has failed.  Here’s what I think should happen from a legislative point of view to try an even up the playing field:

  1. The Broadcasting Act allocations must go immediately.  I cannot think of a better example of a restriction of freedom of expression in a functioning democracy than this.
  2. The Electoral Finance Act needs to be scrapped and re-written.
  3. The 5% threshold needs to reduce to 3%.
  4. The minimum number of voters required to join a party before it can be registered should be reduced to 250, rather than 500.

These changes would go some way to allow minor parties to compete with the larger parties.  If we were to go further, there could be no limit on political donations, and no limit on spending.  Jami-Lee Ross is parading around the country calling for an end to “big money” in politics, yet I argue the smaller parties need this “big money” just to be able to compete at all with National and Labour.  Without “big money”, MMP will never succeed like it was meant to.

Do I expect the main parties to be concerned about this?  Not at all.  They’re a duopoly and their success means suppressing and oppressing their opponents.  Should we then scrap MMP if National or Labour fail to address these issues?  Yes.  Because, what’s the point in it?  It is not serving the purpose it was introduced for.

Written by Nick K

August 8, 2020 at 3:20 pm

Posted in New Zealand

A hung parliament?

I don’t have a lot of time to put a substantive post up on this, so I’ll pose this question for a lazy Sunday.

If there are only four parties in parliament post election, and given the Greens will support Labour and Act with National, could there be a possibility that neither side has enough votes to form a government?  Could we see Act support a Labour-led government on confidence, but not supply, or Greens do likewise with a National-led government?

I refer to confidence and not supply because they’re different beasts.
Anyway, I’m sure there are MMP experts out there who could do the maths on this, on the scenario NZ First gets, say, 3% and the Greens 6%.

The other fly in the ointment could be Act winning Epsom but getting 4.8% party vote causing an overhang.

Farrar should do a post on this.  I’m not sufficiently knowledgeable on the topic of MMP permutations.

Written by Nick K

August 2, 2020 at 8:26 am

Posted in New Zealand

National’s “promise” of a second harbour crossing for Auckland

The silly season is underway, and my erstwhile friends within National are thumping their chests over their infrastructure announcement. It is, as Judith Collins proclaims, “the largest infrastructure package ever announced in New Zealand’s history“. Infrastructure is incredibly important, and I’d prefer our taxpayer dollars are spent here instead of horse racing. However, the announcement demands scrutiny, particularly one project dear to my heart, Auckland’s second harbour crossing.

I have lived on the North Shore for 42 years. It’s an understatement to say I know the area well.  It’s also an understatement to say I have followed this issue with interest for about twenty years.  It is stating the obvious to say that Auckland needs this.  That’s not the issue.  Rather, the issue is the promises made about its rollout.

National’s plan is to commence construction of the crossing, which is a tunnel, in 2028, that’s eight years from now.  On the radio yesterday, Chris Bishop was asked by Heather du Plessis-Allan where the tunnel would go.  He said, correctly, its entry/exit points would be Esmonde Rd (that’s already been decided) and then obviously an exit/entry point in the city.  He was asked where in the city, and he replied at the bottom of town, or maybe further up, he wasn’t sure.  Bishop then said National would spend the first three years planning for that route.  Now here’s where it gets interesting.

Three years from 2020 is 2023.  Let’s assume National is in government post September 19 this year, and indeed carries through on its promise to plan the exact route and cements that route in place by 2023.

Is there anyone reading this who believes that in the space of just five years from 2023, a government, whether its led by National or Labour, can commence construction on a tunnel under a significant piece of water, the Waitemata Harbour, that includes light rail?  In giving your answer, you should consider the RMA, the Public Works Act, the likely acquisition of private properties,  MMP, local body politics in Auckland, two more election cycles, the parlous state of our economy, our shortfall of civil contractors, and please also consider the current example of the City Rail Link and its budget blowouts.

I don’t like being a doomsdayer, but one has to be realistic, because if one is not, certain politicians from the National Party who have pointed their finger at Phil Twyford over the last three years could discover promising and delivering are fundamentally different concepts.

 

Written by Nick K

July 18, 2020 at 4:48 pm

Posted in New Zealand

Can Collins take votes off Ardern instead of Act?

So the inevitable has happened – Judith Collins is finally leader of the National Party.

I think this is very good for the country.

The worst government in living memory is sleep-walking to victory. It cannot be allowed to continue down the path is is travelling down, without an effective opposition leader holding them to account, and firmly.

Judith will probably do that in part.

But elections are won in the middle. And Judith and National both have a lot of work to do to convince middle New Zealand to vote for her as their prime minister.

Gareth Morgan (in)famously said you can put liptick on a pig, but it’s still a pig. Since MMP, National has been very wet and soft. Its policies are similar to Labour’s, except they’re just managed better. As an example, Bill English was thumping his chest when announcing his budget was more to the left than Labour’s ever could be. Recently, Paul Goldsmith has promoted giving money away, and Todd Muller has tried to “out green” the Greens on the Zero Carbon Act.

There will be undoubted exuberance and excitement amongst those on the centre right at the announcement. But history suggests National Party leaders either go into the centre for fear of rocking the boat, or face expulsion (anyone remember Ruth Richardson, Jenny Shipley and Don Brash)? National is not a party that takes risks. It is inherently a cautious and conservative party. So Collins may be a mould-breaker in those regards, but she’ll soon realise the centre is where the votes are, and merge into that.

And she’s going to have to if tonight’s Roy Morgan poll is any indication. National needs votes off Labour, not Act. The only question any serious political observer should be asking is this: can she win votes off Ardern?

Written by Nick K

July 14, 2020 at 9:24 pm

Posted in New Zealand