Capital Gains Tax versus Land Tax

A guest post at Kiwiblog suggests a land tax would be more effective than a capital gains tax

However, a capital gains tax would do little to discourage the middle class from continuing to invest in rental properties. A capital gains tax is not payable until way into the future, if ever, in their minds so would cause them little immediate concern. Furthermore, with Labour’s version the CGT rate would only be 15%.

I think Labour’s reason for setting it at 15% was to allow for capital gain due to inflation.

A more effective way to make residential property less attractive and raise revenue would be to impose a tax that immediately hits the pocket and is impossible to avoid.

A land tax set at a small percentage of the value of land owned, payable annually or maybe quarterly, would do this. A tax free threshold of around $200,000 could exempt the land occupied by the average family home while discouraging the pouring of more money into low yielding property.

A land tax would be better at reducing inequality and do less to discourage productive activity than a CGT or raising income tax.

Other taxes on the stock of capital such as inheritance and gift taxes have similar advantages. Such taxes were used in the past to break up big estates and reduce inequality. Any party serious about reducing inequality needs to consider using them.

A land tax is an interesting alternative. If it has a simple threshold it would be far simpler than Labour’s exemption laden Capital Gains Tax.

Local Body rates are already calculated off property values. It wouldn’t be difficult to use a similar system for gathering a land tax.

Despite persistent claims by Labour that a Capital Gains Tax would “fairly” clamp down on property speculators we already have a tax on capital gain for speculators. The difficulty is in ensuring it is not unfairly or illegally avoided. Inland Revenue has been working on improving compliance.

From Wikipedia:

Capital Gains Tax

The most common capital gains are realized from the sale of stocks, bonds, precious metals and property. Not all countries implement a capital gains tax and most have different rates of taxation for individuals and corporations.

Land Value Tax

There are several practical issues involved in the implementation of a land value tax. Most notably, it needs to be:

  • Calculated fairly and accurately,
  • High enough to raise sufficient revenue without causing land abandonment, and
  • Billed to the correct person or business entity.

Mana, Socialists and “the looming crisis”

A fascinating post at Socialist Aotearoa about a looming crisis, the election and the Mana Party – 2014 Elections and the Revolutionary left – closes with:

Revolutionary socialists must work within the MANA movement to be the most active leaders, with the most advanced strategies, tactics and politics, we must win our arguments through their strength.

We must continue to fight against racism, sexism and nationalism within the MANA movement, and call upon the movement to be the first to oppose these injustices wherever they present.

We must also work to win the most advanced section of the MANA movement over to revolutionary socialism and promote socialist ideas in general. Only then will we be ready for the looming crisis.

Are they ready for the Mana Party’s looming crisis?

Will Dave and the others at Socialist Aotearoa have anything to say about the revelations of the involvement of two convicted sex offenders plus one person arrested just before the election for rape of someone under twelve actively involved with and employed by the Mana Party?

Once Were Mana

As previously posted 3 News has revealed that three people associated with convictions or charges for sexual crimes have been employed by Hone Harawira and the Mana Party. One person closely associated with Harawira’s election campaign was arrested for rape of a child under twelve just prior to the election (so it’s at this stage an allegation) but still spoke at Harawira’s election night function.

Harawira is refusing to comment. The convictions, allegation and silence could all be highly damaging to an already severely wounded Mana Party.

In more ways than one this could signal Once were Mana.

Harawira employed his brother Arthur through Parliamentary Services with public funds – he’s spent time in jail for violent offences, including a sexual attack charge laid in 2008.

The Herald reported in 2008 MP stands by brother despite violence charges

Maori Party MP Hone Harawira says serious charges his brother is facing, including indecent assault and kidnapping, will not damage the party’s strong anti-violence campaign.

The Tai Tokerau representative has vowed to stand by 50-year-old Arthur Harawira, who was last week released from custody on charges of assault with intent to injure, wounding with intent to injure, indecent assault, kidnapping and avoiding arrest. Suppression orders have been imposed to protect the alleged victim’s identity.

Harawira said last night he felt sorry for the person involved, but Arthur was his brother. “I can’t condone his actions, but neither will I walk away from my family.”

While one could claim that people who have paid the price for their crimes deserve another chance but alongside the other two cases this doesn’t look flash.

The second case involves Daniel Taylor:

The records show Daniel Taylor was also a casual Mana Party staffer

The records show he was hired by Mana in December 2010 and was jailed in November 2013.

Also from 3 News:

Prominent Far North community figure Daniel Taylor has been sentenced to five years and seven months in prison for sexually abusing young boys.

Taylor, 34, was sentenced in the Whangarei High Court today on nine charges of indecent assault and attempted sexual connection. His minimum non-parole period is two years and 10 months.

The Child, Youth and Family-approved carer pleaded guilty to the charges in September, one month before his trial was due to commence.

He has been in custody since his arrest in November last year after being denied bail on several occasions.

So he was hired by Mana in December 2010 and arrested and remanded in custody in November 2012. There is no indication Harawira knew of any offending before Taylor’s arrest, so this could be nothing more than an unfortunate association with Mana.

One News reported on the third case on Monday: Prominent Maori leader pleads not guilty to raping young girl

A well-known Maori leader in Kaitaia has pleaded not guilty to serious sex charges against a young girl.

65-year-old Patrick Rivers, also known as Mangu Awarau, appeared in Kaitaia District Court charged with raping a girl under 12 and two counts of indecent assault. The court entered a not guilty plea on all charges on Rivers’ behalf.

The charges are historic and are alleged to have occurred during 2009 in Awanui.

Rivers is well known in the Far North and in Maori political circles.

He was out on bail at the time he was filmed with the Mana Party on election night. Two days earlier he had been charged with raping the young girl.

Mana Party leader Hone Harawira is a close friend. Mr Harawira declined to comment on their relationship and the nature of the charges when contacted by ONE News.

A Herald profile says he is Harawira’s cousin:

He joined his cousin Hone Harawira, now a Maori Party MP, another cousin Labour list MP Shane Jones, and Maori Language Commission chief executive Haami Piripi in the Maori protest movement.

The charge is still before the courts.

But this combined with the other two who have been convicted is an awful look and Harawira should front up and address it.

Otherwise – Once Were Mana.

Speaker rules Key should have answered Slater/feral question

The Speaker has reviewed Question Time on Wednesday where Russel Norman quizzed John Key on the amount of contact he had with Cameron Slater. See Question Time – Norman versus Key.

David Carter has ruled that Key could legitimately refuse to respond to most of the questions as the contact was ” None in my capacity as Prime Minister” (although Key’s evasiveness wasn’t a good look).

However the Speaker says that as there was a direct connection with his job as Prime Minister with one question he should have given an answer.

NZ Herald reports Key should have answered WhaleOil question – Speaker:

Mr Key said he did not speak with Mr Slater in his capacity as Prime Minister and therefore was not obliged to answer drawing fierce criticism from Dr Norman and Labour’s Chris Hipkins.

Having reviewed Mr Key’s responses overnight, Mr Carter today said that was likely correct for most of Dr Norman’s questions. However, one where Dr Norman asked if Slater was correct when he said Mr Key had told him the mother of a car crash victim was “the same woman f-ing feral bitch that screams at him when he goes to Pike River meetings” should have been answered.
The question “made a connection to the actions of the Prime Minister in response to Pike River Mine Tragedy,” Mr Carter said.

“A connection having been made to a matter of ministerial responsibility an informative answer should be given.”

This question was not specific enough for Key to have to answer:

Dr Russel Norman : Did he call Cameron Slater to discuss the backlash Slater received after describing a young car crash victim as a feral who deserved to die; if so, what did he tell Slater about the dead man’s mother?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : I have never rung Cameron Slater in my capacity as Prime Minister.

After points of order had been made about Key’s evasiveness these questions were asked.

Dr Russel Norman : Why did he tell Cameron Slater that the dead man’s mother was the same woman who sometimes confronted him at Pike River meetings?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : I am not going to describe conversations I have in capacities other than those as Prime Minister.

Dr Russel Norman : Was Cameron Slater correct when he said that the Prime Minister told him that the dead man’s mother—so these are the Prime Minister’s own words—was “ … the same woman f—ing feral bitch that screams at him when he goes to Pike River meetings.”? Is Cameron Slater correct that that is what the Prime Minister said?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : I made clear at the time that that was not correct.

The Speaker says of that last question “A connection having been made to a matter of ministerial responsibility an informative answer should be given.”

No doubt Norman will be sharpening his question son this for the next Question Time.

Today’s NZ Herald editorial is fairly scathing of Key’s avoidance and the potential precedent it sets in Speaker gives PM, ministers a licence to duck for cover:

The simple fact is that most people assume the Prime Minister is fulfilling just that role. If they took a telephone call from Mr Key, they would not think to ask whether he was speaking as the Prime Minister or as the leader of the National Party. The obvious exceptions to this preoccupation are his involvement in party conferences or election campaigns. Then, quite clearly, he is a party leader.

As much should have informed Mr Carter’s examination of the transcripts of the question-time exchange. This makes the outcome of the Speaker’s quick inquest and his effective sanctioning of the Prime Minister’s behaviour all the more unsatisfactory.

Mr Carter said yesterday that Mr Key’s non-informative responses were correct for nearly all Dr Norman’s questions. The only exception involved one dealing with the Pike River tragedy, in which a clear connection was made with ministerial responsibility.

In large part, Mr Carter has invited the Prime Minister and his ministers to don their hat of choice at any time as a means of evading awkward questions.

It is hardly a recipe for integrity or the engendering of a greater degree of public respect for the nation’s politicians.

And they point out a potential problem for Key.

The Prime Minister began his third term by warning National MPs and ministers that he did not want to see any hint of arrogance creeping into their behaviour.

Fast-forward a month and that very trait was implicit in John Key’s response to questions in Parliament about the nature and frequency of his conversations with Cameron Slater.

Key risks voter wrath if he keeps avoiding addressing the degree of his association with Slater.

Harawira’s disturbing association with sex offenders

3 News is reporting a disturbing association between Hone Harawira and the Mana Party and two sex offenders plus an alleged sex offender – Harawira hired sex offenders with taxpayer money.

  1. Mr Harawira employed his brother Arthur through Parliamentary Services with public funds – he’s spent time in jail for violent offences, including a sexual attack charge laid in 2008.
  2. The records show Daniel Taylor was also a casual Mana Party staffer. Taylor was a Kaitaia businessman and a Child, Youth and Family caregiver who is in jail for grooming young boys for sex.
    The records show he was hired by Mana in December 2010 and was jailed in November 2013. Harawira refused to confirm when Taylor finished working for the party.
  3. Patrick Rivers, who goes by the name Mangu Awarau, is one of Mr Harawira’s closest friends. He was part of the Internet Mana campaign and spoke at Mr Harawira’s election night function, just days after being charged with raping a girl younger than the age of 12.

3 News reports:

As Northland faces its latest high-profile sex case, 3 News can reveal the alleged offender had been working for Hone Harawira and paid by the taxpayer.

Leaked Parliamentary documents show he’s one of three men hired by Mr Harawira who have either been convicted of, or ended up accused of sexual offence charges.

And Kelvin Davis says this was known about two weeks before the election.

“There he was on election night standing as the pillar of society giving a mihi, and yet everybody there – the whole community knew – a couple of weeks in advance that he was facing these charges,” says Te Tai Tokerau MP Kelvin Davis.

Why the hell wasn’t this news then?

Because Mr Harawira didn’t respond to repeated requests from 3 News, there’s no way of knowing what he knew about the charges, when he knew, or what he did about it.

This has been going on while Harawira was an MP, an elected representative. He has a responsibility to be open about this.

If this isn’t dealt with adequately then I don’t see how the Mana Party can continue, unless someone else takes responsibility.

Question Time – Norman versus Key

Russel Norman probed John Key on dirty politics links in Question Time yesterday – see previous post Key does a Runner from attempted Norman conquest.

Key avoided answering but it raised some issues (via Norman and Chris Hipkins) that the Speaker said he would consider.

It was good to see reasonable points of order rather than the more common cantankerous attacks on the Speaker. Making a good case is far more likely to succeed than hissy fitting.

Transcript:

3. Prime Minister—Communication with Blogger

[Sitting date: 22 October 2014. Volume:701;Page:4. Text is subject to correction.]

3. Dr RUSSEL NORMAN (Co-Leader – Green) to the Prime Minister : How many times since November 2008 has he spoken with blogger Cameron Slater on the phone and how many times, if any, has he texted him?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY (Prime Minister): None in my capacity as Prime Minister. [Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER : Order! [Interruption] Order! When I remain on my feet, I do not expect interjections to continue from my left.

Dr Russel Norman : Given the Prime Minister’s previous statements to say that he regularly talked with Mr Slater on the phone, is the Prime Minister now claiming that when he talked with Mr Slater he was talking with Mr Slater as the leader of the National Party, not as the Prime Minister; and does he wear a different hat when he takes those phone calls?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : I am not now claiming that. That has always been the claim.

Dr Russel Norman : Did he call Cameron Slater to discuss the backlash Slater received after describing a young car crash victim as a feral who deserved to die; if so, what did he tell Slater about the dead man’s mother?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : I have never rung Cameron Slater in my capacity as Prime Minister.

Chris Hipkins : Has he ever phoned or texted Cameron Slater on a phone funded or provided by Ministerial Services?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : I am not 100 percent sure of that, but what I can say is that—as Prime Minister Helen Clark would have told him—that is not the test of whether it is in my capacity as Prime Minister.

Dr Russel Norman : I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. [Interruption] Mr Speaker—[Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER : Order! I do not need the Leader of the House’s assistance at this stage.

Dr Russel Norman : The Prime Minister gave an answer to the primary question on notice, on the basis that he never called Mr Slater as the Prime Minister. We have now established that there are occasions where he used the prime ministerial phone to call Mr Slater. I would ask you to rule as to whether the Prime Minister’s original answer was within the Standing Orders of the House, given that he himself has now acknowledged he used a prime ministerial phone to call Mr Slater.

Mr SPEAKER : Order! In regard to the answer given by the Prime Minister to the first question, that answer was definitely in order.

Rt Hon Winston Peters : I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. There is something particularly disturbing about the Prime Minister’s answer, because it would appear that any Minister can make this claim and say: “Not in my capacity as a Minister.” Around about now, we have got no accountability at all in this Parliament if you allow that to stand.

Mr SPEAKER : In regard to the very first question that was asked, the Prime Minister is perfectly entitled to answer it in the way he did. He is then responsible for that answer. Further supplementary questions have been asked that attempt to tease this issue out. They are equally in order.

Dr Russel Norman : Why did he tell Cameron Slater that the dead man’s mother was the same woman who sometimes confronted him at Pike River meetings?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : I am not going to describe conversations I have in capacities other than those as Prime Minister.

Dr Russel Norman : Was Cameron Slater correct when he said that the Prime Minister told him that the dead man’s mother—so these are the Prime Minister’s own words—was “ … the same woman f—ing feral bitch that screams at him when he goes to Pike River meetings.”? Is Cameron Slater correct that that is what the Prime Minister said?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : I made clear at the time that that was not correct.

Dr Russel Norman : Is it not the truth that until the Dirty Politics book came out, he chose to have regular dealings with Cameron Slater, a man who is a hired gun for the tobacco industry, whose blog subjected a public servant to death threats, and who celebrated the death of a car crash victim, calling him a feral?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : Over the time I have been Prime Minister, the answer to that question is no.

Dr Russel Norman : Is it appropriate for the Prime Minister or his staff to use an attack blogger like Cameron Slater as a platform to “get their message out”, as the Prime Minister’s spokeswoman described it on 12 December last year?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : The Government and Ministers do talk to bloggers, for a variety of reasons. The reason we talk to social media is that they are part of the overall media that communicates with New Zealanders. That would be no different from other political parties. I have seen that member quoted on numerous blog sites. One assumes that he and his office talk to them, and I am sure he and his office probably talk to Nicky Hager.

Dr Russel Norman : Did he instruct his staff to cease all links with Cameron Slater after the blogger accused an alleged sexual attack victim of bringing it on herself, or after Slater described a car crash victim as a feral who deserved to die? Did the Prime Minister direct his staff to cease all contact with Cameron Slater after Slater made those comments?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : No.

Dr Russel Norman : Does he not think that he should set a standard for the Prime Minister’s office by directing his staff to cease all contact with the attack blogger Cameron Slater, after Cameron Slater accused an alleged sexual attack victim of bringing it on herself, and Slater described a car crash victim as a feral who deserved to die? Would it not set a standard for the Prime Minister’s office to direct his staff to no longer have contact with Cameron Slater?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : I have made it clear that we do not endorse many of the stories or comments that are run by a range of different bloggers, but, no, I will not be instructing my staff to do that.

Dr Russel Norman : Is he saying it is business as usual for the Prime Minister of New Zealand and his staff to deal on a regular basis with the most vicious and notorious blogger in New Zealand and for his staff to leak information to that blogger in order to intimidate public servants and silence his political opponents?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : I do not believe that to be an accurate statement.

Chris Hipkins : I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I ask that after question time you review the overall question here today, because I suspect this issue is going to arise again around the distinction between the Prime Minister’s other capacities and his capacity as Prime Minister. The issue that I would like you to consider—[Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER : Order! This is a point of order.

Chris Hipkins : —is that, in fact, it is the content of the communications and not the means by which they are transmitted, or the hat that the Prime Minister claims to be wearing at the time that he makes the communication, that is at issue here. So if the Prime Minister is communicating with someone about matters relating to his role as Prime Minister and about activities he has undertaken as Prime Minister, then they are, by nature, prime ministerial activities that he should be answerable for. So I ask you to give some further consideration to the interchange today, and, in fact, perhaps come back with a more substantive ruling on the matter, because it seems to me that the Prime Minister could stand up and give any answer to any question and say: “Well, I wasn’t doing that as Prime Minister.”, and therefore would not be held to account.

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : I think it has been well established in this House for a very long period of time that Prime Ministers wear a variety of different hats, and that includes as leader of the National Party, and can include as a citizen. I fondly remember sitting in this House for years hearing Helen Clark saying that she made statements, or had conversations, or undertook actions as the leader of the Labour Party. I happen, for the record, to use my Ministerial Services – funded cellphone to ring my wife. When I ring my darling wife and when I put the cat out at night, I do that in my capacity as a husband, not as Prime Minister. [Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER : Order! I am on my feet. In regard to the very first point Chris Hipkins raised, I certainly give an assurance I will review the interchange today. As to the appropriate course of action following that review, I will be bound. If it is necessary to come back with a further more substantive ruling, I will consider doing so.

Dr Russel Norman : I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. [Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER : Order! This is a point of order. [Interruption] Order! We just need to get the rules straight for everybody. This is a point of order, and it will be heard in silence.

Dr Russel Norman : Thank you for that ruling. Given that it related to my questions, I would just like to make one point with regard to the point that Mr Hipkins made, which was that the issue was about John Key acting as Prime Minister—

Hon Gerry Brownlee : What’s the point of order?

Mr SPEAKER : Order!

Dr Russel Norman : The point of order is that it is relevant to this question because he was acting as Prime Minister in the Pike River capacity. That is why it is relevant to this question.

Mr SPEAKER : The attempt to raise a point of order is not actually adding to the situation. I have given an assurance following the point of order raised by Chris Hipkins that I will have a look. I always review the transcripts of question time. As to what action may then be required, that will be determined by the conclusions I make in that review.

Dr Russel Norman : I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker.

Mr SPEAKER : Is it a fresh point of order? I have dealt with this matter. If it is a fresh point of order I am happy to hear it, but we are not going to relitigate this matter any further.

Dr Russel Norman : Thank you, Mr Speaker.

Mr SPEAKER : Is it a fresh point of order?

Dr Russel Norman : Yes. Mr Speaker, while you were on your feet, and several times while I was trying to make a point of order, the Prime Minister interjected even after you had directed him not to. It seems to me that if we are going to have order in this House, it is very important that the Prime Minister in particular should set an example of not speaking while the member with the call is trying to speak.

Mr SPEAKER : That is a reasonable point of order to raise. I did not actually hear the Prime Minister continuing in a conversation. I did hear it from another frontbencher of the Government. The member is making a fair point. I do not want to get into a habit of ejecting many members on any day, but points of order should be heard in silence, particularly when I call the House to order and ask for the point of order to be delivered. For members to continue to interject is going to create problems and leave me with no choice but to ask that member, be it a Minister or a Prime Minister, to leave the Chamber.

 

Key does a Runner from attempted Norman conquest

When Russel Norman questioned John Key about contact with blogger Cameron Slater in Parliament yesterday Key did a Road Runner.

It was inevitable that “dirty politics’ would be raised early in the new Parliament and Norman laid into Key in the first Question Time of the term yesterday. Key avoided answering questions about how much phone or text contact he’d had with Slater, saying his contact had not been as Prime Minister.

While unsuccessful at getting answers Norman very successfully re-kindled the ‘dirty politics’ controversy.

Key’s lack of response was widely criticised in social media. Many had been waiting for the opportunity to stick the boot into political dirt perceived by many to come from the Prime Minister’s office (while this has been strongly implied in Nicky Hager’s book but remains unproven).

Jane Clifton described it as an Acme dodge in Prime minister only when he wants to be.

When Greens co-leader Russel Norman tried to pin John Key down on the nature and frequency of his conversations with blogger Cameron Slater, Key simply dialled up one of his favourite, infuriating Road Runner-style getaways: he had not spoken to Slater “in my capacity as prime minister”.

This is an Acme dodge, as a prime minister need only account to Parliament for things done in the capacity of prime minister. As party leader, MP or citizen, he has no accountability.

It didn’t matter how Norman phrased it, or which of the unsavoury items from the blogger’s stolen emails were put to him, Key insisted he had not been the prime minister for the purposes of any conversations with the notorious WhaleOil blogger.

This denial mode is in contrast to earlier in the year when Key was reported as saying he regularly contacted Slater.

He confirmed he and Slater spoke regularly, including this week when they discussed Dotcom, but Key hedged when asked if Slater was his source.

Key said he regularly called Slater, who broke the story of the Len Brown affair, “to see what he’s got on his site and mind”.

Key said he was not deterred by the controversy around Slater, who last month received death threats for calling a man who died in a car accident a “feral”.

From Looks like Slater is Key’s Peters source

Key looks deterred from any admissions now.

Slater confirmed he was the source.

“If the prime minister said that’s the case, that’s the case,” Slater said.

Controversies surrounding Slater should not preclude the pair from having a professional relationship, Slater said.

From what Slater is saying on Whale Oil it appears that that “professional relationship” has diminished somewhat, if not stopped altogether.

But if Key now keeps refusing to respond to questions about his past Whale Oil links and if he avoids openly distancing himself from the dirtier Slater tactics then continued holding to account is likely to keep Key running – but he has nowhere to hide.

If Key keeps refusing to admit the boil this looks likely to keep festering. Norman is unlikely to just let it go.

And left wing activists pinned a lot of hope in promoting “dirty politics” – it failed to swing this year’s election but the 2017 campaign has begun. Expect both sides to remain unclean.

Question Time flop #2 – Ron Mark

Ron Mark has returned to Parliament after a six year absence. He had previously been an NZ First MP from 1996-2008 and has been touted as a potential successor to Winston Peters as party leader.

In Parliament’s first Question Time this term he was inauspicious with the twelfth question directed at Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse, where he seemed to overrate his abilities.

[Sitting date: 22 October 2014. Volume:701;Page:13. Text is subject to correction.]

12. RON MARK (NZ First) to the Minister of Immigration : Does he have an ideal number of migrants coming to New Zealand; if so, what is that number?

Hon MICHAEL WOODHOUSE (Minister of Immigration): I do have an ideal situation for migrants coming to New Zealand and it is quantifiable, but not in a single number. My ideal is: as many international students as want to come and study at our tertiary institutions; as many tourists who want to come and enjoy our beautiful country; as many skilled migrants as is necessary to fill the skill demands that we have; and, because migration data also includes New Zealanders coming home, as many New Zealanders who want to come home and contribute to this country’s social and economic development.

Ron Mark : As the Minister has just admitted to the House that he has no clear idea of what an ideal level of immigration is—

Hon Gerry Brownlee : I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker.

Ron Mark : —does he not realise—

Mr SPEAKER : Order! I have a point of order, and no one should be surprised.

Hon Gerry Brownlee : The Standing Orders are very clear on what must be, or should be, in a question. Equally, they are clear on what there should not be. Statements of supposition that were a statement, effectively, at the beginning of what we hoped would be a question are not inside the Standing Orders and should not be allowed in this Parliament.

A basic stuff up – has Marks forgotten how things work or was he deliberately trying the Speaker on?

Rt Hon Winston Peters : The problem with that complaint is that the Minister did say that he did not have an optimum figure that he could give the House. He admitted that he did not have that figure. He referred to tourists and he referred to students, none of which was part of the primary question, and so, frankly, he is guilty by the statement he made.

Peters tries to support Mark.

Hon Gerry Brownlee : The Minister made it clear that he did not have an ideal number, but he had a series of scenarios that were acceptable. For the member to characterise the start of a question as there was an admission, etc., etc., it is not an acceptable way to ask a question in this House.

Mr SPEAKER : I have heard enough. [Interruption] Order! I am on my feet. Strictly interpreting the Standing Orders, all questions should start with a question, but if members also take the opportunity to review Hansard today they will see that on many occasions members take the opportunity to add an introduction, which I have been relatively lenient in allowing.

But, as the member who is asking the question will have noted, when he starts a question like that, it will inevitably lead to disorder. So I invite the member, if he wants to ask a supplementary question, to now rise and ask a supplementary question without the additional comments about a Minister having no idea, etc.

A comprehensive ruling against Mark that not even Peters tried to argue with.

Ron Mark : Thank you, Mr Speaker; thank you, Gerry. Does the Minister, noting that he has not given an ideal level of immigration to the House today, realise that uncontrolled immigration is forcing Kiwis into queues for hospital beds, queues for housing, and queues for jobs, and is driving down Kiwi wages?

Hon MICHAEL WOODHOUSE : I think it would be helpful to assist the member by describing what migration definitions informed the permanent and long-term migration data that he sees. A migrant includes somebody who is here for a short time, for a long-term temporary basis, and permanently, and New Zealanders returning home.

The member describes an out-of-control or uncontrolled permanent residence migration by foreigners. That is not true. We have a planning range of between 45,000 and 50,000 residents per year, and in the 5 years to 2014 we have not met that range because migration policy is demand-driven, and the demand during the recession has not been there. So I reject the assertion that it is somehow uncontrolled immigration.

It’s a nonsense to claim we have uncontrolled immigration. Year to year migration numbers are hard to control due to the freedpm for new Zealanders to l;eave and return, but apart from that immigration is closely controlled.

Ron Mark : Is it not a fact that a Government using open-door immigration policies is likely to drive down wages and living standards, and when will he admit that we—New Zealand—are on track to replicate exactly what is happening in the United Kingdom right now?

No, it’s not a fact, it’s an absurd claim. Mark must know this is a nonsensical assertion. This is a dishonestly misleading line of attack or ignorant of basic facts.

Hon MICHAEL WOODHOUSE : I simply reject the prefacing comments about uncontrolled migration. We have very strict immigration policies, which are labour market – tested for temporary visa holders and are very well controlled for permanent residence visa holders. I note that permanent residence visa numbers presently are 20 percent below the 2006-07 numbers that existed when that member’s party was supporting Labour on confidence and supply.

Ron Mark : So if the number of people coming into New Zealand, as reported recently, in 1 year is such that it translates into a need for 8,000 new homes just to meet their requirements, and the Minister of Building and Housing has just told the House today that he has managed to build six houses this year—

Is this approach rustiness, ignorance or arrogance? The video below may give an idea which.

Mr SPEAKER : Order! We are now getting to the stage where it is a speech. Ask the supplementary question.

Ron Mark : Thank you, Mr Speaker. What is the whole-of-Government plan to cater for this level of immigration in terms of infrastructural needs, in terms of housing needs, and in terms of catering for the hospitals and their extra workload? What is this Government’s population plan for New Zealand?

His final question is far too general and not specific to the Immigration Minister’s responsibilities.

Mr SPEAKER : Hon Michael Woodhouse, in so far as he has ministerial responsibility.

Hon MICHAEL WOODHOUSE : As I think I have already explained, the migration data on which the member bases his question include working holidaymakers; international students; people who are going to help us rebuild our second-largest city; and, above all, Kiwis coming home. Yes, they need houses, and this Government does have a plan to fix housing supply, but I reject the inference that this is somehow some kind of peril that we need to be managing.

It looks like Mark (and his research team) has to get up to speed quickly if he is going to make a serious mark this term.

The NZ First MPs who have resumed from last term may not appreciate being leapfrogged in the party pecking order, especially   when the question is wasted like this.

Question Time flop #1 – Winston Peters

In the new Parliament’s question time today Winston Peters began his quest to establish himself as the leader of the Opposition with a weak line of questioning that John Key easily rebuffed.

[Sitting date: 22 October 2014. Volume:701;Page:9. Text is subject to correction.]

6. Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS (Leader—NZ First) to the Prime Minister : Does he stand by all his statements?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY (Prime Minister): Yes.

Rt Hon Winston Peters : Does he stand by his statement of 13 October: “I would certainly describe my style as open and transparent.”?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : Yes.

Rt Hon Winston Peters : If that is true, why did his Government withhold the two child poverty reports for 17 months in an abuse of the Official Information Act?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : The member really should direct that to the responsible Minister; it was not in my office. But I think I am correct in saying—I could stand corrected—that it was because it was a work in progress and there were particular reasons as it was going through that process.

So his first hit was aimed at the wrong Minister. Peters should have known that.

Rt Hon Winston Peters : Having regard to the Hon Jim McLay’s comment in this House when the Official Information Bill was being passed, and he said: “The underlying philosophy of the bill is that official information should be made available unless there is good reason for withholding it.”, and that being the case, why has he admitted on 15 October to using delaying tactics for political purposes?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : I have not.

Rt Hon Winston Peters : I seek leave to table the evidence that he did admit that on 15 October.

Mr SPEAKER : What is the source of this evidence?

Rt Hon Winston Peters : It is a Radio New Zealand transcript.

Peters must have (or should have) know that would be inadmissible as evidence to be tabled.

Mr SPEAKER : No. That is also available to all members. Does the member—

Rt Hon Winston Peters : Well, he’s just denied it, for goodness sake!

Pointless protest.

Mr SPEAKER : Order! I heard that. Does the member have a further supplementary question?

Rt Hon Winston Peters : Why are US congressmen kept well informed about the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations whilst New Zealand parliamentarians are kept totally in the dark on this matter?

Rt Hon JOHN KEY : Well, every system is different, so I cannot speak for what happens in the United States. But what I can say is that in New Zealand it has been a longstanding tradition for free-trade agreements to be negotiated behind closed doors, essentially, until the point an agreement is reached, because we do not believe it is in the best interests to be discussing those in the public domain because it weakens our bargaining position.

Peters will know that. Or should know that. He was Foreign Minister under the Helen Clark led government from 2005 to November 2008.

The New Zealand-China FTA was signed on 7 April 2008 in Beijing, after negotiations that spanned fifteen rounds over three years. It entered into force on 1 October 2008 (Wikipedia)

In an earlier question Peters tried to insert his influence once but it was dominated by Russel Norman questioning John Key about his contact with Cameron Slater with a strong and well considered point of order from Labour’s Chris Hipkins.

This wasn’t an eminent start to the new term from Peters. It was a fizzer.

Dotcom and Internet Party still blaming “the media”

Kim Dotcom and the Internet Party are still blaming “the media” for their unsuccessful election campaign.

Dotcom has been reported on TorrentFreak – Kim Dotcom Breaks Post Election Media Silence:

“The Internet Party failed to deliver meaningful change in New Zealand at the last election because of the media spin by our opponents,” Dotcom says.

“They have successfully turned me into a villain, a German Nazi, a horrible employer, a political hacker, a practitioner of prohibited digital voodoo magic and nothing short of a monster. I would hate that guy too if I didn’t know that it wasn’t true.”

Dotcom says that part of the problem is that he has powerful enemies who in turn have friends in positions of influence, including in the press.

“When you have the US Government, the NZ Government, all Hollywood studios and all major record labels fighting against you, you don’t have a lot of friends, especially in the media,” Dotcom says.

“They either own the media (like in the US) or control the media with their significant advertising spending. Their passion to destroy me and everything I do, because of a copyright disagreement, is almost as fanatical as some of the religious extremism I see on TV.”

So he thinks “the media” is a part of the conspiracy against him – even though a High Court judge has just ruled there is No ‘air of reality’ to claims “of a conspiracy between the United States and New Zealand Governments”.

A post at Endarken: You Be The Judge: 3 Different Versions of NZ’s “Moment of Truth”

That the entire mainstream media had Glenn Greenwald sitting in front of them, waiting to answer any question they had about mass surveillance, New Zealand’s role in it and Snowden’s revelations, and instead chose to attempt to saddle him with baggage from the ongoing Dirty Politics anti-Dotcom vendetta, is a travesty.

It was five days before the election and Dotcom had just failed to front up with evidence he had promised – the supposed original purpose of his town hall extravaganza. The media covered the Snowden and Greenwald aspects as well but it was a Dotcom show that was supposed to turn the election.

From an exchange on Twitter:

The “goals” of IMP, especially employment policy was barely mentioned by MSM.

Media also barely mentioned Loomio: that much of the policy was put fwd by members.

God forbid public be allowed to know there was real alternative to the status quo.

It’s a fair claim that the media generally favours the status quo but that’s well known and Internet-Mana had a massively funded campaign that should have been able to counter that,

The Internet Party’s social media manager :

So you’re saying small parties working to get in shouldn’t have a voice in media?

I responded “Of course small parties should get a fair go from media but favourable coverage is not a right” to which Callum replied:

But ethical and fair coverage of issues ought to be.Do you think current media presents shallow view?

@Norman_Penaia

The “goals” of IMP, especially employment policy was barely mentioned by MSM.

@economicsNZ

Was that a conspiracy or ad hoc chumminess in the lobby?

Election campaigns are very competitive with all parties trying to get media attention. The media far from perfect but most of the time tries to give a reasonably fair coverage.

Internet-Mana was a new and unusual political arrangement and I think they would have got far more coverage than their 1.42% proportion of the vote. Obviously not all of it was favourable coverage but that applies to all parties.

The Maori Party got almost as many votes – 1.32% – but would have received far less media attention, and who found out what their goals or policies were?

NZ First got 8.66% of the vote and I doubt they got any more – my guess is significantly less – media coverage than Internet-Mana. I don’t recall anything about NZ First’s goals or policies being covered.

Just about anyone in politics thinks the media doesn’t give them a fair go (including me). But how the media operate is well known.

Internet-Mana had a far bigger budget than any other party so should have been able to buy substantial coverage, yet they got much less vote than Conservatives (3.97%) and arguably more media coverage.

The Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party got about a third the vote of Internet-Mana but would have received a very small fraction of the media coverage.

In the end about 4 of each 300 voters chose Internet-Mana. Te Tai Tokerau rejected Hone Harawira.

Voters are perceptive and make their own judgements on both positive and negative media coverage, as David Cunliffe found out (some of his supporters also blame the media).

Feedback I got suggested that many people didn’t agree with the appearance of a rich person buying the election. They were suspicious of Dotcom’s motives. They saw a major disconnect between Mana and Dotcom, and Laila Harre and Dotcom and that was apparent as Harawira appeared to get uncomfortable and disillusioned.

Voters rate personality and perceptions of competence ahead of party policy, especially policies of small parties who are unlikely to have much policy success.

The “fuck John Key” event that was promoted by the Internet Party wouldn’t have helped. And so it goes on.

And in the end the Internet Party had claimed that they would be different and appeal to a different constituency – via the Internet. That bypassed the mainstream media. And it failed to get sufficient support.

The Internet Party failed at being an Internet Party.

And for all it’s deficiencies mainstream journalists have been around poitics for a while. They can be quite perceptive too. They could obviously see deficiencies in Internet-Mana and reported likewise.

The election is history. Dotcom and Internet-Mana made a big splash – and initially got disproportionate media interest plus unprecedented public interest in it’s many campaign meetings – and then sank.

Blaming others won’t change anything. And blaming the media won’t help any future political prospects.

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