Green hypocrisy on priority of referendums

Last term the Greens spent a lot of time, effort and money campaigning on promoting a referendum on asset sales. This was a costly exercise in futility because the Mixed Ownership Model legislation had already passed through Parliament.

Costly to the tune of $6.7 million dollars, for what was little more than an extended taxpayer funded campaign for the Greens.

Talking of cost the Greens (with Labour and NZ First) also effectively sabotaged the partial asset sales with potentially hundreds of millions of dollars being lost to the country – see Greens/Labour sabotage could cost MRP float $400m (that is for one sale alone).

In contrast this term the Greens are campaigning against referendums that will give New Zealanders the chance in a lifetime to choose an alternate flag and then to choose whether they want to change to it or not.

Two referendums to ensure we the people have a chance to decide.

Plus an inclusive process that has resulted in over ten thousand design submissions. Many people have put a lot of time and thought and effort into contributing.

But because it suits them this time the Greens oppose the cost of two  referendums that aren’t futile, referendums that give people a real choice.

New Green leader James Shaw was opposing the flag referendums in Parliament yesterday – see the transcript 4. Prime Minister—Flag Referendum

Shaw questioned John Key’s priorities – he wasn’t in Parliament last term when the Greens prioritised in using millions of dollars of  taxpayer money to campaign against asset sales last term, and possible costing the country millions of dollars.

James Shaw : Given that climate change submissions outnumbered flag submissions by 15,000 to 2,300, does he think that changing the flag was the right priority for him to personally champion?

Shaw was promoting a Green sham, trying to equate number of submissions with level of support. Key pointed this out.

When it comes to climate change, the member is right. There were 17,023 submissions received by the Government, but actually most of those were stock standard ones.

They were pro forma and they were prompted by the Green Party. In fact, there were only 1,485 submissions that were unique.

If we go to the flag—something of interest because it was the member’s primary question—he may be interested to know that there were 146,000 views of the New Zealand flag history video, that 6,000 people visited workshops and information stands, and that there were more than 850,000 online visits and about 2.7 million views of the flag gallery.

And there have been over ten thousand flag designs submitted – most of them individual efforts, may of them substantial personal efforts.

Greens seem to want democracy and don’t mind about the cost of democracy when it suits them, but not when it doesn’t fit with their own agenda.

They put a priority on a costly and futile referendum last term. And they put a priority on financially sabotaging asset sales.

But they oppose the Government working on multiple issues concurrently, including climate change and flag change.

Are Greens for or against giving New Zealanders a chance in a lifetime opportunity to decide on an alternate flag design, and then choose if they prefer that or the current flag?

GreensAgaistReferendumsFlying

Is the Green Party for or against referendums?

UPDATE: I posted the above flag on Twitter and @metiria responded:

Pete you do remember we campaigned for a referendum on asset sales and won it?

I’ve asked her if she supports the flag referendums and will post a reply if I get one.

Got one now:

If the flag is going to change it shld be by referendum not govt decision. But its not my priority for spending now.

So she supports the concept of flag decision by referendum but apparently won’t support the planned flag referendums if I read that right.

I’ve prompted her to clarify: ” I’m not asking about priorities, I’m simply asking if you support the flag referendums”.

support the use of a referendum for this decision. I dont support the timing of it or the use of so much money.

So that sounds like she doesn’t support the flag referendums but was happy to have our money spent on her own last term.

Are Greens ignorant or deliberately misleading?

The Greens have made two misleading claims today, one of them being a continuing misrepresentation of democracy.

The first:

Does he accept that only 25% of NZers want to change the flag whereas 87% of NZers are concerned about #climatechange? – @jamespeshaw #nzqt

That’s a basic misunderstanding of democracy – or a deliberate misrepresentation of how democracy works. A binding people’s referendum is about as democratic as you can get and about as good a measure of what people want as you can get. Greens wanted one for asset sales, but they don’t seem to want the flag referendums.

We won’t know how many New Zealanders want to change the flag until we have had both referendums on the flag.

Then:

Given #climate submissions outnumbered flag submissions by 15,000 to 2,300, does he think changing the flag is the right priority? #nzqt

The number of submissions is not a measure of support, but the Greens seem to often claim it is some sort of democratic measure.

It doesn’t measure anything other than the number of people who saw fit to submit. Or as seems oftne the case these days, the number of people the Greens can encourage to submit Green cu and paste templates so they can claim an erroneous level of support.

The Green PR machine even went to a bit of effort to embellish this bollocks.

A #climatetarget for the 0.5% #nzqt

Embedded image permalink

The graphic is sort of correct – it depicts a proportion of submitters.

But the tweet implies it was against 0.5% opposition, but against this is just a measure of how many people the Greens and others motivated to make mass submissions.

The only way of having an accurate measure of support is via a referendum – but as the first example shows, the Greens choose to disregard them when it suits their PR.

Are the Greens ignorant of how democracy works? Or do they deliberately misrepresent it?

Labour diversion #1 – provisional tax policy propasal

Labour launched Andrew Little’s first policy yesterday to try to help businesses pay tax – but it’s a policy that other parties (National, Greens, ACT) have already promoted.

Was Labour that the Government had announced implemetation of an almost identical policy earlier this year and had already had public consultation on it?

Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson announced Labour’s first policy since Little became leader on Twitter at the same time as Little was announcing it in a speech.

Andrew Little addressing the Hutt Chamber of Commerce. Announcing new proposal to make life easier for small business

Embedded image permalink

Labour proposing Flexible Tax for Business. Optional system to manage provisional tax when it works for them.

Planned change to business tax is Little’s first policy as Labour leader

Little has been leader since November 2014, eight months ago.

Under Labour’s proposal business will have option to pay tax through regular instalments at a rate they can adjust.

Discussion document on Labour’s flexible tax for business available
http://campaign.labour.org.nz/making_business_tax_more_flexible
Email your feedback to flexibletax@labour.org.nz

Little’s media release on it:

Labour is launching a new proposal to give businesses more flexibility and control over when they pay their tax, Opposition Leader Andrew Little announced today.

“Today I am launching a discussion document to give businesses the option of paying their income tax through a system similar to PAYE called Flexible Tax for Business.

“Business people know their business better than the IRD so Labour wants to let business owners tailor their tax payments to fit their cash flows.

“Small businesses frequently tell me one of their biggest bugbears is how difficult it is to pay provisional tax.

“Under the current system they are forced to guess their annual income and pay tax in three large instalments throughout the year. If they guess wrong, they can be faced with a big bill at the end of the year which can push a small business to the wall.

“Under Labour’s proposal, businesses will have the option of choosing to pay their tax through regular instalments at a rate they can adjust. This means businesses can align their payments to suit their circumstances.

“To further help our businesses get ahead, our proposal scraps harsh late penalties for provisional tax, and raises the level at which provisional tax kicks in from $2500 to $5000.

“Flexible Tax for Business is about giving our businesses more control over how they pay tax.  That’s how we will help them do well, grow and create jobs.

“From here, we will be sending out the discussion document for feedback from business owners around the country on how we can improve the proposal before we take it into the 2017 election,” says Andrew Little.

To read Andrew’s speech click here.

To view Labour’s discussion document click here.

This all sounds quite good. It also sounds quite familiar.

As Steven Joyce quickly pointed out:

Labour re-announces Government announcement

Acting Minister of Finance Steven Joyce has congratulated Labour Party Leader Andrew Little on finally announcing his first “new” policy after eight months in the job, although unfortunately for Labour it’s a cut and paste of a previous Government announcement.

“Labour announced today it was launching a discussion document on changes to provisional tax for businesses. However it seems to have overlooked that the Government launched its own discussion document containing almost identical proposals back in March,” says Mr Joyce. “These in turn were based on National Party policy at the last election.”

The Government has already consulted on proposed changes to provisional tax including a business PAYE, changes to use-of-money interest and penalties, increased use of tax pooling and the use of tax accounts. A Green Paper was launched on 31 March this year and submissions closed on 29 May.

“Feedback on the Green Paper’s suggestions has generally been supportive, and provisional tax was the part most commented on. As we’ve said previously, the changes will require new technology to be implemented, which will be developed as part of the IRD’s Business Transformation project,” says Mr Joyce.

“Quite why Labour has started its own consultation is beyond me.

“Submissions are now closed but the Government would be happy to accept a late submission from the Labour Party in support of the proposal,” Mr Joyce says. “We also appreciate its implied endorsement of the Business Transformation process that will make these policy changes possible.”

A link to  the March announcement can be found HERE.

A link to the Government’s Green Paper, Making Tax Simpler, can be found HERE.

A link to the National Party’s 2014 election policy on this issue can be found HERE.

Same for ACT Party@actparty  Here’s our statement, from May, on scrapping provisional tax:

Scrap provisional tax? Yep

The provisional tax system should be scrapped, says ACT Leader David Seymour.

“Having to estimate volatile incomes is unfair on taxpayers, especially given the penalties that occur if you get it wrong.

“I am pleased to see the government recognise that the use of technology allows provisional tax to be managed much more like PAYE – calculated as you earn income.

“The Government is seeking views on whether provisional tax estimations should be scrapped in favour of simply paying tax as you actually earn it.

“I urge businesses and individuals to take up the invitation by the Government to submit on this issue.”

Go to makingtaxsimpler.ird.govt.nz to have your say.

  • Discussion on Better Digital Services – closes 15 May
  • Discussion on the plan for the Tax Administration – closes 29 May
 Same for Rod Drury:

IRD already working through changes to Provisional Tax for small biz. Cloud Accounting software can bring this to life quickly

Same for NZGreenParty@NZGreenParty Greens support simplifying tax for small business: Now that the four biggest parties in Parliament agree on:

Greens support simplifying tax for small business

Now that the four biggest parties in Parliament agree on the way forward, it’s time for the Government to get on with simplifying provisional tax for small businesses, the Green Party said today.

“The Green Party has been talking about simplifying provisional tax for small businesses, like Labour suggested today, since before the 2011 election,” Green Party Co-leader James Shaw said.

“Anyone who talks to small business operators knows how annoying and difficult the current guesswork-based provisional tax system can be. Moving to a simpler, pay-as-you-go model would make life so much easier for small businesses and free up their time to focus on growing jobs and revenue.

“Labour’s announcement follows similar recent comments by NZ First, and Steven Joyce says the Government and IRD are open to ideas around simplifying provisional tax for small businesses. Even Act seems to agree with what is clearly now the mainstream consensus.

“Now that there’s political consensus about helping small businesses by simplifying the provisional tax system, the Government needs to get on with making the change,” said Mr Shaw.

It doesn’t sound like Labour are at the consensus stage yet, they have launched ‘a proposal’ and ‘a discussion document’ for consultation.

Was Labour unaware this was already policy shared by most other parties? Were they unaware the Government had already announced it and have already had a consultation process on it?

Was this thought through by Labour or was it thrown together to try and take the spotlight off their ham fisted approach to data analysis and targeting of Chines property buyers?

Sun rose this morning, Greens complain about emissions target this afternoon

It was not surprising to see the Greens quickly condemn the New emissions target as not enough.

Govt’s emissions reduction target 100% pure spin

The National Government’s paltry emissions reduction target announced today means that New Zealand is not pulling its weight internationally when it comes to climate change, the Green Party said.

The Government announced a 2030 emissions reduction target of 30 percent off 2005 levels. This translates to an 11 percent reduction on 1990 levels.

“By committing to such a small reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, it means other countries will have to pick up our slack, or we’ll get runaway climate change,” said Green Party international climate negotiations spokesperson Dr Kennedy Graham.

“Our fair share is at least a 40 percent reduction on 1990 levels, and the Government’s target is not even close.

“If all countries followed New Zealand’s lead, catastrophic climate change would be the result.

“Using 2005 as a benchmark is pure spin; the target is a paltry 11 percent reduction on 1990 levels, which is the usual benchmark for emission reductions.

“New Zealand can do so much better.

“National is missing this opportunity to implement policies that are good for people and the climate.

“We have no choice but to transition to a low-carbon economy, but National will increase the cost of this transition by delaying.

“The Green Party has extended the invitation to start a genuine dialogue on climate policy with the Government, and what might be required in the next few years to bring New Zealand out of the ranks of laggards and into the ranks of leaders, on climate policy.

“New Zealanders, now and in the future, deserve a climate plan we can be proud of,” said Dr Graham.

I don’t think this never-enough approach is likely to influence much here.

There’s also been a outcry from the Twitterlefties.

The sun and the anger will rise again tomorrow.

Greg Presland et al versus Helen Clark

Greg Presland has asked for help in researching a post on “all the stupid spends the Government has made lately”:

For a future post I would appreciate some help. The post is about all the stupid spends the Government has made lately. The list includes:

1. $28 mil on the social bonds policy.
2. $11.5 mil on the sheep farm in the Saudi desert where many of the sheep die.
3. $11 mil on McCully’s or Groser’s future New York apartment.
4. $30 mil to Rio Tinto.
5. ??? to Sky City.

Here’s some help on item 3, which has been widely criticised by opposition parties and activists.

Helen Clark backs New York apartment spend-up

Helen Clark says the $11.4 million the Ministry of Foreign Affairs spent on a New York apartment is “definitely money well-spent”.

The ministry bought the apartment at 50 United Nations Plaza so diplomat Gerard van Bohemen, New Zealand’s representative on the Security Council, could be closer to the organisation’s headquarters.

The spend-up prompted criticism from Labour, the Greens and New Zealand First, but Ms Clark – a former Labour Prime Minister and as head of the United Nations Development Programme, the third-most powerful person in the institution – disagrees.

“The current residence is about 45 blocks away from the UN,” she said on TV3’s Paul Henry programme this morning.

“If you’re the ambassador and you’re trying to lobby for peace in the Middle East or some other cause, are people going to get in the car in the middle of the day in the rush-hour traffic of New York and go 45 blocks? Of course not.”

She says it’s more than just a place for the diplomat to stay while he’s in New York.

“This is an entertainment venue, a work venue for the New Zealand mission, and I can tell you there will be lunches – people will be coming over in the lunch break. It’ll be money well-spent.”

But what would she know.

Presland, Labour, the Greens and New Zealand First see far more importance in knee-jerk criticism and attack regardless of common sense and the political and diplomatic experience of someone like Clark.

Can ‘poverty’ be a habit?

Poverty is currently one of new Zealand’s big issues.

National’s approach has been to make financial and business conditions conducive to economic and employment growth, to incentivise and assist unemployed people to get jobs, and to target the worse off with additional assistance.

Labour’s approach is to criticise National’s approach.

Green’s approach is to give the poor much more money and to guarantee them comfortable living conditions, seeing this as a right regardless of any individual’s capability or willingness to work.

The hard right want the Government gutted and for everyone to manage on their own – swim or sink.

The hard left (including some Greens) accuse the Government of deliberately making the poor poorer so the rich can get richer – I’ve never seen anyone explain how that would work.

Some people are not competent to manage their lives or their finances so a decent society should support them.

There are certainly hard luck stories that result in people being poor.

But why, generally, do people who have had money and go broke manage to climb back up the money ladder? While others seem to start poor and remain perpetually poor? Can poverty be a habit?

I saw a link to an article by Thomas Worley on Facebook. He is described:

About Thomas C. Corley

Tom Corley understands the difference between being rich and poor: at age nine, his family went from being multi-millionaires to broke in just one night.

For five years, Tom observed and documented the daily activities of 233 wealthy people and 128 people living in poverty. He discovered there is an immense difference between the habits of the wealthy and the poor. During his research he identified over 200 daily activities that separated the “haves” from the “have nots.” The culmination of his research can be found in his #1 bestselling book, Rich Habits – The Daily Success Habits of Wealthy Individuals.

The article: Will Your Child be Rich or Poor? 15 Poverty Habits Parents Teach Their Children

When I travel the country speaking to high school and college students about exactly what they need to do to become financially successful in life I always begin my presentation by asking three questions:

“How many want to be financially successful in life?”

“How many think they will be financially successful in life?”

Almost every time I ask the first two questions every hand rises in the air. Then I ask the magic third question:

“How many have taken a course in school on how to be financially successful in life?”

Not one hand rises in the air, ever. Clearly every student wants to be successful and thinks they will be successful but none have been taught by their parents or their school system how to be financially successful in life. Not only are there no courses on basic financial success principles but there are no structured courses teaching basic financial literacy. We are raising our children to be financially illiterate and to fail in life. Is it any wonder that most Americans live paycheck to paycheck? That most Americans accumulate more debt than assets?  That many Americans lose their homes when they lose their job? Is it any wonder that most Americans cannot afford college for their children and that student loan debt is now the largest type of consumer debt?

That sounds very similar to New Zealand. I was never taught any financial principles at home or at school. I left home and got my first full time job when I was sixteen and started to teach myself – and I learned to manage fortnight to fortnight with my pay (beginning at $66 a fortnight) from there with no plan for the future. I’ve learned and taught myself a few more things since then.

I’ve experienced how easy it is to get in a financial rut. And I’ve managed to do ok at times to. I certainly don’t regard myself as rich but I think I have a pretty good life overall.

I’ve never planned or aspired to making myself rich. Doing ok has been ok enough.

What about the hundreds of thousands of people deemed to being in poverty? Are they stuck there?

By today’s measures I grew up in poverty. It was tough times for my parents trying to manage on an orchard that was sold to them as frost free but was devastated by frosts at times, at one stage in two out of three years. At times both my parents worked elsewhere to survive. But the both ended up financially quite comfortable, able to live their later years as they liked.

But some people seem to start in poverty and remain stuck in poverty. Corley writes:

The fact is the poor are poor because they have too many Poverty Habits and too few Rich Habits. Poor parents teach their children the Poverty Habits and wealthy parents teach their children the Rich Habits. We don’t have a wealth gap in this country we have a parent gap. We don’t have income inequality, we have parent inequality.

My parents didn’t teach me to get rich, but at least they taught me to work hard and to battle away until I wasn’t poor.

Corley lists fifteen statistics that separate the rich from the poor.

  1. 72% of the wealthy know their credit score vs. 5% of the poor
  2. 6% of the wealthy play the lottery vs. 77% of the poor
  3. 80% of the wealthy are focused on at least one goal vs. 12% of the poor
  4. 62% of the wealthy floss their teeth every day vs. 16% of the poor
  5. 21% of the wealthy are overweight by 30 pounds or more vs. 66% of the poor
  6. 63% of the wealthy spend less than 1 hour per day on recreational Internet use vs. 26% of the poor
  7. 83% of the wealthy attend/attended back to school night for their kids vs. 13% of the poor
  8. 29% of the wealthy had one or more children who made the honor roll vs. 4% of the poor
  9. 63% of wealthy listen to audio books during their commute vs. 5% of the poor
  10. 67% of the wealthy watch 1 hour or less of T.V. per day vs 23% of the poor
  11. 9% of the wealthy watch reality T.V. shows vs. 78% of the poor
  12. 73% of the wealthy were taught the 80/20 rule vs. 5% of the poor (live off 80% save 20%)
  13. 79% of the wealthy network 5 hours or more per month vs. 16% of the poor
  14. 8% of the wealthy believe wealth comes from random good luck vs. 79% of the poor
  15. 79% of the wealthy believe they are responsible for their financial condition vs. 18% of the poor

Corley suggests:

Parents and our schools need to work together to instill good daily success habits as follows:

  • Limit T.V., social media and cell phone use to no more than one hour a day.
  • Require that children to read one to two educational books a month.
  • Require children to aerobically exercise 20 – 30 minutes a day.
  • Limit junk food to no more than 300 calories a day.
  • Require that children set monthly, annual and 5-year goals.
  • Require working age children to work or volunteer at least ten hours a week.
  • Require that children save at least 25% of their earnings or gifts they receive.
  • Teach children the importance of relationship building by requiring them to call friends, family, teachers, coaches etc. on their birthdays and to send thank you cards for gifts or help they received from anyone.
  • Reassure children that mistakes are good not bad. Children need to understand that the very foundation of success in life is built on learning from our mistakes.
  • Punish children when they lose their tempers so they understand the importance of controlling this very costly emotion.
  • Teach children that seeking financial success in life is good and is a worthwhile goal. Children need to learn what the American Dream is and that it is something to be pursued in life.
  • Children need to learn how to manage money. Open up a checking account or savings account for children and force them to use their savings to buy the things they want. They need to learn that they are not entitled to things like cell phones, computers, fashionable clothes, flat screen T.V.s etc.
  • Require children to participate in at least two non-sports-related extracurricular activities at school or outside of school.
  • Parents and children need to set aside at least an hour a day to talk to one another. Not on Facebook, or on the cell phone, but face to face. The only quality time is quantity time
  • Teach children how to manage their time. They should be required to create daily “to do” lists and these lists need to be monitored by parents. The goal should be to accomplish at least 70% of their tasks on their daily “to do” list.

And he concludes:

Wealthy people do certain things every single day that sets them apart from everyone else in life. Wealthy people have good daily success habits that they learned from their parents. These daily habits are the real reason for the wealth gap in our country and the real reason why the rich get richer. Unless we teach our children good daily success habits, and level the playing field, the rich will continue to get richer and the poor will continue to get poorer.

Food for thought. Especially for our politicians.

I’m sure that to an extent poverty can be a habit.

Should out Governments feed that habit or try and break that habit?

Shaw joins the Green extremes

Newly elected Green co-leader obviously wants to impress his co-Greens at the international Greens congress being held in Wellington, but from outside the Green bubble a policy proposal looks nonsensical and extreme.

Newstalk ZB reports: Greens pushing for new climate change legislation

The Green Party is pushing for climate change to be formally acknowledged in all government legislation.

Co-leader James Shaw has unveiled the policy at an international Greens congress in Wellington today.

It would make it mandatory for new laws and law changes to include climate change impact statements.

Mr Shaw said the measure would mirror the current use of regulatory impact statements.

“So the government makes a lot of decisions all the time, and we have no idea of what the impact is on climate change, or how climate change impacts on those decisions.”

He believes there is the skill within the public service to make such assessments accurately.

“I mean the government has some very smart boffins available to them. I think that when they’re doing the regulatory impact statements it wouldn’t be too hard to flick something across to one of the existing agencies.

Shaw and the Greens seem to have some very dumb boffins advising them. This would be bureaucratic madness.

Very smart boffins should be spending their time on important things and not wasting time just so the Greens can make a climate statement every time legislation goes through the house.

I can understanding wanting a climate change assessment for legislation where climate might have an impact.

But I think we can have a very good idea what impact climate change will have on most legislation – none.

Surely Greens can be a bit smarter than this. Pushing for extreme solutions (in this case often when no solution is required) will keep Greens on the loony fringe and reduces the chances of them having any influence.

Shaw seems to have embraced the Green extremes – it will make him popular within the Green club but it will struggle to find the wider support he has promised to get.

Just after he was elected co-leader Shaw said:

I want to double the membership of our party this year and then double it again next year.

Little chance if he promotes loony extreme policies.

UPDATE: A couple at The Standard are applauding this policy. Michael thinks “That is a great idea”.

And Weka highlights a part of Shaw’s maiden speech in Parliament.

This is the essence of Green government: smart, strategic policies that slowly but surely lead to transformational change.

Was Shaw ever in touch with political reality or has he lost touch since then?

Nick Smith reality checks James Shaw

New Green co-leader James Shaw says that he doesn’t favour any type of coalition agreement with National. But he is promoting a ‘Memorandum of Understanding’ approach where they get National to fund some of their pet projects.

Nelson MP Nick Smith reality checked this cake and eat it approach in an NBR interview – Shaw’s MoU push: Smith not returning the love.

New Green co-leader James Shaw is pushing the idea of a new memorandum of understanding with National.

Mr Shaw says he wants to find a new “common cause” with National.

On NBR Radio, yesterday, he said he saw three areas that could be covered by a new MoU: climate change, re-engaging on insulation, and moving cycleways from a tourism venture to full-blooded urban transport initiative.

So they want National to implement Green policies.

I put Mr Shaw’s comments to Environment Minister Nick Smith this morning…

I thought Dr Smith would be pretty open to Mr Shaw’s overtures. After all, the environment minister is a bit of a blue-green, and it would address what Matthew Hooton calls the “Remuera doctors’ wives” factor* (that is, urban liberals who stray from blue to green).

Not so. The doc was downright frosty.

Smith said that memorandums of understanding were ‘above his pay grade’, done at Prime Minister level. But he understands the reality of politics, and shared that understanding with the Greens.

“The difficulty is that the Greens need to bring something to the table,” he said.

“What they have tended to do is that they’ve wanted to have memorandums of understanding where we spend money on pet projects which they claim credit for but they are not prepared to do any part of the hard yards that inevitably the government needs to do to make sure you get economic growth and are able to balance the budget.”

“The other part that’s difficult is that, unlike the Maori Party, ACT and United Future, is that they have not committed themselves to a position of being prepared to form a government with National at any time in the future.”

Shaw wants Greens to get the benefit of and accolades for their projects being funded, but he doesn’t want Greens to take on any of the responsibilities of being in Government.

He doesn’t support Greens even considering any responsibilities of governing while National are in power.

He doesn’t want Greens to be tainted by the National cake but wants to pick bits of the icing off and claim credit.

Shaw is ambitious, good on him. He did well building a case within his party for installing him as a leader. Good on him.

But doing politics within the Green bubble is a lot different to doing politics in the big wide real world of governing. Smith has given Shaw a reality check.

What is Shaw prepared to offer National in return for some policy successes?

Greens use Dunedin to highlight major climate problem

The Greens have linked the heavy rain in Dunedin on Wednesday to climate change. In Question Time in Parliament yesterday Green co-leader Metiria Turei started with these questions.

1. METIRIA TUREI (Co-Leader—Green) to the Minister for Climate Change Issues : Does he agree that local authorities will face greater adaptation costs and find it more expensive to protect infrastructure and property as the climate changes; if not, why not?

A reasonable question – “as the climate changes” is debatable but most science suggests it may get warmer and with more extreme weather events.

Metiria Turei : Does the Minister agree with the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change editor Professor Blair Fitzharris that as global warming continues, Dunedin is likely to face more extreme rainfall events, storm surges, and extreme winds, and that low-lying, densely populated areas, coastal communities, and major transport infrastructure, including Dunedin Airport, are particularly at risk?

These are important points that we would expect the Greens to raise.

Metiria Turei : Does the Minister agree with Dunedin City Council’s submission on New Zealand’s climate change target, which says “More effective mitigation could significantly reduce potential future adaptation costs” and that “the Government should consider investing more in climate change mitigation”; if not, why not?

The Dunedin City Council is fairly Green leaning so this is no surprise. But it’s highly questionable whether the Government can do anything that would significantly alter any effects of climate change – New Zealand’s emissions are a very small proportion of global emissions and reducing emissions here by 40% as the Greens want is likely to make a very small difference at best.

Metiria Turei : How does the Minister justify the National Government’s record on climate change, which shows a 13 percent increase in net greenhouse gas emissions, to the people of Dunedin and to the Mayor of Dunedin, Dave Cull, who said today “There may be some areas with sea level rise that we end up retreating from and not putting any more infrastructure in and actually taking the buildings out of. That is the challenge going into the future with climate change.”?

That would be a major for Dunedin, which has large flat areas – reclaimed swamp – that are inhabited. These include South Dunedin, St Kilda and St Clair, plus much of the Taieri Plains. If Dunedin “retreated” from those areas it would more than decimate the city.

Metiria Turei : Is the Minister taking into account increased adaptation costs for local councils when determining New Zealand’s emissions reduction target, given that the Dunedin City Council estimates that engineering options to protect private property and infrastructure in high-risk areas against a 0.3 metre rise in the sea level will cost around $10 million, and that protection against a 1.6 metre rise in the sea level will cost around $150 million?

If these “increased adaptation costs” prove to be necessary it is going to be regardless of what New Zealand does with emissions. We have a minute effect on world climate systems.

Metiria Turei : By not taking urgent leadership on climate change, has his Government not abandoned the Dunedin City Council and the people of Dunedin to pick up the cost of more extreme rainfall events like yesterday, when the city was swamped in 24 hours by 2 months’ worth of rain, causing flooding, electricity outages, sewerage overflows, the evacuation of rest homes and schools, the Otago Peninsula being cut off, and which left the side of State Highway 1 “looking like a canal”?

Now Turei is trying to emotionally use a single weather event to criticise the Government and promote Green policy on climate change.

Yes, parts of the city were swamped – large parts of the city used to be swamp and have always been at risk of heavy rain accumulation.

“24 hours by 2 months’ worth of rain” is overstating things. On Wednesday there was 150-170 mm of rain. While it’s common for Dunedin to get 40-80 mm of rain in a month it’s not uncommon to get much more. For example:

  • April 2014 – 144.8 mm
  • June 2013 – 195.2 mm
  • May 2013 – 141.8 mm

So only two years ago there was 337 mm in two months.

  • May 2010 – 207 mm
  • June 2009 – 158.4 mm
  • May 2009 – 163 mm
  • June 2002 – 137.4 mm
  • May 2002 – 205.4 mm

So it’s quite common to get heavy rainfall at this time of year. In a single month there was more rain than there was on Wednesday.

  • January 2002 – 251 mm

2002 was a much wetter year than this year has been so far.

  • October 2001 – 164 mm

Source: University of Otago Weather Station

So while this week there was an abnormal amount of rain in a day the total over a month. Including this week’s downpour Metservice shows that rainfall in Dunedin over the last 31 days is just over 200 mm, that’s much higher than usual but not uncommon.

Turei’s last question:

Metiria Turei : Is the Minister not confirming by his dismissive attitude towards the science of climate change that someone is paying the cost of his doing nothing on this issue, and that this week that just happens to be the people of Dunedin?

The present and past Governments haven’t done nothing. They have done far less than the Greens want them to do. But the reality is that even if we eliminated all our emissions, wiped out all emitting animals from the country and reforested the whole country it is likely to have a negligible effect on the world climate.

New Zealand reducing emissions is necessary but in the whole scheme of things it would be little more than a token change, and not weather changing.

As part of the international community New Zealand needs to do something, and should do more than at present.

But Greens have a major problem – if they overstate weather events, if they link single local weather events to world wide climate and if they try to shame other parties into adopting their climate targets then they are likely to find it difficult to get co-operation.

Their over the top claims are more likely to repel rather than attract support for their ideals. Like this One News report:

Climate change and Government’s ‘inaction’ to blame for Dunedin’s 100-year-flood, say Greens

One News have chosen that headline on a rolling blog on the rain in Dunedin that covers many topics.

The Dunedin flood is a result of climate change and the Government’s “inaction” on the issue, the Green Party says.

“The flooding in Dunedin highlights that the National Government needs to stop being the problem and start being part of the solution on climate change,” Green Party local government spokesperson Eugenie Sage said.

“Since National came to power in 2008, New Zealand’s net emissions have increased by 13 percent; the scientific consensus is that increasing emissions will cause more extreme weather events.”

Ms Sage said the Government should aim for an emission target reduction of 40% below 1990 levels by 2030.”Last month it was Wellington. Yesterday it was Dunedin. What region will suffer next from a lack of strong, cross-party leadership on the climate?”

“Strong, cross-party leadership on the climate” – Green-speak for ‘do what we want’ – would have had no effect on flooding in different parts of the country.

At a recent climate change consultatin meeting in Dunedin two Dunedin councillors spoke:

Dunedin City councillor Aaron Hawkins also stood up to speak, his voice cracking.

”I want to acknowledge the anger that’s felt by my generation and people younger … that the question of even having children is such a moral and ethical dilemma.”

Hawkins is not speaking for “my generation and people younger”, he’s speaking for himself and like-minded Greens, a minority.

Cr Jinty MacTavish said the target of a 40% emissions reduction by 2030 many people in the room were calling for – and which was criticised as being inadequate by Prof Bob Lloyd earlier in the night – was a ”compromise”.

So claims for a 40% reduction are seen as a minimum by some.

And their claims are not universally supported. The ODT reports:

Don’t blame climate change for city deluge, weather experts say

The flooding in Dunedin on Wednesday was not caused by climate change, a University of Otago climatologist says.

”I think this is just a weather event,” Dr Nicolas Cullen, of the department of geography, said.

The Green Party and Dunedin Mayor Dave Cull have been quick to link the downpour to climate change.

Dr Cullen cited a 1929 downpour of 220mm within 24 hours, and estimated Wednesday was a one-in-30-year event.

”This particular event is more related just to the weather patterns that developed over the period which allowed that frontal system to really hit Dunedin quite hard.”

”You tell me. It’s wrong,” Dr Cullen said when asked why it was called a 100-year event by the Dunedin City Council.

”I wouldn’t put this in the climate change basket too quickly.”

If the same rainfall happened every month for a year ”then we can start talking about climate change”.

The flood did, however, demonstrate the city’s potential vulnerability to sea level rise, he said.

So a climatologist disputes the claims of the Dunedin City Council politicians and the Green party.

Dunedin hydrologist Dave Stewart said his initial estimate of Wednesday’s flood was a one in 30-to-50 year event.

He had not had time to analyse the data, but rainfall at various sites ranged from 140mm to 180mm.

Mr Stewart was scathing about the DCC’s 100-year claim, saying he did not know how it arrived at the estimate.

He also dismissed the idea the event was linked with climate change.

And a hydrologist disputes the claims of the Dunedin City Council politicians and the Green party.

This highlights a major problem with climate change – exaggerations and unsupportable claims don’t help the Green case of action on reducing emissions. They make it easier to dismiss them as a bunch of extremist nutters.

Dunne states reality on decriminalising cannabis – no chance

In response to Family’s desperate quest for cannabis oil Peter Dunne was engaged in a Twitter exchange. In this he made it clear there has been no chance of successive New Zealand governments decriminalising cannabis.

In response to

Good to hear
Decriminalisation!
Way to go

May I be very clear: decriminalisation is not on the government’s agenda.

It has been the policy of successive Labour & National led governments & is not about to change.

So any valid reform is a lost cause until a major party supports, eh? Change too difficult from the inside?

It’s more that is a government minister and the Cabinet has a position.

It’s also numbers – 61 votes is a majority in Parliament & Nats, Lab & even Greens oppose legalisation.

This the political reality. Dunne cops a lot of flak for nothing being done to change cannabis law but he has a small minority voice in Government and he has just one vote in Parliament. Dunne isn’t in Cabinet.

National look unlikely to try and do anything on cannabis in the foreseeable future. John Key swung significant support behind marriage equality but he looks unlikely to do anything on cannabis –  he recently stated “I just don’t agree with drugs”.

Prime Minister John Key has ruled out relaxing cannabis laws while campaigning for the Northland by-election.

In response to a question from a voter Mr Key said he did not support decriminalisation of cannabis.

The voter accused Mr Key of wanting to lock people up in jail.

“It’s not so much that, I just don’t agree with drugs,” the Prime Minister said.

So a National Government almost certainly won’t initiate anything.

The only other option is via a Member’s Bill and there are currently none on drugs in the ballot so no party is trying to change cannabis law.

Andrew Little sounds like he has no interest in doing anything. In March Duncan Garner asked:

SHOULD WE LEGALISE CANNABIS? GREENS AND LABOUR SAY LET’S THINK ABOUT IT

Garner: We’ve had this debate this afternoon around the legalisation of cannabis, we’ve got a poll up and man it’s been phenomenal, 86% replied (saying cannabis should be legalised), 2000 votes. We’ve had Kevin Hague on, he says it is actually time for this debate to actually occur given what’s happening in America, around four different states either decriminalise or legalised.

What’s your position on decriminalising cannabis?

Little: Yeah up to now I think we’ve, my personal view is I’ve approached it very cautiously. I mean I, when I was a union lawyer I did a lot of cases of the drug and testing in workplaces and all that sort of stuff.

The studies I did of it, the thing that came out of it for me was that a lot of the cannabis in New Zealand, that’s grown in New Zealand has such a high THC level it’s actually different to cannabis sold in other countries, so that’s an area of danger.

But having said that I’d be keen to have a look and see what the experience has been of States like you know Washington and the other states that have adopted decriminalisation more recently and just see what the experience has been and see whether there is something we can learn from it.

I’d never say no to it but I’d say we’ve got to approach this with considerable caution.

This sounds like Little has no interest in doing anything about cannabis.

Garner: Right, considerable caution because it could be politically not viable, it might make you unpopular? Or because you believe in it’s worth having a debate?

Little: Oh no given that my honeymoon’s over, I’m used to the unpopularity…

Garner: Yes it is over, you don’t want a long honeymoon mate, you don’t want a long honeymoon…

Little: I’m more concerned about the public health and safety aspects of it and given the conditions here. That’s the issue for me.

I think since i was up at the Auckland University quad yesterday, part of the ? week, I talked to some of the young folks there and that issue came up.

Unprompted just raised that issue with me. So there’s clearly a discussion going on out there though and you know we need to be part of it.

Garner: When you discuss these things obviously you get those headlines out, ‘Little supports decriminalisation’, I mean is that a fair headline or not?

Little: (pause) no that would be an unfair headline at the moment because I, I’m not, I don’t, I know there is an issue there. I’d like to look more closely at it. I’d like to  look at the experience of the American states that have decriminalised.

But I draw on my own personal experience and the research I’ve done when I was a union lawyer, to say there is an issue here that is not as easy just to say let’s decriminalise, let’s open it up.

So my approach is proceed with caution.

Garner: Proceed with caution but at least start to look at what’s happening in America.

Little: Have a look, and lets have the debate. Ah and lets get some facts, lets shine some facts on the issue. Let’s not just react emotionally but lets have the debate, get the facts and proceed with caution.

What debate? No party is promoting any debate, let alone any action.

Greens have supposedly been the pro-cannabis party but have been lukewarm on it. Leading into last year’s election Russel Norman:

“Decriminalisation has obviously been a long-standing Green Party policy, there has been movement on it internationally as well as domestically and it will be on the table in any post-election negotiation, like our other policies.”

Greens never got to negotiate policies after the election.

Speaking after her State of the Nation speech at Waitangi Park in Wellington, co-leader Metiria Turei said they wanted to see the law changed.

“I would like to progress a vast amount of our policy, actually and that would be one that would be very interesting,” she said.

Turei said they believed a drug-free lifestyle was the healthiest, but did not believe adults should be convicted of a crime if they smoked cannabis.

Decriminalising the drug was “the wisest policy,” however it would not be a bottom-line issue for the party in any post-election discussions.

Not a “bottom line issue”. Not an issue the Greens campaigned on. Not an issue the Greens have done anything visible about since. Not a visible issue in the just completed Green leadership contest. Not a visible issue in the Green conference this weekend.

James Shaw seems to have avoided the issue.

I’ve searched Parliament’s Hansard for this term (all MPs) and there’s barely a mention of cannabis or marijuana and no interest has been expressed regarding considering any law changes.

It came up during the Northland by-election – Winston Peters backtracks on marijuana referendum:

NZ First leader Winston Peters promised to hold a referendum on legalising marijuana while campaigning for the Northland byelection but rapidly backtracked on it straight afterwards.

Mr Peters was holding a street meeting in Kaikohe when a man asked whether he would legalise marijuana.

Mr Peters replied: “you want to legalise marijuana? I’ll tell you what I’ll do. I’ll give you a referendum and if the answer is yes, the answer is yes. I’ll give you a vote on the referendum and if the answer is no, it’s no. That fair enough? Wonderful.”

However, later he said he had no intention of putting forward a referendum and his comments were the shorthand required on a campaign trail. “I didn’t say ‘I’m going to give you the referendum. I said our policy is a referendum and if you want one, you’ve got to go and get one.”

So NZ First aren’t interested either.

That’s the reality of reality on decriminalising cannabis in New Zealand – politicians aren’t seriously interested in doing anything about it.

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