Trans Tasman: best and worst of National

Stuff reports on Trans Tasman’s annual assessment of political performances in Trans-Tasman roll call – the best and worst of the 2015 political year.

Here are National MP ratings.

National is starting to suffer third termitis, and some of its minister’s are burnt out. That’s the view of transTasman, which has just released its annual roll call, the publication MPs look forward to with equal parts excitement and dread.

National is showing signs of third-termitis and senior ministers like Gerry Brownlee and Murray McCully are looking tired, out of sorts, or burnt out.

“Some are looking to the future – [Speaker] David Carter looks as though he will be pleased to relinquish the Speaker’s chair for a Knighthood and a cushy foreign posting, where he will no longer have to be selectively deaf, while Tim Groser will also be looking forward to an ambassadorial posting”.

Top Five – National

Finance Minister Bill English –  8/10

“A foundation for the Government’s ongoing success. Dependable and canny as always, finally getting the books back into the black, even if only for a short time, has been a big deal for him. The power behind the throne.”

Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully 8/10

“He has been a virtual blur this year, rushing through so many countries and doing so much. Failed to secure Middle East peace though. A strong year for the man, which has ended in a hospital bed. He made a massive effort.”

Prime Minister John Key – 7.5/10

Takes a tumble from last year’s rating of 9.5. His popularity is undented, despite ponytail gate and other controversies…..The flag debate may deflate his ego but he is still far and away New Zealand’s most popular leader.”

Justice Minister Amy Adams – 7.5/10

“We said she would be one to watch and she has added to that impression with strong performances across all her portfolios.”

Trade Minister Tim Groser – 7.5/10

“Another minister who has had a huge year and weathered some storms. He is expected to leave soon for a less pressured environment.”

Bottom five – National

List MP Paul Foster-Bell – 2/10

“Last year we suggested he sharpen up his act. He hasn’t.”

Taranaki MP Barbara Kuriger – 2/10

Says she wants ot help promote regional growth. Her own area is doing well but it’s clear she hasn’t had much impact anywhere else.”

List MP Melissa Lee- 2/10
“Probably should be considering another career. Her bus has well and truly pulled out.”

Kaikoura MP Stuart Smith – 2/10

Replaced an MP who was a waste of space, but proving he’s better is tough as well, says transTasman.

Coromandel MP Scott Simpson, Rodney MP Mark Mitchell, List MP Brett Hudson and List MP Nuk Korako – all on 2.5/10

On Simpson, transTasman says: “Can’t seem to get anyone’s attention outside the committee he chairs”. On Mitchell, they say:  “Another holder of a safe seat. A good example of why we should consider fixed terms for MPs.” Hudson: “We said he would have to prove he is anything more than a lightweight. So far still punching at his expected level.” Korako: A man considered genial by most, who has done nothing to change anyone’s opinion.

I think Bill England has been National’s most consistent and probably most valuable performer.

I don’t know about Murray McCully, he is out of sight most of the time, apart from the Saudi Farm debacle which should have marked him down substantially. He was lucky to survive in his job.

It will be hard for new National back benchers to make an impression amongst such a large caucus.

Trans-Tasman 2015 MP roll call

Hooton lobbying or stirring over National leadership?

When a lobbyist floats leadership change of the governing party I’m naturally sceptical.

Bryce Edwards has tweeted about a paywalled column in NBR where by Matthew Hooton either promotes a National leadership change or is trying to stir one up.

Hooton has been floating ideas about Key needing to go or is due to be replaced for quite a while.

Matthew Hooton: “Joyce associates openly talking about leadership change” (paywalled) –  Rumours of Joyce becoming PM

Hooton says Nats caucus too docile to challenge if Key hands power over to Joyce: “MPs are not encouraged to ask questions or even speak.”

Hooton says National caucus now docile: “Caucus meetings are shorter than ever and are dominated by briefings by Messrs Key and Joyce”

Hooton: John Key’s “knighthood depends on him handing over to a National prime minister rather than losing an election to Labour”

It would be sad if Key’s leadership decision is based on the best way for him to get a knighhood.

I don’t think a knighthood would suit him. Would he still goof around?

If Key & Joyce waited til “Paula Bennett was out of the country, they would have a good chance of presenting a handover as a fait accompli”

Joyce “is sure he could do the retail aspects of the prime ministership – clowning around on commercial radio and so forth – as well as Key”

I don’t see Joyce in that role at all.

Hooton: Murray McCully “may seek the chairmanship of World Rugby, formerly the International Rugby Board, when it comes up in May”

I don’t know about the Chairmanship of World Rugby but it’s time for McCully to move on from politics.

And Joyce responded:

@bryce_edwards All complete rubbish from a commentator who has proven once again he is as close to the National Party as Catherine Delahunty

Proposed RMA reforms

The National Government have wanted to make significant changes to the Resource Management Act, in part to streamline and speed up RMA applications for developments.

In particular they want to make it easier to make land for subdivisions more readily available in Auckland and other parts of New Zealand where there are housing shortages and rampant proprty inflation.

At the beginning of their third term National had two problems, United Future leader Peter Dunne and National MP Mike Sabin.

Because of their slim majority in Parliament National needed Dunne’s vote and Dunne didn’t want to budge on core environmental protections in the RMA. Then Sabin suddenly resigned, just after the election. And then National lost Sabin’s Northland electorate in a by election, cutting their majority by one.

So now National had two problems – Peter Dunne still, and also the Maori Party because National need both  their votes plus Dunne’s to pass RMA reform. And the Maori Party have also insisted on retaining the core environmental protections that are a feature of the RMA.

I think it is important, like Dunne and the Maori Party, to retain strong environmental protections in the RMA, and reform the Act’s processes to speed things up, and to standardise more across the country.

National have had to put their pragmatism hats on and have negotiated with the Maori Party to get a promise of their vote to get the RMA amendment bill at least to the committee stages.

The Goverment’s announcement Resource legislation introduced to Parliament:

The Government introduced to Parliament today its substantive Bill overhauling the Resource Management Act (RMA) to support business growth and housing development while also ensuring more effective environmental management, Environment Minister Dr Nick Smith has announced.

“This Bill is about reducing the bureaucracy that gets in the way of creating jobs, building houses, and good environmental management. It provides for greater national consistency, more responsive planning, simplified consenting and better alignment with other laws,” Dr Smith says.

The 180-page Resource Legislation Amendment Bill comprises 40 changes contained in 235 clauses and eight schedules. It makes changes to the Resource Management Act 1991, the Reserves Act 1977, the Public Works Act 1981, the Conservation Act 1987, the Environmental Protection Authority Act 2011, and the Exclusive Economic Zone and Continental Shelf (Environmental Effects) Act 2012.

“The Bill addresses the significant problems with the cumbersome planning processes of the Resource Management Act highlighted in recent reports by the OECD, Local Government New Zealand, the Rules Reduction Taskforce and the Productivity Commission. Standard planning templates will be introduced so we don’t have every council reinventing the wheel and having dozens of different ways of measuring the height of a building. Plan-making, which currently take six years, will be sped up and made more flexible. A new collaborative planning process will encourage different interests to work with councils on finding solutions to local resource problems,” Dr Smith says.

“The Bill simplifies the consenting process. It narrows the parties that must be consulted to those directly affected – meaning a homeowner extending a deck only has to consult the affected neighbour. Councils will have discretion to not require resource consent for minor issues. A new 10-day fast-track consent will be available for simple issues. Councils will be required to have fixed fees for standard consents so that homeowners have certainty over costs. Consents will no longer be required for activities that are already properly regulated by other Acts. These measures will reduce the number of consents required each year by thousands.

“This Bill will deliver improved environmental management. It will enable national regulations that require stock like dairy cows to be fenced out of rivers and lakes, with instant fines for breaches. It strengthens the requirements for managing natural hazards like earthquakes and sea level rise from climate change. It requires decommissioning plans for offshore oil and gas rigs. It will improve the transparency of New Zealand’s clean, green brand by ensuring consistency in council environmental reporting on issues like air and water quality.

“The Bill contains dozens of provisions that will improve the process of resource management decisions. There will be millions of dollars in savings from simpler, plain language public notices that enable the detailed information on plans and consents to be accessed on the web. The Bill recognises email communications and online filing. It also encourages early dispute resolution on cases appealed to the Environment Court.”

The introduction of this Bill has the support of the Māori Party after intensive discussions over several months. Some reform proposals, including changes to sections six and seven, are not in the Bill. The proposals consulted on publicly in 2013 on improved Māori participation in resource management have been included in response to the Māori Party’s strong advocacy. Discussions between the National and Māori Parties will continue in response to public submissions and debate as the Bill progresses through Parliament. National will also be seeking the support of other parties in Parliament, noting that all but the Greens have publicly stated that they recognise the need for reform.

“This is a moderate reform Bill that will reduce the cost and delays for homeowners and businesses, as well as improve New Zealand’s planning and environmental controls. I thank the Māori Party for their support that will enable this large and complex Bill to pass its first reading and be referred to select committee. We look forward to hearing public submissions on the detail so we can deliver on our shared objective of reducing unnecessary bureaucracy, while ensuring we have good systems to protect the environment,” Dr Smith concluded.

Related Documents

Radio NZ – Govt gets Maori Party backing for RMA amendment bill

A compromise on new resource management legislation is necessary for the government to progress a significant overhaul of the current law, the Environment Minister says.

The Maori Party has agreed to back proposed changes to the Resource Management Act (RMA) through to the select committee stage, finally giving the government the numbers to progress long-awaited legislative changes.

Afterwards, the party said it would continue to work with the government in good faith.

The Maori Party said iwi were not looking to introduce more barriers to development or planning, but wanted to be involved from the outset to avoid problems later down the track.

The party’s co-leader Marama Fox gave the example of the Whaitua project in the Wairarapa.

“The Ruamahanga River has suffered… so iwi were consulted after the fact, and then that consultation was ignored about the use of the water and the local council’s decisions about the use of that water. They now have come at great length to an agreement to clean up that river with regional council.

“But if they’d been included in the planning at the beginning we could have avoided the level of deterioration in that river right now, and the involvement of the iwi at the beginning could have ensured a better planning process going forward.”

Yesterday Peter Dunne reiterated his position:


Labour response: RMA changes must protect the environment

RMA changes must protect the environment

A Government bill to reform the RMA must not be used as a chance to tinker with its key role of protecting the environment, says Labour’s Environmental spokesperson Megan Woods.

“We will have to look at the proposed changes carefully as there are 200 pages in this Bill. We will be watching to make sure there is a decent chance for people to have their say through the select committee stage over what will clearly be a complex piece of legislation.

“The RMA is New Zealand’s core environmental protection and those protections must remain. That is our bottom line.

“Our offer to work together on sensible reforms is still on the table. This offer stands.

“We will be concerned at any changes around appeals to the Environment Court or any undermining of case law around the environment.

“We will be looking to see if the Bill elevates private property rights above wider community interests.

“This new Bill must meet these environmental bottom lines. We will be looking carefully at the Government’s intentions,” says Megan Woods.

Also from Labour: RMA changes skim surface for Maori participation

Protecting the environment and getting the right balance for sustainable development will be a core test of the proposed RMA changes, says Labour’s Maori Development spokesperson Nanaia Mahuta.

Related coverage:

Green Party response: RMA changes must not risk what we hold dear

Proposed changes to the Resource Management Act (RMA) appear on first reading to be a boon for seabed miners and property developers, the Green Party said today.

The National Government today released a new Bill which proposes changes to the RMA, laws governing conservation lands, and the Exclusive Economic Zone.

“The Government has repeatedly attacked the RMA to weaken its environmental protection, reduce public participation, and fast track high impact development. The more than 200 proposed changes in the Bill need to be carefully scrutinised to ensure New Zealand’s natural environment and sustainable urban development are not compromised for short-term financial gains,” said Green Party Environment spokesperson Eugenie Sage.

“The Bill appears to significantly increase the Minister’s powers at the expense of local councils and to further politicise environmental decision making by having the Minister, rather than the Environmental Protection Agency, appoint hearing panels for developments in New Zealand’s Exclusive Economic Zone,” she said.

“The Bill risks having a chilling effect on councils’ ability to regulate in the community’s interest. For example, under proposed changes, councils could be reluctant to protect native plants and trees on private land as the Environment Court could require the council to purchase affected land if protections were deemed to put an ‘unfair and unreasonable burden’ on landholders.

The Greens are always going to strongly oppose the use of many natural resources.

From The New Zealand Initiative’s Jason Krupp argues that Nick Smith should visit Montreal to see how shifting infrastructure costs can improve housing affordability

In the cut and thrust of politics it was no surprise that Environment Minister Nick Smith denounced the Labour Party’s new housing policy. After all, while it is the opposition’s job to oppose government policies, it is just as much the incumbent’s job to shoot down ideas coming from across the house.

Scoop: RMA Reform Underwhelming And a Broken Promise

“Underwhelming” sums up the initial impression of the Taxpayers’ Union to the Government’s reform legislation of the Resource Management Act, introduced this afternoon. Taxpayers’ Union Executive Director, Jordan Williams, says:

“The RMA is the largest regulatory tax on innovation, growth and living standards currently on the books. Our lawyers are still trawling through the detail, but it appears that rather than the promised reform this would be better described as ‘tinkering around the edges’.”

No party’s election policies and proposals can be regarded as ‘promises’ for the simple reason that Parliament works on majority votes and not on election promises.

All a party can do is promise that if they can get sufficient votes they promise to introduce legislation. That is MMP 101, so anyone claiming that election promises have been broken when compromises have to be made to succeed in getting legislation introduced is either ignorant or deliberately overstating their criticism.

Thanks to Mefrostate for providing links for this post.

Twyford shoots defiance in the foot

Duncan Garner’s two part piece on Simon Lusk exposed a murky political player who is best known for his links with National and some National MPs, and his collusiion with and payments Cameron Slater for services rendered on Whale Oil.

It also exposed an awkward link for Labour (I have known about this since last year but it hasn’t been aired much in media).

Nash embarassed by links to Simon Lusk

Story also revealed Labour MP Stuart Nash has used Mr Lusk’s services and showed Mr Nash’s friends paid $20,000 to Mr Lusk to see if Mr Nash could set up an independent political party and ditch Labour.

Mr Nash is now embarrassed, and his party is unhappy with the links to Mr Lusk.

Nash subsequently won the Napier electorate in last year’s election, helped substantially by a right wing split vote.

Something else that can out of ther interview was a threat that Labour MP Phil Twyford was one of Lusk’s next targets (to politically destroy).

So Twyford is justified in responding to this.

Phil Twyford won’t be intimidated by smear campaign

Labour MP Phil Twyford says he will not be intimidated by an alleged smear campaign that is apparently backed by foreign property speculators.

Labour’s housing spokesman will reportedly be targeted by controversial political consultant Simon Lusk at the 2017 election because of his strong stance on offshore buyers.

TV3’s Duncan Garner said last night he was told Mr Lusk was being funded by “Chinese money” to carry out a “direct mailout” that would focus on the Te Atatu MP.

Mr Twyford said he would not by silenced by “this kind of intimidation”.

Fair enough. Murky money and lurky Lusk versus elected MPs does not a healthy democracy make.

But Twyford didn’t just stand defiant. He stuffed his response by trying to turn it into a National smear job.

Asked to respond this morning, Mr Twyford said: “I think it’s interesting that foreign property speculators are so concerned to defend the tax-free mega-profits they’re making in the Auckland housing market that they’re willing to hire the National Party’s dirty tricks machine to do their work for them.”

Labelling Lusk as “the National Party’s dirty tricks machine” is silly and petty, especially when it’s not just National MPs who have used Lusk’s services – and many National MPs want nothing to do with the Lusk method.

Twyford would have looked much better sticking to defiance without resorting to stick his political boot in. He shot his response in the foot.

Mr Lusk has also been linked to Labour’s Napier MP Stuart Nash.

TV3 reported that Mr Nash’s associates reportedly paid Mr Lusk up to $20,000 to investigate the potential for an alternative centrist party, possibly headed by Mr Nash.

Mr Nash said today he knew nothing about the alleged “hit job” planned for his colleague.

“I have nothing to do with taking Phil Twyford out,” he said. “Phil is doing a fantastic job.”

Garner effectively skewered both National and Labour with his interview – and allowed Lusk to skewer himself.

Games in Question Time

Question Time has taken an even bigger beating than usual in Parliament this week. The scene was set prior to the House sitting when Kelvin Davis got in John Key’s face in a hallway and caled him gutless.

Two comments here look at some of the issues.


Okay this is what it is about:
“This week Parliament has become a farce. OK for PM to tell lies and hurl personal abuse, but MPs who complain about it will be disciplined.
Question Time an essential check on govt power. But it should also involve answers!
Question Time is a farce. Specific questions go unanswered while ministerial insults and abuse go unrestrained.”

For those who haven’t been watching, which parts are wrong?

Goldie in response:

Which parts are wrong?
1. “OK for PM to tell lies and hurl personal abuse, but MPs who complain about it will be disciplined.” The PM hurled abuse at the opposition MPs in retaliation for personal abuse at him. MPs were thrown out of the chamber because they defied the Speaker’s ruling.

2. “Question Time an essential check on govt power. But it should also involve answers!”
I agree. But the current Opposition tactic is ask the question “Do you stand by your statements”, and then follow up with a supplementary speech (which invites only a speech in return). If the opposition wants answers, then they need to start asking proper questions. The recently retired Clerk of the House, Mary Harris (a non-partisan person expert in parliamentary procedure), said this – she said that opposition MPs cannot complain about the quality of answers if they ask questions that are actually speeches about an issue.

3. “Question Time is a farce. Specific questions go unanswered while ministerial insults and abuse go unrestrained.”
Like I have written – questions need to be specific and well written. Ministerial insults will get passed if the opposition make an insulting speech first. The “rules of the game” are that an insulting question gets an insult in return. So Little accused the PM of being weak and lacking courage, so the PM responded that Labour were supporting rapists. Do you understand?

Key and National get away with playing a diversionary circus game because the Opposition not only allow it through their approach to questions and interjections, they give the Prime Minister and National MPs plenty of ammunition to hit back with.

Labour is getting frustrated at losing the game so they resort to blaming the referee – the Speaker.

If Labour, Greens and NZ First put more effort into holding the Government to account perhaps they would be more successful at holding the Government to account.

Instead their combative and disruptive approach keeps backfiring. This has been happening for seven years. When will they figure out that it isn’t working?

Everyone makes mistakes but it’s politically very stupid to keep repeating the same mistakes for so long.

“Inequality is a choice”

Anthony Robins writes at The Standard that Inequality is a choice.

Inequality is a choice. It isn’t a choice made by individuals, it is a choice made by governments.

‘Inequality’ far more complex than that. For a start it depends on how you define inequality.

I choose to make working for a living more of a priority than some, and I choose to put other priorities ahead of accumulating possessions and monetary wealth.

Having kids is costly on money terms but my children and step children and grand children are worth far more to me than a better bank balance.

There is no way a Government can impose and enforce equality. There will always be arguments over what is equal and what is not.

Even the Chinese Government has given up on trying to force equality of single child families, and they could never force women to have that one child anyway.

Robins doesn’t help his argument when he chooses to misrepresent facts.

The last Labour government chose to implement a higher top tax rate and Working For Families, these policies (though arguably too little too late) did reduce inequality. The current National government chose to cut the top tax rate, attack labour laws, and increase GST, these policies are increasing inequality.

Yes the current National Government chose to cut the top tax rate. And Robins chose to omit other pertinent facts, like the Government also cutting other tax rates and increasing benefits to compensate for the increase in GST.

This dishonesty is common from the left.

For facts see Budget 2010: Tax reductions in detail which includes:

Key tax changes
All personal income tax rates will be cut from October 1, 2010.
Income up to $14,000 will be taxed at 10.5%, down from 12.5%.
Income from $14,001 to $48,000 drops to 17.5% from 21%
Income from $48,001-$70,000 down to 30% from 33%
Income over $70,000 will be cut to 33% from 38%.

GST will increase from 12.5% to 15%. Income support and other payments will rise by 2.02% to compensate for the increase. This includes student allowances and supplementary benefits, superannauation, veterans pension and the Working for Families tax credit.

Company tax
The company tax rate will fall from 30% to 28% from the 2011/12 income year.

The sting
While higher income earners will benefit from the government slashing the top tax rate, there is a sting in the tail of the budget that will hit wealthy in the hip pocket beyond just an increase in GST, which is widely considered to adversely affect the less wealthy the most.

Building depreciation tax deductions will no longer be allowed from next year, providing the building has a useful life of 50 years or more. This would include most rental houses and offices.

Robins also doesn’t discuss what effect these tax changes had on employment and the economy that were severely stressed by the Global Financial Crisis.

Honesty is a choice.

There are some choices related to inequalities, both personal and by Government. And there are many aspects of inequality that none of us can do much if anything about.

Inequality is a vague ideal that as far as I’m aware has never be achieved. Perhaps Robins or someone else can point to examples of sustainable equality in any human society.

I think that equality is the wrong goal.

Re Mark remarks – appalling in Parliament

I presume Ron Mark is trying to attract attention to himself and to NZ First in Parliament but he is not doing himself or his party any favours with his poor behaviour, even by Parliamentary standards.

Yesterday Question was interrupted by the prize pillock.

National MP Dr Juan Yang kicked off Question 8 on Tuesday with some patsies for the Minister of Education..

Just over two minutes in the Speaker David Carter called order and addressed Mark.

Ron Mark: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. I will draw your attention to an incident in this House a little while ago—

Mr SPEAKER: Can I just have the point of order please?

Ron Mark: The point of order is about the inconsistency of rulings from the Chair—

Mr SPEAKER: Order! [Interruption] Order! The member will resume his seat if he wishes to stay. Throughout the last two questions there has been a constant barrage from that member, making it very difficult for me to hear what was going on. I give the warning quite seriously to the member: if he wishes to stay I suggest he quietens down; if he does not wish to stay then I can assist him very quickly. Supplementary question—

Ron Mark: Point of order.

Mr SPEAKER: No, I have dealt with the matter.

Ron Mark: A new point of order.

Mr SPEAKER: A fresh point of order?

Ron Mark: Fresh point of order.

Mr SPEAKER: If it—correction. But just before—the member will take a seat. I am happy to entertain a fresh point of order, but if it is in any way relitigating the territory we have just covered I will then be asking the member to leave the House immediately.

Ron Mark: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. Does the ruling still stand that we should not read our speeches?

Mr SPEAKER: There has never been a ruling that you must not read a speech. It has certainly been an encouragement for people not to read speeches. Very often through question time, as the member will observe as he spends more time in this House, Ministers do read from a scripted answer.

Ron Mark: Speaking to the point of order.

Mr SPEAKER: No. We have dealt with the matter. The matter—[Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER: Order! Supplementary question, the honourable—[Interruption] Order! Can I just remind Ron Mark that that is the very last warning.

Chris Hipkins: If the review of the Education Act is so important—

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker.

Mr SPEAKER: Order! Again—

Rt Hon Winston Peters: A fresh point of order.

Mr SPEAKER: Order! Just a minute.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: I don’t need a ruling.

Mr SPEAKER: That is exactly what the member said last time on an occasion like this, but I still want to deliver it so he then cannot accuse me of acting precipitously. I have dealt with this matter. If the member wants to raise a fresh point of order I will hear it, but if I consider it is in any way relitigating the territory just covered by his colleague Ron Mark, then I will not hesitate to ask the right honourable member to leave the Chamber.

Rt Hon Winston Peters: The Standing Orders are very clear about members being referred to if they are not in the House. When you gave your reply to Ron Mark you used the phrase “if he spends more time in the House”. That is not allowed by the Standing Orders—

Mr SPEAKER: Order! [Interruption] Order! The member will resume his seat. I said “as he spends more time in the House”. As he becomes more experienced with the Standing Orders and watches question time more often, he will have—[Interruption] Order! Ron Mark will leave the Chamber. Ron Mark, would you leave the Chamber.

  • Ron Mark withdrew from the Chamber.

I don’t know what Mark was trying to achieve but that just seems like a stupid waste of Parliament’s time.

Mark must have been allowed back in for the first reading to the Shop Trading Hours Amendment Bill as he the seventh to speak on the Bill.

He began in relative silence with what came across as a smart arse remark directed at the Speaker.

RON MARK (Deputy Leader—NZ First): It is wonderful, actually, to be back in the House, with the opportunity to speak on a piece of legislation, actually…

He slowly worked into his speech, gradually turning to trying to rubbish the Government and National MPs. It wasn’t pretty. In fact it looked and sounded ugly.

But I cannot allow some of the comments and some of the hyperventilating that I have had to bear witness to this evening to go without some comment. I would have thought, actually, that if the Government wanted this legislation through it could have done it quite some time ago at far less cost to the taxpayer.

I get a little bit nauseated by hearing lectures from members of the National Party both here in the House, out on the hustings, and through the media about how concerned they are about taxpayers’ money and the expenditure.

Ironic given the nauseous nature of his barbs.

The other thing that I have got to comment on is Mr Hudson’s comments about choice. What a farcical speech that was. If the member truly believed in choice he would explain to the House why there is no choice—

Brett Hudson: Good choice.

RON MARK: Mr Hudson, you have had your say so now it is our turn. Mr Hudson,

Considering how much Mark interjects when it’s the turn of other MP’s that’s humourless hypocrisy.

…if the member truly believes in freedom of choice then explain why all the members of his party are being whipped tonight. Mr Hudson, let me take one back to the smacking legislation. The choice in the National Party ranks was so clear that members of the National Party back in the old days, you know when Helen Clark was the Prime Minister and John Key was in Opposition ranting and raving about what he is going to do in Government, how appalling the anti-smacking legislation was. That was not choice. That was whipped like a bunch of little puppies—puppies. So Mr Hudson, can it—can it.

Brett Hudson: Says the Winston Peters lapdog.

That was a complete diversion from the bill, dripping with derision.

RON MARK: Because, actually, Mr Hudson, you are like that old Hudson car—slow, smoky, rather rounded at the edges, and going nowhere fast—and no one buys the crap we just heard this evening, thank you.

I want to go on to the other comments of Melissa Lee, one of these other wonderful National Party member, from Korea as Wikipedia says. Melissa Lee told the House in her rather condescending manner, which she is becoming renowned for, that we need to grow up in New Zealand. Well I have got a short message, if you do not like New Zealand go back to Korea. That is the first message. The second message is—[Interruption]—that got them going. The second message is, let us look at public holidays in Korea—let us look at public holidays in Korea. So Korea we have the Korean New Year. Do they work on Korean New Year? No. Let us look at the independence day—[Interruption]

The ASSISTANT SPEAKER (Lindsay Tisch): Order! I would like to hear what the member is saying.

RON MARK: So let us look at the public holidays in Korea, where nobody—

Hon Amy Adams: Racism and vitriol.

Adams is right. That’s fairly disgraceful from Mark.

RON MARK: Oh, the Minister is upset. This is one Minister in the House who, when she gets her little dander up, cannot resist having a slap. Well, Amy, listen up—

Hon Amy Adams: Only a racist—

RON MARK: I am a racist, well, telling the—

The ASSISTANT SPEAKER (Lindsay Tisch): Order! Look, this is a robust debate and we will just ask you to calm things down. So Ron Mark, you have the floor.

RON MARK: Without any overtures of racism…

More like an overdose of sarcasm and itony.

…let us look at the holidays in Korea that are public holidays that people do not work on. Coming to New Zealand and telling us we should grow up in our House, where we allow freedom of speech, is a little different to what we see.

Not just racist insults to an MP, but also to another country. We get it that NZ First have something against Asians but this is disgraceful.

Buddha’s birthday, holy heck, so now we say that New Zealanders should have to work on a religious day but in Korea, where Miss Lee comes from, Buddha’s birthday on the eighth of the fourth lunar month is a public holiday where no one works. So let us look at another National Party member. Oh geebers, Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi. This gentleman also understands and respects the value of religious days and the need for public holidays but he sits in this House ready to take a call, I guess, to support this legislation. But let us have a look at India. There are so many, I just could not read them out in this time that I have available, but one of the religious holidays in India is Easter.

He turns to more ethnic insults.


Easter—where people do not have to work. And there is Good Friday, Easter Sunday, St Thomas the Apostle, the Blessed Virgin Mary, Feast of St Francis Xavier, Christmas Day. And let us have a look at a few others: Eid ul-Fitr, Eid ul-Adha, Eid ul-Ghadeer, and let us not forget Mahatma Gandhi’s birthday. Do not come into this House preaching and telling New Zealanders to grow up. Do not give us the condescending rhetoric.

That sounds like he’s projecting his own characteristics onto others.

Because on one hand we know that although certain people are towing the National Party line like a bunch of little whipped puppies, back in their own world they would never ever dare stand up and say this.

So I come right back to where I started. New Zealand First is happy to support this legislation going to the select committee for a constructive debate and for a constructive analysis.

Don’t expect any analysis nor constructive debate if Mark has anything to do with it.

He went on to meander around the general topic of the Bill.

But this speech was in very poor taste from Mark. He looks determined to compete for the title of nastiest MP.

He tries to copy the disruptiveness of Peters, except he is absent any charm.


“What we are witnessing in real time is a growing Police State”

Martin ‘Bombastic’ Bradbury posted Why the latest details on the Police harassment of Nicky Hager should lead every news bulletin

The true scope of Police harassment directed at Nicky Hager should send a deep chill through each and every NZer.

What we are witnessing in real time is a growing Police State with all the casual fascism of a book burning around a BBQ.

There’s certainly cause for possible concern and certainly scope for clarification about how banks may hand information over to the Police, but that seems to be a tad over dramatic.

The Police have also understood the deep negative egalitarian anti-intellectualism that infects the NZ psyche. The desire to hold the powerful to account is perceived by this culturally cringed rump of NZ as being a smart arsed stirrer who simply  by their ability to string together a coherent question makes them a target for ‘oh-you-think- you’re-smarter-than-me’ styled resentment.

The cops know this and know that their extraordinary harassment of Hager will be ignored by the mainstream media and will be seen as just desserts by rump NZers who still think the biggest issue with Dirty Politics is that Hager used stolen e-mails.

He ignores the fact that the Herald published  Police got Hager data without court order yesterday, except that he then quotes from it. Radio NZ and Newstalk ZB also reported on it.

…this is clear evidence of the NZ Police bullying and threatening companies with adverse legal ramifications if they don’t hand over information on a  journalist who had embarrassed the aGovernment – note, not one bloody search order or warrant has been signed, this is just the NZ Police using threats.

I haven’t seen any evidence of bullying or threatening, and Bradbury provides none.

This abuse of police power to attempt to arrest a journalist who embarrassed the Government should lead every news bulletin in this country, but because our mainstream media have deteriorated into clickbait entertainment banality, the ramifications of this type of abuse of power aimed at journalists holding the powerful to account isn’t explained to voters.

No wonder National are still polling near 50%.

He also provides a visual link of national to the Police actions.

David Fisher in the Herald article also provided an indirect of National to Westpac releasing information to the Police.

No wonder Internet-Mana polled 1.42% in last year’s election (I think Bradbury was confident of them beating the 5% threshold) and is nowhere to be seen.

The problem with all these conspiracies is that important issues get drowned by dodgy dramatics.

Government moves to legalise growing medicinal cannabis…

…in Australia. But changes there will put further pressure on the Government in New Zealand to look at similar changes here.

Government moves to legalise growing medicinal cannabis in Australia

The Federal Government has announced it will legalise the growing of cannabis for medicinal purposes.

Health Minister, Sussan Ley, says the Government wants to give people suffering from debilitating illnesses access to the most effective medical treatments.

Medicinal cannabis can already be provided under a special scheme, but Ms Ley says global supplies are relatively scarce and expensive.

SUSSAN LEY: I have heard stories of patients who resorted to illegal methods of obtaining cannabis and I have felt for them because with a terminal condition the most important thing is quality of life and relief of pain and we know that many people are calling out for medicinal cannabis.

It is important therefore that we recognise those calls for help, that we put in place what we know will support a safe, legal and sustainable supply of a product.

LOUISE YAXLEY: The Government intends to amend the Narcotic Drugs Act to allow cannabis to be grown for medicine or science, and that would ensure that Australia is not in breach of international drug treaties.

SUSSAN LEY: This is not a debate about legalisation of cannabis, this is not about drugs, this is not a product you smoke, this has nothing to do with that. 

Most commonly the product is an oil or a tincture that you put on your skin.

The shadow assistant Health Minister, Stephen Jones, said Labor would have a nationally consistent scheme.

STEPHEN JONES: It’s a truly national scheme to make medicinal cannabis available and it shouldn’t be a matter of whether you live in New South Wales or Victoria or somewhere else in Australia – if you are suffering from a terminal illness or if your child has drug resistant epilepsy, suffering from life threatening fits, then you should have available to you through medical advice and appropriate channels, medicinal cannabis.

Forget Dunne, I think he’s pushing as hard as he can in a difficult situation. He’s copping all the pressure, but the thing holding up faster change here is National.

Pressure John Key and target National MPs who might look favourable and compassionately on looking at better ways of alleviating the suffering of people.

Like Zoe Jeffries , a 7 year old girl with uncontrolled epilepsy, spastic quadriplegia cerebral palsy, microcephaly, cerebral visual impairment, is tube fed and who has had severe seizures since birth.

After two years her parents have got Ministry of Health approval to use the only available cannabis derived medicine in New Zealand, Sativex. At a cost to them of $250 per week. See Ministry of Health approves medicinal cannabis treatment.

For much to happen this term National need to change their intransigence substantially.

It would also help if the Greens and Labour pushed far more strongly and positively on this.

And public pressure needs to be strong but positive, a slanging match won’t change anything for the better.

The two hands of Robertson’s surplus response

Today’s Herald editorial – Use surplus for benefit of everyone – highlights a contradiction in the opposition response to the National Government finally, after seven years, achieving an actual surplus.

Across the aisle, opposition parties waved their wish-lists with new confidence, calling for the surplus to be spent on child poverty, more hospital operations, more pre-school education … you name it.

At the same time, they predicted the slender surplus would disappear as suddenly as it arrived.

Labour have long criticised National for following their surplus years under Helen Clark and Michael Cullen with a sequence of deficits.

Even now they lambast National because they say the surplus will be short lived due to tightening economic conditions and low inflation.

But Labour have opposed many measures aimed at keeping a tight rein on spending.

They have pushed for more spending.

As soon as the surplus was announced Labour MPs suggested how it could be spent many times over.

On one hand Labour’s finance spokesperson Grant Robertson was highly critical of the meagre surplus:

First surplus a blip on radar screen of debt

by  on October 14, 2015

Bill English’s first surplus is just one black drop in a sea of red, with New Zealanders still paying over $10m a day in interest payments, Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson says.

“The Finance Minister has finally found a surplus needle in his haystack of debt. Despite promising a ‘significant’ surplus, it’s just $414m. That’s less than 0.2 per cent of GDP – a rounding error, not a surplus.

“But the surplus show is over before it has begun. With the economy running out of steam, National’s promises of a string of surpluses are extremely unlikely to become reality. That’s poor financial management.

“National’s financial management will go down in history as one small surplus – at the peak of the economic cycle – out of nine Budget deficits.

And on the other hand, on the same day, he issued this complaint about the lack of spending required to achieve the surplus:

Nats sacrifice Kiwis’ health and education for surplus

by  on October 14, 2015

National’s drive for surplus has meant less investment in critical areas like health, education, housing and transport – yet John Key told Parliament today he wants the money for cycleways, Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson says.

“The Government’s belated surplus has been partly achieved by dropping spending by $235m in education, $97m on housing and community development, $52m in health and over $300m on transport and communications.

“These are critical areas. Too many students are failing NCEA, dilapidated state houses are making people sick, patients are waiting far too long in hospital emergency departments and regional roads and internet services are in desperate need of upgrades.

“It also appears that $444m has been taken out of the EQC claims budget. No one in Canterbury waiting for repairs or needing their repairs redone would think that money isn’t needed.

“The next time Kiwis find themselves waiting for an operation, getting sick in their home, worrying about their children’s performance at school, or nearly crashing on a dodgy road they can thank their lucky stars Bill English has a surplus and John Key has his cycleways,” Grant Robertson says.

This is Opposition opposing gone mad – criticising National for finally, only just achieving a surplus but hammering them for not spending more. For not spending a lot more.

On one hand he criticises years of deficits, but he wants to hand out heaps more money with his other.

The Herald wrote:

If the surplus in the final account for the year that ended on June 30 can be sustained in the current year and projected to continue, the best use of it would be to reduce debt more quickly. The next best use would be to resume the contributions to the NZ Super Fund that the Government suspended six years ago.

The level of debt and stopping contributions to the Super Fund have also been criticised by Labour.

If Robertson ever becomes Minister of Finance it will be interesting to see how he goes about balancing the books.


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