An all out light bulb campaign?

Tracey Watkins seems to think that truth doesn’t matter, all that’s important is getting dirt to stick.

National’s health and safety legislation its lightbulb moment

National’s health and safety legislation has turned into a running gag and political liability on the scale of Labour’s fart tax, and lightbulb ban.

And frankly, after the worm farm debacle, people will believe the worst.

Labour was swept out of power in 2008 on the back of a backlash against measures perceived as “nanny state”, some of which were equal parts myth.

There are no signs in the latest polls of National being swept anywhere. But when the rot starts setting in it is often over the small things, like school playgrounds, rather than the big things.

The health and safety legislation was borne out of the best of intentions in the wake of the Pike River mining disaster.

But politics have intervened.

It has become a runnimg gag because media are running the gag for the Opposition.

The Opposition are hardly innocent of playing politics with the issue, of course – but they are just doing what Opposition parties do best, and making hay while the sun shines.

Time will tell whether the latest attempts to damage Key and National have been successful or not.

The gags keep coming.

School playgrounds – some people believe they the next victims of the health and safety legislation.

“Some people believe” meaning Labour MPs and their allies in the education  sector are doing their best to make people believe them.

It no longer matters whether it is true or not that school playgrounds will have to close thanks to the Government’s health and safety laws.

Or whether it is true that school camps will be banned, outdoor games are under threat, or that people will have to wear a harness while using a ladder.

It’s enough that people believe it.

That’s a terrible commentary on how our politics and media works.

As for the legislation banning bullrush or school play grounds as claimed on Wednesday? A Google search suggests this is hardly the first time the Bullrush shroud has been waved.

It seems to have been banned many times over the years in response to various laws or legal precedents.

As for school camps, they were already under scrutiny after the deaths of an instructor and two pupils who drowned off New Plymouth’s Paritutu Rock while taking part in an outdoor education centre programme.

The Outdoor Education Centre was found liable and ordered to pay almost $270,000 in reparations – enough to make any school nervous about their liability in the event of another tragedy.

But National will carry the can regardless. Because the legislation is now seen as so flawed, any claim will stick

The voting and polled public have been proved wrong time and time again during the seven years of the Key Government.

There are no signs in the latest polls of National being swept anywhere. But when the rot starts setting in it is often over the small things, like school playgrounds, rather than the big things.

Labour’s strategy seems to be based on finding and promoting the small thing that breaks National’s hold on power.

Buit there’s a major problem with this. National’s support keeps holding up despite many embarassments and hiccups = because the alternative is seen as a worse option.

Labour have quite a way to go to make national seem worse than Labour. Especially if they keep lowering the standard.

For every Natiomal light bulb moment Labour highlight they keep showing they don’t have any idea how to turn the power on their own.

Slater slams Woodhouse and Key

Cameron Slater has slammed Michael Woodhouse and John Key over the Workplace health and Safety Bill in MICHAEL WOODHOUSE MAY BE AN IDIOT, BUT KEY IS LETTING HIM ROAM FREE.

But it seems to be a poorly informed diss with an underlying agenda.

Already watered down to keep all the rural MPs from revolting, the remainder is such a joke that I can only assume their attitudes were “fine, we’re not going to help you – see how the public like this”

This is what happens when you promote diminutive, metro-sexual, eyebrow tweezing, sun-bed tanning fools above their station in life.

Michael Woodhouse has never won election, he is a scum list Mp and so he is out of touch with constituents. An electorate MP would have read this bill, called up his officials and introduced them to Mr 2×4. Only a lazy, good for nothing idiot would accept these cut/paste legislative solutions.

Labour is so tits at their job that this John Key-led government is going to get away with being just as stupid. At least now everyone will know what I have known for years….Michael Woodhouse has tits for hands.

This is no surprise, Slater has a history of walloping Woodhouse – and Key since Judith Collins lost her spot on Cabinet. Talking of Collins:

You can see why wiser and more experienced heads stood up and told Woodhouse to can this abortion of a Health and Safety policy.

Who could Slater mean? One News reported in May:

Judith Collins says historic health and safety bill needs ‘tweaking’

Judith Collins denies there has been a backbench revolt over health and safety changes, but says a bill needs some “tweaking” before it progresses through Parliament.

One of those said to be agitating for changes is former cabinet Minister Judith Collins, although she maintained today there was no caucus division over the issue.

“I don’t think there are any bad things, I just think it needs a bit of tweaking and that’s the right thing to do.”

She would not elaborate what changes needed to be made, but said “it needs to be a little bit more practical for people”.

Collins is doing her job, promoting what she thinks is best in the National Caucus.

And Slater appears to be doing his job, in this case not directly promoting his friend Collins but dissing Key and especially Woodhouse – it appears that Woodhouse doesn’t pay Slater for ‘online advice’.

A comment on the Whale Oil thread:

You have the facts wrong –Mr Woodhouse received more votes than Labour in Dunedin Nth that Clark in the last election.
Woodhouse is a good man.

While Woodhouse came second to Labour’s David Clark in the Dunedin North electorate the important party vote favoured National for the first time under MMP.

  • National 11,302
  • Labour 11,147

So Woodhouse seems to be helping out in the all important party vote in a very left leaning electorate (also contested by Metiria Turei).

On yesterday’s Q & A panel former National MP Tau Henare said:

I like Woody because I think Woodhouse is a very very capable Minister, in fact one of the most capable I would say.

But not with capabilities that Slater and Lusk like.

Slater has attacked Woodhouse a number of times before o an individual MP level, but at times now he now seems intent on helping Key and National lose. That’s probably the only way that Judith Collins has of taking over leadership from Key.

Note: Apart from being taited by her association with Slater I have thought Collins is a good MP and a good Minister – she’s one of the few Minister’s that has responded to questions from me personally and promptly.

Disclosure: I stood against Woodhouse in Dunedin North on 2011 although I was effectively campaigning with him as the campaign meetings in Dunedin are stacked in favour of Labour and Greens. I’ve engaged with Woodhouse once or twice in social/political settings, and I have had oe or two meetings with him in his electorate office – despite Slater’s claims from north of the Bombay Hills I have found Woodhouse willing to be in touch with his constituents.

The difficulty with the Left’s leadership

I thionk there’s two key things that many voters look for in political parties and in potential coalitions – a perception of competence, and capable and strong leadership.

The Left have problems in particular on leadership.

So far Andrew Little has failed to inspire as a leader. This is a significant problem for what should be the lead party in a potential coalition.

Winston Peters seems to be setting his sights high. It’s been reported as high as being Prime Minister for at least part of the next term. Peters seems to despise inexperienced wannabees leapfrogging his seniority. He seems to see himself as the de facto Leader of the Opposition.

New Zealand First is currently the smallest of the three Opposition parties. The Greens would presumably and understandably not be happy if Peters took a greater leadership role than them in a three way coalition.

But the Greens have a problem too – their dual leadeership might suit them in at a party level, but at a coalition level it dilutes their leadership.

Peters would not be happy sharing deputy leadership with two Green leaders who were at primary school when he first entered Parliament in 1978 (Shaw was five, Turei was 8).

It’s quite likely that the next election will be contested by John Key, undisputed leader of National, versus Little, Peters, Turei and Shaw, all competing for ascendancy.

When it comes to a leadership contest four versus one could be difficult to sell.

Mood of the Boardroom 2015

NZ Herald has published a summary of their annual ‘Mood of the Boardroom’: Dairy and infrastructure top worry lists which shows that business confidence has slipped.

Confidence (out of 5) in:

  • Local economy 2.3
  • International economy 2.54
  • Own business situation 2.99

 The country’s senior business leaders are becoming increasingly concerned about the slowing economy, the Government’s strategy and our reliance on China and dairy exports.

The 2015 Mood of the Boardroom, published today, surveys 110 top corporate chief executives and company directors as well as heads of our leading business organisations.

The results show 75 per cent want to see the Government formulate a Plan B in case the dairy slump continues. Eighty per cent want diversification of the economy accelerated.

Sixty-four per cent of respondents agreed that indicators pointed to an economic slowdown from their own business perspective.

On political performance:

  • Bill English 4.6 (down from 4.75)
  • John Key 4.28 (down from 4.49)

Drops for both is not surprising given the worsening economic conditions and increasing number of embarrassing issues. If this downward movement continues through to the election it will pose re-election difficulties for National.

Jacinda Ardern was rated the most impressive Labour MP for the second year running.

This makes National’s re-election chances less difficult unless Andrew Little and Grant Robertson can gain some credibility in the business world.

Heat on National over accumulating problems

It’s normal for an incumbent governing party to accumulate problems, especially when well into their third term.

And it’s normal opponents to keep highlighting these problems and keep hammering the Government with them. As Greg Presland has done at The Standard in National’s terrible deal making.

John Key’s reputation as a formidable wheeler dealer deal maker is clearly mythological rather than real. And a series of deals have been completed based entirely on a prejudice that private enterprise does things better than the state.  But the reality does not match National’s ideologically blinkered view.

Attacking Key on one of his claimed or perceived strengths.

These deals include the following and there are multiple posts on The Standard on each one.

  • Novopay – the go live decision that has cost us $45 million was signed off by English, Joyce and Foss despite the awareness that there were multiple faultswith the system at the time.
  • Tiwai Point and Rio Tinto – where a foreign multinational corporation exploitedthe Government’s insistence of partially privatising our power companies and was paid $30 million dollars to continue in business for a short period of time.
  • Warner Brothers – a threat to move filming overseas when clearly this would not happen resulted in $30 million tax credits, rushed legislation and some manufactured news for John Key.  Irish Bill’s analysis here is compulsory reading if you want to understand the extent of the duplicity that National engaged in.
  • Saudi sheep – where we have the payment of a failed bribe, a sheep farm in a Saudi desert where most of the lambs died, negotiation of a MOU with a foreign state where National’s behaviour has been described as duplicitous and an active attempt to avoid legal and bureaucratic oversight.
  • Trans Pacific partnership – where we are giving up our sovereignty, Pharmac’s effectiveness and opening up our Government being sued whenever it acts in the public good all for the possibility of a minuscule increase in overseas markets for milk we currently produce at a loss.
  • Sky City – where the Government has sold legislative provisions, engaged in a contractual process described as banana republic stuff without the bananas and created future increased problem gambling and misery for a convention centre with hopelessly optimistic predictions of job creation and economic activity.
  • Serco – it has become abundantly clear that the so called innovative approach does not exist and Serco’s profits depend on cutting prison officer numbers and allowing the gangs to take over.  Inmate deaths, the hiding of violent incidents because they affect the bottom line, rampant drug taking and prisoner violence appear to have become the norm.
  • Charter schools – where instead of closing a failing charter school as recommended Hekia Parata gave that school more money.

And National’s economic strategy?  It appears to be a combination of trust private enterprise, multiple dairy conversions, a cycleway (remember that?), building holiday highways, an Auckland real estate boom and precious little else.  National clearly lacks the skills to create a modern economy and a modern state.  Without heavy borrowing and the Christchurch rebuild our economy would be in tatters.

It is not only the lack of substance that is becoming increasing clear.  It is also that National’s and Key’s style in creating a media narrative that does not match reality is now being increasingly clear.  About time.

I don’t think all of those should be much of a problem on their own. It’s easy to surmise Labour would have done something to rescue Tiwai Point, while one Charter School has severe problems others seem to be doing ok and Warner Bros/The Hobbitt have helped New Zealand’s tourism industry substantially – see Tourism set to overtake dairy as largest export earner.

But Novopay was a debacle, Sky City has looked shaky if not shonky at times and the Saudi sheep – what happened and how National have handled the issue over the last month – looks awful.

So accumulatively the heat is on National.

They are going to have to be seen to sort some of this stuff out or the voters will sort them out in 2017.

Tourism set to overtake dairy as largest export earner

It’s often claimed that New Zealand has become too reliant on dairy trade. Milk products are certainly a significant and important part of our economy, but that’s far from all that keeps things ticking over.

While dairy has been getting a lot of the attention the tourism sector has been quietly growing and is set to become our biggest export earner. NZ Herald reports:

Gloombusters: Tourism drives economy higher

New Zealand’s tourism sector is on track to overtake dairy as New Zealand’s biggest export earner and the country will soon crack three million visitors a year.

Tourism has recovered from the hit dealt by the global economic crisis and for the past three years has enjoyed strong growth.

Prime Minister John Key, who is also Tourism Minister, expects this summer to be the country’s biggest for the visitor industry.

“It’s a growth sector and there’s a lot more left in the tank,” Key said.

The latest full year figures showed international tourism expenditure contributed $10.3 billion (15.3 per cent) to New Zealand’s total exports.

Key said recent strong growth had come in spite of a strong Kiwi dollar against main source markets and the more favourable exchange rate for visitors would make this country even more attractive.

And the benefits of tourism are spread around regions (like dairy).

The benefits of tourism were widely spread with most spending outside Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch. Statistics New Zealand figures show the tourism industry directly employed 94,100 fulltime equivalents, or 4.7 per cent of total employment.

The Tourism Industry Association New Zealand agrees with Key’s assessment that another bumper summer season is in prospect.

It has been holding a series of 12 regional tourism summits and chief executive Chris Roberts said the sector was in extremely good heart.

“For many regions, tourism is the bright light when it comes to economic growth.

“We’ve seen good growth in international and domestic visitor spend in the past two years and that looks set to continue,” Roberts said.

This is good news. That’s probably why it doesn’t get much attention in the media.

Nor does it get much attention from the Opposition. Labour’s spokesperson for Tourism is Peeni Henare. He has only a handful of media releases on Labour’s website (four since the election). None of those are on Tourism – he seems more interested in his role as Associate Māori Affairs Spokesperson.

Henare won the Tamaki Makaurau electorate last year, and as a first year MP is ranked near the bottom of Labour’s pecking order.

John Key is the Minister of Tourism, showing a different priority he and National put on one of our biggest markets.

“National govt have become deeply cynical”

I don’t know if Chris Hipkins ran this tweet past Party HQ before posting it or not (see Labour HQ asks members to check with them before tweeting)…

The National govt have become deeply cynical and more concerned about their own prospects than those of everyday NZers.

…but it may have struggled to pass the irony test.

Farrar and Salmond agree on TPPA bottom lines

Last week Labour announced bottom lies on their support or opposition to any TPPA agreement – Labour will not support TPP if it undermines NZ sovereignty:

“Labour will not support the TPP if it undermines New Zealand’s sovereignty. This means:
•    Pharmac must be protected
•    Corporations cannot successfully sue the Government for regulating in the public interest
•    New Zealand maintains the right to restrict sales of farm land and housing to non-resident foreigner buyers
•    The Treaty of Waitangi must be upheld
•    Meaningful gains are made for our farmers in tariff reductions and market access

“The bottom line for Labour is that New Zealand’s sovereign rights must be protected. Anything else is unacceptable.”

David Farrar says these are reasonable conditions in Labour’s TPP conditions at Kiweiblog:

These are not unreasonable bottom lines. It is good to see have not abandoned their previous support for free trade.

I’d add a sixth condition on – that NZ does not have to make changes to out intellectual property laws in a way which would harm the Internet in NZ.

Rob Salmond notes that Farrar “broadly agrees” at Public Address in Too much to swallow on the TPP, and thinks that the eventual TPP agreement will be unpalatable to Labour.

There is no way the TPPA will meet those five or six conditions. No way. That means Labour will be opposing, not supporting, the agreement that makes its way finally out of the smoke-filled room. And I think that is a good thing.

He goes to to explain why, then concludes:

So I’m pretty clear that, given its current position, Labour will oppose the eventual TPPA text. The bigger question is: what will Labour do in government if it passes? Unraveling an agreement like this is massively harder than opposing it in the first place.

Sadly, my own guess is that, if National saddles us with an agreement that does undermine our social legislation or our rights to regulate who owns our country, then Labour will be pretty much stuck with it.

Getting out of an agreement may be political reality.

But we’re not there yet. An agreement is still to be reached. And National plus sufficient support votes are not guaranteed.

It could be that the Government broadly agree with Labour’s conditions too.

And it could be that that is why Labour has stated them as bottom lines.

Encouraging immigrants away from Auckland

National are trying to encourage more immigrants to seek work outside Auckland. The key from their new immigration measures are:

  • Boosting the bonus points for Skilled Migrants applying for residence with a job offer outside Auckland from 10 to 30 points.
  • Doubling the points for entrepreneurs planning to set up businesses in the regions under the Entrepreneur Work Visa from 20 to 40 points.
  • Streamlining the labour market test to provide employers with more certainty, earlier in the visa application process.

These will take effect from November 1.

The National Media Release on this: IMPROVING SPREAD OF SKILLS, INVESTMENT ACROSS NZ

The Government will introduce a package of immigration measures aimed at improving the spread of workers, skills and investment across New Zealand, Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse says.

“Thousands of people from all over the world are moving to New Zealand because it is a good place to live, work and raise a family,” Mr Woodhouse says.

“Those people make a significant contribution to New Zealand’s economic growth by providing skills, labour and capital we need, along with valuable cultural and business links.

“New Zealanders will always be first in line for jobs and that won’t change,” Mr Woodhouse says.

“Currently, many new migrants settle in Auckland, which faces infrastructure challenges as it transforms into a truly international city. At the same time, business owners in other parts of New Zealand often struggle to find enough skilled workers to meet their demands.

“While there are already incentives to encourage migrants to move to areas outside of Auckland, we can do a better job of matching the needs of regions with available migrants and investors,” Mr Woodhouse says.

New measures to take effect from 1 November include:

  • Boosting the bonus points for Skilled Migrants applying for residence with a job offer outside Auckland from 10 to 30 points.
  • Doubling the points for entrepreneurs planning to set up businesses in the regions under the Entrepreneur Work Visa from 20 to 40 points.
  • Streamlining the labour market test to provide employers with more certainty, earlier in the visa application process.

In addition, from mid-2016 a pathway to residence will be provided for a limited number of long-term migrants on temporary work visas in the South Island.

“Unemployment across the Mainland is nearly half that of the North Island, and labour is in short supply,” Mr Woodhouse says.

“Most workers in lower skilled jobs must apply to renew their work visas every year. Some of these people have worked hard and paid tax to New Zealand for many years. They are valued at work and in their community, but have no avenue to settle here permanently.

“We’re looking at offering residence to some migrants, who have applied at least five times for their annual work visa. In return, we will require them to commit to the South Island regions where they’ve put down roots.”

Mr Woodhouse says the Government is also considering a new Global Impact Visa to attract high-impact entrepreneurs, investors and start-up teams to launch global ventures from New Zealand.

“I will announce further details later this year, but we envisage this visa would be offered to a limited number of younger, highly talented, successful and well-connected entrepreneurs from places like Silicon Valley,” Mr Woodhouse says.

Whether this will spread immigration around the country more will depend a lot on whether enough jobs are available outside Auckland.

Philip Lyth versus Key, Slater and Farrar

I see Philip Lyth on Twitter quite often, he seems to be a prolific tweeter. He describes himself there as “Husband, politics junkie, psephologist. Standing Orders.”

Last night he retweeted to a John Key tweet and responded:

Philip Lyth retweeted John Key
Wow John. You lead the party which includes David Farrar & Cameron Slater who dogwhistle Muslims at every chance?

That’s a silly shot at Key, he can’t be held responsible for what all party members do – and I don’t think Slater is even a member of the National Party.

On the accusation Lyth made – it’s certainly easy to get the impression that Slater is a Muslim dogwhistler although his wife ‘Spanish Bride seems to have been doing more anti-Muslim posts lately.

But I’ve been a close observer of Kiwiblog for years and I don’t recall much if any Muslim dog-whsitling from David Farrar (DPF). A quick search shows that DPF doesn’t post very often about Muslim topics.

His last post was in March: Why are so many Australian muslims radicalised?

Stuff reports:

A nightclub bouncer who reportedly became a terror group leader. A man who tweeted a photo of his young son clutching a severed head. A teenager who is believed to have turned suicide bomber, and others suspected of attempting to travel to Syria to join the Islamic State movement. All of them, Australian.

The London-based International Center for the Study of Radicalization and Political Violence reports that between 100 and 250 Australians have joined Sunni militants in Iraq and Syria. Given Australia’s vast distance from the region and its population of just 24 million, it is a remarkable number. The center estimates that about 100 fighters came from the United States, which has more than 13 times as many people as Australia.

That’s a huge number.

Experts disagree about why the Islamic State group has been so effective recruiting in Australia, which is widely regarded as a multicultural success story, with an economy in an enviable 24th year of continuous growth.

Possible explanations include that some Australian Muslims are poorly integrated with the rest of the country, and that Islamic State recruiters have given Australia particular attention. In addition, the Australian government failed to keep tabs on some citizens who had been radicalized, and moderate Muslims have been put off by some of Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s comments about their community.

It’s pathetic to even suggest that Tony Abbott is the reason. I’m not Abbott’s biggest fan, but the hatred and bias from many sections of the Australian media towards him is appalling.

I think the first explanation is the strongest. For well over a decade there has been a significant radical element who have not integrated. Many senior Muslim clerics in Australia have said appalling things, and use incendiary speech. We’re very fortunate that in NZ we’ve never had this problem. That doesn’t mean that there are not some extreme radicals – just that the senior leadership in NZ is not radical, and in fact very well focused on integration.

That seems like realistic comment and not dog whistling.

Sure the comments at Kiwiblog are often thick with anti-Muslim sentiment, as was the case on this post, starting with:

Odakyu-sen

Duuuh!

Don’t allow people into your country who despise your culture and don’t want to integrate.

wreck1080

Just ban muslims from coming to NZ.

The ones already here will eventually outbreed us all anyway so lets delay the inevitable .

It is too bad we cannot eject the more troublesome ones already here — or can we?

David Garrett:

DPF: How on earth can you say we are very fortunate not have this problem here ? How do you know what is being preached in the several mosques around the country? The little that does leak out is far from reassuring…just yesterday there was a report of some radical being trespassed from the mosque in Avondale, and that person going to the head sharing’s house and telling him “Jihad will start here”…

All that can safely be said is we have seen little outward manifestations of Islamic radicalism here…so far. I’m afraid it’s just a matter of time.

But I think it’s unfair to blame DPF for dog whistling, this is more a result of his very liberal moderation and the fact that a number of extreme right leaning commenters have made Kiwiblog their pulpit.

Muslim bashing occurs on Kiwiblog far more frequently than DPF posts anything related to Islam. There’s virtually a daily dose from Manolo, like yesterday where he posted the first comment on General Debate:

Manolo (16,656 comments) says: 

The daily dose of Islamic love and peace: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/at-least-28-dead-in-suspected-isis-suicide-attack-on-turkish-border-town-live-10401885.html

Manolo started calling me the Mullah of Dunedin a while ago because I didn’t agree with his extreme views.

But this isn’t due to DPF dog whistling, it is due to the principle of free speech exercised at Kiwiblog.

John Drinnan had responded to Lyth’s tweet:

John Drinnan retweeted Philip Lyth

“wogs” is the term du jour.

That’s correct for Whale Oil, try a search their on ‘wog’ and there’s ample evidence.

But Drinnan is not correct regarding Farrar, his last ‘Wog’ post was in 2013 – Wogistan – that was comment on Richard Proctor’s bizarre comments. And that’s it from Kiwiblog.

So I challenged Lyth on his accusation.

Philip Lyth ‏@philiplyth 11h11 hours ago

Philip Lyth retweeted Pete George

Where’s your evidence Pete George is not a troll?

That’s a lame way of avoiding responsibility for a serious accusation against Farrar and directed at Key and National by association.

It looks like Lyth is the dog whistler here.

Philip – if you can make a case that Farrar is a Muslim dog whistler I’ll post it. Otherwise I think a retraction is in order.

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