Rumours could be damaging for Prime Minister

If swirling rumours are made public they could severely damage the reputation of the Prime Minister.

The revelations could precipitate the end of political career for Norm Kirk Robert Muldoon David Lange Jim Bolger Jenny Shipley Helen Clark John Key Jacinda Ardern?

It is claimed that the rumours may go public tomorrow next week soon.

‘Witness C’ convicted for perjury, Tamihere still convicted

The murder case against David Tamihere in 1990 was controversial. The guilty verdict relied in part on testimony of secret witnesses (prison inmates claiming Tamihere confessed), but ‘Witness C’ has now been revealed as a double murderer who was last year convicted of lying in the Tamihere case.

RNZ: Identity of ‘Witness C’ in Tamihere case revealed

The identity of a secret prison informant who gave evidence at David Tamihere’s 1990 murder trial can now be revealed.

Roberto Conchie Harris – a convicted double murderer – was the secret jailhouse snitch at the trial of David Tamihere, 27 years ago.

His evidence at Tamihere’s 1990 trial included claims Tamihere had confided in him, disclosing how he had sexually abused Swedish tourists Heidi Paakkonen and Sven Hoglin before murdering them.

Harris shot Carol Pye, 28, and and her partner Trevor Crossley, 25, after an argument over marijuana in 1983.

Mrs Pye’s children found her body in the garden of their Titoki farmhouse in Northland when they arrived home from school. Mr Crossley’s body was about nine metres away. Both had been shot in the head.

As well as callously killing two people and leaving a dreadful discovery for their children Harris may have ruined tamihere’s life as well.

Tamihere was found guilty and was sentenced to life. He was paroled in 2010 and has always maintained his innocence.

While serving the sentence Harris told the police Tamihere had confided in him.

He later told Tamihere’s trial that Tamihere had told him he had met the Swedish backpackers at a camping area before sexually assaulting both of them and dumping their bodies at sea.

Five years later he flip-flopped on his evidence.

While inside prison, Harris swore an affidavit claiming the police had offered him $100,000 for his evidence against Tamihere.

He claimed the police would also support him at his upcoming parole hearing.

The affidavit – sworn in front of a lawyer working for Tamihere’s brother, former MP John Tamihere – was kept secret for a year before being released to the media.

But a year later, Harris changed his evidence again.

In 1996 he retracted the entire affidavit, claiming he had been threatened in prison by gang members.

In 2006 Harris was paroled for the second time. His first taste of freedom in 1992 ended when he was recalled to prison after being arrested for assault and demanding money.

His second release was even briefer.

On the day he was let out of prison, he sexually assaulted a 14-year-old, the granddaughter of the woman he was meant to be moving in with.

Harris’s conviction for perjury was as a result of a private prosecution. Last year: Convicted murderer David Tamihere slams ‘ludicrous’ claims

The Weekend Herald reported that a jailhouse informant who claimed Tamihere confessed to murdering Heidi Paakkonen and Sven Urban Hoglin is being sued for perjury.

The private prosecution is being brought by self-styled jailhouse “lawyer” Arthur Taylor, who claims that the informant made direct admissions to him that he had lied at Tamihere’s trial.

Tamihere, who has served his time and now lives in West Auckland, told Fairfax he has a letter from a secret witness who admits lying at his trial.

He also rejected the snitch’s claims about what he is supposed to have done to the dead tourists.

“I dumped them at sea, according to him, stole a runabout from a camping ground and run him out to sea … weighted the body and dropped it over the side. I cleaned the boat up and put it back and then did it again with the female.

Ms Paakkonen’s body has never been found but the discovery of Mr Hoglin’s remains near Whangamata conflicted with testimony by the prison informant, who testified that Tamihere had told him he had weighted their bodies and dumped them at sea.

According to perjury charges filed in court, the informant had claimed Tamihere had told him that he:

• Met Ms Paakkonen and Mr Hoglin at a picnic area.
• Assaulted and tied up Mr Hoglin.
• Sexually assaulted both.
• Disposed of Mr Hoglin by beating his head with a lump of wood.
• Had Ms Paakkonen with him when he “almost got sprung” when “a couple” came across
• Strangled Ms Paakkonen.
• Gave Mr Hoglin’s watch to one of his sons.

Mr Hoglin’s body was found with his watch and a pathologist found no evidence of skull fractures or a broken neck.

Tamihere is still a convicted murderer with a life sentence, and could be recalled to prison if he breaks the law.

The perjury conviction on top of other claims since unproven make the conviction look very shaky.

 

Auckland transport plan announced

Labour Minister Phil Twyford and mayor Phil Goff have announced a ten year transport plan for Auckland.

While it will bolster rail, cycleways and walkways, it includes major spending on new roads and motorway improvements links, and will rely in part on Public Partnerships and toll roads as well as a regional fuel tax.

RNZ: New $30b plan to tackle Auckland transport woes unveiled

The government and Auckland Council have announced the new Auckland Transport Alignment Project (ATAP) at Newmarket train station today.

Billed as New Zealand’s largest ever civil construction programme, $28 billion will be poured into light rail and roading projects at Penlink and Mill Rd.

Heavy rail and bus upgrades, safety improvements and more dedicated cycle lanes are also part of the plan.

The projects will be funded by $4.4 billion raised from the new Auckland fuel tax, increased revenue the National Land Transport Fund and Crown Infrastructure Partners contributions.

ATAP major investments include:

  • Committed projects like the City Rail Link and northern motorway improvements.
  • Light rail
  • Eastern busway (Panmure-Botany)
  • Airport-Puhinui State highway upgrade, including a high quality public transport link to an upgraded Puhinui rail station
  • Bus priority programme, to more rapidly grow Auckland’s bus lane network and support faster, more reliable and more efficient bus services
  • Albany-Silverdale bus improvements
  • Lower cost East West Link to address key freight issues in the area
  • Papakura-Drury motorway widening
  • First phase of the Mill Road corridor
  • Penlink (tolled)
  • Walking and cycling programme to expand the network and complete key connections (e.g. SkyPath)
  • Significant programme of safety improvements
  • New transport infrastructure to enable greenfield growth
  • Network optimisation and technology programme to make the best use of our existing network
  • Rail network improvements including electrification to Pukekohe, additional trains and other track upgrades

Read the full plan here

And of course there are critics (apart from National). RNZ: Transport plan ‘too little, too late’ for south Auckland

It’s been billed as New Zealand’s largest ever civil construction project – but South Aucklanders say a government transport plan doesn’t go far enough.

But Jatin Khurana, who travels from Papakura to Ellerslie every day for work, said waiting 10 years for just the first section to be upgraded wasn’t going to make much of an impact.

“The first phase – those few kilometres – that’s going to have a bottleneck effect so it will not really improve the situation,” he said.

“I think it’s too little, too late.”

Mr Khurana said the heavy congestion on the Southern Motorway and the increasing traffic on Mill Road had driven him to take the train.

Stuff: Auckland transport fix: Key facts

OffShaw shrilling overstates ‘great Green change’

In his latest newsletter James Shaw seems very happy about his party’s successes to date in Government, but he is overstating achievements a bit.

You got the Greens into Government and now you’re seeing the results.

This is what great green change looks like: No new drilling for fossil fuels in the oceans of Aotearoa!

I think that is inaccurate. There has been a ban on new offshore permits, but existing permits can still be used to drill new wells.

This is gigantic! Just the push back from oil companies alone proves how huge this is.

It may be big compared to green achievements in the past, but there is a lot of debate about what effect it will have in practice.

It will limit future exports of oil and gas, and local use of gas could be affected, but until practical large scale alternatives are found to fossil fuels for vehicles (including trains and planes) in particular New Zealand will have to keep importing oil.

And we could not have done it without you.

This campaign started decades ago and has taken the hard work of people, like you, who’ve participated in many different ways to support the stopping of fossil fuel extraction from our oceans.

For years we’ve shone a spotlight on the perils of the continued use of fossil fuels and its threat to our very existence. We know that the world cannot burn the 80% of the reserves we already know about if we are to have any hope of stopping catastrophic climate change. We know that our wellbeing and the wellbeing of our planet demand that we move to cleaner, lower emission ways of doing business and of living our lives.

The permit ban is a battle win, but the fossil fuel and climate change wars are far from over.

We’ve drawn a line in the sand. So now, not only are we taking climate action, but also our beaches, our whales and our Māui dolphins are much safer because of this decision.

I think that ‘much safer’ substantially also overstates the changes gained.

Shaw goes on the Ra Ra! the troops, with the inevitable pleas for donations, but if he oversells successes too often Green supporters may become jaded.

For the first time ever, we’re making the environment a major priority in transport. From now on, transport spending must focus on reducing climate pollution as well as other negative impacts on public health such as water quality.

And finally, no more taxpayer subsidies of large scale irrigation!

Cleaning up our rivers just got real! Thanks to our confidence and supply agreement, the Government is winding down taxpayer subsidies for large scale irrigation schemes that lead to over-intensive land-use.

Another massive win for the Greens and for you!

A lot of work was already being done on cleaning up waterways. A recent report showed that river quality has been improving over the last few years. More Green pressure will help, but a lot is happening regardless.

Perhaps loyal Green supporters will buy Shaw’s exaggerations, but most voters are more likely to be swayed to open their wallets by the Briscoe’s lady – who has toned down a lot lately.

In decades we may be able to look back on great Green change, but at this early stage it sounds like too much offShaw shrilling.

Sensible Green decision to stand in Northcote by-election

The Green Party has announced that it will stand a candidate in the Northcote by-election in June.

While a challenge to their meagre finances and a risk this is a sensible decision. They will be criticised for reducing Labour’s slim chance of winning the seat off National, but they would have been at risk of more damaging criticism if they had helped Labour by not standing a candidate.

That a win for National will have no effect on the balance of power in Parliament will have made this decision easier for the Greens.

Greens will be intent on differentiating from their Labour partner, this is critical for a support party on the cusp of the make or break MMP threshold.

And they will be keen to get measures of their their popularity and of their performance in Government with the Northcote voters.

A candidate has not been announced yet.

Ministers rated, too soon to judge Government performance

While it’s possible to make an early assessment of early assessments of the performance of Ministers – Andrew Little and David Parker have stood out as competent achievers – it’s too soon to judge the overall performance of the Government, as I suggested in this post yesterday: The Government graded.

More media and journalists followed Newsroom and gave the Government a 6 month report card, but have focussed on the out the performance of Ministers.

Newshub – Six months in: The new Government’s report card

Jacinda Ardern 

On the global stage, Ardern shines.

But back at home, her Government has faced a series of scandals. There were the poorly handled Young Labour sexual assault claims, a Deputy Prime Minister who keeps making Kremlin-adjacent comments and there was the weird case of Carol Hirschfeld’s resignation from RNZ after meeting with Cabinet Minister Clare Curran.

But has her team been cracking on and transforming New Zealand?

…For almost everything else, it’s hard to say how transformative this Government will be, because most issues have been relegated to reviews and working groups.

Parker and Little rated well, while Clare Curran and Kelvin Davis were put at the bottom of the class.

Stuff: How has Cabinet scored?

  • Andrew Little – 9
    Little has a lot of portfolios, which is indicative of how competent he is, and he has really hit the ground running.
  • Jacinda Ardern – 8 (generous if substance and Cabinet management are taken into account)
    The Prime Minister has had a big start to the toughest gig in town.
  • David Parker – 8
    Parker had an early win getting the CPTPP signed and also pulled off a ban on foreign buyers purchasing existing homes.
  • Shane Jones – 8 (very generous)
    If he was being measured on headlines and sound bites Jones would be well in the lead.
  • Winston Peters – 7 (generous)
    The deputy prime minister has a mixed score card.
  • Grant Robertson – 7 (premature)
    It’s been a good six months for the Finance Minister (but the May budget is his big test).
  • James Shaw, Julie Anne Genter – 7
    Shaw and Genter have had a solid start and have clocked up some big wins for the Greens in the first six months.
  • Megan Woods, Iain Lees-Galloway, Damien O’Connor, Stuart Nash – 6
    All four ministers have their heads down and are getting the work done without causing too much of a stir.
  • Phil Twyford – 5
    Twyford has made some bold moves with transport – not all have been well received – but on housing it’s a bit of a slow grind.
  • David Clark – 5
    He’s got a lot of work on his hands and has some serious questions to answer over issues at Middlemore Hospital.
  • Ron Mark, Tracey Martin – 5
    The NZ First ministers have had a pretty low profile.
  • Nanaia Mahuta, Jenny Salesa, Carmel Sepuloni – 3
    The invisible trio.
  • Kelvin Davis – 2
    His stints as acting prime minister haven’t gone too well and he hasn’t really stamped his mark on the Corrections portfolio at this point.
  • Clare Curran – 1
    The Broadcasting Minister has had a terrible run of late and looks to be struggling to bounce back from it.

Stuff have an online poll: How do you rate the Government’s first six months?

  • Fantastic – 10%
  • Good – 25%
  • Average – 25%
  • Poor 24%
  • Horrible 16%

That’s a fairly balanced result, not surprising given that it is early in the term with a lot of policies deferred to committees. I’d give them an ‘Average’ at this stage.

Barry Soper gives an overall assessment: The successes and failures of Labour’s first six months

The fails:

  • the drunken Youth Labour camp revelations where Ardern was kept in the dark,
  • the embarrassing blunders of their Broadcasting Minister Claire Curran,
  • allowing themselves to be the blind eye of the Five Eyes countries when it came to condemning the misdeeds of Russia
  • the cancellation, without consultation, of all future offshore oil and gas exploration even though it’ll cost billions and do nothing for climate change other than sending production offshore.

The successes:

  • paid parental leave extension,
  • the families package instead of tax cuts,
  • lower winter power bills for the elderly,
  • the inquiry into historic child abuse
  • multiple handouts to students.

The fors and againsts tend to balance each other out, but the real tests are to come, starting with the Budget next month.

An RNZ also says Budget the real test of new government

Six months into the new government and the real test will be May 17th – the Budget.

Labour and its governing partners have been laying the groundwork for a Budget that will signal new priorities for spending, after building the case for significant increases to public sector funding.

Under the self imposed deadline of its own 100 day plan the government launched into an ambitious programme to implement, or start the ball rolling, on key policies and initiatives.

The first was the fees free tertiary policy, in the first year for those who had not studied before.

The jury is still out on whether that will actually achieve better access to tertiary study as intended; what is clear is that at $2.8 billion over four years it does not come cheap and is a commitment that will limit what the government can do in its first term.

Other big ticket items like the Provincial Growth Fund and the Kiwibuild Programme will also take up a fair amount of room in Finance Minister Grant Robertson’s first Budget.

Political management is another test of the government and most of the responsibility lies on the shoulders of the Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

Domestically, it has been a rough couple of months – on the whole it has been up to Ms Ardern to defend the failings of some of her ministers, and balance the interests of Labour against those of its coalition partner New Zealand First, and of the Greens.

Labour also had to deal with the damaging headlines of sexual assault claims at a party camp, a story only halted by the announcement of the inevitable review.

Inquiries into mental health, abuse in state care, Hit and Run allegations and effectively into a possible Pike River re-entry have put off the need for any immediate action on complex and sensitive issues Labour made a lot of noise about in opposition.

Ms Ardern is a ‘girly swot’ in her own words and easily handles questions about policy detail. But is she exhibiting the steel voters look for in a Prime Minister?

Ms Ardern will be judged on how she handles ministerial misdemeanours and while a new Cabinet will initially be given a bit of latitude as they settle into their roles, that time is past.

All in all she has weathered a stormy few months and has come out relatively unscathed. Rounding off the six months with a high profile overseas trip making progress on crucial trade deals for New Zealand has not been unhelpful.

The next big challenge will be to demonstrate the Government has the economic chops to deliver on the promises made to voters, while sticking to the budget principles it insists it will not abandon.

It’s the economy that makes the most difference, and how the Government wants to influence that will become known in three weeks when their first budget is announced.

Media watch – Friday

27 April 2018

MediaWatch

Media Watch is a focus on New Zealand media, blogs and social media. You can post any items of interested related to media.

A primary aim here is to hold media to account in the political arena. A credible and questioning media is an essential part of a healthy democracy.

A general guideline – post opinion on or excerpts from and links to blog posts or comments of interest, whether they are praise, criticism, pointing out issues or sharing useful information.

General chat

“Is there any way we could have a thread for the more lightweight stuff like music and general chat?”

Do it here. Please no personal attacks or bickering. Anything abusive, provocative or inflammatory may be deleted.

Open Forum – Friday

27 April 2018

Forum

This post is open to anyone to comment on any topic that isn’t spam, illegal or offensive. All Your NZ posts are open but this one is for you to raise topics that interest you. 

If providing opinions on or summaries of other information also provide a link to that information. Bloggers are welcome to summarise and link to their posts.

Comments worth more exposure may be repeated as posts.Comments from other forums can be repeated here, cut and paste is fine.

Your NZ is a mostly political and social issues blog but not limited to that, and views from anywhere on the political spectrum are welcome. Some ground rules:

  • If possible support arguments, news, points or opinions with links to sources and facts.
  • Please don’t post anything illegal, potentially defamatory or abusive.

FIRST TIME COMMENTERS: Due to abuse by a few first comments under any ID will park in moderation until released (as soon as possible but it can sometimes take a while).

Sometimes comments will go into moderation or spam automatically due to mistyped ID, too many links (>4), or trigger text or other at risk criteria.

Free speech is an important principle here but some people who might pose a risk to the site will have to keep going through moderation due to abuses by a small number of malicious people.

World watch – Friday

Thursday GMT

WorldWatch2

For posting on events, news, opinions and anything of interest from around the world.