The Nation – trade

On The Nation (9.30 am Saturday, 10:00 am Sunday):

Patrick Gower talks to Todd McClay MP about what happens next for New Zealand trade now the TPPA’s been Trumped.

Yesterday the Government launched a trade policy onslaught:

PM launches ambitious trade agenda

Prime Minister Bill English has today launched New Zealand’s updated trade strategy, Trade Agenda 2030, and reiterated the Government’s commitment to free trade.

The Prime Minister has also announced the Government’s ambitious goal of having free trade agreements cover 90 per cent of New Zealand’s goods exports by 2030, up from 53 per cent today, as well as investing $91.3 million over four years through Budget 2017 to help achieve this.

Also:


McClay is doing a good job of talking knowledgeable and reasonably frank about the prospects of future trade agreements.

Trade Minister Todd McClay says Government still wants to do a trade deal with Russia, even if Vladimir Putin is in power.

Trade Minister Todd McClay on a plane to meet Trump administration “within the month”.

Trade Minister Todd McClay says Saudi Arabia/Gulf states free trade deal will be signed this year.

 

 

The Nation – James Shaw and fiscal responsibility

On The Nation (9.30 am Saturday, 10:00 am Sunday)::

Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand co-leader James Shaw MP on the party’s joint fiscal responsibility pledge with Labour and its plans for election year.

See Labour-Green ‘budget rules’

Shaw and Grant Robertson put up a good show yesterday, but Shaw has to contend with Metiria Turei and the potential cost of her social agenda.

The left hasn’t wholeheartedly supported this move, with some dismayed that it seems to be little change to the so-called ‘neoliberal’ agenda.

NZH: Higher spend needed than under Labour/Green rules: Council of Trade Unions

Higher spending is needed than allowed for under an agreed set of economic rules between Labour and the Green Party, the Council of Trade Unions (CTU) says.

…the CTU, which represents more than 320,000 union members in 31 affiliated unions, is concerned about the limit on new spending the rules impose.

“We support higher levels of Government activity and investment than these rules permit. There is an urgent need. Many countries who are more successful than us socially and economically have much greater government activity,” CTU president Richard Wagstaff said.

“If an incoming Labour/Green Government is serious about fixing the problems we have in our education, health, housing and other public services, if it’s going to correct the imbalances we have in terms of pay equity, if we are going to really tackle income inequality and our environmental challenges together as a nation, then it will need to be prepared to invest significantly. That will test these rules as they stand.”

Also hovering over the joint Labour-Green campaign approach is Winston Peters and NZ First.


Shaw – the rules are new, and the first time two parties have a shared framework.

The Greens are still doing the numbers on their own tax package – it will be broadly in line with what they’ve said in the past.

Shaw supports Labour’s idea for a review of the tax system.

Shaw is promoting maximum votes for the Greens to ensure they have more say in a coalition arrangement. But the Greens are the credibility weak link.

Shaw won’t talk about specific cost cuts in relation to roading and to defence.

That’s a problem promoting something without any specifics at this early stage of the election year.  Shaw is trying to promote Green fiscal responsibility but can give no details.

“I will accept that will not get everything we want… and neither will the Labour Party” says Shaw on coalition negotiation.

SAS – should we have special forces?

Shaw says it’s important we should have an inquiry.

He doesn’t have any particular view on any particular part of the military.

New Zealand troops in Iraq? Would you pull the pin on that? “Not up to us….coalition”.

James Shaw says Kiwi troops could stay in Iraq with Donald Trump’s forces if Labour-Greens take power.

Paddy indicates what the likely news story on at 6:00 pm will be about:

The Nation – Afghan raids inquiry campaign

 

On The Nation (9.30 am Saturday, 10:00 am Sunday):

…more on the allegations in Nicky Hager and Jon Stephenson’s book Hit and Run. Should there be an inquiry? Lisa Owen talks to Deborah Manning.

Manning is one of the three lawyers who yesterday called for a Commission of Inquiry or a Royal Commission – see Afghan raids: Evidence of cover-up, lawyers say – and who say they would be representing the residents of the two villages that were hit.

So this is more of a continuation of a campaign (supported by some media) for an inquiry rather than a balanced investigation.

It’s not just about what happened on the night, Manning says, but the planning and what happened after…

Manning says that investigating the raids is stage . A separate issue for further down the track is the alleged cover up.

 

Do you know who might be held accountability? No.

They should have had both Edgeler and Manning on The Nation interview.

Manning says they will seek a judicial review in a New Zealand court if the Government refuses an inquiry

Mayors shouldn’t presume what dead people want

Justin Lester generally seems to have started of his job as mayor of Wellington well, but he has not done well in trying to presume what Katherine Mansfield would want to happen to her body.

Mansfield died in France of tuberculosis in 1923, aged 34.

Last Friday: Wellington mayor wants to bring Katherine Mansfield’s remains home

Wellington’s mayor wants to exhume Katherine Mansfield’s remains in France so she can be laid to rest in the capital.

Justin Lester has written to the mayor of Avon, where Mansfield’s grave is.

He said Katherine Mansfield House and Garden is leading the repatriation of the author’s remains but was happy to offer his support.

“It’s about making sure Katherine Mansfield is in a place where she did want to be buried.

“She fell ill very quickly and she wasn’t living in the place where she was buried for very long. She was there for a short period of time.

“There’s no real connection to that location, whereas Wellington was her birthplace and a place she held fondly in her heart.”

Lester said it was early days and the move would need the support of French authorities and Mansfield’s family to move ahead with the process.

“There is no rush, there’s no urgency around this but I think it is a nice idea and something I’m happy to support.”

Lester (and Katherine Mansfield House and Garden) seems to be presuming what someone who has been dead for nearly a hundred years would want. And what Mansfield’s family would want. But the latter doesn’t want.

On Wednesday: Move to have Katherine Mansfield’s bones returned to NZ blocked by English relative

The eldest relative of Katherine Mansfield has blocked a move backed by Wellington Mayor Justin Lester to have the author’s remains exhumed from her burial site in France.

Englishwoman Janine Renshaw-Beauchamp – Mansfield’s great niece – is understood to have petitioned the mayor of Avon in France after moves by the Katherine Mansfield Birthplace Society in Wellington to get the celebrated author’s bones returned home.

On Thursday, birthplace society president Nicola Saker confirmed it had received a letter from Avon’s mayor rejecting the proposal.

The wishes of relatives were a consideration under French law.

Didn’t those wanting to move the remains check with relatives?

But the idea has not met with universal acclaim – English Mansfield biographer and member of the International Katherine Mansfield Society Gerri Kimber called the proposal a “crass and ill-judged venture.”

“Why on earth do the mayor of Wellington and the [birthplace society] believe they have the right to disinter a private individual’s remains? Shall we also disinter Lord Rutherford’s remains from Westminster Abbey and send them back as well?”

Kimber called the proposal ignominious and urged New Zealanders to reject it as Renshaw-Beauchamp had.

Victoria University Mansfield scholar Lydia Wevers echoed Kimber’s sentiments.

“It’s a mad and idiotic suggestion that goes against everything she wrote about herself.”

And this also sums it up: Martin Doyle Cartoon: Put away your spades

0e0965a4edc75cc47d83

Little’s statement/apology

I’m trying to understand what Andrew Little is trying to achieve with his ‘apology’ to Earl and Lani Hagaman.

A defamation case that the Hagamans are taking against Little is due to proceed in the Wellington High Court on 3 April.

The apology is just a part of a media statement Little issued yesterday. He has done it as a Labour Party statement as Leader of the Opposition so it seems to be a political statement more so than a personal apology.

LittleStatementHagaman

This was also issued as a press release via Scoop:

Statement re Earl Hagaman

Andrew Little
Leader of the Opposition

MEDIA STATEMENT

24 March 2017

So it is a Labour Party press release from Little as Leader of the Opposition. It is a political statement rather than a court statement or a personal statement and apology to the Hagamans, although an apology of sorts is included in it.

In June last year, Mr Earl and Mrs Lani Hagaman issued defamation proceedings over media statements I made about the award in September 2014 of a hotel management contract in Niue to the Scenic Hotel Group (in which they were shareholders and directors) followed by a $7 million upgrade.

It was a matter of public record that Mr Hagaman had donated $101,000 to the National Party in that same month. This generated considerable media interest.

Little tried to generate public interest in it with this statement on 18 April 2016.

LittleStatementAuditorGeneral

The accusations in that generated media interest, and it generated objections from the Hagamans.

As Leader of the Opposition, I considered I had an obligation to respond to media questions on the issues which related to government actions.

He also has an obligation to base any serious accusations against political opponents and against private persons on facts.

I referred the matter to the Auditor-General because I believed the public was entitled to be reassured.

It appeared that Little referred the matter to the Auditor General to try to get the AG to find evidence to support his accusations.

My focus was, and has always been, on holding the Government to account.

It looked more like he was trying to smear the Government, Ministers and the Hagamans with no evidence. Little had said that the timing of the donation “stinks to high heaven”.

Throughout, the Hagamans have vigorously maintained there was no connection between the award of the contract to Scenic and Mr Hagaman’s donation.

By April 21 “Scenic Hotel Group founders Earl and Lani Hagaman are considering legal action over Mr Little’s claims about the timing of a donation from Mr Hagaman to the National Party a month before the hotel group was awarded a contract in Niue.” NZ Herald.

The Auditor-General did not establish any connection.

From a letter from the Auditor General to Little dated 7 September 2016:

LittleAGLetter

Letter: Response to request for inquiry into awarding a management contract for a hotel in Niue

So despite “The information you subsequently provided to my Office on 27 July and 2 September has been considered as part of preparing this response” the Auditor-General found no problems.

In those circumstances, I thought the matter should be resolved. Over the last three months, I have made a serious effort to do that. Today I want to publicly apologise unreservedly to Mr Hagaman for any hurt, embarrassment or adverse reflection on his reputation which may have resulted from my various media statements. I have offered that apology to the Hagamans.

There is no retraction there, and no apology for getting things wrong. Just ‘sorry if you were upset about my various media statements’. If Little’s “serious effort” to resolve things have been anything like this then it’s no wonder it is scheduled for Court.

I have also offered to make a substantial contribution towards the Hagamans’ costs; an amount I am advised, was greater than would likely have been awarded by the Court.

Little is trying to defend his attempts at negotiating an out of court settlement in public.

He has conceded that a “substantial contribution towards costs” is appropriate. The way things are going those costs will be mounting – in a statement yesterday the Hagamans claimed “we’ve spent more than $200,000 in legal fees in preparing for this case”.

My offers of an apology and redress have been rejected and the matter will now have to be resolved in court. That is unfortunate.

Unfortunate for Little. It sounds like he is trying to portray himself as a victim of misfortune.

I strongly believe everybody’s time, not least the Court’s, could be better used.

A remarkable comment given Little’s initial and subsequent actions, including his latest statement. The Auditor-General’s time could have been better used than on a politically motivated smear attempt.

I want to make it clear that the object of the criticism was the actions of the National government and that I intended to reflect no impropriety on the part of Mr Hagaman.

No reference there to Mrs Hagaman, or to their company.

The Hagamans and Scenic Circle were just some collateral damage in a political hit? He may not have intended to reflect on their impropriety or otherwise but you would have to be a fool to not see that naming them would reflect on them.

I accept that no connection has been established between the donation and the award of the management contract and the hotel upgrade.

He is not admitting he got it wrong so his apology is hollow. All he is doing is saying he has established no connection and the Auditor-General found no connection. He is implying that he could have been right but there is no evidence to support his accusations.

I propose to make no further statement until the proceedings are resolved.

That’s about the only sensible thing that Little has said in his statement.

Little is digging a deeper hole here, and he is flying the Labour flag over it.

US discussion – Trump pulls health bill

News or views or issues from the USA.USFlag


Partisan split at House intel committee over canceled open hearing

“Yesterday, the counsel for Paul Manafort contacted the committee yesterday to offer the committee the opportunity to interview his client,” committee chairman Devin Nunes announced during a news conference.

Nunes also announced that the committee is bringing in FBI Director James Comey and National Security Agency Director Mike Rogers for a second briefing, this time behind closed doors so that they can provide more information. The committee is also delaying its March 28 hearing, a decision infuriating Democrats on the committee.

“Chairman just cancelled open Intelligence Committee hearing with (former Director of National Intelligence James) Clapper, (former CIA Director John) Brennan and (former deputy Attorney General Sally) Yates in attempt to choke off public info,” Rep. Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the committee tweeted moment before going to speak to the press Friday morning.

Schiff refused to say whether he thought Nunes should step down from his position, telling reporters, “What’s really involved here is the cancellation of this open hearing and the rest is designed to distract.”

It seems odd that Nunes is heading a committee investigating a campaign that he has been involved with.


Live updates: Will Obamacare be repealed under Trump?

House tees up repeal vote, 11:30 a.m. The House took a procedural step to set up final vote on Obamacare repeal. The chamber voted 230-194 to let debate move forward on the bill. Six Republicans voted no, but that doesn’t indicate how the vote on final passage will turn out.

New amendments can’t be offered on the floor, and debate will last four hours. That sets up a late afternoon vote on final passage.

This is only step one. One of the reasons some Republicans are reluctant to support the Bill is that they think the Senate will reject it.

Spicer doesn’t sound confident.

Spicer: Trump has given his all. White House press secretary Sean Spicer said the White House still wants a vote Friday, as he defended Trump’s role in pushing the bill. Trump “has left everything on the field when it comes to this bill,” Spicer said. “The president and his team have committed everything they can to making this thing happen. And the speaker is going to continue to update him on the way forward.”

Spicer reiterated that negotiations on the bill are done and Republicans now have to decide whether to make good on their years-long pledge to repeal and replace Obamacare.

“I think at the end of the day — you know, I said this yesterday — you can’t force people to vote,” he said. “But I think we’ve given them every single reason to fulfill every pledge that they’ve made, and I think this is the right thing to do.”

GOP lawmakers: The bill is dead, 4:15 p.m. Rep. Michael Burgess (R-Texas), who chairs the Energy and Commerce health subcommittee, is ready to move on. “We tried. We tried our hardest. There were people who were not interested in solving the problem. They win today.”

Greg Walden, who chairs the Energy and Commerce Committee, also seems to be looking forward. “We have a lot of health care issues to deal with. We tried our best on this one.”

Media watch – Saturday

25 March 2017

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.

As usual avoid anything that could cause any legal issues such as potential defamation or breaching suppression orders. Also remember that keeping things civil, legal and factual is more effective and harder to argue against or discredit.

Open Forum – Saturday

25 March 2017

Facebook: NZ politics/media+

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.

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.

UK & Europe

Topics about the UK, EU and Europe.

UK-EU

UK can’t blame EU for problems that led to Brexit, says Juncker

British politicians sowed the seeds for Brexit by blaming the European Union for problems over which the bloc has little control and while building an economy dependent on foreign labour, the president of the European commission has said.

Writing exclusively for the Guardian as EU leaders meet to celebrate the bloc’s 60th anniversary in Rome, Jean-Claude Juncker warns that “for too long” politicians at a national level have allowed the EU to be a scapegoat, and that the consequences can now be seen.

Putin welcomes Le Pen to Moscow with a nudge and a wink

The expression said it all. Even by Vladimir Putin’s standards, it was a knowing smirk of epic proportions as he shook hands with Marine Le Pen in the Kremlin on Friday.

In his remarks, Putin noted that France was currently involved in an election cycle and that Russia did “not want to influence events in any way”. The sentiment sounded slightly less than genuine given that it came as part of a one-on-one Kremlin meeting with the far-right presidential candidate one month before the vote.

The mixed messaging appears to be a deliberate strategy, and is similar to some of the Russian rhetoric around the allegations that the Kremlin intervened to get Donald Trump elected. There is both an outburst of fury at those who would dare to voice such allegations, and a simultaneous revelling in them.

Back in December, Putin first said it was absurd to suggest Russia intervened on Trump’s behalf, but immediately followed up by saying “nobody believed in him, except us”.

What we knowThe attack, the victims and the investigation

Here is what the Guardian has been able to confirm:

  • Five people have died, including a police officer and the attacker.
  • Police say at least 50 people were injured, with 31 requiring hospital treatment. Two of these remain in a critical condition, one of whom has life-threatening injuries. Two police officers are among those still in hospital.
  • The assailant was Khalid Masood, 52, who was born in Kent with the birth name Adrian Russell Ajao. He was believed to have been living recently in the West Midlands.
  • He drove a car into pedestrians on Westminster Bridge, killing three people – two of whom died at the scene and one who died of his injuries in hospital – before crashing it outside parliament and trying to enter the building, armed with two knives.
  • He stabbed an unarmed police officer who later died from the injuries. Police then shot the attacker. The dead officer was identified as PC Keith Palmer, 48, who had 15 years of service with the parliamentary and diplomatic protection service and was a husband and father.
  • Another victim was named as Aysha Frade, 43, who worked at a sixth-form college in Westminster. The mother of two had family in Betanzos, Galicia, north-west Spain, and her death was confirmed by the mayor of the town.
  • A third person killed by the attacker was named as Kurt Cochran, a tourist from Utah in the US. He and his wife, Melissa, were on the last day of a trip to Europe to celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary. Melissa remains in hospital with serious injuries.
  • On Friday, police said a fourth victim, Leslie Rhodes, 75, from Clapham in south London, had died in hospital overnight. He was a retired window cleaner who had apparently been crossing the bridge to catch a bus after visiting a friend in St Thomas’ hospital.
  • The Metropolitan police said Masood had a range of previous convictions for assaults, including GBH, possession of offensive weapons and public order offences. His most recent was in December 2003 for possession of a knife.
  • Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack. It released a statement through the Amaq news agency, which it uses to broadcast propaganda, calling the attacker “a soldier of Islamic State”. The claim is unverified.
  • The attacker is believed to have acted alone but police are investigating possible associates. May said there was no reason to believe further attacks on the public were planned.
  • Police have searched several addresses in Birmingham, London and other parts of the country. Five men and three women were arrested overnight on Wednesday and early on Thursday on suspicion of preparation of terrorist acts. Two men were arrested overnight on Thursday – one in the West Midlands and one in north-west England – and a woman was detained in Manchester on Friday morning. Ten people remain in custody after one woman was released on bail.

The list goes on.

Labour now oppose treaty settlement

Labour had initially supported a Bill that would release a public reserve in Auckland for housing and would also help settle a Treaty of Waitangi claim. But they are now opposing it, to the disappointment of Auckland.

It makes things awkward for Labour’s Maori MPs – Andrew Little recently claimed “Māori will be better served by a strong Labour Māori voice”.

Phil Twyford on Twitter today:

NZ Herald: Pt England reserve housing development opposed by Labour as ‘land grab’

When Labour supported the enabling legislation at its first reading in December its Tamaki Makaurau MP Peeni Henare said he was “extremely excited” about the opportunity for Ngati Paoa.

And Labour’s Kelston MP Carmel Sepuloni said the party supported the bill because “we will support any piece of legislation that is going to be about building more affordable homes in Auckland”.

“It does not make sense to use prime land for grazing cows when it could be used for affordable housing,” Sepuloni said.

However, in a press release today Twyford said the legislation was a “land grab” that flew in the face of the local community’s wishes.

“The Minister seems to think because some of the land has cows grazing on it, it’s fair game to take it for housing. The community needs this land for future generations. Once it is sold for housing it will be permanently lost to the public.”

Does anyone in Labour communicate?

Labour’s opposition has disappointed Ngati Paoa, who said without the land there would be no Treaty settlement between it and the Crown.

“By opposing the legislation Labour is opposing a Treaty settlement bill – for the first time in the history of the Treaty settlement process,” said Hauauru Rawiri, chief executive of Ngati Paoa Iwi Trust.

“All other iwi in Tamaki Makaurau support this transfer. Opposing the Bill pits the Labour Party against mana whenua of Auckland.”

Rawiri said he urged Labour’s Maori MPs to lobby colleagues on the issue and vote against their party if necessary.

That’s the Labour Maori MPs that Little was talking about in this press release on the Labour Party website:

“If Māori want to see progress on the problems they face in housing, health and education, then they should back their Labour candidate.

“We have a plan to turn the position of Māori around and we’ll be running a campaign to show how Māori will be better served by a strong Labour Māori voice around the Cabinet table.”

Who’s running Labour, Little or Twyford?

Will the Labour Maori MPs back the Auckland Iwi?

Twyford is leading Labour’s election campaign in Auckland. This puts party support at risk in Auckland electorates as well as Maori electorates.