Key proposes major changes

In his opening remarks at National’s 80th annual conference being held this year in Christchurch John Key has signalled major changes for the Government.

“There is absolutely no room in my view in the Government for complacency, for arrogance or for mediocrity.”

“If we keep delivering every single day, if we go into that campaign on 2017 energised with new policies and new approaches and new ways of tackling the issues that our country faces, I am absolutely confident we can continue to deliver the electoral success we have in the past.

“We have to earn the right to do that but this party is capable of doing that.”

So we shall see if the Government – especially the Prime Ministers and his Ministers – starts to earn the right to govern for another term.

It will be one of Key’s biggest u turns achievements if he succeeds in eliminating complacency, arrogance and mediocrity from the Government.

National Party – conference and future

The National party is having it’s annual conference in Christchurch this weekend.

It is likely to be a carefully controlled and managed event, at least that’s what the aim of organisers will be.

Protesters may help give the conference some attention, media are attracted to distractions.

The Party may be able to fool it’s members into thinking that in Government they are doing great and are on course to another victory in next year’s election.

But National have been flattered in the polls more because of continued Labour abysmality and  a Green support ceiling than their own efforts. When the only way to protest is via NZ First the state of politics in New Zealand isn’t great.

Somehow National have to demonstrate that they are not falling apart and that the dual rots of complacency and arrogance haven’t set in.

They will be doing their best to paint a pretty conference picture but on the Beehive scene their painting hands are looking increasingly erratic and their paint is increasingly flaky. Voters eventually critique painting over widening cracks via the ballot box.

Same old Key and same old Government are not good enough.

In past terms National has done rejuvenation quite well, but that gets harder as the same aging faces – Key, English, Joyce – remain prominent, and the new hopes like Paula Bennett struggle to look like competent heirs to ageing leadership.

Who looks ready, willing and able to take over leadership from Key is of increasing interest.

Who looks capable of taking over from Bill English and his Finance ministry is also of growing importance.

English let go of his Clutha-Southland electorate last term, having first won Wallace in 1990, twenty six years ago. He led National to disaster in 2002 but has made amends by being the dour rock for National, complementing Key very capably since they won power in 2008.

English has been solid in difficult economic times but at some stage National will have to give the appearance of something fresh and different.

What we are likely to see from this weekend’s conference is party PR puffery and outside protest, neither of which are likely to harm National’s image.

But at some stage National are going to have to look like they are capable of leading into the future rather than riding on past mundane management in reaction to events like the Global Financial Crisis and the Christchurch earthquakes.

Key is one of the most popular leaders ever. But when you look beyond his persona where has he actually led New Zealand?

Metiria Turei’s AGM speech

Metiria Turei’s keynote speech to the 2016 Green AGM/conference in which she announces a  clean river policy (Greens have campaigned on cleaning up rivers for years but there must be something new in this).

“I am the River, and the River is me”
Metiria Turei
Speech to Green Party AGM, 5 June 2016

Tenei au e tu whakaiti nei, i raro i a Ranginui i runga i a Papatuanuku, e titiro ki nga maunga whakahi me nga tini uri of Tane

Kei aku nui, kei aku rahi, e te ti, e te ta, tena koutou katoa.

Ki ngā iwi me ngā hapū katoa o te rohe, mihi atu ki a koutou e pupuri tonu ana ki te mana o te whenua nei.

A ka huri au ki te hunga Kākāriki – anei tātou kei mua I nga kaupapa o te ra nei, anei taku mihi aroha ki a koutou katoa.

E rere kau mai te Awa nui
Mai i te Kāhui Maunga ki Tangaroa
Ko au te Awa, ko te Awa ko au

The Great River flows
From the Mountains to the Sea
I am the River, and the River is me

This whakataukī speaks of the awa, the river, as an indivisible and living whole from the mountains to the sea, its tributaries and all its physical and spiritual elements. It speaks of the indivisible connection that we have as people, all people, to the life that comes from water.

Ko Tararua te maunga, Ko Ruamahunga te awa, Ko Metiria Turei ahau.

One of my rivers, my awa, is the Ruamahanga which flows from the beautiful Tararua Ranges, down through the Wairarapa lowlands. It winds lazily down to Lake Onoke before it meets Raukawa Moana and then Te Moana nui a Kiwa.

And I say it is worth saving.

The Green Party says it is worth saving.

My awa is a stunningly beautiful river. In the old days the abundant tuna, longfin eels, were a taonga for my tupuna and they still are. The Ruamahanga was the lifeblood of the rohe, its beating heart.

But now its lifeblood is diminished – and that’s why we need to Change the Government.

When my dad and his brothers and sisters were growing up, the river was their playground. They learned to catch tuna off its banks.

But in recent years, our river has been treated badly. She leaves the ranges pristine, but then she meets Masterton, where for decades, sewage was dumped into the river.

She passes by farms where farmers have taken water from her to grow their crops and filled her with nitrogen run-off. She has been tampered with so she no longer flows into Lake Wairarapa.

Sediment washes into her, which clogs her up like someone with a bad cold. By the time she reaches Lake Onoke, the pristine water from the ranges is unrecognisable, as is the river itself.

This is the same story that’s repeated throughout the country. Rivers so poisoned by pollution they’re not safe enough for kids’ to swim in, let alone drink from.

National likes to say this is just the way it is.

And they’re right, this is the way it is when you choose to defend polluters, rather than to protect our rivers.

This is the way it is if you ignore the risk to our environment, to our society, and yes, to our economy.

But our rivers don’t need to continue their decline.

That’s why we need to Change the Government.

Because the alternative, is that if we clean up our rivers, we bring them back to life again. And the good news is we can. Aotearoa has the resources, and we have the know-how to clean up our rivers and protect the wild places that we love.

We just need a Government prepared to make it happen.

So next year, when are in Government – with the Labour Party – the Green Party will set out to save New Zealand’s rivers. I’m pledging today that we will make our rivers clean enough to swim in again.

We’ll save our rivers because it is the right thing to do.

We’ll save our rivers because we believe it’s time for New Zealand to be the cleaner and fairer place that all Kiwis want. Our rivers, like our kids, can’t afford to wait any longer.

We will show what’s possible and in so doing we’ll annihilate one of the lies of this National Government: the lie that our rivers are beyond hope, and that the best we can get is water clean enough to wade through.

We know it will take a strong Government committed to protecting our environment and working alongside every community to save our rivers. And the Greens are ready to do just that.

So we have identified 10 precious and loved rivers to highlight how bad government has injured them and how good government can help fix them.

• The Wairua
• The Kaipātiki/Lucas Creek
• The Waikato
• The Tarawera
• The Waitara
• The Tukituki
• The Ruamāhanga
• The Manawatū
• The Waikirikiri/Selwyn
• The Mataura

From the Mataura in the South, to the Wairua in the North, we will be touring each of these rivers, looking at all the things that threaten them – from over-intensified dairy farms to sewerage to industrial pollution.

And we will look at all the solutions people in our communities are coming up with, the solutions that will clean them up and protect our rivers from pollution.

We will work with iwi and communities who are already champions for these rivers and help build even more support through a Swimmable not Wadeable rivers petition.

We will inspire and be inspired by the amazing work of thousands of New Zealanders who every day are protecting the birthright of our kids by protecting our rivers and our environment.

I want all of us in this room, and all of our members and supporters, to get in behind this campaign.

I want you to talk to as many people as possible about it.

To ask them if they think our rivers should be swimmable.

And to ask them to sign the petition to make that goal a reality.

Lots of us are out campaigning at the moment for the Local Body Elections. That campaign is a great opportunity for the Greens to be talking about the importance of rivers. And the rivers campaign is a great opportunity to build our Local Body campaign.

Because I know that New Zealanders everywhere care deeply about water. It’s a great way to connect with people about Green values.

Because I know that the Green Party is leading the way on solutions and others are taking notice.

National is taking notice – and believe me it knows its weak response to pollution and to giving our water away for free is hurting it.

When people are standing up and saying no, National notices.

When more and more farmers are getting behind environmental initiatives, National notices.

When even Dairy NZ is beginning to say that less intensive farms, organic farms, with added value are more profitable than a high volume, high impact approach – National notices.

National is getting its wake up call on this issue. But National will continue to do as little as they can, for as long as they can.

That’s why we need to Change the Government.

In Government the Green Party will do all we can to limit the amount of pollution going into rivers so that they are safe for our kids to swim in.

The Green Party will put a moratorium on new dairy conversions, support land based sewage solutions, put filters on stormwater drains, and plant and fence land around waterways.

We will put a price on the commercial use of water and use that for water restoration projects by hapu and communities. The Ashburton people have our full support.

Our National Environmental Standard (NES) for water quality will require councils to ensure that our rivers are clean enough for swimming.

This will support the National Policy Statement on water and help bring it into effect. We would make sure it set maximum levels for nitrate, phosphorus, zinc, cadmium and other pollutants allowed in our rivers.

And we support Maori as kaitiaki of water.

This is just the start. There is so much more.

Already, people like you, all around the country are working to clean up their rivers. You’ve already started showing the National Government what can be done, and you’ve already started making New Zealand the cleaner and fairer place that all Kiwis want. You’re doing what’s right, what’s needed, to protect the precious places that we love.

And for that hard work I think the Government should have your back.

That’s why we need to Change the Government.

Because the National Government honestly doesn’t care if you and I go without the things we treasure, like clean air and water, if its friends can get further ahead.

John Key thinks our rivers are in pretty good shape. That tells me that the so called brighter future that National promised is really only for its chosen few, and it’s costing the rest of us our way of life.

In last week’s Budget we learned that you and I are subsidising industries that are belching out climate damaging carbon, to the tune of $2 billion.

We’re effectively paying those industries to pollute. Meanwhile, we’re having to subsidise them by putting more and more public money into cleaning up the rivers they’re polluting.

The $100 million promised in the Budget by the Government is only $10 million a year, and the money doesn’t kick in for years. That isn’t enough to clean up our waterways, and doesn’t address the causes of pollution like intensive dairying.

The supposed Freshwater Improvement Fund of just $10 million a year is a drop in the bucket of what is needed to make our rivers safe for swimming.

And on top of that the Fund can be used for irrigation!

That’s right, like a cow pooing in the creek, the fund is already so fouled it can be used to further pollute the waterways.

This is typical National Party, talk big, do bugger all.

Thankfully for my awa, the Ruamahunga, there are lots of people who are working hard to restore her health – my hapu, Ngati Moe, are planting native shrubs at the edge of the river to soak up nitrogen run off and are working to restore fat and healthy tuna and other native fish and Wairarapa farmers committed to protecting the river from nutrients. There are changes being made to the sewerage system, working groups listening to the community about what they want for the river, and volunteers getting kids interested in replenishing her with tuna too.

Yes, you can still swim in the upper reaches of the Ruamahanga, and many do. It’s glorious up there, before it hits the towns. And yes, there are still some tuna, but they need help getting down to the sea on their once-in-a-lifetime journey to breed.

And yes, I agree, water is necessary to grow crops and keep livestock healthy.
But what the National Government doesn’t appreciate is that water – like the rest of nature – is never free.

When National gives water away and allows businesses to pump their pollution into our air and waterways for free, the rest of us bear the cost.

We always bear the cost.

You and I know, that if we really want clean rivers, if we want a fair country that’s as good as it can be, we need to change the Government.

By backing those who’re already well ahead, National is denying young families the chance to buy a warm, safe home for their kids to grow up in, it’s robbing us of the rivers we love to swim in, and it’s costing New Zealand the opportunity to make the transition to a cleaner, more prosperous future.

The Green Party understands that in order to have the best country possible, we need to take care of ourselves, of each other and the rivers and wild places that we love.

We think it’s time for New Zealand to be the cleaner and fairer place that all Kiwis want. But for it to happen we need a Government prepared to do all it can rather than as little as it can get away with.

To do what’s right, not just what’s easy.

Aotearoa New Zealand can have clean rivers, we can have warm houses and we can have meaningful jobs that pay enough for families to thrive, if we make good changes now.

Our ten rivers campaign shows what’s possible, with a Government prepared to do all that it can.

We can make rivers clean enough to swim in again.

So let’s get started and let’s CHANGE THE GOVERNMENT!

Green Party AGM

The Green Party have their annual conference/AGM this weekend. A notable new feature will be a keynote address by Andrew Little.

Co-leader James Shaw will keynote for the Greens – it will be interesting to see how he comes cross following Little.


That photo is from the launch of the Memorandum of Understanding – interesting that Annette King is cut off the side but she won’t feature at the AGM.

Here is a ‘media advisory’ from James Shaw on what is on the agenda:

What: The Green Party Aotearoa New Zealand AGM, including keynote speeches from James Shaw, Metiria Turei and Andrew Little, plus the launch of a new nationwide environmental campaign


Saturday 4 June:

  • 1.15pm Keynote speech by Labour Party leader Andrew Little – media are requested to be on-site by 1pm
  • Followed by keynote speech by Green Party Co-leader James Shaw
  • Following the speeches there will be a joint media stand-up

 Sunday 5 June

  • 1pm: Launch of a centrepiece environmental campaign by Green Party Co-leader Metiria Turei, followed by a photo-op  and media stand-up

Where: Lincoln Events Centre, 15 Meijer Drive, Lincoln, Canterbury

·         The event will also be livestreamed through The Green Party Facebook page:

The Green Party AGM this year will see keynote speeches by Co-leader James Shaw and Labour leader Andrew Little as the two parties come together to change the government in 2017.

“We have 18 months to change the government and we will make use of every single day of those 18 months,” said Mr Shaw.

“This is an exciting time to be part of the Green Party. We’re coming into this AGM with real momentum from our recent state houses and freight policy launches, and, of course, the signing of our historic agreement with Labour.

“We’ve been putting the foundations in place – renewed leadership, talking about the issues that matter to New Zealand, and with this week’s announcement, a clear movement to change the government.”

On Sunday, the Green Party will launch a new nationwide campaign to fight for our environment.

“The Government thinks the environment is there to make a fast buck,” said Mr Shaw.

“Look at the situation with freshwater: John Key says that most of our water just runs out to sea, when in fact it sustains native species and ecosystems, as well as communities who swim in and gather food from rivers.

“But because those things don’t make export dollars, the National Government doesn’t see any value in them, and our environment suffers.

“We are excited to be launching a new campaign that will bring New Zealanders together and fight for our beautiful outdoor spaces,” said Mr Shaw.

Hooton: on ACT’s strategies

Matthew Hooton, a committed supporter of and voter for the ACT Party, gave a speech at  their annual conference.

He closed his speech by outlining how he saw their prospects, and implored them to put his political dream into practice.

John Key has no choice but the reindorse David Seymour in Epsom in 2017 – pretty much no matter what David and Act do between now and then. That is true if Act is around zero in the party vote, in which case Epsom creates an overhang. More optimistically, it is even more true if you get yourselves up to 2%, 3% or – most powerfully in terms of a Key endorsement – the magic 4.9%. If you get above 5%, of course, then maybe my poor old friend Paul Goldsmith should get a chance.

Key has choices about ACT and Epsom, but it is very likely he will make it easy for Seymour to retain Epsom.

Your best strategy over the next 17 months before the election is to more clearly distinguish yourself from National. David Seymour, at great personal cost, made that strategy possible when he turned down a higher-paying minister’s job to avoid being more tightly bound to National under cabinet collective responsibility. I’ve never heard of a politician making that decision before. It speaks to David’s integrity.

That done, what would happen, for example, if you declared you would not vote for a Budget that expanded Steven Joyce’s corrupt corporate welfare machine, or that included more money for Murray McCully’s corrupt Saudi sheep bribe? I’ll tell you what would happen in terms of policy: Any plans to expand corporate welfare or fly more sheep over to the Saudi desert would be dropped from the Budget.

Except that ACT have a Confidence and Supply agreement with National – “ACT New Zealand agrees to provide confidence and supply for the term of this Parliament to a National-led Government in return for National’s agreement to the policy programme and other matters set out in this document. ”

2014 ACT Party Confidence and Supply Agreement [PDF 68k] (PDF)

ACT have an agreement that guarantees they will vote for budgets. It would be drastic and potentially damaging for them politically if they broke that agreement. Seymour won’t do that.

And I’ll tell you what would happen in terms of the Epsom guarantee: Absolutely nothing, except the people of Epsom would be more likely to vote for David Seymour even without a National endorsement. John Key is not going to say “that David Seymour stopped me flying more sheep to Saudi Arabia so I’m going to chuck him under the bus and jeopardise my fourth term” anymore than he might say “that damn Maori Party won’t back me on the TPP so that’s the end of my relationship with them and we’ll just have to have a Labour government”.

Moreover, around the country, Act would gain respect from genuinely small government people who don’t like the big government corruption we are seeing from the elements in the current government. And that means John Key’s need to endorse David Seymour again would only grow.

ACT would lose respect from those who see Confidence and Supply agreements as very important for stable government and for reliable small party support.

Look to one of the parties you are effectively in coalition with, the Maori Party. Depending on the poll, it’s doing about six times better than you with the voters. As I understand it, it votes against the National Party in parliament more than Labour. And, when it makes a fuss about that, it goes up in the polls because that is what its constituency wants.

But the Maori Party has never broken a confidence and supply agreement as far as I am aware.

Yet the Maori Party has a perfectly good relationship with John Key because the one thing he understands is realpolitik. He understands that the Maori Party may well be essential to his fourth term, and he understands the Maori Party has to do what the Maori Party has to do to be there after September next year

Now, you’ve got at least one of my votes tied up – usually including the party vote – so you shouldn’t really take advice from me, because I’m a dead cert.

But here’s what I think anyway. The people who don’t vote for you now, but may vote for you in 2017, don’t want you to do anything to jeopardise John Key’s fourth term.

Like threaten a confidence and supply agreement?

They want you to support him. But they also want to see you fight him. They want to see you fight Steven Joyce’s corrupt corporate welfare machine. They want to see you fight Murray McCully’s corrupt Saudi sheep deal. They want to see you fight Bill English’s plans to knock down houses and rebuild Auckland in the form Wellington planners say is best for us.

They want to see you fight a government that has raised benefits but has no concrete plans for tax cuts; a government which has borrowed more money than the net total of all previous New Zealand governments combined; a government which may deliver one surplus and then send us back into deficit again; a government which is proud to have no interest in addressing issues of an ageing population.

They want to see you fight a government which has failed to reform the Resource Management Act, and one which remains far too beholden to indulgence seekers, whether Sky City Casino or powerful iwi bosses.

They will want to see you fight a government that almost certainly plans to corruptly allocate water to existing users rather than more fairly to people with new ideas, because it is a government beholden to the lobbyists from Fonterra and Federated Farmers.

These are the sorts of thing that will drive your party vote up. It is what will make Epsom a genuinely Act seat rather than something of a gift. And those things together mean John Key will have no choice but to ensure you win Epsom again.


If a single MP ACT tail tries to wag a 59 MP National dog to much there will be political risks. If National are not reliant on whatever numbers ACT can offer after the next election to make up numbers then National may not risk a disloyal coalition partner very much, if anything.

If National have to reach a coalition agreement with a 10-15 strong NZ First party in order to retain power and don’t need ACT’s numbers then the importance of ACT, and probably the necessity of ACT, will be significantly diminished.

ACT have to differentiate themselves from National without over reaching and without putting confidence and supply loyalty in doubt.

That’s a challenge for a tiny party on the fringe that has no option but to partner up with National if they want to be a part of the Government.

Like I said at the outset, it’s a complex relationship you have with John Key. But you have absolutely nothing to lose, and nothing to fear, from building on the successes of the last year to more strongly advocate for the things you believe, which just happen to be the things New Zealand continues to so desperately need.

Seymour and ACT should certainly “more strongly advocate for the things you believe”, that’s advice that could be given to any party.

But it’s imperative they increase their party vote substantially.

If voters think that ACT may be unreliable, may try to wield power disproportionate to their vote, then they may just choose National as a safer option. Or NZ First.

Source at Voxy: Matthew Hooton speech to ACT Conference

Hooton: on John Key and National’s raison d’etre

Matthew Hooton, a committed supporter of and voter for the ACT Party, gave a speech at  their annual conference.

He opened it with a review of some of John Key’s political history, compared and contrasted him to Lee Kuan Yew,  and explained National’s raison d’etre – the most important reason or purpose for their existence.

This speech is about the complex relationship, that I think most of us in this room have, with John Key – and how Act might manage it better to your advantage in the future. The relationship is complex because, on one hand, John Key has massively exceeded any reasonable expectations as Prime Minister. But, in another way of looking at things, he’s also failed to live up to them.

John Key first came to prominence when he smashed Michael Cullen in the finance spokesmen’s debate in 2005, when he was broadly and largely loyally promoting Don Brash’s economic policy. And it became pretty clear he would become the next leader of the National Party when he gave an insightful speech on Singapore to the Auckland National Party conference in 2006.

To those of us in our 40s, who are now grey-haired, our political awakening had happened with the liberating social and economic changes of the mid 1980s and early 1990s. But we had to accept that if John Key was positioning himself to be New Zealand’s Lee Kuan Yew he wasn’t going to be the radical free-market liberal we might want.

But, if he were to be Lee Kuan Yew, he would be extremely ambitious for New Zealand. He would radically invest in infrastructure. He’d be an enemy of welfarism and sloth. He’d ensure New Zealand was open to the world and lightly regulated, at least in an economic if not a social sense. He’d be one of those driven, Asian-style, uniting yet transformational leaders. When it comes to the Lee Kuan Yew test, you can really only give him a “C” – maybe a “C+” on a good day.

But in New Zealand’s current circumstances and our MMP environment a Lee Kuan Yew type government is out of the question. Wikipedia summarises LKY’s rule in Singapore:

Lee is recognised as the founding father of independent Singapore, with the country being described as transitioning from the “third world to the first world in a single generation” under his leadership.

With overwhelming parliamentary control, Lee and his cabinet oversaw Singapore’s transformation from a relatively underdeveloped colonial outpost with no natural resources to an Asian Tiger economy. In the process, he forged an effective system of meritocratic and highly efficient government and civil service. Many of his policies are now taught at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy.

Lee eschewed populist policies in favor of pragmatic long-term social and economic measures. With meritocracy and multiracialism as the governing principles, Lee made English the common language to integrate its immigrant society and to facilitate trade with the West. However, Lee also mandated bilingualismin schools for students to preserve their mother-tongue cultural identity.

Lee’s rule was criticised, particularly in the West, for curtailing civil liberties (public protests, media control) and bringing libel suits against political opponents. He argued that such disciplinary measures were necessary for political stability, which together with rule of law, were essential for economic progress.

Back to Hooton and political reality in New Zealand.

But, on the other hand, as you get grey haired, the importance of reigniting the excitement of radical reform declines a bit. And it’s replaced with the over-riding need to keep the absolute lunatics in an Andrew Little-Grant Robertson-Matt McCartern-Metiria Turei-James Shaw-Winston Peters-Te Ururoa Flavell-Marama Fox-Hone Harawira-Laila Harre coalition out of office.

These are people who are mainlining their international trade policy from Jane Kelsey. They have been running around promoting an economic model from Tufts University, which I had never heard of, that assumes that all labour and capital is perfectly immobile.

Under this model, the people who lost their jobs in 1998 at the Mitsubishi Plant in Porirua, the Nissan plant at Wiri, the Honda plant in Nelson and the Toyota plant in Thames are apparently still going to work each day, carrying their lunchboxes, and they sit staring at the machinery with which to assemble cars, and then go home at the end of the day. And they have been doing this for 18 years now, because, you know, labour and capital are perfectly immobile.

Under Labour’s Tuft’s University model, no worker ever gets a new job. No machinery is ever decommissioned or used for something else. No one ever innovates or responds to new circumstances in any way. And this is seriously the sort of economic assumption that Labour and the Greens have been using to say the TPP would be bad for New Zealand. So keeping those lunatics away from office is absolutely paramount.

You could say – again when you are feeling charitable – that John Key has been like Lee Kuan Yew in establishing political hegemony for his party in New Zealand. And you could also say, that that’s what the National Party is for. It’s why it was formed: to keep Labour out of power.

And so there is absolutely no point in being critical of Mr Key for doing exactly what his party was formed to do. And he is doing it with extraordinary success, compared with Jim Bolger and Jenny Shipley, especially given MMP. And he is doing it without quite lurching all the way to full-scale Muldoonery, although only because Steven Joyce hasn’t got there yet.

Hooton goes on to say that in it’s role to keep the left out of Government National will get dragged more to the left as Labour goes further left.

And he says that it’s ACT’s job to minimise this leftward move, stop it, and try to pull back to the right if it can.

Source at Voxy: Matthew Hooton speech to ACT Conference

ACT preview annual conference

ACT Party’s ‘Free Press’ previews their annual conference – but there is no mention of when it is or where it is. You have to follow a link to a registration page and then search down the page to find out.

Saturday 27 February 2016 from 9.00 am till 5.00 pm at Orakei Bay, wherever that is.

Strong Communities and Free People
All of the speakers have one thing in common.  They don’t just talk about making New Zealand a better place, they’ve all been active and successful at doing it.  We’re proud to host them because they show it’s not always politicians and their grand government schemes that make New Zealand a better place, but that true compassion means directly helping.

Ruth Money
The country’s leading victims’ advocate.  As a volunteer she has assisted victims of some of the highest profile cases in recent times with navigating the justice system.  ACT has always advocated putting victims’ rights first and Ruth is at the forefront of not only talking about how victims can be better supported (which she’ll do at the conference) but actively supporting them on her own time.

Dame Lesley Max
Co-founder and CEO of the Great Potentials Foundation and creator of the HIPPY and MATES programs.  Since its foundation, ACT has advocated strong community organisations solving social problems where the Government doesn’t always get it right.  We are honoured to host one of New Zealand’s leading social entrepreneurs at our conference.

Lindsay Mitchell
Lindsay’s blog is a recognised authority on welfare reform.  As an assiduous researcher she is the best person in the country recount what National’s reforms have and haven’t achieved over the past eight years, and what the nest steps for reducing child poverty should be.

Michael Littlewood
Recently retired from the University of Auckland’s Retirement Policy and Research Centre, Michael Littlewood has been at the forefront of the superannuation debate in New Zealand since the early 1990s.  ACT believes that John Key and all other leaders have been too eager to kick the retirement can down the road, and we’re proud to host a definitive expert on the subject at our conference.

Matthew Hooton
New Zealand’s best free market commentator, Matthew’s weekly National Business Review column is compulsory reading for many on the right.  Matthew reminds us that New Zealand once led the world at free market reform, and that National have done little to roll back Helen Clark’s legacy of government expansionism.

David Seymour
Our leader’s keynote address will focus on the four P’s of free market environmentalism, Pricing, Property Rights, Prosperity, and Private Initiative.  For too long environmentalism has been confused with government intervention when all the evidence worldwide shows it is free societies that make the best environmental custodians.

Sonare on the Orakei Basin (and a Tesla Roadster)
If all of that is too much, you will be entertained by Auckland jazz band Sonare on the edge of the beautiful Orakei Basin.  Free Press also understands that, on the Smart Green theme, Tesla will be offering rides in their electric super car, the Tesla Roadster.

Davis Seymour’s success since being elected in 2014 should encourage a good and enthusiastic turnout. ACT need some good candidates to back Seymour up and try and rebuild their party vote.

Recent election results:

  • 2014: 0.69% (16,689 votes)
  • 2011: 1.07% (23,889 votes)
  • 2008: 3.65% (85.496 votes)

In 2008 National defeated Labour with 44.93 % and have increased their vote since then, probably partly at ACT’s expense.

If National support starts to slip, Seymour continues his impressive performance and ACT get some good candidates they could reverse their sliding trend and get one or two more MPs in 2017.

‘Care Alliance’ careless

The so-called ‘Care Alliance’ has issued a very careless press release attacking the husband of Lecretia Seals.

Matt Vickers has been attacked for considering an invitation to speak at the Euthanasia 2016 conference in Amsterdam in May.

NZ Herald: Widower of Lecretia Seales attacked for attendance at euthanasia conference

His possible attendance has been slammed by the Care Alliance, which issued a press release asking if he would now lobby for suicide pills for all over 70s.

Matthew Jansen, secretary of the group, which formed in 2012 and includes Family First NZ, Hospice New Zealand and the Salvation Army, said Mr Vickers’ attendance showed “what a slippery slope the so-called right to die really is”.

“The Dutch organisers of the conference are campaigning for everybody over the age of 70 to have access to a suicide pill as a matter of right. Will Mr Vickers be speaking for or against such a law change here?”

This is a very careless attack by Jansen, and Hospice New Zealand, Family First and the Salvation Army should be very concerned to be seen as associated with him.

Mr Jansen said he was not attacking Mr Vickers personally, but publicising the fact he had been invited to the conference, and the views of conference organisers and some attendees.

“He has allowed his name to be associated with that [Euthanasia 2016]. I am pointing out the facts.

“[Assisted dying advocates] start with the thin end of the wedge, but I think people are entitled to understand what the thick end of the wedge looks like.”

Jansen is not pointing out facts, he is making fairly despicable connections between Vickers and more extreme measures that Vickers has not had any link to.

Mr Vickers, who is writing a book about his wife’s dying quest, told the Herald that the criticism was unfortunate.

He was still deciding whether to attend the conference, but should he do so it would be “simply fallacious” to assume his attendance was an automatic endorsement of the views of organisers or attendees.

“I think in New Zealand we probably want more moderate laws, laws that are more similar to some of those in the US states, rather than some of the laws in the Netherlands and so on.

“I am interested in getting to the bottom of what is happening in the Benelux countries [Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg] — understanding more about some of the assertions from people like the Care Alliance about just how unsafe they think that these laws would be.

“It is much an understanding thing, if I do decide to go, as it is talking about Lecretia’s story.”

Mr Vickers said recent attacks from the Care Alliance and its allies were “deeply undignified, insulting to Lecretia’s memory, and unfortunately lowering the quality of the public debate”.

“That they’re resorting to such tactics indicates they must be losing faith in the quality of their arguments and their ability to debate fairly.”

It is very undignified and insulting.

Hospice New Zealand, Family First and the Salvation Army should disassociate themselves from Jansen’s attack, and possibly from Jansen altogether if he is this careless with his press releases.

We should debate euthanasia in New Zealand but Jansen isn’t doing any credit to his arguement, nor to the so called ‘Care Alliance’.

Andrew Little: from euphoria to reality

Andrew Little will probably have been greatly encouraged by the euphoric response to his Labour Conference speech in the weekend. But beyond the party faithful and hopeful, reality has set in with some brutal assessments.

I thought Little’s speech showed some hope and promise. It contrasted with his unimpressive interviews in The Nation and Q & A. But one speech does not a leader make.

It was an important speech for the party. but going by media reaction it will have done little to lift Little’s credibility as a potential Prime Minister, or lift Labour’s credibility as a Government in waiting.

Audrey Young gave a positive report in Little smashed it – literally.

Andrew Little smashed it.

He has two years to win over the public before the next election.

His speech to the Labour conference this year needed to win over the members, who afterall, did not support him in the leadership contest a year ago.

Job done, as they say.

It was one of the best speeches by a Labour leader in recent years, in both content, delivery and production.

It succeeded in showing a fuller picture of Andrew Little the person and give a clearer idea of what sort of Prime Minister he would be.

Andrea Vance had a mixed report in Dreams are free – but the electorate knows ambitious policies aren’t:

Little’s first duty was to announce the grounds on which Labour will oppose the TPP.

The deal is a touch-paper for the left and Little is walking a tightrope between the pro-free trade and the anti-corporate elements in his party.

His position is confused – and he’s probably going to spend the next week defending it.

And the reality:

The past year clearly hasn’t been wasted. Little’s team have been learning from past mistakes. But one factor remains a constant – for Labour to win they must persuade the electorate they won’t be profligate.

Little’s asking for patience over spending plans and won’t say if he’ll raise taxes. Dreams are free – but the electorate knows ambitious policies aren’t.

That’s a future challenge for Little. Labour’s conference talked about health, education and jobs, jobs, jobs, to be created by a Labour Government. It’s easy to take spending, spending, spending out of that with little sign of hiow that will be paid for.

But Little’s Sunday euphoria has been crashed to reality in today’s Dominion editorial – Andrew Little is not the man to lead Labour out of the wilderness.

Little had moved long before last weekend’s annual party conference to kill off the remnants of the Leftish policy Labour touted last year.

Little now stands on a bare platform with no significant policy. The fact that nobody much cared when he threw out the old policies might be taken as a sign of a newly unified Labour Party. Or it might be a sign that Labour is a corpse. It doesn’t have the strength to fight or even to disagree with itself. So the attempt to hide everything behind closed doors wasn’t even needed.

Having no policy to sell, Little tried to sell himself. His “impassioned” speech was in fact awkward and unconvincing.

Bellowing about the Kiwi dream and promising “Jobs. Jobs. Jobs” is empty posturing and oddly out of kilter with the national mood. So is the pledge to “turn the page” on the last seven years.

We’ve yet to see whether the country (or polls refeklecting the mood of the country) sees it like this – or even say anything of Little’s speech.

Little will claim that it’s too early in the electoral cycle for policy details, and he’s right. But it’s never too early to create a buzz or the impression that the old party is coming back to life.

Labour can’t even take the step of injecting new blood into its leadership with the fresh face of Jacinda Ardern.

Her qualities are modest, but she is a sign of life. Labour has few other such signs.

‘Same old’ Labour without any policies is going to be a hard perception top turn around.

Neither as a union politician nor as a parliamentarian has Little been a bold or lively reformer. He has little charisma and a lack of new ideas.

It’s hard to believe he will lead Labour out of the wilderness.

That’s harsh.

But it’s a dose of reality. Little should get some confidence from the party reception of his speech but he needs to appear strong and positive regularly, without the double speak he has resorted to over the flag change and the TPPA.

The Otago Daily Times editorial today is also on Little and Labour – Little needs voter momentum.

By all accounts, Labour Party leader Andrew Little made a strong showing at the party’s annual conference held in Palmerston North at the weekend.

Snippets of his speech shown on television news reports, and comment pieces published in this newspaper, indicated Mr Little has managed to crack through the veneer surrounding him since his narrow election as leader.

Reading through the speech at leisure, there are hints of a man with deeper thoughts than previously indicated.

Mr Little gives a sense of direction, something lacking in Labour since the defeat of the Helen Clark-led government which brought in former financial trader John Key as prime minister.

National have managed to win three elections with sparse policy platforms, but they have had John Key who was immediately popular when he took over leadershiop of National and he remains popular.

Labour have lost three elections and turned over four leaders. They have been busy u-turning on a number of policies so now have very little.

Mr Little is seen as humourless, dour and part of the fun police of the Labour Party while Mr Key is shown schmoozing with All Blacks, royalty and crowds of his supporters.

What Mr Little needs to do now is get out into the electorates in which Labour lost the party vote and start securing voter support.

It will not be an easy task.

Many voters have been turned off by Labour’s list of recent leadership changes and a lack of change in MPs.

Even now, there is an ongoing back-of-the-mind thought Mr Little will not lead Labour into the next election.

What is disappointing is Labour feeling the need to hold all but a few high-profile speeches at its conference behind closed doors.

It will not be easy for Mr Little to convince even the party faithful in places such as Dunedin he is the one to take Labour back into power.

He languishes in the polls, gaining little traction with voters.

And, despite a front bench reshuffle, Labour MPs are still seen as too far out of touch with real New Zealand.

Little has failed to excite the polls.

National-lite with a charisma deficit and limited and aged line-up is going to be a hard sell, especially when Labour are also going to need Greens and probably NZ First.

Little lifted his game in his conference speech. But he will need to lift his and Labour’s game consistently and substantially to build on that.

Impressions of Andrew Little’s conference speech

I’ve just watched Andrew Little’s conference live through his Facebook page.

My overall impression is that it was well done. Little speaks well when given the opportunity.

The content of the speech sounded like Little could have written it all himself, rather than being a recitation of a committee of speech writers as some political speechs sound like.

There was the usual concocted clapping and cheering, but as Little go into his speech he built a good rapport with the crowd and had them listening and laughing, especially when he talked of his personal political experiences with his staunch National Party supporting father.

Little began by introducing a parade of the Labour front bench. He also praised is MPs, particularly Grant Robertson. This is smart team building.

Little sounded genuine in saying he wants to stand up against injustice.

There was some idealistic phrasing but that will always be included in major political speeches.

It sounded like be believed in the values he spoke of and promoted.

“Taking a stand because it’s the right thing to do” sounds good but that’s always hard to live up tio in the New Zealand of MMP dominated pragmatic politics.

Sure he pandered to the Labour base and the Union supporters, but he did it effectively.

“Last year the average house in Auckland made more than three times the average woerker” is a good line. And a concerning fact (presuming it’s accurate).

Having battled with cancer himself made Little’s commitment that he will “make sure Kiwi’s get the healthcare they need…” sound genuinely heartfelt – but the cost of healthcare will make that a difficult to meet challenge.

“I want to lead a Government that makes a genuine difference” sounded genuine – but not out of the ordinary, all party leaders should feel that way, all MPs should feel that way.

“If you want me tell you what my three priorities are they are jobs, jobs and jobs” got the expected applause from a Labour audience. That’s laudable and addressing jobs could boost the economy – or could weigh it down if they are unproductive jobs.

Little says Labour shouldn’t be a shirker on climate change and compares to the namby pandy Government measures – he mostly talked about his and Labour’s aims and ideals and only occassionaly blasted Government.

Policy announcement – 150,000 New Zealanders and rising are out of work, plus 90,000 under employed, plus 200,000 who can only get temporary work.

His main policy announcement – “We will use the Government buying power to create jobs at home rather than sending them overseas”.

That doesn’t sound new. Called Our Work, Our Future it is aimed at boosing local business and “won’t break the bank”.

“…commitiing our party to a new principle – we will not tolerate poverty in the twenty first century” probably got the biggest round of geneuine clapping and cheering.

“I won’t give up, ever, because I don’t give up on the things that matter most” but no indication of how it will be done or what it will cost.

Towards the end the audo quality deteriorated and became quite echoey and difficult to hear. But the presentation continued to be strong and was often applaused.

More about poverty and repeats of “the Kiwi dream”.

Little may have had a teleprompter but it didn’t show, he appeared to be speaking witrhout notes or prompts. He did that very well.

The Facebook feed showed Live 200 viewers towards the end, that’s not many.

“We have two years to change this Government”.

“Every decision my government makes will be checked against its impact on child poverty.”

He finished very strongly but the echoes made it very difficult to hear what he was saying. A lot of rallying of the troops.

“We can do this. We must do this. We will…kiwi dream” etc.

So Little can speak very well, I’ve never seen him like that before. Impressive. He needs to find a way of carrying that sort of passion and eloquence into other parts of his political presentation.

I expect his speech will have pleased and encouraged the Labour caucus and members.

It should also cause his political opponents to take notice and start to wonder how far Little can take it.

Two years is pleny of time to build – and to stuff up – but this speech from Little suggests there’s real hope for a Labour revival.

Speech text:

Labour: Andrew Little’s Speech to Labour Party Conference

The Standard: Andrew Little’s speech to the Labour 2015 conference