Stuart Nash versus the constitution and the Police

Stuart Nash, Labour’s spokesperson for Police, was strongly criticised recently for comments made on the sentencing of Nikolas Delegat, including by law professor Andrew Geddis who said Nash was “calling for the undermining of New Zealand’s constitutional arrangements”.

Pundit: Shut up, Stuart Nash (with added thoughts on the Nikolas Delegat case)

Stuart Nash is trying to make political hay out of Nikolas Delegat’s crime and punishment. The problem is, in doing so he’s calling for the undermining of New Zealand’s constitutional arrangements. That’s … not a good thing.

Here’s what the NZ Herald quotes Nash as saying:

Labour’s Nash said the Government should tell the Crown Law Office to appeal the “ridiculously light” sentence handed down to Nikolas Delegat for assaulting a policewoman.

“The Prime Minister and the Police Minister must come out and condemn the sentence as totally inadequate and state that Crown Law will appeal. This would send a very clear message that this type of behaviour against police will not be tolerated by our communities and offenders will be punished accordingly.”

There’s just so very, very much wrong with this. The Government can’t tell Crown Law to appeal anything. That decision lies in the hands of the Solicitor General, who is a non-political appointee.

Second, Ministers cannot come out and “condemn [Delegat’s] sentence as totally inadequate”.

What Stuart Nash is calling for here is Ministers to completely ignore fundamental precepts of our constitution. Now, I get why he is doing so – he’s seeking to capitalise on some widespread outrage with how Delegat was treated (more on that in a moment).

But the fact is that the Government cannot and should not do what he’s saying it should, and he’s completely out of order to demand that it do so.

A party spokesperson for Police should know these things.

More problems for Nash with publicity about him attacking Police officers.

Early yesterday via Newstalk ZB: Stuart Nash in stoush with Police top brass

A skirmish between Labour and the police has blown up into an all-out war of words.

Deputy Commissioner Viv Rickard has written to Labour leader Andrew Little, complaining that Napier MP Stuart Nash is going too far in his criticisms of Eastern District Commander Sandra Venables.

Mr Nash said he’s raising issues that the community wants addressed, but admits he possibly shouldn’t personally target the District Commander.

“She might not be allowed to come out and say MP Stuart Nash is wrong and I refute this, I’d like to meet him at dawn with pistols.”

“But what she can do is start taking a really proactive stance on communicating with the community.”

Nash said he might make future criticism less personal, but he still stands by his criticisms of police leadership.

The Deputy Commissioner has had enough, saying Stuart Nash is repeatedly attacking someone who isn’t allowed to reply publicly, and that he’s incorrectly blaming the District Commander for the problems he sees.

Judith Collins had a dig at Nash

Police Minister Judith Collins thinks something very simple is behind Labour’s criticisms.

“Well I think they both probably have a problem with strong women.”

After his strong criticisms and response Nash softened somewhat later in the day.

Stuff: Labour’s Stuart Nash under police fire over his attacks on the Eastern District Commander

Labour’s police spokesman Stuart Nash is backing down on his sledging of a District Commander after police attacked his behaviour in a letter to Labour leader Andrew Little.

“By and large my criticisms aren’t based on what people tell me, they’re based solely on statistics,” he said.

Little and Nash have met to discuss the letter from Deputy Commissioner Viv Rickard, which was also posted on the internal police bulletin board, and Nash says a decision not to mention Venables name in future was his.

“What I’ve said to Andrew, what I’ve promised to do is that I will not mention the District Commander by name again and I’ll confine my severe criticisms to the Police Minister and the lack of funding,” Nash said.

“It’s what I suggested as the best way forward.”

Collins pinged him again:

Police Minister Judith Collins said Nash is in the wrong and “needs to stop it and act more professionally”.

“He needs to stop attacking a senior police officer or any police officer who is not actually able to defend themselves publicly,” she said.

Nash’s plan to change tack and concentrate his criticism on Collins was a sign he has a “problem with strong women,” Collins said.

Andrew Little…

…said he supported Nash “who is doing his job as a local MP” but they had agreed he would keep his focus in the political arena and in particular on the Police Minister.

That’s a wishy washy ‘support him doing his job but he will change how he does it’ sort of comment, and doesn’t reflect the message he brought back from Canada of presenting a positive party.

New Partnership Schools

ACT MP David Seymour has announced plans for more partnership schools (often referred to as charter schools). Via Twitter:

Proud to announce two new Partnership Schools to open in 2017, Te Aratika Academy in Napier and Kopuku High in Hamilton. These schools are generating new options for Kids and are a great ACT success story.

This links to Seymour: Two new charter schools approved for 2017 (NZ Herald):

Two new charter schools, one in Hamilton and one in Napier, have been approved to open in 2017, adding to the eight already operating.

Education Under-Secretary and Act leader David Seymour said only two were chosen from 26 applicants, both of which would have a special Maori character.

But he knew of several that would be applying again in 2017 for 2018 openings.

Quality was more important that quantity, he said.

The two new schools:

  • Hamilton – Te Kōpuku High: a co-educational composite secondary school for years 7 to 13. It will have a late immersion kaupapa Māori special character, and will target Māori students. Sponsored by Kia Ata Mai Educational Trust. Opening roll of 90 with a maximum of 300 by 2021.

Cath Rau for Kia Ata Mai Educational Trust said Te Kopuku High would be the first partnership school in Hamilton.

The trust was both the sponsor and deliverer of the curriculum. The trust had for the past 20 years supported kohanga reo and kura wharekura.

“We saw an opportunity through the partnership school initiative to use the cumulative knowledge and experience that we have gained in the Maori medium pipeline and provide an educational opportunity for Maori students in Hamilton who have not yet had the opportunity to learn te reo Maori or to learn in a kaupapa Maori context.”

She said the Partnership school would give the trust a lot more control than it had before.

  • Napier – Te Aratika Academy: a single sex (male) senior secondary school for years 11 to 13. It will have a vocationally-focused kaupapa Māori special character, and will target male Māori students. Sponsored by Te Aratika Charitable Trust. An opening roll of 67, with a maximum of 200 by 2019.

…a new charitable trust formed by Te Aratika Drilling, a civil construction firm across the North Island.

Ronnie Rochel, the director of the company, said that since 1998 she had been working and mentoring young men.

“I am passionate about providing a platform for change,” she said.

She saw many young boys come in to apply for jobs and although they had been through the school system, they were were not employment-ready.

Seymour told reporters…

…that sponsors of Partnership Schools, the official name for charter schools, were “some of the most heroic people” he had ever known.

They had set up schools in some of the shortest time frames and aimed to raise achievement for students who were not engaged in the state system.

“Vanguard Military School has taken on 60 kids who previously were not attending any school whatsoever when they came to Vanguard.”

Most schools had had positive results, some within their first year.

One of the aims of partnership schools is to provide education for children who currently fail in the current state education system.

Stuart Nash conflicted on TPP opposition

Steven Joyce has highlighted the fact that a number of Labour MPs actively supported and spoke at Trans Pacific Partnership protests on Saturday. He also poited out that this may conflict with Labour’s interest in promoting regional development.

NZ Herald: Labour MPs’ TPP protests under fire:

Mr Joyce, the Economic Development Minister, said Labour tried to suggest it was generally in favour of TPP and trade deals as a way of backing regional New Zealand but then attended anti-TPP rallies, including in Hawkes Bay.

“I think they are certainly split on it but it also shows they haven’t got any discipline on it either.”

He was most surprised at the attendance of Mr Nash, of Napier, one of the few MPs Labour has from regional New Zealand.

“These trade deals are about the meat industry, the apple industry, the wine industry, the horticultural industry, all those food areas getting access to some of the biggest populations in the world and lowering their tariffs and he is wandering along to an anti-TPP rally.”

I think that’s a fair point, especially for a Hawkes bay MP.

Mr Nash was one of at least six Labour MPs who took part in nationwide marches on Saturday, as was Labour’s trade spokesman, David Parker, who spoke at the Dunedin rally. Others were Phil Twyford, Ruth Dyson, Megan Woods, and Clare Curran, while Jacinda Ardern apologised for her absence.

And Labour’s trade spokeperson David parker was also supporting protests agaist a trade agreement.

Nash defended his involvement.

Mr Nash said he had been an importer and trader for eight years.

“I support free trade, without a question of a doubt, but it is not free trade at any cost.

“I know how valuable trade can be … but I have real concerns about this free trade agreement.

“Because we have no idea what is in this agreement, it is impossible to support it.”

He has no idea what’s in the agreement but has real concerns about it and says it is “impossible to support it.”

I’m not sure whay he’s so ignorant about it, I’ve heard quite a bit about what might be in the agreement, should it be signed.

But why is his default position (if he really has ‘no idea’ what might be in the agreement) to oppose the TPP when it could potentially be of significant benefit to the region he represents?

Shouldn’t he be arguing for an agreement that’s favourable?

Nash and Labour seem to have a strategy of opposing anything the Government is working on, even when they would almost certainly be supporting the policies and initiatives if they were in Government, the TPP and flag change beig current prominent examples.

They might be credible if they opposed specific aspects of the agreement that have been publicised, but claiming total ignorance and appearing to totally oppose the TPP looks like a party entrenced in Opposition.

Labour MP calls for tax debt amnesty

This is odd for a number of reasons – Labour MP for Napier Stuart Nash has called on the Government to declare a tax amnesty.

All About Hawke’s Bay (press release):

Napier MP call’s for an amnesty on overdue tax debt.

Labour is calling on the Government to declare an amnesty after Napier MP Stuart Nash released the figures for overdue tax debt.

Figures show Palmerston North debt is $139m, Napier is $496m and Whangarei has $86m outstanding.

Outstanding taxes have increased in Nelson by $67.9 million (119 per cent), Timaru $15.6m (76 per cent) and Greymouth $5.6m (51 per cent) in the last six years.

In total, Inland Revenue is owed more than $5.03 billion, up from $4.5b in 2008-09. IRD spends about $90m a year chasing outstanding debt.

Mr Nash said the figures, which don’t include child support or student loan debt, demonstrated a high level of economic hardship and deprivation in many regions.

He said much of the debt was held by small-to-medium business owners, not large corporates or high-net-worth individuals who have engaged expensive lawyers.

As a Labour party list member, Mr Nash is now calling on Revenue Minister Todd McClay to declare a government amnesty.

Nash isn’t a Labour Party list member, he’s an electorate MP. Surely a press release would get that right? The Labour Party website:

Stuart Nash

  • MP for Napier
  • Spokesperson for Forestry
  • Spokesperson for Energy
  • Spokesperson for Land Information
  • Spokesperson for Statistics

And Nash isn’t spokesperson for anything to do with Revenue (Clayton Cosgrove) or Finance (Grant Robertson), nor does he have any leadership role (he’s 26th in the \website pecking order).

And this press release is not yet on Labour’s ‘News’ web page.

Bizarre.

But the oddest thing of all the suggestion that there should be an amnesty on tax debt. He says that Inland Revenue is owed about $5 billion.

Has he thought this through?

Stuff checked things out with the Minister of Revenue in Tax debt rockets, Labour calls for amnesty

(Todd) McClay says a debt amnesty wouldn’t be fair to those who pay tax on time.

“It has been proven to be ineffective in other OECD countries and we will not be implementing one here,” he said.

“Most taxpayers pay their fair share and IRD actively pursues those who do not.”

He pointed out that  tax debt was reducing in most regions.

“Last year [IRD] collected $4.1 billion in overdue tax, which was a $752 million increase on the previous year – 69 per cent of that recovered tax debt came about after IRD made direct contact with the people and businesses in default.”

Labour Retreat – while Shearer’s away…

…what will the caucus play at?

Following another demoralising poll result for Labour – that David Shearer called ‘a wake up call for us” – Labour is having a caucus retreat in Napier today.

The poll – and a similar poor result from Roy Morgan a few days ago – must be high on the Labour MP conversation list, even if they avoid having it on the agenda. And that means Shearer’s poor performance and lack of party and public can’t avoid attention.

There is an interesting situation:

David Shearer to attend the start of Labour’s caucus retreat to Napier in the morning

On Monday, John Key will chair the intelligence and security committee in the Beehive as it deliberates on what changes should be made to the bill and New Zealand’s foreign spy agency.

Opposition leader David Shearer is due to attend the start of Labour’s caucus retreat to Napier in the morning and fly back to Wellington for the committee meeting, then return to Napier.

Shearer will be there at the start of the retreat and again at the end, but will be absent for several hours in the middle.

Will leadership be discussed while Shearer is away?

Newstalk ZB report In-fighting behing Labour’s poll nightmares

Internal arguing is being blamed for Labour’s poor showing in the polls.

A Roy Morgan poll last week had the party on 31 per cent support, well behind National, and a TV3 Reid Research poll is showing a similar result.

Labour leader David Shearer says his party is not in a position that he is comfortable with, but he blames the result on bad publicity the party has had over its plans to boost female MP numbers.

“What the last couple of weeks has shown us, and reminded us, is that when we focus on stuff that is inside the Labour Party, at the expense of what New Zealanders are worried about, we will be hit in the polls.”

No sign of Shearer accepting any responsibility there, blaming poor results on “his party” and bad publicity. Hello! Any idea why they have been getting bad publicity?

Can Labour put aside internal arguing at the retreat and face up to their problems?

Can Shearer afford to retreat to Wellington during the middle of the retreat?

And why the heck would Labour have a caucus retreat when their leader can’t attend right through? Unless someone planned it that way.

Phil Twyford responds on Gisborne-Napier rail

It’s good that some MPs respond to requests for clarification as Phil Twyford has done here.

1.       We are pretty confident a comprehensive cost-benefit analysis would justify keeping the line open now, and likewise re-opening it. However if the costs of re-opening massively blow out between now and when we are elected then we would have to take another look at it.

2.       Under MMP all political promises have to be seen in light of the need to win majority support for them. You will know the Greens are also committed to re-opening the line.

3.       There are good indications local horticulture, and more importantly forestry, will deliver an increase in freight that may over time get volumes up to the break point identified  by BERL. Obviously the success of the line depends on local businesses stepping up.

4.       This debate is to some extent about what you mean by ‘unprofitable’. Kiwirail applies a narrow financial sense of profitablility to justifiy mothballing the line. If you applied this logic to the country’s roads you would have to close half of them. Labour believes a comprehensive cost-benefit analysis is more sensible. With this kind of infrastructure decision you need to be extremely cautious about destroying a sunk asset and closing off future options.

 

Phil Twyford
Member of Parliament for Te Atatu

Labour Party Spokesperson on Transport, Auckland Issues, Associate Environment Spokesperson

My comments on this:

  1. Sounds reasonable. That in effect makes the pledge to reopen the line a pledge to seriously look at reopening the line and do so if cost-benefits stack up.
  2. That’s a practical view on how policy pledges work – nothing is guaranteed until coalition agreements have been negotiated, and sometimes individual policy support is subsequently negotiated.
  3. Quadrupling freight volumes is a huge hurdle, especially if reliant on “local businesses stepping up”.
  4. I think this needs a lot more discussion. Labour have also talked about taking account of wider costs including social costs in relation to the closure of Hillside Workshops. Changing the current business-like models for SOEs like Kiwirail would be a major shift for Government, and their would be significant issues to resolve, for example how to prevent ad hoc political interference in the running of SOEs, or whether ministers can have any say on the operation of SOEs.

Labour’s promise to reopen Gisborne-Napier rail line

Labour’s Phil Twyford has issued a statement on the Gisborne-Napier rail line that has been cut off by a major slip.

Labour pledges to re-open rail line

Labour in government will re-open the Gisborne-Napier rail line due to be closed under National, the party’s Transport spokesperson Phil Twyford says.

A clear promise to reopen the line.

“KiwiRail’s business case for the closure is utterly inadequate and falls way short of a comprehensive cost-benefit analysis, something a Labour government would carry out and which I am confident would justify the line’s re-opening,” Phil Twyford said.

A promise based on inadequate information and prior to a comprehensive cost-benefit analysis.  Labour have pledged to reopen the line regardless of what costs and benefits are determined.

“The line should be reinstated now for $4 million. It will never be cheaper. The longer you leave it, the more expensive it will be to re-open it.

It won’t be reinstated now. It will take time for Labour to do a comprehensive cost-benefit analysis, so even if they get back into government after the 2014 election by the time they reopen it the cost will be an unknown amount higher.

And if Labour do lead the next Government they will be in a coalition witgh Greens, plus possibly NZ First and the Maori Party. So they would need to get possibly several parties agree to reopen the line.

So this isn’t a pledge that can be taken as a genuine promise.

Mr Twyford said the BERL report noted annual freight volumes only needed to reach 180-200,000 tonnes per year for the line to be profitable. Current volumes of 44,000 tonnes showed that growth from local horticulture and forestry would bring the target within reach and this would justify future re-opening.

Current volumes are about a quarter what the BERL report says would be required to make the line profitable. That means volumes would have to increase FOUR TIMES for it to be profitable.

Tywford either thinks volumes can be quadrupled (he doesn’t say how) or he doesn’t think it is necessary for the line to be profitable – that means it would be a substantially taxpayer subsidised rail link, on top of the cost of reopening the line.

I’ll ask Phil Twyford to clarify.