Interjection ban on National dog barker, and crappy “stupid little girl” cop out

Parliament’s question time can be raucous, with some members barking at every passing Minister. National MP David Bennett annoyed the Speaker enough today to earn a two day ban on interjecting.

In Question No. 9—Children:

Darroch Ball: What is the Minister doing to ensure that children get the best services that they need?

Hon CARMEL SEPULONI: Excuse me, Mr Speaker. I forgot that we had one other question coming, perhaps. On behalf of the Minister for Children today, Oranga Tamariki are holding the first of 14 regional hui with their 525 providers to talk about how they will work together in the future to ensure that all services meet the best needs of the child. Collectively, they receive around $268 million from Oranga Tamariki per year. The ministry is trying to give them greater certainty around their funding and is moving to longer-term contracts—[Interruption]

Mr SPEAKER: Order! [Interruption] Order! The member will resume her seat. David Bennett will stand, withdraw, and apologise.

Hon David Bennett: I withdraw and apologise.

In Question No. 11—Social Development:

11. ANGIE WARREN-CLARK (Labour) to the Minister for Social Development: What recent announcements has she made regarding the Growing Up in New Zealand study?

Hon CARMEL SEPULONI (Minister for Social Development): Mr Speaker—

Hon David Bennett: Oh, has she got her notes this time? Good on her!

Hon CARMEL SEPULONI: Today, I announced that the Government would restore more than $1.9 million—

Mr SPEAKER: Order! The member will resume her seat. Now, Mr Bennett, your interjections are very, very frequent. Referring to members using notes in the House to answer questions is an area which is totally my responsibility and not for you to comment on. I would like to remind the member that several of his colleagues rely heavily on notes, not to answer questions, which is quite a lot harder, but even to ask them.

In Question No. 12—Employment:

Hon WILLIE JACKSON (Minister of Employment): Thank you, Mr Speaker. In response to the first part of the question, of course I stand by my statements. As for the second part, the policy response for job seekers remains the responsibility of the Minister for Social Development.

Hon Paula Bennett: Does he stand by his statement that “people have commitments,” as reasons that unemployed New Zealanders cannot pick fruit, and, if so, how many commitments does an individual need to not have to show up to work?

Hon David Bennett: How many commitments have you got?

Hon WILLIE JACKSON: Of course I stand by—

Mr SPEAKER: Order! Order! David Bennett, once again you have interjected, involving me in the answer, and what we’re going to do is have you on an interjection ban for the rest of this question time and tomorrow. [Interruption] Order!

Overyapping in Parliament is unlikely to do the opposition any good, Putting a muzzle on Bennett for a couple of days will be better for the House.

Also under scrutiny is an as yet unidentified National MP – Newshub investigates: Which National MP made a ‘very sexist remark’ about Jacinda Ardern?

In Parliament last week, while the Prime Minister was speaking, a National Party MP hurled a “very sexist remark” across the Chamber.

He – and yes, Newshub can confirm the remark was made by a man – called Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern a “stupid little girl.”

As soon as the comment was made, Speaker Trevor Mallard stopped proceedings in the House, calling for the person who made the “very sexist remark” to apologise.

A week later, the culprit still hasn’t owned up to the remark. If they ever do, they will have to stand in Parliament, withdraw the remark and apologise.

At the time the comment was made, Mr Mallard said the remark wasn’t made by Leader of the Opposition Simon Bridges; “It was someone behind.”

Behind Mr Bridges sits Matt Doocey, Jonathan Young, Gerry Brownlee and Nick Smith.

Other men in close proximity are Simon O’Connor, David Bennett, Jami-Lee Ross, Chris Finlayson, David Carter and Paul Goldsmith.

So with the culprit not big enough to own up all these MPs have a cloud hanging over them.

Newshub asked nine of the 10 male MPs who sit behind Mr Bridges whether they made the remark and whether they know who made it. The tenth has been contacted.

The nine MPs are named and all deny making the statement. The tenth must be Simon O’Connor.

Regardless of who it was this looks terrible for National.

Mr Bridges said he’d have to review footage before deciding what would happen to an MP who made such a remark – though he said these sorts of remarks are heat of the moment.

“Parliament’s a place of cut and thrust. People say things in the heat of moment, on all sides of the House, including, let’s be honest, the Speaker,” Mr Bridges said.

That’s a crappy cop out from Bridges. A decent modern leader would have made sure the culprit stood up in Parliament and made a damned good apology.

Without that National look like a pack of mongrel MPs who have no idea how to build respect in opposition.

Budget boosts DOC predator control

A pre-budget announcement of a significant funding boost for predator control will help towards the ambitious goal of making New Zealand ‘predator free’ by 2050.

In July 2016: Government sets target to make New Zealand ‘predator-free’ by 2050

The Government wants to make New Zealand predator-free by 2050, formally adopting a target to eradicate all pests that threaten New Zealand’s native birds.

Prime Minister John Key announced the goal, alongside Conservation Minister Maggie Barry, as well as a $28 million funding injection into a joint venture company to kickstart the campaign.

“Rats, possums and stoats kill 25 million of our native birds every year, and prey on other native species such as lizards and, along with the rest of our environment, we must do more to protect them,” Key said.

By 2025, the Government has set four interim goals, which include:

• Having 1 million hectares of land where pests are suppressed or removed;
• The development of a scientific breakthrough, capable of removing entirely one small mammalian predator;
• To be able demonstrate that areas of 20,000 hectares can be predator free without the use of fences like the one at at Wellington’s Zealandia sanctuary;
• And the complete removal of all introduced predators from offshore island nature reserves.

“This is the most ambitious conservation project attempted anywhere in the world, but we believe if we all work together as a country we can achieve it.”

See department of Conversation Predator Free 2050

Predator Free 2050 (PF2050) brings together central and local government, iwi, philanthropists, non-government organisations, businesses, science and research organisations, communities, land owners and individuals like you.

Reminds me I have to deal to some nuisance possums. They are lot better around here after a TBFree eradication programme over the last year.

From the Labour-Green confidence & supply agreement:

6. Safeguard our indigenous biodiversity by reducing the extinction risk for 3,000 threatened
plant and wildlife species, significantly increasing conservation funding, increasing predator
control and protecting their habitats.

a. Budget provision will be made for significantly increasing the Department of
Conservation’s funding.

From the Labour-NZ First coalition agreement:

  • Significantly increase funding for the Department of Conservation.

The Government is following through on this:


Backing Nature – funding a future for native species

Possums, rats and stoats are the big losers in Budget 2018 and our forests, birds and other wildlife the winners, Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage announced today.

“We need to invest in comprehensive predator control in order to save special wildlife like kiwi. We have a biodiversity crisis, where 82 per cent of native birds are threatened with or at risk of extinction,” says Eugenie Sage.

An extra $81.3 million in operating funds for predator control over four years is part of a major boost in conservation funding in Budget 2018. This will enable the Department of Conservation (DOC) to undertake sustained predator control over more than 1.8 million hectares – the largest area ever covered, and about the size of Northland and Auckland combined.

DOC’s previous funding enabled it to achieve possum control across 1 million hectares. The additional funding in Budget 2018 enables the greatest threats to biodiversity – rats, stoats and possums – to be continually controlled over a larger area in an integrated way.

“For the first time, predator control funding will be locked in. Budget 2018 means DOC won’t have to divert funding from other priorities or scramble to get one-off allocations from Government in order to do this essential work,” says Eugenie Sage.

“Both the Coalition Agreement and the Confidence and Supply Agreement recognise the need to increase conservation funding. Budget 2018 delivers on those commitments.

“After years of neglect and piecemeal funding, Budget 2018 is backing nature. DOC can now plan ahead with secure funding to target the predators that are devastating New Zealand’s unique species.”

Eugenie Sage made the announcement at Otari-Wilton’s Bush in Wellington, an example of thriving native forest that we will have more of as a result of this initiative.

“DOC’s pest control improves forest health and the breeding success of threatened species like kākā, kea, rock wren, whio/blue duck and bats,” says Eugenie Sage.

“When 4,000 of our native plants and animals are threatened or at risk of extinction, every single conservation dollar counts. This injection of $81.3 million is only the start of this Government’s investment in nature,” Eugenie Sage said.

Will Greens compromise for a Kermadec sanctuary solution?

The Kermadec sanctuary isn’t dead in the Government water, perhaps. Labour and NZ First are working on a way to make it happen, but it will require agreement with the Greens, which will require compromise.

Stuff:  Winston Peters says the Greens can have a Kermadec Sanctuary – with a catch

Hope for a Kermadec Sanctuary is back on the table and NZ First leader Winston Peters is confident he can do a deal with the Green Party by the end of the year.

The deal would involve a compromise from the Greens though – accepting that the sanctuary won’t be a 100 per cent no-fishing zone.

While the previous government’s bill to establish it passed its first reading unopposed in 2016, iwi bodies and fishing companies subsequently filed legal action against it. NZ First, which has close ties to the fishing industry, raised serious concerns about the legislation.

But there’s renewed hope that the Green Party, a supply and confidence partner for the coalition Government, might get its wish after Peters and Environment Minister David Parker decided to work together to try to find a compromise.

o keep the fishing industry happy and to ensure iwi with fishing rights under the Treaty of Waitangi are on board, Peters is proposing a mixed model that allows for roughly 95 per cent marine reserve and 5 per cent fishing.

Peters says it’s entirely possible to preserve species while allowing a small percentage of fishing to keep interested parties on side.

He said the Greens would need to decide whether it was more important to have the best part of a sanctuary, or no sanctuary at all.

Asked how quickly Peters thought he and Parker could convince the Greens to get on board with a mixed model, he said he was optimistic a deal could be reached by the end of the year.

This will pose a challenge for the Green Party, although they have committed to trying to make it happen via their confidence and supply agreement with Labour, which includes:

Use best endeavours and work alongside Māori to establish the Kermadec/ Rangitāhua
Ocean Sanctuary.

Best endeavours should include being prepared to work alongside NZ First and Labour to find a way of making the Kermadec sanctuary happen.

This is a commitment by the whole of the Green Party, as they ratified the confidence and supply agreement.

If they’re not prepared to revive it, National may be prepared to talk to Labour and/or NZ First. Nick Smith has a members’ bill in the ballot aimed at progressing the sanctuary.

Dirty campaign continues at WO

Cameron Slater made debatable denials of involvement in the spreading of rumours. Both he and ‘Nige’ (Helper and problem solver for Cam Slater’s Whaleoil) have stated there was no factual basis to the rumours.

But Whale Oil has continued to run a smear campaign against Clarke Gayford. Dirty politics, and proud of it.

Posted by SB on Tuesday: Help us update the Whaleoil dictionary

Political retard A politician who has said or done something stupid politically.

Rules of politics, The rules as devised by Cam.

  1. If you are explaining, you are losing
  2.  Utu is good, even necessary
  3. Never hug a corpse – it smells and you end up smelling like the corpse too
  4. Always know where the bodies are buried
  5. Don’t let mongrels get away with being mongrels
  6. Don’t mess with The Whale or Cactus Kate
  7.  Never wrestle with pigs, two things are for certain if you do. You will get dirty and the pig will enjoy it.
  8. Never ask a question if you don’t already know the answer
  9. Speak plain, Speak Simple
  10. Remember, I’m telling this story
  11. Never trust a politician if you aren’t close enough to them to hit them in the back of the head with a bit of 4×2
  12.  Never trust a politician with a moustache or a hyphenated name.

Ratf**king  Undermining or ruining someone’s reputation. Not a personal profanity but an actual political term. Google it.

Slater’s reputation is well known. He is now supported by SB (aka spanishbride aka Juana Atkins) who seems to be just about as shameless.

Who is Nige? He works in the shadows at WO, but seems to have become a major cog in the Oily machine. Ity’s easy to get dragged into things online – I wonder if he has ever stepped back and reflected on what he has become a part of.

Slater has some problems and helping perpetuate dirty smears is hardly going to solve them. It is digging deeper into the mire.

The media mostly ignores WO these days, and that seems to annoy the hell out of them because they have long seeded  stories relying on mainstream media to give them momentum.

They seem to have decided that getting dirtier will somehow make a difference. All it does is reinforce how toxic they are politically.

National leader Simon Bridges made a major faux pas yesterday, ‘liking’ a smear tweet (yet another in the dirty campaign against Clarke Gayford). This is very unfortunate for Bridges and National, who will have hoped to have put 2014’s ‘Dirty Politics’ behind them along with Jason Ede and John Key.

Now Bridges has attached himself to WO, and unless he clearly and unequivocally disassociates himself from WO and from doing dirty politics that is   stain that will be difficult to shed.

Slater may see Bridges’ balls up as an opening for Judith Collins to take over the leadership she has been seeking, but her past association with Slater and his continued championing of her must count strongly against that, unless the aim is to drag National rightwards and downwards to niche party status. Ironically Collins is one of National’s best performing MPs.

Regardless, expect the dirty campaigning to continue at WO. It seems to be the only way they know, along with whinging about being held to account for their despicable smears.

They appear to be gearing up for an attack the messenger outburst.

 

National ‘resetting approach’, moving more to climate change mitigation

The National Party is moving more towards climate change mitigation, but sounds caution on moving too far or too fast. Leader Simon Bridges has challenged the party on “resetting our approach to environmental issues”.

Climate report reinforces need for careful transition – National Party Spokesperson for Climate Change Todd Muller…

…welcomes the release of the draft report released by the Productivity Commission today but is warning of the risks of going too far too fast.

“The report calls for careful preparation and balance as we transition to a low emissions economy,” Mr Muller says.

“We have to reduce emissions significantly to meet our international obligations, but it’s important that we transition in a way that maximises opportunity and minimises costs.

“It is also important to adjust at the pace of available technology and remain conscious of our competitors and the wider global response. For instance, bringing agriculture into the ETS would make us the only country in the world to expose our industry in this way, making us outliers, not leaders.

“Going too far too fast could decimate our most productive sectors, costing jobs and actually increasing global emissions. Introducing agriculture to the scheme at the very entry level of 90% free allocation and $50 a tonne would cost the agricultural sector $190 million a year.

“The more extreme estimates of carbon prices of $250 a tonne and no free allocation would cost the agricultural sector $9.7 billion a year and wipe out the entire industry.

“My concern is that if we push too hard and fast here, we could leave communities behind. The National Party will support the careful preparation and balance needed to ensure a just transition to a lower carbon economy.”

Stuff: National Party ‘resetting our approach to environmental issues’ – Bridges

National leader Simon Bridges has pledged his party will have a strong environmental focus with a broadchurch approach to thinking.

However, he says the Government’s announcement to halt deep sea oil exploration is “perverse”.

Alongside Bridges, there were people from Greenpeace, Forest and Bird and Oil and gas and former Green Party MP Kennedy Graham addressing the 100 strong crowd at the annual Bluegreens Forum in Darfield, Canterbury, on Saturday.

Bridges challenged his party, staff and supporters with “resetting our approach to environmental issues”.

He said a strong economy, education, healthcare and social services were not worthwhile “if we’ve ruined the environment”.

“Good environmental practice is crucial for securing the type of future we want for our children and grandchildren.

“My view is that people aren’t used to hearing a National Party leader talk like this, but I’ve said right from the start that the environment is important to me and the National Party … The environment isn’t an optional extra.”

Bridges was “proud” of the work the previous government achieved during its nine years, introducing an emissions trading scheme, Predator Free NZ and the Environmental Reporting Act, but a continued and ramped-up effort was needed.

“Climate change is going to be one of the most challenging issues of our time. We’ve made some good progress in recent years, but we need to do much more,” he said.

“We now need to wrestle emissions down, just staying stable doesn’t cut it … We need to incentivise households, businesses, scientists and entrepreneurs to be developing and implementing technological solutions.”

The Bluegreens, National’s environmental arm, has operated for 20 years since being formed and represented by just a few party members, including former Environment Minister Nick Smith.

Forty-six of its 55 MPs were now signed on.

All the main parties in Parliament support measures to mitigate the possible effects of climate change, with the possible exception of a vague Seymour and ACT.

Colmar Brunton poll – little change

Polls have been scarce lately. 1 news have their second poll of the year. It doesn’t show anything drastic – a bit of movement from Labour to their Government partners.

  • National 44% (up 1)
  • Labour 43% (down 5)
  • Greens 6% (up 1)
  • NZ First 5% (up 2)
  • Maori Party 1%

So Labour have eased back a bit after a difficult period, and National have held up despite the exit of Bill English and Steven Joyce – it is the first poll since Simon Bridges took over leadership.

Greens and NZ First have both improved marginally (at Labour’s expense).

  • Refuse to answer 4%
  • Undecided 8% (down 1)

Preferred Prime Minister:

  • Jacinda Ardern 37% (down 4)
  • Simon Bridges 10% (up 9)
  • Winston Peters 5% (up 1)

The gloss seems to have worn off Ardern a bit. It’s early for Bridges, he will still hardly be known by most of the electorate.

Peters doesn’t seem to be liked outside NZ First support.

Poll conducted 7-11 April 2018.

What try hard bollocks.

National are likely to be pleased a change of leadership has barely changed their support.

 

Bridges gets a first month pass mark

I haven’t warmed to Simon Bridges yet. His speech isn’t exactly riveting – he often sounds quite boring. Maybe i should take notice to see if there is any substance.

He’s had a largely neutral debut with the media, they have neither dumped on him nor arderned him.

It is early days for his leadership. He needs to be making an impact in two years time in the lead up to the election that will presumably be late in 2020, so he has time to grow into the job.

Tracy Watkins at Stuff will have seen Bridges close up, and she has given him a pass mark for his first month.

Stuff: Govt needs to cross Simon’s well-built bridge

Simon Bridges passed his first month in the job last week. That’s a milestone worth celebrating in these fast-moving times. Another month or so and he’ll equal Jacinda Ardern’s time as Opposition leader.

Bridges has enjoyed nothing like the giddy surge of popularity that marked Ardern’s first days in the job. But he has made a better than decent fist of it so far.

He’s picked his battles. He’s taken his wins where he can get them. He’s worked hard to get up to speed across every portfolio. He’s even got shades of the everyman charisma that worked for Sir John Key.

I haven’t seen that in Bridges yet.

And he’s been luckier than most new Opposition leaders. Far from taking over a beaten and demoralised team, he’s inherited a formidable machine that’s carried on from government without breaking stride. This is the most determined opposition we’ve seen in a long while.

Added to that, it wouldn’t have been hard for any Opposition leader to look less bad than Labour, NZ First and Greens over the past month.

He’s got what it takes to lead National to an election victory, particularly against a government that is making such heavy weather of things at the moment.

I don’t know if he’s got what it takes, and it will be a while before we find out what voters generally think of him. Polls are rare at the moment.

Except the odds of Bridges winning are no better now than when he took over the leadership, even up against a government that seems to be making heavy weather of everything at the moment.

If the Government doesn’t sort there shit out this assessment may change.

It’s not just Ardern that Bridges has to beat. He has to beat MMP.

That means finding an ally in either NZ First or the Greens. The odds on that are steep to implausible.

Both certainly look very unlikely allies at this stage.

Alternatively, Bridges will have to lead National to an all-out majority so it can govern alone. Even Key and Helen Clark never managed that – and they were both hugely popular leaders.

But the situation now is different to any other time under MMP, with fewer small parties than ever, and all of them in precarious positions.

Greens in particular but also NZ First were at risk of missing the threshold last election, and NZ First is currently polling under the threshold. If they don’t show real gains during this term they will both be at risk of not surviving.

Given the hopelessness of new parties getting up to the ridiculously high threshold, there’s a real chance next election may come down to little more than National versus Labour.

Much may then depend on how well Bridges builds his profile and leadership potential,  and whether Jacinda Ardern can maintain her initially surge of popularity.

As already said, it’s early days, and two and a half years is a long time in politics.

But Bridges has made an ok start so far.

Regional fuel tax beyond Auckland?

The legislation enabling a fuel tax in Auckland to help finance transport infrastructure improvements may go further – as far as right around the country. But Transport Minister Phil Twyford says that that can’t happen during the current term of government.

RNZ: Fuel tax possible around the country – National Party

Legislation introduced this week would allow a tax to be imposed anywhere in the country if a regional council makes the case.

National’s transport spokesperson Jami-Lee Ross said Labour campaigned on a fuel tax for Auckland – nowhere else.

The “big surprise”, he said, was that a regional fuel tax would be possible around the country.

“The government needs to be upfront with the rest of New Zealand and tell them that in just a few short years they’re going to be seeing fuel tax in their regions as well.

“It’s another opportunity for the Labour government to tax motorists more.”

But the Transport Minister is assuring motorists no-one outside of Auckland will be hit with a regional fuel tax this term of government.

The legislation prevented regional councils outside of Auckland from seeking a fuel tax until 2021, Phil Twyford said.

“In the future councils may want to take part of it but we’ve been clear publicly and directly to councils that this government will not be considering any other proposals for fuel taxes, other than Auckland’s, in our first term of government.”

Mr Twyford said he had already personally given that message to the mayors of Christchurch and Hamilton.

In its election tax policy Labour specifically talks about a tax only for Auckland, and said Labour had “no plans for any other regional fuel taxes”.

It seems that Labour does have plans for allowing higher fuel tax in other regions, eventually.

Labour have also said they won’t introduce any taxes recommend by the Tax Working Group this term, but they would campaign on what they wanted for the 2020 election. It is possible they will introduce new tax legislation ready to be implement next term – like the regional fuel tax legislation.

Tax could be a big issue in the next election.

I’m sure someone will keep track of all the tax guns loaded, ready to fire should Labour win a second term.

Have your say on the Land Transport Management (Regional Fuel Tax) Amendment Bill

NZ First claims ‘misunderstanding’, Peters instructs apology to Mitchell

An unusually contrite NZ First has apologised for what they describe as a misunderstanding over a conversation between one of their first term MPs, Jenny Marcroft, and Northcote electorate MP, Mark Mitchell.

Yesterday Mitchell put out a claim in a press release:

Labour’s coalition partner NZ First has threatened to withhold regional development funding for an important economic development project in Rodney unless local National MP Mark Mitchell ends his advocacy for it and stops criticising NZ First ministers.

In an extraordinary request over the weekend, NZ First MP Jenny Marcroft – who said she was under instruction from a Minister – also requested that National pledge to not ask Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones questions about the project, should it go ahead.

“Ms Marcroft said she had been sent to tell me that the Mahurangi River Restoration Project would be considered for funding from the Government’s Provincial Growth Fund, but for that to happen I would have to end my involvement with it as a local MP.

“Ms Marcroft told me this was because the Government was unhappy with me revealing the illegitimate use of Defence Force aircraft by Defence Minister Ron Mark.

“She also said if I ended my involvement and the money was granted, that they did not want National’s Regional Economic Development spokesperson Paul Goldsmith asking Shane Jones questions about it in Parliament.

“Finally, she implied my work as an Opposition MP would be a factor in funding any projects in my electorate I was involved in.

“I immediately told Ms Marcroft this behaviour was unacceptable, and that she had been put in a very compromised position by her colleague. She refused to name them so I said she had two hours to have the Minister call me before I took the matter further.

“She sent a text message an hour later asking me to forget the conversation.

NZH – National MP Mark Mitchell: ‘Rotten politics’ from NZ First MP over regions fund

Mitchell included screengrabs of texts in which he and Marcroft agreed to meet at the Orewa Surf Club on Saturday.

A text from Marcroft at 6.10pm that night read “Hi Mark, on reflection I have considered the substance of our conversation to be incorrect and would therefore ask that you kindly disregard it. Thank you for your generosity in this matter.”

That sounds like an attempted backtrack from Marcroft.

NZ First have since responded.

Jones said he had not known about Marcroft’s alleged actions and was not the minister referred to.

“This is the first I’ve heard of it. If you’re asking me am I monstering anyone over the Growth Fund, absolutely not.”

A straight denial of knowledge or involvement.

Winston Peters put out a statement:

“After the conversation had got out of hand she consulted with me late on Saturday afternoon and was advised by me to issue an apology. Ms Marcroft was not under instructions by any NZ First ministers regarding funding, and while Mr Mitchell may have misunderstood her underlying point, she was apologetic over the matter, and conveyed that to him.”

Misunderstandings can easily happen in conversations. Misunderstandings are also possible when junior MPs are instructed by senior MPs.

There is no dispute that the conversation took place, just a claim of a misunderstanding, a backtrack and an apology.

That Peters advised Marcroft to apologise seems an unusual NZ First action. It looks like an attempt to dampen down the claims. Peters far more commonly uses attack as a form of defence.

Jones:

He said such political arguments did not compromise their ability to put up proposals.

“If there are National MPs promoting proposals just get ready and stand in line like everyone else and go through the bureaucratic system.”

Mitchell has asked the Prime Minister to take action. Jacinda Ardern has also responded. RNZ – NZ First MP instructed to apologise to National Party

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern appeared to be blindsided by the news when questioned by reporters at her weekly press conference this afternoon.

She said she wanted to get more details before responding, but stressed the Provincial Growth Fund was not a political process.

“The process … is not contingent on support for this government at all and there is plenty of proof of that.

It will be interesting to see how the Mahurangi River Restoration Project fares now in the Regional Economic Development fund handouts.

 

Woodhouse appointed to Opposition health role

A National shuffle was required after Jonathan Coleman announced his resignation from Parliament. Simon Bridges has appointed Michael Woodhouse to replace him as Opposition spokesperson for Health.

Michael Woodhouse.jpg

After studying commerce and accounting Woodhouse worked for an accountant, at Dunedin Hospital and for ACC before becoming CEO of the private Mercy Hospital.

He was elected as a list MP in 2008, and became a minister in the National Government in 2013.

It’s interesting (for me anyway) that the current Minister for Health, David Clark, and the new Opposition spokesperson for health have both contested the Dunedin North electorate. Especially so with the ongoing delays in announcing plans for the replacement of the Dunedin Public Hospital.

Woodhouse was ranked 10 on the National list for the 2017 election, but is currently rank #13 after Bridges’ recent appointments. That may change slightly after Coleman leaves Parliament.

1 News: National Party appoints Michael Woodhouse as new Health spokesperson

In two other National Party changes Nikki Kaye has been appointed Sport and Recreation spokesperson and Scott Simpson has been appointed Workplace Relations spokesperson.