Will Clark pull out of UN bid?

It sounds like Helen Clark’s bid for UN Secretary General is just about over. Comment has moved to if/when she withdraws from the contest.

Tracy Watkins at Stuff: Is Helen Clark’s UN bid sunk?

Helen Clark’s dream to lead the United Nations is slipping from her grasp.

In the hours after the latest United Nations straw poll delivered a potentially mortal blow to her prospects Clark took to twitter to reassure her followers it was too early to jump to conclusions. But there is mounting expectation within the Government hierarchy that Clark will pull the plug on her campaign.

The odds were always against Clark getting the job. But the weekend vote has almost put those odds beyond reach. Clark came seventh in a field of 11, well behind the front runner, former Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Gueterres, who by some reports has the job nearly in his grasp.

Clark won’t be the only one weighing up her options. The government has thrown its backing behind her bid, assigning a hand picked team of diplomats to Clark’s campaign. Prime Minister John Key and Foreign Minister Murray McCully have also put their shoulders behind the wheel on Clark’s behalf, glad-handing their international counterparts to stitch up support. Their support is genuine – they see Clark as an instrument for overdue change at the UN.

But some countries appear to have been talking out of both sides of their mouth, since their assurances of support don’t seem to tally with the number of votes for Clark in the latest round. And crucially, Clark doesn’t appear to have the backing of big guns like the United States and Russia.

Clark has given her bid her best shot, with the full and active support of the New Zealand Government.

But it was probably always going to be difficult to succeed in the world of international and United Nations politics.

It was worth a shot, but it looks like Clark has missed her biggest target.

Newstalk ZB: Margaret Besheer: Helen Clark will likely stay on fighting

UN Correspondent Margaret Besheer from Voice of America told Andrew Dickens her placing isn’t a good sign and it wouldn’t be unusual for her to pull out now, but she thinks she’ll stay fighting.

“The first round showed us that she wasn’t really in favour to begin with. She wasn’t a top front-runner, she wasn’t in the top three or four. I think a lot of people were surprised by that, but I think they did expect her to do better in the first round.

“Helen’s really a career politician, she’s a fighter, she’s used to polls being up one day and down the next – I think she might hang in there for one more round.”

Perhaps there’s still a chance of Clark being seen as a compromise candidate.

EU investigating NZ as tax haven

Newshub reported tonight that the European Union is investigating whether to include New Zealand on a tax haven black list or not.

Investigation by EU as it prepares a blacklist of global tax havens

cowjldnvyaen8xw

More details: EU considers blacklisting NZ over tax laws

New Zealand is under investigation by the European Union as it prepares a blacklist of global tax havens.

The grouping of 28 European nations has compiled a list of countries with lax tax laws, but following the release of the so-called Panama Papers it has confirmed that New Zealand is under investigation.

The EU loses around $NZ1 trillion to tax havens each year, and it intends to put a stop to the practice by threatening a raft of sanctions against countries which don’t comply to its standards.

New Zealand doesn’t comply, even when the recommendations made by tax expert John Shewan as a result of the Panama Papers are included.

What the EU wants:

  1. No anonymity – trust settlers and beneficiaries are identified and changes are recorded. New Zealand will meet this standard when Mr Shewan’s changes are introduced.
  2. Collection of information about financial assets – where the funds came from, the current assets, where they are, and the income earned in the past year. New Zealand will meet this standard when Mr Shewan’s changes are introduced.
  3. No tax exemption of foreign income. New Zealand will NOT meet this standard even when Mr Shewan’s changes are introduced.
  4. Automatic exchange of information with foreign tax authorities in the jurisdictions where the settlers and beneficiaries are resident. New Zealand will NOT meet this standard even when Mr Shewan’s changes are introduced.
  5. A public register of trust ownership and details. New Zealand will NOT meet this standard even when Mr Shewan’s changes are introduced.

Non-complying nations face:

  1. Trade sanctions
  2. Suspension of negotiations for a free-trade agreement
  3. Possible travel bans or visa restrictions.
  4. Sanctions against companies, banks, tax advisers, accountancy and law firms involved in tax deals.

Greens limited by loss aversion?

In relation to Trump appealing to loss aversion, I wonder if loss aversion is what keeps limiting the chances of the Green Party in New Zealand.

The Greens have some admirable policies. Many people are aware of the loss of clean rivers and clean air, and would like to see quality restored. Many people sympathise with the loss of quality of life and hope for the future of a significant number of poor New Zealanders.

But support for policies addressing these worthy issues is probably overbalanced by fears of losses that many see associated with a Green government. Like:

  • Loss of money due to higher taxes
  • Loss of money due to higher transport/fuel costs
  • Loss of convenient driving and parking
  • Loss of freedom due to ‘PC’ restrictions
  • Loss of choice of products (especially fossil fuel based)
  • Loss of choice of foods ranging from sweet and fatty foods through to genetically modified foods

What is New Zealand as a country and we as individuals likely to gain from a Green influenced government, versus what do we think we might lose?

Is a natural aversion to loss a major factor in Greens not growing, in a Green coalition government never happening, and in the apparent lack of enthusiasm for a Labour-Green political partnership?

“Dunedin is in the throes of growth, spark, confidence and regeneration”

Dunedin was a leading city in the 1800s, benefiting from gold recovered from throughout the province.

Through the 1900s the city gradually declined as businesses and people headed north. This drift was exacerbated by the gutting of Government services in the 80s and 90s.

While Dunedin is still the second largest city in the South Island there are five larger metropolitan areas in the North Island.

‘But things are apparently looking up for Dunedin. Today’s ODT editorial:

Dunedin’s growing contentment

It is time to consign Dunedin’s habitual discontent to history.

For a time our weather, isolation, strong links to the supposedly dour Scots and misery at our falling fortunes served as excuses.

But the predisposition to self-flagellation is running out of legs on which to stand.

A bit of a grim opening. I’ll edit in the positives from there.

But times have changed. A recent ODT Insight report revealed a growing surge of interest in Dunedin from families around New Zealand looking for a healthy, prosperous lifestyle; families bringing money, skills and energy.

Meanwhile, the city’s technology and tourism sectors are thriving, its sports teams continue to succeed and its presence in the national and international conscience continues to grow.

This time the stories are all positive.

And why wouldn’t they be?

Dunedin’s natural beauty is an asset scores of tourists continually remind us of.

DunedinAerial

The city and it’s surrounds are beautiful, with great beaches (if you don’t expect tropical swimming conditions), bush and mountains in close proximity.

The proximity of Central Otago, the Queenstown Lakes and the Southern Alps is the most decadent of cherries on top.

There are more cherries than that. You can drive to Queenstown, Wanaka and the Southern Lakes and ski fields within 3 hours. But also handy:

  • Catlins on the south coast is an hour or two away
  • Fiordland – Te Anau and Manapouri are a few hours away with Milford Sound a bit further
  • The Mackenzie Country is also an easy half day trip
  • Mt Cook and Tekapo are about 300 km
  • Haast and the West Coast is 400 km of every changing scenery, a great trip from Dunedin

There’s a huge variety of options within easy reach of Dunedin.  But back to the city.

The city boasts extraordinary infrastructure and public facilities for its size.

No other city in the country has anything to rival Forsyth Barr Stadium and, while that exercise came with a big price tag, the city’s rates are still comparatively low.

Dunedin’s libraries and art galleries are well stocked and presented, its roads flow freely and the city centre functions like a vibrant centre should.

Out-of-town families must look at Dunedin’s education options with disbelief.

Our high schools offer diversity in concept yet uniformity in quality and are easy to access.

Our primary and pre-school facilities are as good as anywhere in the country.

The university and polytechnic provide jobs, students and infrastructure but also churn out world-class research and graduates.

Improving internet infrastructure is bringing the world to our keyboards and touchscreens.

I can and do work around the world from an office in Dunedin that is 15 minutes drive (in ‘rush hour’) from rural living.

Southern winters are becoming less of an issue as housing improves, with new homes virtually unaffected by the cold and older homes benefitting from the retrofitting of insulation, double glazing and draft stopping.

Heat pumps have made a big difference too.

But even the bitter winters of the past seem to have lost their bite. We are in mid July and have had a few cool southerlies this is been perhaps the most mild of a run of mild winters over recent years. (Mild is relative in the south).

And I love the changing seasons. Spring buds are already starting to appear.

The current upsurge for Dunedin may not be a boom of mythical proportion with gold ingots springing from the soil.

But Dunedin is in the throes of growth, spark, confidence and regeneration.

There are certainly many positives here. And while it is nice to share it would be kinda nice to not grow too much.

Dunedin is a bonny wee city.

Lessons for Key from Australia

Fran O’Sulivan points out that there are lessons for John Key and National from the Australian election (although they should have known it already).

Malcolm Turnbull’s close shave holds lessons for John Key

Malcolm Turnbull’s narrow win in Australia ought to put fellow political brahmin John Key on notice.

The election outcome proved the growing unreliability of political polling in the era of the smartphone.

I disagree on “the growing unreliability of political polling”.  The biggest problem with polling is that media misuse it as a predictor of election results, as far out as two or more years before an election. Journalists seem to have never understood how polling works or have become obsessed with news making and ignore the science of polling.

I doubt that Key or their pollster David Farrar need any lessons on the use of polling.

It took a relatively small swing to Australian Labor to bring the Coalition to the point where Turnbull was even taking advice from Key on how to run a minority Government. It would not take much of a swing in New Zealand to tip Key out.

It would have taken not much of a swing to tip Key out in 2011 and again in 2014 so next year is not much different.

Turnbull is Key’s closest political mate. While Key cosies up to Barack Obama – who has also deputed Vice-President Joe Biden to visit NZ next week to talk through pressing regional issues – the Australian Prime Minister is a different fish.

They have mutual respect as successful former investment bankers. But Key has had more success hugging the political centre.

The Key Government has successfully focused on getting back into Budget surplus and protecting NZ’s credit rating.

A succession of Australian Prime Ministers have not managed that feat.

Turnbull must find his mojo and proceed with broad tax reform – not simply the company tax cuts and relief for middle-income earners. His Government has to write a new story for the times.

He rarked up the electorate with the superannuation changes.

But that will not solve the fundamental imbalances in Australia’s two-tier economy.

And nor will all Key’s advice solve the growing imbalances in the NZ economy.

Turnbull and Australia could learn a lot off Key and New Zealand. I don’t think there’s much to learn from the ongoing political train wreck across the Tasman.

Aus effect on NZ immigration numbers

In contrast to confused claims by Winston Peters that the movement of Kiwis back to New Zealand is due to being treated as second class citizens in Australia but that New Zealand is “a last resort”, Liam Dann supports his opinion with reason – it’s mostly about the economies.

Liam Dann: Oz fortunes a big factor in arrivals wave

…it isn’t hard to draw a link between Australia’s economy and our current immigration boom.

New Zealand’s net migration gain of 68,400 in the year to May 2016 was a nominal record dating back to at least 1860.

We’ve never, even in colonial times, gained so many new residents in a year. There have been much bigger percentage gains of course.

Even on that basis, the past year has been huge.

While there is a lot of focus on Chinese home buyers, it is New Zealanders coming home (and not leaving) that has made the difference.

Compared to the May 2012 year, departures to Australia have a fallen from 48,000 to 20,000. Arrivals have spiked from 8800 to 16,800.

So the biggest shift is in far fewer Kiwis heading to Australia in the first place, but more are returning than before as well.

We even had a net gain of 1700 Australian citizens.

They can’t be, as Peters puts it, “second class citizens” in Australia. There will be a variety of reasons for them coming here but “last resort” is unlikely to be one.

The open borders have always made the lure of Australia our biggest immigration variable. And it is one that can swing sharply.

And it’s something that the Government cannot and should not control.

The end of the mining boom, an economic slowdown and the inclusion of Kiwi residents in tough immigration laws that allow for detainment and deportation based on “bad character” tests have dramatically reversed the flow of transtasman migration.

The biggest factor is availability of jobs, or lack of availability.

How long will this trend last? Is our relative economic success a driver? Or is migration driving our economic success?

If Australia’s economy or political policies change radically then our migration story will too.

We need to ensure we have social policy to protect people from losing out and turning their anger towards migrants.

Anger towards migrants that is deliberately stoked by Peters for political purposes. That’s very poor for an MP.

We need to remember the current surge is not driven just by the more highly visible arrivals of different culture and ethnicity.

It is being driven by New Zealand passport holders.

History tells us this wave will not last. And that when it passes it will have left this country richer and stronger.

As long as politicians like Peters don’t drag us down.

New Zealand “the last resort” in a hell-hole of a world

Winston Peters appears to be making things up to try and score political hits, again. This time he is making unsubstantiated claims about the motives of New Zealanders returning from Australia.

peters also describes New Zealand as the last resort in a hell hole of a world.

Mr Grumpy has a dark view of things here and everywhere. It’s sad to see him running our country down so much in order to apparently pander to the ‘pox on them all’ pessimists.

In Kiwis second-class in Australia – Peters at Newshub Peters attacks Australia for the way it treats New Zealanders living there.

“Over there, New Zealanders can’t access ACC, health, welfare and other benefits,” he said.

“They have less rights than immigrants to Australia from Iraq, the UK, Bangladesh, Europe or Indonesia and all other countries as a result of the 2001 arrangement when Australia put its foot down on immigrants using New Zealand as a back door to Australia.”

That’s valid criticism. But he cites this as the reason why “most Kiwis are coming home”:

The NZ First leader says most of the Kiwis coming home are returning because they’re being treated as second-class citizens in Australia.

That sounds like made up bull. I don’t expect that Peters can substantiate that – he probably won’t try. He has a long record of making up claims.

My guess is that most Kiwis who leave Australia do so because of the economic downturn in Australia and the lack of available jobs. In the main it was jobs that attracted them to Australia as a place to live in the first place.

Mr Peters thinks it’s more to do with the way they’re treated by Australian governments, and he doesn’t believe those who come here from other countries are expressing a vote of confidence in New Zealand, as Mr Key has said.

More bollocks. To many people New Zealand is a very attractive part of the world to live in. That’s one reason why we have strong immigration numbers, something Peters is critical of.

“Wrong. Much of the world is a hell hole from which many are trying to escape,” he said.

“We are the last choice for many after first being rejected by the UK, Canada and Australia, and the US – New Zealand is the last resort.”

It’s sad to see a prominent Member of the New Zealand Parliament describing New Zealand as the last resort in a hell-hole of a world.


See the real reasons for the movement of Kiwis to and from Australia: Aus effect on NZ immigration numbers

Parliament speaks on Orlando shooting

Rt Hon JOHN KEY (Prime Minister): I seek leave to move a motion without notice to express sympathy with the victims of the Orlando shooting.

Mr SPEAKER: Is there any objection to that course of action being followed? There is none.

Rt Hon JOHN KEY:

I move, That the House express sympathy with the victims of the Orlando shooting. This is a shocking atrocity, and on behalf of all New Zealanders, I would like to express our country’s sincere condolences to those affected by it.

As I said yesterday, no innocent person should have to worry about such violence when going about their daily lives or be persecuted for their beliefs or because of who they are.

The evening vigils that took place in Auckland, Wellington, and elsewhere were a tangible demonstration of the depth of people’s very real feelings at the scale of this atrocity.

Over the days and weeks ahead, we will learn more about the motivations behind this senseless tragedy, but right now there are many people grieving: the victims’ families and friends, and the gay and lesbian community in Florida and around the world.

All too often we see these hateful attacks and mass shootings taking the lives of innocent victims. New Zealand stands with the United States and other countries in the fight against violent extremism.

Yesterday I wrote to President Obama to express condolences on behalf of all New Zealanders.

Our thoughts are with the victims, their families and friends, and with those who responded to this tragic attack, and we wish those injured a speedy recovery.

ANDREW LITTLE (Leader of the Opposition):

The Labour Party joins with the Government in expressing its horror at this atrocity and its love and sympathy with the victims and their families. Our thoughts are with the people of Orlando and the United States, as well as their representatives here in New Zealand.

This was an atrocious and hateful act. It was an act of terror. It was also an act of hate. It was a targeted attack at the LGBTI community. It was the deliberate mass-murder of LGBTI people because of who they were and whom they loved.

These young people were attacked and murdered in a place that was meant to be safe for them. It was meant to be a haven where they could go to dance and have fun and be themselves. This was a place where they would not be subject to homophobia or violence or hatred. And in that place, in that sanctuary, they were murdered in cold blood.

Like millions of people around the word, we have all seen the heart-breaking details of what emerged about this shooting. The stories of first responders arriving at the scene to a chorus of ringing cellphones, as the families of those hurt and killed desperately tried to contact their loved ones.

The story of Eddie Justice, who was able to hide in the bathroom of the nightclub long enough to send his mother a text telling her that he loved her and whose mother then had to read the horrifying words: “He’s coming. I’m going to die.”

This attack has broken hearts around the world, but while we mourn and grieve, we must also rededicate ourselves to the great universal values of humanity, which attacks like this seek to deny and destroy: inclusion, openness, respect, love.

We must reaffirm our commitment to a society where everyone is free to love whom they choose, worship how they choose, and to be themselves without fear of violence or repression.

We must reaffirm our commitment to ending bigotry and intolerance and hatred wherever we find it, because that is what the path of true freedom demands.

While we grieve and we mourn, we remind ourselves that love is love and that love is stronger than hate, and that together we will not let hate win.

KEVIN HAGUE (Green):

I rise to support the Prime Minister’s motion and to thank him for it. The Green Party wishes to express its profound shock and sorrow at what has occurred, and its sympathies to the victims themselves, to their families, to their friends, and to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex communities in Orlando and around the world.

An attack against one of us is an attack against all of us. I want to name this as an act of homophobic violence.

For those of us who are in the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex communities, we know that just below the level of taunts and name-calling and subtle prejudice, there is an undercurrent of violence.

In this particular case, in Orlando, America’s absurd gun laws have been a unique enabler for the mass murder that has occurred. But New Zealand also has a history of homophobic violence; one thinks, for example, of Jeff Whittington , who just over 17 years ago was murdered in this town.

It should not be that when I and my partner or any from our communities are out in public, we should have to check who is around before we kiss or hold hands, and yet it is so.

At this time I want to ask everyone in this House and everyone listening to this debate now to pay particular attention to the needs of young and vulnerable members of our communities.

For older members of the gay community, for example, like me, we have the privilege of being able to choose whom we associate with. We have the relative privilege of being able to make ourselves as safe as we can be.

But a younger person does not have that privilege. They are particularly vulnerable; they need our support and they need our love, right now.

I also want to extend a hand of friendship and of love to Muslim communities around the world. We understand that what this man did is not representative of your communities, and we seek relationships that are based on peace and mutual respect.

A belief that gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and intersex people are not entitled to what we call universal human rights, or, worse, a belief that we deserve death for being who we are, cannot be allowed to stand in the world.

In closing, we in the Green Party and, I hope, this House commit ourselves to act against homophobia and homophobic violence and, indeed, transphobic violence, wherever it occurs in the world, and we seek to be a constant voice in the world for universal respect for basic human rights. Thank you.

Peters:

Peters’ speech was widely regarded as highly inappropriate and disgraceful,  so the transcript won’t be posted.

He devoted most of his speech ignoring Orlando and trying to score political points on New Zealand immigration. About two MPs slow clapped his speech, it looks like he stunned or embarrassed even the NZ First MPs.

Hon TE URUROA FLAVELL (Co-Leader—Māori Party):

No transcript has been supplied by Parliament for Flavell’s speech.

Hon PETER DUNNE (Leader—United Future):

No words, no spin, and no gloss can carry over the events that occurred in Orlando yesterday. The slaughter of nearly 50 innocent people is unacceptable by any moral or ethical standard.

Equally unacceptable, I think, is the sort of intolerance and the bigotry—because that is what it is—that gets paraded at a time like this as people start to attempt to explain these unacceptable actions.

I believe that bigotry begets bigotry, and that in turn begets the type of extremism that we saw exemplified in Orlando yesterday.

This is not an issue where one makes a moral judgment about anybody. The fact is that these young gay and lesbian people were out socialising, something they should have been able to do in perfect freedom, in perfect security, and in perfect confidence.

A madman—because that is the one thing that is certain about the perpetrator—cruelly ended that, and the questions will go on for some time as to why and how.

There will be questions about the United States’ attitude to the possession of handguns. There will be questions about the motivation of the individual. None of those actually remove the tragedy of what happened. None of those restore any of those lives, rebuild any of those families or those friendships, or rebuild those shattered communities.

We are a long way away, and I am sure that the people of the United States are not sitting by their televisions now hanging on our every words, but our expression of sympathy and solidarity with them at this time of grief counts in that it shows that as members of the world community we actually share some basic values about integrity, we share some basic values about freedom, and we share some basic values about people being able to live their lives and express their personalities to the fullest extent.

Every time we see an event like this it is a challenge to all of those values that we hold dear, even if we may not be immediately near the scene of the crime.

So I share with others the sense of outrage and the expression of condolence and sympathy to the people of the United States, and Orlando in particular, on this horrific occasion. But to start to go beyond that to draw spurious conclusions at this early stage I simply think starts to light the fuse for the next horrible outrage, and that is unacceptable.

DAVID SEYMOUR (Leader—ACT):

I would like to add the ACT Party’s sympathy and condolences to those messages from other leaders who have made dignified and factual contributions to this debate.

It is a great tragedy, and our thoughts are with the victims, with their families, with their communities, and particularly with the LGBTI communities of Orlando, who appear to have been deliberately targeted.

Let us remain strong in the knowledge that free and open societies have the resilience to sustain these tragedies to support each other and to grow stronger again together. Thank you.

Site rankings

In Blog Rankings yesterday a link was posted that shows the decline in Whale Oil in Alexa rankings.Whale’s New Zealand ranking is 243, compared to 141 in January 2015.

Website rankings can be contentious and fickle but they give an approximate idea of relative site traffic.

Current rankings for New Zealand media sites:

Facebook doesn’t have a New Zealand specific website.

Political blogs:

Although declining Whale Oil is still well ahead, that is likely to be due to the number of daily posts that part time bloggers can’t match. However commenting volumes at Whale Oil don’t seem much different to Kiwiblog and The Standard.

I’m surprised that Your NZ ranks ahead of The Daily Blog, but the TDB ranking along with Waatea news and Mana News suggests that far left media is not yet appealing to the ‘missing million’.

All the political blog rankings indicate that politics is a fairly niche interest.

There are other sites that include political discussions, like Trade Me Message Board and Reddit.

Note that Alexa is just one way of ranking websites. It isn’t necessarily a measure of popularity or effectiveness.

Government announcement on refugee quota

The Government announcement on raising the refuge quota, from Minister of Immigration Michael Woodhouse.

Govt announces increase to Refugee Quota

Today the Government announced that it will increase the size of the Refugee Quota from 750 to 1000 places per year from 2018,” says Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse.

“We take our international humanitarian obligations and responsibilities seriously, the increase today demonstrates our commitment to meet the needs of some of the world’s most vulnerable people,” says Mr Woodhouse.

“New Zealand has a strong record in the resettlement of refugees. Last year we committed to resettling 500 Syrians over two years on top of our annual quota of 750.  This means for the next two years we are taking 1000 refugees.

“Today’s announcement to increase the annual quota to 1000 from 2018/2019 is an appropriate response. We want to ensure the refugees we take settle well and contribute meaningfully to life in New Zealand, while not putting unreasonable strains on social services.

“We want to be sure people have the appropriate support and services they need to resettle in New Zealand like housing, health, education and translation services,” says Mr Woodhouse.

“The new quota of 1,000 will cost an extra $25 million a year. This is on top of the $75 million a year we currently spend on quota refugees”.

The Government has also agreed to pilot a new community sponsorship category in 2017/2018. The details of the pilot are still being worked through and will be announced next year.

“The offers of support from the New Zealand public in the wake of publicity around the significant displacement of people globally is commendable and the Government is keen to explore how that support might be used to the benefit of refugees,” Mr Woodhouse says.

Immigration New Zealand will also start a process to select a further refugee settlement location to assist the accommodation of the extra intake.

“There are currently six locations where refugees are settled once they have completed their reception at the Mangere Refugee Resettlement Centre, with Dunedin the most recent settlement city. I expect another location will be announced sometime in 2017,” says Mr Woodhouse.

The annual refugee quota is just one part of New Zealand’s total refugee and humanitarian programme. There are also 300 places available each year for family reunification and an additional 125-175 asylum seekers have their claims approved each year.

“The new Refugee Quota Programme represents an increased contribution from New Zealand to the resettlement of refugees and highlights our commitment to help address the ongoing global refugee crisis,” Mr Woodhouse says.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 4,559 other followers