Shane Jones signals NZ First attack on immigration

It’s not a surprise to see NZ First target immigration coming in to an election campaign. NZ First had planned to launch their campaign this weekend, but that has been delayed a weekafter what seemed like urgent but minor surgery this week for Winston Peters – see Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters takes medical leave (Peters also had hospital treatment and a week off work last year).

Shane Jones was interviewed on The Nation, but ‘hinted’ at tough immigration policy, presumably leving the big announcements to Peters once he is back on deck.

Newshub: Shane Jones hints at controversial New Zealand First immigration policies despite COVID-19 border closure

Speaking to Newshub Nation on Saturday, Jones said he believes employers have “a duty” to train New Zealand workers before immigrants.

He promised New Zealand First does not intend to make it easy for language schools while acknowledging the border closure will make their business difficult regardless.

“We’ve had the COVID experience – the borders have closed and it’s hard to see when and how they will open,” he said.

“I can say New Zealand First has no agenda of making it easy for language schools which have brought migrants into New Zealand with low skill, low values and had a very disruptive and negative impact on our labour market.”

Host Simon Shepard said the border closure has removed the immigration debate from the election conversation – a claim which Jones debated.

“I’ve every confidence our leader, our Caucus and our party will have very profound things to say about immigration,” he said.

“Just watch this space – we will have sensible things to say about immigration and it may come to pass that not everyone will enjoy what we have to say,” he continued.

“We’ve got to speak about the fact that in our population of five million we cannot rely on unfettered immigration at a time when our infrastructure is creaking.”

His comments follow a February interview with Newshub Nation where Jones blasted the Government’s immigration policy, saying too many people “from New Delhi” are being allowed to settle in New Zealand.

“I think the number of students that have come from India have ruined many of those institutions,” he said about academic institutions.

Jones defended his comments despite the Prime Minister calling them “loose and wrong”.

NZ First are in for a tough battle this election, with recent poll results around 2%.

In their favour is the disproportionate amount of free publicity the media are likely to give them.

1 News: Battle for Northland seat between Matt King and Shane Jones shaping up as a must win for NZ First

Its candidate Shane Jones is trying to snatch the seat off National MP Matt King in a bid to help keep the Winston Peters-led party in Parliament.

But National’s Matt King says it’ll take more than political stunts to win the seat.

“They won’t be fooled by the game these guys are playing,” he told 1 NEWS.

The MP alleges that the Provincial Growth Fund is being used to curry favour, with Northland securing nearly $600 million.

However, Mr Jones says it’s not Northland “feeling the love”.

“All the provinces have felt the provincial love and that’s because we were elected to drive provincial development.”

PGP handouts have been somewhat overshadowed by much bigger Covid subsidies and handouts, and some PGP funds have been shifted tor Covid recovery.

List MP Willow-Jean Prime is standing for Labour again.

Labour have so far given no indication they will help NZ First in Northland. If they stick to this approach it will be difficult for Jones, who has never won an electorate.

Like Peters, Jones is a boundary pushing attention seeker.

Newshub: Shane Jones stops putting up billboards in Kerikeri after council admits error in allowing it

National MP Matt King, the current MP for Northland, accused his New Zealand First opponent earlier this week of putting up “illegal” election advertising in Kerikeri.

King argued the ‘Jones for Jobs’ billboards broke the Electoral Commission’s rules that election hoardings cannot be put up until July 18.

The Electoral Commission had a different take, explaining how it’s fine for hoardings to be up before July 18 if the local council allows it.

“Election advertising may be published at any time, except on election day. This means election hoardings can be put up at any time, subject to the rules the local council has in place.”

Newshub went to the Far North District Council – the authority overseeing the town of Kerikeri – and CEO Shaun Clarke said there were no rules against it.

“There are no active bylaws or policies which would restrict early hoardings on private land in the Far North District.”

But Clarke has contacted Newshub to say he got it wrong and that there is a rule stating election signs can be erected “no sooner than 8 weeks prior to, and then removed no later than the close of day before polling day”.

Those rules are similar to most if not all local bodies for election hoardings. The CEO should have known that.

Otago University Law Professor Andrew Geddis confirmed there is no nationwide law to say you can only put up election billboards in a specified period before the election.

Outside of that period it’s up to local councils.

“If the CEO doesn’t know his own bylaws, that’s a worry,” Geddis said.

I hope it was only ignorance of his own bylaws.

Jones should have also been well aware of the by laws, he’s been a politician for a long time and has contested several electorates, including Northland in 2008. He unsuccessfully contested Whangerei in 2017, coming third, over ten thousand votes behind current MP Shane Reti.

Peters won Northland in a by-election in 2015 when Labour told their voters to support him (and most did), but lost to King inn the 2017 general election to King by 1,389 votes.

 

 

NZ First and fishing boat camera delays

Newshub has agitated Winston Peters with their reporting of ongoing delays at fitting cameras on fishing boats to monitor catches and protection of protected bird and sea mammal species.

Peters has been connected with fishing company interests for years, Shane Jones is former chair of both Te Ohu Kaimoana and Sealord, and fishing companies have donated to NZ First and to the NZ First trust (and also to national and Labour candidates).

The installation of cameras on fishing boats seems to have been contentious. National planned to require it when they were in Government, and the Green Party, Greenpeace and NZ Forest and Bird strongly supports it.

RNZ (February 2018): Govt considering ditching fishing boat camera plans

Fisheries Minister Stuart Nash said many in the fishing industry were unhappy with the camera proposal and all options were on the table – including dumping it entirely.

One of Mr Nash’s first moves when he became the Fisheries Minister was to put the brakes on the rollout of electronic monitoring of the commercial fishing fleet.

The former National government came up with the plan last year, saying it would protect the sustainability of fish stocks and act as a deterrent against illegal activity, like fish dumping.

But Mr Nash said National forced it upon the sector, and he was getting advice from officials on what should be done.

“There are certainly concerns in the industry that there hasn’t been a proper process followed and a complete and utter lack of consultation.

“That does seem to be the prevailing attitude but we haven’t made any final decision on that,” he said.

Mr Nash said ditching the programme entirely was one of the options being considered.

“We could continue the project as it is, we could delay it – at the extreme we could dump it.”

National Party fisheries spokesman Gerry Brownlee said the rollout of cameras was needed to deal with well-publicised problems in the sector.

“Our step to put cameras on board was not rejected by the industry, it was the speed with which they were required to comply and they felt they needed more time,” he said.

Mr Brownlee said to move away from cameras would be ignoring problems, such as commercial fisheries catching non-quota species, as well as seabirds and sea mammals.

Forest and Bird chief executive Kevin Hague said the fishing industry could not be trusted and cameras on boats was the only way to keep it honest.

Seafood New Zealand chief executive Tim Pankhurst said Forest and Bird had an anti-commercial fishing agenda, and that the camera proposal was simplistic, unreasonably costly and inadequate.

Stuff (January 2019): Cameras on fishing boats delayed, angering Greens and Greenpeace

The Government has again delayed the rollout of mandatory cameras on fishing boats.

The change to the regulation was “gazetted” on Wednesday and gives companies until August 2019 to get their boats ready.

This follows another delay caused as the policy, supported by the previous Government, made its way through Cabinet.

Both the Green Party and Greenpeace have expressed disappointment at the delay.

“We don’t agree with this delay which is putting our fisheries and natural environment at risk”, Green Party animal welfare spokesperson Gareth Hughes said.

Despite being a part of the Government, the Greens are free to disagree with it on issues its MPs have no ministerial discretion over.

Former Green Party co-leader and Greenpeace executive director Russel Norman was also angered by the delay.

“There was a disturbing level of malpractice exposed by the original trials of the cameras back in 2012,” Norman said.

Norman alleged NZ First MP and Regional Development Minister Shane Jones was behind the move. NZ First have interfered in several other fishing policy decisions in recent months, and Jones received thousands of dollars in donations from fishing companies.

“If Shane Jones is now the de facto Minister of Fishing and has a policy agenda to help fishing companies destroy the environment, then the Government should just come clean about it rather than quietly delaying any action to protect our oceans,” Norman said.

Jones vigorously defended himself against Norman, saying the Greenpeace leader had left politics so should stay out of it.

Newsroom last month (June 2020): Why the delay to get cameras on boats?

The deadline for having cameras installed on commercial fishing boats was pushed back again last week with technology being pegged as one reason for the delay.

Newsroom’s enquiries have not been able to establish the nature of those technology issues, finding only that a step to define which technology solutions are required hasn’t yet happened.

Since cameras on boats were first proposed by the National-led government following concern over illegal fish-dumping, the rollout date has shifted several times from the original date of October 2018.

A new date of October 2021 added to legislation last week is not a firm line in the sand. Nash said it’s a holding date, “not a planned date for either beginning or completing any implementation”.

Stuff reported Nash raised cost as an issue last week as well as technical complications saying: “The technology at this point is just not available to allow us to equip the whole fleet with cameras.”

However, enquiries to Fisheries NZ reveal there’s a process step required before technical decisions are made and costs are known.

Asked what the technical issues causing the delay were, Fisheries NZ’s deputy director-general Dan Bolger said a public consultation would be needed.

Public consultation will take time, but it’s not clear why it is needed at this stage.

The delays have frustrated conservationists. Greenpeace’s ocean campaigner Jessica Desmond said the ongoing stalling wasn’t good enough.

“There’s been a long pattern of delaying this legislation implementation. There’s been OIAs showing the industry oppose this legislation, there’s been all kinds of excuses about money and technicalities.”

Fishing industry opposition was made clear in a letter sent in 2018 to Nash signed by Sealord, Talley’s, New Zealand Federation of Commercial Fishermen and Te Ohu Kai Moana:

“The purpose of this letter is to dismiss any suggestion that the New Zealand seafood industry supports the current proposal, is in any way split in its opposition to it or that our industry has anything less than overwhelming opposition to your Ministry’s current proposal for cameras.”

New Zealand First’s Shane Jones denied being involved with the delay despite his past ties to the fishing industry as a former chair of both Te Ohu Kaimoana and Sealord, pro-industry stance, and history of receiving donations from Talley’s.

The NZ First Foundation received $26,950 from Talley’s and managing director Sir Peter Talley between 2017 and 2019. In 2017, Talley’s donated $10,000 to Jones.

The company also made a donation of $2000 to one other NZ First candidate, and donations of $5000 to seven National candidates and one Labour candidate in 2017.

Timeline:

2012 to 2013 – Video-monitoring pilot programme shows some monitored boats illegally discarding unwanted fish.

May 2016 – A report by an MPI investigator is leaked which called for prosecutions to be pursued. MPI announces an inquiry by former Solicitor General into the lack of prosecutions.

May 2017 – $30.5 million boost to fisheries management announced by then-Minister for Primary Industries Nathan Guy. It includes funding for GPS monitoring, electronic logbooks and was to be “followed by cameras on every vessel phased in from 1 October next year”.

November 2017 – Minister Stuart Nash postpones cameras on fishing boats saying: “I am working with MPI officials on options for timing and these will be communicated once a decision has been made.”

July 2018 – Letter from fishing companies sent to Nash saying the companies do not support cameras on boats.

January 2019 – Rollout of cameras delayed until August.

June 2019 – $17.1 million announced in Budget for cameras on boats fishing in Māui dolphin habitat by November 2019.

June 2020 – Rollout delayed to a “holding date” of October 2021.

On Tuesday: Winston Peters launches attack on Newshub journalist Michael Morrah ahead of fishing boat camera investigative report

On Tuesday’s Newshub Live at 6pm, Newshub Investigations Reporter Michael Morrah will reveal the politics behind delays in introducing cameras on fishing boats – and who’s responsible.

NZ First leader Winston Peters has released a statement before it goes it air, defending his party’s actions.

Peters is calling it “the worst form of unethical tabloid journalism”.

“What is appalling is how clickbait journalism is affecting the public’s right to be informed accurately about government policy,” he said.

“Newshub’s ‘shock horror’ special investigation will be as shallow as the motives behind its creation, and highlight once again some in the New Zealand’s media’s inability to understand how coalitions work.”

Morrah has covered the fishing industry for a decade and stands by his reporting.

“The public can make their own mind up tonight on Newshub Live at 6pm about whether this is clickbait journalism as Peters has claimed,” he says.

“I strongly reject any such suggestion, and I believe this story is in the public interest.”

The news item on Tuesday evening: Fisheries Minister Stuart Nash blames pressure from NZ First for delay in fishing boat cameras in recording

Newshub has obtained an explosive audio recording of Fisheries Minister Stuart Nash talking about NZ First MPs Winston Peters and Shane Jones.

The recording was from February 2018, around the time the Government first delayed the rollout of cameras on nearly 1000 fishing boats – since then it’s been delayed again until at least October next year.

In it, Nash points the finger of blame squarely at them for delaying plans to put cameras on commercial fishing boats to make sure they don’t break the law.

“New Zealand First has not been the cause of delays on cameras,” Nash has claimed on Tuesday.

But in February 2018, a few months after he took office, the explanation was remarkably different according to this secret recording obtained by Newshub.

“I’ve got to play the political game in a way that allows me to make these changes. Now, Winston Peters and Shane Jones have made it very clear they do not want cameras on boats,” Nash can be heard saying in a recording.

Nash then went on to say a public review of the fisheries management is needed to get the cameras rolled out.

“If Winston wants to have that discussion with Jacinda, it is had in the public arena and it is almost impossible for him to win it,” he said.

“But if he has it behind closed doors on the 9th floor now, then the public will never know about it. So what I am trying to do is put Winston and Shane into a position where they cannot back down.”

“By revoking these regulations, first of all people like Winston and the industry will go, ‘oh there, there you go. That’s fantastic, that’s been done. We don’t have to worry about this’,” he said in the recording.

“Little do they know behind the scenes the tidal wave on this is coming and they won’t be able to avoid it.”

But that tidal wave never came, nor did the planned fisheries review nor cameras on all boats.

On Tuesday, Nash said his comments were a mistake and that he ‘misread’ NZ First’s position.

“I just got it wrong. I was a new Minister. I was coming to grips with the portfolio. I got it wrong,” he told Newshub.

NZ First MPs are adamant they haven’t delayed things, with Jones blaming the pandemic.

“I’m not the Fisheries Minister, but I suspect that COVID has got a lot to do with it,” Regional Development Minister Shane Jones told Newshub.

“Cameras on fishing boats is really interesting. We haven’t blocked cameras on fishing boats,” NZ First MP Tracey Martin told Newshub Nation.

Although in an interview with Newshub less than two weeks ago, party leader Winston Peters eventually acknowledged NZ First was involved in the delay.

“Do we listen to industry representation, yes. Are we concerned about families and their economic representation? Yes. Are we the cause of that delay? Well, we are part of the representation that has ended up with a more rational and sane policy, yes” he said. Asked whether that was a yes to the original question, Peters responded: “yes”.

Talley’s Andrew Talley told Newshub “within the right framework cameras have a place in modern fisheries management”.

He says there’s “no connection” with donations and the camera delays.

When questioned if NZ First had delayed the cameras because he got financial backing from the fishing industry, Peters called it an “insulting question”.

“Stop making your vile, defamatory allegations by way of an accusatory question,” he told Newshub. “This conversation is over.”

Peters can get tetchy when under pressure.

Newshub followed up yesterday:  Talleys hosted fundraiser dinners for NZ First, but denies that’s behind delay in fishing boat cameras

Members of fishing family Talleys organised two fundraising dinners at hotels for New Zealand First, Newshub can reveal – another link between the party and the fishing industry.

Newshub can reveal Talleys Fishing directors hosted two fundraising dinners for NZ First – one last year at a Christchurch hotel.

There’s nothing illegal or wrong about hosting fundraisers. The MC was former RNZ board chair Richard Griffin. He confirmed to Newshub that he’d MCed two fundraiser meetings for NZ First, and that Winston Peters, Shane Jones and Clayton Mitchell were there.

Asked about the fundraisers, Peters said “I’ve got no idea what you’re talking about.”

Even after Newshub briefed his office, he still refused to talk about it, saying “I don’t know what on earth you’re asking these questions for”.

After contentious donation issues in 2008 Peters lost his Tauranga seat and NZ First failed to make the 5% threshold, dumping them out of Parliament.

Stuff: Stuart Nash apologises to Winston Peters and Shane Jones over fisheries comments

Fisheries Minister Stuart Nash made a “heartfelt” apology to Winston Peters and Shane Jones for remarks made in a private phone call, which aired on television last night.

Nash said today that the conversation was had two and a half years ago, and he couldn’t remember who was on the other end of the call.

He said he’d apologised to Peters and Jones about the call.

“I’ve apologised to Winston and to Shane and said I got it wrong,” Nash said. “I think they took it well because it was heartfelt,” he said.

Nash said at the time that while the technology had been rolled on 20 boats on the West Coast, it was not yet ready for wider distribution.

If it works on some boats why shouldn’t it be able to work on others?

Cameras are already used successfully on some fishing boats, so the technology seems fine. Fisheries New Zealand:  On-board cameras for commercial fishing vessels

On-board cameras give us independent information about what goes on at sea. They help verify catch reporting, and monitor fishing activity by commercial fishers, to encourage compliance with the rules.

Overseas experience shows that placing cameras on commercial fishing vessels greatly improves the quality of fisher-reported data.

For example, reports of interactions with seabirds and mammals increased 7 times when electronic monitoring was introduced to Australia’s longline fisheries in 2015. Overall reported catch remained the same.

Camera technologies have been used around the world on commercial fishing vessels for decades, and we have learnt a lot from fisheries overseas which are already using these systems.

New Zealand regulations for on-board cameras on commercial fishing vessels came into effect in 2018.

Since then, we’ve been developing the systems and processes to support this, and have now put cameras on some fishing vessels. The regulations applied to these vessels from 1 November 2019 in a defined fishing area on the west coast of the North Island.

Currently, a holding date of 1 October 2021 has been set before the on-board camera regulations apply to other commercial fishing vessels.

So technology does not appear to be an issue.  It looks more like a political problem. Putting things on hold until next year sounds like waiting and hoping for a different mix of parties in Government.

 

 

Infrastructure handouts announced

$3 billion aimed at fast tracking infrastructure projects to try to boost recovery from the economic effects of the Covid-19 pandemic were announced yesterday.

Infrastructure investment to create jobs, kick-start COVID rebuild

A new package of infrastructure investments will help kick-start the post-COVID rebuild by creating more than 20,000 jobs and unlocking more than $5 billion of projects up and down New Zealand.

That is presumably an estimate of job numbers. There is no indication whether people with the right qualifications and skills  are available to do the jobs, or if they will need to be trained – which would take time.

Finance Minister Grant Robertson and Infrastructure Minister Shane Jones today outlined how the $3 billion infrastructure fund in the COVID Response and Recovery Fund will be allocated across regions, following extensive engagement with local councils and businesses.

The investment package includes about $210 million for climate resilience and flood protection projects, $155 million for transformative energy projects, about $180 million for large-scale construction projects and $50 million for enhanced regional digital connectivity.

The COVID Response and Recovery Fund (CRRF) set out in Budget 2020 earmarked $3 billion for infrastructure projects. Cabinet’s initial decisions on this allocation include:

  • Housing and urban development: $464m
  • Environmental: $460m
  • Community and social development: $670m
  • Transport (cycleways, walkways, ports and roads): $708m

The projects are in addition to the $12 billion New Zealand Upgrade Programme and existing Provincial Growth Fund investments.

Infrastructure Minister Shane Jones said the pipeline of projects would create immediate economic activity in the metropolitan centres as well as the regions.

Cabinet has now made initial decisions about key sectors it would like to support and general regional distribution of funds, with more than 150 projects worth $2.6 billion being approved in principal. Officials are now undertaking final due diligence to ensure projects are viable and offer the benefits stated by applicants.

That doesn’t sound like ‘immediate economic activity’.

About $400 million has been set aside as a contingency as the Government takes a responsible approach to managing spending on behalf of taxpayers. Funds not required in the contingency will be put towards further infrastructure projects, providing an incentive for local councils to deliver the approved projects on time and on budget, as this would unlock a further potential $400 million of investment.

Large infrastructure projects have a habit of running over budget, especially when the investigations and planning of them is rushed.

Rushing projects also raises the risks of them being ill-conceived and chosen so the Government is seen to be doling something.

And there are suggestions the announcements that the announcements are more timed for the election than practical progression of the projects. This announcement included government self promotion:

“This is about creating jobs as we recover and rebuild from the recession caused by the global COVID-19 pandemic. Because we went hard and early with our health response, we’ve been able to open up the economy quicker than other countries and get a head start on our recovery,” Finance Minister Grant Robertson said.

“This package will provide Kiwis with confidence that the Government is backing them in this challenging economic environment by creating new jobs and opportunities in communities around the country.”

Infrastructure Minister Shane Jones said the pipeline of projects would create immediate economic activity in the metropolitan centres as well as the regions.

“Both are critical to our economic and social recovery from the COVID-19 crisis,” Shane Jones said.

“Not only has this massive undertaking provided us with the largest stocktake of infrastructure projects we’ve ever had but it’s enabled us to partner with central and local government, the private sector and community groups to deliver projects for all Kiwis.

“The specific projects we’re announcing today are examples of the sort of projects we’re supporting – from nationwide investments in flood protection and better digital connectivity to civic facilities that we know form the bedrock of our communities.

“I am extremely proud of the depth and breadth of this unprecedented piece of work,” Shane Jones said.

Jones may also be hoping this unprecedented piece of work will help his electorate election chances, and Robertson may be hoping it helps Labour’s chances of being re-elected (but he may not be hoping for NZ First to interfere with them governing again next term).

It will be well after the election before the worth of the projects being pushed have been money well spent, or squandered.

Winston ‘spray and walk away’ Peters and NZ First failings

NZ First looks to be in big trouble. It is still twelve weeks until the election, and Winston has been good at pulling campaign rabbits out of the hat, but prospects currently look a bit grim for NZ First.

This far out from the 2017 election Peters was confident of getting 20+% in the election, beating Labour and being top dog in coalition negotiations.  In June-July 2017 NZ First were getting 8-11% in polls and Peters always claimed polls were wrong (unless he liked the results).

Jacinda Ardern took over leadership and Labour bounced back in the polls, and NZ First dropped, getting 5-8% results towards the election. Still Peters claimed ‘Crap’ polls don’t reflect NZ First’s position:

RNZ’s latest poll of polls – which is the average of the major polls – has New Zealand First at 7.5 percent and falling.

Mr Peters today said despite the party’s slump in the polls, New Zealand First was actually going “very well” and the large variation between the recent polls showed they could not be relied upon and should not be taken seriously.

He said political polls were akin to voodoo.

“I think your polls are crap and I’ve always thought that,” Mr Peters said in Whangamata today.

“What you should say is ‘Mr Peters – my crap polls should be listened to’, and my answer’s ‘no your crap polls should be totally ignored by the public because they’re rubbish’.”

Eleven days later NZ First got 7.2% in the election, so the polls weren’t that far off.

Peters still acted like he had won the election and dictated the terms of coalition negotiations. He dominated proceedings, played the media, Labour and Greens, and came out with a disproportionate deal – the Winston tail wagged the Labour puppy which was desperate to get back into Government after nine years in opposition.

NZ First scored  the $3 billion Provincial Growth Fund prize and they have been dishing out dosh as if it was election bribes all over the country. Donors from the racing and fishing industries were also rewarded with favourable policy changes.

Peters started the term as Deputy Prime Minister but acting as if he was the virtual leader with Ardern his rookie subordinate.

But Ardern’s leadership overshadowed Peters, especially in difficult times such as the Christchurch mosque murders, the Whakaari/White Island eruption and the Covid-19 pandemic.

Peters lost a court battle against National MPs and public officials over his super overpayments being made public.

And this year NZ First was exposed with the use of a trust to hide and effectively fiddle party donations. Whatever the Serious Fraud Office decide to do damage has already been done. One NZ First MP, Clayton Mitchell, won’t be standing this election and that looks a bit like it could be connected to his involvement in party donations.

Peters is starting to look old and stale alongside Ardern and in Parliament.

NZ First have been polling around the all important threshold and have recently slipped well below it. At the start of the year poll results were 3-5%, but last month (May) they got a consistent 2.7%, 2.9% and 2.5% across three polls, and yesterday they dropped to 1.8% in the latest Colmar Brunton poll, their lowest result since 2014.

Winston’s reaction was predictable. 1 News headlined NZ First sees disastrous poll result but Peters responded

Asked about the party’s poor showing in the poll, party leader Winston Peters told 1 NEWS – “your polls are crap…your polls are rubbish…your problem is you don’t have the intellectual capacity to absorb the mistakes of your polling industry.”

Mr Peters denied that the Serious Fraud Office investigation into the secretive foundation bankrolling his party was contributing to its poor results.

“Once again that’s a jack-up as well, and we’ll prove that….this is the point here New Zealand First is so effective, that we’re impervious to attack on any reasonable grounds so common dirt is what they try against us – it’s not going to work,” Mr Peters said.

But Peters is looking like a repetitive, faded jaded mandarin.

On Thursdays in Parliament Peters gets to answer questions on behalf of the Prime Minister. I wonder what he thinks of being referred to as ‘she’ and repeat lame Government lines, like (from Hansard):

Hon Nikki Kaye: Will she absolutely guarantee there will not be an inquiry or investigation into the failures that have occurred?

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: On behalf of the Prime Minister, it would be wrong to actually guarantee against a future inquiry. We cannot see the purpose of making such a commitment when, in fact, transparency and openness is our middle name.

Lack of openness and transparency have dogged the government, and have never been attributes associated with Peters.

Hon Chris Hipkins: Would the officials working at the front line have more time to do the jobs that we desperately need them to do if they weren’t having to investigate spurious and baseless claims being made by members of the Opposition?

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: Most definitely. To have an official having to behave like Sherlock Holmes to find a guilty party that doesn’t exist is preposterous behaviour, and Mr Woodhouse should be apologising to the country.

Hon Michael Woodhouse: Will she commit to telling the New Zealand public if and when the investigations being led by Dr Megan Woods reveals the veracity of the claim?

Rt Hon WINSTON PETERS: Most definitely. But this is how the real world works—this is how the real world works. When an allegation is made, especially from someone who’s educated and a member of Parliament and a former Minister, you expect that member to back it up. We do not the old fungus or moss ad that used to go like this, “I just spray and walk away.” Spray and walk away won’t do, Mr Woodhouse.

That’s a laugh coming from him. Peters has been the spray and walk away champion of Parliament for decades. One of his trademarks is to make outrageous allegations in Parliament, insists he has evidence, but fails to front up with it.

Things are looking grim for Peters and the future of his party. Sure, he may pick up on a scandal and milk it for all it’s worth between now and the election, and pull off another miracle recovery, but he may struggle with that.

NZ First has never survived in Government for more than a term, and didn’t survive in Parliament after the 2005-2008 stint.

This campaign Peters is not just having to do a ‘me against them’ battle while claiming he would do a deal with anyone.  He is having to deal with pushback from Labour for doing the dirty on some of their policies, and Greens are also targeting NZ First for dumping on some of their aspirations. Plus of course National currently have a position of not dealing with NZ First after the election.

The threshold is looking like a difficult target for NZ First.

Their other way back is for Shane Jones to win the Northland electorate that Peters lost in 2017. Jones has never managed to win an electorate yet. Voters don’t seem to like his over-hyped oratory anywhere near as much as he does.

With or without an SFO decision before the election it’s going to be a big battle for Peters this time, and after a busy term he may struggle to raise the energy needed to pull it off. Most people are wise to his hype, hypocrisy and forked tongue.

Winston will spray, but we will have to wait until September to see whether he has to walk away from a long career in politics or not.

NZ First bottom lines begin – moving Auckland’s port

NZ First seems to have a bottomless pit of bottom lines in election campaigns.

Last election: The comprehensive list of Winston Peters’ bottom lines

I think this is the first one this campaign:

Cape Reinga closure “cultural mumbo jumbo” as authorities puihi foot

Cape Reinga has remained closed (with a gate across the road) since lockdown, with some local Māori saying the area needs to be blessed and cleansed due to Covid-19, because after death people’s spirits travel there to depart to the afterlife.

Tourists are being blocked from visiting Cape Reinga by local Iw, with the puihi footing support of DOC and compliance of NZTA.

Earlier this week National MP Matt King tried visiting the Cape with his wife and parents and a man threatened to “knock him out” if he tried to get past the gate.

NZ First MP Shane Jones has called the claims ‘rubbish” and “cultural mumbo jumbo”.

On Wednesday (1 News):  National MP in confrontation with members of local iwi after being refused access to Cape Reinga

Dozens of tourists are being turned away from Cape Reinga by local iwi, despite tourism and hospitality in the region trying to encourage visitors to the area.

Northland MP Matt King made a video of a confrontation that took place with iwi as he tried to access the location.

“It’s my customary rights and I’m prepared to knock you out if you pass that gate,” a person blocking access says in the video.

Mr King talked to 1 NEWS about his experience.

“This is not about Covid-19, they gave me a range of reasons as to why the road was blocked. One was that DOC was doing maintenance up there, then they said it was their land.

“Northland is a beautiful place with beautiful people in it and we’ve got a lot to offer and I just want to see the roadblocks taken down and us just getting back to business”.

Ngāti Kuri says that is what it wants too, but first the sacred site must be cleansed. Māori tradition holds that after death spirits travel there to depart.

“There is a responsibility and obligation and opportunity to move us through to Level 1 by having an appropriate opening so spirits can move toward te rerenga wairua,” Harry Burkhardt of Ngāti Kuri says.

NZTA say its working with the iwi and the Department of Conservation who are restricting access until facilities are cleaned.

“Working with” appears to be allowing the road block to continue as long as those involved from Ngāti Kuri choose.

DOC fully supports Ngāti Kuri’s management of the area and says it’s working to undertake physical safety checks at the site, including walking trails, campgrounds and facilities.

A reopening ceremony will take place on May 29.

Also from NZ Herald:  `This isn’t about Covid 19′

Northland MP Matt King set off for Cape Rēinga, with his wife and parents, on Tuesday, but he didn’t get there. State Highway 1 was blocked several kilometres south of the cape, and the four people manning it had no intention of letting him past.

“I got them to admit that it was about Māori land. They told me they owned the land, and they weren’t going to let me past.”

One of those manning the gate, he said, had threatened to knock him out, while another said one phone call would bring 500 reinforcements to the gate, and that they would “eat me alive”.

A police officer was present, but did not intervene, and left when King did, following him south. (Police have given an undertaking that officers will be present at every Covid-19 checkpoint).

“He said he had been told not to take action, so he was in an impossible position, but his role had been to keep the peace. If he hadn’t been there it could have become quite ugly.”

King said he had been contacted by numerous people, including tour operators, who were concerned and upset by the road closure.

Most of them were afraid to speak publicly, so he was speaking for them.

Shane Jones never seems afraid to speak, even when criticising Māori.

Saturday (1 News): Shane Jones calls iwi’s reason for barring access to Cape Reinga ‘cultural mumbo jumbo’

“Cape Reinga has been hijacked by Ngāti Kuri and their cultural mumbo jumbo,” says Shane Jones.

“This notion that the spirits need to slumber post Covid is rubbish, this notion that the spirits are travelling to Cape Reinga to hibernate.”

The MP is of Te Aupouri and Ngai Takoto descent and says the Cape belongs to the nation and has significance to all Māori tribes.

“It’s a place of national significance that’s being tainted by people that don’t know what they’re talking about and who have no mandate.“

Jones says the iwi organisation overseeing the closure is like, “children without books, they haven’t learnt anything.”

The closure coincides with Northland industry leaders calling for people to come and visit the region.

Police wouldn’t comment on the road block instead referring the matter to the New Zealand Transport Authority which says it’s working with the Iwi and the Department of Conservation who are supporting the restricted access.

Authorities puihi foot around the issue.

If Matt King had referred to the road block as ‘rubbish’ and the need to let spirits slumber as ‘mumbo jumbo’ he would likely have been condemned by some Māori. These days it seems that only Māori  can be critical of Māori actions and cultural beliefs.

Ngāti Kuri have said they  will reopen the road with a ceremony on May 29.

Government fast-tracking RMA procedures, green concerns

The Government is changing the law to enable the fast-tracking of Resource Management Act procedures

Beehive:  Fast-track consenting to get shovel-ready projects moving

The Government has announced a major element of its COVID-19 rebuild plan with a law change that will fast track eligible development and infrastructure projects under the Resource Management Act to help get New Zealand moving again.

Environment Minister David Parker said the sorts of projects that would benefit from quicker consenting included roading, walking and cycling, rail, housing, sediment removal from silted rivers and estuaries, new wetland construction, flood management works, and projects to prevent landfill erosion.

The changes were approved by Cabinet last week and new legislation is expected to be passed in June.

“We are acting quickly to get the economy moving again and our people working. Part 2 of the RMA will still be applied. Projects are being advanced in time, but environmental safeguards remain,” David Parker said.

If the process can be sped up like this without compromising on environmental safeguards why couldn’t something like this have been done years ago?

“The consenting and approval processes that are used in normal circumstances don’t provide the speed and certainty we need now in response to the economic fallout from COVID-19. The new processes will get projects started sooner and people into jobs faster.

“Investment in infrastructure is central to the Government’s economic plan to keep New Zealanders in jobs. We have already signalled major projects as part of the $12 billion New Zealand Upgrade project.

“Ideas from district and regional councils as well as NGOs and the private sector will be considered.

“Job-rich projects like core infrastructure, housing, and environmental restoration are crucial to the Government’s plan to stimulate the economy and help us recover from the damage caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Some large-scale government-led projects, including those in the NZTA’s Land Transport Programme, will be named in the legislation to go through the fast-track consent process. Some works by government agencies will be able to start “as of right”.

“Projects that help alleviate housing challenges, encourage active transport and enhance the environment are prioritised under the proposal,” David Parker said.

I wonder if this will be a temporary fast tracking or a permanent reform.

RNZ: Government looks to fast-track infrastructure projects after lockdown

Infrastructure Minister Shane Jones said it was important that those projects get back under way as soon as possible because of the wider impact on the nation.

“You’ve got 300,000 Kiwis approaching a level of joblessness that no one of my generation ever saw – and I was a child of Rogernomics.

“We have got to be prepared to follow basically the old saying of Machiavelli … which is never squander a good crisis to address issues that ordinarily you wouldn’t do.

“As I’ve said in the past, needs must where the devil drives.”

Mark Binns is the chair of the infrastructure industry reference group leading the project, and said creating jobs was one of the key focuses of the group.

“What we’re looking to do is obviously support New Zealanders in jobs and support key strategic disciplines in horizontal and vertical building around the country, so we’re looking right around the country in all the regions as to where we can help and we will have a list with the ministers sometime in early May.”

Construction businesses endorsed the move, with Fulton Hogan managing director Cos Bruyn saying the announcement gave him confidence – but it was still a case of wait and see.

While Greens have been suggesting that projects that help the climate and the environment should be given priority they are wary of speeding up processes.

RNZ:  Greens raise concerns about planned law to fast-track resource consents

The new legislation, due to be passed in June, would take away the ability of the public and councils to have input into whether projects proceed and instead hand this power to a small panels of experts, chaired by an Environment Court judge.

Decisions would be issued within 25 working days and, while existing Treaty of Waitangi settlements would be upheld, appeal rights would be limited to points of law and judicial review.

Greens co-leader Marama Davidson said her party objected to removing public consultation, even for a limited time.

“This is why I want to hear from the public, and iwi and hapū, with concerns to the select committee process … we will be listening and taking on those concerns to get further improvements to this bill.”

That sounds like it could take a lot longer than the Government would like, but the the Greens may be impotent on this.

Labour, New Zealand First, National and ACT are all agreed on something – the RMA is not doing its job.

National’s spokesperson for RMA reform, Judith Collins, said it was about time changes were made and her party would likely consider the changes “favourably” once it had a chance to see the details.

“It does seem to me to be a recognition the RMA is not fit for purpose for doing almost anything.”

Mike Smith from the National Iwi Chairs Forum is leading their work on the matter – he will be meeting with ministers about it later today.

He said they’re glad to see environmental initiatives are now more front and centre and that land returned via treaty settlements will be protected from development.

The legislation risks poor decision making, Jen Miller of Forest and Bird told Morning Report.

There is a lack of clarity and communication about what the legislation will mean for the environment, she said.

She isn’t confident that the decision-making process will factor in a large project’s long term environmental effects.

Under the RMA there’s been ongoing destruction of the environment, she said.

“Climate disruption will cause huge impacts on people and our environment.

“In our view, projects need to provide help genuinely provide opportunities for recovery for people and the planet.”

That has conflicted with growth and ‘progress’, and is now going to come up against the rush to reinvigorate business and the economy after the Covid shock.

 

Shane Jones concedes insufficient jobs created by Provincial Growth Fund, ‘repurposing’ funds

The billion dollar a year Provincial Growth Fund was promoted by Minister of Regional Development Shane Jones as a way of creating jobs in regions where unemployment was high, but Jones now concedes that the scheme described by some as pork barrel politics and others a NZ First re-election slush fund has failed to deliver enough jobs.

Jones now concedes the PGF hasn’t created enough jobs, suggests “Provincial Growth Fund money is not going out the door through conventional projects” and is now looking at ‘repurposing’ PGF funds to try to save job losses rather than create new jobs.

When the PGF was launched in February 2018: Provincial Growth Fund open for business

The new $1 billion per annum Provincial Growth Fund has been officially launched in Gisborne today by Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones.

“As of today, the Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) is open for business and has the potential to make a real difference to the people of provincial New Zealand,” Mr Jones says.

“We are being bold and we are being ambitious because this Government is committed to ending the years of neglect.”

“The first of many projects the PGF will support will create more than 700 direct jobs, and 80 indirect jobs – an impressive start to what will be an exciting three years for our provinces.”

5 February 2019 (Stuff) – Shane Jones wants Provincial Growth Fund to get ‘nephs off the couch’

“The flash words that we assemble in our Cabinet papers have actually today put a pair of gumboots on,” Jones said.

“Prince Shane” Jones was here, with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Employment Minister Willie Jackson, to revive his promise to get the “nephs off the couch”.

These “nephs” are more commonly known in policy circles as NEETs – young people not in employment, education, or training – and they have been a bugbear of governments for decades.

“We are not going to rely exclusively on our Filipino Catholic immigrants. We are going to do the bloody work ourselves,” he told the crowd to applause.

But by now questions were being asked about the number of jobs being created. Jones himself is a fan of using flash words, but his job creation claims were starting to look like little more than piss and wind.

Newsroom 18 April 2019: How an OIA laid bare the pork barrel shambles that is Shane Jones’ provincial growth fund

On 5 February, MBIE’s head of the Provincial Development Unit, Robert Pigou, was reported claiming that the Provincial Growth Fund “was on track to create 10,000 jobs” – in contrast to National’s claims that the fund had created only a handful of jobs to that point.

I assumed that MBIE had run an economic forecasting exercise to estimate the effects of their various initiatives, and I wanted to know whether their assumptions had stacked up. So I made a simple request:

“Please provide the workings underlying the job creation claims, along with any correspondence with Treasury relating to that modelling.”

On 26 February, Treasury advised me they had no information to provide as they had not provided any advice to MBIE.

…on 22 March, MBIE informed me that “the Ministry is due to publicly release a spreadsheet detailing the 10,000 jobs figure at www.growingregions.govt.nz, as such this part of the request has been withheld”.

On 8 April, the Ombudsman’s office pointed me to a release on MBIE’s website providing the figures.

Here is what MBIE did to produce the 10,000 jobs figure.

They took the number of jobs that every Provincial Growth Fund applicant promised in their grant application. They added those numbers. Then they added one job for every feasibility study the Provincial Growth Fund was undertaking – that’s because you have to hire somebody to do a feasibility study.

That’s it.

Newshub 13 June 2019 – Shane Jones dodges questions over jobs created under Provincial Growth Fund

A spokesperson from Jones’s office said on Thursday 900 jobs had been created to date, including 52.5 under the ‘One Billion Trees’ programme. But the spokesperson didn’t have the number of new full-time, long-term job statistics on hand.

Jones, the Regional Economic Minister, has insisted that more jobs will be created as the PGF continues throughout the year and as projects under the fund are rolled out.

Goldsmith said at select committee Jones’s office had revealed in February a total of 215 jobs had been created out of 36.5 percent of PGF projects, and only six of those jobs were counted as full-time, long-term jobs – the rest were short-term, fixed-term or contractor roles.

The document obtained by Newshub showed 137 of the 215 jobs were part-time of less than 30 hours a week, while 23 were listed as full-time. It said it wasn’t recorded whether the remaining 55 were full-time or part-time.

Newshub 7 December 2019 – Revealed: Provincial Growth Fund costing $484k per full-time job

It’s been more than two years of the coalition Government and the $3 billion PGF has created just 616 full-time jobs.

The Opposition says it’s spraying cash, costing hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars for each job created.

But the minister in charge – Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones – insists it’s about more than just jobs.

An answer to a written question from National Regional Development spokesperson Chris Bishop reveals 1922 people are employed by PGF projects – and of that, just 616 are full-time jobs.

So far, $297.4 million has been spent so far on PGF projects. That’s $484,000 per full-time job, excluding those part-time jobs.

Jones insists infrastructure projects like roads and rail will take years to build, however in the long-term they’ll create jobs and further investment and increase confidence in the regions.

Six-hundred is an important figure but over the life of the fund and when the long-term projects are stood up it’ll be many thousands more than that,” he says.

This week (Stuff 7 April 2020) – Shane Jones concedes Provincial Growth Fund hasn’t created enough jobs, promises a fix

Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones has conceded the Provincial Growth Fund should have created more jobs after an attack by a union boss.

“We’ve disappointed a lot of rural communities that thought the dough would flow much quicker into their communities,” Jones said.

“There are no nephs there are no shovels,” he said of the Waipapa roundabout in Northland. 

“A large focus must go less on capital and on about generating actual jobs,” Jones said. 

But it could be too late for that, in this Parliamentary term at least. The Covid-19 impact on the economy and businesses is likely to see a bit surge in unemployment.

There Government is already looking at ‘repurposing’ PGF funds: Work to repurpose PGF funds begins

The Provincial Development Unit is working through applications and projects to see where Provincial Growth Fund money can be repurposed for initiatives deemed more critical to fighting the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones says.

“We need to be throwing everything we have at our disposal at keeping Kiwi businesses going, workers in jobs and regional economies afloat and viable. If Provincial Growth Fund money is not going out the door through conventional projects then it needs to be repurposed for other initiatives,” Shane Jones said.

That sounds like Jones is conceding that ‘conventional projects’ have largely been a failure and the PGF funds should be used now to reduce job losses rather than create new jobs.

 

 

 

Jacinda Ardern versus Shane Jones

It looks like Shane Jones chances of getting help from Labour in the Northland electorate are not flash. Jacinda Ardern took a swipe at Jones yesterday, and Jones responded.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern urges voters to condemn Shane Jones’ comments

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has delivered her strongest rebuking of NZ First MP and Minister Shane Jones yet, suggesting that if he was a Labour MP, he would face demotion.

She also urged voters to condemn Jones’ comments – which have been labelled “racist” and “irresponsible” by the Race Relations Commissioner Meng Foon – and to “act on their values when it comes to election time”.

“We are in an election year and that has, I think, driven electioneering out of some of the different parties that are in Parliament – that includes parties in the Government.”

What she had already said publicly was the “strongest condemnation I could possibly give [Jones’] comments”.

She again cited the fact that Jones being in a different party to Labour as the reason why she has not gone further in her reprimand.

“If I had a member within my own party making statements like that, I would have a very obvious ability and course of action that I could take,” she said.

“I could demote, I could reprimand; [there is] a range of things that I could do.”

But all those things were off the table because – although Jones is one of her ministers – he is in a different political party.

Interview transcript (The Spinoff) : Not fair to punish me for the opinions of others: Jacinda Ardern talks to the Indian Weekender

‘If this is not racism, what is?’ NZ Indian community leaders on Shane Jones

Challenged this week over Shane Jones’s comments about Indian students, NZ First Party leader and deputy prime minister Winston Peters insisted that he had been ‘expressing the views of some in the local Indian community’. This week the Indian Weekender newspaper editor Sandeep Singh sought the views of the community directly. Here’s what they said

Shane Jones responds to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s comments on Indian students saga

“I’m not going to accept the Indian radicals shutting me down … I’m surprised by the over-reaction … initially a lot of the pressure against me has come from the radicals in the Indian community.”

However, he’d “never, ever engage in a slanging match with the Prime Minister”.

“She’s a brilliant politician and when the Prime Minister speaks she never says anything wrong, but there is a difference in perspective between what New Zealand First would like to see in terms of these dodgy language schools and the flow of immigration into New Zealand, and from our other two parties, and I accept that’s just the MMP rub.”

He understood the Prime Minister was disappointed.

“But hey I’m a 60-year-old generational style politician and I’m not going to accept that the Indian activists and the Indian radicals are going to close me down as a racist.

“My whakapapa in New Zealand goes back a thousand years and I’ll be taking not one iota of difference from the Indian radicals.”

Asked if the coalition agreement prevented Ardern from disciplining him, Jones said his comments “have nothing to do with the business of me being a regional development minister”.

“This is an MMP environment. I’ve done nothing more than state something our party was elected to push forward, which was a more measured population policy.”

This will likely continue to play out at least up to the election.

New threats directed at mosque being investigated

New threats have been made online against the Al Noor mosque in Christchurch that was the target of a mass shooting nearly a year ago.

While online attacks on Muslims have continued since the massacre I think this latest threat is more likely to strengthen defence and support of Muslims in New Zealand.

Stuff:  Worshippers at the Al Noor mosque photographed in terror threat

Members of Christchurch’s Al Noor mosque have increased their security measures following an apparent terror threat, two weeks before the first anniversary of the March 15 attack in which 51 worshippers were gunned down.

The threat was issued on Sunday night on an encrypted messaging app, accompanied by a photo of a masked man sitting in a car outside the mosque.

A police spokeswoman has confirmed an investigation into the threat is under way.

The threat and accompanying photo was posted anonymously to more than 2000 followers on a messaging channel on the encrypted communication app Telegram.

The image shows a man wearing dark sunglasses and a balaclava printed with an image of a human skull. Through a car window the front of the Al Noor mosque can be seen.

In the background, four people are visible at the entrance of the mosque.

The message attached, written in both English and Russian, implies the people at the “same mosque” would be greeting each other for the “last time”. A gun emoji, or symbol, is also used in the message.

The image was posted on a messaging channel dedicated to celebrating the March 15 terror attack.

A very small minority involved, but this is still insidious.

RNZ: Muslims on high alert after report of threat against Christchurch mosque

On Sunday, members of the Al Noor Mosque were the subject of a reported terror threat, which police are investigating.

The Islamic Women’s Council’s national co-ordinator, Anjum Rahman, said the threat was the fourth she was aware of since the attacks.

“We have been talking to authorities for some months, since last year, definitely, about preparations coming into 15 March,” Rahman said.

“Absolutely, we were expecting this and possibly worse things.”

Rahman said racist and xenophobic extremists were emboldened by the 15 March attack.

“There were two things that happened after the mosque attacks,” she said.

“The first was that huge outpouring of solidarity and support, but the other thing that happened at the same time was that people that were that way inclined felt emboldened and strengthened and more connected.

“The negative and hateful commentary online has not stopped, and I believe it influences the way these people think.”

She said the current political environment meant that people “who aren’t the targets of these kinds of threats have a louder voice than those who are vulnerable to them”.

It’s not just anonymous online extremists being called out.

Newsroom: Jones’ attacks on Indian students a timely reminder

It is extraordinary that as we approach the one-year anniversary of a devastating terror attack at two Christchurch mosques by a white supremacist, a senior politician has directed an inflammatory broadside against the Indian student community in New Zealand.

Shane Jones, the New Zealand First Minister for Infrastructure, Forestry and Regional Economic Development in the Labour-led Coalition Government, said on Saturday New Zealand’s current immigration policy is “unfettered” and specifically attacked students from India who, in his view, “have ruined many of those [academic] institutions” they have attended in this country.

While this is not the first time prominent figures have resorted to xenophobic dog whistle politics in an election year, the Christchurch atrocity highlighted the very real dangers of allowing such narratives to go unchallenged.

But Jones’ comments on Saturday are a reminder that some New Zealand politicians still do not recognise that the battle against extremism after Christchurch begins at home and that there is a responsibility to refrain from words and actions that encourage intolerance, exclusion and even violence.

In this context, not only are Jones’ words racist and inflammatory, they are also wrong. It is important to emphasise that there is no evidence whatsoever to support his specific allegations regarding Indian students, or other groups of international students more generally.

That was written by Professor Harlene Hayne, Vice-Chancellor and Robert Patman, a Professor of International Relations, both from the University of Otago.

Prime Minister Ardern has ‘reprimanded’ Jones but he seems unrepentant, saying he has a mandate from NZ First to ‘contually speak’ about immigration – see Ardern says Jones was loose and wrong, but Jones unrepentant.

Police say they expect to take action over the person or people involved in the latest threats made against Al Noor mosque.