Media activists versus Bridges

Everyone can see that Simon Bridges has been struggling to impress as National’s leader. Many have said so, and not just those who wish that any National leader and their party will struggle.

It’s the media’s job to report what they see.

But it shouldn’t be the media’s job (or rather some who are presented as political journalists) to try to get any leader dumped, or to try to promote an alternative leader.

However this is what seems to be happening. And to an extent the media have the power to make it happen.

John Armstrong:  Media script requires Bridges to end up as dog tucker

The media have proclaimed Simon Bridges to be dog tucker. Having issued that decree, the media will do its darnedest to make sure he does become exactly that – dog tucker.

That is the ugly truth now confronting Bridges in his continuing struggle to keep his leadership of the National Party intact and alive.

It is unfair. Some pundits had made up their minds that Bridges was the wrong person to lead National within weeks of him securing the job. Those verdicts were quickly followed by bold predictions that it would not be long before he was rolled by his fellow MPs.

No account was taken of the difficulty of taking over a political party which has been thrown into the irrelevance of Opposition after having called the shots from the Government benches in Parliament for nigh on a decade.

It is not media bias at work here, however. When the media hunts as a pack – as is the case with Bridges – it is colour blind.

It is not fussy about where it feeds. It is not fussy whether the victim comes with a blue or a red tag. If you doubt that just ask Andrew Little.

Or David Shearer or David Cunliffe.

Armstrong is right – the media don’t care what colour the blood is, they smell it liken sharks and go in for the kill.

That the media are so rabid is simply the consequence of the adversarial nature of politics. The media are consumed with what is going wrong rather than what any government or Opposition party might be getting right.

I think this is only partly right. The long established adversarial nature of politics is part of the reason – but that combines with two more recent trends – the desire (and need) for clocks online, and also the rise in the level of personal involvement, advocacy and activism by journalists. Some of them are far from detached observers and reporters. Some want to be moves and shakers.

The hunt is constant for inconsistency, gaffes, blunders, infighting and so on. Negativity rules, OK.

Makes ‘better’ headlines than positives.

Despite its efforts, the media claim few scalps by their devices alone. They are instead vultures hovering over the road-kill offered up in the preferred prime minister ratings in what is now a sporadic number of polls.

That there are now only two news organisations commissioning such voter surveys – and at three-monthly intervals – means discerning a trend can be virtually impossible.

To draw conclusions from the surge in backing for Labour and decline in support for National registered by the Newshub Reid-Research poll is folly.

It was hardly a surge for Labour – it was a notable but one off change from their last poll (ignoring any other polls) nearly a year ago. And it was barely a decline for National in the current political context of being in opposition and taking into account margins of error.

Likewise the preferred prime minister ratings. That Collins has overhauled Bridges was used to reinforce the notion that Collins is now a viable candidate for the leadership — and that Bridges is not.

In part media are making the Collins conflict – they have been boosting her as an alternative by giving her exposure with every poor poll for Bridges. They have also effectively chosen her over all other National MPs.

Once you are deemed to be a loser by the media, that becomes a mindset which is near impossible to erase.
The loser falls victim to a feeding frenzy – and there can only be one outcome from that.

So the media end up getting their scalp and headlines – for a short while, before looking for the next victim.

Contrasting takes on Bridges: Debate on Prime Minister’s Statement

Following an embarrassing poll result Simon Bridges came out firing in his first speech of the year in Parliament yesterday, in response to the Prime Minister’s statement.

It was the best of speeches, it was the worst of speeches, depending who is describing it.

Predictably Winston Peters, who spoke immediately afterwards, slammed and ridiculed the speech and Bridges.

Nice wasn’t on Winston’s agenda, and Jacinda Ardern laughed alongside him.

And the opposite was also claimed.

Here is Bridges’ speech:

Did it do enough to lift his leadership? One speech does not make a leader.

All the speeches can be seen online here: https://www.parliament.nz/en/pb/hansard-debates/rhr/combined/HansDeb_20190212_20190212_20/tab/video?page=5

And Hansard transcripts: DEBATE ON PRIME MINISTER’S STATEMENT

 

National should be bold with a new leader

The latest poll by Newshub/Reid Research has confirmed that party support has been volatile, with National getting a similar result in the first poll of this year to the first poll of last year, and not far away from a poll in October.

From https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Opinion_polling_for_the_next_New_Zealand_general_election

National are doing fairly well for a party in opposition after nine years in Government.

But the poll confirmed again that Simon Bridges is not doing well as leader.  Why?

Kate Hawkesby: Exactly what is it about Simon Bridges that voters don’t like?

Another poll, another bad day at the office for Simon Bridges.

So what is it voters don’t like about Simon Bridges? Is it the voice? Is it his perceived weakness? Is it his inability to bat away Jami-Lee Ross?

Is it just bad luck being the guy who had to follow John Key? Is it that people still don’t know him?

Probably all of those things – and more. You can add to that a lurch right on issues like cannabis law reform, euthanasia, abortion, and a conservative Bridges looks out of touch with modern New Zealand.

Or is it just that National’s base likes strong sassy and old-school – in the form of a Judith Collins?

Some like Collins, but I’m far from convinced she is a good choice to take over. While there is some strong support for Collins in National circles, there also seems to be strong opposition. Twice she has put herself forward for the leadership and she hasn’t come close.

I see another problem with switching from Bridges to Collins. They are both from National’s last Government. The country has moved on from that.

After Helen Cl;ark was defeated in 2008 and stepped down Labour went through a few years of giving MPs a go who had been there for yonks waiting for a go (Goff, Cunliffe), and trying newer MPs who didn’t look new (Shearer, Little). They all failed.

National should face the reality that it will be difficult for them to get back into power next year. By 2023 Bridges or Collins will be even more old school and potentially stale and out of touch.

If National really wants to look ahead I think they need to seriously look at choosing a leader for the future, and accept that next years election is likely to be a learning exercise.

I have no idea who would be suitable. I just think it is likely to be someone not on the leadership radar at the moment.

National may simply be too conservative to make a bold move, but they have done it before, backing the inexperienced John Key, and that proved successful.

Choosing a relatively inexperienced MP now who has obvious leadership potential, targeting 2023, seems like a pragmatic approach. And if Labour fail to deliver and crash next year, there is enough experience in national’s ranks to help a new Prime Minister – they should be in a better position to do this than Labour were with Ardern.

We need strong leadership of at least the major parties. Bridges doesn’t cut it.

I would like National to be bold and look to the future, but they don’;t seem to be ready for this yet. They may need another election loss to hammer home the need for real revitalisation and modernisation.

JLR, the media and a difficult mental health question

There have been a number of puzzling aspects about how the health of Jami-Lee Ross has played out in public. One obvious one is that it has played out in public as it has – Ross has come newsworthiness as an MP, but people with mental health problems tend to deal with them as privately as possible. Ross is not the first MP to have mental health problems they have had to deal with, it is a very stressful environment to work in.

The media have reported on this as they should, and I’m aware of the trickiness of reporting on someone’s mental health, especially when attempted suicide is mentioned. But I am surprised how they have done it unquestioningly. They seem to have taken Ross’ word for how things happened and how it affected him.

And I was surprised to see media (2) jump in with coverage of a Ross tweet on Saturday where Ross replied to a tweet from Bridges, saying “Are you sure you’re the right person to be criticising others on the topic of mental health??”

Stuff: Jami-Lee Ross takes Simon Bridges to task over mental health tweet

Newshub: Jami-Lee Ross rips into Simon Bridges in mental health tweet

One could easily assume that this is exactly the sort of publicity that Ross was aiming for – helping him attack his former parliamentary colleague and leader, despite Ross claiming some time ago that he bore no grudges.

Stuff went to Ross for further comment:

Ross told Stuff on Saturday afternoon he would be using his platform as an independent MP to “raise issues which are important”.

“Mental health services in New Zealand urgently need more funding,” he said.

“The government Simon and I were part of let the sector down and let the system reach crisis point.

“We now owe it to patients and mental health practitioners to work with the government constructively.”

I think this raises an important issue – how much should the media assist Ross with publicity?

And a more important one – should they do this without scrutinising Ross and his mental health claims. Ross chose to go public on mental health, and he continues to use mental health as a way of criticising his former leader and party.

While the media seems to have avoided questioning Ross’s mental health claims, some questions have been raised at Kiwiblog before now, and again yesterday.

I’m happy to take the downticks but I call “bullshit” on jlr’s “mental illness”.

I am not “mental health expert” but have had a couple of mates over the years suffer from a mental issue and a couple of my eldest’s school friend as well. Some involving committal and if that tosser claims he was “committed” then released after 24 hours then he’s full of shit. Plus, it was over a weekend so there would have been less “professionals” on duty to assess, commit and release.

I wondered at the time about how quickly Ross was released from care after he was committed after claiming to have attempted suicide. It had seemed like a very rapid recovery. And it was followed by a sustained attack on Bridges, Paula Bennett and National – that seemed an unusual thing to happen when someone was suffering from a severe mental health problem.

And:

My mental health meltdown happened in early November 2017, and I have only returned to work on a part-time basis since December 2018. Unsurprisingly, I am sceptical about how quickly Ross has supposedly recovered.

I can understand that media would be cautious about what they report on with Ross for fear of precipitating mental health problems, especially with talk of suicide in the mix.

I find it more difficult to understand some media giving Ross publicity in his ongoing attacks, without looking further into what Ross has claimed.

For example, is Ross the right person to be criticising others on the topic of mental health? And is it fair for him to use his mental health issues as a weapon against others? Bridges has vowed not to respond to Ross’ ongoing taunts, which is wise, as he would be at risk of Ross using that against him as he has done with other things.

Cameron Slater was going hard out on Whale Oil presumably on behalf of Ross attacking Bridges and Bennett and National until Slater had his own serious health problem.

While Slater is no longer posting at Whale Oil it was perhaps of interest to see Juana Atkins post yesterday, ironically What a tangled web we weave, applauding the media attention given to Ross.

If Simon Bridges thinks that the Jami-Lee Ross and Sarah Dowie story is going to go away he is wrong. The media are not going to let it go away.

He told the caucus on Thursday that what Jami-Lee Ross said about his staff member being put up to talking to the media by Deputy leader Paula Bennett was all BS. He clearly hasn’t considered the possibility that Jami-Lee Ross may have taken very, very detailed notes. If he keeps repeating that assertion, he may live to regret it.

This is similar to claims and threats that Slater had been making. Slater has a history of making claims and insinuations of having damning evidence, but failing to front up with any evidence.  A trick he shared with Winston Peters was attacking people and making insinuations, and trying too get the media to find the evidence they claimed to have.

A smart journalist would hound Paula Bennett until she says again that she had no involvement in setting up the Newsroom hit job on Jami-Lee Ross. Her continued lying is going to get her and Bridges into an awful bind that will likely cost them their jobs when the truth finally comes out.

Smart journalists should be very sceptical about encouragement to take particular lines of inquiry in this.

Smart journalists should have been asking why Slater and Whale Oil and Atkins have been either working with or using Ross so much in their joint attacks on National.

And I think it would be fair for smart journalists to be asking about the actual mental health situation with Ross.  So far Ross has been able to dish out free shots with the willing help of some media.

Ross has chosen to continue to go public using mental health as a political weapon. This deserves further scrutiny.

Something else that deserves further scrutiny (from Kiwiblog comments):

peterwn:

Interesting, Jami effectively has a ‘hot line’ to the media via his Twitter account since various journos ‘follow’ him. What do you have to do to get a similar ‘hot line’ to the media

Keeping Stock:

I suspect the “hotline” is not so much from Ross as from one of the people who is “advising” him.

And speaking of Ross; is there any truth in the allegation he had an extra-marital relationship with a journalist, and if so, isn’t it as much in the public interest for the journalist to be named as it was to name Sarah Dowie?

This is pertinent given that journalists have aided Ross with his attacks and claims from the start of this with the reporting of the leaking of Bridges’ expenses.

Journalists are still helping Ross with his attacks.

It’s not just Ross’ mental health that they are not questioning. It is also the complicity in Ross’ affairs of at least one person in their own ranks that they are sweeping under the carpet.

Bridges trying to look like “Prime Minister in waiting”

Henry Cook (Stuff):  Simon Bridges doesn’t look like a Prime Minister in waiting yet, but he’s trying

It’s hard to describe, but there is an energy that surrounds prime ministers, and people on their way to becoming prime ministers. Even as you shake their hand and have a chat, you can feel the weight and power of something much larger than their physical form surrounding them.

John Key had it. Bill English learnt it in a hurry. And Jacinda Ardern seemed to command it the moment she took on the leadership, even when it seemed likely she would have to bide her time in Opposition for another three years.

Bridges’ problems:

Last year was a credibility problem. And…

…there remains a tendency to chase every passing car, possibly because there are so many National MPs without power.

National MP Barbara Kuriger put out a ridiculous press release attacking a “red-meat tax” last month, something the Government had very clearly not proposed.

And late last year National engaged in a bad-faith populist campaign against a United Nations migration pact it would have happily signed up to in Government.

Bridges has put Paula Bennett into the drug reform role ahead of the cannabis referendum, replacing the extremely reasonable and knowledgeable Shane Reti with someone much more likely to stoke simplistic scaremongering.

These are things thirsty opposition parties do, not ones ready for Government.

He put Bennett in charge of stoking simplistic scaremongering on drug reform just last month.

If Bridges wants to continue his transformation and start looking like a Prime Minister for everyone, not just the National Party base, these swings to the hard right should be put behind him. Just like his annus horribilis.

Feedback from the Kuriger and Bennett misfires may have contributed to a change in approach.

There is a palpable sense that National is attempting to move on from rowdy opposition to Government-in-waiting.

The most obvious example of this is National’s plans to release eight big policy documents over this year, with the line being that they “don’t want to wait for the Government”. The first of these on  tax thresholds will contrast nicely with whatever the Government’s Tax Working Group suggest. Indeed, National would be pleased if it could just talk about tax all year.

Bridges himself is attempting to shift his image from blustery former crown prosecutor to Prime-Minister-in-waiting.

Bridges and National have quite a bit to do yet to look like PM and Government in waiting. They have plenty of time – eighteen months – but do they have the people who can achieve it?

 

Waitangi Eve generally ran smoothly

As usual there is quite a bit going in at Waitangi today on the eve of the main celebrations on Waitangi Day.

A couple of controversial things,

And Don Brash’s speech got heckled and disrupted, and he cut it short. It’s a shame respect wasn’t given to expressing different views, but Brash didn’t help his cause by raising some issues that would always be seen as provocative.

RNZ: Brash continues speech at Waitangi after protestors calmed

But other than that things generally seem to have gone fairly smoothly.

All parliamentary party leaders (except David Seymour?) were able to have a say without any dramas.

I can’t find it at the moment but RNZ reported that Simon Bridges was conciliatory and Ardern welcoimed that.

Bridges urges RMA reform now, but National blew it while in Government

Simon Bridges has joined the chorus singing for RMA reform, but Peter Dunne has given a timely reminder that National were off key and blew their chances of reform while in Government.

RNZ: National leader Simon Bridges urges RMA reform over $100m for Māori land ownership

Yesterday Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones announced that the government’s Provincial Growth Fund would spend $100 million on supporting Māori landowners to make better use of their land.

Today Mr Bridges told Morning Report the government was just throwing money at the issue and although $100 million sounded like a lot of money it would just “scratch the surface” for a select few.

“It may be a bit harsh but I think it’s a waste of money. You’re throwing it at a select few but you’re not actually going to help Māori.”

Mr Bridges said he would instead help Māori land ownership through law reform.

At yesterday’s announcement Ms Ardern said 80 percent of Māori freehold land was under-utilised and unproductive because the special status of some land made getting loans difficult.

Mr Bridges said the government was making the same mistake as it had with KiwiBuild.

“The one thing that is required is Te Ture Whenua Māori land reform. That’s what’s got to happen because the complex legal intricacies of multiple owners mean it’s always going to be incredibly difficult to do this unless you get that law reform. It’s not a question of the financing.”

“They think if they splash some cash at something there’s good politics in it. But just as with Kiwibuild what you actually have to do is hard law reform around the Resource Management Act,” he said.

Fair point. It is widely known that the Resource Management Act generally is stifling development.

Last month Dave Cull, president of Local Government New Zealand, said RMA ‘broken’, not fit for purpose for local government

To build at scale, the Government is looking to give the UDA the power of compulsory acquisition to assemble large parcels of land and the ability to shortcut the onerous public consultation processes required under the Resource Management Act (RMA).

It is an acknowledgment that the RMA is too consultative and encourages a tragedy of the anti-commons. This is where everyone gets a say in a development, not just affected parties, and as a result many worthwhile projects never get off the ground.

The RMA’s consultation requirements also vastly complicate the already fiendishly difficult matter of assembling land for urban development.

The current Government is trying to work around the RMA with new Urban Development Authority (UDA), responsible for delivering on the Government’s KiwiBuild programme.

The Government is also going try to fix the RMA: Two-step RMA reform to start by fixing the previous government’s blunders

The changes are separate from the legislation to set up an Urban Development Authority to fast-track housing and urban development projects.

“The Resource Management Act is underperforming in some critical areas and needs fixing,” David Parker said.

Stage One will reverse some objectionable changes made by the previous government in 2017 that were widely criticised.

For example, the Bill would repeal measures that prevent public notification and appeals by applicants and submitters in residential and subdivision consent applications.

Another change, recommended by Regional Councils, is the ability to upgrade groups of consents in line with updated standards. This will help speed the cleaning up of our rivers, which otherwise can be delayed for decades.

A Bill addressing changes that can be made straight away will be introduced to Parliament early next year.

It will address particular issues with resource consenting, and monitoring and enforcement processes in the RMA.

Stage Two will be a more comprehensive review of the resource management system. It will build on current Government work priorities across urban development, climate change, and freshwater, and wider projects being led by various external groups. Stage Two is currently being scoped and is expected to start in 2019.

Good luck with getting agreement with both the Greens and NZ First on meaningful reform. This could take some time.

National tried to reform the RMA while in Government, but failed. Now National blames MMP, minor parties for housing crisis

A National MP has blamed the former Government’s partners for his party’s failure to stop house prices rising beyond the reach of many Kiwis.

“We did a lot in housing – we did a lot of work around the Resource Management Act (RMA). The problem with MMP is we had a partner that actually wouldn’t allow us to make the changes that we wanted to make.”

National actually did poorly in addressing the growing housing problem. This was a significant reason why they failed to retain power in 2017.

RMA changes passed into law in April 2017 after changes were made to satisfy minor partner the Māori Party, while United Future and ACT voted against.

Bridges has also blamed ACT and United Future for National’s failure to reform the RMA

David Seymour has been scathing – ‘Promise. Win. Fail. Apologise’: David Seymour rips into National’s ‘failure’ in Government

On Thursday, National Party leader Simon Bridges expressed regret at his party’s failure to reform the Resource Management Act (RMA), and said it was getting a new RMA reform bill ready.

“The reality is, we should have [reformed the RMA] in the first term,” Mr Bridges said, blaming later support partners for failing to allow changes to be passed.

“The reality is though, by second and third terms we were reliant on partners whether it was the Māori Party, whether it was Peter Dunne – they weren’t up for changes there.”

However ACT Party leader David Seymour says he’s heard similar promises before – but National has always failed to deliver.

“They promise action in Opposition, win Government, fail to do what they said they would, and then apologise after New Zealanders boot them out.

“The four stages of the National Party political cycle are: Promise. Win. Fail. Apologise.”

Mr Seymour says part of the blame of that cycle is down to National’s governance style, which he claims operates “from the left” despite the party “campaigning from the right”.

“Only ACT has been consistent on fundamental RMA reform. The next Government will need a stronger ACT to get National back on track,” he said.

Peter Dunne has explained why National failed to get the support of United Future and ACT in Peter Dunne looks at the challenges for a possible ‘blue-green’ party and the National Party’s quest to get the numbers to allow it to govern:

There is also the delicious irony of National‘s excitement at the prospect of such a party emerging occurring the same week that it blamed previous support partners, UnitedFuture and Act, for the current housing crisis because they would let it gut the Resource Management Act the way it wanted.

National’s approach then was all or nothing – I well recall their Minister telling me he was only prepared to negotiate about the RMA if I gave him an assurance in advance that we would reach an agreement. On another occasion, that same Minister told me he was unwilling to talk further because he suspected (correctly) that I was also consulting with Sir Geoffrey Palmer, the architect of the RMA, and he did not want that.

I think that minister was Nick Smith. He was probably National’s biggest problem with failing RMA reform and letting the housing problems escalate.

Yet, all the while, right up to the eleventh hour, UnitedFuture and Act were putting up separate proposals to the Government for possible changes to streamline the way the RMA operated, and to remove perceived procedural roadblocks. UnitedFuture even suggested bringing the provision of affordable housing into the objectives of the RMA but that was rejected because we would not agree to National’s planned watering down of the RMA’s principles and objectives.

Ideally with something as important as the RMA both Labour and National should work together to sort out it’s weaknesses while retaining important environmental protections.

But National, with a near majority Government, could not work out decent RMA reform with two one MP parties, and still blames them for their own failure.

The Government is trying to throw money at Maori land development, and it’s fair for National to question that approach. They can’t undo their reform blunder while in Government, but they could put petty politics aside and work with Labour on lasting RMA reform.

 

Waitangi – inclusion, protest and handouts

It is to be expected that there there will be some sort of protests and attention seeking leading up to or on Waitangi Day. That is sort of a tradition. If there are protests the media will be on to them – they can sometimes dominate coverage, even though they are only a small part of proceedings.

Inclusiveness has been promoted in the form of earpieces for politicians so they can hear translations of speeches (presumably the ones spoken in Māori).

NZ Herald: Changes for official powhiri at Waitangi

For the first time, politicians and dignitaries will be given earpieces to hear the translated words of their hosts during the official welcome to Waitangi next week.

The powhiri was until recently held at Ti Tii Marae. It was moved over concerns the event had become a “circus” and moved to Te Whare Runanga on the upper marae at the Treaty Grounds.

The idea was that of Māori Crown Relations Minister Kelvin Davis, who has also introduced changes to the way the powhiri on February 5 is conducted.

“We’re trying to build on the good atmosphere that was generated last year, and the idea is to return dignity and decorum to proceedings,” Davis told the Weekend Herald.

“In previous years, whoever was the government would go on and be bolstered by officials and CEs and there’d be a big jostle for position, and the Opposition was just left to fend for themselves at a later powhiri.”

All parties had agreed to go on as one group this year for one parliamentary powhiri.

“We’ve organised the simultaneous translation earpieces for everybody. It’s about being inclusive and I think it’s the way New Zealand needs to head, where everybody understands what everyone’s saying so we don’t talk past each other,” said Davis.

“It’s a small thing but I think it means a lot to those people who in the past felt excluded. We want to celebrate New Zealand’s day, and it all started here in Waitangi.”

John Key stopped going to Waitangi events after 2015, and Bill English chose not to go while national leader, but Simon Bridges has decided to attend.

“I think every leader has to make their own decision. For me, it’s my first opportunity as leader to do it. I’m really keen to and I’m looking forward to it. It’s our country’s day. The Treaty of Waitangi is so clearly part of the fabric of New Zealand and it recognises the special place of Māori in our bicultural foundations.”

Jacinda Ardern will be leading a large Labour delegation, with most of their MPs attending. Last year she was the first female prime minister to speak during the powhiri, where she said:

“When we return in one year, in three years, I ask you to ask us what we have done for you”.

This year she and Shane Jones have announced $100 million investment to support Māori landowners and drive regional growth

The Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) will invest up to $100 million to help unlock the economic potential of whenua Māori and build prosperity in our regions, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones have announced today.

“An integral part of any inclusive and successful regional economic development strategy lies with supporting Māori landowners to create new opportunities that will lift incomes and the wellbeing of our regions,” Jacinda Ardern said.

“Access to capital remains a challenge for Māori landowners as the special status of their land means commercial banks are less willing to lend to them. I’m pleased that through the PGF, we’re in a unique position to be able to support these landowners.

“Funding will enable Māori to access the capital required to progress projects which are investment-ready and will ultimately support moves towards higher-value land use.”

“I’m proud we’re able to make this announcement today, which is a vital step in creating greater prosperity around New Zealand,” Jacinda Ardern said.

Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones and other ministers joined the Prime Minister at Otamatea Marae in the Kaipara district to make the announcement.

“Supporting Māori economic development is a key focus of the Provincial Growth Fund.  That’s because lifting the productivity of Māori land will have enormous benefits for regional economies and it is an opportunity we cannot afford to ignore,” Shane Jones said

And Labour cannot afford not to promote Government handouts.

Also Investing to kick-start key infrastructure in Kaipara

The Government will help pave the way for future economic growth in Kaipara with a $20.39m investment from the Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) to strengthen the district’s transport infrastructure and food and horticulture sector.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones made the announcement at Otamatea Marae in Kaipara today.

”There has been a long history of underinvestment in Northland, particularly in infrastructure. The Government is absolutely committed to investing in the public services and infrastructure that make our country and communities strong,” Jacinda Ardern said.

On the inclusive front, Don Brash gets to have a say at Waitangi again: Hobson’s Pledge spokesman Don Brash to speak at Waitangi

Former politician Don Brash has been invited to speak at the lower marae at Waitangi, where he was once pelted with mud by protesters angry at his infamous Orewa speech.

Brash, who was at the time the National Party leader, was hit in the face as he spoke to reporters at Waitangi in 2004, just a few days after the speech to Orewa Rotarians in which he railed against special treatment of Māori.

He is now spokesman for Hobson’s Pledge, a group which campaigns against racial separatism or favouritism under the Treaty of Waitangi.

Also: Destiny Church leader Bishop Brian Tamaki to speak at Waitangi event

A battle of the Bishops is shaping up at Waitangi this week between Destiny Church’s Bishop Brian Tamaki and Te Tai Tokerau Anglican Bishop Te Kitohi Pikaahu who will be holding services at the same time at different locations.

The official Waitangi Day Anglican service is held at 10am at Te Whare Rūnanga on the Treaty Grounds.

At the same time, Tamaki will be speaking at Te Tii Marae. He is bringing with him around 2000 supporters, many of them the Tu Tangata Riders.

Reuben Taipari, who has organised the forum tent at Te Tii, where speakers including Don Brash will appear this year, said he had invited Tamaki to speak there but the invitation had been declined.

“Now that the forum’s full, of course, I think he regrets that he’s not participating. So his idea is to call up his own facility and attract all the attention over there. And I’m sure that he’ll get some. So good luck to him.

So there should be plenty for the media to report on.

Waitangi Day is on Wednesday. It is a big day for Māori in the far north, and also for politicians. There will be other less prominent events around the country.

 

Simon Bridges promoted as cartoon caricature

I really wonder who thought presenting Simon Bridges as a cartoon character was a good idea.

“Gidday, I’m Simon” sets a cringey scene.

It is unlikely to enhance his image as a serious political proposition. Probably the opposite.

And it has

Promoting a party leader and aspiring Prime Minister as a dopey cartoon character is a great idea…said nobody…ever.

The cartoon really does start with “Gidday, I’m Simon” – voice and subtitle. It continues “I know Kiwis are finding it increasingly difficult to get ahead…”

With this sort of cringe Bridges is likely to find it increasingly difficult to get ahead in political leadership.

 

National announces policy to address tax bracket creep

The last two governments and their finance ministers persistently refused to address tax bracket creep, which is seen as tax increases by stealth – as inflation increases incomes it pushes more income into higher tax brackets.

The incoming Labour led government actually did something, but that was negative – they scrapped catch up tax cuts put in place by National.

Today Simon Bridges announced that a future National government led by him would legislate to raise tax brackets in line with inflation every three years.

National would introduce rolling tax relief

A National Government would link income tax brackets to inflation, ensuring income taxes are adjusted every three years in line with the cost of living and allowing New Zealanders to keep more of what they earn, National Leader Simon Bridges says.

“New Zealanders’ incomes are struggling to keep up with the rising cost of living because this Government is imposing more red tape and taxes,” Mr Bridges said in his State of the Nation speech in Christchurch today.

“Over the next four years, New Zealanders will be paying almost $10,000 more per household in tax than they would have been under National. The Government is taking more than it needs, only to waste billions on bad spending.

“On top of that, by 2022 New Zealanders on the average wage will move into the top tax bracket. That’s not right or fair. So in our first term National will fix that by indexing tax thresholds to inflation.

“We will amend the Income Tax Act so tax thresholds are adjusted every three years in line with the cost of living. That will mean that within a year after every election, Treasury will advise the Government on how much the thresholds should be adjusted for inflation.

“This would prevent New Zealanders from moving into higher tax brackets even when their income isn’t keeping up with the rising cost of living. It would ensure New Zealanders keep more of what they earn to stay on top of rising costs of living such as higher prices for necessities like petrol, rent and electricity.

“We will include a veto clause so the Government of the day can withhold the changes in the rare circumstances there is good reason to. But it will have to explain that decision to New Zealanders.

“The changes would make a real difference. Assuming inflation of 2 per cent, someone on the average wage would be $430 a year better off after the first adjustment, $900 after the second and $1,400 after the third.

“We will also do more on tax – but add no new taxes – and I’ll continue talking about our plans between now and next year’s election.

“National is committed to helping New Zealanders get ahead. This step means that as well as cancelling new taxes this Government has piled on, we won’t allow future governments to use inflation as an annual tax increase by stealth.”

In response Minister of Finance trotted out the overused and irrelevant ‘they didn’t do it in their nine years in office’.

But this is a smart move by National. Not only does it allow them to campaign on not raising taxes or allowing taxes to rise ‘by stealth’, they can compare this with what is predicted to be some sort of capital gains tax that will tax inflation affected increases in value of assets.

Of course Labour can come up with a competing policy, but that could be some time away as they ponder the Tax Working Group recommendations.

This looks a bit corny though: