BIG NEWS: 04/01/2011 - 05/01/2011

Friday, April 29, 2011

Hone Harawira’s expensive divisive politics

We all know that Hone Harawira is a loose cannon and a drain on the taxpayer. He draws an MPs salary and trips around the country attending hui and promoting himself and his new party. The speaker line up for the launch of the party this weekend is here and includes Veronica Tawhai, Annette Sykes, Sue Bradford, Nandor Tanczos, Matt McCarten, Margaret Mutu and John Minto. I've met most of them and it is an impressive list.

Since Harawira left the Maori Party the Maori Party travel expenses have dramatically reduced. In the past few months the Maori Party has spent $44,000 on travel, just $1000 more than Harawira alone. So Harawira was responsible for half the Maori Party travel bill bill and we are still paying that half while Harawira trips around as an independent MP trying to stitch up his divisive party.

And it will be divisive. It will pit Maori against Maori at the taxpayers expense. If he wins his seat as a leader of a parliamentary party he will get even more money. There was even talk of Harawira resigning from Parliament to force a by-election to get a mandate for his new party so he could be a Parliamentary leader in parliament before the General election – at a cost of $500,000.

Harawira must realise that the only way to get extra MPs for his Mana party is to challenge the Maori seats, just like Tariana Turia did. So you can expect that Harawira’s agreement not to challenge the Maori seats will be broken.

Then it will be an all-out Maori-against-Maori divisive political battle. Instead of Harawira discussing white mother***ers raping our land, he`ll be focusing on the Maori Party, tripping around the country attempting to create a wedge between his party and the Maori Party, and many ofthose speaking at the launch of the party this weekend will not be impressed. In addition the party will struggle to create an identity, as it jumps between nationalism, unionism and left wing politics. That has started already with Sue Bradford announcing she is unwilling to join a party that is more focussed on nationalism than the Left.

The Mana party will get nasty as it will need all the publicity it can get, in the absence of broadcasting funding. If it is successful it could split the Maori vote and be quite divisive. A similar scrap has happened before when Christians Graham Capill and Graeme Lee had their public scrap within the Christian Coalition in the 1990s, and more recently when the Gordon Copeland and Brian Tamaki kissed and fell out. The difference here is that Capill and Lee were never going to win seats, and Copeland was a list MP-turned-independent.

In addition, the leaders of the two Maori parties are current MPs thanks to MMP, and are likely to retain their seats after the election.

Harawira wants to be an “independent” voice - and I think he`ll get his wish as the lone MP from his party in parliament. Whether this voice will have any worthwhile influence within Parliament, even if he does take others in with him, is another matter.

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Thursday, April 28, 2011

The battle for Ikaroa-Rawhiti

Earlier this month Labour MP Parekura Horomia was considering his parliamentary future. What this means is that he was considering whether to bother contesting his seat of Ikaroa- Rawhiti, a seat nobody else has held. He can afford to do so as he is guaranteed a seat in Parliament as he is a stupidly high sixth on the party list.

Horomia is a party man – he’s Labour’s Maori vice-president. One of his roles is to ensure that the best Labour candidates contest the Maori seats – it’s just that he is starting to recognise that he is not one of the best. This, despite not only getting the highest plurality of votes in the past two elections, he got the majority of votes.

So Horomia may stand down from contesting his seat in favour of promising candidate Meka Whaitiri, the CEO of her Iwi, Ngati Kanungunu. Whaitiri also played for the U21 New Zealand Netball team and was the chairperson of the board of Trustees at Te Kura Maori o Porirua while a public servant. Like Deborah Mahuta-Coyle, a new MP after the 2011 election, she has worked for Horomia in Parliament.

Whoever Labour selects may be up against Mereana Pitman. She is the president of Hone Harawira’s new party and unsuccessfully contested the presidency of the Maori Party. She’d be right up Harawira’s alley – one of her stated favourite quotations is f**k off.

The only other candidate in the race will be the Maori Party candidate, Na Rongowhakaata Raihania. Late last month iPredict said that he was the candidate most likely to win the seat.

Doubt it. Labour may well come up the middle and retain the seat and Horomia will be the second highest ranked Labour list MP.

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Monday, April 25, 2011

Should charges be laid?

Consider this scenario:
A man is driving his car and parks it on a hill and stretches his legs. But he didn’t put the handbrake on and the car rolls back and kills your toddler as he was crossing the road. As a parent of this toddler, do you think this man should be charged with careless use of a motor vehicle causing death?

The reason I ask this is because a similar event recently occurred. I`ll call it scenario two.
Mr Macwan, who was driving got out of the Toyota Hiace van to stretch his legs when the vehicle suddenly rolled backwards and plunged into Lake Dunstan. The adults and an 11-year-old escaped but 3-year-old Aarush did not.
That three-year-old was the driver’s son. It’s tragic, and killing your own son in this way must be a life sentence in itself. The story goes on.
The same day police charged him with careless driving causing death. He is due to appear in the Alexandra District Court on Wednesday.
Having to appear in court, charged with accidentally killing your son, on the same week as dealing with your son’s death and arranging and attending that son’s funeral must be tragic.

Some have called for police to show compassion on a man who already has a “life sentence” and not charge this man. Essentially, what they are calling for is for police to decide whether this man should get a criminal conviction for breaking the law – but base that decision solely on matters outside the law.

But convictions are for the courts to decide, considering matters within the law. Others have said charge, but wait until the funeral is over before setting a court date. That illustrates compassion, while rightly giving the decision to the courts, not the police, as to whether this man should be convicted and sentenced.

To put the above two scenarios another way – if someone is likely to have broken the law, should the police decide whether he is a criminal by not prosecuting, or should the police let the courts decide if he should get a criminal conviction or not, by prosecuting?

And if they decide to prosecute, fair enough – but couldn’t they wait until after the funeral before setting a court date?


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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Ohariu – why Peter Dunne will increase his majority

I have consistently said since I have moved into the Ohariu electorate that Peter Dunne will retain his seat at elections. I'm not about to change now, in fact I think he'll increase his majority in 2011.

National, as it did in 2008, will be telling its voters in Ohariu to vote for Peter Dunne instead of Katrina Shanks for the candidate vote in this year’s election. For the second time, Shanks will be concentrating on the party vote with a half-hearted attempt at campaigning for the electorate vote. Some National supporters will vote for Dunne, others won’t, but Dunne will win Ohariu in 2011 and the National vote won’t split between Dunne and Shanks in the way some are predicting.

As David Farrar says , if the National vote splits between Dunne and Shanks, Chauvel may come through the middle. Dunne voters may vote Shanks, or Shanks voters vote Dunne for the same reasons – to keep Chauvel out. What Chauvel will want is for Shanks and Dunne to almost tie, and he comes through the middle.

It won’t happen.

Many are comparing this battle to Epsom, where, John Key is happy or National voters to vote Hide to keep Act in Parliament. However the Ohariu electorate is different as Dunne is an effective constituent MP. Even some who party vote Green in Ohariu vote Dunne and may do so again in 2011 in increasing numbers. In 2008 Dunne’s vote dropped as many former Dunne voters voted for Shanks and Chauvel. Some voted Shanks because of Dunne’s support for the anti-smacking legislation, and also because they didn’t like Dunne being part of a Labour Government. Some did not like his position on the Electoral Finance Act, supporting it right up to the final vote, when he then abruptly switched sides. Those who voted Chauvel did so because of his increasingly senior role in Labour, because they got sick of Dunne,and they thought Shanks wasn't worth voting for.

This year, Dunne hasn't given Ohariu voters too much reason to be sick of him, and Shanks hasn't given voters too much reason to vote for her. Chauvel has done neither as he is too busy criticising Dunne and Shanks instead of working in the electorate and promoting Labour's plan for economic recovery.

I’m predicting that Dunne’s majority of 1200 will increase in 2011. Many of those who voted for Shanks in 2008 due to Dunne’s role in the Labour Government will return to Dunne, whereas not so many Dunne voters will vote for Shanks because she hasn’t given then much reason to – and she is now less likely to be a Dunne protest vote.

That’s why more 2008 Shanks voters will vote Dunne in 2011 compared with Dunne voters who will now vote for Shanks. The focus will not only be keeping Chauvel out; the only way to keep Chauvel out will be to retain Dunne so that Chauvel does not come up through the middle due to a split Dunne/Shanks vote.

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Sunday, April 17, 2011

Labour polls 27.1 percent

TV3 polls are typically the most accurate of all polls; they were leading up to the 2008 election, so a poll in which Labour will get just 34 MPs should be worrying for Labour -they`ll lose both their senior and junior whips and a bunch of list MPs should this be the election night poll. Its their lowest poll result since 1996. After the election there will be just three new Labour MPs - one on a high list position and two presented with safe seats that Judith Tizard could win.The TV3 Reid Research poll puts National on 57.5 per cent support, giving them 71 seats - more than twice as many as Labour - and more than a 30 percent gap. National's highest ever poll was 60 percent.

This poll reveals that 15.4 percent are either unsure or vote forthe minor parties. In the minor parties, the Greens got 7.7 percent, NZ First 2.8 percent ( both down) , the Maori Party 2.5 percent and Act 1.7 percent ( both up). UnitedFuture remains on 0.2 percent. The poll's margin of error is 3.1 percent.

Labour's MPs seem in defeat mode already, indicating that Goff will take the bullet for Labour's election loss. If Labour had have rolled Goff a lot earlier, like in 2009 about the time I called it - its poll result would not have been so low. In fact, it would have done Labour a world of good. And for not rolling Goff back then, Labour only has itself to blame.

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Saturday, April 16, 2011

Minor parties may see a resurgence

Phil Goff says he is happy to work with Winston Peters in Parliament after the election. That’s easy for him to say. Phil Goff may not be Labour’s leader and Peters may not be in Parliament.

However with Goff shooting himself in the foot so much that it is expected that he will do it again will lead to many deserting the party for the Greens and NZ First. Ironically NZ First will only get into Parliament if Labours vote collapses further and bleeds votes to NZ First. The Greens are principled, NZ First has a loud leader, and UnitedFuture has an MP who is plugging away at his electorate and his ministerial job with his support pretty much constant. I wouldn’t be surprised if John Key, closer to the election, was to publicly encourage Ohariu voters to vote Peter Dunne instead of Katrina Shanks.

As Labour is an unreliable opposition and is not a government in waiting, the Greens are the left’s only hope of principled left politics until Goff is removed. Those who don’t want to vote Green are going for NZ First. Let’s see if a poll out tomorrow reflects that. The last Colmar Brunton poll put Labour on 34 percent and I’d be surprised if tomorrow’s poll puts Labour much above 31.5 percent.

It is not only those on the left that have deserted Labour. Many of the middle voters deserted Labour some time ago and voted National in 2008, and they have remained with National.[ Update Some in the Ratana Church are calling its members to abandon Labour and are not impressed with their member being 55th on the list.]

National looks like it will sleepwalk to victory in this year’s election. Will many of Labour’s activists now be foot soldiers for the Greens because they don’t want to defend a party led by Phil Goff? Or will they concentrate on certain candidates in the same way they would do in a First Past the Post election?

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Friday, April 15, 2011

MPs like Jami-Lee Ross are exactly why we need Maori seats in Parliament

Last week new National MP Jami-Lee Ross gave a good maiden speech. A proud Ngati Porou Maori, he also commented on the Maori seats.
I don't subscribe to the view that I, or any New Zealander of Maori descent, requires special seats to be elected to Parliament, to councils or to any other body in this country. It’s my hope that the people of New Zealand will be given the opportunity in the near future to examine the role of Maori seats in Parliament by way of referendum. I am a New Zealander of Maori descent, and am proudly so, and I hope to challenge the status quo in my time here. I will be criticised along the way. But there’s absolutely nothing wrong with saying that all New Zealanders should be treated equally.
The criticism has already started with Massey University lecturer Veronica Tawhai calling him “ ignorant”, pointing out that equal treatment does not automatically lead to equal outcomes.
For quite some time policies in New Zealand have focused on achieving ‘equal outcomes’, which puts in place protective measures for vulnerable or alienated groups, like Māori” states Ms Tawhai. “The Māori seats are an example of this, protecting the political voice of our indigenous people, often under-represented in mainstream political processes”.
Tawhai appears to view a referendum as a threat to the protection of that political voice and taking way the protection that would lead to unequal outcomes for Maori.

Jami-Lee Ross doesn’t want an “examination” of the role of Maori seats – he wants a referendum to see them ditched. We already have a referendum – it’s called the Māori Electoral Option, where Māori have the choice as to whether the seats stay or go. Given that more Maori have exercised the option to go on the Maori roll, they must still want the Maori seats.

The question many are asking, is notwithstanding Maori views on the seats and the Option, do we need the Maori seats now that we have 23 Maori in Parliament. Jami-Lee Ross is a good example why we do. It is clear that he has no intention of being an effective representative of the Maori people – he is a MP for Botany and judging by his first speech he will be a good National Party MP, too. But he appears to have little interest in actively furthering Maori political aspirations, unlike MPs such as Pita Sharples. Maori need people in Parliament that are willing to effectively represent the Maori people and their political aspirations.

If many of the 23 Maori in parliament are more interested in seeking a promotion to a Ministerial position or an increase in their list placing than advocating for their own people; if there is tension between political party and representation of Māori interests and they side with the party every time – i.e acting like party delegates instead of representatives - they are no more of a representative of Maori than most of their non-Maori colleagues. They are not aiming to provide fair and effective representation of the Maori people and their political interests. Until they do, the Maori seats should remain to provide Maori representation that is guaranteed.

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Wednesday, April 13, 2011

So, who was the SOE Minister?

Major cockup from TV3,in announcing Steven Joyce's impending retirement. Don't they read their own articles? Click on the article to read.
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Sunday, April 10, 2011

Labour’s list

The Colmar Brunton poll is out tonight putting Labour on 34 percent, giving it 42 seats. I think that’s a little optimistic.

Interestingly, Labour's 2011 list is out also and rather than reproducing it, you can see it here. Should tonight's poll hold on election day, Labour will have several new MP’s including Jerome Mika (who failed in his attempt to be Labour's candidate for Manurewa), Andrew Little and Deborah Mahuta-Coyle, even if National doesn’t take any seats from Labour.

Based on 31.5 percent, which I think will be more realistic, and based on every Labour MP retaining their electorate seat which may not be as realistic, Steve Chadwick will lose her seat.Incidentially, Mahuta-Coyle's husband used to be a ministerial advisor to Chadwick. Ashraf Choudhary and Damien O'Connor, who are not on the list and unlikely to win electorates, will also be out. New MPs are likely to be Little (at 15 on the list) and Mahuta-Coyle,(at 26). Michael Wood, who lost the recent Botany by-election should be the first on the list outside Parliament and will get into parliament on a resignation - or will it be Steve Chadwick,or Kate Sutton, next on the list who will get parachuted in, assuming Phil Twyford wins his seat.Who knows with Labour.

However if Labour’s vote on election day drops below 30%, Stuart Nash will be out of Parliament. Andrew Little will be Labour's sole new list MP, and Megan Woods and David Clark the new electorate MPs ( to replace Jim Anderton and Pete Hodgson respectively).

Ian-Lees Galloway won Labour its only seat outside metropolitan centres at the last election but has been given second lowest list spot of current MPs.Lousia Wall is not even on the list. Neither is Liane Dalziel but both are expected to win their seats. Jeremy Greenbrook Held (candidate for Helensville) has no chance - up against John Key and is not even on the list. Kris Faafoi will be out if Hekia Parata wins Mana. And as for iPredict predicting that Peter Dunne will lose his seat to Charles Chauvel, I doubt that`ll happen.

Having Jordan Carter, Michael Bott and Josie Pagani (who also failed in an attempt to be selected as a by-election candidate this year) so low in the list is just a protection of the old guard, like Raymond Huo, Rajen Prasad, Carol Beaumont and Darien Fenton.

Had Labour put talented newcomers higher up the list, it would then be seen as encouraging new talent. Also, of the top 15, all but two have a promotion. Just two have lost rankings – the sole two Maori MPs from the Maori seats. Guess if you are Maori and are planning to stand for Labour and want to get promoted, your only option is to get on the list - unless you are gay.


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Thursday, April 07, 2011

Our 23 Maori MPs

We now have 23 MPs of Maori descent now that Louisa Wall has been sworn in (again).

Just for the record these are the 20 Maori MPs who were elected in 2008.

Paula Bennett, National, Waitakerere; Simon Bridges, National, Tauranga; Aaron Gilmore, National, List; Tau Henare, National, List; Hekia Parata, National, List; Georgina Te Heuheu, National, List; Paul Quinn, National, List.

Parekura Horomia, Labour, Ikaroa Rawhiti (East Coast); Nanaia Mahuta, Labour, Hauraki-Waikato; Kelvin Davis, Labour, List; Shane Jones, Labour, List; Moana Mackey, Labour, List; Mita Ririnui, Labour, list.

In addition, Labour MP Darien Fenton’s mother is Māori , but Fenton does not identify as a Maori MP, nor is she part of Labour’s Māori caucus.

Maori Party
Te Ururoa Flavell, Māori Party, Waiariki ( Bay of Plenty); Hone Harawira, Māori Party, Te Tai Tokerau (Northland); Rahui Katene, Māori Party, Te Tai Tonga ( Wellington and South Island) ; Pita Sharples, Māori Party, Tamariki Makaurau (Auckland); Tariana Turia, Māori Party, Te Tai Hauauru (Western/Central.

Metiria Turei, Green Party, List.

Since the election Hone Harawira has left the Maori Party and is an independent, and three more Maori MPs have been elected: David Clendon, Greens, List (replaced Sue Bradford) Jami-Lee Ross, National Botany, Lousia Wall, Labour , list (replaced Darren Hughes).


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Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Life in a campervan at market rates

After the February earthquake in Christchurch, I went down to write some stories for print media and online news services. Most staff in Christchurch airport were from out of town due to the workload, and were staying in campervans in the carpark, paid for by their employer.

I wondered if they grouped up and paid $270, because that’s what the Government is charging a homeless family of four to say in a campervan in the A&P show grounds. The rental is based on market rents.

Market rent is described (in the Residential Tenancies Act) as what a willing landlord might reasonably expect to receive, and a willing tenant might reasonably expect to pay for the tenancy, in comparison with rent levels for similar properties in similar areas.

The average market rent for a two bedroom flat in the central city is just $8.00 more than a campervan. For one bedroom flat, the average rent is $173.00. The government is charging at least $190 for a campervan.

A family of four would be better to snap up one of these three bedroom homes available to rent in Christchurch.


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Sunday, April 03, 2011

Labour's next Maori MP

Since the resignation of disgraced Labour MP Darren Hughes, it was clear from the moment Mark Burton released his statement declining a list place that the next Labour MP is to be a Maori. Louisa Wall is the party favourite, but she’s the sixth cab off the rank, ahead of Mahara Okeroa and Martin Gallagher, both who had indicated they won’t be taking up a list place, and Dave Hereroa.

If Wall does come in she will have twice come in outside of a general or by-election. She is unsuccessful on the list and at the electorate. Both times she would have entered parliament the same year as an election, and therefore both times to replace a leaving MP.

In addition she was not the next on the list after each election as in 2008 Charles Chauvel was ahead of her. Now, of course, Tizard was next in line. Furthermore Wall would be leapfrogging five list places to get into parliament at the bidding of party leaders, who have presumably given her a safe seat in 2011 so she is not the first Labour MP to be turfed out twice at subsequent elections. (National list MP Alec Neill was turfed out twice in a short space of time, but unlike Wall, never stood as a candidate for an electorate in an MMP election).

Also Wall, if Labour gets its way, will be in parliament after prior intervention from (now former) party president Andrew Little, who also intervened at Wall's selection for Manurewa. Little has expressed a clear preference that Wall replace Darren Hughes, and made it quite clear he wanted to “remove” George Hawkins, leading to Wall succeeding in being the Labour candidate for Manurewa in this year’s election.

In other words, Wall is only wanted if no-one better is available or someone considered lesser is arm-twisted to leave - and the handful in list places above Wall are not deemed “better”. If the list is regarded as a second class MP, Wall is third class MP that is, according to Goff, a “young and energetic person with a strong future in politics”.

To secure that strong future, Labour has to select Wall in a winnable seat. Unlike Darren Hughes, Wall has not been able to win a seat, and is not considered as worthy as members such as Ashraf Choudhary and Raymond Huo, thus deserving of a winnable list spot.

Political commentator Dr Bryce Edwards has some salient thoughts on Labour manipulating its party list.

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Friday, April 01, 2011

Harawira may not form a new party - if he does it won’t be supported

Hone Harawira says his electorate committee is going to decide on Sunday whether a new party is going to be formed to contest the 2011 election.

He has also revealed that calls for a new party are coming from disaffected Maori Party supporters who can’t accept what is going on within the Maori Party.

We don’t know whether he is referring to disaffected voters of Maori Party candidates, or Maori party supporters who voted the Maori Party as their party vote – or a mix of the two. Perhaps he is also referring to disaffected Maori Party supporters who voted Labour with the list vote?

Given that Harawira has stated that he will not stand candidates in the Maori seats one wonders who he expects these disaffected Maori in the Maori electorate should seek as their constituent representatives. Will Harawira’s electorate committee conclude that a party is not worth forming as no one from the party is likely to enter parliament - or will they box on and do it anyway?

Even if well over half the supporters of those who list-voted the Maori Party in the Maori seats changed their 2008 vote to Harawira’s party, that will not be enough to get any more than one MP in parliament – meaning if Harawira does not retain his seat the party won't be represented in parliament.


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Don’t blame MMP for Labour’s problems

The NZ Herald has said that Louisa Wall is the most suitable candidate to replace Darren Hughes on Labour’s list. Why? Not because of any of her qualities, but because she is the next on the party list who will also be on the list prior to the 2011 election. Wall is several places below Judith Tizard, the next on the list.

Had Pansy Wong been a list MP, Conway Powell would have been an MP upon her resignation as he is next on the National party list. Does that mean he is the most suitable candidate, or would former Act MP Stephen Franks and former United Future MP Marc Alexander, the next two on the list, be more suitable, given their parliamentary experience?

Legislation does not determine which MP comes into parliament based on their suitability, but on their position in the party list. If an MP is deemed unsuitable or unwanted – as Tizard obviously is – it is not because of the vagaries of MMP, as the Herald would have you believe, it is due to an ill thought out list selection.

Labour, and the Herald, may well say Louisa Wall intends to resume her political career if she is leapfrogged by the party into Parliament. But she will stay in Parliament as long as Tizard would if she does not get a low enough list place to get into Parliament after the election. Labour has not indicated that Wall will be high enough on the list for her to return in November.

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I'm hoping to stand for parliament

I've always been a supporter of Peter Dunne. He is my MP and has done great things for the electorate in Ohariu. So when I read this I was interested:
Expressions of interest are sought from interested UnitedFuture members and supporters for selection as Parliamentary candidates for the General Election. Please contact outlining whether you wish to be considered for both an electorate and a place on the party list, or for an electorate or list position only. Expressions of interest should be submitted by 15 April.

I think it would be good experience standing for Parliament. Having worked at Parliament, I know a bit about the place.I have no doubt that Peter Dunne will retain his seat after the election - probably with an increased majority - and so it is the party vote that will determine how many seats the party gets.

So I expressed my interest earlier this week. I encourage people to join UnitedFuture - its only $5.00


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