Red Alert

Archive for September, 2010

Rodney Hide too distracted to be a Minister

Posted by on September 24th, 2010

As previously noted the last time I asked Rodney Hide where the review of special education was I got a very short shrift.  The review was all but done when Heather Roy was unceremoniously dumped.  Parents, schools and families are anxiously awaiting the outcome.  They appreciated the work Heather Roy had done, but are worried the review seems to have disappeared. It is now a month since Rodney Hide became the Minister responsible for special education and we have not heard a peep from him on the subject.

I am strongly of the view Rodney Hide is not appropriate to be a Minister, and John Key’s continued defence of him is disturbing.  In addition he is clearly far too distracted to actually follow through on the important tasks of being a Minister.  For the good of all those involved in Special Education John Key needs to do the right thing and relieve Rodney Hide of his portfolios.


Get out and vote: This is your democracy

Posted by on September 23rd, 2010

pure-white-camellia

Last Sunday was Suffrage Day. It’s a bit belated to acknowledge it. I know many of my caucus colleagues attended events and marked the day. I went to a Suffrage lunch, talked about women in parliament and made white camellias out of tissue paper.

117 years since New Zealand women won the right to vote. Someone told me that the Electoral Bill giving women the vote passed in the Legislative Council (the Upper House) of NZ Parliament by just 20 votes to 18. Crikey that was close.

I also heard that those supporting suffrage wore white camellias and those against wore red ones (not sure if that’s correct). Though the white camellia has become the symbol for suffrage in NZ.

All of you would have by now received your voting papers in the mail for the local body elections. There’s no law in New Zealand requiring you to vote. Personally I support such a law. I believe it’s not only the right of every citizen to vote, it’s a responsibility. Women fought for the vote in NZ. The abolitionists fought for the end of slavery and the right of African Americians to vote in 1870.

All around the world oppressed people have fought for the right to vote. It’s a precious thing. We should exercise it. Even if we don’t like the options we should vote, whether it’s a valid or in-valid vote. And if we don’t like the options we could stand for office, or encourage others to.

So I urge you all to vote. This is your democracy.

PS: Technically you don’t “get out and vote” in the local body elections because you receive your voting papers in the mail. But you know what I mean.


Info issues the key

Posted by on September 23rd, 2010

You may have seen the distressing scenes on the news last night of Avonside residents, some of whom remain without water and sewerage.

Now they may also be left without the chance to hear from a council engineer at a public meeting I am calling in their suburb tomorrow, (Friday) night. The issues aired in front of TV cameras in Acland Ave yesterday were first put in front of the Mayor and council officials nearly a week ago, at one of two earlier meetings I chaired in Shirley.

Acland Ave resident Angela Wasney did a fine job organising yesterday’s meeting. But she’d outlined the same concerns at the meeting last Thursday, supported by other Avonside residents.

Cr Yani Johanson and I visited Acland Ave residents last Friday, and ensured that their concerns were typed and handed to council staff at a second meeting that evening.

Tonight I’ve received a reply from a council officer, with some responses – which are very welcome. He makes the point that it’s better for residents to be able to ask their directly at public meetings.

Er hello.  At EQC’s request, I’ve organised a meeting tomorrow night in Avonside. At this point, council is declining to send an engineer to answer questions.

I understand the engineers are under pressure, working long hours and doing their very, very best. It is not their job to front distressed residents. The fact it took six days and a media event to get a response for Acland Ave suggests this is an internal communication problem at council. It seems their priority tomorrow night is a visit to Akaroa, where damage is minimal compared to Avonside.  

Offer remains open.  Meeting starts 5.30pm at Linwood North Hall. 

Visited Acland Ave area today with Phil Goff. Among those we met was Paul Edgarton, whose Housing NZ home has been riven by deep cracks through the section,avonside sept 23 010


Inquiries into leaked information

Posted by on September 23rd, 2010

On the 18th of March the government announced that it would be launching an inquiry into the leaking of information about the government’s plans to mine National Parks, and their merger of National Library and Archives NZ into the Department of Internal Affairs.

I took the opportunity of the six month anniversary of the launch of the inquiry to ask a written question as to whether the inquiries had been completed. The response from Tony Ryall was

No. The State Services Commissioner advises me that the investigation has taken longer to complete than he initially expected. However, I am advised that the investigation is in the final stages of preparation.

Not sure why it has taken longer than expected, but six months seems like an awfully long time. We await with interest.


Why, Mr Joyce?

Posted by on September 23rd, 2010

The government has decided that for students to retain eligibility for student loans, they need to pass more than half their course over a two year period. Fair enough some might say (though I have some concerns re Maori and Pacific students particularly.)

But that’s not what this post is about. This post is about whether it is fair that 2009 grades will be forming part of whether students will be eligible for loans in 2011. Remember the government only announced this policy in the 2010 Budget. So students in 2009 had no idea that there would be this requirement, they can’t go back and work any harder, and yet those grades will determine their eligibility for loans next year. To me this is demonstrably unfair and raises issues of natural justice.

As David Do from NZUSA said on TV this morning it is like lowering the speed limit in an area from 100km/h to 80km/h and then giving everyone who drove on the road the previous year at 85km/h a traffic ticket.

One Polytechnic has estimated that 20% of its students may be at risk of losing their entitlement for next year. Many of those students have come from elsewhere having failed last year, and despite doing well this year if they drop one paper they will lose their entitlement.

I asked Steven Joyce in the House today as to why he made the requirement retrospective. He did not properly answer. He has explained the overall policy, but not why he is applying on the basis of performance in the year before the policy was announced. Students deserve an answer.

As an aside Steven Joyce misled Parliament about whether he personally had ever mentioned the retrospective element of this policy before today. He claimed his media statement and Q and A on Budget Day did this. I can find no evidence of Mr Joyce releasing a Q and A on Budget Day, and his media release definitely does not metion it. I am waiting for him to make his personal statement.


When ‘speak to the hand’ isn’t good enough

Posted by on September 23rd, 2010

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Mark Ford was appointed by Rodney Hide to set up the Auckland super city. The ratepayers of Auckland pay him $540,000 a year.

He was responsible for hiring the agency Momentum to recruit 45 senior executives for the super city. Momentum has close ties with the National Party, employing former National Party President Michelle Boag as a senior executive, and with former Prime Minister Jenny Shipley on its board. Back in February it was revealed Ms Boag was working for John Banks’ mayoral campaign as an unpaid adviser while at the same time recruiting the super city’s chief spin doctor.

Now we find out Ms Boag has been soliciting money and votes for John Banks on Momentum letterhead while the agency is recruiting the super city’s top executives. Mr Ford is asked about it by the Herald and he says “I’m not going there.”

When Mark Ford effectively says “speak to the hand” it is a disturbing sign of what could be in store for Auckland after the local body elections.  After overseeing the establishment of the super city, and advising Cabinet against allowing elected representatives on the boards of CCOs, and overseeing the appointment of the CCO boards, Mr Ford finds himself appointed to chair the powerful new transport agency which will spend more than half of Aucklanders’ rates.

He will be responsible for every transport matter from the smallest pot-hole to the second harbour crossing. And this is how seriously he takes public accountability.

But let’s be clear about this. Mark Ford is only a public servant. Rodney Hide is the Minister. He is responsible. He designed the structures of the Auckland super city which have shifted 75% of civic operations into council owned companies run by hand-picked corporate boards.  The entire lot was signed off every step of the way by John Key’s Cabinet.

It is time for Rodney Hide to tell Aucklanders whether this is the standard of public accountability he expects from the people running the super city.

Update: Rodney Hide washed his hands of responsibility for this matter in Question Time this afternoon, even though the Momentum contact is costing Auckland ratepayers $355,000 to recruit 45 managers for the super city. I’m calling on Hide to show some accountability and tell Mark Ford to bring the ATA’s relationship with Momentum to an end.


Systemic Market Failure?

Posted by on September 22nd, 2010

When this country is in recession and Kiwi families are doing it bloody tough, I cannot bear to stand by and see rich and powerful private interests – whom I will not name at this point and this post is not about SCF – rorting the rules and using their clubs and networks to finesse processes.

It makes Godzone look like “the coldest banana republic in the world”.

For goodness sake interests associated with the Natural Dairy Crafar farms bid (potentially with Nat links) reportedly gave $200,000 to the National Party while the Natural Dairy application was still before the OIO and while National has a ministerial policy review underway. 

National should IMMEDIATELY reject that bid – otherwise what is left to separate this from complete corruption?  Brown envelopes?  Is David Garrett really the only sick or crooked puppy on the Govt benches? 

Was it OK for the OIO-overseeing Minister of Finance to lease his (trust’s) house to the govt for a staggering ministerial rent, or accept hours of free TV for his “Plain English” ads?  Isn’t it time we Kiwis stood up and demanded that the tories do sweat the small stuff like the rest of us?  Isn’t it time John key held SOMEONE to account for SOMETHING rather than smile, wave and make excuses?

The Fendalton and Queen St methods are different from the Crafar one but they are even more dangerous and subversive: very polite circles of influence in the clubs and boardrooms - with massive flows of funds through anonymous trusts that violate the intent of the Electoral Finance Act.  Prestigious law firms and lobbyists.  This is up with the worst sort of influence peddling  I saw in Washington D.C. -  One dollar one vote:  permanent plutocracy unless we fight back.

Beyond political donations, look at the ability of the rich and powerful to get their way while the poor and middle struggle: $2 billion a year of tax avoidance through LAQCs and trusts that National in government has refused to touch.  Half the top 100 welathiest NZers are still not on the top tax rate!

This post is not about SCF, but researching that issue has opened my eyes to the complexity of the company and accounting structures in daily use around the markets.   One prominent international investment broker told me he tells his clients never to invest in NZ other than through an ASIC-regulated (Australian) vehicle, because our market is a wild west.

Well what is the point of getting our savings rate up (and asking hard working families to go without consumtion) if the investment vehicles we need to get the money to our struggling firms are being milked and siphoned by fees and sweet deals to the cronies in the markets?  Why would any sane Kiwi sweat 80 hours a week to build a real business here?  Where will our kids choose to live?

We are talking the need for a full scale root and branch reform.  For example, is the Trustee model not a fiction?  Issuers want tame trustees; trustees want clients.  How do you prevent a race to the bottom?  I will wager now the FMA Bill will not do the job.  We have BIG problems here folks. 

It might have been cool to point the finger at Labour when the champers was flowing during the bubble hype days; but corporate influence peddling is about as attractive as a bucket of sick in the middle of a recession.

There is a real risk of systemic market failure in the NZ financial markets.     They remind me of telecommunications markets in the 1990s – time for a big cleanup.

It is not right and not fair on the silent majority who play by the rules and who are getting absolutely screwed. 

It will only get worse until we have a Govt with the guts to stand up to it.   The smiling millionaire from Bankers Trust is hardly likely to do that!


John Key backing Rodney Hide’s “high standards”

Posted by on September 22nd, 2010

The National Party, aided by Peter Dunne spent all day yesterday trying to stop Labour asking questions about John Key’s support for Rodney Hide and his action in covering up David Garrett’s bizarre identity theft.  Finally today we got to have some answers.

And they were extraordinary. The most extraordinary is at about the 8 minute mark of the video below where John Key says that he thinks Rodney Hide has behaved in his political and personal life to a high standard. Also just after the two minute point we get a lesson from John Key on the apparent difference between ethical standards and judgement. It was a sorry display from the PM.


Murray McCully loves the MDGS. Not.

Posted by on September 22nd, 2010

God does have a sense of humour. Murray McCully rocking up to the United Nations in New York to give a speech on the Millenium Development Goals is proof.

He is the John Bolton of New Zealand foreign policy. Remember Bolton? He was George W. Bush’s Ambassador to the United Nations, chosen because of his visceral dislike of the UN.

The MDGs are everything Mr McCully hates: it’s the UN, multilateralism, ending poverty, gender, HIV/AIDs, the environment and all that stuff.

But to his credit our Foreign Minister turned up. Only once did a little of the real Murray slip out when he said:

I share the optimism of those who believe we can make better, faster progress. But it will not be because we have established new committees, or new procedures, developed new slogans or new acronyms.

That’s McCully-speak for ‘I’m not like you UN types. I spend my aid money on roads and bridges and airlines and tourism.’

In the last eighteen months Mr McCully has switched the focus of New Zealand’s aid programme from lifting people out of poverty to promoting economic development.  It is odd because you’d think that economic development would simply be the means to reducing poverty. But not in Murray’s world. It has become an end itself.

And the odd thing is, that while the Minister’s desire to spend Kiwi aid dollars on airlines, infrastructure and tourism might stimulate private sector-led economic growth, he doesn’t seem to have given much thought to who will benefit, or whether it is the highest priority. Will the benefits of growth trickle down to the 85% of Pacific Islanders who live from subsistence farming or will they just line the pockets of the elites?

The Pacific is one of only two parts of the world falling behind in progress towards the Millenium Development Goals. The other is Sub-Saharan Africa. In Papua New Guinea mothers are dying in childbirth at a rate similar to Afghanistan. That is 80 times more than New Zealand. The Minister had nothing to say about how his economic development focus would reduce these needless deaths.

Without investing in health and education, the poor won’t be able to take advantage of any opportunities from economic growth. Mr McCully is so ideologically blinkered that he thinks training midwives or getting kids into school is supporting ‘bloated bureaucracy’.

He is particularly hostile to the idea of aid promoting good governance.  But then, a Minister who hands out lucrative contracts to his political cronies without putting them to tender, wouldn’t really be in a position to talk to Pacific governments about good governance, would he?


Garrett-Hide-Key

Posted by on September 22nd, 2010

Clayton reflects on the Sensible Sentencing Trust and its role in the Garrett-Hide-Key affair:

Filed under: justice

Vibroflotation to the rescue

Posted by on September 22nd, 2010

So we know all know what is liquifaction. But can it be avoided (and with it, much of the quake damage that this month has hit Canterbury and  at some point will strike other parts of New Zealand?.)

The answer appears to be yes, if you do some vibroflotation. This is a ground preparation technique developed in the Persian Gulf for such technically-challenging projects as building hotels and resorts on what are essentially mounds of sand.

The technology was used to prepare the sectons at the Pegasus development, 40km north of Christchurch. I’ve never believed Pegasus would really work – why someone would want to commute 80kms a day to work is beyond me, especially when there’s little public transport.

But Pegasus reportedly came through the quake without any damage at all. It says this was largely due to sourcing specialised equipment from Dubai to improve the site by using vibroflotation of the subsoils to help densify them and reduce the risk of liquefaction occurring.

“Vibroflotation is a ground improvement process for densifying loose sands to create stable foundation soils. The combined action of vibration and pressurised water saturation by jetting using a specially designed vibrating probe rearranges loose sand grains into a more compact state. Granular material, usually sand, is added from the ground surface to fill the void space created by the vibrations, thus densifying the subsoils. The densified soil is capable of bearing greater weight, settlement is reduced and the risk of liquefaction is also significantly reduced.

See http://www.pegasustown.com/more-info/pegasus-update


Why should we believe you John Key?

Posted by on September 22nd, 2010

John Key is starting to trip himself up. In parliament in question time today he was asked to confirm whether he said before the election he would not increase GST. He said “I had no intention of increasing GST”. In other words: well I didn’t want to increase it but I’ve had to.

Well watch the video for yourself. Again.

Did he say “National is not going to be increasing raising GST” or did he say “I have no intention of raising GST”?

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Filed under: economy

Mänu körero in Dunedin

Posted by on September 22nd, 2010

Talia at Youth parliament

The National Mänu körero Maori Speech competitions are being held in Dunedin this week and I am very proud that my Dunedin South Youth MP Talia Ellison is representing the Otepoti / Murihiku (Otago / Southland) region in the Senior English Section.

At the same time as she was preparing to represent Dunedin South at Youth Parliament Talia was also preparing for first the regional competition in June and then for Nationals this week. She has also been busy with other responsibilities in hosting the expected 56 competitors, and their supporters and whanau who are in Dunedin for the competition.

The three-day competition aims to encourage fluency in English and te reo Maori and it is an honour for Dunedin to host the annual event for the first time in its 45 year history. I am disappointed I’m not there but I’m very proud of Talia and also congratulate Paulette Tamati-Elliffe and the local organising committee for what I’m sure will be an awesome 3 days of competition and celebration.

More than 1000 people, including teachers, schools, whanau and kaumatua, have registered for the competition and hundreds more are expected to attend the event. Pupils are asked to speak on a range of topics, including “The Gift of Language”, and “Facebook – social networking for the 21st century”.

The competition has helped revive the Maori language.


Frustrations rising

Posted by on September 22nd, 2010

Frustrations are rising in Christchurch – and frankly I am sharing some of them.

A constituent I’ve been dealing with, Avonside resident Angela Wasney is organising a rally in her street, Acland Ave, at 10am today.

Unfortunately I can’t attend – another fleeting visit to Parliament as Labour’s water spokesman for the launch of the Land and Water Forum report. I did visit the street Friday with Cr Yani Johanson after Angela raised concerns at the previous night’s forum I’d organised for Avonside residents. Acland Ave is a cul de sac of state houses, some now privately owned, with major liquifaction. Some houses have slumped badly and there’s a strong whiff of sewage in the air. Only a handful of people are still living there. Angela’s key request was for signage to stop rubberneckers coming down the street.

Council engineers and staff were present at last week’s two meetings. Acland Ave and Flesher Ave in Richmond were two streets identified as still having major drainage/water/housing damage issues. By Friday, we saw some action in Flesher Ave, across the river in Richmond, so all due credit there. I have no beef with council engineering and support staff – they’ve done an amazing job. On Monday, I tried to ring council to discuss the list of issues raised at the two meetings. Couldn’t get through. Went to council building, asked for any one of eight people. None available. Some had relocated (council’s brand new HQ suffered considerable quake damage.) Left a hard copy, got a phone call late afternoon, emailed the council officer the list of concerns, asked for a response yesterday. None came.

Late yesterday, after speaking again to Angela and learning there was still no ‘d0n’t enter unless a resident “signage, I rang my EQC contact. He agreed Avonside is still suffering badly and people there are in need of better information. I agreed to host another meeting on Friday for Avonside residents. Emailed council asking to have an engineer present. Swiftly got a response saying: ”We rolled our Avonside meeting into one of your Shirley meetings last week. We are already committed this Friday to our Akaroa meeting.”

Well, yes, council did last week have to abandon two of its own hastily-called meeting which clashed with mine, even though I had alerted them to the fact that EQC  and other useful speakers were attending and the hall was booked.

I’m not aware of much damage in Akaroa but there’s still a heap in Avonside.  Don’t suppose anyof this is connected to the looming elections – call your own meetings, create your own election platform? Crazy thing is, Mayor Bob and other councillors and community board members  turned up at both my meetings. All were acknowledged ( though Bob got his times confused on Friday and came towards 7pm.) Both times I invited him to speak and he got a round of applause.

So I’ll set a chair up for a council representative at Friday’s second meeting for Avonside residents – at Linwood North School at 5.30pm. If no one comes to fill it, I’ll let the Avonside residents judge why that happened.


Mr Botherway Must Step Aside

Posted by on September 21st, 2010

The Chair of the Financial Markets Authority Eastablishment Board, Simon Botherway, now has no choice but to step aside pending the outcome of the Ombudsman’s inquiry into the mangament of his potential conflicts of interest in placing Allan and Jean Hubbard into statutory managment.

The public cannot understand how the Securities Commission took this step reportedly on the basis of a single anonymous complaint, timed shortly after Mr Hubbard transferred the bulk of his remaing assets into SCF to protect investors.  

Further, the Ombudsman must widen the terms of its inquiry to include questions around any potential or perceived conflicts of interest around Mr Botherway’s long standing business relationships with Mr George Kerr, Director of Torchlight Fund, one of the primary beneficiaries of the taxpayer funded bailout of South Canterbury Finance depositors.

These associations are reportedly of long standing and reportedly included at Spicers Portfolio Management and at Brook Asset Management, as well as in relation to several other funds.  Mr Kerr is also a Director of Pyne Gould Corporation, which has announced that it is seeking to set up a “heartland bank” centered on rural South Island lending. 

It must be totally transparent that neither Mr Botherway nor any of his interests have any ongoing relationship whatsoever with this proposed new bank.      

In short it is imperative that if wide ranging financial markets regulatory powers are to be concentrated in the hands of a single regulator, the holder of that office must be beyond reproach, with an impeccable record, and no possible or perceived conflicts of interest with former, current or potential business associates.

Mr Simon Botherway, who was John Key’s former Deputy at Bankers Trust, must now step aside from from the FMA Establishment Board Chair pending the outcome of a broadened Ombudsman’s inquiry.

Furrther, the Key Government cannot now clear the air on SCF withut a full and independant judical inquiry into the circumstances leading to its recievership and New Zealand’s largest investor bailout.


OpenLabourNZ: This is your democracy

Posted by on September 21st, 2010

Open Labour Logo

It seems to me that there’s a pretty big gulf between people and politics. Whatever you think about us politicians (and until 22 months ago I was one of the “people” and still think I am) representation of you and your views and issues is important.

OpenLabourNZ is about trying to bridge that gulf (if that’s the right metaphor).

Everyone has an issue with politics and politicians on some level. I believe that it’s important to stand up for what you think is important in life. It doesn’t matter whether you stand for office or not.

Here’s one small way to say what you think about how our government could work better for you and for all of us.

Don’t be cynical.

Go and have a look at the wiki. You can register and make comments. It’s important that you do. This is your democracy.


OpenLabourNZ: Two weeks to have a say on open transparent govt

Posted by on September 21st, 2010

Open Labour Logo

Do you want to contribute to Labour’s policy on open and transparent government?

Following the public event on OpenLabourNZ at the end of August a draft policy on open and transparent government is now available for comment.

If you would like to have a look at the draft policy it is now up on the wiki here.

You have until the beginning of October to comment on it. Your input and thoughts are welcome and important.

What happens next:

  • If you haven’t already, go and visit the wiki and contribute to it. You need to register here
  • You will have the opportunity to have input until 4 October
  • The draft policy will then be submitted into the Labour Party policy process. All inputs will be taken seriously.
  • The Labour Party conference in October will hold a workshop on open and transparent government
  • The Labour Party Policy Council will work with all MPs to develop our Manifesto commitments on Open Government policy
  • What we promise in our Manifesto we will deliver

A bit of context:

Here’s what Phil Goff said in his speech to the OpenLabourNZ event on 28 August.

This is a new experiment in canvassing policy ideas from the public, both here in person and streaming live online.

This is the first time a major political party in New Zealand country has opened up our policy development to the public in this way.

But while the technology is new, Open Labour NZ is a natural progression of Labour’s values of democracy, a fair go for everyone, and governing for the many not the few.

Labour has always been the party of new ideas and vision for NZ.

We look forward to your views. Go to the wiki and tell us what you think. You can suggestions and changes


Back Benches this week

Posted by on September 20th, 2010

THIS WEEK ON BACK BENCHES: Watch Damian Christie, Paul Deady, the Back Benches Panel and special guests discuss the week’s hottest topics!

CLIMATE CONCERN: A new survey shows we are caring less about Climate Change than we did last year. In 2009, Climate Change ranked 8 out of 10 and now it’s fallen to the bottom of the list. Why the drop? Well, taxes, employment and standard of living have taken precedence. Do we actually care less about Climate Change or do we not feel we can afford Climate Change? Is this a sign that a more moderate ETS was the right approach? Are economic sacrifices necessary to change the planet?

GET OUT THE VOTE: Local Body Elections are just around the corner. Do people care? Are they involved in enough in the process? How can we get people to vote? How do we make sure it’s an educated vote? How well do people know the candidates? Where does the role of the electorate MP end and the role of the local body begin?

LIVE pub politics from the Backbencher Pub: Wednesday, 22nd of September. Our Panel: Green MP Sue Kedgley, Labour MP Nanaia Mahuta, and National MP Aaron Gilmore.


Collective responsibility

Posted by on September 20th, 2010

Note: This post has been written by Charles Chauvel, but is posted under my name because Charles is out of the country and is unable to respond to comments. We will be monitoring this legislation very closely at every step. Annette

On Tuesday last week, Labour MPs held our noses  and voted to pass the Government’s emergency Canterbury legislation.  We voted for it – as did the Greens and all parties in Parliament – not because we thought it was good law, but because we decided that the people of Canterbury needed to know that Parliament was unanimously supporting them to rebuild their lives.  Also, frankly, we’d rather not spend the next 18 months being portrayed by National and the media as having obstructed the post-earthquake recovery.

Given that we don’t have the numbers in Parliament to defeat Government legislation, we had a call to make.  Go down in glorious defeat in a vote on the bill while the Government did what it wanted anyway, or use the possibility of there not being unanimity to get concessions.  We chose the latter course, and got on the ‘phone as soon as we heard emergency legislation was contemplated, rather than waiting for it to be tabled and then conducting a grand but pointless critique in the House. 

Adopting this approach, we made sure that the powers able to be exercised under the legislation are:
- subject to systematic scrutiny by Parliament;
- time limited;
- required to be consulted over in advance.

The systematic scrutiny will come via the Regulations Review Committee.  Every order-in-council made under the emergency legislation will be examined in detail by that Committee.  Independent advice from the Clerk of the House will accompany that examination.  If any member of that Committee is dissatisfied with any power taken under an order made under the legislation, or is shown evidence that any power is being abused, he or she can move disallowance of the order.  This will mean that the Government will have to allow a debate within 21 sitting days of the disallowance motion, or the order will automatically be revoked. 

Does the Government still have the numbers to bulldoze a order through?  Yes, but it did anyway.  At least through securing this concession we can shine sunlight on the abuses that many fear will occcur under them; The time limit on the emergency legislation comes from attaching a sunset clause to it.  The law will expire in 18 months’ time, not 5 years, as the Government originally proposed; The advance consultation means that we see any order, and the advice leading to it, before it’s made. We can argue for changes if any order goes too far in any way.  If we fail, we will be ready to call attention to the problem, and to have our members of the Regulations Review Committee prepare a disallowance motion.

We also successfully urged that official information legislation apply to the Canterbury Recovery Commission.

We could have simply opposed what is undoubtedly not ideal, and seen it pass anyway.  We decided instead to try to win what improvements we could.  That may be unpopular with some.  But we made a collective call that it was the responsible thing to do.


Rail links – yes, holiday highway – no. Time to listen to Aucklanders, Mr Joyce

Posted by on September 20th, 2010

Steven Joyce might want to think about the Herald’s digipoll that asked what Aucklanders most want. Top of the list – and what they’d be willing to increase rates for – is a rail link to the airport. Improving public transport was right up there too. In fourth place was improving roads – Joyce’s infatuation.

Joyce’s rear visionary thinking is not in line with what Auckland wants, or needs.

An inner city loop rated lower but is necessary before a link to the airport becomes feasible. It’s impossible to run the frequency of trains from the airport without it. It’s fair to say the case for the loop has yet to be made as clearly as it could to Aucklanders.

So let’s sink the Holiday Highway – one of the Roads of National Party Significance Joyce is blindly championing – and get in behind what people want, rather than fight on with 1950s thinking.