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A rushed law, a bad law

Written By: - Date published: 5:11 pm, October 29th, 2010 - 53 comments
Categories: Parliament, workers' rights - Tags: , ,

Charles Chauvel made a very good point about the Hobbit Enabling Act that National pushed through Parliament on Warner Bros’ instructions and National’s lawmaking practice in general last night.

The HBA says that the provision that all film workers are contractors “does not apply if the person is a party to, or covered by, an employment agreement that provides that the person is an employee.”

What this is meant to do is say ‘you’re an employee if you are called an employee in your contract, if not, you’re a contractor’. The problem is that it doesn’t say that. Straight off, you can see the definition is sort of circular: ‘you’re an employee if you’re an employee’ but it gets worse because to define ’employment agreement’ we rely on the very case that this law is meant to be supersede.

To understand, we have to go back to the Bryson case. Bryson was employed (without a written contract) by 3-foot six (a Jackson company) working fixed 8-hour days. He had a set lunch break, he got training, he was paid $18 an hour. In every way, you would describe him as an employee of 3-foot six. Six months in, the bosses presented Bryson and his workmates with contracts that referred to them as ‘independent contractors’. Bryson objected, because he didn’t want to lose his employment rights and have the employers’ GST and ACC costs lumped on him.

The Surpreme Court decided, in keeping with well established law, to apply the ‘duck rule’ – if it looks like an employment relationship (set work hours, breaks, expectations of holiday pay etc), it is an employment relationship. It was held that Bryson in fact did have an employment agreement and was an employee, despite 3 foot six attempting to make him into an independent contractor.

Following that ruling the law was clear: it is the facts of the employment relationship that give rise to the employment agreement, not the mere words on the paper the bosses thrust under the worker’s nose. The law was so settled that there has not been one more case over whether a worker is an employee or a contractor in the five and a half years since it was decided.

So, let’s go back to the law: the provision that all film workers are contractors “does not apply if the person is a party to, or covered by, an employment agreement that provides that the person is an employee.”

How do you define an employment agreement? Bosses will say that it’s simple, if the contract calls the worker an employee they have an employment agreement. But the Hobbit Enabling Act doesn’t expressly say that, so we have to go to case law.

Since the Bryson case hasn’t been explicitly overridden by this law its findings still stand. Bryson still forms the basis of how ’employment agreement’ is defined, ie on the facts, not on the mere wording. Or, at least, that’s a strong argument that many people will make if their employer tries to reclassify them as an independent contractor.

Before workers and employers knew that if they were, on the facts of the working relationship, in an employment relationship then the workers had employment rights. Now, the workers might say ‘the facts of my work mean I have an employment agreement, therefore my employment rights remain’ while the bosses might say ‘no you don’t, your contract says that makes you a contractor’.

So, the ‘problem’ hasn’t been solved at all. ‘Certainty’ hasn’t been provided. In fact, there’s greater uncertainty.

There will be many people right now looking at their working relationships and contracts to try to work out how to apply the HBA and Bryson, and who is an employee and who is a contractor. Reasonable people will disagree with strong arguments, which will lead to court cases.

Speaking in what appears to be Gabblese, Key seems to be acknowledging that the law doesn’t actually do what it purports to do:

“I rely on PCO and the lawyers to put all that stuff together. It’s never a perfect process going through urgency, we acknowledge and accept that, even when it’s a clarification for law. As a general rule we try and send legislation through a proper process right through to the select committee, just sometimes that’s not the case and this is not one of them.”

Take away the mangled syntax and information-free statements (yes, John we know it didn’t go to select committee, the question is why not) and Key is saying ‘yeah, we rushed and we stuffed up but I’m relaxed about it’.

Don’t you love a Prime Minister who refers to the law that he has just forced the Parliament to go into over-time to pass as “all the stuff”?

This is what you get when you rush through poorly thought-out laws. Whenever a new law is passed people have to look at it and decide how it applies to them in the real world. When the drafting is vague and doesn’t wholly address the existing situation, people are going to have strong and legitimate disagreements on how to interpret the new law and those disagreements have to be decided in court. It can be better to have settled law that is sub-optimal rather than constantly changing the law so nobody knows where they stand.

If this law had gone through select committee it would almost certainly have come out with this problematic drafting fixed so that there could be no confusion as to what an employment agreement is.

Which is exactly why you don’t rush though laws. But it’s National’s standard practice to do so. It has rushed through all kinds of legislation with vague definitions that are now leading to court cases.

Rushed law is not good law. By abusing the lawmaking process and slamming half-arse bills through Parliament, National is simply creating more problems for the future.

PS. I’ve just watched Chauvel’s third reading speech. Apparently, Wilkinson added a last minute amendment that an employment agreement must be in writing, thinking this cleared up the problem Chauvel has identified. As Chavuel explains, this doesn’t clear things up – it makes things worse. He also points out that by weakening labour laws, we’ve violated the China Free Trade Agreement. God, how embarrassing.

53 comments on “A rushed law, a bad law”

  1. The further problem is that “Employment Agreement” is defined in the legislation as the “contract of service”. As recognised in Bryson this can include verbal as well as written terms, depending on how the contract is formed. So it seems very likely to me that the Court will have to apply the Bryson case to see if there is an employment agreement.

    If there is, the amendment does not apply. If there is not then the amendment does apply but does not change anything.

    There was a SOP introduced today by the Government which I have not seen. It may have fixed this problem up. The mere fact that a SOP had to be introduced for such a short bill emphasises why urgency was so stupid. They should have sent it to a select committee.

    • toad 1.1

      Micky, the SOP related to employment agreements having to be in writing. It is a travesty of the principle of open governemtn that is still doesn’t appear on the Parliamentary website or on legislation.govt.nz.

      And I think you and Charles Chauvel are correct. If a purported “contract” actually has conditions in it that meet the test of the “contractor” actually being an employee, the Employment Court will accept jurisdiction and accordingly decide the “contract” is actually an employment agreement.

      This is what Government gets when it rams stuff through under urgency without Select Committe submissions and scrutiny. There are hole in this that don’t need a bulldozer to drive through, just as there were when the Nats similarly rammed through the fire@will Bill and the Employment Court’s judgment in Heather Smith’s case has now come to bite them on the bum.

  2. Colonial Viper 2

    I have a feeling that the Key Government simply wants to make a point to unions and to the Labour Party. The week after Labour Day just adds salt to the wounds.

    Give them a bit of money and National will happily sell our sovereignty for a song.

  3. The Voice of Reason 3

    A thing worth knowing about Bryson v the Jackson company is that it wasn’t unique. It’s just the most recent example of a ruling that has been made regularly in employment courts around the world since there first was a legal concept of ’employee’.

    Usually the cases are about the different entitlements or treatment a worker gets under either option and at a guess, most, like Bryson, would determine whether a worker had the ability to lodge a presumably more advantageous personal grievance case in Employment Court.

    I’ve seen Jackson’s attitude many times. Otherwise well meaning employers who see workers organising collectively as ingratitude or disrespect. Warner Bros didn’t give a damn about the law. They only played along as a favour to their business partner, Peter Jackson, who is the one with a five year grudge and a reason to whinge. Warners were only there for the cash, helping St Peter out was a bonus. And having the leader of a democratic country dance for nickels like the broken arse town drunk was probably pretty kewl too. They’ll be laughing that bit up in a cigar bar somewhere on Sunset Blvd as we speak.

    • pollywog 3.1

      …having the leader of a democratic country dance for nickels like the broken arse town drunk was probably pretty kewl too. They’ll be laughing that bit up in a cigar bar somewhere on Sunset Blvd

      eh !!!

      He does a pretty mean poll dance too.

      I mean, don’t you just wanna get pissed and stuff a note down his knickers ?

    • Tigger 3.2

      Bryson is not unique also in that the film, and TV, industry are full of people who are contracted as contractors but expected to act like employees. Its the industry’s dirty little abuse and just like secret abuse anyone who dares speak up is vilified. All this crap about being wanting to be contractors is just that – they don’t have a choice and most of them weren’t in the industry pre-Employment Contracts Act so this is all they know.

      TVOR – “having the leader of a democratic country dance for nickels like the broken arse town drunk ” – this is easily the funniest, and most accurate, description of Key I’ve read – will never look at him again without this springing to mind – brilliant.

      • The Voice of Reason 3.2.1

        Cheers, Tigger, I wish I had the skills to animate it. It’d probably be even better with Brownlee in it too, maybe dressed in a beer barrel held up with braces and blowing frantically on a broken harmonica. Nice.

  4. Lanthanide 4

    No matter, King Gerry can sort it out in two ticks.

  5. Steve Withers 5

    This has all been fascinating to watch. Makes me wonder why any sane person would follow a career in the movie industry in NZ or anywhere else. Actors, perhaps….in the hope they become big names and can one day command a very good amount of money. But the technical people behind the scenes? Sounds like a lousy way to earn a crust, frankly. Especially when your own government acts to ensure you can only ever get a job on take-it-or-leave-it terms. I’d be leaving it before I even started.

    • mcflock 5.1

      I’ve known a few actors and techs, admittedly mostly theatre (they’d been in TV and films, but this is NZ). Generally they like doing the job and the entire hooplah of the work, but the techs usually have skillsets and certification to keep them alive between projects if they want to stay in NZ. Worst comes to the worst especially the lighting guys can usually go into the construction industry as they’re already certified to play with high voltage circuits and other poppenze spitzenze sparken things.

      Most of the actors I’ve know got the bulk of their money from customer service work. It’s just the nature of acting that you might be expressive with people, but it doesn’t necessarily translate to other careers in the same way that e.g. journalism and PR are related. But the work itself is pretty high octane – “one crowded hour” and all that.

      But it doesn’t mean they should be treated like third world fry-cooks.

  6. Rob 6

    It always makes bills seem so much more rushed when you look at the bills page on inthehouse this one comes up as 4 pages of debate in a row…

    On the bright side of it being such a stupid law it is likely to have an incredibly limited effect and can just be repealed later…

  7. Hilary 7

    The Court Report will be covering this law next week, TV7 Thursday 9.35. Should be interesting.

  8. ianmac 8

    Actors are necessarily contractors aren’t they? If so, then they copped the blame yet the Act as passed would make no difference to them at all, would it?
    Surely those affected would be techies, receptionists, painters and so on.

    • Rob 8.1

      My understanding was that it will only affect people in the film industry and the gaming industry. It means some full time staff in those industries and regular staff like stunt doubles who may actually work as employees but not have it stated in their contracts will now be declared as contractors. It will be quite a small group I imagine…

      • ianmac 8.1.1

        Asking it another way. Is there any film actor in NZ who is an employee?

        • Rob 8.1.1.1

          If someone was a major/consistent role in a film with a long shooting time it is quite probable they might get hired on a fixed term employment contract rather than as a contractor. It is on the borderline between the two categories and what you are at that point essentially depends on what they want to put in your contract.

  9. Em 9

    One might also ask just how this addresses the original ‘issue’ of actors (who were then and remain contractors) attempting to negotiate a set of minimum conditions for the shoot. If the problem was a planned boycott by overseas actor organisations, it’s hard to see how this helps at all.

    One might also ask what the need was to have the Bill/Act also apply to video game-makers?

    • Rob 9.1

      It wouldn’t affect the current dispute had it already been in place. In terms of including games I guess they couldn’t work out how to distinguish Weta from a game studio in the amount of time they had… Only 1 case has come up for the area this law is dealing with in the film industry. It was surprise surprise though a case against Jackson also 5-6 years ago.

      • mickysavage 9.1.1

        I really get the impression that the law change was for Jackson’s benefit, not Warners.

        Jackson’s companies had to deal with the contracts and pay the employees/contractors. Jackson’s company was the respondent in the Bryson case. Jackson spent a huge amount of money going to the Supreme Court when with a discrete settlement it could have disappeared without him breaking a financial sweat.

        And if Warners were worried about the (remote) possibility of strike action then different sorts of law reform would have appeared.

        The way that I see it the law change is that timid that in financial terms it is not needed, it just makes someone feel better.

        • Rob 9.1.1.1

          Yes that is pretty much exactly as I see it also.

        • Pascal's bookie 9.1.1.2

          maybe. But as I understand the Bryson case the threshold was pretty high. High enough that it hasn’t concerned PJ, (or anyone else), enough to lobby for a legislative fix in the intervening years.

          Sooo, this legislation doesnae fix the industrial issue that triggered the ‘crisis’. Something fixed that issue though, so it must’ve been Helen Kelly’s work resulting in the boycott call off and assurance of no further disruption.

          But oh noes.

          That being sorted before the negotiating team sets foot in Wellington doesn’t suit Warner’s narrative, and it doesn’t suit the government’s. Both those party’s would prefer a pretext for their arranging of tax cutz thank you very much.

          Warner’s held the cards in terms of being able to walk away, but it wasn’t that strong a hand given the costs in walking, the loss of goodwill with fans etc. Still worth playing though especially if you can say there is an industrial issue. It’s worth something, about 30 mill as it turned out.

          The Govt knew there was some risk of Warners walking and knew they would have to give something. They can’t publicly say the industrial issue is sorted though, because that gives a win to Kelly.

          So both warners and the govt knew the pretext was bullshit,

          but neither wanted the pretext out of the way,

          for slightly different reasons,

          so it needed to be dealt with somehow,

          hence

          the Hobbit enabling act.

          That’s my theory, I’m sticking with it.

          • mickysavage 9.1.1.2.1

            OK PB.

            I don’t disagree. I am trying to work out a rational reason for the crisis.

            There must have been a reason for Warners to want the law change. And the obvious reason is that Warners wanted more money.

            So they looked at the crisis and saw that there was a weakness and an issue and so they chose to make this weakness part of the negotiation. It was much better to raise this than to just make the dispute about money. And there was no other issue they could raise.

            So there was no benefit for Warners from the law change. Apart from the cover.

            • ianmac 9.1.1.2.1.1

              Brownlie said in the House that Warners did not ask for the legislation, so Key must have offered it. Did he want a scapegoat?

        • IrishBill 9.1.1.3

          Hmm. Perhaps it should be the “there, there Peter, the mean old courts don’t understand how special you are” amendment.

          • Craig Glen Eden 9.1.1.3.1

            ianmacs right Brownlie was also quoted in the Herald today saying Warners didnt ask for Labour Law changes. So either Brownlie’ lying or Key is.

            Brownlie also admitted that Helen Kelly had played a positive roll in resolving the dispute.

            So maybe Brownlie has had enough of Keys bullshit! It stuck me as odd that Brownlie was deliberately contradicting Key, I am waiting for Brownlie to have to come out and say he got it wrong and it was all as John had said. Pretty embarrassing for Key as it stands.

        • Colonial Viper 9.1.1.4

          Yes, almost purely for Jackson’s benefit. Our democracy is reduced to law changes based on the lobbying of one man. Note the Hobbit law change covers both films and *video games*. Which coincidentally happens to be an area of future growth for WETA. Neat huh.

          • Em 9.1.1.4.1

            You are indeed correct, sirrah

          • QoT 9.1.1.4.2

            And can I just take this moment, when all my film-related acquaintances’ Hobbit-related jobs are safe for the time being, to say I am a bit fucking sick of Mr Cuddly Panda Richard Taylor getting wheeled out to act like an aggrieved party on this one? You’re an employer, Sir Richard, whose staff are almost entirely on short-term rolling contracts with no job security past the next project. Fuck off.

            • Colonial Viper 9.1.1.4.2.1

              And why are those so-called smart staff absolute frakin Lemmings?

              They missed out somewhere along the way in their education.

              • QoT

                Well, when you’ve got one major employer in your industry in the entire country and the boss says “jump”, and also “Look, over there, a threat to your employment that isn’t me!” …

            • Vicky32 9.1.1.4.2.2

              I wonder, why is he a “Sir?”
              Deb

  10. Joe Bloggs 10

    The irony is that without the union-initiated boycott, the law changes – which you claim will weaken workers’ rights – would probably never have happened.

    • The Voice of Reason 10.1

      Almost right. If it wasn’t for Jackson’s arrogant refusal to meet with the actor’s reps, the boycott would never have been called in the first place. The irony remains though, because it’s bloody ironic that even though St Peter successfully hid behind the current laws our craven leader still felt the need to make a meaningless law change as a sop to his hurt feelings.

      • Joe Bloggs 10.1.1

        More Leftist revisionism – check the timelines – the boycott was called before Jackson was approached to meet with the actors’ reps.

        then check out Fran O’Sullivan for an excellent summary of the settlement:

        http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10684017

        and Derek Cheng’s timeline – at last some objectivity on this site:

        http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10684062

        • Craig Glen Eden 10.1.1.1

          The funny thing is the Tories pass a law that opens the employer up to more potential court room action. Jackson got what he wanted and as the saying goes be careful what you wish for.

          As the facts have shaken down it has become clear according to Brownlie( Both in yesterdays Herald and in Parliment) Warners didn’t want the law changed nor did they ask for it.

          As for Frans summary, I thought it was crap myself but it will get her another bottle of wine no doubt.

          • Colonial Viper 10.1.1.1.1

            Fran all over the place, making excuses that big Studio money found John Key’s “inflexion point”. WTF, really?

            You mean they read him like an open book in order to walk away with (her figures) $90-100M of tax payers money.

            Looks like we are paying for the damn movie, at the cost of $21 per capita.

          • tea 10.1.1.1.2

            Hi Craig- sorry did Brownlee in the Herald make it to the website? Can’t find it straight off

            • Craig Glen Eden 10.1.1.1.2.1

              Yes it was on the website and he repeated it on Friday in Parliament.

              • tea

                sorry to be a douche…but any chance of a link? I had to really dig to find the bit about the emails showing the boycott had been called off…this has to be hidden fairly well too!

  11. Murray 11

    OH Diddums! some of you lot may need counselling to get over this

    • QoT 11.1

      Ah, the good old equating of disagreement and anger with mental illness. Class.

      • Murray 11.1.1

        what on earth has counselling got to do with mental illness

        • QoT 11.1.1.1

          It’s okay, Murray. I get that you’re in denial about how your comment explicitly linked people’s anger over this decision with distraught/traumatic emotions requiring professional intervention, entirely to make those people’s anger seem unimportant or irrational.

          • Joe Bloggs 11.1.1.1.1

            newsflash – your anger IS irrational – the unions fucked up and caused this mess.
            Start, middle and end of story.

            Nothing to do with Richard Taylor, et al. No dark conspiracies. Just a few fucked up unionists overblown with their own importance. That’s why the workers rose up against the unions on Labour Day.

            • ianmac 11.1.1.1.1.1

              Actually don’t people have the right in NZ to seek to improve their lot?
              Business Round Table. Employers Federation. Actors Equity. Act Party. Maori Party. Teachers. National Party. Auckland Citizens. My wife. Students. MP’s overseas trips.
              The trouble with you Joe is that by being against everyone, you automatically don’t play fair.

            • QoT 11.1.1.1.1.2

              The unions controlled John Key and forced him to pass [ironically probably ineffectual] anti-worker legislation in order to make a US studio happy? That doesn’t seem logical … OH WAIT, I get it, you’re talking out your ass and really don’t like people pointing out that attacking the Left for being emotional/irrational is a fairly boring tactic at this point.

            • Vicky32 11.1.1.1.1.3

              “That’s why the workers rose up against the unions on Labour Day.”
              To what are you referring? If you mean Sir Richard’s ermployees marching to his order, then that’s not “the workers (rising) up”, that is the workers doing what their boss tells them they must do, to keep their jobs…
              Deb

  12. tea 12

    Perhaps Kate and Gerry could give some of those ‘hand wringing academics’ a call and ask them what a law is and how it works and if it has a money back guarantee.

    surely if this is an example of National’s Standards someone has to call their arrogance and incompetence out and be heard by the general public?

  13. tea 13

    wow reading thread.

    How can questions not be asked when ministers are contradicting the Prime Minister?

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    Your right to swipe for threesomes is under threat.    Some clean-cut millennials enjoying the 3nder afterglow. 1232RF Those for whom three is the magic sex-number should know that one's right to swipe one's way into a six-limb circus is… ...
    22 hours ago
  • Some big news, for me
    Two pieces of news that are kind of a big deal, for me. Firstly, I’m ditching my landline! I’m not a student and I’m not in a low income band, so make of that what you will. Secondly, after 10… ...
    GrumpollieBy Andrew
    22 hours ago
  • Start as you mean to go on
    The GCSB has a new director: His family tease him by calling him Johnny English. He has a 3000-strong record collection – not classical, but some “out there” 1980s indie rock. Andrew Hampton is also a government fix-it man –… ...
    DimPostBy danylmc
    22 hours ago
  • Start as you mean to go on
    The GCSB has a new director: His family tease him by calling him Johnny English. He has a 3000-strong record collection – not classical, but some “out there” 1980s indie rock. Andrew Hampton is also a government fix-it man –… ...
    DimPostBy danylmc
    22 hours ago
  • Polity: Mike’s minute: Mike’s maths!
    Today, media ubiquity Mike Hosking took to nzherald.co.nz to vent his frustration at Labour for suggesting that it would re-convene the same Tax Working Group first used by National. He was clearly very upset.For Mike, Auckland’s housing crisis is a… ...
    23 hours ago
  • Polity: Mike’s minute: Mike’s maths!
    Today, media ubiquity Mike Hosking took to nzherald.co.nz to vent his frustration at Labour for suggesting that it would re-convene the same Tax Working Group first used by National. He was clearly very upset.For Mike, Auckland’s housing crisis is a… ...
    23 hours ago
  • Denise Roche: What I’m looking for in Budget 2016 Pt II
    Aotearoa’s new New Zealanders,  come to our country in vulnerable position: – often away from the culture, communities and families they know, sometimes in neighbourhoods without familiar faces and often encountering barriers to employment. With net migration at 50,000+ a… ...
    frogblogBy Denise Roche
    23 hours ago
  • Helter smelter deja vu: Tiwai Point uncertainty stalls NZ renewables
    Simon Johnson looks at how New Zealand Aluminium Smelter Limited is behind the Meridian/Genesis deal keeping the Huntly Thermal Power Station burning coal as the threat of closing the Tiwai Point smelter is stalling the construction of consented renewable energy… ...
    Hot TopicBy Mr February
    1 day ago
  • Helter smelter deja vu: Tiwai Point uncertainty stalls NZ renewables
    Simon Johnson looks at how New Zealand Aluminium Smelter Limited is behind the Meridian/Genesis deal keeping the Huntly Thermal Power Station burning coal as the threat of closing the Tiwai Point smelter is stalling the construction of consented renewable energy… ...
    Hot TopicBy Mr February
    1 day ago
  • Equal Pay and Budget 2016
    The last few years we’ve seen equal pay for women flagged as an undefined risk in the budget. This year we should expect to see this, as well as budgeted money to deliver equal pay to caregivers and funding for,… ...
    frogblogBy Jan Logie
    1 day ago
  • Equal Pay and Budget 2016
    The last few years we’ve seen equal pay for women flagged as an undefined risk in the budget. This year we should expect to see this, as well as budgeted money to deliver equal pay to caregivers and funding for,… ...
    frogblogBy Jan Logie
    1 day ago
  • Hard News: This. Is. Crazy.
    It's eight days since the Prime Minister airily assured Guyon Espiner on Morning Report that "in my experience with Work and Income", homeless people could go along to their local office and get sorted with some emergency housing.We now know… ...
    1 day ago
  • Hard News: This. Is. Crazy.
    It's eight days since the Prime Minister airily assured Guyon Espiner on Morning Report that "in my experience with Work and Income", homeless people could go along to their local office and get sorted with some emergency housing.We now know… ...
    1 day ago
  • A great Budget would
    A great Budget would embrace the challenge of our polluted rivers and move the money away from justifying the status quo water rules into cleaning up waterways. A great Budget would take the Ministry for the Environment freshwater budget and… ...
    frogblogBy Catherine Delahunty
    1 day ago
  • Smarter, Better, Cleaner, Stronger
    This Thursday Bill English will deliver his eighth Budget. Will it continue the trend of previous National budgets, making tertiary education less affordable, putting only token funds into innovation, and subsidising polluters? Budgets aren’t what they used to be. Once… ...
    frogblogBy Gareth Hughes
    1 day ago
  • What we are expected to believe
    In recent months I have become increasingly concerned at the state of bullshit in this country. Bullshit, as Harry Frankfurt famously wrote, is distinguished not by its intentionally negative truth value (those are lies) but its absence of intentional truth… ...
    1 day ago
  • The end of Auckland’s old growth model
    The New Zealand Council for Infrastructure Development’s public shark-jumping exercise the other week got me thinking. While their flagship policy of a new megabillion eastern tunnel project is a bit mad, their report does a reasonable job of diagnosing one… ...
    Transport BlogBy Peter Nunns
    1 day ago
  • The end of Auckland’s old growth model
    The New Zealand Council for Infrastructure Development’s public shark-jumping exercise the other week got me thinking. While their flagship policy of a new megabillion eastern tunnel project is a bit mad, their report does a reasonable job of diagnosing one… ...
    Transport BlogBy Peter Nunns
    1 day ago
  • Why are whistleblowers being prosecuted as spies?
    Whistleblowers are a ‘check’ on government, corporate or organisational secrecy and malfeasance. I recently read Tim Shipman’s preview of the Chilcot report into the origins of the Tony Blair-led UK engagement in the US’s invasion of Iraq, which looked at… ...
    The PaepaeBy Peter Aranyi
    1 day ago
  • Spend and Tax
    As a general rule, New Zealanders want more public spending. Surveys (such as the 2014 Election Survey) show consistent support for increases in spending, particularly in the areas of health, education, housing, law enforcement, public transport and the environment (in… ...
    Briefing PapersBy Brian Easton
    1 day ago
  • The birth place of the artist
    It may not be the best reason to fund the arts. It’s certainly not the only one. But travelling to the small city of Rovereto, at the feet of the Italian dolomites, reminded me of the lasting influence that a… ...
    Bat bean beamBy Giovanni Tiso
    1 day ago
  • Gordon Campbell on the rise of the far right, and battle bots
    In his victory speech at the Cannes film festival this week, the British film director Ken Loach warned that the rise of far right parties in Europe was being fuelled by the economic policies of austerity, and manifested in a… ...
    1 day ago
  • Why Corrections prevented Tony Robertson from getting treatment in prison
    Tony Robertson was sentenced to eight years in prison for indecently assaulting a five year old girl in 2005. He was considered a high risk prisoner and the parole board declined to release him on four separate occasions.  He was… ...
    PunditBy Roger Brooking
    2 days ago
  • Have We a Housing Policy?
    The Prime Minister’s announcement that there is nothing new about homelessness is both an example of his strengths in reassuring the public that there is never really a problem and the weaknesses of the government’s policy approach..read more ...
    PunditBy Brian Easton
    2 days ago
  • Have We a Housing Policy?
    The Prime Minister’s announcement that there is nothing new about homelessness is both an example of his strengths in reassuring the public that there is never really a problem and the weaknesses of the government’s policy approach..read more ...
    PunditBy Brian Easton
    2 days ago
  • Climate denial arguments fail a blind test
    As we saw in the recent legal ruling against Peabody coal, arguments and myths that are based in denial of the reality of human-caused global warming rarely withstand scientific scrutiny. In a new study published in Global Environmental Change, a team led by Stephen Lewandowsky… ...
    2 days ago
  • Palmerston North librarians gather to support UCOL colleagues
    At 5pm today at the UCOL Library, representatives of library staff from the City Library, Massey, Te Wānanga o Aotearoa, and local schools will meet in a show of support for UCOL Library staff whose jobs are threatened. “We all… ...
    2 days ago
  • Accountability for Iraq?
    Six years after it was established, the Chilcot Inquiry into the UK's involvement in the Iraq war is finally about to report back. And from the sound of it, its going to pin the blame squarely where it belongs: on… ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 days ago
  • Accountability for Iraq?
    Six years after it was established, the Chilcot Inquiry into the UK's involvement in the Iraq war is finally about to report back. And from the sound of it, its going to pin the blame squarely where it belongs: on… ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 days ago
  • Not Quite But Getting There
    It seems that Labour might have finally gotten the memo about getting it’s A into G but perhaps not quite digested the content. Still it’s a start. The last month has seen a steady stream of both Labour and Little… ...
    2 days ago
  • Climate change: The latest inventory
    The annual inventory report [PDF] of our greenhouse gas emissions was released on Friday. The headline data: emissions are still increasing: There's been another "recalculation" in the last 12 months, making year-to-year comparisons difficult. Naurally, this seems to have shifted… ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 days ago
  • Climate change: The latest inventory
    The annual inventory report [PDF] of our greenhouse gas emissions was released on Friday. The headline data: emissions are still increasing: There's been another "recalculation" in the last 12 months, making year-to-year comparisons difficult. Naurally, this seems to have shifted… ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 days ago
  • Australia lets kiwi detainees literally rot
    What are our "closest friends" Australia doing to kiwis awaiting deportation? Letting them literally rot away in prison due to substandard medical care:A New Zealander held at an Australian immigration detention centre will find out today if his leg has… ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 days ago
  • Australia lets kiwi detainees literally rot
    What are our "closest friends" Australia doing to kiwis awaiting deportation? Letting them literally rot away in prison due to substandard medical care:A New Zealander held at an Australian immigration detention centre will find out today if his leg has… ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 days ago
  • CRL already impacting land use on city fringe
    The City Rail Link will be one of the most transformational projects Auckland has ever seen. Perhaps nowhere else will see experience that transformation more than the inner west of the isthmus which effectively gets picked up and moved much closer to… ...
    2 days ago
  • CRL already impacting land use on city fringe
    The City Rail Link will be one of the most transformational projects Auckland has ever seen. Perhaps nowhere else will see experience that transformation more than the inner west of the isthmus which effectively gets picked up and moved much closer to… ...
    2 days ago
  • National should give us our $13,000 back
    We all know that National works for the rich and screw over ordinary New Zealanders to funnel wealth upwards into the pockets of its rich mates. But how bad have they been? $13,000 bad:Yesterday, Mr Little said that since National… ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 days ago
  • National should give us our $13,000 back
    We all know that National works for the rich and screw over ordinary New Zealanders to funnel wealth upwards into the pockets of its rich mates. But how bad have they been? $13,000 bad:Yesterday, Mr Little said that since National… ...
    No Right TurnBy Idiot/Savant
    2 days ago
  • Access: The Universal Basic Income and its implications for citizenship
    The suggestion about a possible Universal Basic Income (UBI) was only one of numerous suggestions to come out of Labour’s Future of Work initiative. This a wide-ranging policy discussion that the Party’s economic development spokesman, Wellington Central MP Grant Robertson,… ...
    2 days ago
  • Access: The Universal Basic Income and its implications for citizenship
    The suggestion about a possible Universal Basic Income (UBI) was only one of numerous suggestions to come out of Labour’s Future of Work initiative. This a wide-ranging policy discussion that the Party’s economic development spokesman, Wellington Central MP Grant Robertson,… ...
    2 days ago
  • Review: The Block Party
    Did New Zealand’s 'premier urban music' event live up to the hype?   Photo: Nicole Semitara Hunt ‘Old school’ was the name of the game on Friday night at The Block Party, where several thousand converged on ASB… ...
    2 days ago
  • Hard News: The media awards are dead – long live the media awards!
    Friday's Canon Media Awards was the most interesting instance of the long-running national ceremony in a long time, maybe ever. There were notable insurgencies – The SpinOff took two awards from 11 first-time nominations, Radio NZ's The Wireless won Website… ...
    2 days ago
  • Hard News: The media awards are dead – long live the media awards!
    Friday's Canon Media Awards was the most interesting instance of the long-running national ceremony in a long time, maybe ever. There were notable insurgencies – The SpinOff took two awards from 11 first-time nominations, Radio NZ's The Wireless won Website… ...
    2 days ago
  • New research confirms water fluoridation does not cause bone cancers
    The most common type of bone cancer is Osteosarcoma. Image credit:  Osteosarcoma This time for Texas. A new study confirms what other researchers have found elsewhere. It is reported in this recent paper: Archer, N. P., Napier, T. S., & Villanacci, J. F. (2016).… ...
    2 days ago
  • Redline on the Labour Party
    No-one on the anti-capitalist left in this country today puts forward a case that Labour is on the side of the working class.  There are certainly people who call themselves ‘socialist’ who do, but they are essentially liberals with vested… ...
    RedlineBy Admin
    2 days ago
  • Selfie-takers think they’re the greatest
    Science says otherwise.  “People often perceive themselves as more attractive and likable than others [perceive them to be].” This is the cutting conclusion from a new study that has found you're probably not as great as you think you… ...
    2 days ago
  • UCOL cutting the staff who lifted student results
    UCOL needs to halt its proposed cuts to student support services now that it knows those services are improving student outcomes. On Friday, in an email to all staff, UCOL released its provisional 2015 Educational Performance Indicator (EPI) results which… ...
    2 days ago
  • Another Road Only Harbour Crossing on the Cards?
    The absence of rail as well as walking and cycling options to the North Shore has been considered an oversight by many probably ever since the Harbour Bridge was first approved for construction over 60 years ago. While Skypath will… ...
    2 days ago

  • Key’s “brain fart” on tax cuts news to English
    John Key didn’t tell his own Finance Minister he was about to go on radio and announce he wanted $3b of tax cuts, just days after Bill English ruled them out, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson. “In Parliament today… ...
    18 hours ago
  • What I’m looking for in Budget 2016 – A better start for our tamariki
    Ensuring the best start for our tamariki is a priority for me in everything I do. And so in Budget 2016, my first budget as an MP, I looking for the Government to make a real investment in the wellbeing… ...
    GreensBy Marama Davidson
    19 hours ago
  • What I’m looking for in Budget 2016 – A better start for our tamariki
    Ensuring the best start for our tamariki is a priority for me in everything I do. And so in Budget 2016, my first budget as an MP, I looking for the Government to make a real investment in the wellbeing… ...
    GreensBy Marama Davidson
    19 hours ago
  • Denise Roche: What I’m looking for in Budget 2016 Pt II
    Aotearoa’s new New Zealanders,  come to our country in vulnerable position: – often away from the culture, communities and families they know, sometimes in neighbourhoods without familiar faces and often encountering barriers to employment. With net migration at 50,000+ a… ...
    GreensBy Denise Roche
    23 hours ago
  • Equal Pay and Budget 2016
    The last few years we’ve seen equal pay for women flagged as an undefined risk in the budget. This year we should expect to see this, as well as budgeted money to deliver equal pay to caregivers and funding for,… ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie
    1 day ago
  • Equal Pay and Budget 2016
    The last few years we’ve seen equal pay for women flagged as an undefined risk in the budget. This year we should expect to see this, as well as budgeted money to deliver equal pay to caregivers and funding for,… ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie
    1 day ago
  • A great Budget would
    A great Budget would embrace the challenge of our polluted rivers and move the money away from justifying the status quo water rules into cleaning up waterways. A great Budget would take the Ministry for the Environment freshwater budget and… ...
    GreensBy Catherine Delahunty
    1 day ago
  • Budget building materials policy backfires
    On the eve of this year’s Budget official figures show Nick Smith’s Budget 2014 centrepiece to reduce the cost of building materials has backfired, says Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford. “Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment officials have spent the… ...
    1 day ago
  • Smarter, Better, Cleaner, Stronger
    This Thursday Bill English will deliver his eighth Budget. Will it continue the trend of previous National budgets, making tertiary education less affordable, putting only token funds into innovation, and subsidising polluters? Budgets aren’t what they used to be. Once… ...
    GreensBy Gareth Hughes
    1 day ago
  • Govt must come clean on tax cuts in Budget
    National is making a mockery of the Budget process by dangling the promise of tax cuts but failing to include them in the Budget, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson. “National’s tax cut promises have turned into a farce. One… ...
    2 days ago
  • Grant Robertson Pre-Budget Speech
    Today I want to talk about success. As we know success can come in many different forms, from the fact you all made it here at such an early hour on a Monday, for which I am very grateful, to… ...
    2 days ago
  • Budget must deliver for middle New Zealand
    The Government must ensure next week’s Budget stops the squeeze on middle New Zealand and delivers shared prosperity for all New Zealanders, Leader of the Opposition Andrew Little says. The call follows new research commissioned by Labour that shows working… ...
    3 days ago
  • Our housing emergency – why we have to act
    Marama and Metiria at Homes Not Cars launch On Thursday, Metiria Turei announced the Green Party’s plan to start addressing the emergency housing crisis facing our country. Too many people are without homes right now – homeless. It is the… ...
    GreensBy Marama Davidson
    4 days ago
  • Will funding boost for sexual violence services go to the right places?
    This week the Government announced $46million for sexual violence services. This announcement was a result of decades of work by advocates and everyone who submitted to the Select Committee inquiry into funding for sexual violence services that I initiated with… ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie
    5 days ago
  • Will funding boost for sexual violence services go to the right places?
    This week the Government announced $46million for sexual violence services. This announcement was a result of decades of work by advocates and everyone who submitted to the Select Committee inquiry into funding for sexual violence services that I initiated with… ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie
    5 days ago
  • Denise Roche – What I’m looking for in this year’s Budget
    Two of the things I’ll be looking for in the Budget next week are more funding for refugees and for our arts and culture sector. More funding for refugees I’m a strong supporter of the #DoubleTheQuota campaign and its goals… ...
    GreensBy Denise Roche
    5 days ago
  • Denise Roche – What I’m looking for in this year’s Budget
    Two of the things I’ll be looking for in the Budget next week are more funding for refugees and for our arts and culture sector. More funding for refugees I’m a strong supporter of the #DoubleTheQuota campaign and its goals… ...
    GreensBy Denise Roche
    5 days ago
  • Car rego victims must get a refund
    Motorists who have been overcharged for their car registration should get a refund, says Labour’s Transport spokesperson Sue Moroney.  “Minister Nikki Kaye’s ‘faulty risk’ rating scheme has blown up in her face with over 170 different models of car having… ...
    5 days ago
  • Council statement shows they just don’t get it
    The Auckland Council’s statement today shows they don’t understand the problems created by the urban growth boundary, says Labour’s housing spokesperson Phil Twyford.  “I have been the first to defend the Auckland City Council when Bill English has been blaming… ...
    5 days ago
  • Inspecting electronic devices a potential privacy threat
    Labour is expressing concern for New Zealanders’ privacy rights as the Government signals Customs will have the power to inspect electronic devices coming across the border, says Labour’s Customs Spokesperson Rino Tirikatene. “We agree that customs officers should have the… ...
    5 days ago
  • The Price of Water
    This week I hosted a public meeting at EIT in Hawkes Bay to discuss how we might put a price on the commercial use of water, so that water may be valued and treated more sustainably. I invited a… ...
    GreensBy Catherine Delahunty
    5 days ago
  • Caption It NZ!
    Today I received a petition from the NZ Captioning Working Group urging the government to legislate for accessibility via closed captioning for deaf and hard of hearing New Zealanders. It was timely because today is the fifth Global Accessibility Awareness… ...
    GreensBy Mojo Mathers
    6 days ago
  • Older Kiwis to miss out on electives
    The Government is not doing enough elective surgery to keep up with New Zealand’s ageing population, says Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King.  “It’s damning that the targeted national intervention rate for cataract and knee and hip surgery is the same… ...
    6 days ago
  • Most principals say their college is underfunded
    The Government must substantially increase funding for secondary schools in next week’s Budget after a new survey found 86 per cent of principals consider their college under-resourced, Labour’s Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins says. “Just 14 per cent of secondary principals… ...
    6 days ago
  • Bill English and Nick Smith on different pages
    The Government’s support for Labour’s policy to remove the Auckland urban growth boundary is good news, but National needs to clarify its position, Labour’s Housing and Auckland Issues spokesperson Phil Twyford says. “The Acting Prime Minister has acknowledged our position… ...
    6 days ago
  • Bill English and Nick Smith on different pages
    The Government’s support for Labour’s policy to remove the Auckland urban growth boundary is good news, but National needs to clarify its position, Labour’s Housing and Auckland Issues spokesperson Phil Twyford says. “The Acting Prime Minister has acknowledged our position… ...
    6 days ago
  • Labour calls for independent inquiry into illegal fish dumping
    The Labour Party is reiterating its call for an independent inquiry into New Zealand’s fishing industry after two reports revealed the Ministry for Primary Industries turned a blind eye to widespread fish dumping in New Zealand waters, says Labour’s Fisheries… ...
    6 days ago
  • Mt Karangahake and Newcrest Mining
    On Wednesday and Sunday of last week the local residents of the Karangahake mountain in the Karangahake gorge of Hauraki/Coromandel peacefully protested against a gold mining drill rig on private land adjacent to the DOC land. The drilling rig was… ...
    GreensBy Catherine Delahunty
    7 days ago
  • Robbing Aucklanders to pay Rio Tinto
    New Zealand’s national electricity grid stretches the length of the country and contains some 11,803 kilometres of high-voltage lines and 178 substations. It wouldn’t make sense for competing power companies to duplicate and build their own expensive electricity transmission system… ...
    GreensBy Gareth Hughes
    7 days ago
  • Government should abolish Auckland urban growth boundary
    The Government should rule out any possibility of an urban growth boundary in Auckland Council’s Unitary Plan if it is serious about fixing the housing crisis, says Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford. “Over 25 years the urban growth boundary hasn’t… ...
    7 days ago
  • Kiwis don’t want iPads for Land deals
     It is outrageous that schools are relying on money and iPads from foreign land investors to meet the learning needs of their students, says Labour’s Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins.  “Several OIO land applications by offshore investors have claimed that without… ...
    7 days ago
  • Homelessness – National has failed all of us
    A young South Auckland Māori woman recently tried to get hold of me around midnight. I missed her call. The woman wanted me to know the sharp reality facing too many families looking for a stable place to live. Things… ...
    GreensBy Marama Davidson
    1 week ago
  • Moko case should never have been manslaughter deal
    Confirmation again yesterday that the manslaughter charge in the Moko Rangitoheriri case was a deal done by the Crown Prosecution Service is justifiably the cause of outrage, says Labour’s Children’s spokesperson Jacinda Ardern.“This should never have been a case where… ...
    1 week ago
  • Overseas investor funds school’s digital devices
    The Government must address the inequality laptops and tablets in classrooms are causing after a Queenstown school was forced to use a donation from an overseas investor to get their students digital devices, Labour’s Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins. “Documents obtained… ...
    1 week ago
  • Child Youth and Family Review and Domestic Violence
    This Government has consistently failed to recognise the links between Child Youth and Family Services (CYFS) and intimate partner violence. For me, the recent review of CYFS has highlighted this misunderstanding of the dynamics of domestic violence and its impacts… ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie
    1 week ago
  • Child Youth and Family Review and Domestic Violence
    This Government has consistently failed to recognise the links between Child Youth and Family Services (CYFS) and intimate partner violence. For me, the recent review of CYFS has highlighted this misunderstanding of the dynamics of domestic violence and its impacts… ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie
    1 week ago
  • Canterbury rebuild: How wood is a better choice for the new city
    It was interesting to attend the ForestWood Conference in Auckland recently and learn about the extent of innovation in the wood processing and manufacturing sector. The forestry sector may be New Zealand’s third largest export earner, but raw logs make… ...
    GreensBy Eugenie Sage
    1 week ago
  • Canterbury rebuild: How wood is a better choice for the new city
    It was interesting to attend the ForestWood Conference in Auckland recently and learn about the extent of innovation in the wood processing and manufacturing sector. The forestry sector may be New Zealand’s third largest export earner, but raw logs make… ...
    GreensBy Eugenie Sage
    1 week ago
  • Key plucks $3b out of thin air – reckless and irresponsible
    John Key refuses to give up on his dream of tax cuts to the wealthy, despite being shot down by Bill English, and is resorting to plucking numbers out of thin air, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson. “On radio… ...
    1 week ago
  • John Key woefully out of touch on homelessness
    John Key is completely out of touch if he thinks desperate South Auckland families forced to live in cars can simply go to Work and Income for help, Opposition Leader Andrew Little says. “Many of these families are working and… ...
    1 week ago
  • Under-reporting shows need to review quota system
    The Government must launch an independent review into New Zealand’s 30-year-old Quota Management System following a new report suggesting gross under-reporting of catch in the New Zealand fishing industry, Labour’s Environment spokesperson David Parker says.  “The Auckland University report found… ...
    1 week ago
  • Investigations into tertiary institutions overdue
    A Tertiary Education Commission investigation into the Tai Poutini Polytechnic is overdue and should have been launched last year, Labour’s Associate Education (Tertiary) spokesperson David Cunliffe says. “Labour has been calling for an inquiry into potential rorts at Tai Poutini… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Investigations into tertiary institutions overdue
    A Tertiary Education Commission investigation into the Tai Poutini Polytechnic is overdue and should have been launched last year, Labour’s Associate Education (Tertiary) spokesperson David Cunliffe says. “Labour has been calling for an inquiry into potential rorts at Tai Poutini… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Where is the fair share for most New Zealanders?
    Most New Zealanders reading the news that chief executive pay has risen 12 per cent in the last year will be wondering when they are going to get their fair share, Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson says. “More and more… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Where is the fair share for most New Zealanders?
    Most New Zealanders reading the news that chief executive pay has risen 12 per cent in the last year will be wondering when they are going to get their fair share, Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson says. “More and more… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Mega media merger is bad news
    Some people call newspapers “tomorrow’s fish and chips” but this week’s news around a mega media merger is not an issue we should discard. Media giants Fairfax and APN News & Media announced they were in discussions to merge their… ...
    GreensBy Gareth Hughes
    2 weeks ago
  • Mega media merger is bad news
    Some people call newspapers “tomorrow’s fish and chips” but this week’s news around a mega media merger is not an issue we should discard. Media giants Fairfax and APN News & Media announced they were in discussions to merge their… ...
    GreensBy Gareth Hughes
    2 weeks ago
  • National puts Easter trading in the too hard basket
    All Labour MPs will vote against National’s move to leave Easter trading laws up to councils, Labour’s Workplace Relations spokesperson Iain-Lees Galloway says.  “Despite this being a conscience vote, Labour MPs are united in their opposition to the Government’s moves… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • National puts Easter trading in the too hard basket
    All Labour MPs will vote against National’s move to leave Easter trading laws up to councils, Labour’s Workplace Relations spokesperson Iain-Lees Galloway says.  “Despite this being a conscience vote, Labour MPs are united in their opposition to the Government’s moves… ...
    2 weeks ago
  • Law Commission speaks up for domestic violence survivors
    I want to give kudos to the Minister for Justice for getting the Law Commission to review options for how our justice system responds when victims of domestic violence kill their partners. This is a relatively discrete piece of work… ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie
    2 weeks ago

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