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The Standard

McCully caught in mining conflict

Written By: - Date published: 6:36 am, February 23rd, 2010 - 85 comments
Categories: Conservation, corruption, Mining, national/act government - Tags: , ,

Heedless to all opposition, the Government is driving ahead with its plans to open up our National Parks and other protected environments to mining. The excuse, that this destruction and exploitation of our natural environment will make us wealthy, is laughable. The only ones to win will be National’s mining mates, and National ministers with mining interests.

The Standard can now reveal that Murray McCully has shares in a company that stands to benefit directly from National’s mining policy. As a member of Cabinet deciding this policy McCully has a significant conflict of interest.

The company that McCully has a stake in, according the the MPs’ Register of Pecuniary Interests, is Widespread Portfolios (almost sounds like a front company for a Bond villain, eh?). Far from being “widespread”, its investments are exclusively in mining and oil. These include New Zealand-based mining operations.

Its subsidiary Widespread Energy is a petroleum and phosphates company. It owns prospecting permits over land north of Lake Brunner in the South Island and large areas of the seabed. Widespread Energy and Widespread Portfolios have jointly applied for a permit to prospect for phosphate on the Chatham Rise. The phosphates are found around hydrothermal vents – unique and fragile ecosystems that we are barely beginning to understand. They are the basis of some of our most important fisheries.

Mining will annihilate these ecosystems. As of June last year, McCully’s companies were lobbying Crown Minerals to develop “suitable” rules for undersea mining.

Widespread Portfolios describes Widespread Energy as “our most exciting investment“. And why not? The mining conservation land policies being pushed by McCully and Cabinet could see its profits go through the roof. Profits that will eventually find their way into McCully’s pocket.

Another company is Glass Earth, a mineral exploration company. It is currently focused on hunting for gold deposits in Coromandel, the Central Plateau, and Central Otago. Much of the land it wants to get at is in National Parks and other protected lands.

McCully is a member of the cabinet making vital decisions on the protected status of these lands. If the government he is a member of opens the floodgates for mining on protected land, McCully’s investments in Glass Earth will really pay off.

McCully has some serious questions to answer:

  • In what ways has the Government’s mining policy benefited Widespread Portfolios and its subsidiaries?
  • Did McCully declare his conflict of interest at any point; if so, when?
  • Did he seek advice from the Cabinet Office; if so, what was that advice?
  • Has McCully sold the shares; if so, when?
  • Is McCully hiding any other conflicts of interest behind his trust?
  • Do any other Ministers or Government MPs have shares in mining companies that stand to gain from National’s plans? I count 46 National and ACT MPs with trusts. It’s time the public knows what is hidden in them.
  • And if  McCully has sold his shares in Widespread Portfolios in the wake of Key’s uranium share revelation, when exactly did he sell them?

85 comments on “McCully caught in mining conflict”

  1. tc 1

    Watch him brush this off with typical arrogance that he portrays in foreign affairs, supercity and rugby wc 2011 issues …..while the MSM sit obediently wating for their masters command……wait….good boy….now rollover and play dead…..good MSM here have a biscuit.

  2. gitmo 2

    Why don’t you just call for all government ministers to have no shareholdings whatsoever in anything …… that’s the only way you chaps will ever be happy.

    Is mining the bogeyman for 2011 ?

    • Marty G 2.1

      In the Roman republic it was considered unseemly for senators to own shares.

      I don’t see why MPs shouldn’t be required to reveal what’s in their trusts. And personally, if I was them, I wouldn’t be owning shares while I was a minister.

      But I see you haven’t denied the conflict of interest, gitmo, so that’s something.

      • gitmo 2.1.1

        You am retard

        • Lanthanide 2.1.1.1

          I don’t know what you’re trying to prove by that ‘comment’. I suspect it hasn’t worked out for you, though.

        • Bright Red 2.1.1.2

          looks like gitmo wants some time in the naughty corner, lynn.

          actually, hard to believe this is gitmo.

          [lprent: No – it is gitmo albeit a gitmo who seems to have suffered a cerebral infraction of some kind in the writing centres. However with some nurturing, he may come back. ]

    • Clarke 2.2

      Is mining the bogeyman for 2011 ?

      Nope, it’s targeting corrupt and self-serving Ministers. And right now, there’s a nice long list ….

    • Eric C. 2.3

      I reckon MPs can own what they like as long as they are up front about it. If they aren’t, then they run the risk of looking like they are using their power to feather their own nests.

      Just checked how McCully described this company in his interests and he calls it an “investment company”, which while true, isn’t very up front given this government’s focus on mining in conservation areas.

      This kind of stuff happens in Pacific Island governments all the time. New Zealand’s aid programme funds courses to stop the behaviour. Maybe they should run some courses at the Beehive too.

      • Richard 2.3.1

        I reckon MPs can own what they like as long as they are up front about it. If they aren’t, then they run the risk of looking like they are using their power to feather their own nests.

        I think that while MPs should be able to own stuff, there should be a strong message that they cannot personally and individually benefit from their decisions.

        Murray McCully is neither minister for conservation or energy/mining. So that is something.

        However, as the original commentator points out he is a member of a cabinet making significant decisions about issues that affect his investments. He should thus either recuse himself from making decisions on these issues, or divest himself of the shares.

        • Herodotus 2.3.1.1

          Does your comment hold gfor any politician owning a house outright, within a trust or some other form of ownership. As any decision regarding property tax, LAQC, benefits or earnings the MP’s should be excluded as they have a vested interest as well?
          If we take this down to 1st principles then we will end up with our politicians replicating the Spartan empire with no ownership or ability to earn money, eating and living within their “club houses”.

  3. luva 3

    Ohh goody

    We are going to start digging through National MP’s shareholding. How succesful was this boring tactic in the ’08 campain. Answer …not very.

    When will you people learn what turns off swing voters

    • Captain Rehab 3.1

      Yeah cause you’re the expert on swing voters luva. Nothing to see here. Move along.

    • Marty G 3.2

      I think politicians out to enrich themselves turns off swing voters.

      But I take it you agree this is a serious conflict of interest, you just don’t want to talk about it.

    • Clarke 3.3

      When will you people learn what turns off swing voters

      That sums up the NACT attitude beautifully …. it doesn’t matter how corrupt a Minister is providing it doesn’t negatively impact the polls.

      Honesty? Integrity? Aren’t those the new Honda models?

    • So you are happy for ministers to personally benefit from government decisions?

      Are you being serious?

      • sean14 3.4.1

        Did any ministers in the previous Labour Government join Kiwisaver and claim the $1000 kick start payment?

        • Lanthanide 3.4.1.1

          The difference is that any citizen in NZ could join Kiwisaver and benefit from the $1000 kickstart.

          Not any citizen in NZ will benefit directly from these mineral companies making profits as a result of National’s new policies.

          Also the parliamentary pension plan is far better than kiwisaver anyway.

          • Bob 3.4.1.1.1

            Except most Kiwis have access to what is it … $38. So they have as big a chance as the MP that sparked this little hissy fit.

        • sean14 3.4.1.2

          And no, I’m not saying that because one side did it it’s okay for the other side. Rather that government ministers make decisions on a daily basis that impact the country that they are necessarily a part of.

          Therefore the idea that government ministers can be completely free of conflicts of interest is a nonsense.

          • sean14 3.4.1.2.1

            As any citizen can buy shares in a mining company.

            • Bright Red 3.4.1.2.1.1

              no. That is not the same as joining kiwisaver or, say, voting for tax cuts. There is a specific interest for a limited class of people in the decision and mccully was in that class.

              mccully already owned the shares when taking part in the decisions that made them worth more.

              • Akldnut

                Also McCully would have been privvy to policy direction of a Nat led govt whilst he was in opposition. He is now hiding it behind a veil of tust owned shares in a Mineral Exploration Investment Company.
                Insider trading anyone?

    • vto 3.5

      It is not about voters actually luva luva. An issue such as this cuts to the heart of good governance. Nought to do with elections (tho of course some will use it to try to score points against political opponents).

      There must be no conflict of interest. At all.

      If a minister has an interest in an issue being decided by Cabinet then that minister must stand aside and take NO PART in the decision making. Whether Key’s lot or Clark’s lot – no difference.

      This is the most basic of conventions. Perhaps you have some learning to do.

  4. winston smith 4

    so Helen Clark never had any residential property investments at the time her government made decisions affecting rental housing????

    And Jeanette Fitzsimons had no shares in wind technology while she was hyping wind power????

    Look to your own houses, Eddie, before you covet others’

    • Marty G 4.1

      So, you agree that McCully has a conflict of interest? You must, because you are excusing it on the grounds of other supposed conflicts of interest.

      Fitzsimons was never a minister. Clark should have excluded herself from any decision that impacted on landlords.

    • Clarke 4.2

      “They were doing it, so we did it too!” – an argument unworthy of a child. My six year old daughter knows better than that. It’s a pity your Ministers lack the moral backbone of a six year old.

    • Marty G 4.3

      btw, Winston Smith. Orwell would love the irony of your handle. A rightwing reactionary coopting his symbolism.

  5. 350ppm 5

    Looking forward to Jim Mora having a amiable chat with Jane Clifton (Mrs McCully) about this on National Radio next week. They seemed to have overlooked it yesterday afternoon…

  6. Nick 6

    Someone granted Pike River Coal a mining licence in a conservation estate on the West Coast a few years ago.

    Now, who was that?

  7. Janice 7

    Yesterday Jim Mora had both Joanne Black and Jane Clifton on his Panel. I long ago stopped buying the Listener because of the Nat propaganda these two were allowed to publish on behalf on their partners or their partners’ boss. Jane Clifton (Murray McCully’s partner) was extolling the benefits of past mining and need to mine now to get the country going, and how unobtrusive and non-invasive modern mining techniques really were. It is really sick how the toxic sticky fingers are infecting so many aspects of our lives to enrich the few.

    • vto 7.1

      Regarding the risk of mining in sensitive areas, how about this for an idea to stymie…

      Take the Red Hills in Mt Aspiring area. A target for mining. Somebody should apply for a resource consent over that area before the mining juggernauts do. Apply for a resource consent for something non-mining – say, to protect and preserve certain flora and fauna; or take guided hikes over that area; or etc.

      That way the area is already taken and the miners dip out.

      Been thinking on this for a while. It fits the RMA. There is nothing in the RMA which states that resource consents can only be used for commercial purposes.

      BEAT THEM AT THEIR OWN GAME …

      plus it can be applied all over the place to all sorts of activities.

      • sk 7.1.1

        Unfortunately the Mining Act dominates the RMA. In the Save Happy Valley decision the Environment Court concluded that while there were significant adverse effects, they did not have jurisdiction to stop the project. That will be the case with any mining projects that the governments wants to go ahead in national parks

    • sk 7.2

      This nonsense over modern mining techiques keeps getting repeated and repeated. Anyone saying that should be frog-marched to Macraes mine in Otago, and made to look down the hole (maybe Jim and Jane could do the show next week from the bottom of the mine). Truly shocking .. . How can a huge hole, slag heaps and hundreds of truck movements a day be ‘unobstrusive’.

      New Zealand needs growth strategies that leverages off our under-utilised human capital. These mines employ 50-100 people at most, the majority of which are truck drivers. No disrespect, but that is not going to deal with the prolonged economic slump that we are facing

      • Richard 7.2.1

        They need not be frog marched to it – just have a look at Google Earth. You get a really good view of it from space.

        • sk 7.2.1.1

          You are right. Thanks. People need to understand give ore concentration in NZ that this is what we will be talking about

  8. Nick 8

    Does Steven Joyce own Telecom shares? If so, is that why he is refusing to become involved in the XT dramas?

    Does Phil Heatley own Fletcher Building shares? Is that why he is so keen on promoting more statae houses?

    *yawn*.

  9. lprent 9

    The interesting question today will be is John Key is ‘relaxed’ or ‘concerned’ over McCullys interests in pushing mining into fragile ecosystems.

    My pick is that he will be ‘concerned’ – mainly because if he has to give up his mining shares, then why shouldn’t McCully 😈

  10. Brett 10

    I realize anti mining is the flavour dejour and I can understande why the Greens are getting worked
    up but I don,t quite understand the issue with Labour.
    Opening up some of the conservation land to mining would inject such much needed money into the system to help pay for such policies as working for families while also creating more jobs for “blue collar” workers – The traditional Labour voter.

    • lprent 10.1

      The problem for you is that Labour voters are generally as concerned about the future prospects for their kids as they are about the immediate future. History has shown them that once you screw the ‘commons’, in this case, conservation land for the benefits of a privileged few, then it never comes back again.

      Sure they will say that it is ‘temporary’, is ‘surgical’, and can be ‘restored’. However none of those things ever come true. The companies will bankrupt themselves rather than make good on promises. Sequestrated funds will be grossly insufficient because to pay for the true cost of cleanup they wouldn’t make a profit. Incidentally, just ask the Maori about what they think about those excuses for theft. But kiwis generally are aware of this as well – apart from the few who are brain dead.

      The simplest way to make sure that common conserved land is there for your kids, grandkids, great grandkids etc to enjoy is to make sure that they aren’t consumed by some greedy profit taking resource exploiters and their NACT sock-puppets.

      • Pascal's bookie 10.1.1

        Kinda related angle..

        schedule 4 land is circa 15% right?

        So why the focus on that? There is plenty of unprotected land available. Are we to believe that there are no minerals under private land?

        Why is crown land the target for mining co’s?

        A: It’s cheaper.

      • Neil 10.1.2

        ” However none of those things ever come true.”

        “ever”??

        Port Waikato ironside mining has continual revegetation. There are plenty of examples of mine/landsscape restoration that have worked well.

        there have been bad cases as well but you can’t make such a blanket statement.

        You might find that many people will look at this on a case by case basis without that dogma glasses.

        you use a computer – you use resources that have been mined.

        • Armchair Critic 10.1.2.1

          Mine restoration is like reparations for crime.
          The majority of crimes result in no reparations. The majority of mines have had no restoration.
          The effects of the crime are still felt after the reparation is made. The effect of mining is still felt after the restoration is complete. Things are never the same, and never as good.
          Your position on mining is, in essence, the same as saying crime is okay as long as reparations are made. It is not okay.

        • Mach1 10.1.2.2

          Neil, I spent far to long at Waipipi, an iron sand mining operation in the southern Taranaki, and the mining and re-vegetation has taken the ‘dune lake country’ and turned it into flat pasture.

          The mining actually converted rolling contoured well sheltered land with its own systems into windswept paddocks that the cockies struggle to keep enough grass on.

          And now that it’s been knackered as productive the owners are chopping it up and flogging coastal living to people, who, after a couple of years worth of La Nina westerlies, work out that it’s far to windy and a shit of a place to live.

    • Smokie 10.2

      Doesn’t look like to me that Labour have said anything on this at all. So you might be right Brett.

    • Red Rosa 10.3

      Big difference between DoC land in general, and Schedule 4, National Parks.

      DoC has fallen heir to huge tracts of the high country, much it weed covered and effectively abandoned by the runholders. If there is to be mining (presumably mining can’t be condemned outright) then in some places it might not be a blot on the landscape or a menace to those downstream. But these places would require full democratic scrutiny.

      National Parks and Schedule 4 mining? Gotta be joking. Make us an international mockery.

    • Watermelon 10.4

      gripe #1, It is not “dejour”, but “du jour”

      gripe #2, have you even read the Department of Labour’s SkillsInsight report on the mining sector?

      Well you can’t as it has been pulled off the website, but you can read the cached copy from google: http://74.125.155.132/search?q=cache:XBQ2tp10A8UJ:dol.govt.nz/services/LMI/tools/skillsinsight/snapshots/mining/index.asp+department+of+labour+mining+sector&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=nz

      (As an aside, why was it pulled off? Anyone knows?)

      Here’s the Overview and Summary:

      “OVERVIEW
      Mining is a small industry in terms of employment in New Zealand with approximately 5,300 workers (or 0.25% of the total workforce) in the June 20091 quarter. Currently there are 600 active mining operations in New Zealand2. In addition to the core workers of the industry, approximately 8,000 people are indirectly employed as suppliers of goods and services, according to the New Zealand Minerals Industry Association.

      SUMMARY
      In 2008 a report published by the Department of Labour4 in consultation with the Petroleum Exploration and Production Association of New Zealand (PEPANZ) indicated that there may be skills shortages within the Taranaki oil and gas industry over the coming years. With a number of oil and gas fields recently commencing production, skills shortages could lead to future constraints on industry production and growth. Although the mining, oil and gas production industries are small in terms of total employment, anecdotal evidence suggests it is unlikely these future skills requirements will be met from training within the New Zealand labour market. A number of skilled oil and gas industry workers are from overseas as they tend to be employed by multi-national oil and gas companies.”

      So, very small amount of people employed, and skills shortage in NZ would mean importing labour instead of employing “Traditional Labour voters”. Hardly going to help now is it?

      • Watermelon 10.4.1

        The DoL’s SkillsInsight Report on the Mining sector has now been removed from the “Recent Publications” List. Maybe I shouldn’t have emailed them asking why it had been removed but still showing in that list.

        It is just like it never existed, except for the google cached version.

        Captcha: preventing, is it trying to tell me something?

    • Armchair Critic 10.5

      I thought people were getting worked up about mining on conservation land, rather than straight out mining. There has to be some mining to maintain the society we live in, quarrying, for example, and the issue is determining where is the best place to mine. There is so little conservation land left, every acre lost has an impact.
      Is the problem that mining privately owned land is more difficult than mining conservation land because it must be purchased from a private owner, which means the loss in value on the land can not be borne by the taxpayer, i.e. the costs can’t be socialised? Or is it that privately owned land that is suitable for mining is generally held in many titles and it takes too much time and effort to negotiate with all the owners, i.e it is too difficult to make a quick buck?
      My concern is that if the answer is “mining on conservation land” then the question must have been pretty dumb. Surely there are better ways to create jobs and earn foreign exchange.
      Since you suggested it – I would like to see some links or analysis showing that WFF needs mining on conservation land to be affordable. Primarily because I think that assertion is unsupported. But if you have something please post it.

      • Mach1 10.5.1

        If Federated Farmers thinks it has problems dealing with Transpower then they’ll be squealing when the prospectors turn up at the gate because, IIRC, minerals belong to the state and the legislation concerning access and rights isn’t on the side of the landowner.

        captch; powers, draconian I think.

    • How about the Waitakere Ranges. The nats have been trying by stealth to
      undermine the current legislative protection.

      Can it be that they want to mine for gold on Auckland’s doorstep?

  11. Mach1 11

    Lapindo Brantas sums up everything that’s wrong about mining.

  12. Mach1 12

    Lapindo Brantas is an Indonesian oil and gas exploration company, a subsidiary of the Bakrie Group, owned by the Minister for the People’s Welfare Aburizal Bakrie and his brothers

  13. Brett are you trying really hard to be stupid or are genuine with your statement “I don,t quite understand the issue with Labour and minning”.

  14. gobsmacked 14

    The usual diversion tactics are being used on this thread. Don’t fall for them.

    It’s not about mining. An informed, transparent debate about the merits of mining is fine. But this isn’t the issue here.

    It’s about a clear conflict of interest. As clear as it gets. McCully must be held to account on this.

    Whether the investment is in something we personally like or dislike is irrelevant. It’s a Minister making decisions affecting his investment that are THE issue.

  15. reddy 15

    So who else has shares in these companies?

  16. reddy 16

    Does someone with a better memory want to do the count and refresh our definition of corruption?

    Benefitting many National MPs

    Tax increases on GST but not on property: tick
    Tax cuts for the higher brackets: tick
    Mining conservation land: tick
    Unelected friends who now run Auckland and are setting themselves up to do all the Auckland Transport: tick
    Ditto Canterbury RC: tick

    Shares in Aussie insurers who want to do work place insurance: hmmm
    Shares in Private prisons: hmmmm (Act MP Garrett hasn’t denied getting Wackenhut the US prison company funding for his lobby group)
    Shares in private Auckland’s water: hmmm well we know hide wants to and has the opportunity in the supercity.
    For starters…help me out here. What have I missed?

    All this is part of a big transfer of wealth- our collective wealth to a few.

    MINING CONSERVATION LAND IS AN ASSET SALE.

    It takes the land with massive intrinsic value from all of us and sells it to a private few.

  17. Angry Bored 17

    When the last giant snails shell is crushed,
    When the last wry-bill is still,
    When the last long finned eel’s home is dammed,
    What will then suffice to satisfy the greed of money men?
    What then will be found for their ravenous appetite?

  18. Scott 18

    Happy to see the Nats being skewered, but I’m not sure whether this is the killer blow.

    Do we know whether McCully even still owns these shares? The Register of Pecuniary Interests linked to is over a year old.

    “I count 46 National and ACT MPs with trusts. It’s time the public knows what is hidden in them.”

    I’m guessing that in most cases what is “hidden” in them is their family home. Quite a few Labour MPs have trusts too :)

  19. reddy 19

    unless of course they have little value until lucrative mining in national parks are granted to them and ding! ding! a potential insider trader profit.

    • Scott 19.1

      McCully says the shares are worth $31. I don’t think he’s expecting a windfall profit any time soon.

      McCully has said the share parcel is so worthless he’s finding it hard to find a buyer and will probably give them away.

  20. Herodotus 20

    Is there anyone out there who can confirm Scott’s claim tha these shares are worth only a few dollars. If there are then sorry chaps, especially Eddie then this post is no better than some tabloid publication and that for me you have continued the reason for the demise of the left. If the ownership is material then there is a basis of this, but please how about ascertaining the level of ownership as I am confortable with a few $000 ownership of shares and that this ownership would not affect any decision making by a minister. I would take silence in this matter that the ownership is of a few $$.

    • Scott 20.1

      The shares do appear to be worthless. The share price is listed on the company’s website, and McCully told Checkpoint how many shares he owned. It is unlikely he would lie about the number he holds, because it would be easy enough for someone to check the share register.

      But Eddie was right to ask questions, because until McCully spoke out we didn’t know what the value of his holding was. McCully has now agreed to get rid of the shares, which is about as much of an admission of wrongdoing as you can get – even if the offence is a relatively trivial one. But combine it with the mismanagement of other ministers (Key’s uranium shares, Heatley’s and Brownlee’s credit card abuse etc) and it starts to tell a story about how competent this government is.

    • Lew 20.2

      Bollocks. Conflict of interest is conflict of interest. It’s just as Scott says — there’s no actual wrongdoing here, but this is politics: the appearance of wrongdoing matters.

      L

  21. DavidW 21

    Right Lew, just the same as the appearance of irrational, dog whistling, ignorant bias on the part of some blog posters and commenters. It is probably not there but phew … just look around at how it looks.

    • Lew 21.1

      DavidW, once you find yourself arguing the merits (“it was only $31″ or “I did not inhale” or whatever), you’ve already lost. That’s my point.

      L

  22. DavidW 22

    No Lew, you have got me wrong. But if you need me to spell it out in words of one syllable for you I will.

    There was total clarity over McCully’s investment. These is no conflict of interest under any rational definition of the term.

    But if you want to see a real case of conflict that was vigourously defended on this blog at the time, have a review of the threads about Winston Peters. One of the defences used was that the racing industry donations were legal and that the sums (hundreds of thousands of dollars) were insufficient for concern over conflicts.

    Those who have posited that it is impossible to have a parliament where there is no conflict real or apparent have a fair point. What you need though is a rational and educated public who can judge the relative forces at play and subsequently vote accordingly. That Lew is where people will disagree and where entrenched positions are of little value to anyone.

    • Lew 22.1

      There are some words of more than one syllable in there DavidW.

      What I’m trying to say, and I’ll try to constrain myself to simple concepts, too, is that any appearance of misdeed is fair political game. Politicians who fail to be like Caesar’s Wife deserve what they get. So it was with Paintergate, so it is now. No merit whatever to the allegations, but they took their political toll noetheless. So it also was with Taito Phillip Field case, which was a legitimate case of shady dealing, and was duly punished by the courts in addition to the political fallout, which would have resulted even if Field was acquitted of every charge.

      L

  23. DavidW 24

    Sorry about using long words Lew, sometimes they are necessary in the interest of brevity.

    I don’t think we are miles apart, but I think where we might differ is the in the intensity of the spotlight we shine on these “servants of the public”. They are not rock stars and they are certainly not rewarded commensurate with the publicity and attention they garner. Their private lives are scrutinised and it is as if we put them in charge of the country then don’t trust them to get on with doing exactly that. Their rubbish bins are inspected and every word they utter is recored and screened for inconsistency.

    At the end of it all I actually get heartily sick of the profile of politics in New Zealand – it is as if we have nothing else to take our interest. I note that Australia did not used to have this level of commentary (or it didn’t when I lived there about the turn of the century) but since Rudd came on the scene, it has become the dominant news there as well.

    Perhaps it is a function of the times we live in or one of the technology available but oh, how I wish politics would take second place for a week (well for a reason other than a disaster obviously).

    • Lew 24.1

      Fair enough. There is a “total war” aspect to modern politics which I don’t think is entirely healthy, but it’s much less healthy when only one side is doing it than when both sides are. The reason is as my colleague Pablo expressed last week: a government is only as good as its opposition forces it to be. Inasmuch as the opposition declines or fails to hold a government to account, that government has an incentive to be slack or ill-disciplined and enact shoddy policy, because they can get away with it. So I’m all for arming both sides, having the most rigorous political debates possible, and may the best team win.

      While I do have a particular side which I generally tend to support, I don’t want them to win just by turning up: I want them to have to work their guts out to win, and to be punished brutally for failing to do enough to win. That way I know that I’m getting the best out of them. For this reason, my sharpest political criticism is directed at those who just want their team to win, without them having to try.

      L

      • r0b 24.1.1

        Fair enough. There is a “total war’ aspect to modern politics which I don’t think is entirely healthy, but it’s much less healthy when only one side is doing it than when both sides are

        Sad, but true.

  24. DavidW 25

    Fair ’nuff Lew, let the games continue, (can’t say “commence” for obvious reasons)

    Oh and BTW I do believe in the concept of materiality.

    And I know that one can’t be a little bit pregnant, but you can get a little bit pissed without being fallen down drunk.

    antyi-spam word = drink WTF

    • Lew 25.1

      True. But like the cop from Rhythm & Vines is currently finding out, in some circumstances even one drink is too many.

      L

  25. DavidW 26

    Oh and the “total war” aspect, you don’t have to be old like me to remember the peace (albeit strained) created by MAD (Mutually Assured Destruction). The war never got past chilled and the world is a better place for it.

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    Victims who have been abused while in state care and have waited years for resolution will not find it in today’s announcement from Anne Tolley, Labour’s Justice spokesperson Jacinda Ardern says.  “The Government’s ‘fast tracked’ process for historic abuse claims… ...
    4 hours ago
  • Ruataniwha dam – the ongoing story
    Last week the Board of Inquiry into the Ruataniwha irrigation proposal reported their decision on the nitrate limits that would be allowed in rivers affected by the scheme. The decision is a confirmation of some strict limits on the amount… ...
    GreensBy Catherine Delahunty MP
    5 hours ago
  • Wrong tax priorities: chasing tradies, not multinationals
    National has got its tax priorities wrong by chasing down Kiwi tradespeople but doing very little to ensure major multinationals pay their fair share, says Labour’s Finance Spokesperson Grant Robertson. "National is desperate to scrape the tax barrel to get… ...
    6 hours ago
  • Big changes needed for prostate cancer patients
    The Government must take urgent steps to improve the survival rates of New Zealand men diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer who are dying at twice the rates of their British counterparts, Labour Leader Andrew Little says. “A new report out… ...
    7 hours ago
  • Erima Henare passes away
    “Takitaki ana nga whetu o te kahui o Matariki”  Aue e te motu kua hinga te rata tumaru, te waha kii o Te Tai Tokerau a Erima Henare. ...
    8 hours ago
  • Minister makes meagre effort to fix big problem
    Today’s announcement by Health Minister Jonathan Coleman that Budget 2015 will include $98 million for elective surgery over three to four years should be seen for what it is – a drop in the bucket in an effort to appease… ...
    1 day ago
  • Treasury forecasts a deficit for next year too
    National has tried to get the bad deficit news out of the way before this year's Budget but Treasury’s warned next year’s books could also be in the red despite Bill English's panicked spending cuts late last year, Labour’s Finance… ...
    1 day ago
  • OIA chaos in the Ministry of Social Development
    So it turns out yesterday’s story about WINZ cuts to dental care loans was wrong, and through no fault of Radio New Zealand who ran it. The Ministry of Social Development (MSD) has today corrected the Official Information Act release… ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie MP
    1 day ago
  • First state house sell-off will achieve little
    The first tranche of the Government’s state house sell-off will do nothing to fix the housing crisis or better the lives of vulnerable families, Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford says. The Government has just announced the transfer of 1600 state… ...
    1 day ago
  • Job figures show many missing out
    New Zealand’s “rock star” economy is failing to deliver either a surplus, real wage increases or job growth with unemployment stuck at 5.8 per cent,” Labour’s Leader Andrew Little says. “The Government trumpets the 3 per cent growth rate and… ...
    1 day ago
  • Secret moves could undermine education system
    The Government must explain why it is pushing to open doors to multinational private education providers through a controversial international free trade agreement, Labour’s Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins says. “Documents leaked today show our Government is one of a handful… ...
    1 day ago
  • Spotless must now end all zero-hours contracts
    New Zealand’s largest contractor of food, cleaning and hospital staff, Spotless, must now take action to end all zero-hour contracts, Opposition leader Andrew Little says. “Yesterday Labour asked questions of Parliamentary Service and the Speaker after we revealed nine parliamentary… ...
    1 day ago
  • Are we even talking about welfare anymore?
    I’ve worked with children in the slums in India and that experience confirmed my sense of luck that I live in a small, naturally abundant country, which many years ago made the decision to share those resources so everyone had… ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie MP
    2 days ago
  • MPs warned off celebrations for fear of upsetting Chinese
    A leaked email that reveals the Government is warning MPs not to attend Falun Gong celebrations and that China will be spying on people who do has no place in a free society, Labour’s Foreign Affairs spokesperson David Shearer says.Advice… ...
    2 days ago
  • Labour stands behind Solid Energy miners
    Solid Energy miners will not be surprised at the company’s announcement today of further restructuring but any more job losses will be a shock for West Coast communities, Labour’s MP for West Coast-Tasman Damien O’Connor says. “I have my fingers… ...
    2 days ago
  • TPK unable to deliver on Whanau Ora
    The Auditor General’s report on Whanau Ora highlights what many people knew – Te Puni Kokiri was never designed to be a service delivery agency, said Labour’s Maori Development Spokesperson Nanaia Mahuta and Whānau Ora spokesperson Adrian Rurawhe. “In the… ...
    2 days ago
  • Too many Kiwis waiting on waiting lists
    Waiting lists to get on waiting lists are the new norm for thousands of New Zealanders living with chronic health problems, Labour’s Health spokesperson Annette King says. “The Government’s underfunding of the health sector is forcing district health boards to… ...
    2 days ago
  • Delays in spending damage Whanau Ora
    Criticism from the Auditor General that a greater proportion of Whanau Ora funds could have been directed to families rather than administration is something that needs to be investigated thoroughly, says Social Development Spokesperson Carmel Sepuloni.  “To quote the report… ...
    2 days ago
  • Walking the talk on sexual violence
    Te Tai Tokerau MP Kelvin Davis is putting election campaign promises into action, organising a hīkoi to raise awareness around sexual violence. The 17-day MASSIVE (Men Against Sexual Violence) walk – from the electorate’s southern boundary to the northern tip… ...
    2 days ago
  • Govt dumps infrastructure costs on Akld ratepayers
    The Government’s failure to invest in infrastructure to service its Special Housing Areas is dumping massive costs on Auckland ratepayers, Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford says. Auckland Council has declined to approve three new Special Housing Areas on the city… ...
    2 days ago
  • Labour reforms encourage bad employers to be bullies
    The Government’s changes to labour laws have created a climate that allows bad employers to bully their workers, Labour’s spokesperson for Labour Issues Iain Lees-Galloway says. “Tauranga worker Bertie Ratu was threatened by her employer Talley’s for asking her local… ...
    2 days ago
  • Parliament workers on zero-hour contracts
    The Government must take urgent action and insist the contractor who employs workers at Parliament on zero-hour contracts end these unfair work arrangements, Labour Leader Andrew Little says. “Speaker David Carter has confirmed in his reply to questions from Labour… ...
    2 days ago
  • RMA: We need to know
    Environment Minister Nick Smith needs to spell out to New Zealanders what they can expect from his substantial reform of the RMA, says Labour’s Environment spokesperson Megan Woods.  In an open letter to the Minister, Megan Woods has urged him… ...
    2 days ago
  • He Aituā! He Aituā!
    “Papā te whatitiri! Hikohiko te uira! Ka wāwāhia ki runga o Hikurangi maunga, o Waiwhetū kainga. “Kua katohia e te ringa kaha o Aituā i tetahi pou whakarae o te reo Māori. Nō reira kei hea taku manu tui… ...
    3 days ago
  • Stratoil – Iwis do what National will not
    Tomorrow, Far North tribal representatives for the Te Hiku o Te Ika tribes will be travelling to the head office of Statoil to discuss the opposition to its oil exploration program in Te Reinga Basin. Statoil have decided to begin… ...
    GreensBy Gareth Hughes MP
    3 days ago
  • Mana whenua head North to oppose oil drilling
    It was good to hear the news that a mana whenua delegation is heading north, a long way north, to make their views known about the proposed  oil drilling off the Northland coast. The roopu will be representing iwi and hapu… ...
    GreensBy David Clendon MP
    3 days ago
  • Ministers must act on 111 failure
    Lives are being put at risk if the company contracted to manage emergency 111 calls can’t cope with increased numbers, Labour’s ICT spokesperson Clare Curran says. “Saturday’s situation where people calling the emergency services were unable to get through and were… ...
    3 days ago
  • People trying to save lives don’t deserve abuse
    WorkSafe New Zealand staff trying to save lives on farms shouldn’t be subjected to a tirade of verbal abuse from a Member of Parliament, Labour’s spokesperson for Labour Issues Iain Lees-Galloway says. “Chester Borrows has labelled WorkSafe New Zealand officials… ...
    3 days ago
  • Action on laws needed in Privacy Week
    The Government must speed up promised law changes to reassure the public their private information is in safe hands as the country marks Privacy Week, Labour’s associate Justice spokesperson Clare Curran said today. “The previous Justice Minister Judith Collins announced… ...
    3 days ago
  • Māori Caucus call on iwi leaders support
    Labour’s Māori caucus has sent an open letter to iwi leaders around the country seeking their support for meat workers currently in employment negotiations with Talleys.  “We are aware that when Talleys locked out workers for a period of 89… ...
    3 days ago
  • National still splashing cash on charter school experiment
    New figures confirming that charter schools are still being funded at up to four times the rate of their state school counterparts shows just how desperate the National Government is to make its experiment a success, Labour’s Education spokesperson Chris… ...
    5 days ago
  • Regions pay price for inaction on housing
    New figures put the cost of an average Auckland home at $800,000 and show large parts of the country facing stagnant or falling property values, Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford says. “The QV data released today shows residential property values… ...
    6 days ago
  • Regions pay price for inaction on housing
    New figures put the cost of an average Auckland home at $800,000 and show large parts of the country facing stagnant or falling property values, Labour’s Housing spokesperson Phil Twyford says. “The QV data released today shows residential property values… ...
    6 days ago
  • PPP schools not at expense of community groups
    The Government must guarantee community groups will not be the losers out of its signing of a $298 million deal for four more public private partnership (PPP) schools, Labour’s Education spokesperson Chris Hipkins says. “Community groups will find it more… ...
    6 days ago
  • Surplus: The biggest broken promise ever
    Bill English has failed to deliver on his double-election campaign promise of a surplus by this year, instead delivering seven deficits out of seven budgets, says Labour’s Finance Spokesperson Grant Robertson. “The Government spent seven years and two election campaigns… ...
    6 days ago
  • McDonald’s serves up some McHappiness
    Unite Union and McDonald’s have given New Zealand a perfect way to celebrate May Day by reaching a settlement that strikes another blow against zero-hour contracts, Labour spokesperson for Labour Issues Iain Lees-Galloway says. “Earlier this week it looked like… ...
    6 days ago
  • Justice delayed and delayed and delayed
    Today we found out that the case of the prominent New Zealander  charged with indecent assault will retain name suppression until the case goes to court in about a year. Putting aside the appropriateness or not of granting name suppression,… ...
    GreensBy Jan Logie MP
    6 days ago
  • No golden age for books
    The ‘indefinite’ postponement of an initiative designed to encourage people to read Kiwi books will be a major blow to local authors, publishers and booksellers, Labour’s Arts, Culture and Heritage spokesperson Jacinda Ardern says.News that the annual NZ Book Month… ...
    1 week ago
  • Cracks showing in economy of milk and houses
    Fonterra’s latest cut to its forecast farmgate payout confirms that an economic black hole of $7 billion is opening up that will seriously affect the regions, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson. “The cut confirms the long term trend of… ...
    1 week ago
  • Human Rights – An Issue for Everyone
    This week, the issue of human rights has been everywhere in the news. We have seen John Key prioritise a free trade agreement with Saudi Arabia over all else with no guarantee of human rights clauses being included. We have… ...
    GreensBy Catherine Delahunty MP
    1 week ago
  • Govt inaction on housing keeping rates high
    The Government’s failure to rein in the housing crisis means the Reserve Bank Governor cannot lower interest rates despite inflation being at 15-year lows, says Labour’s Finance spokesperson Grant Robertson. “Inflation is below the target band and the economy has… ...
    1 week ago
  • What do our refugee policies say about us?
    It is my pleasure to share with you a blog from Hester Moore who is currently interning with the United Nations High Commission on Refugees in Cairo, after graduating from the Univeristy of Canterbury. Sometimes, as a nation it is… ...
    GreensBy Denise Roche MP
    1 week ago
  • Tamaki state housing transfer risky and desperate
    The Government’s transfer of 2800 state houses to the Tamaki Redevelopment Company -- to be announced at 9am today -- shows it's desperation to off-load state houses and show some kind of action against Auckland's out of control housing crisis,… ...
    1 week ago
  • Tamaki state housing transfer risky and desperate
    The Government’s transfer of 2800 state houses to the Tamaki Redevelopment Company -- to be announced at 9am today -- shows it's desperation to off-load state houses and show some kind of action against Auckland's out of control housing crisis,… ...
    1 week ago
  • Woodhouse should close work visa loophole
    The Immigration Minister must revoke the work visas of temporary Chinese engineers working on KiwiRail trains and close the loophole that allows their employers to avoid New Zealand employment laws, says Labour’s spokesperson for Labour Issues, Iain Lees-Galloway. “New Zealanders… ...
    1 week ago
  • Job losses show folly of Chorus’ copper cuts
    Chorus and the Government are neglecting the copper broadband network, leading to 145 potential job losses at Transfield Services as well as poor services in the regions, says Labour’s Broadcasting Spokesperson Clare Curran. “Steven Joyce and Amy Adams have made… ...
    1 week ago
  • National quietly ditches its surplus promise
    National has quietly dropped its long-promised return to surplus by this year by removing the date it will get the books back in the black from its online campaign material, says Labour’s Finance Spokesperson Grant Robertson. “National’s pledge to reach… ...
    1 week ago
  • Even cheap houses now unaffordable
    New housing affordability data show that now even the cheapest houses in Auckland are unaffordable for first home buyers, says Labour’s housing spokesperson Phil Twyford.  “The AMP360 Home Loan Affordability Report reveals Auckland's lower quartile house price has leapt to… ...
    1 week ago
  • Key’s careless chatter tips off Arabic media
    John Key has shown a frightening lack of judgement in disclosing to an Arabic media outlet that Kiwi troops are in the UAE awaiting deployment to Iraq, Labour’s Foreign Affairs spokesperson David Shearer says. “At the same time the Prime… ...
    1 week ago

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