Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Government in turmoil

The government is in panic mode

We have a by-election in the Far North of the country because the previous MP (with a large majority) had to resign  

"because of personal reasons" (he is being investigated for reasons that have been kept secret - rumoured to be sexual in nature).

The campaign by National (who has been swarming up to Northland at every opportunity) has been inept and the electorate angry at being kept in the dark about the resignation of their MP, Mike Sabin.  

The government is likely to suffer a humiliating defeat, losing the seat to the country's  most effective politician in opposition.

Key is winging his way back from Japan to go straight to Northland to try and turn the tide round.

Winston Peters ahead in Northland by-election - poll

A new poll has NZ First leader Winston Peters holding a commanding lead over National's novice candidate in the Northland by-election.

CANDIDATE: Winston Peters has decades of experience in Parliament.2

25 March, 2015

A 3News-Reid Research showed Peters on 54 per cent, a full 20 percentage points ahead of National's Mark Osborne on 34 per cent.

Earlier polls had Peters, one of New Zealand's most recognisable figures, neck and neck with Osborne, who is a political novice.

BATTLING: Stephen Joyce said National was chasing NZ First as the by-election day nears.
Lawrence Smith/ Fairfax NZ
BATTLING: Stephen Joyce said National was chasing NZ First as the by-election day nears.

The by-election, being held because of the resignation of National's Mike Sabin for personal reasons, will be decided on Saturday.
The poll, which TV3 said sampled 500 Northland electorate voters, had Labour's Willow-Jean Prime on 10 per cent. Labour leader Andrew Little has given a signal to the party's supporters that they could consider voting tactically to support Peters.
NZ First did not stand a candidate in Northland in the 2014 election. According to the poll three-quarters of those backing Peters now had voted Labour last year, with the remaining quarter coming from National.
Just before the poll, National's campaign strategist Steven Joyce said the party was now the underdog. Osborne was "a bit behind" Peters, and had little time to catch up.
Initially National dismissed Peters, with Prime Minister John Key saying the NZ First leader had virtually no change of winning.
But after the early polls showing the candidates were close and Labour's tactical voting signal, National has admitted it is behind.
"I'd certainly say we're certainly in a big battle," Joyce told reporters, before slipping into sporting analogies.
"It's a run chance, and we've got to chase it down and we've only got limited days in which to do it.

"Will we need a six? As I said before, it's definitely challenging. I'd say we're a bit behind, but we're closing."
While Sabin won Northland by 9000 votes in September's election, Joyce said this was a 52 per cent share of the vote, meaning that in a head-to-head race it could be a close battle. Tactical voting and Osborne's low recognition factor were the issues.
"Winston got a big bounce after Labour threw Willow-Jean under the bus, and our man's working very hard to catch up," Joyce said.
"The big difference is Mark's literally been in the market for about three weeks, and Winston has been around for 40 years."
National chose to have the by-election two weeks earlier than it could have.
Joyce said that he did not make the decision on timing, and it was not known that Peters would be standing.
"The party and the Government set the timing. As the campaign guys you work with the timing. It should be enough time, but it's tight and that's the point, so we're going flat out," Joyce said.
"It's been a tougher challenge than we expected, there's no doubt about that."

Osborne dodging questions over review

Interesting piece in the NBR today (paywalled):

Osborne silent over Te Ahu centre review

National’s Mark Osborne is refusing to comment on his role as general manager of the controversial $15 million Te Ahu centre, which is now the subject of a governance and funding review by the Far North District Council.
NBR ONLINE has been attempting to contact Mr Osborne since March 10 to discuss the centre but he has not replied to phone messages. Mr Osborne has passed on all enquiries to National’s spin doctor Clark Hennessy, who won’t allow the National candidate be interviewed before the by-election.

According to the article the center had $14.8 million of funding from ratepayers, made an $185,168 loss in 2013 (financial year) and a $522,681 loss in 2014. No wonder there are questions. Aren’t the voters of Northland entitled to some answers before they vote?

So Mark Osborne won't comment on revelations the FNDC is investigating the Te Ahu Trust, which he is GM of.

Mark Osborne is refusing to comment on the investigation of a taxpayer-funded Northland tourism trust he chaired.

John Key hits back at Nicky 

Hager over GCSB claims

See TV3 coverage HERE

25 March, 2015

Prime Minister John Key believes the latest spying allegations were timed to coincide with his visit to South Korea.
"Of course they were, it's all part of a particular agenda by Nicky Hager and some others," he told reporters in Seoul.
"There's no question there's an anti-government, anti-American agenda."
The allegations that the GCSB snooped on Trade Minister Tim Groser's competitors for the top job at the World Trade Organisation were published yesterday
They're based on documents leaked by fugitive US whistleblower Edward Snowden and released by Hager, an investigative journalist.
Mr Key says the South Korean leaders he met had no interest in the allegations, and didn't raise them.
"They're just not interested in Snowden," he said.
"It's just a 2012, backward-looking anti-American bunch of plonkers - that's what these guys are, they're not interested in the future of New Zealand or making it stronger, they're just opposed to the government."
Mr Key said Hager wasn't a journalist.
"The guy's a protester. Well, fair enough but just don't take him too seriously. I don't."
Mr Key repeated the government's stance that the GCSB operates within the law.
"We don't have that many resources, and we have strong oversight," he said.
Labour leader Andrew Little says the allegations involve "totally inappropriate" activity by the GCSB and he wants the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security, Cheryl Gwyn, to investigate.
"The GCSB isn't there to advance the career prospects of politicians," he said.
"Our security agencies are there to deal with threats to New Zealand and if the GCSB has been used that way it's wrong and, I would think, unlawful."
The GCSB's "WTO Project" reportedly used the US's XKeyscore surveillance system - which it has access to under the Five Eyes agreement - to scour the internet and communications for keywords which would alert them to information about Mr Groser's rivals.

Salvation Army humiliate National Party by rejecting their State House Privatisation

23 March, 2015

Salvation Army rejects buying state homes: ‘Housing NZ is making a mess’ 

The Salvation Army has decided against buying state homes off the Government, a blow the Labour Party says is “hugely embarrassing”.
The decision came after a study to test its capacity to become a major social housing landlord.
Prime Minister John Key confirmed earlier plans to go through the transfer in January. The plan is to transfer more of the responsibility for housing low-income and vulnerable tenants by selling a portion of housing stock to community providers such as churches, iwi and non-government organisations.
But Major Campbell Roberts, of the Salvation Army, says the church organisation does not believe “the lives of tenants would be sufficiently improved by such a transfer”.
Nor did it have the “expertise, infrastructure and resources to successfully manage any social housing transfer of size”, he said.
It’s just that to take on a significant number of houses is a very complex operation … the numbers require huge inputs of capital.” Housing NZ was in an appalling state, he said.
The reality is with Housing NZ that through successive governments it’s really making a mess of what it’s doing. Housing NZ has massive delayed maintenance … from a government and management point of view, appallingly done and so you can’t leave it how it is.”

For the last couple of years, National have used the Salvation Army the way they use their relationship with the Maori Party, as political camouflage to ram through their hard right agenda. It’s vital for John Key’s laid back brand that he isn’t seen as the hard right politician he is so policy has to be whitewashed and the sharpest ends always aimed at the weakest and poorest who have zero voice inside the mainstream media so that pundits who aren’t touched by these sharp edges can crow how ‘moderate’ John Key is.
That political camouflage has been ripped asunder by the Salvation Army’s decision to walk away from Key’s mass privatisation of State Housing. To date Key has pretended this mass sale is for the benefit of the poor when they are the least of the concerns here. This is a massive state asset sale dressed up as ‘Social Housing’, unfortunately middle NZ despise beneficiaries for being a bummer while they are on holiday so this outlandish lie is not challenged at all.
At least the Salvation Army have managed to show they are not the chumps National thought they were.

A letter to John Key

Dear Prime Minister,

I come from a long line of National party supporters. My family own a collection of farms of this beautiful country, the largest of which is over fifty thousand acres. The National party is and has always been very favourable to business and farm owners and for that I am grateful. I am proud of my heritage and I am, like you, a proud kiwi.

Two years ago, I was notified of an alarming statistic that challenged my pride and I immediately sought to change things, in my own small way. That's what we kiwi's do.. we muck in and get the job done, don't we?

This year, I find that the statistic has not decreased but that a majority of the National Party (along with others) have agreed to not reduce it or solve the issue. The issue I am speaking of is the Feed the Kids bill, which was thrown out at it's first reading recently.

As I understand it, you voted against this bill based on your research of the situation. You asked someone else to research this issue in fact, asking 3 schools if any child had come to school without lunch. One school had 12 children go without lunch that day. What was not asked, was what the children's lunches were made up with. I think you'll find that there are some very tight guidelines across multiple organisations, that determines what a healthy lunch for a child looks like. If this question had been asked, you might find the results in your 'research' a little different. Maybe not. But we will never know will we? Here are the questions I would like answered..

1. Why, when the health and wellbeing of children's lives are considered in this bill, did you seek very little research into the subject? It appears as if you have spent little time thinking about children who go without in this country, is that a fair statement?

2. Why did you dismiss the bill after hearing the results of your 'research'? You voted knowing 12 children did not have lunch that day. Looking at your 'research', basing on an average as you did and looking at only decile 1 schools (decile 2 excluded).. that would mean on the day that that question was asked.. there number of children who went without lunch that day would be in the thousands. There are more than 12 hungry children in this country. Twelve hungry children is 12 too many.

3. Voting no would lead me to believe you have another way to solve this 3rd world problem. Is that the case? I am of the understanding that KidsCan funding has increased. However, it seems to have increased by a random quantity and not in relation to the child poverty rate, which has been researched and proven by the very organisation (KidsCan) this government is supporting. Why not? I would assume that it's about showing the NZ public that you are appearing to address the issue. That to me is untruthful representation. This gesture of funds is by no means enough to eradicate the child poverty rate in New Zealand. It's not even close to that goal.. which leads me to believe you have no priority or intention to solve the problem in the first place. Is that true?

4. Lastly, if I am out of line here and there are plans to solve this problem that I don't know about - please, by all means, tell me and I will retract all my previous statements and the multitude of statements I have made and continue to make on social media sites.

Should this be the case, I have no reservations to continue to vote for you in the next elections. I am a part of a large family who sticks fairly close to the party we have always voted for. Should this email not find a response from you to answer these questions and should I not see a solution to the child poverty problem explained to me, I will be changing my vote until the National Party sees the error of their ways. Mister Prime Minister, you can also count on me to ensure every person I know, hears my concerns on this issue. Did you know that the average person knows around 350 people? I will work tirelessly to ensure that my 350 pass it on to their 350 and so on... it's a very small country Mister Prime Minister and child poverty is a very big problem. That means I have a very big voice. 
Please don't let me down.

Kind Regards,

Vicki Cross

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