Friday, May 30, 2014

Reynold Macpherson: Rotorua’s Mayor and Councillors Remain Accountable

The Council’s Te Arawa Partnerships Project proposal is at the Rotorua Muddy Waters website. It violates the principle of representative democracy and would give disproportionate power to a new Te Arawa Board. It is probably embarrassing to Te Arawa.

Te Arawa will know by now that the proposal is broadly unacceptable in our community. It has been given a hospital pass. A referendum would radicalise opinion, generate bitterness, and bury the proposal and hopes of a fresh settlement. Council needs to take back full responsibility for the quality of governance rather than outsourcing the challenge to one stakeholder.

Mike Butler: Press Council on Ngapuhi coverage

A copy of the Wel-Com Catholic newspaper that appeared in our household back in February contained an article and editorial on the Ngapuhi treaty claim that I considered breached principles of accuracy, fairness and balance, and mixed comment with fact. Therefore, I submitted a complaint to the newspaper and to the New Zealand Press Council. Eventually the Wel-Com editor responded and the Press Council studied the issues. The complaint was not upheld but Wel-Com did not continue with the series advocating for Ngapuhi. Here is the ruling.
The article to mark Waitangi Day Wel-Com presented a version of history found in a recent report for the Northland iwi, Ngapuhi, which the article described as "a proudly independent nation" at the signing of the treaty, "whose rangatira had already forged links with other nations".

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Mike Butler: P-lab risk vastly exaggerated

Details of the number of clan-lab busts and information on the harm likely to occur from living in a property where methamphetamine has been produced shows that the scale of the problem has been substantially overstated.

Methamphetamine, or crystal methamphetamine hydrochloride, which is also known as “P”, is a powerful and highly addictive drug that is synthesised or “cooked” in makeshift laboratories, using precursor substances such as ephedrine or pseudoephedrine as key ingredients.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Bruce Moon: Gross errors in 'guilt guru' claims

Wanganui's Rowan Partnership, which is a member of Network Waitangi, claims "a solid reputation" based on "hundreds of workshops" for people in workplaces such as local government and hospitals.

This post, which is the second part of a series on guilt gurus, exposes gross errors in the Network's Waitangi booklet handed out at seminars.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Karl du Fresne: Mr Peters comes to Masterton

Winston Peters cops it with both barrels in today’s Dominion Post. In his weekly column, former TV3 political editor Duncan Garner launches a withering attack on the New Zealand First leader and concludes that the public is tired of his games. On the same page, Dom Post political editor Tracy Watkins says New Zealand First is a clock that has been slowly winding down since the 1996 election. (Remember? That was the pantomime when Peters kept the country in political limbo for six weeks while he went fishing.)

Both commentators are especially critical of Peters’ vicious and cowardly counter-attack against his former protégé Brendan Horan, whom he likened – under parliamentary privilege – to the serial child abuser Jimmy Savile.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Reynold Macpherson: Representational Democracy Mustn’t be Corrupted

I have been asked to comment on the proposal to allow a reconstituted Te Arawa Board the right to sit on Council committees, be party to the Resource Management Act decisions, and establish sub-committees, with the Council obliged to provide written explanations whenever they do not take their advice. If accurate, this additional power would enable Te Arawa Board to govern the Council.

Before reacting, all citizens need to see the full text before such fundamental changes to local governance are made, and long before any offer or decision is made by the Mayor and Council. It seems unwise and politically risky to hold privileged consultations and raise undeliverable expectations behind the scenes. Blaming the whistle blower for the mess is unworthy.

Barend Vlaardingerbroek from Lebanon: Flight MH370 – we’re not as clever as we think

Just on two and a quarter centuries ago, Fletcher Christian and his fellow mutineers headed into the vast expanses of the mid-Pacific looking for a habitable island that did not appear on any maps. That way, they figured, the Royal Navy wouldn’t come looking for them there. They found such an island – it had earlier been mapped but the coordinates were miles out – and settled there with their Tahitian wives, the descendents now being the people of Pitcairn. It was not until almost two decades had elapsed that an American whaler stumbled upon the island, by which time there was but one surviving mutineer.

Times have changed. We would like to think that there is no way a ship can just sail off into oblivion nowadays, whether it stays afloat or sinks. We have all sorts of gizmos and gadgets these days, from satellites above to robotic submersibles below, that will enable us to locate it. HMAS Sydney took 67 years to find, which goes to show how far technology has progressed in that time.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Mike Butler: Maori TV ambushes blogger Ansell

Native Affairs tried to host a debate on Monday night on the Littlewood Treaty, on New Zealand’s “alternative history” and on groups critical of the treaty industry. What this state-funded television service delivered was a two-on-one ambush featuring Mana Party candidate Annette Sykes and Maori TV presenter Mihingarangi Forbes against Treatygate blogger John Ansell.

If the debate was an attempt to show that Maori TV was making a genuine effort to present other viewpoints, as is required in broadcasting, staff there need some guidance. The two-on-one harangue was framed by an anti-Titford tirade by Reading the Maps blogger Scott Hamilton plus a repeat of comments by grievance specialist Ranginui Walker, who spoke on the previous week’s feature on the same subject titled “What lies beneath”.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Matt Ridley from the UK: The coerced consensus

Lennart Bengtsson is about as distinguished as climate scientists get. His decision two weeks ago to join the academic advisory board (on which I also sit, unremunerated) of Nigel Lawson’s Global Warming Policy Foundation was greeted with fury by many fellow climate scientists. Now in a McCarthyite move — his analogy — they have bullied him into resigning by refusing to collaborate with him unless he leaves.

The GWPF aims to ensure that the climate-change debate is more balanced. Its members are not “deniers”, yet as Lord Lawson said in a recent speech: “I have never in my life experienced the extremes of personal hostility, vituperation and vilification that I, along with other dissenters, of course, have received for my views on global warming and global-warming policies.”

Frank Newman: Budget 2014

Last week Finance Minister. Bill English, delivered his 6th budget. It was a good one, from a number of perspectives. For the first time in six years the government’s books are forecast to return to surplus (albeit by a thin margin). Perhaps the most pleasing aspect of the budget is National’s clear statement of objectives in two key areas.

The first is to reduce net core Crown debt to 20%of GDP (Gross Domestic Product) by 2020. (GDP is the value of all goods and services produced in New Zealand.) Beyond 2020, the Government intends to maintain net debt within a range of around 10% to 20% of GDP, which will provide a buffer from economic shocks or natural disasters like the Christchurch earthquakes.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Bruce Moon: Treaty gurus teach guilt

A certain class of gurus has grown up in New Zealand in recent years who, somewhat like the soothsayers of old, seem to feel that they are especially qualified to teach us about what the Treaty of Waitangi really means. This is the first part of a two-part series on these merchants of guilt who target somewhat naïve, well-meaning people to tell them how their wicked white coloniser forebears wronged noble-savage Maori.

In reality, the treaty is a simple and succinct document whose actual meaning can be explained in about five minutes to anybody who wants to know. I take a few minutes of your time to do just that here and now, noting as I do that there is only one treaty, a document in the Ngapuhi dialect of the Maori language of 1840.

Mike Butler: Maori TV shows anti-white bias

Bias is prejudice for or against one person or group, especially in a way considered to be unfair. Maori TV showed anti-white bias as it launched an attack on jailed Northland farmer Allan Titford and supporters on Monday night, failing to treat the subject fairly and accurately as required.

What lies beneath revisited the Te Roroa claim at Maunganui Bluff north of Dargaville, Titford’s battle with claimants, his conviction for allegedly burning his home, and included interviews with claimant Alex Nathan, Maori rights academic Ranginui Walker, activist/unionist Justin Taua, treatyism critic John Ansell, pre-Maori New Zealand researcher Martin Doutre, treatyist academic Paul Moon, and old footage of former MPs Muriel Newman and Ross Meurant.

Karl du Fresne: This could get interesting

It seems people around Parliament are asking questions about former TVNZ political editor Linda Clark’s supposed conflict of interest in appearing on TV3’s The Nation as a political commentator while also (reportedly) giving media training to Labour leader David Cunliffe. 

 I welcome this, but only if it widens into a broader inquiry into the murky ethics of political journalists, interviewers and commentators selling their services to politicians on the side.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Mike Butler: Pushing amalgamation co-governance

While submitting against council amalgamation in Hawke’s Bay I argued against the creation of a Maori Board. A Local Government Commission member told me to re-read Article 2 of the Treaty of Waitangi that he asserted promised to Maori co-governance.

Proposals for council amalgamations are in progress in Northland and in Hawke’s Bay. The commission heard oral submissions in Napier and Hastings this week.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Bruce Moon: Ngai Tahu and Mount Cook

A helicopter pilot performed the stunt of hovering over the summit of Mount Cook for several minutes on Christmas Eve in 2011. This reportedly outraged the great Ngai Tahu panjandrums, those who claim great authority, who brought a case against him in the Timaru District Court.

At last year's sentencing, District Court Judge Joanna Maze is said to have thought this crime so appalling that her "starting point for sentencing had to be the maximum penalty available, a fine of $5000". Only the guilty plea of the pilot led her to reduce this to $3750. She said it must be "seen as one of sacrilege to those to whom Aoraki/Mount Cook is of central cultural importance". (1)

Monday, May 12, 2014

Karl du Fresne: A cosy chat with Aunty Marilyn

I believe our television current affairs interviewers do a pretty good job. Both The Nation and Q+A have been generally well served by interviewers who have been fair and even-handed, asked intelligent questions and been tough without indulging in gratuitous blood-letting. But I thought Q+A’s Susan Wood let herself down at the weekend.
Even before interviewing Professor Marilyn Waring, Wood gave us a taste of what to expect by describing Waring as “one of our most influential thinkers”. Really?

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Frank Newman: Regulations cost the local economy $50m a year

This week the Planning Committee of the Whangarei District Council (WDC) received a bulky report about long-term trends in the number of consents issued by the Council. The report, it says, presents “a useful picture of how development in the district is progressing” over a 12 year period to June 2013.

Indeed it does, and the picture is not pretty. The figures state what many of those at the coal-face have known for many years – the level of economic activity in our region has virtually collapsed.

Mike Butler: Governing class attacks landlords

Earthquake strengthening requirements, warrants of fitness, a rental property register were among a summary of regulatory moves that could cost private sector landlords dearly appeared in the May issue of the Hawke’s Bay Property Investor Insider newsletter.

The Building (earthquake prone buildings) Amendment Bill, a knee-jerk reaction to the Canterbury earthquake compiled by error-prone bureaucrats (See Bureaucrats bungle earthquake policy) for gonzo Minister Maurice Williamson, passed its first reading on March 5, 2014. Owners of buildings with three or more household units and those with two or more storeys should be aware that under the bill these buildings would have to be strengthened.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Mike Butler: Blaming landlords for dampness

A proposed warrant of fitness scheme for rental properties tends to blame landlords for dampness that could be solved by occupants simply opening windows and wiping away condensation.

Dampness in a home could come from rain or ground moisture; from plumbing leaks or portable gas heaters; from cooking, showering, cleaning, and washing and drying laundry; and from breathing, perspiration, animals, or plants.

Mike Butler: Landlords blamed for power price

Wild claims about cold housing used by proponents of a rental property warrant of fitness look like an attempt to shift to landlords the blame for expensive electricity, most of which is generated by government-owned companies.

The electricity price per kilowatt hour has soared over 40 percent since 2008, from 17.044 cents to 23.969 cents, according to my Contact Energy bill. Data from the Ministry of Economic Development shows that average residential retail electricity prices have almost doubled since 2000. Meanwhile, rents have increased by around 60 percent since 2000.

Mike Butler: Alarm at healthy homes bill

Landlords and tenants should be alarmed at Labour MP Phil Twyford’s Healthy Homes Guarantee Bill that would immediately impose stringent requirements upon rental properties without defining those requirements.

Mr Twyford is seeking support for a bill that would: 1.Require the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority to set minimum standards for heating and insulation in rental properties by 1 April 2014. 2.Amend the Residential Tenancies Act 1986 to require all landlords to meet the standards. 3.Apply to all tenancy agreements made after the standards are published.

Mike Butler: WOF would increase rents

Tenants should be very alarmed at rent increases and more stringent standards that would come with a proposed warrant-of-fitness scheme. Upgrades averaging $9700 per rental property, a possibly unreasonable estimate by the Building Research Association of New Zealand after a survey of 491 properties throughout New Zealand, would increase rents by around $20 a week thus disadvantaging the people a WOF scheme purports to help.

The $20 extra is derived from an expected return of 10 percent per year from $9700 in remedial work that could be required to make a property comply with warrant-of-fitness standards. While $20 per week may not appear much, fuel poverty protesters would really kick up a fuss if a $20-a-week increase in the price of electricity was on the cards.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Ron Smith: 'Don't bother me, I've got an election to win'

On 28 October, 2012, I wrote a blog entitled ‘Questions from Benghazi’, in which I commented on the terrorist attack on the US consulate in that city nearly two weeks earlier, which killed four US public servants, including the Ambassador.  On that occasion, I noted the major questions that were being asked at that time, regarding the inadequate security provisions for the Ambassador and the consulate building in which he was staying, and the lack of any military response, during the more than seven hours of the assault. 

In the weeks and months that followed, few answers were supplied (there was a presidential election going on) and fresh questions arose.

Frank Newman: Perils of being a landlord

The term Land-lord has an aristocrat resonance about it. The reality is there is nothing easy about being a landlord. For most it’s a rude awakening into aspects of human behaviour that most prefer not to associate with. 

The NZ Herald (Diana Clement, 3 May) ran an interesting article recently about the perils of being a landlord. Here are some key points.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Bruce Moon: Finlayson's 'father' a tribesman!

Treaty Negotiations Minister Christopher Finlayson said Ngati Porou chairman Apirana Mahuika is one of his “fathers” in the settlement field and someone he could always talk to. "One of the great heroes of the treaty settlement era" was how Mr Finlayson described Dr Mahuika at the signing of an accord in Gisborne on April 24, 2014.

The accord provides for an annual summit between Ngati Porou and the Crown "to create an enduring relationship between the two".

Bruce Moon: Ngai Tahu claim not questioned

If the wealthy South Island tribe Ngai Tahu had already received multiple settlements, how was it possible to receive more, and not only more, tap into top-ups that would continue until the last settlement was completed? Claimant Harry Evison has called the Ngai Tahu Waitangi Tribunal claim "simply a call for justice" (1) A good, hard, sober look at the evidence suggests that Ngai Tahu have had "justice" many times over.

Referring to the Waitangi Tribunal, Evison also said: "With a line-up of judges, professors, and bishops, the tribunal could scarcely be described as a panel of fools. They will not accept anything that is not 100 per cent valid. ... The treaty is now arguable [sic] in a court of law and a completely new way of presenting evidence has been developed." (2)

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Karl du Fresne: The truly scary thing about Barraco Barner

Heard of Barraco Barner? Possibly not. But according to a 20-year-old English beautician, he’s the president of Britain and he really shouldn’t be getting involved in Ukraine’s problems. Here, starkly laid bare, is the one of the downsides of social media and the digital information revolution. Instant opinion, zero knowledge.

Gemma Worrall from Blackpool wrote on Twitter that it was “scary” that “our president Barraco Barner” was tangling with Russia. But the truly scary thing is that someone who thought that Britain had a president, and that his name was Barraco Barner, could so innocently display their rank ignorance for the world to see.

Steve Baron: A Travesty of Justice

Persecuted, victimised, abuse of government powers and a travesty of justice are the words that come to mind when you consider what Keith and Margaret Berryman have been through over the last 20 years—it’s a closed case, as far as Occupational Safety and Health (now WorkSafe NZ) and the government are concerned. It’s also a tragic event now long faded from the public’s memory. 

This was a case where the Berryman’s friend, beekeeper Ken Richards, died after plunging off a suspension bridge into a King Country river in 1994. The bridge was erected by the NZ Army on Crown land and funded by the Berryman’s.