About time, Key fires warning shot at Auckland Council

My good friend John Key has fired a warning shot across the bows of Auckland Council.

NBR reports:

Prime Minister John Key says Auckland Council needs to take a step back from its ambitious Long Term Plan and look at what its primary responsibilities really are.

Mr Key told a Property Council breakfast the government is not happy with the council’s plan to spend half of the billions of dollars proposed for public transport over the next 20 years on heavy rail and a direct train between the city and the airport.

“The city rail link, although expensive, needs to go ahead, but outside of that the council needs to concentrate on spending money on building more local roads to provide infrastructure to greenfields housing areas where people will actually live.”

He says on the analysis the government has done, the council claims it will spend $2.4 billion on roading and public transport over the next three years. “Even with the $2-3 a week levy on ratepayers and businesses, which is a fancy name for a rates increase, the council will only spend $1.9 billion. Auckland is growing at boom levels and the council cannot afford to be spending less on transport.”

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Stick Len’s rail loop, here come driverless cars

As I said earlier this month driverless cars are the future, not stupid stuck on rails trains.

Don’t get too attached to your steering wheel and brake pedal because self-driving cars could be hitting our roads sooner than you think.

The first privately-owned driverless vehicles could start appearing in New Zealand in as little as two years, once European manufacturers start bringing them to market, Transport Minister Simon Bridges says.

Bridges is in the German city of Leipzig to attend the International Transport Forum’s annual summit, where a lot of the talk has been about the rapid pace of driverless car technology and how it could dramatically reduce the number of vehicles clogging up our roads.

Alexander Dobrindt, the German Federal Minister of Transport, arrived at the summit on Wednesday in a self-driving BMW and predicted the technology would start rolling off German assembly lines as soon as 2017.   Read more »


David Cameron makes extension of charter schools programme key to his government

In David Cameron’s speech to the Queen he made a focus of education and the expansion of their charter schools programme.

The second big focus of this Queen’s Speech is championing social justice. That starts with education: a decent schooling for every child, no matter where they’re from. Our school reforms in the last Parliament were bold; one million more children are now learning in good or outstanding schools. In this Parliament they will be bolder still: taking over and turning into Academies not just failing schools but coasting ones too, as part of our new Education and Adoption Bill; opening not just a few more Free Schools, but 500 more.

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Auckland Council trying it on

Transparency should be a matter of course for Local Government.

Every cent of expenditure should be published and the way the accounts are prepared should be clear. Right down to the amount of depreciation and asset values (which should be provided in list with identifying references).

The Council should show all debts including the little short-term loans that the Council provides itself interest free from different parts of the ledger. We want to know just how rotten the state of affairs are.

Auckland Council has always preferred to keep its accounts private. Mostly because they know their excessive expenditure and huge debts will raise hackles.

So what do they offer up? A chump’s two-bit parlour trick.

Auckland Council is entering a new era of openness by publishing details about the spending of ratepayer money, says chief executive Stephen Town.

He says the first publication of details of contractors and suppliers last month was part of a bid to give ratepayers better information about how the city is run.   Read more »

My good friend John Key is trying to polish a turd



My good friend John Key is trying desperately to polish a turd.

Only a few people are turning up public meetings to discuss the flag, but Prime Minister John Key insists the gatherings are still “part of the democratic process”.

Fourteen attended in Christchurch last night, continuing a trend of low numbers at meetings around the country, Fairfax NZ reported.

But today, Mr Key said the low turnout wasn’t relevant because he bet his “bottom dollar” there’d be plenty of debate once the top four designs were put to a referendum.

“I don’t think whether people turn up to the meetings is really that relevant or not,” he told reporters.

“I don’t think there’ll be any lack of engagement from New Zealanders but it’ll happen probably in the comfort of their own home in discussion with their family and workmates rather than in some sort of public meeting.”

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Pimping the Poor, World Champion Contender

Darryl Evans via TVNZ

Darryl Evans, via TVNZ

This is a reader-contributed article

A few days ago, WO posted a grizzle from trougher Darryl Evans of the taxpayer funded Mangere Budgeting Service, whining about a new Government initiative to protect the hard-done-by.. To illustrate his case, Darryl trotted out one Margaret Perry, a “randomly selected” victim.

Well guess what, and it isn’t surprising – Margaret the hapless victim seems to be the go-to example for moaning Darryl.

Let’s look at a few years – yes years – of history:

So back in 2011, our Margaret was Darryl’s hard-done by victim of Chrisco.

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Dirty deeds done with sheep: Bribery, Lying and Michelle Boag

The Dirty Deeds done with sheep saga (I refuse to call it Sheepgate) is getting smellier and smellier.

NewstalkZB carries the headline “McCully accused of lying, bribery

I wonder what Red Radio will say if NewstalkZB is carrying such a headline?

Foreign Minister Murray McCully is being accused of lying and bribery after admitting a threat of legal action by a Saudi businessman was withdrawn a year before he was delivered a multi-million dollar payout.

Hmood Al Khalaf, a prominent Saudi Arabian businessman, received $11.5m in taxpayer dollars for his demonstration farm in the Saudi desert. The opposition claim he got the cash in compensation for New Zealand banning live sheep exports in 2003 and not dropping the ban when National returned to power.

It’s also alleged that Al Khalaf ensured a free trade deal between the two countries failed.

A legal threat was made by the businessman, with the help of lawyer Mai Chen, rumoured to be worth $30m. Yesterday, McCully admitted that the threat had been dropped by the time the payment was made.

McCully had previously used the potential legal threat to justify the payout.

Labour Party trade spokesperson David Parker claims the Foreign Minister has mishandled the whole incident.

“He’s misleading, he’s misleading his cabinet, he’s wasted millions of dollars of government money and he has paid a facilitation payment in order to advance the Saudi free trade agreement which in other countries is called a bribe,” he said.

Parker believes the government being sued was never a real possibility, as it was outside the time limits on when legal action could be taken.

“This deal was done in 2013 therefore any course of action had to arise from 2007 and later. I’ve gone back to 2005, these excuses from mister McCully are utterly baseless.”

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Cut it more I say

Well done National, Labour and Clare Curran are saying that National has cut public broadcasting by 25%

That has to be up there with John Key’s best work.

Public broadcasting funding has been cut by 25 per cent in real terms since the National Government took office in 2009, leading to the erosion of our once world-class news and current affairs culture, says Labour Broadcasting Spokesperson Clare Curran.

“A seven year funding squeeze for Radio NZ and NZ on Air, after accounting for inflation and population growth, means public funding of broadcasting is now at an all-time low.

“While it appears there’s been a tiny increase to public broadcasting funding in Budget 2015, the amount is actually unchanged from last May, as the Government reduced NZ on Air funding following Budget 2014.

“Given the increased size and diversity of New Zealand’s population over the last six years, Budget 2015’s provision for public broadcasting is now at the lowest level of any Budget in modern New Zealand history.

“While the slashing of funding is bad enough, the quality of decision-making regarding the use of public broadcasting money has also been highly questionable under National.  Read more »

Auckland Council is beating the developers

Auckland Council is winning. It’s now some two months since the Council secretly voted to suspend Special Housing Areas in greenfield areas.

The Council has always preferred its compact city plan. The troughing Councillors all want it and the hungry planners want it even more. They hate the idea of people owning a house and want everyone stacked into same same communist styled apartment buildings, riding trains and doing precisely what they are told.

And so what has the Government done about this? Nothing.

Developers are now sitting on vast land holdings they can’t develop. In good faith they have gone out, borrowing tens of millions to buy land because they were led to believe the Special Housing Areas were going to make consenting easier, faster and with less hassle from Auckland Council.

Except that hasn’t happened. The Council has cut off the supply and left the greenfield developers stranded. Withholding infrastructure, Auckland Council is wielding an iron fist over greenfield expansion.

And in the meantime, the Council is also thumbing its nose at the directions advice of the Independent Hearings Panel on the Unitary Plan.

In short Council is doing what it wants. Screw everyone else.   Read more »

Face of the day


Kim Dotcom PHOTO-File


Today’s face of the day Kim Dotcom loves a good Party.

I wonder if he will be accepting this invitation?