Politics

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

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Bless.

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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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

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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?

Screenshot-Twitter

Screenshot-Twitter

New Zealand’s Silliest Local Government Spending, Ctd

Thanks for all the great entries coming through.

There are some breathtakingly stupid spending decisions, on an industrial scale.

Here is a great nomination from Palmerston North, that world famous cultural outpost. Grant Smith hasn’t been Mayor for long but he can still be held to account for this silly spending.

 

It would seem councils can spend ‘their’ money on what ever they like in this country.   Read more »

Did Scott Simpson help with the Libs campaign?

There has been a bit of proper “dirty politics” going on in New South Wales.

It sounds like my longest standing friend in caucus, Scott Simpson may have been moonlighting over in New South Wales. I learned all my best dirty politics tricks from him campaigning in Eden Electorate in the 80s and 90s.

This is the sort of stuff we might have got up to.

Liberal East Hills MP Glenn Brookes has been accused in Parliament of bringing the electoral process into disrepute after his rival Labor candidate was branded a “paedophile lover” during the NSW election campaign.

The claim comes as a video emerged apparently showing the victim of the alleged slurs, Labor candidate Cameron Murphy, angrily confronting Liberal staffer Jim Daniel during the campaign over the alleged theft of his campaign posters.

Just days before the March election, 300 of Mr Murphy’s posters were defaced with stickers declaring him a “paedophile lover”, a person who believes in the rights of child rapists or simply saying “stranger danger” or “our children are not safe”.

Mr Murphy was awarded the Order of Australia in 2014 for his contribution to human rights and is the son of former Labor federal attorney general and former High Court judge Lionel Murphy.

He narrowly lost East Hills to Mr Brookes, the Liberal incumbent, following the smear campaign.

Labor MP Lynda Voltz this month named Mr Brookes’ staffer Jim Daniel as the man behind the campaign.    Read more »

Bludging Greek Ratbags Tell Creditors to “Get their Act Together”

Apparently it is all the creditors’ fault that the Greeks have a tax system that doesn’t work, have been on the bludge for years and cannot afford to pay it back.

Yanis Varoufakis, the Greek finance minister, said on Tuesday that the country’s creditors must “get their act together” as loan deadlines approach for the embattled country.

The government has until Friday to pay public sector salaries, a week before the first of a string of repayments to the International Monetary Fund, totalling around €1.6bn (£1.1bn) in June alone, must be paid.

Nikos Voutsis, the Greek minister of the interior, said on Sunday that “this money will not be given and is not there to be given”. But on Tuesday Mr Varoufakis insisted that “we will make the payment because I have no doubt that we will have an agreement”.

The euro slipped by more than 0.7pc against the dollar, as traders digested these conflicting messages from the country’s left-wing Syriza officials.

Kit Juckes, of Societe Generale, said: “The Greek government will need some form of deal in order to release further funds if it is to avoid missing payments to the IMF in June.”

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The House Today #nzqt

Question time/Questions for oral answer starts at 2 pm today.

Questions to Ministers

  1. Hon ANNETTE KING to the Minister for Social Development:Does she stand by her statement that “this Government is working with a number of service providers to make sure that those clients of Relationships Aotearoa are well looked after”?
  2. NUK KORAKO to the Minister of Finance: How does Budget 2015 continue the Government’s plan to deliver better public services?
  3. JAMES SHAW to the Minister of Foreign Affairs: Has a full and final settlement been reached with Mr Al Khalaf; if so, what is the total cost to taxpayers?
  4. Hon DAVID PARKER to the Minister of Foreign Affairs: Did he seek advice from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade about whether, using the multimillion dollar payment for the benefit of Hamood Al Ali Al Khalaf – a Saudi Arabian businessman to cause the Saudi Arabian officials to advance the GCC FTA which had stalled, breached the OECD Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions?
  5. BRETT HUDSON to the Minister for Communications: How does Budget 2015 continue the Government’s commitment to the Ultra-Fast Broadband programme? Read more »