Bill English

Will the real leader of the opposition please stand up

Today showed the difference between a truly gifted politician and an untalented union hack.

John Key let Nick Smith and Bill English, the men who managed to get National to 20.93% of the vote, slip the lead long enough to dream up some dumb shit about giving Maori water rights.

This is basically a free hit for any opposition politician, and anyone aspiring to be the leader of the opposition.

So what happens?

Cunning bastard and NZ First Leader Winston Peters makes the simple play and believing in taking free hits below the belt kicks Key square in the goolies.

National Ministers Bill English and Nick Smith have been holding negotiations behind closed doors with the powerful Iwi Leaders Group to carve up fresh water resources.

These discussions were forced on the Government once the Prime Minister, against the majority view, began privatising power companies whose only real asset is New Zealand’s water. Maori quickly demanded that if private interests could own our water why couldn’t they?

This is one more issue that arrogant National Ministers have blundered into.

Read more »

A bit like him really

John Key knows he can’t meet the promised surplus so he is now using weasel words…like “artificial surplus”.

Ahead of his first major Budget speech John Key is refusing to rule out the Government hitting a surplus this year, while at the same time dismissing the target as “artificial”.

For several years National has pledged to return the Crown accounts to surplus in 2014/15, although Treasury is currently forecasting a small deficit and last week Finance Minister Bill English said a surplus was “unlikely”.

But Key, who will deliver a pre-Budget speech at Te Papa on Tuesday, maintained it could still be reached.

“It’s within cooee, one way or another, it’s a very small number,” Key told his weekly post-Cabinet press conference in the Beehive on Monday.

“We may well make the surplus even if the number’s negative on Budget day, because the numbers will move around quite a bit over the next few months. It’s very fine margins at these levels.” ¬† Read more »

Iwi leaders‚Äô water claim ‚Äúnothing but corporate greed‚ÄĚ says Ngapuhi academic

David Rankin has called out the Iwi Leadership Group for their attempt to hijack water in New Zealand, aided and abetted by Bill English and Nick Smith.

His press release makes perfect sense.

As iwi leaders from around the country meet to discuss claiming commercial rights to all the country’s lakes, rivers, reservoirs, dams and any other fresh water, Ngapuhi academic David Rankin has questioned their motives.

Mr Rankin, who is currently undertaking a PhD on traditional property rights, points out that prior to the arrival of Europeans in New Zealand, Maori never owned water.¬† And even after Europeans arrived, Maori never owned water.¬† He says that there is no cultural basis or historical precedent for the claim.¬† Neither is water Treaty right according to him ‚ÄúWater is not mentioned in the Treaty once.¬† ‚ÄėTaonga‚Äô are mentioned, but these are not property rights.¬† A ‚Äėtaonga‚Äô traditionally was something that could be acquired at the point of a spear.¬† Try doing that with water‚ÄĚ, he says. ¬† Read more »

Maori making grab for water and Nick Smith & Bill English appear to be helping them

Maori are going to go after water as the next grievance claim….and it appears that Bill English and Nick Smith are entertaining their claims and negotiating with them instead of telling them to piss off.

Maori leaders have mounted a bid for effective ownership of a share of the country’s¬†freshwater.

This would allow them, and other with water rights, to onsell it to those who need water for irrigation, hydropower and other commercial uses.

Talks between the powerful Iwi Leaders Group and the Government, fronted by Deputy Prime Minister Bill English and Environment Minister Nick Smith, are at a critical stage after ministers rejected a nationwide ‘Waterlords’ settlement along the lines of the Sealords deal over¬†Maori¬†commercial fishing claims.

The Government is adamant it will not hand over rights in perpetuity to Maori Рbut it may compromise by allowing regional councils to do local deals with Maori.

Farmers are worried that there will not be enough water to go around if significant quantities of freshwater are set aside for Maori.

In¬†a Cabinet paper, Smith points to possible “catchment by catchment” deals at a regional government level. The Crown has acknowledged¬†Maori¬†interests and rights¬†in¬†freshwater¬†but their extent and nature is at issue. The Government may set criteria by which local iwi can get preferential access to water, catchment by catchment, Smith says.

Ministers and iwi leaders held a summit at Waitangi during the February 6 commemorations, in a swift response to an iwi- commissioned report proposing radical ways to deal with freshwater and Maori claims. The report, by research group Sapere, proposed a nationwide settlement, an end to 35-year renewals of water consents. and a move to permanent rights and a market in tradable water rights.

It argued the regime would not only be a boon for Maori but would add $2 billion to the value of power-generating assets, $5.5b to the primary sector and boost the overall economy, while helping reduce the effects of drought through more efficient use of water. It would also open the way for the Government to levy resource taxes on income from using the water.

If National wants to lose more than just Northland they will keep on going with this process under the control of Bill English and Nick Smith. ¬†¬† Read more »

Bill English faces tough choices as government surplus unlikely

The Government’s account have slipped back into deficit as Finance Minister Bill English all but confirms the hope of a surplus this year has gone.

Treasury released the Budget track for the eight months to February 28 on Friday, showing the country’s operating balance (before gains and losses) in the red by $269 million.

That was $343m better than the $612m deficit for the eight month period that was forecast in December.

But after the Budget track briefly moved into the black earlier this year, English confirmed on Friday that on current data the final full year deficit would likely be close to the $500m forecast in Treasury’s December update.

The Government had hoped the figures would turn around, allowing it to meet its election target of a surplus this year, but that now seems set to be postponed until 2016.

English said the Government continued to manage the books carefully but lower inflation, while good for consumers, was making it “less likely that the final accounts in October will show a surplus for the whole year”.

Time for some of the entitlements to go. ¬†And might as well put Steve Joyce in a cage as he’s now got less than nothing¬†to hand out to his¬†gambling and sailing mates. ¬† Read more »

Does the Government know what it’s doing at all?

Wellington property investor Sir Bob Jones has urged the Government to sell Housing NZ homes to tenants by offering them low non-transferable mortgages, rather than trying to sell them to social housing providers.

The Salvation Army recently backed away from buying any of the 1000-2000 properties the Government aims to sell this year as it moves to boost the non-government social housing sector and reduce Housing NZ’s stock.

Jones said selling them to tenants, as the 1949 National Government did, would have wider benefits including lowering crime, breaking the cycle of dependency, boosting personal responsibility and even lifting the number of people who voted.

“The OECD studies say more than anything else home ownership changes attitudes. They own their own home, they take a different view on the world.”

In a recent opinion piece Jones said he had raised the issue with Housing NZ Minister Bill English who had said the Government was exploring something along the same lines.

Labour housing spokesman Phil Twyford said with the Salvation Army and the Methodist Mission saying they did not want to buy state houses it seemed English was now thinking about a mass sell-off to tenants. Read more »

Burning bridges not even built

What an omnishambles.

Bill English has caused confusion in parliament with his cute answers over the 10 bridges that National has promised to build in Northland.

The Government was asked to reaffirm its commitment to upgrade Northland bridges after comments by Finance Minister Bill English caused confusion in Parliament today.

The National Party has promised to upgrade 10 one-way bridges in Northland as part of its byelection campaign, which polls indicate will be a close-run race between National’s Mark Osborne and New Zealand First leader Winston Peters.

Answering a question in the House today, Mr English indicated the completion of the bridges upgrade could depend on the byelection outcome.

“A political party has made an undertaking in an election – the Northland byelection. Whether it can be executed may well depend on the outcome of that election,” Mr English said.

Pressed by Labour’s Grant Robertson on whether he could confirm the 10 bridges would be upgraded under the current Government, Mr English still left room for interpretation.

“That is certainly National’s view … but in order to achieve a majority in this house you have to work with other parties. ¬† Read more »

Bad news Bill English cops another: widening current account deficit

New Zealand’s current account deficit widened in the fourth quarter as a growing economy helped foreign companies earn more from local investments.

The current account deficit grew to $2.6 billion, seasonally adjusted, the largest since the fourth quarter of 2008, and from about $2.4 billion three months earlier, according to Statistics New Zealand.

The annual deficit was $7.8b pushing the annual gap to 3.3 percent of gross domestic product, from a deficit of $6.1b, or 2.6 percent of GDP, in the year ended September 30.

The current account is the broadest measure of the flow of goods and services across the border and a widening gap traditionally signals a risk for the currency as it shows a nation is spending more than it earns.

The income deficit grew by $434 million to $2.8b, the highest since the fourth quarter of 2010, reflecting more income earned from foreign investments in New Zealand and less income earned from investments abroad. Read more »

Looks like Bill will need to keep ACC high for a bit longer


The economy looks to take another hit as dairy prices crash overnight

International dairy prices fell by 8.8 per cent at this morning’s GlobalDairyTrade auction – the first sale to be held since last week’s 1080 infant formula contamination scare. Read more »

Public sector pay rises or tax cuts? What would you pick?

Screenshot 2015-03-17 at 21.05.19

National have been trying to dampen down expectations that nurses, teachers and fire fighters better not expect luxurious salary increases… like MPs for example. ¬† Of course, we’ve been through a tough period since 2008, and everyone pulled the belt a notch tighter. ¬†Even the unions have been uncharacteristically pliant in the face of a period of relative austerity. ¬†The argument that there wasn’t any money to go around was by and large accepted. Read more »