Bill English

Angry Andy doesn’t actually understand what he has to do

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One of my readers captured this tweet from Andrew Little, and it is worth having a think about.

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Yes, it’s nasty.  Yes, it isn’t really constructive.  But that isn’t the point.   Read more »

Trouble in coalition land?

We’ve had two terms when the National-led coalition government did a pretty good job at presenting a united front.  With the exception of Peter Dunne, who already went troppo over the last few years (did this coincide with legal highs?), the other partners didn’t openly defy National.

That has changed.  In spite of National being returned with a record-breaking 3rd term majority under MMP, its coalition partners and indeed National itself are now openly fighting in front of the kids.

There won’t be a referendum on national super while John Key is Prime Minister.

He has shot down ACT leader David Seymour’s call for the people to decide how superannuation should be funded.

Mr Seymour told his party’s annual conference on Saturday the current scheme wasn’t viable in the long term and there had to be changes to make it financially sustainable.

He wants an expert group appointed to come up with options for a referendum, and says raising the age from 65 isn’t the only one available.

Mr Key isn’t interested and says Mr Seymour, a government ally, didn’t talk to him before raising the issue.

“I read about it in the newspaper,” he said.

“There won’t be a referendum. The National Party is clear on super – the age should stay at 65 and the entitlement at 66 percent (of the average wage).”

During the 2008 election campaign, which he won, Mr Key pledged that if there was any change to national super under his watch he would resign from parliament.

There you go.  “Don’t broadside me in the media, son”, says Key to minnow David.   “We do these things behind the scenes where I can tell you to stop playing games.”

Says one commenter:

John Key has no problem spending $26 million on flag referendum but unwilling to spend any money on one as important as the future financial security of our country and how to fund superannuation.

But add this to Peter Dunne and the Maori Party being extremely vocal against sending New Zealand troops to Iraq, and in public at least, this coalition government looks far from a cohesive team.

I don’t get a sense this is by design.   Key’s having trouble with his back bench, can’t see eye to eye with Joyce who wants to keep giving money away to SkyCity and Team New Zealand no matter the public opposition, had to pull the plug on Parata’s charter schools, is getting constant static from Bill English over delivering a surplus, and he’s now bickering with coalition partners through the media.

To seasoned observers, these are interesting developments.

- NZN via 3 News

Read more »

Was Robbo white-anting Little too?

Was Grant Robertson white-anting Andrew Little too?

Rob Hosking at NBR seems to think so.

[P]erhaps the most revealing aspect is to do with Mr Little’s colleagues – what has and what has not happened.

First, what has not: there has been no rush by Labour MPs to defend their leader. Mr Little is very much on his own on this, in Parliament and elsewhere.

Usually, in such matters, with a leader in trouble, colleagues run interference, at question time in Parliament and in the media.

This time: nothing.

Second, what did happen: there was the odd, apparent stuff up, by Mr Little’s leadership rival Grant Robertson, at Parliamentary questions yesterday.

With government ministers desperately keen for the chance to enhance Mr Little’s discomfiture by raising the issue of the unpaid bill, Mr Robertson’s questions to Finance Minister Bill English provided them with just that opportunity.

Asking whether the decision not to cut ACC levies was at to be the result of competently managing and growing the economy, rather than “ripping off workers and businesses,” Mr English gleefully pointed out that “it is not the right day for the Labour Party to be talking about ripping off the workers. I mean, at least the workers pay some levy, whereas Andrew Little did not pay any of the bill.”

Now, Mr Robertson is a wily and experienced performer at question time. As a politician, Parliamentary ducks and drakes is by far what he is best at: in fact, his major fault is he often appears to think it is the whole point of politics to score some sort of debating point on the floor of Parliament. Read more »

Want the government to give you a free house?

Now, don’t laugh, one ‘social’ housing provider is asking exactly that – give us the house for free.

A community housing provider has told the Government that it won’t buy state houses when they’re put up for sale this year unless the price is zero.

Look if they are selling it for $0, I’ll buy a few myself.  (what the hell?)

Neil Binnie of the Bays Community Housing Trust on Auckland’s North Shore told Cabinet ministers Bill English and Paula Bennett at their first consultation meeting on state-house sales that a price of zero was the only way to fund both buying houses and redeveloping them.

“We are not interested in buying a house just to put another person in, but we are interested in buying houses for redevelopment. That would mean it makes more housing available,” he said. “However, when we buy and build, the rent that we get if we are lucky, depending on interest rates, will cover the cost of building the property. That leaves zero for buying the property.”

What Mr Binnie wants is land.    Why hasn’t anyone told him that if you want to build something, you actually need land.  Not a house on land.    Read more »

Who is the alleged Dirty Trader at Milford Asset Manipulation?

On Saturday, we covered the Herald’s ongoing publication of Brian Gaynor’s column. This is despite his firm, Milford Asset Manipulation, coming under intense scrutiny due to a complaint to the FMA from the NZX (no less) over alleged stock price management.

Hang on, I might have that wrong. I meant Milford Asset Management under fire for alleged manipulation.

It beggars believe that Gaynor still gets to publish his column in the Weekend Herald, but I guess when you advertise heavily with NZME. (the Herald’s parent company), then the Herald gives you a get-out-of-jail free card when it comes to allegations of bad news.

Given that Milford have a mandate to buy and sell shares on behalf of the NZ taxpayer, as well as the savings of tens of thousands of private citizens in NZ, I think we deserve a little more sunlight on the goings ons at this company under fire for allegations of stock manipulation. Through a process of elimination we can shine a bit more light where Milford might prefer to keep us in the dark.

We know that Milford have six portfolio managers (which have been euphemistically described as “traders”), plus Brian Gaynor himself as Executive Director and Chairman of the Investment Committee, which technically makes him ultimately responsible for his team‘s behaviour.  Read more »

SkyCity folds

Economic Development Minister Steven Joyce today announced that the Government and SkyCity have reached agreement on the next stages of the International Convention Centre (NZICC) project.

SkyCity has agreed not to pursue a financial contribution from the Government and instead will amend its design to ensure the facility can be completed without financial input from the Crown.

“I welcome SkyCity’s agreement with the Government’s approach,” Mr Joyce says. “This clears the path for the project to continue.

“I have repeatedly stated since December that our least preferred option is for the Government to contribute funding for the project. I am pleased to confirm that will be the case.”

SkyCity submitted a Preliminary Design for the NZICC in October 2014 for approval by the Crown.  However the total constructio Read more »

The “C” word

Yesterday I wrote about the Key/Joyce/Eagleson/SkyCity debacle.  I ended the article with

werwerwe

Turns out that corporate shill Matthew Hooton is quite happy to use the C word today

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The origins of this fiasco lie in the close private relationship established between John Key and SkyCity in the mid 2000s.  When he became prime minister, Mr Key surprised many when he appointed himself minister of tourism but it was old news to SkyCity. Its executives had advised business partners well before election day that things were looking up because Mr Key had “agreed” to become tourism minister. Read more »

John Key softening the SkyCity stance

John Key

He must have had Farrar on the phone with the overnight polling results, and suddenly John Key is finding a little bit of backbone.

Prime Minister John Key has toughened up his opposition to putting taxpayer cash into the planned SkyCity convention centre. Read more »

Has SkyCity already had a free taxpayer gift?

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I hate to give the Greens a free hit, but this SkyCity deal smells rancid

Advice to Ministers obtained by the Green Party shows Ministers were warned in January 2014 that SkyCity’s new plan to use the former TVNZ land for a glitzy five star hotel made it much more valuable to the casino, and the deal needed to be recalculated as a result. There is no evidence ministers heeded this advice.

This follows answers to written questions from Economic Development Minister last year in which he said the deal with SkyCity “prevents the (TVNZ) land being used for any other purpose than as a convention centre” unless the Government agreed to remove a “restricted covenant” over the use of that land. Read more »

Bill English sings from different SkyCity song sheet than Key and Joyce. What gives?

John Key says it’s all about Auckland not getting stuck with an ugly building.

Steve Joyce says it’s all about looking for a way around the problem.

Both refuse to rule out giving your money to SkyCity… for free.

But then there’s this

Bill English said using taxpayers’ money was a last resort and no one had come to him asking for it.

When the Government signed the deal with SkyCity in 2013 it was estimated the centre would cost $402 million.

“The National Party Government is not ruling out giving $100 million plus to a casino. That’s what’s on the table right now and you’ve just acknowledged you’re not ruling that out,” Dr Norman said.

“Well, no I didn’t say that. I said I’m not going to play the silly game of ruling in or ruling out,” Mr English replied.

“It’s not a silly game. This is $100 million of taxpayers’ money. It’s not a silly game Mr English. You’re responsible for the spending of taxpayers’ money,” Dr Norman said.

Outside the select committee Mr English said if the Government did decide to spend money on the centre it would have to come out of this year’s Budget.

“Depending whether it’s capital or operating it’s either from the $1 billion of operating spending or the $800 million of capital. One or the other. Both of them are pretty small pools relative to the demand,” he said.

Is this a case of Joyce and Key being good cops, and to save face, they have English running interference as bad cop?   “Look SkyCity, you know we would like to give you lots of free taxpayer money, but, you know, the Mrs says it ain’t on”.   Read more »