Gerry Brownlee

Fairfax help Labour with a clumsy hit on EQC

Fairfax reports:

The Earthquake Commission (EQC) has spent $68 million on travel-related costs since the September 2010 earthquake in Canterbury.

Documents released under the Official Information Act reveal EQC spent a total of $38m on accommodation and food for staff travelling in and out of Christchurch since September 2010, almost $20m on vehicles, $8.2m on airfares and $880,400 on taxis and parking costs.

Almost half of the money ($29m) was spent in 2010/11, when EQC had to increase staff numbers from 22 before the September 2010 quake, to more than 1000 in February 2011.

The following year, travel costs kept running high at $23.4m but went down to a total of $15.6m for the past three years.

Labour EQC spokesman Clayton Cosgrove said EQC should have asked more staff to relocate to Christchurch or hired local people instead of having “an army of bureaucrats with their clipboards parachuted in from Wellington”.    Read more »

Finally – somewhere – a Council planner’s head might be chopped off. About time!

For too many years developers, builders, property empires, land owners and home owners have ​suffered at the hands of local government dunces. It would appear that they operate with a degree of impunity and with complete disregard for professional expertise let alone the law.

Now that at least one goon is going we might only hope that the same will happen in Auckland. What New Zealand doesn’t need – is more of these useless control freaks doing whatever they want.

For some, it is black and white. Christchurch City Council’s planning department has been doing a useless job for years. And it is about to get what’s coming.

It failed early on after the earthquakes because Earthquake Recovery Minister Gerry Brownlee had to take over the council’s draft central city plan and create his own recovery blueprint.

It failed again in taking too long to get going with a general rethink of the city’s planning map. Brownlee had to set in motion the fast-track Land Use Recovery Plan (Lurp), followed by an equally accelerated District Plan review, to impose certainty on a quivering landscape.

Now it has failed even this test, judging by the rough words of the Government-appointed independent hearings panel charged with pushing through the District Plan before the Earthquake Minister’s statutory powers disappear next year.

Every resource management lawyer in town is talking about what the panel chair, former Christchurch High Court judge Sir John Hansen, said about the council’s chief planning officer Mike Theelen, when ripping into the suggested draft version.

After blasting the council’s work on a new manual of planning regulations for the usual reasons – vague, wordy, ineffective – Hansen went much further in singling out Theelen personally, saying he seemed surprisingly ill-informed about the draft’s contents given he was meant to be in charge.  Read more »

Labour lies about door and Judith shanks them

Judith Collins has shown that she still has the goods, shanking Labour hard over the $30,000 door between offices that they have insisted on.

Audrey Young has the story:

National MP Judith Collins tonight released emails that show a $30,000 door that will separate Labour MPs from National MPs sharing a floor in Parliament House was opposed by the National Party.

She and six other National MPs were consulted about the door by National senior whip Tim Macindoe in January this year.

Mr Macindoe’s reply to her and the six other MPs he consulted says: “I have now heard from all of you in response to my request for your thoughts about installing an extra security door on Level2 and I’m pleased that you are all of the same view…Thank-you for replying and for the helpful reasons you provided for not wanting the door.”

Mr Macindoe said he had told Jim Robb, the Parliamentary Service group manager of precinct services, that National wanted to the status quo to be maintained.

Labour whip Chris Hipkins said yesterday the door had been proposed by National MP Gerry Brownlee after last September’s election, but omitted to say parties had been consulted in January to say whether they really wanted it.

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Opposition on wrong side of public opinion again

Andrew Little came out against our troop deployment to Iraq, the Greens attacked it, Winston opposed as well. The left wing blogs claimed that we were re-invading Iraq despite the fact we were invited by the Iraqi government.

And they were all on the wrong side of public opinion…again.

A strong majority of New Zealanders support the Government’s decision to deploy 143 troops to Iraq to train the Iraqi Army in its fight against Islamic State.

Many of the Kiwi troops have now reached Iraq, where they will work alongside Australian forces at a United States base in Taji.

In a Herald-DigiPoll survey 57 per cent of those polled agreed with the decision to deploy the troops; 34 per cent did not. Support for the deployment was particularly strong among men. Two-thirds of the men polled supported it compared to 47 per cent of women. Support levels were similar across all age brackets.    Read more »

Another Goff stuff up, NH90s not fit for purpose

Phil Goff signing away nearly $800 million on rubbish helicopters

Phil Goff signing away nearly $800 million on rubbish helicopters

The NZ Herald editorial explores yet another legacy of the idiot Phil Goff from when he was Defence Minister.

Nine years ago, the decision to buy eight NH90 helicopters for the air force was accompanied by considerable fanfare. The French-made multi-purpose choppers would, said the Defence Minister, Phil Goff, be bigger, faster, more versatile and have a far greater lift capability than the ageing Iroquois they were replacing. Such acclaim was only to be expected given that they represented the biggest single defence purchase since the navy’s two Anzac frigates in the 1980s. The NH90s cost $771 million, a sum which demanded everything should be done to ensure they met Defence Force requirements for military deployment and disaster relief.

Clearly, this was not done to an acceptable standard. Cyclone-hit Vanuatu has proved as much. None of the NH90s have been taken up there because they are considered too difficult to transport and are not yet cleared for “island-hopping”. In addition, the air force is concerned about how the helicopters would cope with “wind-wash” in the islands. So much for Mr Goff’s assurance that the multi-role ship Canterbury, now in Vanuatu, had the capacity to carry up to four NH90s, along with a Seasprite helicopter, light armoured vehicles and 250 soldiers.

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Is Gerry Brownlee protecting Air New Zealand?

So here’s the thing.  There are about 500,000 people that live out west and north of Auckland that need to drive an hour or more to get to Auckland Airport to catch a plane.   There is an airbase at Whenuapai – right smack bang in the middle of where these people live.

The chief executive of a new regional airline being set up says he has not given up hope of the Whenuapai military airbase being used for commercial flights.

Kiwi Regional Airlines wants to fly from Whenuapai to Wellington, but Defence Minister, Gerry Brownlee said he had no plans to change the airbase’s status.

The carrier’s CEO, Ewan Wilson, said he would keep trying to change the Government’s mind.

“It still remains a goal for us. Governments come and go, we’re not quite sure of what makes Whenuapai so unique. The military base at Woodbourne, Blenheim operates for both civilian and military use.” Read more »

Winston’s double standards when it comes to taxpayer cash

Winston Peters is having a whinge about the cost of the investigation into the salad dodger Gerry Brownlee and his transgression with airport security

NZ First leader Winston Peters says Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee should pay for $43,550 in legal and staff costs for an inquiry into his security breach at Christchurch Airport last year.

Mr Peters released information obtained under the Official Information Act which showed the total cost included $21,275 for a peer review of the CAA’s findings by lawyer Mary Scholtens and $17,490 in staff time for the Civil Aviation Authority.   Read more »

We go take on ISIS, the war will come to NZ

Kiwi war correspondent Jon Stephenson says fighting ISIS will make New Zealand more of a target for an attack.

In an interview with Radio Live, Mr Stephenson talks about New Zealand’s role in the fight, and says “fighting ISIS will put us at risk”.

“The reality is that New Zealand contributing troops to Iraq is likely to make New Zealanders more at risk because it will raise the possibility of attacks at home.”

While the risk of an attack was “relatively minor”, he says it would certainly increase the possibility, and in his opinion would “also put New Zealanders in the region at risk”.

Mr Stephenson then took a swipe at Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee.

“When I heard Gerry Brownlee yesterday talking about how they’re almost an existential threat to New Zealand travellers because New Zealanders travel around the world and this is a group that could present danger.

This is just really embarrassing to have a Defence Minister who’s either incompetent or so poorly advised or just being wilfully disingenuous to suggest that ISIS poses an existential threat to New Zealand travellers.”

Out of all the Five Eyes partners, we’re the only ones that haven’t had an Islamist terrorism attack on home soil.   Labour, the Greens and most other lefties argue that we should not go help defeat ISIS on the basis that doing so will attract the wrong kind of attention, and people might die.   Read more »

Ok so now we know Gerry reads Whaleoil

Everyone knows that I am no fan of the salad-dodging, pie scoffing Gerry Brownlee.

However it has become apparent that he is an avid reader of Whaleoil, using the word “ratbags” (at 3:27) in parliament in answering terrorist enabler Phil Goff.

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I’ve got bad news for Bryce Edwards

Bryce Edwards must have hit the crack pipe before writing his last woeful column of the year.

Apparently National had a horror year…or so the headline screams.

Yes, John Key’s National Government won a spectacular third term victory. And yesterday the Herald gave the reasons that National can be positive about its achievements – see the editorial, Govt comes out on top in colourful year.

And nearly every political journalist has awarded John Key the title of Politician of the Year – see, for example, Patrick Gower’s Politician of the Year.

But, it was still an incredibly torrid year for National, and even the PM pointed to the election campaign as one of his low moments of the year – see TV3’s Key found campaign ‘a low-light’ for 2014.

Tracy Watkins also stresses that it’s been a terrible year for the National Government: ‘His government was assaulted on every front with scandal, trouble and controversy. Ministers resigned, his coalition allies ended the year diminished, and he ended the year looking evasive and tarnished by his links to dirty tricks and shock jock blogger WhaleOil’ – see: One clear winner, plenty of dashed hopes.

Not only did the election campaign take its toll, but as I pointed out recently in another column, The downfall of John Key, the challenges and allegations of Dirty Politics were really starting to bite after the election. See also, A year of (neverending) Dirty Politics.

Even Matthew Hooton thinks the Government has suffered, especially since their election victory, and he details National’s incredibly arrogant behaviour since the election, pointing to the main offenders: John Key, Christopher Finlayson, and Gerry Brownlee – see: For John Key: summer of reflection please (paywalled).

Likewise, Duncan Garner says that although Key deserves to be the ‘politician of the year’, ‘The first few months of the new regime have been largely underwhelming. Not telling the truth about his contact with attack blogger WhaleOil hurt the prime minister. It was a royal stuff-up and he admits this privately’ – see: Key my politician of the year, but now for the third-term blues. Garner believes the Key’s reputation is on the decline: ‘It’s happening for Key, slowly. His jokes don’t seem as funny. He looks more haunted and hunted these days’.

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