Gerry Brownlee

Hooton on Labour’s skulduggery in Te Tai Tokerau

Matthew Hooton uses his NBR column to explain about David Cunliffe’s skullduggery in Te Tai Tokerau.

Less widely reported was Mr Key’s reference to the Maori Party. Like National voters in Epsom and Ohariu, the prime minister told those in the Maori electorates to back his support parties’ candidates.

This is a bit cheeky: National doesn’t run candidates in the Maori electorates because, theoretically, its policy is to abolish them (although it’s extremely doubtful Mr Key personally agrees, given his commitment to national reconciliation).

That’s why Mr Key’s nod to the Maori Party is so important. Under MMP, this election remains too close to call. For National to have a chance of a third term, Mr Key may well need Maori Party co-leader Te Ururoa Flavell to retain Waiariki. Even more important is the result in Hone Harawira’s Te Tai Tokerau electorate, which spans Cape Reinga to West Auckland.

Most commentators assume Mr Harawira is completely safe, especially now he has scored Kim Dotcom’s dosh. But that reveals they haven’t looked at the data very carefully.

Three years ago, Mr Harawira only sneaked back into parliament, beating Labour’s Kelvin Davis by a mere 1165 votes, 6% of those cast. Labour won the party vote easily, by 10%. For his part, Mr Harawira’s majority was well less than National’s party vote and also NZ First’s (see table below). Obviously, many National and NZ First voters backed the Maori Party’s candidate, while Green voters backed Mr Harawira.

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This time, the Maori Party has Te Hira Paenga as its candidate. He would make an excellent MP. A father of five, he has post-graduate qualifications and is assistant principal at Hato Petera College. Whatever: he should fall on his taiaha.  Read more »

David Cunliffe and his travel troughing

David-Cunliffe-piggy

Yesterday Andrea Vance rightfully gave Paul Foster-Bell a swift kick in the goolies for his troughing.

There was another MP though that significantly increased his travel expenses during a selection battle…David Cunliffe.

The Cunliffe had a large spike in his air travel expenses during the Labour’s got talent contest and shortly after then his air travel spending appears to have returned to normal.

Jan 1 – Mar 31 2013 – $7,208

April 1 – June 30 2013 – $8,538

July 1 – 30 Sept 2013 – $14,071

Oct 1 to Dec 31 2013 – $20,909

Jan 1 – Mar 31 2014 – $8,493

All this makes Grant Robertson’s attack on National yesterday somewhat an own goal.   Read more »

Here piggy, piggy, piggy

You would think Louise Upston would know better, but this is often the way with MPs after a few terms, they simply get out of touch and the entitlement mentality sinks in.

Often it is the smuggest of MPs that make the stupidest of mistakes. This week it was Gerry Brownlee who must not be liking MPs throwing his own words about how easy it is for top MPs to damage themselves back at him.

And now it is Louise Upston, National’s chief whip, who is thoroughly disliked in the caucus, creating the wrong sort of headlines.

Would you struggle to find a hotel room in Auckland or Christchurch for under $210 a night? Spare a thought for MPs who believe a $30 boost to their taxpayer-funded accommodation just won’t cover it.

The hard-done-by politicians are also asking for 30 free flights a year for their spouses, partners or children – on top of their at-least $150,000-a-year salaries.

A review of expenses by the Remuneration Authority, which sets MPs’ pay, is proposing the amount they are allowed to claim for hotel rooms while in Auckland and Christchurch on business be increased from $180 to $210. Outside of those cities it would rise from $160 to $190 a night.   Read more »

Labour plans to let local bodies tax you even more

Now this has to be an election winning strategy….for National.

Labour is going to let local councils tax ratepayers even more than they do now under their local body proposals.

Labour plans to reinstate the power for local bodies to raise revenue through extra levies such as a ‘pillow tax’ on visitors and regional petrol taxes.

Labour’s Local Government policy will also require a referendum to be held before any local council amalgamations can go ahead.

Local communities would also have to be consulted before council services were contracted out or privatised.

Local Government spokesman Sua William Sio said Labour was not opposed to amalgamations, but did not believe they were appropriate in all cases.

He said the Auckland supercity model was opposed by many Aucklanders “and designed to take control away from the hands of the many and vest governance in the hands of the few.”

Read more »

Duncan Garner on Brownlee’s airport stunt

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via ODT

It’s pretty clear this is a prima facie case of Brownlee breaking the law, or at least using his position to do so. Gerry will be hating this and he will be kicking himself. The Brownlee I have got to know pretty well over the past 18 years has been down to earth and is not one to ask for special favours. This blows all that out of the water.   Read more »

John Key brain fart or is the arrogance starting to come out?

With Gerry Brownlee and his two staff walking straight through airport security is an appalling show of arrogance.  Especially if you are the Minister of Transport to boot.  Granted, he did offer to resign as Transport Minister straight away.

But then Key stuffed up.   Big time.

Tracy Watkins:

Is Prime Minister John Key’s refusal to accept Gerry Brownlee’s resignation a sign that National thinks it is bulletproof?

Brownlee’s blunder in brushing past airport security to board a plane was far more serious than the “silly mistake” that Prime Minister John Key excused him for.

It has exposed serious flaws in our aviation security system in that it allowed three unauthorised passengers to board a plane with no security checks whatsoever.

It has also put the Civil Aviation Authority in the invidious position of having to investigate its own minister

That’s actually the real problem.  He showed up his own people by embarrassing them in public.  He showed how crap regional airport security can be.  And for that alone, he no longer deserves to be their minister.   Read more »

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Winston wrong again

It won’t come as much of a surprise that another of Winston’s conspiracy theories has been proved wrong…again.

KiwiRail has rejected a suggestion from NZ First leader Winston Peters that troubled Interislander ferry Aratere has blown an engine while en route to Australia following its two dry dockings at the Keppel Shipyard in Singapore.

Peters called on Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee to immediately explain what had happened to the ferry on its return journey to Wellington, via a scheduled fuel stop in the Australian port of Gladstone  after its 14 weeks of refurbishment in Singapore.

“We call on the Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee to immediately explain what is happening with the ferry and to explain why this problem has followed a supposed repair job in Singapore.

“He should clarify the reports immediately. Mr Brownlee has presided over this shambles for far too long,” Peters said in a statement.

Commenting on Peters’ statement Interislander general manager Thomas Davis said one engine was out of action due to mechanical issues unrelated to the Singapore dry docking.    Read more »

Why are we still pouring money into rail?

The government, as part of the budget, is pouring another $198 million into what they call the “turnaround plan” for Kiwirail.

KiwiRail’s 10-year Turnaround Plan to make its freight business commercially viable continues, with $198 million being invested from the Future Investment Fund.

This brings total Crown capital investment in the Plan to $1.04 billion.

Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee says KiwiRail will use the new money to invest primarily in:

  • Infrastructure renewals and upgrades.
  • New wagons and refurbishment of existing wagons and locomotives.
  • IT systems.
  • Earthquake remediation projects and other safety works.

“KiwiRail has had a challenging few months, but looking more broadly at the rollout of its Turnaround Plan we can see fundamental improvements in the company’s operations,” Mr Brownlee says.

“KiwiRail is increasing revenues in its core operations and growing its share of the domestic freight market, and we expect that to continue. It was always clear that taking the business to financial self-sustainability was going to be a huge challenge.”

Today’s announcement comes on top of $844 million of capital investment appropriated over 2010/11 to 2013/14.

This is crazy stuff. Read more »

The secret diaries of Comrade Simon, Ctd

Continuing on from the Secret Diaries of Comrade Kate we can now bring you the Secret Diaries of Comrade Simon.

Bad day.

With all this budget stuff I thought I might get a break from being pestered about the employment law reforms I have been stalling.

Some obnoxious twerp came up to me today and was badgering me so much I gave him a piece of my mind.  Read more »

Labour politiciking over earthquake rebuild

Last week David Cunliffe was dancing on the graves of the dead Pike River miners to score political points, now Labour is doing the same over the Christchurch rebuild.

Labour has questioned whether the Government is keeping money from Canterbury’s earthquake recovery to improve this week’s budget.

The Government has already confirmed just under $1 billion of new spending will be included in Thursday’s budget, as well as a small surplus.

However, Labour leader David Cunliffe told Radio New Zealand he understood the surplus would be achieved only with “smoke and mirrors”.

He queried whether funds meant for Canterbury’s earthquake recovery had been held back to make the Government’s books look better than they were.  Read more »