Maurice Williamson

Rodney Hide on being offended

People take offence at the slightest of things these days. The point is it is them taking offence, not other people giving it.

We live in a democracy with freedom of speech, people can, and do, say things that are offensive to some other people…get a grip…which is what Rodney Hide is saying.

Warning to the readily offended: don’t read further. You have been warned.

I like Maurice Williamson. He’s smart, funny, caring and a good local MP. He’s a gifted orator and puts in the effort to make a good show.

He’s not boring. He’s not politically correct. He bounces up to the edge of acceptability and sometimes bounces right over.

MPs’ speeches are too often mumbled, jumbled rehashes of press statements and policy releases. They provide no thrills. Their public performances are mind-numbingly dreary. Williamson is the exception.

These days that’s dangerous. We have among us wowsers all too ready to take offence and make themselves virtuous through complaining. They will tweet, Facebook, run to the media and blacklist associated businesses, all to humiliate those who dare give them offence, the poor, delicate petals.

Their threshold for offence is wafer-thin.

The offender is always wrong; never the offended. There’s no defence. The only acceptable response is abject apology and a lifetime of shame.

That’s why putting on a show — especially for a politician — is dangerous. The offence is determined by the offended. Their outrage proves their virtue. Their fellow wowsers join in without knowing facts or context. They jeer each other along with tweets and online commentary and render their target a pariah. Their vitriol makes the Salem witch hunts look like considered process.

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Tracy Watkins is right but also very, very wrong

Like most media living on Twitter and supping from the trough inside the beltway Tracy Watkins has an opinion on the flag debate and the “refugee” crisis, and that opinion is that it is possibly, maybe, hurting John Key,

It may not have been tectonic, but the political ground appeared to shift under John Key this week.

There was suddenly a gap between Key and public opinion on more than one front – unfamiliar territory for the prime minister.

On the refugee crisis, Key was slow to wake up to the swelling consensus that it required a bigger humanitarian effort from New Zealand.

As graphic and tragic images from Europe put a human face to the crisis, the Government looked isolated in its view that New Zealand’s quota of 750 refugees a year is enough.

Key’s partial backdown on Thursday belatedly coat-tailed public opinion that we can and should do more.

On the Maurice Williamson debacle, Key’s usually reliable sniff test also failed him.

The Pakuranga MP delivered an after-dinner speech that was more strip club than black tie, with its references to oral sex and “attagirl knee pads” (you can probably fill in the blanks here).

Round the Cabinet table, Key’s ministers run a “woman voter” test over every decision before it gets the final sign off.

They know their fortunes are directly tied to the female vote which, till Key took over the leadership, was firmly in Labour’s favour.

Williamson’s boorish speech cuts across that by carrying with it the dinosaur-ish overtones that once acted as a giant turnoff to women voters at the ballot box.

But where Key is usually ruthless with MPs and ministers who step out of line, his reprimand was about as lacklustre as his defence that Williamson wasn’t acting in his capacity as an MP.

That’s a new test which MPs will be very glad to hear about. It’s a bit like excusing a police officer for drink driving because he or she wasn’t acting in their capacity as a police officer.

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Garner isn’t too impressed with Woodhouse either

The Michael Woodhouse fan club is shrinking daily.

Now Duncan Garner has joined the fray, questioning his abilities.

John Key warned his Cabinet crew not to become arrogant and pick up that dreaded disease third-termitis.

Unfortunately, the vaccination hasn’t worked. Some of his crew look a bit green in the gills and have been caught asleep at the wheel in their plush Beehive offices.

The Government’s workplace health and safety reforms are an old-fashioned cock-up.

The man responsible is the minister, Michael Woodhouse, a likeable and decent sort of chap. But apparently hopelessly out of his depth on this one.

Yes, his officials have let him down. But the buck always stops with the minister. That’s what the big salary and the Crown limos are for.   Read more »

Nats prepared to do deal with devil

National are all at sea with local body politics.

Richard Harman at Politik reveals what everyone in Auckland has known for some time, that National doesn’t want to compete in local body politics and is prepared to do a deal to support Phil Goff.

Prominent Auckland National Party members and some MPs are working on a plan intended to give the centre right control of the Auckland Council.

The plan has been discussed by National’s Caucus and Party President Peter Goodfellow indicated at last weekend’s party conference that the party’s board would soon discuss how National dealt with local body elections.

Mr Goodfellow said that knowing that the Caucus has already ruled out allowing centre right candidates to stand under the National brand as Labour and Green candidates are.

Caucus are self-interested numpties…including Jami-lee Ross who declared to caucus that he didn’t want another Nat stomping around in his electorate.

But the plan Richard talks about isn’t really a plan.

It involved Paul Goldsmith, together with Desley Simpson, trotting around talking to people about something, they’re not quite sure what, but it won’t involve Maurice (just quietly) and #win.

They have no policy, no vehicle and no plan….worse they have no money for such a debacle.    Read more »

Cool, could the “Evil Demon Beast” now announce he is going to stand for Auckland’s mayoralty

Maurice Williamson is happy to be an “evil demon beast” for standing up for National party principles in making sure small business weren’t over taken with dopey OSH laws as originally drafted by the equally dopey Michael Woodhouse.

Watered down health and safety laws are a step closer to becoming law – with opposition efforts to ensure all small businesses have health and safety representatives failing.

Amidst emotive speeches at Parliament, backbench National MP Maurice Williamson said he was happy to take the label of “evil demon beast” from Labour as he was opposed to overly stringent health and safety requirements being put on business.

Family of some of the men killed in the Pike River mining disaster – the spur for the law change – watched from the public gallery, after earlier protesting the weakening of the legislation.

The Health and Safety Reform Bill passed its second reading 63 votes to 56, after support from National, Act, the Maori Party and United Future.

Labour, the Greens and NZ First voted against the legislation.

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A lesson on monotonic functions for the Labour party

Maurice Williamson gives Labour a free lesson in monotonic functions:

That matches the chart I have been publishing for about two weeks.   Read more »

Is this a precursor to the Mayoral battle next year?

Both Phil Goff and Maurice Williamson have had a crack at Simon Bridges in the Transport Select Committee in what could be the precursor to next year’s mayoral battle.

And from the headlines you’d have to say Williamson won…because he is the headlines and Goff is a few lines further down the articles.

Transport Minster Simon Bridges has faced a grilling over Auckland’s transport woes – and has been forced to defend the Government’s performance on a major project to one of the Government’s own MPs.

During Parliament’s Transport Select Committee meeting, Pakuranga MP Maurice Williamson heavily criticised Government handling of the Auckland Manukau Transport Initiative (Ameti), after Auckland Transport announced it was axing a major part of the project without NZTA’s knowledge.

“Earlier this year, a body called Auckland Transport… made an announcement, a public announcement, which was like a nuclear explosion in my electorate in the east,” Williamson said.

“That a massive project called Ameti, which had a massive thing called the Reeves Rd flyover, was now being canned and the voters in my electorate went up like a Roman candle.”

In February, Auckland Transport announced it would defer the $170 million flyover to next decade, to fund other public transport improvements.

The flyover was to reduce traffic on Pakuranga Rd by about 40 per cent during peak travel hours.

Williamson said that since then, he and other MPs had held meetings with Auckland Transport chair Lester Levy, in which they were told they were not initially briefed on the announcement because Levy “couldn’t brief every man and his dog on decisions they were taking”.

“What I also found was this dysfunctional dislocation between Auckland Transport and NZTA, and given (NZTA Chief Executive Geoff Dangerfield) is on the board of Auckland Transport, how the hell [is it that] one body didn’t know the other was making such an announcement where Ameti and the Reeves Rd Flyover were part of the National Party’s second priority for the last election…”

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Total and utter horseshit from ACT

So yesterday Audrey Young breathlessly reported something that actually wasn’t true and set off a media frenzy that was sparked by an outright lie in the ACT email newsletter.

Former Act leader Don Brash made an approach to Act president John Thompson recently to ask whether National’s Pakuranga MP Maurice Williamson could join the party, Act leader David Seymour has revealed.

Mr Seymour said the board had unanimously rejected any such notion.

Mr Seymour also said he believed the approach by Dr Brash would have been authorized by Mr Williamson.

Mr Williamson was forced to resign as minister in May last year when Herald Investigations editor Jared Savage revealed Mr Williamson had contacted a high ranking police officer about domestic charges against a wealthy businessman with close ties to him.

Mr Seymour said taking someone into the party because they were having problems with their own party was the worst possible reason for getting a new MP.

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Stoush on inside Nat caucus

Richard Harman at Politik reports of a stoush going on inside the National caucus.

I had heard details of this, but not at the level Harman has. He’s been around a long time and his network of contacts is impressive. If he says there is a stoush on, then there is.

A political row within the National Party could ignite this week if a Select Committee does not make major modifications to a one of the Government’s most complex pieces of legislation which will impact every business, workplace and farm and even sports events  in the country.

The Health and Safety in Employment Reform Bill is proposing a substantial overhaul of the way businesses, workplaces and farms manage health and safety issues.

It is expected to be reported back from the Transport and Industrial Relations Select Committee on Thursday.

The Bill has the potential to anger  National’s small business and farming heartland and already its worrying some MPs.

There are reports that one  backbencher, Maurice Williamson, has already signalled his opposition to the Bill at a National Caucus meeting.

One source even suggested he could cross the floor and vote against the Bill if it was not changed.

However though one senior Minister discounted that claim he told “POLITIK” that “a number of us” agree with him on his concerns about what is in the Bill.

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Looks like the Irish have welcomed marriage equality with open arms

Final results are not expected until later in the day in a vote that would make Ireland the first country to adopt same-sex marriage via a popular vote, just two decades after the country decriminalised homosexuality.

State broadcaster RTE said the victory appeared to be overwhelming and government minister Kevin Humphreys predicted the margin would be two-to-one.

“I think it’s won,” Equality Minister Aodhan O’Riordain told Reuters at the main count centre in Dublin. “The numbers of people who turned out to vote is unprecedented. This has really touched a nerve in Ireland today.”

Gay marriage is backed by all political parties, championed by big employers and endorsed by celebrities, all hoping it will mark a transformation in a country that was long regarded as one of the most socially conservative in Western Europe. Read more »