Politics

Has Scott Simpson been advising Colin Craig?

Looks like it.

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Stories making headlines around the regions today include vandals targeting Colin Craig’s election signs in Tauranga and a Wanganui teenager sentenced to write an essay for drink driving.

Conservative leader Colin Craig’s election signs have become the first casualty of vandalism in the lead up to the election in Tauranga.

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Get rid of the troughers, not the services

42.8% of Aucklanders surveyed by the Herald want Auckland Council to cut staff and salaries to reduce costs.

Many Aucklanders believe the best way to deal with looming budget cuts by the Auckland Council is to reduce staff and salaries, according to the latest Herald-DigiPoll survey.

The council is facing cuts of hundreds of millions of dollars a year in running costs and capital investment in a 10-year budget being prepared by Mayor Len Brown.

The survey found that 42.5 per cent of Aucklanders believed the best way for the council to meet its budget plans was to reduce staff and salaries.

This was followed by 20.3 per cent support for rates rises of more than 2.5 per cent and 19.2 per cent support for delaying the $2.86 billion City Rail Link from 2016 to 2020.

A council suggestion to reduce services such as inorganic collections and library hours was supported by 8.9 per cent of the 248 Aucklanders in the survey of 750 people.

DigiPoll general manager Nandan Modak said the sample of 248 was too small to be considered a poll, but the Auckland results reflected the 750 nationwide responses.

The Auckland Council and its bodies employ about 8100 fulltime equivalent staff, fewer than the 9430 combined figure of the previous eight councils. The wages bill is about $702 million. About 1500 staff earn more than $100,000.

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Hide: “…the experts know nothing about politics”

Rodney Hide explains how it is that the supposed experts actually know nothing about politics…and uses my good friend Brian Edwards as an example.

The wonderful thing about politics is that no one knows what they are talking about. There are no experts. There are no laws of political motion. Political science is oxymoronic.

Let me illustrate how little we know by picking on our most qualified and experienced political commentator. He has a PhD, has interviewed and known political leaders for five decades, has been an adviser to four prime ministers, has spent a lifetime in all branches of the media and makes a living media training business leaders and other professionals. He has also stood for Parliament and is no sideline Sam. He knows politics, inside and out. His knowledge, history and hands-on experience dwarfs all other political commentators.

I refer, of course, to Dr Brian Edwards. I single him out because of his eminence.

Oh dear this is sounding ominous.

Here’s what he had to say last year when David Cunliffe took over the Labour leadership:

“David Cunliffe has a brilliant mind, is a brilliant speaker and debater and there is no politician to match him on the box. Cunliffe is the game-changer.

“And the proof of the pudding will lie where it has always lain – in the polls. And particularly in the Preferred Prime Minister poll. No party leader permanently registering under 15% in that poll, let alone dipping into single figures, can hope to enjoy the (© Copyright Protected – The National Business Review 76)confidence of the electorate or lead their party to victory. And that has been the situation for every Labour Leader since 2008.

“But all that changed today as well. Under Cunliffe’s leadership, his and Labour’s poll rating will begin to rise, slowly but inexorably.”

Mr Cunliffe has proved a game changer but directly opposite to what Dr Edwards foresaw: Mr Cunliffe has doomed Labour.

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Forget Kristallnacht in Paris, check out the flag burning in Auckland

Mana operatives are deeply involved in pro-Palestinian and anti-Semitic activities around the country.

Last weekend at the protest in Auckland their flags were dominant, alone with Unite union and First union in an around the protests against Israelis protecting their citizens from terror attacks.

Mana is clearly involved in out and out anti-semitism – just disgusting filth when you see images like this.

Mana supporter burning Israeli flag

Mana supporter burning Israeli flag

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Josie Pagani on Labour’s woes

Last night on The Cauldron, Josie Pagani elucidated precisely what it was that is costing Labour this election.

She has written a post about it and what Labour must do to arrest the sinking polls.

First, stop blaming the media.

The problem isn’t ‘right wing framing’. There isn’t a media conspiracy to get a third term National government. When you fall behind everyone airs their favourite explanation and negatives get repeated and amplified. It’s the job of politicians, not media, to inspire a change in the story.

There is also no point blaming whoever went public at the weekend to criticise David Cunliffe for going on holiday. It was poor discipline, but poor discipline is not the main reason the party is 30 points behind National.

Politics isn’t fair. Even if  the media is sometimes unfair (such as when the Herald went too far with unsubstantiated claims of undeclared donations from Donghua Liu), one of the things the public are judging is how you behave under pressure. Stop complaining.

Unfortunately for Josie the Donghua Liu donations weren’t unsubstantiated. I suspect there is more to play out on that. She is right though in the folly of blaming the media, but they just can;t help themselves.

David Cunliffe just yesterday was claiming smears and media beat ups, and his loyal mouth piece and donation launderer Greg Presland was on the Standard claiming a smear about his visit and cozy lunch with NZ’s Rolf Harris.

Stop saying the polls are close. It reminds voters that Labour aims to lead a bloc in which it might not be all that dominant and which could include the toxic Dotcom party. Tortuous explanations about the Left Bloc v the Right Bloc sound cynical, as if you don’t care about winning support of people.

Distance Labour from Dotcom. One reason for Labour’s poor polling is people just want to get rid of Dotcom and somehow he has become Labour’s problem now. Only because he is an enemy of our enemy.  Labour should only ever say of Dotcom, “he shouldn’t be in the country and National should not have let him in. We want him and his party nowhere near government.”

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Why would a union donate to a party who wants to see their members unemployed?

David Farrar blogs about the EPMU donating to the Green party and how members are upset by it.

The Greymouth evening Star reports that West Coast miners who are EPMU members are furious at the EPMU for donating $15,000 to the Greens, when they want the mining industry in NZ to die out. Over a dozen miners have complained.

You can imagine how galling it would be to have your union donate a portion of your salary to a party that wants to close down the industry you work in, and effectively put you out of a job.

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Chris Trotter on The Cunliffe

I’ve been waiting for this post by Chris Trotter.

He is the left’s canary in the coal mine. When others blame the messenger it is  Trotter is analysing the message.

MUCH SCORN has been heaped upon the claims of Fairfax political journalist, Vernon Small, that a change of leader could rescue Labour’s electoral fortunes. But shooting the messenger, as so many have done in relation to this story, is a poor substitute for studying the message. Especially a message like this one!

According to Small, if every person who claimed they would vote for Labour if David Cunliffe was no longer its leader kept their word, then support for the party would skyrocket. From its present parlous position, located somewhere between 23 and 25 percent, support would rise by an astonishing 13.5 percentage points to an election-winning 38.5 percent.

Whether this projection is statistically valid or not interests me much less than what the numbers cited by Small tell us about the political preferences of the electorate.

Clearly, there is an extremely large number of voters (several hundred thousand) who would like to vote for the Centre-Left but are disinclined to so while it remains in its current state.

At the heart of this disinclination is the Labour Party itself. Looking at it, they see a tortured, internally fractious, ill-disciplined organisation peopled by individuals who clearly loathe one another, and who seemed determined to not only lose the Election of 20 September 2014 – but all subsequent elections.

Not surprisingly, the person they blame for this state of affairs is the Labour leader, David Cunliffe. In spite of so obviously wanting the job, the general consensus among centre-left voters is that, having got it, he has made a God-Almighty mess of it.

Cunliffe’s tentativeness and outright bumbling has both surprised and disappointed his supporters. He had led them to believe that if Labour’s members and trade union affiliates made him their leader he would lead his party in double-quick time back to its democratic socialist roots. But, when Labour’s rank-and-file did exactly as he asked, Cunliffe spent the next three months doing three-fifths of bugger-all.   Read more »

Len Brown’s failures will cause Auckland headaches for decades

Recently we started glibly taking pot shots at Auckland Council about the perilous state of it’s finances. It may be lost on some people, but the issues are significant and if allowed to continue, will result in massive headaches in decades to come.

The Mayor has strong desires to spend up large on principally public transport. He is also proposing substantial increases in borrowing to fund these works and other trinkets.

At the same time, Auckland Council is bogged down by the constraints of its current borrowing relative to the debt limits imposed on it by legislation. In order to increase spending (and assuming he won’t reduce the right costs) the Mayor has to increase rates, but he also has to opt to to defer maintenance on existing infrastructure to fund things now that he would prefer.

Infrastructure is often misunderstood and hard for the general public to value any expenditure on it because most of it is below ground.

As residents we notice the general condition of roads and footpaths and parks but not really the essential services pipes for potable water, sewer and storm water.

We’ve identified concerns primarily about debt but also the culture of excessive expenditure that has beset Auckland Council. In our view, the city is living beyond it’s means. Much of Auckland’s expenditure to date has come at the cost of maintenance of infrastructure (which in Auckland is widely know to be poked).

Council has many factors that it must budget for in it’s operating expenses. These must generally be offset by income derived principally from rates but also from other sources like airport shares and Ports of Auckland returns.

The Local Government Act clearly sets down the expectations but often Local Government falls short. Auckland Council is no different.

Auckland has significant capital expenditure to outlay, yet is focussed heavily on the persuasion that investment in rail and improved street scapes and other high profile projects should take priority.

Focus – for the purpose of this general discussion – should therefore start with understanding the responsibilities of a Local Government.

Reactionary

Local Government all around New Zealand has for years managed maintenance on a reactionary basis.

Councils fix things only when it breaks because of deficiencies in the planning of future maintenance.

A general lack of prudent planning of adequate future costs into Long Term Plans means Annual Operating budgets typically provision very little for the future with a general preference to spend on more immediate and public works ‘today’. By taking this approach Auckland Council – by example – is creating significant liabilities in the future for other generations to resolve.

Where surplus income avails of itself the normal response is to provision that to expenditure ‘now’ like a kid hungry to blow his pocket money on lollies.

A Local Authority like Auckland Council plans capital expenditure for urban projects – like the pretty CBD road and footpath improvements.

The problem with infrastructure maintenance is that it is very expensive, and it occurs in the future. Competing against the pretty high profile projects it suffers because it takes second place.

On the Audit NZ website is a document that records an audit of the performance of Local Government that is pertinent to this topic.

It is a helpful analysis of the general state of Local Government financial planning. Specific attention should be paid to the sections of the report regarding how Local Government is performing where it concerns maintenance of assets. Overall the report is one of serious under performance by Local Government including widespread failure to appropriately plan for future maintenance of infrastructure assets.

The Local Government Act states in section 10, subsection (1) (b) the purpose of Local Government relative to the provision of services and infrastructure and then in section 10, subsection (2) it goes on to say ‘In this Act , good-quality, in relation to local infrastructure, local public services, and performance of regulatory functions, mains infrastructure, services and performance that are (a) efficient; and (b) effective; and (c) appropriate to present and anticipated future circumstances. [Emphasis added].  Read more »

Well that’s cheap and nasty

Sue Moroney has gone cheap and nasty (I know!) as she recycles her signs from the last election in her attempt to increase the National candidates majority even further.

She has hand written her authorisation statement on the sign and covered up the Labour logo.

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Auckland Council unable to fund all capital expenditure

The PR machine of Auckland Council is working overtime to deflect attention to its finances which are drawn criticism and scrutiny in the last week.

Here at WOBH have been watching with interest and are amused by some of the obvious lies that are being spun.

What we have also noticed is a lack of clear information about what the total forecast capital expenditure for Council is going to be, and whether Council has added up all the costs it faces in the next 3-5 years.

Auckland Council has three groups of capital expenditure that it needs to keep on top of and budget for over the coming years:

(1) Existing maintenance and upgrades of existing infrastructure (most of which is poked or under capacity or deferred maintenance);
(2) The ‘wish list’ of nice things promised by Mayor Brown and his Council like the rail tunnel, urban improvements and the like;
(3) Required expenditure for infrastructure to enable Special Housing Areas.>

Normally maintenance and upgrades of group (1) has been deferred with the money robbed to pay for capital expenditure that would fall into group (2).   Read more »