Mike Williams

Fat Tony on Wellington’s building crisis

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Mike ‘Fat Tony’ Williams discusses the Wellington CBD issue after the earthquake, amongst other things.

With just a year to go before the next General Election in New Zealand, yet another disaster in the shape of large earthquakes has struck in the South Island and reverberated badly as far as Wellington.

The locations of these shakes, mainly thinly populated rural areas, has meant that the cost in human life has not been near the scale of the Christchurch earthquakes or the Pike River mine explosion, but it will still be expensive.

The roads, particularly the one on the coast north of Kaikoura and rail line in the same region will be very expensive to restore and the infrastructure in the small towns that dot the region will not be cheap to set right.

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Mike Williams on the stupidity of Peter Butler

Mike ‘Fat Tony’ Williams has been having a blinder these past few weeks.

Of course, he has been helped by the stupidity of Hawkes Bay local body candidates or outgoing mayors.

It’s obvious that the retiring Central Hawke’s Bay Mayor, Peter Butler, doesn’t read my weekly musings in Hawke’s Bay Today.

Had he bothered to do so he would have known that a powerful factor in local election success is name recognition.

Not long ago there was reference to the fact that when voters are confronted with long lists of candidates they will very often opt for a name they know.

Peter Butler’s attempt to make sitting regional councillor Tom Belford reveal his email and telephone records for a 17day period last month amounts to a timely and very valuable gift to Councillor Belford.

It put him on the front page of Hawke’s Bay Today just when the Hawke’s Bay electors are filling in their voting papers.

It’s hard to comprehend what possessed Mayor Butler.

His “official request” for Tom Belford’s telephone and email traffic was never going to be fulfilled before the local polls closed and even if this showed Mr Belford communicated with all of the people and organisations on Butler’s list, who cares?

It would only demonstrate that Councillor Belford was doing his job.

Peter Butler would not comment on why he had requested the information. We can only suppose that he’s a secret supporter of Tom Belford.

The Hawke’s Bay local elections are more interesting than those going on in Auckland.

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Fat Tony on fire again

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Mike ‘Fat Tony’ Williams is on fire again:

By now Hawke’s Bay residents and ratepayers who have enrolled to vote in time will have their local election voting papers, though statistically not many will have yet ticked the boxes and posted their votes back.

From a distance (and relying on the chatter of friends and relatives) it looks like the big issue in Hawke’s Bay is water; whether it’s the Ruataniwha dam, contaminated drinking water in Havelock North or the bottled water giveaway.

I note at least one Regional Council hopeful backing off support for water bottlers at great speed and Hawke’s Bay Today reminding its readers about just who did endorse this giveaway with a not-very-old photograph.

As a political organiser I was involved in many local election campaigns in New Zealand and Australia. Seldom were serious issues like Hawke’s Bay’s water involved in these contests and very often they were just good fun.

 

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Fat Tony is on fire

Mike Williams, affectionately known as "Fat Tony"

Mike Williams, affectionately known as “Fat Tony”

Mike ‘Fat Tony’ Williams is on fire. His latest column in the HB Today is about holding the ratbags in the Hawkes Bay to account these elections.

It looks like the Hawke’s Bay water contamination scandal and the proposed Ruataniwha dam scheme have morphed into one issue in many people’s minds and will influence the outcome of the local elections.

The revelation that unconsented feedlots with unknown numbers of livestock have been established along our rivers is enough to make a mockery of the desperate attempts of dam supporters and irrigation fanatics to convince us that cows can’t be responsible for the gastro bug that afflicted so many.

Those who have developed an interest in the dam plan, whether for or against, should take the time to read the Court of Appeal decision that has stopped the scheme in its tracks. This decision is easily accessible and can be found as the last published decision in August this year on the Court of Appeal website.

The full title of the decision is “Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society of New Zealand Incorporated v Minister of Conservation”.

The legal background to this action comes from the basic design of the dam which, to be financially viable, must flood two pieces of land amounting to 22 hectares which are within the Ruahine Forest Park (RFP) and are therefore the responsibility of the Department of Conservation.

The promoters of the dam plan devised a swap whereby DOC would relinquish the required land in return for a bigger piece of land known as the Smedley Block that the dam promoters, The Hawke’s Bay Regional Investment Company (HBRIC), would purchase and swap.

This land swap has always been crucial to the scheme. Without the right to inundate these two parts of the RFP, I’m told that any dam would contain less than one third of the capacity of the planned dam.

At that capacity, the scheme is simply not viable.  

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Mike Williams on leadership of Labour and of National

Mike,”Fat Tony” Williams was Labour’s best fundraiser. He was also the president of Labour under Helen Clark and resigned shortly after the 2008 election loss.

He writes in the “Hawkes Bay Today” about Labour’s leadership problems:

THE week in politics graphically underlined the knife-edge result of the 2014 general election.

A parliamentary majority was recently assembled by the Labour Party to extend paid parental leave from 18 to 26 weeks, and Finance Minister Bill English was forced into the rare use of a “financial veto” to defeat a measure that would have otherwise passed into law.

This demonstrates just how close the National-led government came to defeat in 2014, and caused me to contemplate our political parties’ succession plans and to speculate on who will be National leader in a few years’ time.

One of the few weaknesses of the Helen Clark government was that no such plan was developed and this meant that Phil Goff, her successor, got off to a weak start from which he arguably didn’t recover.

We acted as though Helen would be there forever, even though we all knew that anything more than three terms was historically unlikely.

Goff was effectively selected over the heads of the party and the caucus as a whole by the outgoing cabinet, which delivered a fait accompli via cabinet solidarity.

He would have won a contested ballot, but the contest would have engaged the media and given him a three-dimensional profile which he never really achieved.

As he contests the Auckland mayoralty, people are getting to know him in ways that simply didn’t happen when he was Labour Party leader. He’s interesting, he’s funny and he’s grounded.

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Faces of the day

CHRIS MCKEEN/ FAIRFAX NZ The Howard League's Tony Gibbs and Mike Williams have introduced a literacy programme in prisons across the country.

CHRIS MCKEEN/ FAIRFAX NZ
The Howard League’s Tony Gibbs and Mike Williams have introduced a literacy programme in prisons across the country.

The Howard League’s Tony Gibbs and Mike Williams have introduced a literacy programme in prisons across the country.

…It is these two, together with an army of volunteers and the full­time services of a retired teacher, who have introduced the league’s literacy programme in prisons around the country. Its success has spawned another programme: one designed to turn potential inmates around before they reach the prison doors.

Williams may have long left his leading role in the Labour Party. But he still has the persuasive oratorial and fund­raising skills born of a life in politics.

…Days before the Spring Hill ceremony, he seated himself in his favourite cafe to explain his current vocation. He starts by reciting author Neil Gaiman: “How do these people [private prison providers] plan how many cells they will need? Easy: you just find out how many 11 year­ olds can’t read or write.”

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Mike ‘Fat Tony’ Williams says some nice things about Judith Collins

Mike Williams, affectionately known as "Fat Tony"

Mike Williams, affectionately known as “Fat Tony”

Mike ‘Fat Tony’ Williams has had some nice things to say about Judith Collins in the HB Today on prison reform.

I was saddened to see New Zealand’s prison population is about to hit an all-time high of 9320, and is projected to rise even further.

This is happening despite our falling crime rate and the best efforts of successive governments and the Corrections Department to reduce prisoner numbers. So what’s going on?

If you examine the numbers closely, you’ll discover the total number of sentenced prisoners is falling, if slowly. The big jump occurs in the number of remand prisoners and this is almost entirely due to changes in the Act of Parliament governing remand.

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Labour have gone to the dogs since Mike Williams left, and here’s another example

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Mike Williams is a good bastard, with only two failings, the first is he worked for Labour, the second is he is friends with Michelle Boag.

Nevertheless he has made a great observation which I am sure will have the hard left frothing and trying to do him in.

Former Labour Party president Mike Williams has suggested there is no need for Te Reo in prisons because it does not help inmates get a job once they are released.

Mr Williams was speaking for the New Zealand Howard League in an official capacity when he made the comments at a public discussion about prisons this week.

Māori make up more than half the country’s prison population.

Mr Williams was asked by an audience member if there should be encouragement for more Māori culture and Te Reo use in New Zealand jails.   Read more »

Serco suspension a win for the government

This whole story was pushed out by the unions when they needed a circuit breaker to get Labour’s Asian Bashing off the front pages.

And although it’s delivered on that, the good news is that Serco have been found wanting, and the Government gets to clean it up before it gets out of control.

The Corrections Department will step in and put their own management team into the privately-run Serco prison in Mt Eden following serious allegations of assaults and other inappropriate behaviour.

The announcement was made at a press conference this afternoon following a meeting between Corrections chief executive Ray Smith and the Corrections Minister Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga.

Mr Smith says the department has invoked the “step in” clause of the contract, and says a potentially substantial financial penalty may be imposed on Serco following the spate of violent incidents at the remand prison.

The clause allows the department to insert its own prison director from Tongariro and a “crack team” of 20 from Corrections team from across the country to oversee the daily running of the prison, however, the Serco staff will remain onsite.   Read more »

Why do the Unions have so much sway over Labour?

The Unions have a reputation for controlling Labour, and with some good reason. Six affiliated unions get 20% of the Labour Leadership vote, so you would think that they are also the Labour Party’s biggest donors.

The problem with this is it is not supported by the facts. Since 1996 union donations have been a little over 11% of Labour’s total declarable donations.

In most years the unions don’t give anything to Labour, who must only ask unions for money in election year.

Total Donations Union Donations Union Donation %
1996  $65,327.00  $- 0%
1997  $280,000.00  $- 0%
1998  $20,055.90  $- 0%
1999  $1,115,375.00  $80,000.00 7.17%
2000  $35,000.00  $- 0.0%
2001  $107,525.00  $- 0.0%
2002  $671,719.00  $70,000.00 10.42%
2003  $54,000.00  $- 0.0%
2004  $369,951.00  $- 0.0%
2005  $930,977.04  $140,000.00 15.04%
2006  $140,988.04  $20,000.00 14.19%
2007  $1,030,446.39  $- 0.0%
2008  $422,917.00  $117,500.00 27.78%
2009  $10,063.00  $- 0.0%
2010  $56,720.00  $- 0.0%
2011  $225,200.00  $105,200.00 46.71%
2012  $430,259.33  $- 0.0%
2013  $-  $-
2014  $251,000.00  $162,000.00 64.54%
Total  $6,217,523.70  $694,700.00 11.17%

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