Paula Bennett

Winners are grinners, thanks John

John Armstrong tries to have a dig while at the same time declaring me a winner of the year…ah and there is yet another cartoon about me.

He will be the next target of Giovanni Tiso’s Stalinist inspired online bullying.

Winners: Andrew Little; Paula Bennett; Cameron Slater. Has Labour’s luck finally changed? Little nearly did not make it back into Parliament following Labour’s dreadful election. His victory in the party’s subsequent leadership contest could hardly have been slimmer. But he has taken on the cloak of leadership with gusto. Labour finally has a game-changer. National would be foolish to still believe otherwise.

Bennett got the jobs she wanted in the Cabinet reshuffle. Now positioned as deputy leader-in-waiting as a minimum – and could go even higher when Key eventually departs.

Slater got slam-dunked by Dirty Politics; his influence within the corridors of power has consequently diminished. Outside, it has grown exponentially. Bad publicity is good news for Whale Oil.

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Big projects on back burner, but not Len’s canoe centre

Auckland Council has decided to stop spending any money on maintaining basic infrastructure to save money for Len’s pet project. This is bad news for everyone.

This comes in the wake of the Auditor-General’s report that Len Brown is quickly redacting before submitting it to Council on Thursday.

This is the most basic of functions for a council. Capital works are already paid for by residents over extensive periods of time thanks to depreciation included in our rates.

So what does Auckland Council do?

Defer capital works in a bid to save money for Len’s pet train set.

Only last month the auditor general issued a dire warning about the condition of infrastructure around New Zealand in which she says much of it will fail unless local government gets its act together and focussed on core assets.

She also issued a warning to Len that any attempt to start the train set without funding is irresponsible.

Aucklander’s should be calling for the government to do something before the city falls to bits. Local government minister Paula Bennett needs to issue a letter and publicly redress Auckland Council for the choices it is making – clearly instructing them to focus on the core services as a priority.

That’s what Councils are supposed to do. Keep the roads, sewer, potable water, stormwater and parks in tip top shape through careful management. Not ignore them to build a project it can’t afford.

Speaking of which, a lot of projects may well be on the back burner but one project is steadily moving ahead and that is the expensive white elephant canoe centre in Manukau.

The diggers and trucks are shifting tonnes of dirt at the moment.

Why is that project going ahead when other more important infrastructure projects are being shelved in favour of Len’s train set?

If this isn’t stopped, the rot will result in Auckland becoming a broken down wreck the the government will have to pay to fix.

And we all know how that will go?

Two pussies in parliament

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Check this out

Labour MP Phil Twyford has apologised on Twitter after Social Housing Minister Paula Bennett bailed him up as sexist for making a cat claw gesture at her in Parliament.

Mr Twyford made the gesture indicating Ms Bennett was catty after Ms Bennett said he appeared to be struggling to understand her answers to his questions about housing. Read more »

Little wades into the Sutton/Rennie debacle

Choose one:  Inquiry or resignation.  (It doesn’t get much more creative than that, does it?)

Andrew Little has made his first big call as the leader of the Opposition.

It’s for the head of State Services, Iain Rennie, over his handling of sexual harassment allegations against CERA boss Roger Sutton.

On Monday it was Mr Sutton in the firing line.

“I have called women ‘honey’ and ‘sweetie’ and that is wrong,” he said.

Six days later it’s his boss, Mr Rennie, in the firing line because he gave Mr Sutton the chance at a news conference to speak about his resignation following a sexual harassment inquiry.

“That is such a departure from the standards that we ought to expect from those whose job it is to maintain standards in the public service, I think now we’re entitled to conclude that Iain Rennie is unfit for the job and there’s got to be now an investigation into his fitness to hold that job,” says Mr Little.

Sorry, my mistake.  An inquiry AND a resignation.  How original.   However, Little is right about Rennie having put himself in a very indefensible position.   Read more »

What do you call and asset sale when you sell assets, but you campaigned on no more asset sales?

Seriously, the wheels have come off this government’s tight communication strategy.  Did National really think they could sell thousands of state homes out of Housing New Zealand’s stock, essentially cashing them up and adding the funds to the consolidated fund, and not get accused of selling assets?

It’s gob smacking.

This is entirely aside from the issue that selling them may be a good idea with a sensible explanation.  My problem is that National seem to be trying to sell assets while claiming they are not selling assets.   I can just see that going wrong.

Social Housing Minister Paula Bennett says “thousands” of state houses could be sold under the Government’s new approach to social housing.

But she would be surprised if those sort of numbers were sold in the short term, and Housing New Zealand would be the dominant force in providing social housing in “the foreseeable future”, she told TV3’s The Nation.

She would not make a commitment that all money earned from the sale of state houses would go back into housing.

“Well, we see ourselves reinvesting and using it better to help vulnerable New Zealanders,” Bennett said.

Now some state houses were in the wrong place or were the wrong size.

“Our intention is for people who need housing support to have more stock available. We just may not own it.”

She denied it was an asset sale but later said “this is not a big asset sale”.

/facepalm.   They are assets.  You’re selling them.  For crying out  loud.    Read more »

Tracy Watkins needs to stop drinking the gallery Koolaid

The problem with the Press Gallery is they are generally actually out of touch with what actually happens in politics.

Preferring to talk about factions and plans and conspiracies when none actually exists. They are particularly tits at these prognostications with the National aprty.

We often see stories about faction wars inside National when none exists. We know they don;t exists because if there were factions then i’d be in one of them and if there was a war there would be bodies floating down political rivers.

Tracy Watkins embarks on another gallery fantasy…that political parties groom future leaders.

Helen Clark’s mistake in being too slow to rejuvenate her caucus left a very deep impression on Key. He has been far more proactive, creating an expectation that there is no room in the caucus for seat warmers.

The departure of a slew of National MPs at the last election is evidence of his more ruthless approach, as is his approach to Cabinet reshuffles.

For the first time that anyone can remember Key has made a practice of demoting ministers for performance issues, rather than the more traditional route of sacking minister’s only when they have transgressed.  This has given him room to constantly renew his Cabinet. Key rang the changes with a reshuffle which he hopes will mitigate the effects of third-termitis.

Elevating the likes of Paula Bennett and Simon Bridges up the Cabinet rankings also shows Key has a succession plan in place – along with Steven Joyce, they are being looked to as the next generation of National leaders. Will the drive for renewal reach even higher to the leadership and deputy leadership?

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Do we really still need the Maori seats?

The Maori seats are becoming a bit of a joke.

They have the lowest voter turnout, were supposed to be temporary and now after the last election seemingly irrelevant when 19 Maori were elected in general seats.

About the only use I can find for Maori seats is that it parks a whole bunch of Labour votes that might make the difference in general seats like Bay of Plenty, Rotorua and East Cape and sequesters them in irrelevance.

Parliament now has more Maori MPs than ever before, prompting one commentator to question whether Maori seats were still needed.

Nineteen Maori MPs have been elected in general electorates and on party lists. Once the seven Maori seats are included, the total number of MPs who identify as Maori is 26 – up from 21 in 2011.

This means one in five MPs in the new Parliament were Maori, compared to one in seven in the general population.

The National Party’s caucus is 15 per cent Maori, including two MPs likely to be given high-ranking portfolios – Paula Bennett and Hekia Parata.

The growing proportion of Maori in Parliament was met with mixed responses from Maori leaders.  Read more »

Key’s first move: remove another Labour policy plank

While the Labour Party is completely self absorbed, Key is moving ahead and cutting off another policy area that has traditionally been Labour’s

Prime Minister John Key has asked his officials for fresh ideas on tackling child poverty.

On his first day back at Parliament since being re-elected on Saturday, Key said he had ordered Treasury and Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet officials to start presenting new ideas.

‘‘The recognition I think we all have is that there are some extremely poor children who are missing out,’’ Key said yesterday.

‘‘And so then the question is how do you resolve those issues, it’s not straightforward but there will be more you can do.’’

Key said it needed to be done without narrowing the gap between the incomes of those on benefits and those working, to ensure people were still encouraged into work.

Breakfasts in schools, free doctors’ visits for young children and tax credits for low and middle income families were examples of policies that could be used to tackle the problem, as could programmes such as Whanau Ora.

No resting on laurels, and the trough remains open to keep the Maori Party in cheque check. Read more »

Duncan Garner anoints the next PM: Paula Bennett

I’m not sure why we are picking the next leader of the National Party at this point, we still have an election to get past.  This, to some degree is why the media is broken.  Take a look:

 I reckon this dirty politics saga has hurt him. Throw enough mud and some of it sticks. While Key wasn’t poor in the first TV leaders’ debate on Thursday, I thought he came second.

He lacked cut-through and confidence. You can guarantee he’ll be better next time.

But for now it’s hard not to think that the teflon is wearing off.

Yes, he may well win this election – but the Dirty Politics book will hurt him long-term. It’s the beginning of the end. It happens to all long-serving leaders.

Helen Clark’s former top press secretary used to say the tread goes from the tyres over time – and Key has lost a lot of tread this election campaign.

So who might replace him one day as National’s leader? Let’s rule out some non-starters. Judith Collins had designs on the job but her poor judgment, lack of composure and temperament and underhand tactics rule her out.

Steven Joyce is an option, but he’s likely to be seen as not warm or politically attractive enough.

So what about Social Development Minister Paula Bennett? Read more »

Are right wing women sexier?

Cactus Kate posted the link to this on Facebook, where a liberal-lefty-pro-feminist man  (there is some debate over whether or not he is actually a man) explains why he thinks right wing women are sexier.

Not long ago I was out drinking with a group of friends and we started playing the If-You-Had-To game. The idea is to present players with two people they would never want to sleep with — and then make them choose which they’d sleep with. Here are some of the fiendish alternatives I had to face: Imelda Marcos or Wallace Simpson? Ayn Rand or Yoko Ono? Gertrude Stein or Virginia Woolf?

Then one joker said: Theresa May or Jemima Khan? Everyone laughed at this no-contest choice. Everyone except me. How could I tell them the ugly truth: I’d prefer a night of passion with right-wing Theresa over lefty Jemima any day of the week.

But then I belong to that small, deviant group of liberal-lefty-pro-feminist men who find conservative/right-wing women super sexy. In an age when anything goes — at least in terms of sexual pleasure — ours is a lust that dare not speak its name.

I know this because later that evening, I turned to one of the group and confessed my secret longing for the likes of Theresa May, Ann Coulter and Sarah Palin — ideally all at once. I thought my fantasy night of passion would be received with sympathy and understanding. After all, this friend of mine pays a woman in Earls Court to put him on a rack and do things you don’t want to read about. He just looked at me and said: ‘You’re sick!’

Heh..sick for hankering after right wing women?

I can just hear the chorus of left-wing women complaining that, here we go again — judging women in politics by their looks! Well, actually, looks have nothing to do with it. By that criteria, I should be swooning over Jemima instead of drooling over Mrs May. So no, this is not about looks; it’s about the sexiness of a certain mindset and sensibility. What is the appeal of right-wing women to men like me? After all, left-wing men are not supposed to sleep with such women. (We’re meant to find their political convictions too repulsive for that sort of thing.) But politics is rooted in tribalism and dark emotions, as much as reason. To lefty men of my persuasion, right-wing women are the Other; alluring because they are so exotic; exciting because they’re so forbidden.

Read more »