Andrew Robb

NZ’s Silliest Local Government Spending, Ctd

Bait in stream

Thanks to all the readers who have sent in some truly silly local government spending.

The latest Silly Local Government Spending nomination is from the West Coast, where the West Coast Regional Council has invested $500,000 in a 1080 production facility.

How this is council core business is well beyond my comprehension.

The West Coast Regional Council has admitted a secret $500,000 investment in a pest control company and new factory which is looking to manufacture 1080 poison at Rolleston, near Christchurch.

The council released a statement this morning after being outed by the Greymouth Star.

Once the factory is operational, the regional council will be involved in 1080 from manufacturing to consenting and even the application of the poison through another council-owned company.

Company Office records show the Rolleston partnership with Pest Control Research NZ Ltd was formed in May 2013. It has only two shareholders — Christchurch man Malcolm Thomas with 51 per cent, and the West Coast Regional Council with 49 per cent.

One director is Randal Beal, who formerly managed the council’s resource consent stand-alone company, VCS.

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Depression in politics – Is it the same in New Zealand?

The Sydney Morning Herald has an article about depression amongst their nation’s leaders.?

It is an interesting read and one written with compassion. There are some interesting parallels with recent events, but what struck me is the high prevalence amongst MPs.

It made me wonder if it happens here. I suspect it is similar.

Warren Entsch wanted to walk away. Wave goodbye to Parliament and never look back.

The Member for Leichhardt, a sprawling electorate in far north Queensland, is one of Parliament House’s big characters, a former toilet cleaner, RAAF serviceman, union representative and wildlife catcher. But now he felt so small.

It was 1999 and the Kim Beazley-led Labor opposition was hounding him over a Defence Force contract awarded to a concrete company of which he was a director and company secretary. Reporters staked out his family farm, begging his neighbours and relatives for dirt on him. His face beamed from the TV set of every airport lounge he entered, yet another politician drenched in muck.

“It was 10 days of absolute hell,” he says. ?”I was sick. I was devastated. I had to go to Canberra Hospital for chest pains. There were a couple of days where I couldn’t get off the couch in my office.”

Fifteen years later, you can still hear a crack in his voice. The anguish is raw. The past is never really past.

“I always feel for someone who is getting beaten up by the media ??what you go through from a mental health perspective is absolutely intense.

“For some people it is the final straw.”

Entsch, 64, always insisted he had done nothing wrong, and Labor eventually abandoned a bid to take him to the High Court. He made a vow: to help any fellow politicians who find themselves in a similar position.

“Whenever I hear of anyone in crisis or with conflict in their lives I am the first person to go support them.”

They speak about marriage breakdowns. Problems with their kids. Alcohol abuse. A scandal hovering above their heads like a giant wave about to break. Some MPs have admitted to thinking about suicide.

Religious or not, Entsch will often refer them to Peter Rose, the official Parliament House chaplain. Every federal politician interviewed for this piece mentioned Rose ? known affectionately as “the padre” ? and praised him highly.

“I have his number on speed dial and so do many MPs,” Entsch said.

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Trust is Key to popularity

There is a great article in the SMH about?John Key’s popularity in Aussie, and how the LNP leaders might take lessons from Key.

New Zealand’s John Key may have set a national goal of catching up with Australia’s level of income per person, but when it comes to politics, Australia is taking lessons from the NZ leader.

On first blush, the conservative Prime Minister seems an unlikely role model. He was a Merrill Lynch investment banker, an occupation exposed in the year he was first elected as more likely to be made up of looters rather than leaders.

And he was known to harbour sympathy for disgraced ideas which dared not speak their name after NZ’s searing experience of conservative ideologues in the 1980s. The dirtiest word is privatisation.

But Key was not only elected in 2008, he was re-elected with a swing in favour of his National Party three years later. He didn’t win an outright majority; since 1996, no government in NZ has, and its mixed-member proportional voting system makes that especially hard. But his approval rating holds up around 60 per cent, with disapproval around half that level.

Telling it how it is

Australian politics is robust, they tend to tell things as they are:

Six days ago, the shadow finance minister, Andrew Robb, described the CEFC as the ”Bob Brown Bank” and a totally futile waste of taxpayers’ money.

“It is criminal that the Gillard government could bow to Greens’ demands to borrow $10 billion to pump into what is nothing more than a giant slush fund,” he said.