Gerry Brownlee

Maybe Treasury and the Auditor General need a large dart gun…

Maybe Treasury and the Auditor General need a large dart gun, all the better to deflate Big Gerry Brownlee:

Tensions between the Christchurch Earthquake Recovery Authority () and Christchurch City Council have caused delays during Canterbury’s post-earthquake rebuild, a new report says.   Read more »

Dodgy is as dodgy does

Nothing in this story smells right:

Revelations that Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (Cera) staff tried to do commercial property deals for their own company will be investigated by the Prime Minister’s Department and the State Services Commission.

A Stuff investigation revealed on Saturday that three Cera staff employed to facilitate investment in the Christchurch rebuild tried to arrange property deals through their own company for a finder’s fee (in one case $300,000).

Greater Christchurch Regeneration Minister Gerry Brownlee has told Stuff the Department for Prime Minister and Cabinet (DPMC) and the State Services Commission (SSC) would investigate the private arrangements.

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No taxpayer bailout for privately owned Christchurch Cathedral rebuild

It’s one thing the Christchurch Cathedral is still a pile of rubble, but why does it need government to have secret meetings about it?

It is privately owned.  There is no need for Government involvement nor taxpayer money.

The future of earthquake-damaged Christchurch Cathedral remains under discussion, says the Minister supporting Greater Christchurch Regeneration, Gerry Brownlee.

The Cathedral Working Group was formed in June to consider restoration options and delivered its final recommendations three weeks ago.

Mr Brownlee says the proposals were considered by the new cabinet at its meeting on Tuesday.   Read more »

Report: Gerry’s airport arrogance highlighted once more

Continued obfuscation by CAA means Gerry’s quest for a pie before flying is news again.

Former transport minister Gerry Brownlee bought chewing gum and a can of softdrink in a bookshop after barging through airport security, new information about the 2014 incident at Christchurch Airport shows.

One of his aides also bought food items while the group waited for boarding passes.

The Civil Aviation Authority has released the information after being told to by Ombudsman Leo Donnelly in response to a complaint about parts of the report being withheld.

Parts of investigator Dianne Cooze’s report remain redacted.

The report says there was plenty of time for Brownlee and his aides to board their flight to Wellington on the morning of July 24, 2014, if they had followed usual security protocols.

Brownlee was fined $2000 for the infringement and his aides were issued formal warnings, reflecting what the CAA saw as their limited culpability.

At the time, Brownlee offered his resignation to the Prime Minister. It was rejected. He apologised several times publicly for putting an airport security staff member in a difficult position.

Cooze described the unnamed staff member responsible for monitoring the Koru exit door into the secure area as being almost “dumbfounded” when Brownlee walked past and made a passing comment about being late for his flight, and then proceeded through into a gate lounge.

Brownlee’s presence and conduct, as a senior member of Parliament, would have had the effect of potentially exerting a degree of undue influence, whether intended or not, on this employee, the report said.

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China: Mind your own bloody business Brownlee

Gerry Brownlee and his custom tailored ballistic vest that cost three times the standard vest worn by Kiwi troops

China rebuked New Zealand’s Defence Minister at the opening of a high-profile security forum in Beijing on Tuesday, criticizing his stance on tension in the disputed South China Sea, saying countries “not involved” should not interfere.

China claims almost the entire South China Sea, through which about $5 trillion worth of trade passes each year. Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam also have claims.

An international tribunal in Hague ruled in July that China had no historic title over the waters and had breached the Philippines’ sovereign rights there. That decision infuriated Beijing, which dismissed the court’s authority. Read more »

$100m here, a $100m there…meh says Brownlee

Big Gerry Brownlee seems quite flippant about a serious budget blowout of more than $100m.

Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee has defended a $100 million blowout in the cost to upgrade the navy’s two frigates.

The Defence Force is in the process of upgrading the combat management systems, radars and sensors, and replacing the self-defence missile systems, on both the HMNZS Te Kaha and the HMNZS Te Mana.

It was originally budgeted to cost between $354m and $374m, but Labour MP Phil Goff says it’s now expected to cost close to $473m.

Mr Goff also said the upgrade work won’t now be completed until March 2019 – 13 months later than planned.

He sought an explanation from Mr Brownlee when he fronted up to Parliament’s foreign affairs, defence and trade select committee on Thursday.   Read more »


Hooton on McCully’s replacement

Talk is starting to firm up around the departure of Murray McCully, and word has it it will be around Christmas time.

People are already positioning themselves for selection if that does occur, though I think a by-election is unlikely given Key’s disdain for them after the debacle in Northland by Steve Joyce and Vic Crone’s campaign manager Jo de Joux. It is likely to be a more managed departure, but if McCully does go and no by-election is called then expect a general election inside 6 months of McCully’s leaving.

Meanwhile Matthew Hooton is flying some kites on his replacement, though they match the rumours I’ve heard too.

It was all going to be so easy.

To refresh John Key’s government before the election, a neat side-shuffle was envisaged.

Sir Lockwood Smith would return to New Zealand to take some academic governance role at his beloved Massey or Lincoln universities, Speaker David Carter would get his gong and head to London as high commissioner, and Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee would be elevated to the Speaker’s chair.  Mr Key would then be able to promote a next-generation Cantabrian, perhaps Justice Minister Amy Adams, into his inner circle.

It was never clear if the plan was consciously designed in Mr Key’s own mind (or even if he ever agreed with it) or merely evolved out of the chatter of parliament and the punditariat. Nevertheless, it involved a certain elegance.

The problem was that, with the exception of perhaps Sir Lockwood, whose life-long interest has been agricultural science, none of the senior figures required to make it work was interested.  Whether anyone ever spoke to him about it, it turned out Mr Carter didn’t want to move to London.  And Mr Brownlee made clear that the tradition a new Speaker be reluctantly dragged to the chair would need to be more than ritualistic: he would need to be personally carried from the cabinet room across to the Speaker’s apartments.

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Key wants Brownlee to tackle him – finally a fit for Front-Row-Gerry’s natural assets

Gerry and Amy

Gerry Brownlee has just been appointed perhaps his important job yet — keeping the wise-cracking Prime Minister out of trouble.

John Key was thrown out of Parliament last week after talking over Speaker David Carter, who had stood up.

“I was actually thinking I was being so amusing and so engrossed in my own answer, I didn’t see the Speaker,” Mr Key told Paul Henry this morning. “It wasn’t deliberate.”

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Shhh…don’t tell anyone but Gerry Brownlee is in Israel

Gerry Brownlee in Israel

Gerry Brownlee travelled to Israel after his visit to Iraq. He’s also tried to keep it very quiet, with it not even being reported in NZ media.

Pity, he went for a visit with ‘Bogie’ Ya’alon though and the Israelis know how to use Facebook.   Read more »

Claire Trevett on how Andrew little got blindsided in Iraq

Andrew Little, helped by the Media party, is claiming triumph on his blitzkrieg tour of Iraq…in the shadow of Gerry Brownlee.

Claire Trevett explains why he’s been done like a dinner by those dastardly Nats.

At first blush, the Government’s invitation to Labour leader Andrew Little to visit the troops in Iraq appeared to be a trick.

The question is not so much why Little took up the invitation to go along with Defence Minister Gerry Brownlee. Despite having criticised Prime Minister John Key’s own visit to Iraq as a photo op, Little had no qualms about brandishing photos of himself striding manfully around Taji in his flak jacket.

The bigger question is why the invitation was issued in the first place.

A superficial interpretation of the Government’s motivations is that it put Little in an awkward situation. Politically, it was a risky move for Little. Labour vehemently opposed sending the troops to Iraq last year, yet there Little was, meeting those very same troops.

It is not unheard of for Opposition leaders to visit troops on deployment. Last year, Australian Labor leader Bill Shorten visited the troops at Taji.

The difference between him and Little was Shorten was able to stand before the troops and assure them they had Labor’s bipartisan support.

Little’s message to the troops was somewhat more complex. It appeared to consist of telling those troops he thought they were doing a good job while sticking to his line that the job they were doing was futile.

Should Little oppose future deployments, he has handed his rivals an encyclopedia of photos and gushing comments with which to lambast him.

The prospect of watching Little squirm in front of those whose deployment he had opposed may well have been the cherry on the top for National.

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