Sandra Coney

Senior UN official meddles in local issues

A senior UN official has been caught meddling in domestic New Zealand issues.

She is as usual unrepentant and feels that she can ignore the usual protocols of UN officials refraining from entering local political debates on issues…especially on an issue that is actually a private property rights issue.

Former Prime Minister Helen Clark has weighed in on the battle to stop a 500-year-old kauri from being chopped down in Auckland.

Ms Clark – now the Administrator for the United Nations Development Programme – posted her views on a photo of supporters at a protest in Paturoa Rd, Titirangi, where the centuries’ old kauri is due to be brought down.

“Extraordinary in this day and age that a permit would be given to fell a 500 year old kauri tree,” she wrote.

The comment was made on a photo posted on Facebook by Waitakere Ranges Local Board member Greg Presland. He is pictured with fellow member Saffron Toms and board chairwoman Sandra Coney.

Read more »

Coney barking up wrong tree

Policy Parrot says:

There is nothing more hilarious than watching Auckland Council fret about legal advice because the advice will be worthless shit.

Today Bernard Orsman reports that Councillor Sandra Coney wants to review legal advice provided to the top Council planners. Her desire to test the lawfulness of the Unitary Plan is smart. But unsurprisingly council officers don’t want her to read it.

This Parrot says that the advice won’t be worth the paper it is written on.

This Parrot can justify said statement because years of legal proceedings such as plan changes, variations, financial contribution battles, Judicial Review’s and other legal brouhaha where Council has either lost or had it’s planning provisions substantially changed proves they are getting poor advice over which fights they can win and which they can’t. They always start the process thinking they are right and what they have drafted is vires.

For example six long years of LGAAA and Plan Change 6 appeals on the Regional Policy Statement. The end result was a clear win for opponents of Council’s planning provisions. Or heritage provisions through Plan Change 167 in Auckland City – pulverised by Remuera locals. What about the tree rules smashed to oblivion by the Property Council?

The point this Parrot is making is that Council legal advice falls short more often than it upholds a Council position with wins. Provisions do get overturned and often.  Read more »

These Auckland Muppets should be voted out

These are the muppets who voted for Cathy Casey’s motion for Auckland Council to reject a free convention centre. They do not deserve any support and should be booted from the council including George Wood.

THE MOTION

“The governing body does not support the Government’s proposal for SkyCity to develop a convention centre in return for changes in our gambling legislation to increase gambling at the SkyCity casino.”

FOR

Cathy Casey, Sandra Coney, Alf Filipaina, Michael Goudie, Ann Hartley, Penny Hulse, Mike Lee, Richard Northey, Wayne Walker, George Wood

All of them need to go.  Read more »

The game’s up for Lyin’ Len

It looks like Lyin’ Len Brown’s sneaky tactics have finally caught up with him.

As I have previously revealed, Len is up to his sneaky tricks again and is trying to avoid the full weight of transparency for his flagship Auckland Unitary Plan.

It was good to see Amy Adams took my advice and told Len to pull his head in.

Len Brown approached the Government desperate for a secret process for the development of the Unitary Plan. The Government told him to bugger off and instead come up with its own plan.

Len also demanded that the Unitary Plan was granted immediate legal effect so he could do whatever he liked and strip Aucklanders off all their rights.

Again, the Government told him to piss off.

The reason the Government rejected Lyin’ Len’s request for immediate legal effect was because it was already provided for under the RMA. That means if Lyin’ Len is so keen to block public feedback he can go to the Environment Court and request this course of action.

But he won’t because he knows he’ll be laughed out the door all the way back to his high rise apartment….except Len likes to live on a lifestyle block and force other Aucklanders to live in high rises.

Lyin’ Len has staked his reputation on the Unitary Plan, but now according to the Herald, his councillors are revolting against him.  Read more »

C&R = Catastrophe and Ruin for the Auckland centre-right

In around 7 months, NZ will be in the thick of local body elections, the most important for the Auckland Council.

At this stage, there isn’t a declared centre-right candidate to take on Len Brown, though the rumour mill is running overtime on a couple of names.

However, Len for know is very much in the box seat, which is why Auckland needs a strong centre-right council to hold him to account.

The centre-right in Auckland Region is normally represented by the Citizens and Ratepayers ticket, who have historically done well on the former Auckland Regional Council and the old Auckland City Council.

Since the 2010 elections, when C&R did poorly in the first ever supercity elections, there has been a rebrand by C&R’s executive board and National Party hacks Alastair Bell and Mark Thomas, to try and refresh their image. But while the colours and names have changed, their political fortunes have not.  The new C&R, now known as Communities and Residents, has barely registered in the media over the last year. The C&R caucus is badly divided, and their board ineffective. Wags have said they should have renamed themselves Catastrophe & Ruin instead.

National has all but washed their hands of C&R in the elections this year, its caucus refusing to make available any organisation to the adrift group, instead encouraging individuals to participate if they feel like it. Candidate selections that were supposed to take place in November have been deferred and deferred as people go cold on standing for an organisation heading for defeat. Big fundraising plans have turned to dust and instead, a big levy is likely to be imposed on the hapless cannon fodder that stand.  Read more »

The people are speaking Lenny

NZ Herald

The results are fairly comprehensive from the online survey at The NZ Herald.

Fully 53% are against the race at Pukekohe at all wither thinking it is a complete waste of ratepayer cash (49%) or not happy at all about it being at Pukekohe (4%).

A further 24% aren’t interested in a car race anyway, bringing the total either opposed or dis-interested to 77%

Meanwhile just 11% are enthusiastic.

Perhaps Len’s lackeys should take a bit of notice. I think it is high time we started to campaign against profligate councillors and put them on a list to rinse them in the next local body elections.

Only George Wood, Sharon Stewart, Cathy Casey, Sandra Coney and Cameron Brewer can hold their heads high over this.

I t may have been interesting to have the vote when the full council was in attendance. Len Brown, Arthur Anae, John Walker, Mike Lee, Richard Northey, Dick Quax, Calum Penrose, Wayne Walker and IMSB member John Tamihere were all absent.

I doubt Calum Penrose would have voted for this waste, nor Dick Quax.

C&R should really look now to de-select Chris Fletcher and Noelene Raffills. While they are at it they should axe the current leadership of C&R who put in place the removal of caucus whipping that allowed these two to go against the principles of C&R. Noelene Raffills has become Len Brown’s conservative poodle so desperate she is to retain her committee chair job.

People seem focussed on standing someone against Len Brown for Mayor. They should not, what they need to do is focus on a credible, cross spectrum “Auckland First” ticket focused on representing ratepayers and fiscal conservatism and clean out the council leaving Len Brown as but one vote on a council stacked against him.

I for one would be interested in establish such a ticket and campaign. C&R have lost their way, they should be retired, same goes for Labour and City Vision…time is up on petty party politics in Auckland. Time for a new way.

Ports crisis – the roll call

As the union goes to the media talking about the protection of “their” jobs and calls are being made for the missing in action Len Brown to step up, it may be useful for Whaleoil readers to know who the roll call of names are in the snowballing Ports crisis. Here are the major figures, a brief history, and their involvement

Anti-Ports

Garry Parsloe –  tough, gruff and staunch leader of the Maritime Union of NZ. A lot smarter than he is given credit for, but not smart enough to avoid an asymmetrical war with a blogger. Supported by his union, desperate to hold on to the benefits and working conditions of the 1980s (ironically the last time he appeared in newspapers for all the wrong reasons), and avoid contracting or competition for labour at the ports, even if it means pay rises for their workers. Those who start work at the wharves are ruthlessly drilled on the history of the Ports, and reminded of the “struggles” of their forebears for the perks they now enjoy. The Maritime Union is an old red leftist union of old communists still practicing “internationalism”. They have as recently as September of this year supported the Port of Longview in Washington, USA, for their strikes against management. MUNZ have also expressed political views on global mining, Pike River and Mexican labour disputes. They are a political organisation – make no mistake of that.

Mike Lee – ex wharfie, now supercity councillor, who rose to become chairman of the old Auckland Regional Council, which bought back the 20% of the Ports which were owned by shareholders around 7 years ago. As Chairman of the ARC, Lee used Ports of Auckland dividends to pay for his transport projects, and by owning 100% was able to demand excessive dividends out of the eye of the public. (therein is a good reason why having a mixed ownership model is good for SOEs – it keeps the govt honest). During the aftermath of the global financial crisis, the Ports were in serious trouble with their debt levels, and were mercifully bailed out in part by the National government buying Queens Wharf, ostensibly for tourism reasons. Will be marshaling the left forces on council to stay strong for the union badged workers, even though this hurts the Auckland Council position.

Len Brown – It is highly likely that Len Brown is sympathetic to the union cause, though would be keen to stay out and not get involved in the conflict. However, Mike Lee will be exerting massive amounts of pressure on Brown to stay staunch to the workers, while the Herald this morning asks “where is the Mayor”. Brown’s strategy of turning off the cellphone and only replying by email belies the fact he will be sweating profusely over being smoked out on an actual position that would then require leadership, especially one where he would be at odds with his left-wing instincts and left wing mates.

Other left-wing councillors – Sandra Coney, Richard Northey and Cathy Casey will be other staunch left-wing councillors backing the unions against the Ports asset they are tasked with the responsibility to oversee.

Pro-Ports

Tony Gibson – the CEO of Ports of Auckland, who took over from the mild-mannered Mr Magoo Danish Jens Madsen. Gibson knows he is up against a union that will play nasty and brutally against attempts to bring Ports labour practices into the 21st century. Gibson has the strong support of the Ports Board.

Gary Swift – Chief Executive of Auckland Council Investments Ltd who are tasked with monitoring the ownership of the shared that the council owns in investments like the Ports, Auckland Airport etc. Swift is a professional company director, ex Watercare, and under no illusions as to what he is up against with the unions. ACIL received the support of a number of councillors at a December 8 council meeting, which fell down a centre-right/ independent and left/Maori divide. The Labour/City Vision/left bloc, along with the Maori statutory board members, voted against supporting the Ports of Auckland business plan.

Chris Fletcher – leader of the C&R bloc on council. Though Fletcher’s history as Mayor was uninspiring and her political views seen as fluffy centrist, her timing and handling of the Ports crisis has so far been excellent. Her leadership in pushing the Mayor to take a position and back the Ports Board has sent shockwaves through the independents on council who have so far been timid and compliant in the Mayor’s hands. Her role will have cemented her as the leader of the opposition on council, and given some hope that C&R remains the pre-eminent centre-right force in Auckland.

Steven Joyce – the Minister of Infrastructure has avoided any public commentary so far, other than a bland statement that they would only enter the dispute if asked to intervene. However, the issues of industrial labour strife will not have been lost on Joyce and the National led government. They will be watching developments here like a hawk, and probably have some strategies up their sleeves if asked to make a statement. Is thought to favour a long term alliance between POAL and Ports of Tauranga, without compromising the independent ownership of each Port.

Others

Mark Cairns – CEO of the Port of Tauranga, who though is sympathetic with what POAL are trying to do in having industrial relations practices that are similar to Tauranga, can simply not believe his luck in having a bunch of Auckland union drongos drive profits into the hands of PoT and Infratil, the majority owners of the Port of Tauranga. Is probably working the phones hard over summer with every major shipping company, importer and exporter to shift business to the Bay of Plenty. “Hello, is that you Toyota?”. PoT’s share price is up around 6% since December 1, not a bad rise in price for a utlity company that is supposed to be a defensive yield based stock.

Infratil – the only people in New Zealand who can run infrastructure properly in New Zealand. Majority owners of the Ports of Tauranga. CEO Marko Bogoievski and Executive Chairman Lloyd Morrison are highly regarded as top NZ businessmen – actually, the whole Infratil board looks like the who’s who of NZ business. They will be delirious with joy at the opportunities being presented to them.

UPDATE: Infratil are no longer on the PoT share register. They did own 24.7% at one stage, then owned ~5% around 2005 and sold down completely in 2006/2007.  The PoT majority shareholder is Quayside Securities (subsidiary of BOP Regional Council) who own 55%.

I have had the shareholding of BOPRC described as a fantastic cornerstone shareholder (because that is how they behave despite owning a majority shareholding) as they allow the Board and Management complete autonomy to run the port commercially as the Port Companies intends.

POAL should do a Qantas

Damien Grant writes in the Herald:

Last month, its CEO, Tony Gibson, wrote an embarrassing article in which he admitted that his primary competitor, the Port of Tauranga, was more efficient, more profitable and that despite paying unskilled dock workers $91,000 a year, he was unable to make them do more than 26 hours of work.

Can you imagine the CEO of Westpac writing in the New Zealand Herald that his staff were less productive than those of BNZ, that they were paid too much and he could not get some of them to put in 40 hours?

Gibson needs to look no further than the example set by Alan Joyce, the CEO of Qantas. When his unions threw a wobbly, he grounded the fleet. Joyce showed courage, stared down the union, took some short-term heat but saved his airline.

It is a very competitive market, both for port business and for labour, something the union fails to recognise.

The Ports of Auckland is owned by Auckland Council, where councillors voted 12 to nine to back the port’s management, with left-wing troglodytes such as Sandra Coney and eight others voting to support the union.

I’m not meaning to be disrespectful (okay, maybe I am) but working on the docks is not skilled employment. Knowing how to remove an appendix is skilled. Moving a container is something someone with basic literacy and functioning limbs can learn over the course of a few weeks.

They are earning $91,000 a year because Parsloe knows a council-owned company does not need to make money and that management will back down from a fight.

A LGOIMA request of emails to and from Sandra Coney and Mike Lee should be very illuminating.

Gibson should sack the entire workforce and start again. At $91,000, there will be no shortage of applicants, even if he has to fly them in.

He will not because his political masters will not let him.

Down in Tauranga, the local council floated 45 per cent of its port’s shares to the public. The business is therefore run along standard commercial lines. Its CEO is winning clients such as Maersk and exploiting the underlying competitive advantage it has over the hapless Jafas.

Government ownership places constraints on a business that produce the sort of nonsense we are seeing at the wharves.

Unions sense weakness and seek advantage, commercial discipline is lost and there is no consequence for failure, no risk of insolvency and no reward for profit.

The state-owned enterprise model is an improvement, but there is no discipline like the discipline of the market.

Gibson should sack the entire workforce and tender out the work. Let’s see how the union fares then.

What Len is asking Auckland to sacrifice for his railway

Len Brown would rather have a train set than sports fields:

The new rating system is part of Mr Brown’s first long-term plan, a 10-year budget setting out how he will implement the Auckland Plan, which contains his blueprint to make Auckland the “world’s most liveable city”.

It includes a funding plan for a $2.4 billion city rail link, $123 million for events and marketing the city, but very little in the way of new spending on heritage and environment, prompting councillor Sandra Coney to call it a not too friendly budget for the environment.

Only days after cheering the All Blacks, Mr Brown has indicated there will be no extra money for sports fields in Auckland, despite a rapidly increasing demand, especially for children’s facilities.

What Len Brown hasn’t told ratepayers in Auckland about, is his shabby little deal with Labour.

Len Brown’s rail loop announcement is the result of a deal he has done with Labour. Labour will announce they are backing it on Sunday along with Len’s costings.

Add another couple of billion of spending to Labour’s already prodigious spend-a-thon for rail.

By backing Len Brown’s Rail plan Labour will now go into the election promising to toll Auckland’s roads. let’s see how that goes down in the electorate at large.

In it for the Food

Some people seek public office for the prestige, others to give back to their community, most do  it simply to serve.

Sandra Coney though, appears to do it for the food.

Sandra Coney is in it for the food