Wendy Brandon

Busted telling porkies!

We said it days ago that the advice provided by Auckland Council Regional Planner was a bold faced lie and now Bernard Orsman proves it.

The Auckland Council appears to have done a legal flip-flop on the controversial issue of further reclamation of the Waitemata Harbour by Ports of Auckland to park cars.

Council documents, obtained by the Weekend Herald, show the council received two legal opinions in 2013 saying it was on firm ground with tough new rules for reclamation.

On Thursday, councillors narrowly voted 9-8 to weaken this position after the council’s regional planning manager, Penny Pirrit, advised them the tougher rules were not legally defensible.

Yesterday, council chief executive Stephen Town refused to answer questions about the legal position. A council officer said they would be answered under official information law, which could take up to 20 working days.

Council emails show high-profile lawyer Mai Chen was hired by Ports of Auckland shortly after the council passed a resolution in August 2013 to make reclamation a “non-complying” status in the draft Unitary Plan.

Ms Chen said the resolution was an illegal breach of the Resource Management Act. It also breached the New Zealand Coastal Policy Statement, she said. ? Read more »

Trotter on the left’s problems

Chris Trotter is a thinker, he is a great sounding board for what is happening on the left.

His post on The Daily Blog is a must read, but to save you the hassle of going to that site here are the best parts.

Labour will take comfort from the fact that its vote has remained steady at 34 percent. It shouldn?t. Unless 100,000 Green voters have undergone a Road to Damascus conversion to John Key?s easy-going conservatism and are now declaring themselves National Party supporters, the poll result is simply reflecting the extreme volatility on the left of New Zealand politics.

The most likely sources of National?s 6 percentage point surge to 51 percent are Labour and (to a lesser extent) NZ First. Buoyed by optimistic economic forecasts and dismayed by the Opposition?s presentational gaffes, the voters who had drifted back to Labour over the past few months now appear to be rushing back to National.

Labour are putting about that the One News poll was a rogue because voters moved from Green to National. Only the most stupid of commentators would buy that spin and Trotter certainly doesn’t.

Most political analysts are attributing the sharp decline in Green Party support (from 13 percent to 8 percent) to Russel Norman?s secret meetings with Kim Dotcom. Norman?s purpose in approaching the German IT entrepreneur was to dissuade him from setting up a political party whose demographic appeal is certain to overlap that of the Greens. As if this wasn?t bad enough, Norman then managed to convey the impression that the?quid pro quo?for Dotcom?s standing-down the Internet Party would be a Green Party promise to prevent his extradition to the United States.

If the pundits are correct, then the Greens? relationship with Dotcom has undone years of careful branding on the part of the Green Party leadership.

A critical factor in the Greens appeal ? especially to left-of-centre voters ? is the impression, conveyed by successive Green leaders, that their party is ?above? or ?in front? of politics-as-usual. The Greens? proud claim has always been that they want no part of the backstairs, you-scratch-my-back- and-I?ll-scratch-yours transactional politics so characteristic of the National and Labour parties. ? Read more »

Trotter goes all in, Cunliffe a Walter Mitty character

Chris Trotter has gone all in…I sense he is sniffing there is serious trouble inside the Labour party and in particular with David Cunliffe.

One News last night mentioned results of a poll in relation to Winston Peters so I suspect we will be drip fed information and other poll results over the weekend. Over he past 4 weeks there have been a number of polls and none of them are good for Labour and Cunliffe.

My Labour sources are telling me that the rumblings in caucus are pronounced and whatever supporters Cunliffe did have are fast evaporating as their own internal polling shows zero movement, even after major policy announcements.

Chris Trotter is a bellwether for strife in Labour…he is sensing it.

WE?LL ALL HAVE TO WAIT for Sunday?s?One News?bulletin to discover whether or not the results of the Fairfax Ipsos and Roy Morgan polls are confirmed by Colmar Brunton. If they are then David Cunliffe will have to act swiftly and decisively if he?s to preserve what little remains of Labour?s hopes for victory.

If he fails to act, then the narratives being constructed around his leadership will harden into perceived facts that he will find increasingly difficult to escape.

There are rumours, but I’ve heard those rumours before and they’ve been wrong, so will wait for the results. I suspect though that Labour and National know so I will watch for posts on blogs framing the talking points.

What are those narratives? There are many, but for the moment these are the two most damaging.

The first asserts that while Cunliffe undoubtedly won the support of his party in 2013, he singularly failed to win the support of his caucus. That failure is forcing him to tread with exaggerated caution around his parliamentary colleagues in an attempt to maintain a facade of party unity.

The Leader of the Opposition?s and his advisers? preoccupation with unity is now extending that caution into the realm of policy with the result that Cunliffe?s campaign promises to enshrine Labour?s core values at the heart of the party?s 2014 manifesto are beginning to ring hollow.? Read more »

Even rats get that sinking feeling

David Cunliffe’s office is fast gaining the same reputation as Hekia Parata’s…a revolving door of staff coming and going.

He has lost another senior staffer.

Labour has lost another senior staffer, with the deputy director of its research unit, Alastair Johnstone, leaving at the end of the week. Leader David Cunliffe’s chief press secretary Simon Cunliffe said it was “routine staff turnover”.? 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 »

What is Len Brown hiding?

Bernard Orsman normally acts as the Albert Street branch of the Mayor’s office. However it appears that his patience has worn thin. It appears that there is now a deliberate and orchestrated attempt by Len Brown to cover things up, and the policy is now affecting the Herald as well.

Just as they have done with requests from Rodney Hide and others they are playing fast and loose with the LGOIMA regulations.

The Auckland Council is sitting on secret documents used to draw up a new planning rulebook for the city and instructed its top lawyer to keep them hidden from the public.

Mayor Len Brown and chief executive Doug McKay have rejected requests from the?Herald?to release background papers used by a political working party to develop the most important planning document in the history of Auckland.

The new rulebook – or Unitary Plan – sets out a new way of life for Auckland’s 1.5 million residents that includes high-rise apartments and infill housing to cope with squeezing another 1 million people into the city.? Read more »