The Watchdog

Keeping citizens in the loop

Howick by-election candidate Penny Bright makes historic first complaint to Chief Archivist about Auckland Council’s alleged failure to maintain full and accurate ‘contracting’ records.

23 May 2011

Howick by-election candidate Penny Bright makes historic first complaint to Chief Archivist about Auckland Council’s alleged failure to maintain full and accurate ‘contracting’ records.

“Today, Monday 23 May 2011,  I arrived at the Office of the National Archives with evidence which, in my considered opinion, proves that ‘contracting’ at Auckland Council is effectively  ‘out-of-control’,”  says Howick by-election candidate Penny Bright.

“I made a formal written complaint to the Chief Archivist, about an alleged breach, by Auckland Council, of
s 61 (c) of the Public Records Act 2005, because the Auckland Council

(c) contravenes or fails to comply with any provision of this Act or any regulations made under it.

(This alleged  failure to comply attaches to s 17 (1) of the Public Records Act 2005:

‘Every public office and local authority must create and maintain full and accurate records of its offices in accordance with normal prudent business practice, including the records of any matter which is contracted out to an independent contractor.’ ) “

“The evidence to support this complaint, included the following items of correspondence:

1) 10 March 2011: ‘Open Letter/ Local Government and Official Information Act (LGOIMA) request to the CEO of Auckland Council.

2) 26 April 2011: Reply from Bruce Thomas ‘Public Information Manager’ Auckland Council, including copies of transfers for information to the 7 Auckland Council CCO’s (and Council Organisation).

3) 16 May 2011: LGOIMA reply from the Regional Facilities Auckland CCO.

4) 11 March 2011” Acknowledgment by Ministerial Secretary Jess Van Harlem (Office of Minister of Local Government Rodney Hide) of my originating ‘Open Letter/LGOIMA request of 10 March 2011.
___________________________________________________

“I will be formally advising the Governing Body of the Auckland Council of this development, at their meeting tomorrow, Tuesday 24 May  2011  at the former Manukau Council Chamber  at 10am.

My proposed subject matter also includes:

1) Given that the Auckland Council will soon be finalising decisions on the proposed Auckland Council 4.9% rate increase, I wish to bring to your collective attention, some urgent matters regarding potential savings of residents and ratepayers monies.

2) Confirmation that Auckland Council ‘books’ are NOT open, and the spending on consultants and contractors appears to be ‘out of control’.

(So – how can the Auckland Council even consider ANY rate increase – if a ‘line-by-line accounting exercise cannot be gone through to clearly identify where a ‘scalpel’ could be vigorously applied to private consultant and contractor ‘blubber’?)

3) Developments with the ‘postcard’ campaign to Prime Minister John Key, where residents and ratepayers of the Auckland Council, have signed pledges to ‘consider not paying this proposed 4.9% rate increase’. ”
____________________________________________________

BACKGROUND INFORMATION:

1) 10 March 2011: ‘Open Letter/ Local Government and Official Information Act (LGOIMA) request to the CEO of Auckland Council.

Auckland Council CEO
Doug McKay

‘Open Letter /LGOIMA request’
re: Statutory duties arising from s.17 (1) of the Public Records Act 2005:

“Every public office and local authority must create and maintain full and accurate records of its offices in accordance with normal prudent business practice, including the records of any matter which is contracted out to an independent contractor”.

Dear Doug,

Please provide the following information:

1) The information which confirms that prior to amalgamation under the Auckland Council, each of the following local authorities had created and maintained a (central) ‘Register of Contracts’ for any matter which was contracted out to an independent contractor:

(Independent contractor to include ‘consultant’ contractors.)

a) Auckland Regional Council (ARC)
b) Auckland City Council
c) Manukau City Council
d) Waitakere City Council
e) North Shore City Council
f) Rodney District Council
g) Papakura District Council
h) Franklin District Council

2) Please provide the information which confirms that prior to amalgamation under the Auckland Council, how many Council Controlled Organisations (CCOs) operated under each of the following local authorities:

a) Auckland Regional Council (ARC)
b) Auckland City Council
c) Manukau City Council
d) Waitakere City Council
e) North Shore City Council
f) Rodney District Council
g) Papakura District Council
h) Franklin District Council

3) Please provide the information which confirms that prior to amalgamation under the Auckland Council, that each ‘Council Controlled Organisation’ (CCO) operating under each of the above-mentioned local authorities had created and maintained a (central) ‘Register of Contracts’ for any matter which was contracted out to an independent contractor.

4) Please provide the information which confirms that for the time that the Auckland Transition Agency (A.T.A.) was operating, that they had created and maintained a (central) ‘Register of Contracts’ for any matter which was contracted out to an independent contractor.

5) Please provide the information which confirms that for the time the Auckland Council has been operating, there has been created and maintained a (central)  ‘Register of Contracts’ established for for any matter which has been contracted out to an independent contractor.

6) Please provide the information which confirms that for the time the each of the following Auckland Council ‘Council Controlled Organistions’ (CCOs); Council organisations and ‘statutory entities’ has been operating, there has been created and maintained a (central)  ‘Register of Contracts’ established for for any matter which was contracted out to an independent contractor.

a) Auckland Council Investments (ACIC)
b) Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (TEED)
c) Regional Facilities Auckland (RFA)
d) Auckland Council Property Ltd (ACPL)
e) Auckland Waterfront Development Agency (AWDA)
f) Watercare Services Ltd
g) Auckland Transport

7) Please provide the information which confirms that in each of the above-mentioned categories, auditors responsible to the Office of the Auditor-General, have double-checked that a (central) ‘Register of Contracts’ has been created and maintained.

8) Please provide the information which confirms that in accordance with normal prudent business practice, Auckland Council has now ‘amalgamated’, created and maintains full and accurate  records of any matter which has been contracted out to an independent contractor, including the above-mentioned Auckland Council ‘Council Controlled Organistions’ (CCOs); Council organisations and ‘statutory entities’.

9) Please provide the name and position of the Auckland Council employee who is ultimately responsible for the creation and maintenance of records of any matter which is contracted out to an independent contractor, as defined in s17 of the Public Records Act 2001, and would bear ultimate responsibility for any of the following offences:

http://www.legislation.govt.nz/act/public/2005/0040/latest/DLM345796.html?search=ts_act_Public+Records+Act+2005_resel&p=1#DLM345796
61 Offences
Every person commits an offence who wilfully or negligently—
(a) damages a public record; or
(b) disposes of or destroys a public record otherwise than in accordance with the provisions of this Act; or
(c) contravenes or fails to comply with any provision of this Act or any regulations made under it.


Yours sincerely,

Penny Bright

Media Spokesperson
Water Pressure Group
Judicially recognised Public Watchdog on Metrowater, water and Auckland regional governance matters.

“Anti-corruption campaigner”.

Attendee: Australian Public Sector Anti-Corruption Conference 2009
Attendee: Transparency International’s 14th Anti-Corruption Conference 2010
Auckland Mayoral Candidate 2010.
Independent Candidate Botany by-election 2011.
Independent Candidate Howick by-election 2011
https://waterpressure.wordpress.com

Ph (09) 846 9825
021 211 4 127

___________________________________________________

2) 26 April 2011: Reply from Bruce Thomas ‘Public Information Manager’ Auckland Council

(Official Information Request No. 9000108231)

26 April 2011

Dear Ms Bright

Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act 1987
Re: requests for evidence of record

I refer to your email dated 10 March 2011, which we received
on 11 March 2011, requesting information about records relating to independent contractors.

As a general comment, we note that section 17(1) of the Public records Act 2005 to which you refer does not establish an obligation to create and maintain a register of contracts and nor is there any other statutory obligation to do so.  Nonetheless, the Council is currently in the process of developing such a register.  Even once it is established, the information contained in the register is unlikely to be disclosed on the grounds that to do so would be likely unreasonably to prejudice the commercial position of the person who supplied or who is the subject of the information.  Of course, any requests will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Please note that Council Controlled Organisations are independent entities separate from the Auckland Council.
They have their own obligations to respond to requests under the Local Government Official Information and Meetings Act.

Regarding your request, we have responded to your questions in the order in which they were raised.

1) The information which confirms that prior to amalgamation under the Auckland Council, each of the following local authorities had created and maintained a (central) ‘Register of Contracts’ for any matter which was contracted out to an independent contractor:

a) Auckland Regional Council (ARC)
b) Auckland City Council
c) Manukau City Council
d) Waitakere City Council
e) North Shore City Council
f) Rodney District Council
g) Papakura District Council
h) Franklin District Council

2) Please provide the information which confirms that prior to amalgamation under the Auckland Council, how many Council Controlled Organisations (CCOs) operated under each of the following local authorities:

a) Auckland Regional Council (ARC)
b) Auckland City Council
c) Manukau City Council
d) Waitakere City Council
e) North Shore City Council
f) Rodney District Council
g) Papakura District Council
h) Franklin District Council

Your request is refused under section 17(f) of the Act on the basis that the information requested, to the extent it may exist or be held by the Auckland Council, cannot be made available without substantial collation or research.

17. Refusal of requests

A request made in accordance with section 10 of this Act may be refused only for one or more of the following reasons, namely:

(f)      That the information requested cannot be made
available without substantial collation or research.

3) Please provide the information which confirms that prior to amalgamation under the Auckland Council, that each ‘Council Controlled Organisation’ (CCO) operating under each of the above-mentioned local authorities had created and maintained a (central) ‘Register of Contracts’ for any matter which was contracted out to an independent contractor.

4) Please provide the information which confirms that for the time that the Auckland Transition Agency (A.T.A.) was operating, that they had created and maintained a (central) ‘Register of Contracts’ for any matter which was contracted out to an independent contractor.

Your request is refused under section 17(g)(i) of the Act on the basis that the information requested is not held by the local authority and we have no grounds for believing that the information is held by another organisation.  Alternatively, your request is refused under section 17(f) on the basis cannot be made available without substantial research.

17.  Refusal of requests.

A request made in accordance with section 10 of this Act may be refused only for one or more of the following reasons, namely:

(g) That the information requested is not held by the local authority and the person dealing with the request has no grounds for believing that the information is either-

(i) Held by another local authority or a Department or Minister of the Crown or organisation;

5) Please provide the information which confirms that for the time the Auckland Council has been operating, there has been created and maintained a (central)  ‘Register of Contracts’ established for for any matter which has been contracted out to an independent contractor.

7) Please provide the information which confirms that in each of the above-mentioned categories, auditors responsible to the Office of the Auditor-General, have double-checked that a (central) ‘Register of Contracts’ has been created and maintained.

8) Please provide the information which confirms that in accordance with normal prudent business practice, Auckland Council has now ‘amalgamated’, created and maintains full and accurate  records of any matter which has been contracted out to an independent contractor, including the above-mentioned Auckland Council ‘Council Controlled Organistions’ (CCOs); Council organisations and ‘statutory entities’.

As mentioned at the beginning of this letter, this information does not yet exist and your request is therefore refused under section 17 (e) of the Act.

17. Refusal of requests

A refusal made in accordance with section 10 of this Act may be refused only for one or more of the following reasons, namely:

(e)   That the document alleged to contain the information requested does not exist or cannot be found.

6) Please provide the information which confirms that for the time the each of the following Auckland Council ‘Council Controlled Organistions’ (CCOs); Council organisations and ‘statutory entities’ has been operating, there has been created and maintained a (central)  ‘Register of Contracts’ established for for any matter which was contracted out to an independent contractor.

a) Auckland Council Investments (ACIC)
b) Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (TEED)
c) Regional Facilities Auckland (RFA)
d) Auckland Council Property Ltd (ACPL)
e) Auckland Waterfront Development Agency (AWDA)
f) Watercare Services Ltd
g) Auckland Transport

The information, to the extent it may exist, is not held by the Auckland Council and your request has been transferred to the organisations listed above.  A copy of our letter of transfer is attached for your information.

9) Please provide the name and position of the Auckland Council employee who is ultimately responsible for the creation and maintenance of records of any matter which is contracted out to an independent contractor, as defined in s17 of the Public Records Act 2001, and would bear ultimate responsibility for any of the following offences:

61 Offences

Every person commits an offence who wilfully or negligently—
(a) damages a public record; or
(b) disposes of or destroys a public record otherwise than in accordance with the provisions of this Act; or
(c) contravenes or fails to comply with any provision of this Act or any regulations made under it.

The Auckland Council has a corporate responsibility to comply with the Public Records Act 2005.

You have the right in accordance with section 27(3) of the LGOIMA to make a complaint to the Office of the Ombudsman regarding council’s refusal to release any information under this letter and for the delay in getting this response to you.

If you have any further queries please contact me on
(09) 301 0101, quoting Official Information Request No. 90000108231

Yours sincerely

pp (? not legible)

Bruce Thomas
Public Information Manager
Democracy Services

_____________________________________________

Penny Bright

Media Spokesperson
Water Pressure Group
Judicially recognised Public Watchdog on Metrowater, water and Auckland regional governance matters.

“Anti-corruption campaigner”.

Attendee: Australian Public Sector Anti-Corruption Conference 2009
Attendee: Transparency International’s 14th Anti-Corruption Conference 2010
Auckland Mayoral Candidate 2010.
Independent Candidate Botany by-election 2011.
Independent Candidate Howick by-election 2011
https://waterpressure.wordpress.com

Ph (09) 846 9825
021 211 4 127

May 23, 2011 Posted by | Fighting corruption in NZ, Fighting corruption internationally, Howick by-election campaign, Stop the $uper City, Transparency in Govt spending | Leave a comment

URGENT! ‘Housing New Zealand intends a massive sell-off of Public Housing!’

12 May 2011

Housing New Zealand intends a massive sell-off of Public Housing.

A divestment Expert is being recruited to action the process in Auckland.

(see below *1)

http://www.trademe.co.nz/Browse/Listing.aspx?id=374822613

“This crown owned entity owns a vast amount of property assets and they currently require the services of an experienced Divestment Officer to join their Assets team.

Reporting into the Redevelopment and Upgrade Manager this role’s key purpose includes developing plans and strategies in relation to the disposal of assets, including engagement with other social housing partners, Iwi organisations and commercial residential property developers as well as with internal stakeholders.”

A property bonanza is being launched to sell off public property assets held by central government (Housing NZ) and by local government by the newly formed Auckland Council Property Ltd (ACP Ltd)

At the Auckland Council Property Ltd, Board meeting today a list of properties sold, under contract and up for sale was presented.

https://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&pid=gmail&attid=0.1.1&thid=12fe1cc1bac85f26&mt=application/pdf&url=https://mail.google.com/mail/?ui%3D2%26ik%3D18afffb768%26view%3Datt%26th%3D12fe1cc1bac85f26%26attid%3D0.1.1%26disp%3Dattd%26zw&sig=AHIEtbShUlkCzNs00b7g1A-LmIRMkDm-9A
When the Chairman of ACP Ltd Sir John Wells was asked by Lisa Prager after her deputation ” why is a meeting about the disposal of public council owned property being held in a private board room in Queen St?”
Sir John Wells replied ” it is more convenient for me as this is my office.”
Both Ms. Prager and Ms. Bright drew the Board’s attention to their concern about the undisclosed and secret sale of public property assets, underway.
‘Anti-corruption’ campaigner Penny Bright, asked if any of the unelected Board of ACPL appointees and staff responsible for property and procurement, had links with property developers, business associates/investors/ individuals who could take pecuniary advantage of such connections – given that there was no publicly-available ‘Register of Interests’.

“Where is the transparency?”

“We are in a housing crisis – yet  our public property assets held at both Auckland Local Government level (ACPL) and central government level (Housing NZ) appear to being set up for a massive land grab/ asset strip  for private interests,” said Ms Bright.
Ms Prager and Ms Bright are considering laying a complaint  with the Serious Fraud Office and the Police related to ‘Crime against rights of property’
Lisa Prager
Community Activist
 (09) 360 3397
Penny Bright
Judicially recognised ‘Public Watchdog’ on Metrowater, water and Auckland regional governance matters.
Auckland Mayoral candidate 2010.
Botany by-election candidate 2011
Auckland Council Howick by-election candidate 2011

‘Anti-corruption campaigner’
Attendee: Australian Public Sector Anti-Corruption Conference (Brisbane) 2009
Attendee: Transparency International 14th Anti-Corruption Conference (Bangkok) 2010

Ph (09) 846 9825
021 211 4 127
https://waterpressure.wordpress.com
____________________________________________________

*1

Property Divestment Expert

Listing #: 374822613

Location: Auckland City, Auckland
Type: Full time, Permanent
Listed: Sun, 08 May
Your reference #: WG18046
This crown owned entity owns a vast amount of property assets and they currently require the services of an experienced Divestment Officer to join their Assets team. Reporting into the Redevelopment and Upgrade Manager this role’s key purpose includes developing plans and strategies in relation to the disposal of assets, including engagement with other social housing partners, Iwi organisations and commercial residential property developers as well as with internal stakeholders.

The successful candidate will need to have a good balance of both public and private sector property disposals experience. The ability to relate to a wide variety of people and stakeholders will allow you to flourish in this specialised role. Your property skills will include a mixture of valuations, rental agreements, disposals, financial analysis and general property negotiations.

Your ideal background would include a mixture of property expertise gained from a local or regional council, government department, power/utility company or property consultancy. A relevant tertiary qualification in business, property or legal combined with an understanding of the social housing sector will give you the grounding to work across multiple projects.

For further information please contact Mike Westbury on 04 4941523 or apply through the link below.

————————————————————

(Ms Bright spoke directly with Mike Westbury on Wednesday 11 May 2011, where he confirmed that this ‘crown owned entity’, was in fact, Housing New Zealand)

May 12, 2011 Posted by | Fighting corruption in NZ, Howick by-election campaign, Stop the $uper City, Transparency in Govt spending | Leave a comment

NBR: ‘Act begins search for Epsom candidate to replace Hide’ + my comment exposing C & R Auckland Councillors supported a 3.9% rate increase on 13 December 2010:

Colin Williscroft | Wednesday May 11, 2011 | 13 comments

Act begins search for Epsom candidate to replace Hide

Rodney Hide.

Rodney Hide.

Nominations are open for an Act candidate to replace Rodney Hide and contest the Epsom electorate in the November 26 election.

“Act has always had a strong presence in Epsom – from 1996, when the party won 22% of the party vote, to the present day,” Auckland South board member Barbara Steinijans said.

“In Rodney Hide the people of Epsom have had strong local representation for the past six years. Once again, Act will be running a strong electorate vote based campaign.”

The incumbent MP, Mr Hide, does not have the support of new party leader Don Brash, although Mr Hide is yet to formally rule himself out from standing in the seat.

Mr Hide won 56% of the vote in the 2008 election, although National won 63% of the party vote.

Nominations close at 5pm on May 24.

__________________________________________________________________

MY COMMENT:

John Banks was a loud and proud ‘$upercity’ supporter from Day One.

But – the first thing the $upercity -$uper RIP OFF Auckland Council wants to do is to put up residential and commercial rates 4.9%.

So much for the ‘economies of scale’ that were to be achieved by forcibly amalgamating our 8 former Councils, in another ‘Rogernomic$ blitzkrieg’ (without a binding poll of citizens and ratepayers).

For those who just want to jump on the band wagon and blame Mayor Len Brown and the ‘left-leaning’ majority on the Auckland Council – here are the FACTS:

C&R Councillors on 13 December 2010 voted in support of a 3.9% rates increase.

(You will note that young National Party ‘Wonder boy’ (?) Jami-Lee Ross supported a 3.9% rate increase? )

http://www.aucklandcouncil.govt.nz/EN/AboutCouncil/meetings_agendas/committees/Pages/strategyandfinancecommittee.aspx

Auckland Council Finance and Strategy Committee meeting 13 December 2010 (Pgs 7-8)

12. Annual Plan 2011/2012 – High Level Budget Review

(c) That the Strategy and Finance Committee agrees a rates target of 4.9% for 2011 -2012 to inform the Mayor’s development of the draft annual plan.

MOVED by Councillor Wood seconded Councillor Fletcher

That a rates increase of not more than 3.9% be struck and officers work to identify further savings.

A division was called for, voting on which was as follows:

For

Councillors

Cameron Brewer
Hon Chris Fletcher
Des Morrison
Callum Penrose
Noelene Raffills
Jami-Lee Ross
Sharon Stewart
George Wood

Against

Councillors

Anae Arthur Anae
Len Brown
Dr Cathy Casey
Sandra Coney
Alf Filipaina
Ann Hartley
Penny Hulse
Richard Northey
Sir John Walker
Wayne Walker
Penny Webster

Councillors Michael Goudie and Mike Lee were absent.

The division was declared lost 8 votes to 11
_____________________________________________________________________________________________________

The Auckland Council ‘books’ are NOT open.

If a giant scalpel were to be applied to all that consultant and private contractor BLUBBER, and core council services returned to ‘in-house’ provision (cutting out all these private ‘piggies-in-the-middle’), in my considered opinion, rates could be slashed by hundreds of millions of dollars.

That’s why I’m standing in the Howick by-election.
To help achieve that.

‘OPEN THE BOOKS! – CUT OUT THE CONTRACTORS!’

PS: If you think replacing the ‘bureaucracy’ with the ‘contractocracy’ is so ‘efficient’ – ask yourself this one simple question.

Over the last 20 years – have YOUR rates gone up or down?

Penny Bright
https://waterpressure.wordpress.com

May 12, 2011 Posted by | Fighting corruption in NZ, Howick by-election campaign, Human rights, Stop the $uper City, Transparency in Govt spending | Leave a comment

Is the Auckland Property CCO (ACPL)planning to dispose of property assets ‘surplus to requirements’? Public Watchdogs Lisa Prager and Penny Bright will ask the ACPL Board the HARD questions on Thursday 12 May 9.30am!

10 May 2011

Emma Wheeler
EA
Auckland Council Property Ltd
CEO
David Rankin

‘OPEN LETTER’

Dear Emma,

Thank you for confirming my 10 minutes  ‘speaking rights’ to address the ‘Public Forum’ of the  upcoming Auckland Council Property Ltd (ACPL) meeting to be held on:

Thursday 12 May 2011
9.30am,
Bancorp Offices,
Qantas House,
Level 11,
191 Queen Street,
Auckland City.

The subject matter of my ‘deputation’,  will include:

1) As a publicly-acknowledged ‘anti-corruption’ campaigner, having attended two internationally significant ‘anti-corruption’ conferences, I am concerned at the apparent lack of structural openness, transparency and accountability in the ACPL ‘framework’.

a) Where is a publicly-available ‘Register of Interests’ for the unelected Board of ACPL CCO appointees and staff responsible for property and procurement?

(How can ‘conflicts of interest’ be avoided if ‘interests’ are not declared beforehand?

Do any unelected Board of ACPL appointees and staff responsible for property and procurement, have links with property developers, business associates/investors/

individuals who could take pecuniary advantage of such connections?)

b) What audit processes have been established by the Auckland Council, to ensure ‘Council control’ over this ACPL ‘Council Controlled Organisation’, in order to prevent the above-mentioned potential ‘conflicts of interest’ ?

c) What audit processes are/have been carried out by ‘independent statutory third party ‘Public Watchdogs such as the Office of the Auditor-General (OAG) to double-check that there are ‘open, transparent and accountable’ processes in place to help prevent such potential ‘conflicts of interest’?

d) Has the ACPL entered into contracts with the private sector for any goods or services?

e) Is there a central ‘Register of Contracts’, publicly-available, which details for public scrutiny: the name of the consultant/contractor; the scope, term and value of the contract?

f) How many staff employed by the ACPL are ‘in-house’ employees as opposed to ‘contracted’, or ‘temporary’ employees, and how much money is being spent on each category?

g) j) Where is the publicly-available ‘list’ of ALL property administered by the ACPL, with the following information?

i)   Property name.
ii)  Physical street address.
iii) Property history (how did it become a ‘council’ property – ie: was it BEQUESTED,
and if so – for what purpose).
iv) Who is currently using this property and for what purpose.
v)  If property is unused – for how long has this been the case.

h) What is the mechanism by which it is decided which Auckland Council ‘properties’ are deemed ‘surplus to requirements’?

i) Given that ALL Auckland Council property assets are supposedly owned by citizens and ratepayers of the Auckland region – by what process do we ‘the public’ ‘have a say’ in determining which Auckland Council ‘properties’ are deemed ‘surplus to requirements’?

j) What is the ‘consultation’ process  that is/will be carried out by the ACPL with  citizens and ratepayers of the Auckland region before ANY Auckland Council property assets are sold?

Yours sincerely,

Penny Bright
Judicially recognised ‘Public Watchdog’ on Metrowater, water and
Auckland regional governance matters.
‘World Water Warrior’ – NZ attendee at World Water Forum Kyoto 2003.

Auckland Mayoral candidate 2010.
Botany by-election candidate 2011
Howick by-election candidate 2011

‘Anti-corruption campaigner’
Attendee: Australian Public Sector Anti-Corruption Conference (Brisbane) 2009
Attendee: Transparency International 14th Anti-Corruption Conference
(Bangkok) 2010

Ph (09) 846 9825
021 211 4 127
https://waterpressure.wordpress.com

www.pennybright4mayor.org.nz
www.stopthesupercity.org.nz
www.stopprivatisation.org.nz

May 10, 2011 Posted by | Fighting corruption in NZ, Howick by-election campaign | Leave a comment

NBR: ‘Hide sees possibility of returning to parliament’ + my comment:

www.nbr.co.nz/article/hide-sees-possibility-returning-parliament-nn-92598#comment-119570

Former ACT Party leader Rodney Hide isn’t shutting the door on his political career — although the man who rolled him could slam it.

New leader Don Brash doesn’t want Mr Hide to stand for re-election in the Epsom seat, and has indicated he doesn’t want him in Parliament at all.

But Mr Hide said on TV One’s Q&A programme that didn’t mean he was out of politics for good.

“I’ve got until November 26 to be the best that I can be as a minister and as the MP for Epsom. I’m going to do that, I’m not making any hasty decisions,” he said.

“I’m his (Dr Brash’s) best adviser and supporter…you learn a bit as leader of a small party in government, and also I know how hard the job is.”

Mr Hide almost certainly won’t stand in Epsom because Dr Brash wants former Auckland mayor John Banks to contest the seat, but Mr Hide could return to Parliament as a list MP if the party gives him one of the top slots.

He appears to intend trying to persuade Dr Brash to agree to that.

Dr Brash took over the leadership two weeks ago after Mr Hide stood down in the face of caucus pressure from MPs who didn’t believe the party could survive the election without a change.

At the time, Dr Brash wasn’t even a member of ACT and Mr Hide said today the change had been “rather unorthodox”.

He said he stood down because he didn’t think ACT or the Government, which ACT supports through an agreement, could handle the sort of fight that would have ensued if he hadn’t.

“I reconciled myself to that and I worked assiduously to get a smooth transition,” he said.

Dr Brash is hoping ACT can gain up to 15 percent of the party vote in the election, which would give it more than 20 MPs.

But Prime Minister John Key has told The Economist magazine he believes it will appeal to only “a very narrow slice of the voting population”.

Mr Key was interviewed while he was in London for the royal wedding, and The Economist has posted a video on its website.

Mr Key said he didn’t think the change of leadership would mean a great deal.

“ACT has always had an extreme right-wing doctrine as the founding philosophy of that party,” he said.

“It typically had an appeal to quite a narrow audience in New Zealand and, in my view, that will continue.”

Comments and questions

Penny Bright | Monday, May 9, 2011 – 10:40am

“ACT has always had an extreme right-wing doctrine as the founding philosophy of that party,” he said.

“It typically had an appeal to quite a narrow audience in New Zealand and, in my view, that will continue.”

So – how come the policies and personnel of the National and ACT parties are so readily interchangeable?

Isn’t the reality that IN PRACTICE there is very little difference between the policies of National and ACT – when one looks at the legislation which has been passed by this National/ACT Government?

Take the Auckland $upercity.

National PROMISED to ‘consult with Aucklanders once the findings of the Royal Commission were known’.

www.national.org.nz/files/2008/local_government_policy.pdf

National LIED – on ‘shonky’ Prime Minister John Key’s ‘watch’.

Roger Douglas didn’t need to be a ‘Minister’.

The Local Government (Tamaki Makarau Reorganisation) Act 2009 which set up the underpinning Auckland $upercity (corporate takeover) framework was railroaded through Parliament under urgency in another ‘Rogernomic$’ blitzkrieg.

www.legislation.govt.nz/act/public/2009/0013/latest/DLM2044508.html

Of course – in order to get those extra MPs to make up the numbers needed for a centre-right coalition government – the ‘perception’ deception that somehow National and ACT are politically different creatures, must be maintained.

It is however – just ‘spin’.

The reality is that National and ACT are politically joined at the hip (pocket) – with big busine$$ backing to serve a big busine$$ – pro-privatisation agenda.

I totally agree with Hone Harawira’s analysis in his Sunday Star Times article
“Mana crosses the divide to fight for the marginalised” (Sunday 8 May – Pg 8)

“And while I’m talking about Brash, let me just say that while I ain’t no great fan of Rodney Hide, the way he got shafted was an example of the corporate style of democracy and government that should send a shiver down the spine of every Kiwi.

No reference to the voters, not even any discussion with the membership of Act, just a backroom deal with a bunch of rich boys, and Rodney gets dumped to make way for a 70-year-old whose claim to fame is that he lost a safe National seat back in the 80s, lost an election in 2005, and then lost the leadership of his party in 2006.

Don Brash is polite and pleasant but his political views make Attila the Hun look like a Socialist. ………….”

National and ACT are the pro-corporate “A” team and “B” team.

I agree with Bomber Bradbury – ‘A vote for John is a vote for Don’.

If the Botany by-election results for National (and ACT) are anything to go by – ‘shonky’ John Key’s masterful ‘Mr Popular’ spin-doctored ma$k is slipping.

In my considered opinion – once a ‘corporate raider’ – always a ‘corporate raider’…

NZ voting public – BEWARE!

Penny Bright
https://waterpressure.wordpress.com


May 8, 2011 Posted by | Fighting corruption in NZ, Howick by-election campaign, Stop the $uper City | Leave a comment

Did YOU know that ALL residents and ratepayers in the Auckland $upercity are facing a proposed 4.9% rate increase?

Auckland ($upercity) Council proposed 4.9% rate$ increase.
How many people living in the Auckland region are aware of the following:

a) The Auckland ($upercity) Council is proposing a 4.9% rates increase?

http://www.aucklandcouncil.govt.nz/EN/AboutCouncil/PlansPoliciesPublications/annual_plan/Pages/home2.aspx 

b) This Auckland ($upercity) Council proposed 4.9% rates increase covers ALL ratepayers (residential and commercial)?

c) The savings needed by the Auckland Council to prevent this 4.9% proposed rates increase is $62 million?

www.nbr.co.nz/article/auckland-council-plans-49-rate-increase-nk-87132

d) $62 million is exactly the amount spent by the former Auckland City Council, just on  on consultants in 2008?

http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10512497

e) ‘Submissions’ for the Draft Auckland Council Annual Plan, closed on 1 April 2011?

f) Only 1800 submissions on the ‘Draft Auckland Council Annual Plan’ were received by the Auckland Council?

g) I have intitiated a ‘postcard’ campaign, addressed to:                (No stamp required)

Prime Minister of New Zealand,
John Key
PO Box 18888,
Wellington 6160

“The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of Government:..”
[Article 21 (3) Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948]

This new Auckland (Supercity) Council is proposing a 4.9% rates increase!

(While reducing most former Council’s prompt rates payment discounts.)

Where are the  ‘economies of scale’ resulting from forcibly abolishing our eight former councils and replacing them with this ‘corporate controlled organisation’?

National promised to ‘consult with Aucklanders once the findings of the Royal Commission were known’:

http://www.national.org.nz/files/2008/local_government_policy.pdf

You didn’t.  Citizens were denied our lawful right to a ‘binding poll’ and now Auckland is being run
‘like a BIG business, by BIG business, for BIG business’.

Bigger contract$ for fewer but bigger contractors?  Serving whose interests?

The ‘books’ are NOT open.  We don’t know the name of the consultants/contractors; the scope, term and value of these contracts.

WHO IS IN CHARGE?  Where is the ‘due diligence’, ‘cost-benefit analysis’ and ‘transparency’?

CUT rates by cutting out contractors and bring core Council services back “in-house”!

I pledge to consider not paying this proposed Auckland Council 4.9% rate increase.

NAME:____________________________________________________________

ADDRESS:________________________________________________________

_________________________________________________________________

SIGNED:_____________________________________ DATE:_______________

(Please advise the Auckland Council forthwith – submissions closed on 1 April 2011)

________________________________________________________________________________________________

Having widely distributed these above-mentioned ‘postcards’ to retailers in the Remuera, Newmarket and Parnell shopping centres, I am shocked at how few people are aware of this pending rates increase.

Most people have been VERY appreciative of this effort made to help inform them, and the opportunity they now have to do something about it.

(For those who want to quickly blame Mayor Len Brown and the ‘left-leaning’ Auckland Council, may care to check the voting record of Citizens and Ratepayers and ‘Independent’ Councillors on this proposed rates increase issue?)

Penny Bright
https://waterpressure.wordpress.com

____________________________________________________________________________________

BACKGROUND INFORMATION:

Auckland Council 4.9% Draft Annual Plan proposal.

http://www.aucklandcouncil.govt.nz/EN/AboutCouncil/PlansPoliciesPublications/annual_plan/Pages/home2.aspx 

‘Transition Rate

Amalgamates the different rates you previously paid in 2010/2011

including the Auckland Regional Council rate but excluding those for water supply and wastewater.

Proposed increase from 2010/2011                4.9%

Wastewater rate

Applies to properties that had wastewater or sewerage rate for 2010/2011 and are connected to Watercare Services Limited network.

Proposed increase from 2010/2011               4.5%

Penalties for late payments of rates are proposed to be 10%.

A discount of 1.5% will be offered for the full payment of rates by the first installment date.

_____________________________________________________________________________________

www.nbr.co.nz/article/auckland-council-plans-49-rate-increase-nk-87132

NBR 1 March 2011 article

Auckland Council plans 4.9% rate increase

The new Auckland Council is planning a 4.9% overall rate increase to fund $2.5 billion of spending in the year starting July 1 this year.

According to the council’s draft annual plan it is proposing to spend $1.8 billion on providing services for the region and $773 million on capital projects.

To pay for these capital projects Auckland Council will borrow an additional $346 million in 2011/2012.

Mayor Len Brown said that without any intervention, the starting point for the overall rate increase would have been 9.4%.

“This was clearly not acceptable and we have set a maximum of 4.9% with an expectation that efficiency savings will be found.”

The council needs to save $62 million to get to this target.

____________________________________________________________________________________

$62 million is exactly the amount spent by the former Auckland City Council just on  on consultants in 2008

http://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=10512497

By Bernard Orsman

5:00 AM Monday May 26, 2008

Auckland City chief executive David Rankin and senior managers have bent the rules to hand out millions of dollars in consultancy work to former staff, official papers show.

Mr Rankin, first as finance director and then chief executive, has overseen payment of $8.7 million over the past four years in consultancy fees to 29 former staff and companies linked to former staff.

The news follows revelations last week that council spending on consultants is budgeted to soar to $62.2 million this year, up 9.6 per cent on the $56.7 million budgeted.

______________________________________________________________________________


http://www.kiwisfirst.co.nz/news.asp?pageID=2145848073&RefID=2141732572

May 6, 2011 Posted by | Fighting corruption in NZ, Howick by-election campaign, Stop the $uper City | Leave a comment

Where are National’s ‘SUPPORT ASSET SALES! VOTE NATIONAL!” signs? Anywhere??

In my considered opinion, ASSET SALES are THE election issue, in which the differences in stated policy between National and Labour are most clearly defined.
It appears that corporate interests, represented by National, were really hopeful that masterfully-packaged ‘Mr Popular’ corporate raider John Key, would be able to pull it off.
That somehow, masterfully-packaged ‘Mr Popular’ corporate raider John Key, would be able to invoke some form of collective frontal lobotomy in the voting public en masse, who would forget that while the ‘Rogernomic$ reforms’ were GREAT for big business, they weren’t quite so great for the public majority.
Especially when it comes to monthly power bills.
Somehow – masterfully-packaged ‘Mr Popular’ corporate raider John Key, would  enable the public majority to forget the ‘bad old days’ when under the ‘inefficient’ Electricity Department and Power Boards – you could afford to have your heater on in winter, and a soak your tired, aching  bodies in a lovely hot bath?  :(
Somehow – masterfully-packaged ‘Mr Popular’ corporate raider John Key, would be able to persuade the same ‘Mums and Dads’ who are struggling every month to pay their crippling  – ‘more efficient’ power bills, that they would be able to invest in these  ‘partially privatised’ power companies.
Unfortunately – the Botany by-election, proved that ‘partial privatisation’ /asset sales appears NOT to be a vote winner for National.
SO!
Eeeek!
‘What to do?’ cried the ‘spin doctors’.
Plan “B” – just as happened with the (successful) corporate media campaign against Winston Peters and NZ First before the 2008 election, to discredit and undermine them in order to help ensure they did not reach the 5% party vote threshold.
Plan “B” 2011 – a concerted and unrelenting corporate media campaign, to undermine the main political party (Labour) which has stated policy of opposing ‘partial privatisation’ /asset sales, and potentially could stop this corporate agenda.
What corporate media campaigns to undermine Labour have we seen since the Botany by-election?
The Darren Hughes matter.
Phil Goff’s handling of the Darren Hughes matter.
Damian O’Connor’s undisciplined comments over the Labour list selection process.
The National Party PNth candidate’s ‘beat up’ over the Labour party intersection picket opposing asset sales.
Use of ‘opinion polls’ to help steer public opinion away from Labour/ Phil Goff.
The current ‘beat up’ over the VERY effective Labour Party  ‘STOP ASSET SALES’ signs campaign.
Whatever next?!
MARK MY WORDS!
There will be more!
I’d actually take right wing opposition and ‘pickiness’ over the ‘STOP ASSET SALES’ signs campaign, as a cack-handed compliment.
If it wasn’t being effective – why would they bother?
Don’t buy into it folks!

:)
BACKGROUND FACTS AND EVIDENCE TO SUPPORT WHAT I’M SAYING!:
On 26 January 2011, in his ‘State of the Nation’ speech – John announced National’s policy of support for ‘partial privatisation’ of some SOE’s particularly electricity.
(‘Partial privatisation’ is like ‘partial pregnancy’ – there is no such thing).
Read John Key’s full speech.

PM: Nats to sell parts of state assets
Kerr treated for cancer
Key’s state-of-the-nation speech in full
Key set to boost nation’s savings

Be part of the news. Send pics, video and tips to nzherald.
_________________________________________________________________________________________________http://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=10702066
PM: Nats to sell parts of state assets
By Claire Trevett

2:36 PM Wednesday Jan 26, 2011

Prime Minister John Key has announced plans to sell off parts of state assets and cut back on the rate of Government spending.
Mr Key delivered his state-of-the nation address at Henderson’s Trust Stadium this morning to a group of about 380 people, mostly from the business community.
Click here for the full text of Mr Key’s speech.
He said National was looking to sell off parts of major power companies Mighty River Power, Meridian Energy and Genesis Energy along with coal company Solid Energy using the mixed-ownership model under which Air New Zealand operated.
“In each case, the government would retain majority ownership and control, and the freed-up capital would be used to purchase other public assets, thereby reducing the government’s need to borrow,” Mr Key said.
“I am convinced that Air New Zealand would not be run as well nor provide as good a service to customers if it was owned 100 per cent by the Government.”
National had also asked Treasury to look into reducing Government shareholding in the national carrier, Mr Key said.
“No other SOEs are being considered and no decisions have been made,” Mr Key said.
“Our final policy will be decided prior to this year’s election and we will seeking a mandate from the electorate before proceeding with any change,” he said.
Any sell-off would be subject to conditions including Government retaining a 50 per cent stake in the company, New Zealand investors claiming a place at the “front of the queue” when it comes to shareholding and any freed capital going back into public assets, said Mr Key.
New Zealand State Owned Entities (SOEs) not caught up in today’s proposal include Metservice, New Zealand Post, Kiwirail and Ontrack, Landcorp and Crown Fibre Holdings.
SOEs are directed to operate successfully as a business and earn profit on par with private commercial companies.
Many former SOEs were privatised by Labour and National through the 1980s and 1990s, including Telecom and State Insurance.
Opportunities for ‘mum and dad’ investors
Speaking to media after his speech, Mr Key said he was confident there would be significant interest in buying shares in currently state owned companies, by New Zealand “mums and dads” as well as institutions with investment portfolios such as the Super Fund and ACC.
“There is a lot of New Zealand investment that’s looking for a home. I don’t think the issue is about whether we can find New Zealand-based capital.”
He said foreign investors would be able to buy in, but he had sought Treasury advice to make sure the first opportunity to buy in was directed at New Zealanders.
There were various ways of ensuring New Zealanders did get the best opportunity to buy, including a discount for “mum and dad” investors. Another possibility was collecting interest in the shares, which he expected would be oversubscribed, allowing greater flexibility to decide who bought the shares.
New Zealand was “severely at risk” that foreign lenders would stop lending to New Zealand or charge higher interest rates.
“We can’t underestimate what Standard and Poors are saying. They are saying they would downgrade New Zealand, putting up the price of interest rates, unless we get on top of debt.”
He said if New Zealand was borrowing less, it meant there was more to invest in other areas.
‘Hocking off the family silver’
The announcement of planned asset sales was met with condemnation by Labour SOEs spokesman Clayton Cosgrove.
He accused National of planning to “hock off the family silver to foreign pixies”.
“They’ve done it before. It didn’t work then though we were promised we would be better off. And it won’t work now. It’s a dumb idea.”
“These enterprises have a combined value of $11.75 billion, and earn Kiwis $700 million a year.
“If John Key’s economic plan consists of hocking off the family silver to the foreign pixies from whom he’s also borrowing $120 million a week to give tax cuts to the rich, then he’s living in a fantasy land.”
Labour Party Finance spokesman David Cunliffe said the mixed ownership model favoured by National would relinquish Government control of state assets while giving little in return.
Minority shareholder rights would dilute public influence in running the companies, while compliance costs of public listing would still be incurred, he said.
“Arguably ‘mixed ownership’ is the worst of both worlds, and certainly not the best.”
Putting the proposal to sell off parts of SOEs in a speech themed around saving and investing was misleading, said Mr Cunliffe.
“Dressing it up as a savings plan is at best a bad joke. Since when did flogging off assets amount to saving and investing?
“John Key says he is singing the saving song today, but the substance is the same old agenda of irresponsible tax cuts for the wealthy and flogging the family silver to pay for them.”
Cuts in Government spending
Mr Key said the asset sales would come alongside an up-to-$300 million cut in new spending assigned to this year’s budget – from $1.1 billion to $800 to $900m.
Mr Key said both moves were necessary to boost New Zealand’s economic performance and deliver jobs, higher incomes and better living standards.
“The way for New Zealand to get ahead is to sell more to the rest of the world. That means making some changes.”
Mr Key said the reduced spending would allow New Zealand to record a meaningful surplus one year earlier than projected, in the 2014-2015 financial year.
“The government simply has to get its finances in order if New Zealand is to achieve a long term improvement in its economic prospects.
“I have therefore challenged my Ministers to balance the books more quickly.
“Government spending will continue to increase each year in dollar terms but at a slower pace than the rest of the economy.”
$300m a week borrowing
Mr Key said the Government was still having to borrow an average of $300 million a week “to pay the bills”.
That has raised the national debt level to 85 percent of GDP, putting New Zealand on par with Ireland, Portugal, Greece and Spain, he said.
“That is very uneasy company indeed.
“We recognise that New Zealand’s level of foreign debt is our biggest vulnerability,” he said.
“In the worst of the recession, running a budget deficit was the right thing to do, as it gave much-needed support to the economy.
“Now, as the economy recovers, borrowing $300 million a week is unaffordable and is holding the economy back.
If debt remained at those levels, Standard and Poor’s would downgrade New Zealand’s credit rating, Mr Key said.
“This year the theme of the Budget will be savings and investment.”
Electricity prices won’t rise, says Key
Mr Key said he did not believe New Zealanders would face higher electricity prices as a result of private shareholders demanding greater profits from electricity companies.
He said the government had reformed the electricity industry and put controls on, including reducing cost increases of electricity generation.
He believed the companies would be more successful with some private capital. The government was “cash strapped” and could not invest in them to the same extent, restricting their growth.
He said while his critics would claim he was selling off the family silver, he believed the most important thing for New Zealanders was making sure the country didn’t go broke.
“I think the public will respect us for taking the tough decisions, but the right decisions for New Zealand. We’re really saying to New Zealanders, look, sometimes mum and dad change the mix of their assets. The car might be too big and they get a smaller thing. We’re looking to do a similar thing, but overall growing the size of New Zealand’s balance sheet.”
Labour’s promises were too extravagant and would mean they had to borrow, taking New Zealand down the same road as Ireland and Spain.
– with NZHERALD STAFF
By Claire Trevett | Email Claire
_______________________________________________________________________________________
On the SAME day 26 January 2011- our dear friend (not) Roger Kerr from the NZ Business Round Table, (whose members did SO well out of the ‘Rogernomic$ reforms) – came out in support of ‘partial privatisation’, as did other business leaders.
_____________________________________________________________________________________
Business leaders support partial privatisation of state assets

3:15 PM Wednesday Jan 26, 2011Business leaders are optimistic that a government signal of plans to sell shares in several state-owned enterprises, while keeping a control of them, will be acceptable to voters.
Prime Minister John Key said the Government has asked Treasury for advice on extending Air New Zealand’s mixed ownership model to Mighty River Power, Meridian, Genesis and Solid Energy.
Advice has also been sought on reducing the Crown’s 74.69 percent shareholding in Air New Zealand, while still maintaining a majority stake.
Business leaders today talked about the difference between partial privatisations and the privatisation of state business in the 1980s and 1990s. Mr Key said his Government was “interested in what works, not in following any particular ideology”.
With broad public support and constructive participation by other political parties the policy had the potential to achieve widespread acceptance, Business New Zealand chief executive Phil O’Reilly said.
Business Roundtable executive director Roger Kerr said New Zealand governments were spooked by the issue of privatisation.
The roundtable has argued that there are myths about the 30 or so privatisations in the 1980s and 1990s and the country has moved in an opposite policy direction by buying back rail and Air NZ and starting Kiwibank.
He said the Government move was a step in the right direction but there were issues with partial ownership.
“All the economic research indicates that privately owned business on average outperform publicly owned ones. But partially owned state-owned enterprises can still be subject to political interference and the results are not as clear,” he said.
Employment and Manufacturers Association chief executive Alasdair Thompson said it was the opposite of selling the family silver.
“This is about realising the value from part of certain state assets and using the funds released to invest in even more valuable state assets.”
O’Reilly said that allowing New Zealanders to invest directly in a changed mix of state-owned assets was a policy that was both progressive and moderate.
“Broadening the pool of investment opportunities for New Zealand families is a key step towards a more vibrant economy.
“Greater involvement by more stakeholders also fosters accountability and better performance.”
Meridian Energy today noted the Prime Minister’s speech in a note to the NZX under the code for listed debt instruments.
“As with any company Meridian will continue to be guided by its shareholders expectations for the company,” Meridian said.
Solid Energy chairman John Palmer last year raised the issue of partial privatisation but was criticised by Energy Minister Gerry Brownlee for over-stepping the mark.
Palmer, who is also chairman of Air NZ, argued that Solid Energy’s situation was vastly different to the emotional discussion surrounding Kiwibank, and he talked about the merits of Air NZ’s ownership structure. The airline is listed on the sharemarket.
The National government has made it clear that it will not sell state assets in its first term and will signal any intention in election policy.
Palmer said there should be majority ownership of Solid Energy because it had some key national assets. The sale of new shares in the coal miner did not require the sale of the Government’s existing stake but would dilute it.
The Crown’s commercial portfolio contains almost $95 billion of assets, of which $55b is in commercially focused companies and $40b in investment funds, according to Treasury.
_________________________________________________________________________________________

On the same day – 26 January 2011, other business leaders come out in support of ‘partial privatisation’ of state assets.
__________________________________________________________________________________________


http://www.nbr.co.nz/article/business-supports-partial-privatisation-state-assets-nn-84414

NZPA | Wednesday January 26, 2011 | 10 comments

Business supports partial privatisation of state assets

Phil O’Reilly

Business leaders are optimistic that a government signal of plans to sell shares in several state-owned enterprises, while keeping a control of them, will be acceptable to voters.
Prime Minister John Key said the Government has asked Treasury for advice on extending Air New Zealand’s mixed ownership model to Mighty River Power, Meridian, Genesis and Solid Energy.
Advice has also been sought on reducing the Crown’s 74.69 percent shareholding in Air New Zealand, while still maintaining a majority stake.
Business leaders today talked about the difference between partial privatisations and the privatisation of state business in the 1980s and 1990s. Mr Key said his Government was “interested in what works, not in following any particular ideology”.
________________________________________________________________________

In contrast – Phil Goff slammed ‘partial privatisation’ as a ‘dumb idea’.
________________________________________________________________________

Partial asset sales a dumb idea, says Labour
http://tvnz.co.nz/politics-news/partial-asset-sales-dumb-idea-says-labour-4007707
Published: 1:01PM Wednesday January 26, 2011 Source: ONE News
Source: ONE News

Watch Video

Key points to partial asset sales (3:32)

Key points to partial asset sales watch
Key talks asset sales, savings and cost cutting (8:09)
John Key’s full speech: ‘Our economic challenge’ – video (23:40)

Labour says hocking off the family silver to “foreign pixies” has been tried before and failed, and “won’t work now”.
Responding to a speech by Prime Minister John Key today in which he indicated the government is looking at partial asset sales, Labour’s SOE spokesman Clayton Cosgrove said talk of the partial privatisation of New Zealand’s biggest power companies shows Key’s lack of vision.
“They’ve done it before. It didn’t work then though we were promised we would be better off. And it won’t work now,” said Cosgrove. “It’s a dumb idea.”
Cosgrove said the enterprises have a combined value of $11.75 billion and earn Kiwis $700 million a year.
“If John Key’s economic plan consists of hocking off the family silver to the foreign pixies from whom he’s also borrowing $120 million a week to give tax cuts to the rich, then he’s living in a fantasy land.”
Key said in his State of the Nation speech today that the mixed-ownership model under which Air New Zealand operates – where the government owns most of the company but there is a minority of outside equity – gives the best of both worlds.
The government has asked Treasury for advice on the viability of extending the mixed ownership model to Mighty River Power, Meridian, Genesis and Solid Energy, Key said.
But Labour Party leader Phil Goff believes New Zealanders will face higher power prices and cuts to essential services like schools and hospitals under Key’s plan.
“This isn’t an economic plan. It’s a recipe for disaster. Hocking off our assets to foreign buyers and slashing spending is vintage National,” he said.
“Mums and dads don’t have spare cash floating around to buy up shares,” Goff said.
He said low and middle income New Zealanders have been stung by the GST hike and now will face cuts to health and education while “paying through the nose to heat their homes once National sells off our power companies to foreign investors”.
The Green Party said Key’s announcement indicates a swing to the right which will damage the economy long-term and hurt ordinary New Zealanders.
“The gloves are coming off. John Key’s speech…signals National’s plan to privatise state assets in the next term,” said co-leader Russel Norman.
“Selling state assets to foreign corporations, which will inevitably happen under this plan, will drive up the current account deficit, send profits overseas and drive up costs for Kiwis.
“Our current budget deficit has been created by the government’s tax cuts and poor quality spending. John Key is now using his mismanagement of the economy as an excuse to sell public assets and cut important social and environmental spending,” added Norman.
Norman said New Zealand needs state assets to drive innovation and investment.
“If the government wants to create opportunities for Kiwi investors then it should look into State Owned Enterprises issuing investment bonds. This is a much better option than selling off the assets.”
More problems than answers
The Council of Trade Unions says partial privatisation plans will do little to address debt problems and will cause more problems than they solve.
“Inevitably we will see more of the bad behaviour of the private electricity companies and the commercially focussed SOEs intensify, with more price rises, reluctance to invest in new generating capacity, and reluctance to invest in a secure supply,” CTU economist Bill Rosenberg said.
“The partial sale would hardly dent the government’s debt but at a significant cost to the effectiveness of New Zealand’s infrastructure. Most of the shares will end up overseas owned, increasing New Zealand’s overseas liabilities. It just moves public debt to private debt.”
And Rosenberg said the announcement of a further cut in the government operating allowance is small in terms of debt levels but will put pressure on government services like health and education.
“If we want to provide investment opportunities to the public, Kiwi infrastructure bonds could be offered that the government uses for development purposes.”
Exciting news
The Employers & Manufacturers Association said trading up state assets “into even more valuable assets” is exciting news.
“This is the opposite of selling the family silver,” said chief executive, Alasdair Thompson.
“This is about realising the value from part of certain state assets and using the funds released to invest in even more valuable state assets.”
Thompson said the association is calling for an Investment Development Fund dedicated to infrastructure into which proceeds from asset sales would be channelled for Kiwis to invest in.
“This would allow us to develop our country using much more of our own money instead of borrowing it from foreigners,” he said.
Realistic policy
BusinessNZ is welcoming the focus on investment in the Prime Minister’s state of the nation speech.
Chief Executive Phil O’Reilly said allowing New Zealanders to invest directly in a changed mix of state owned assets is a policy that is both progressive and moderate.
“Broadening the pool of investment opportunities for New Zealand families is a key step towards a more vibrant economy.
“Greater involvement by more stakeholders also fosters accountability and better performance.”
O’Reilly said the timeframe for the policy is measured and gives a good amount of time for public discussion.
“With broad public support and constructive participation by other political parties this policy has the potential to achieve widespread acceptance,” O’Reilly said.
________________________________________________________________________________________
Campaigning on opposition to asset sales works for Phil Goff and Labour in the Botany by-election, while support for ‘partial privatisation’ / assets sales appeared to be an electoral disaster for John Key / National, as over 9000 (former?) National Party voters stay home.
Interesting how the NZ Herald’s CHIEF Political Reporter’s analysis of the only poll that really matters – an ELECTION result – in this case the recent Botany by-election, plus the election result itself, somewhat differs from these latest ‘opinion’ polls?
http://www.nzherald.co.nz/politics/news/article.cfm?c_id=280&objectid=10710626
Botany byelection loss holds silver lining for Labour Party
By John Armstrong
5:30 AM Monday Mar 7, 2011
At last, Phil Goff has something to smile about.
Exactly why the Labour leader is smiling might not seem immediately obvious given that National’s Jami-Lee Ross won Saturday’s Botany byelection in a canter, securing almost double the number of votes of his Labour counterpart.
The answer is that everything is relative in politics. Labour did better than it hoped. National did not fare as well as it would have expected.
……………………..”
________________________________________________________________________________________
Of course, as arguably proven in the 2008 general election, the way ‘democracy’ works in NZ, is that the public majority get the Government that the majority of big business want us to have – and this is achieved through corporate media manipulation.
Big business want ‘partial privatisation’ of state assets, especially electricity SOEs.
John Key /National support  ‘partial privatisation’ of state assets, especially electricity SOEs.
Phil Goff/Labour think ‘ ‘partial privatisation’ of state assets, especially electricity SOEs.
is a ‘dumb idea’.
Arguably the Botany by-election result proves this?
(Over 9000 former? National party voters – DON’T.
Did ‘the polls’ predict this?
DID THEY?
Corporate media campaign begins to try and undermine Labour and Labour’s leader, Phil Goff……………..
‘Polls’ like the one commented on today, arguably are used to keep the anti-Labour Party ‘beat-up’ going.
I predict a lot more ‘beat ups’ to come.
It seems that asset sales, especially of electricity assets, is HUGELY unpopular, and despite (shonky?) John Key’s best efforts to make this political ‘goat sh*t’ smell like honey – significant numbers of voters haven’t had a collective frontal lobotomy.
We have learned that what groups like the NZ Business Round Table are advocating, isn’t usually in the best interests of the majority of the NZ public.
Big business interests support ‘partial privatisation’, John Key/ National supports ‘partial privatisation’ (oops! the ‘mixed ownership’ model’.
Phil Goff/Labour thinks ‘partial privatisation is a ‘dumb idea’ – apparently so too do significant numbers of the general public.
Big business /National carry out a concerted corporate media campaign to help undermine Phil Goff/ Labour?
Darren Hughes / Phil Goff’s ‘handling’ of the Darren Hughes matter / Damien O’Connor’s ‘undisciplined’ comments/ the PNth intersection anti-asset sale picket ‘beat up’ …. etc.
I confidently predict that there will be constant ‘picking’ / ‘beat ups’ all through this election campaign, to attempt to undermine support for the main political party – Labour – which opposes what the majority of big business openly want – more privatisation of key public assets.
Where did we see this before?
Oh yes, before the 2008 election with the campaign to discredit and undermine Winston Peters and NZ First, so that they wouldn’t make the 5% party vote threshold.
The aim?
For National to get enough votes to govern alone.
Want to see the FACTS and EVIDENCE that I have researched to support my considered opinion?
https://waterpressure.wordpress.com
DON’T BUY INTO THE CORPORATE MEDIA CAMPAIGN TO UNDERMINE PHIL GOFF AND LABOUR – is my opinion, and you can see by the evidence that I have provided – that it is ‘considered’.

HAPPY EASTER! :)

April 21, 2011 Posted by | Fighting corruption in NZ, Howick by-election campaign | Leave a comment

Big business and National support asset sales – the public and Labour oppose assets sales – so corporate media tries to undermine Labour.

15 April 2011
How, in our NZ democracy we tend to get the Government the majority of big business want us to have  – through corporate media manipulation.
This is how it works:

1) Big business want ‘partial privatisation’ of state assets.
2) John Key/ National support ‘partial privatisation’ of state assets.
3) Phil Goff/Labour oppose ‘partial privatisation’ of state assets.
4) The Botany by-election arguably helps prove that significant numbers of the voting public oppose ‘partial privatisation’ of state assets.
5) Corporate media campaign begins to undermine Phil Goff/Labour….

(Supporting facts and evidence in the following articles………)

http://www.nbr.co.nz/article/business-supports-partial-privatisation-state-assets-nn-84414

NZPA | Wednesday January 26, 2011 | 10 comments

Business supports partial privatisation of state assets

Phil O'Reilly

Phil O’Reilly

Business leaders are optimistic that a government signal of plans to sell shares in several state-owned enterprises, while keeping a control of them, will be acceptable to voters.

Prime Minister John Key said the Government has asked Treasury for advice on extending Air New Zealand’s mixed ownership model to Mighty River Power, Meridian, Genesis and Solid Energy.

Advice has also been sought on reducing the Crown’s 74.69 percent shareholding in Air New Zealand, while still maintaining a majority stake.

Business leaders today talked about the difference between partial privatisations and the privatisation of state business in the 1980s and 1990s. Mr Key said his Government was “interested in what works, not in following any particular ideology”.


http://www.nzherald.co.nz/economy/news/article.cfm?c_id=34&objectid=10702162

Business leaders support partial privatisation of state assets

3:15 PM Wednesday Jan 26, 2011

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Business Roundtable executive director Roger Kerr

File photo

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Business Roundtable executive director Roger Kerr File photo

Business leaders are optimistic that a government signal of plans to sell shares in several state-owned enterprises, while keeping a control of them, will be acceptable to voters.

Prime Minister John Key said the Government has asked Treasury for advice on extending Air New Zealand’s mixed ownership model to Mighty River Power, Meridian, Genesis and Solid Energy.

Advice has also been sought on reducing the Crown’s 74.69 percent shareholding in Air New Zealand, while still maintaining a majority stake.

Business leaders today talked about the difference between partial privatisations and the privatisation of state business in the 1980s and 1990s. Mr Key said his Government was “interested in what works, not in following any particular ideology”.

With broad public support and constructive participation by other political parties the policy had the potential to achieve widespread acceptance, Business New Zealand chief executive Phil O’Reilly said.

Business Roundtable executive director Roger Kerr said New Zealand governments were spooked by the issue of privatisation.

The roundtable has argued that there are myths about the 30 or so privatisations in the 1980s and 1990s and the country has moved in an opposite policy direction by buying back rail and Air NZ and starting Kiwibank.

He said the Government move was a step in the right direction but there were issues with partial ownership.

“All the economic research indicates that privately owned business on average outperform publicly owned ones. But partially owned state-owned enterprises can still be subject to political interference and the results are not as clear,” he said.

Employment and Manufacturers Association chief executive Alasdair Thompson said it was the opposite of selling the family silver.

“This is about realising the value from part of certain state assets and using the funds released to invest in even more valuable state assets.”

O’Reilly said that allowing New Zealanders to invest directly in a changed mix of state-owned assets was a policy that was both progressive and moderate.

“Broadening the pool of investment opportunities for New Zealand families is a key step towards a more vibrant economy.

“Greater involvement by more stakeholders also fosters accountability and better performance.”

Meridian Energy today noted the Prime Minister’s speech in a note to the NZX under the code for listed debt instruments.

“As with any company Meridian will continue to be guided by its shareholders expectations for the company,” Meridian said.

Solid Energy chairman John Palmer last year raised the issue of partial privatisation but was criticised by Energy Minister Gerry Brownlee for over-stepping the mark.

Palmer, who is also chairman of Air NZ, argued that Solid Energy’s situation was vastly different to the emotional discussion surrounding Kiwibank, and he talked about the merits of Air NZ’s ownership structure. The airline is listed on the sharemarket.

The National government has made it clear that it will not sell state assets in its first term and will signal any intention in election policy.

Palmer said there should be majority ownership of Solid Energy because it had some key national assets. The sale of new shares in the coal miner did not require the sale of the Government’s existing stake but would dilute it.

The Crown’s commercial portfolio contains almost $95 billion of assets, of which $55b is in commercially focused companies and $40b in investment funds, according to Treasury.

– NZPA

Read John Key’s full speech.


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http://www.nzherald.co.nz/business/news/article.cfm?c_id=3&objectid=10702066

PM: Nats to sell parts of state assets

By Claire Trevett

2:36 PM Wednesday Jan 26, 2011
Prime Minister John Key before his state-of-the-nation speech in Auckland today. Photo / Greg Bowker

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Prime Minister John Key before his state-of-the-nation speech in Auckland today. Photo / Greg Bowker

Prime Minister John Key has announced plans to sell off parts of state assets and cut back on the rate of Government spending.

Mr Key delivered his state-of-the nation address at Henderson’s Trust Stadium this morning to a group of about 380 people, mostly from the business community.

Click here for the full text of Mr Key’s speech.

He said National was looking to sell off parts of major power companies Mighty River Power, Meridian Energy and Genesis Energy along with coal company Solid Energy using the mixed-ownership model under which Air New Zealand operated.

“In each case, the government would retain majority ownership and control, and the freed-up capital would be used to purchase other public assets, thereby reducing the government’s need to borrow,” Mr Key said.

“I am convinced that Air New Zealand would not be run as well nor provide as good a service to customers if it was owned 100 per cent by the Government.”

National had also asked Treasury to look into reducing Government shareholding in the national carrier, Mr Key said.

“No other SOEs are being considered and no decisions have been made,” Mr Key said.

“Our final policy will be decided prior to this year’s election and we will seeking a mandate from the electorate before proceeding with any change,” he said.

Any sell-off would be subject to conditions including Government retaining a 50 per cent stake in the company, New Zealand investors claiming a place at the “front of the queue” when it comes to shareholding and any freed capital going back into public assets, said Mr Key.

New Zealand State Owned Entities (SOEs) not caught up in today’s proposal include Metservice, New Zealand Post, Kiwirail and Ontrack, Landcorp and Crown Fibre Holdings.

SOEs are directed to operate successfully as a business and earn profit on par with private commercial companies.

Many former SOEs were privatised by Labour and National through the 1980s and 1990s, including Telecom and State Insurance.

Opportunities for ‘mum and dad’ investors

Speaking to media after his speech, Mr Key said he was confident there would be significant interest in buying shares in currently state owned companies, by New Zealand “mums and dads” as well as institutions with investment portfolios such as the Super Fund and ACC.

“There is a lot of New Zealand investment that’s looking for a home. I don’t think the issue is about whether we can find New Zealand-based capital.”

He said foreign investors would be able to buy in, but he had sought Treasury advice to make sure the first opportunity to buy in was directed at New Zealanders.

There were various ways of ensuring New Zealanders did get the best opportunity to buy, including a discount for “mum and dad” investors. Another possibility was collecting interest in the shares, which he expected would be oversubscribed, allowing greater flexibility to decide who bought the shares.

New Zealand was “severely at risk” that foreign lenders would stop lending to New Zealand or charge higher interest rates.

“We can’t underestimate what Standard and Poors are saying. They are saying they would downgrade New Zealand, putting up the price of interest rates, unless we get on top of debt.”

He said if New Zealand was borrowing less, it meant there was more to invest in other areas.

‘Hocking off the family silver’

The announcement of planned asset sales was met with condemnation by Labour SOEs spokesman Clayton Cosgrove.

He accused National of planning to “hock off the family silver to foreign pixies”.

“They’ve done it before. It didn’t work then though we were promised we would be better off. And it won’t work now. It’s a dumb idea.”

“These enterprises have a combined value of $11.75 billion, and earn Kiwis $700 million a year.

“If John Key’s economic plan consists of hocking off the family silver to the foreign pixies from whom he’s also borrowing $120 million a week to give tax cuts to the rich, then he’s living in a fantasy land.”

Labour Party Finance spokesman David Cunliffe said the mixed ownership model favoured by National would relinquish Government control of state assets while giving little in return.

Minority shareholder rights would dilute public influence in running the companies, while compliance costs of public listing would still be incurred, he said.

“Arguably ‘mixed ownership’ is the worst of both worlds, and certainly not the best.”

Putting the proposal to sell off parts of SOEs in a speech themed around saving and investing was misleading, said Mr Cunliffe.

“Dressing it up as a savings plan is at best a bad joke. Since when did flogging off assets amount to saving and investing?

“John Key says he is singing the saving song today, but the substance is the same old agenda of irresponsible tax cuts for the wealthy and flogging the family silver to pay for them.”

Cuts in Government spending

Mr Key said the asset sales would come alongside an up-to-$300 million cut in new spending assigned to this year’s budget – from $1.1 billion to $800 to $900m.

Mr Key said both moves were necessary to boost New Zealand’s economic performance and deliver jobs, higher incomes and better living standards.

“The way for New Zealand to get ahead is to sell more to the rest of the world. That means making some changes.”

Mr Key said the reduced spending would allow New Zealand to record a meaningful surplus one year earlier than projected, in the 2014-2015 financial year.

“The government simply has to get its finances in order if New Zealand is to achieve a long term improvement in its economic prospects.

“I have therefore challenged my Ministers to balance the books more quickly.

“Government spending will continue to increase each year in dollar terms but at a slower pace than the rest of the economy.”

$300m a week borrowing

Mr Key said the Government was still having to borrow an average of $300 million a week “to pay the bills”.

That has raised the national debt level to 85 percent of GDP, putting New Zealand on par with Ireland, Portugal, Greece and Spain, he said.

“That is very uneasy company indeed.

“We recognise that New Zealand’s level of foreign debt is our biggest vulnerability,” he said.

“In the worst of the recession, running a budget deficit was the right thing to do, as it gave much-needed support to the economy.

“Now, as the economy recovers, borrowing $300 million a week is unaffordable and is holding the economy back.

If debt remained at those levels, Standard and Poor’s would downgrade New Zealand’s credit rating, Mr Key said.

“This year the theme of the Budget will be savings and investment.”

Electricity prices won’t rise, says Key

Mr Key said he did not believe New Zealanders would face higher electricity prices as a result of private shareholders demanding greater profits from electricity companies.

He said the government had reformed the electricity industry and put controls on, including reducing cost increases of electricity generation.

He believed the companies would be more successful with some private capital. The government was “cash strapped” and could not invest in them to the same extent, restricting their growth.

He said while his critics would claim he was selling off the family silver, he believed the most important thing for New Zealanders was making sure the country didn’t go broke.

“I think the public will respect us for taking the tough decisions, but the right decisions for New Zealand. We’re really saying to New Zealanders, look, sometimes mum and dad change the mix of their assets. The car might be too big and they get a smaller thing. We’re looking to do a similar thing, but overall growing the size of New Zealand’s balance sheet.”

Labour’s promises were too extravagant and would mean they had to borrow, taking New Zealand down the same road as Ireland and Spain.

– with NZHERALD STAFF

By Claire Trevett | Email Claire

Partial asset sales a dumb idea, says Labour

http://tvnz.co.nz/politics-news/partial-asset-sales-dumb-idea-says-labour-4007707

Published: 1:01PM Wednesday January 26, 2011 Source: ONE News

Labour says hocking off the family silver to “foreign pixies” has been tried before and failed, and “won’t work now”.

Responding to a speech by Prime Minister John Key today in which he indicated the government is looking at partial asset sales, Labour’s SOE spokesman Clayton Cosgrove said talk of the partial privatisation of New Zealand’s biggest power companies shows Key’s lack of vision.

“They’ve done it before. It didn’t work then though we were promised we would be better off. And it won’t work now,” said Cosgrove. “It’s a dumb idea.”

Cosgrove said the enterprises have a combined value of $11.75 billion and earn Kiwis $700 million a year.

“If John Key’s economic plan consists of hocking off the family silver to the foreign pixies from whom he’s also borrowing $120 million a week to give tax cuts to the rich, then he’s living in a fantasy land.”

Key said in his State of the Nation speech today that the mixed-ownership model under which Air New Zealand operates – where the government owns most of the company but there is a minority of outside equity – gives the best of both worlds.

The government has asked Treasury for advice on the viability of extending the mixed ownership model to Mighty River Power, Meridian, Genesis and Solid Energy, Key said.

But Labour Party leader Phil Goff believes New Zealanders will face higher power prices and cuts to essential services like schools and hospitals under Key’s plan.

“This isn’t an economic plan. It’s a recipe for disaster. Hocking off our assets to foreign buyers and slashing spending is vintage National,” he said.

“Mums and dads don’t have spare cash floating around to buy up shares,” Goff said.

He said low and middle income New Zealanders have been stung by the GST hike and now will face cuts to health and education while “paying through the nose to heat their homes once National sells off our power companies to foreign investors”.

The Green Party said Key’s announcement indicates a swing to the right which will damage the economy long-term and hurt ordinary New Zealanders.

“The gloves are coming off. John Key’s speech…signals National’s plan to privatise state assets in the next term,” said co-leader Russel Norman.

“Selling state assets to foreign corporations, which will inevitably happen under this plan, will drive up the current account deficit, send profits overseas and drive up costs for Kiwis.

“Our current budget deficit has been created by the government’s tax cuts and poor quality spending. John Key is now using his mismanagement of the economy as an excuse to sell public assets and cut important social and environmental spending,” added Norman.

Norman said New Zealand needs state assets to drive innovation and investment.

“If the government wants to create opportunities for Kiwi investors then it should look into State Owned Enterprises issuing investment bonds. This is a much better option than selling off the assets.”

More problems than answers

The Council of Trade Unions says partial privatisation plans will do little to address debt problems and will cause more problems than they solve.

“Inevitably we will see more of the bad behaviour of the private electricity companies and the commercially focussed SOEs intensify, with more price rises, reluctance to invest in new generating capacity, and reluctance to invest in a secure supply,” CTU economist Bill Rosenberg said.

“The partial sale would hardly dent the government’s debt but at a significant cost to the effectiveness of New Zealand’s infrastructure. Most of the shares will end up overseas owned, increasing New Zealand’s overseas liabilities. It just moves public debt to private debt.”

And Rosenberg said the announcement of a further cut in the government operating allowance is small in terms of debt levels but will put pressure on government services like health and education.

“If we want to provide investment opportunities to the public, Kiwi infrastructure bonds could be offered that the government uses for development purposes.”

Exciting news

The Employers & Manufacturers Association said trading up state assets “into even more valuable assets” is exciting news.

“This is the opposite of selling the family silver,” said chief executive, Alasdair Thompson.

“This is about realising the value from part of certain state assets and using the funds released to invest in even more valuable state assets.”

Thompson said the association is calling for an Investment Development Fund dedicated to infrastructure into which proceeds from asset sales would be channelled for Kiwis to invest in.

“This would allow us to develop our country using much more of our own money instead of borrowing it from foreigners,” he said.

Realistic policy

BusinessNZ is welcoming the focus on investment in the Prime Minister’s state of the nation speech.

Chief Executive Phil O’Reilly said allowing New Zealanders to invest directly in a changed mix of state owned assets is a policy that is both progressive and moderate.

“Broadening the pool of investment opportunities for New Zealand families is a key step towards a more vibrant economy.

“Greater involvement by more stakeholders also fosters accountability and better performance.”

O’Reilly said the timeframe for the policy is measured and gives a good amount of time for public discussion.

“With broad public support and constructive participation by other political parties this policy has the potential to achieve widespread acceptance,” O’Reilly said.

__________________________________________________________________

http://www.nzherald.co.nz/john-armstrong-on-politics/news/article.cfm?c_id=1502865&objectid=10710626

Botany byelection loss holds silver lining for Labour Party

By John Armstrong

5:30 AM Monday Mar 7, 2011

At last, Phil Goff has something to smile about.

Exactly why the Labour leader is smiling might not seem immediately obvious given that National’s Jami-Lee Ross won Saturday’s Botany byelection in a canter, securing almost double the number of votes of his Labour counterpart.

The answer is that everything is relative in politics. Labour did better than it hoped. National did not fare as well as it would have expected.

Of some worry to National will be the bleeding of its votes to the New Citizen Party, which picked up 10.5 per cent of the total candidate vote and pushed Act into fourth place.

If replicated in electorates across Auckland with large populations of New Zealand Chinese, such splintering of centre-right support could see large piles of wasted votes if the new party fails to reach the 5 per cent threshold.

That could diminish the centre-right’s representation in Parliament by one or two seats – seats which may well be crucial for National to retain power.

It is questionable, however, how meaningful conclusions drawn from a byelection can be, let alone one as stifled by circumstances as this one.

Still, the debut of the New Citizen Party and National’s failure to lift its vote would seem to pour cold water on the possibility of National securing a majority alone.

Article continues below

The complicating factor is Saturday’s abysmally low turnout. However, the non-vote would more likely be weighted in Labour’s favour.

The 36.6 per cent turnout – half that of a general election – meant both major parties got fewer votes than at the 2008 election. Labour’s vote proved more robust. National’s vote halved from more than 17,000 to just over 8000. In comparison, Labour’s vote fell, but far less dramatically – from around 6500 to just over 4000.

The net result is: Labour increased its share of the candidate vote in the seat from 21 per cent in 2008 to 28 per cent on Saturday.

Moreover, it did so in the face of a number of handicaps – notably the party’s candidate, Michael Wood, committing one of politics’ great sins early on by saying he would not win the seat.

At a minimum, the result boils down to a psychological victory for Labour, one which Goff wasted no time milking by staging a lunch-time photo-opportunity yesterday at a cafe in Botany town centre.

His claim the result is a “significant swing” against the Government ignores National having won about the same share of the vote as it did in 2008.

Moreover, although such comparisons are questionable, there is not a big difference between Labour’s party vote in the seat in 2008 and its candidate vote this time.

As for Act, Rodney Hide may not know whether to laugh or cry. The party’s candidate, Lyn Murphy, got 671 votes.

That amounts to less than 5 per cent of the vote in the kind of seat where Act should be hitting double figures.

However, Act’s party vote in the seat was less than 5 per cent in 2008. The byelection result suggests that while Act may still be down, the party is definitely not out.

The party is holding its annual conference next weekend. It does so with a fig-leaf of electoral respectability – but nothing more.

By John Armstrong | Email John

April 15, 2011 Posted by | Fighting corruption in NZ, Howick by-election campaign, Human rights | Leave a comment

Will the OAG investigation cover the use of Pansy Wong’s electorate office address for ‘Shipley & Wong Ltd’?

15 April 2011

Yesterday I rang the Office of the Auditor-General and asked whether or not the scope of their investigation into Sammy Wong’s travel expenses was going to extend to the use of (ex) National Party MP Pansy Wong’s electorate office (735 Chapel Rd, Botany), as the business address of Shipley & Wong Ltd.

( At that time, on 11 June 2010,  former National Party Prime Minister Jenny Shipley was a 50% shareholder of Shipley & Wong Ltd, and her husband Burton Ross Shipley was a Director – along with Sammy Wong, Pansy Wong’s husband.)

Nicola White from the OAG confirmed that the office was aware of my concerns and my previous correspondence, and that they were ‘looking into issues associated with the matter’.

So – presumably the answer is ‘yes’?

(Following is the correspondence to which Nicola White is referring):

19 February 2011

Press Release: Penny Bright Independent candidate Botany by-election:

‘Politically explosive’ Public Meeting on central government corruption and privatisation’ Sunday 20 February 3-5pm Tangaroa College

Latest developments in the Pansy Wong scandal:

“The Communications Advisor for the Office of the Auditor-General confirmed yesterday that it had not yet decided  whether or not to investigate the use of Pansy Wong’s electorate office address as the business address of Shipley & Wong Ltd,” says ‘Anti-Corruption campaigner’, Penny Bright, Independent candidate in the Botany by-election.

“Has the current National Government Prime Minister John Key, been responsible for helping to cover-up arguably corrupt conduct which involves former National Party Prime Minister Jenny Shipley, who is a 50% shareholder in Shipley and Wong Ltd?”

(SHIPLEY & WONG – Companies Office Number: 1245430)

“Does Prime Minister John Key know of and approve of the registered company address of SHIPLEY & WONG LTD, changing to 735 Chapel Rd, Botany, on 11 June 2010, at a time that former National Party Prime Minister Jenny Shipley was a 50% shareholder, and her husband Burton Ross Shipley was a Director – along with Sammy Wong, Pansy Wong’s husband?

735 Chapel Rd Botany, being the address, at that time,  of Pansy Wong’s electorate office?”

“How is it that neither then current National Party MP (Pansy Wong) , or her husband; or a former National Party Prime Minister (Jenny Shipley) , or her husband, knew that this was wrong, and effectively constituted ‘misuse of public office for private gain’?  How ‘dodgy’ is that?”

“Why don’t New Zealand MPs have a ‘Code of Conduct’ with sanctions for breaches thereof?”

“Why isn’t the Office of the Auditor-General investigating? What’s the hold-up?”

“Why isn’t the Office of the Auditor-General proposing a ‘Code of Conduct for MPs as part of  the ‘systems solution’ for this problem?”

“Isn’t it time NZ had an ‘Independent Commission Against Corruption’ to help set up systems to enable genuine transparency and prevent corruption?”,

Ms Bright concludes.”

___________________________________________________________________________________________

April 14, 2011 Posted by | Fighting corruption in NZ, Howick by-election campaign | Leave a comment

DIRECT ACTION WORKS! International Oil drilling company Petrobas seismic testing vessel halts operations on Sunday 10 April 2011!

11 April 2011

Message from Greepeace!

GOOD WORK PEOPLE!

________________________________________________________________________________________

 

Dear Penny,

Two weeks ago, the flotilla opposing deep sea oil exploration gathered in Auckland, and received a rousing send off.

One week ago, it arrived at the East Cape to an incredible reception from several hundred representatives of local iwi, te Whānau ā Apanui.

Over the past few days, in the tradition of “bearing witness”, the Stop Deep Sea Oil Flotilla has been off the East Coast observing and demonstrating its opposition to the oil exploration.

Yesterday we established radio contact with the seismic testing vessel sent by the international oil company, Petrobras, and again asked the Captain to cease operations.

With te Whānau ā Apanui and members of the Nuclear Free Flotilla we peacefully, but directly, placed ourselves in the path of the seismic testing vessel to prevent deep sea oil exploration continuing.

They have received our message loud and clear, and at 2pm Sunday stated to media that they had halted their operations.

Now is the time for action. We cannot allow deep sea oil drilling to put New Zealand’s unique and fragile environment and economy at risk.

When other means have failed, Greenpeace and our allies will intervene directly to stop environmental harm, as we have done for the past forty years.

You can see some of the latest footage here, and you can send a message of support to the flotilla here.

Direct action and peaceful protest helped to keep New Zealand nuclear free, and helped stop nuclear testing in the Pacific.

Now it will help protect us from the harms of deep sea oil exploration and drilling.

Please send messages of support to the activists at sea here.

Thank you again for your support.

Steve Abel
Climate Campaigner
Greenpeace Aotearoa New Zealand

April 11, 2011 Posted by | Fighting corruption in NZ, Howick by-election campaign, Human rights | Leave a comment