Tag Archives: politics

2013 Citizens Initiated Referendum

electmanThe bouncy orange condom man visited my mailbox today.

I really love the concept of Citizens Initiated Referenda but they have never lived up to their promise. I can’t think of one that was not muddleheaded even if I agreed with the general concept.

Here is this year’s effort:

Do you support the Government selling up to 49% of Meridian Energy, Mighty River Power, Genesis Power, Solid Energy and Air New Zealand?

This is another one of those run-on questions so beloved by petitioners. In their effort get the result they want they have conflated several concepts. With this wording even those who support selling 100% of the power companies along with KiwiRail, the Post Office, and the Chatham Islands should really vote no. A simple “Do you wish the government to stop selling assets?” would have served up a clearer message.

But this referendum is not designed to change the government’s policy (as if they could). By making people who actually support the asset sales (they exist) answer in the affirmative, the result will become a reed with which to whip the government. Turnout, not helped by the mouthful of a question, will be low so the opposition will be able to say that the asset sales are only supported by 15% (or whatever) of the population. Nevermind that only another 20% (or whatever) bothered to vote no.

There is another point, and sadly here I have to agree with David Farrar here. Ugh, I feel so dirty, but I will carry on.

For those who haven’t been paying attention, the last 2 elections went something like this:

NATIONAL: Vote for us. We think it would be just swell to sell some juicy assets but we promise hold off a while.
NZ ELECTORATE: Sounds good to us, have a plurality.

NATIONAL: Vote for us again. By the way, we are going to sell of a bunch of stuff including those plump, luscious power companies. So tasty, so ripe, all that gooey revenue, mmmmmmmm…. Oops, where was I? Oh yeah, selling things off just like we said. About 49% should do it.
NZ ELECTORATE: Sweet as, have an extra seat.

The electorate has already voted twice to sell assets, it was a big issue in both of the last two elections and nobody can act surprised about the government’s direction.

There is another general election next year. Objections should be raised then.

Auckland Local Elections 2013

Voting has opened in the Auckland Local Body Elections for 2013. As usual, nobody cares about anything other than who is going to be mayor, and as usual, the candidates’ descriptions of themselves reveal much about the mood of the populace. UPDATE: it turns out all this information is available online.

Want to know how much the National government messed up when setting up the Supercity? Among the 17 candidates for mayor, only 4 could really been seen to be on the right side of the political spectrum, and even a couple of those are marginal. They are handily outnumbered by left leaning candidates, including a card-carrying member of the Communist League (“I demand the immediate withdrawal of NZ armed forces from abroad”; not something the mayor of Auckland has much say over, but all the best, comrade)

I was expecting more candidates to mention the rising council rates, a frequently mentioned bugbear among my home-owning friends. Many of the candidates mention rates in passing but only one is unequivocally promising cuts, and only one other is promising a hard cap. There is much talk of fairness and equability but this is just Auckese for moving the rates increases to suburbs in which nobody you like lives (I vote Sandringham – those guys are dicks).

And of course, what would the Mayoral race be without some -ahem- interesting policies?

Jesse Butler has a masters degree, a penchant for punctuation, and a great plan for the first six weeks of his mayoralty:

Week 3: Public Hui. Veto Unitary Plan. Your house rules. Priorities. Mokos. Babies. Children. Mothers. Elderly. Sick. Veterans. Retired. Disabled. New Aucklanders.
Week 4: Gang hui. Truce. Cease violence/crime. Priority. Tourism. Public safety. Rewards? Economic packages. Early releases.

Done. Sorted.

Emmett Hussey is interested in controlling immigration but also plans to sue the Chow brothers over the Palace Hotel debacle. He pledges to donate half his mayoral salary to causes he deems worthy, which is good. More worrying is point 5 of his manifesto:

I promise to strive (within my control) to spend the council’s money as though it were my own money.

I think I know what he means, but there has got to be a better way of phrasing that sentence.

Paul Duffy’s plan is to “reinvent politics” by removing three quarters of the politicians and running the city via online referendums, thus improving GDP so that NZ tops the OECD again, advancing innovation, family, and “Olympic Gold Medals”. Fabulous.

Phil O’Connor has a different vision:

When elected I intend to use every facility of the Mayoral Office to rally all people of goodwill to eliminate legalized abortion. All my energy will be focused on this single issue.

Again, not something that really falls under the purview of the Mayor’s Office. O’Connor is also the only candidate not to supply a photo for the booklet. He can’t look any worse than some of the other runners, there are photos that look like police mugshots. You guys are running for an important office, at least smile a little.

Despite the recent flap in Hamilton there is only candidate that is campaigning to remove fluoridation from the water supply. I guess that is something.

It occurs to me that many of the single-issue candidates could advance their causes by teaming up and forming a party under a single leader, their policies are not mutually exclusive and could be easily carried out in parallel. Vote NIAFLOR : “No immigration, abortions, fluoridation, or corruption, but lots of roads”.

Voting papers must be received by Saturday the 12th of October.

Auckland City Rail Link

I ride the train to work most days, but sadly I am in the minority. Although public transport in Auckland has vastly improved over the last decade, it is still inconvenient or just not an option for most people. It isn’t even especially convenient for me, I can usually drive to the CBD quicker than the total travel time on the train (including walking to the station) thanks to the wonderful work that has been done to the motorways in recent years.

But I like the train, and I am heartened to see that a solid proposal for a proper city rail loop has been announced. Along with electrification (this year) and integrated ticketing (this year, finally!), a rail loop will make Auckland feel like a proper city.

Map showing the proposed route of the new City Rail Link

And I like the choice of stops. Aotea Station is close to Sky City and various theatres (though sadly not the town hall). Karangahape Road has been a bit neglected lately and a new station can only be good. Finally Newton has undergone a bit of a revival in the last few years, and a lot of people live within walking distance of the proposed station. With trains running in both directions, getting around the city will be easy.

The estimate is a construction time of 5 and a half years and a $2.86 billion price tag. It will be worth it at twice that cost (which is probably what it will turn out to be in the end).

The Auckland Transport Blog has some more information.

John Banks Election Scandal

John Banks was given a very important job when government was formed after the November election, a position named Minister with Special Responsibility for Keeping His Month Shut for the Next 36 Months and Not Embarrassing the Government.

Would all of you who picked 26 weeks in the nationwide pool please raise your hands to claim your prizes. Judges will be around shortly to check your tickets.
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Full of Piss and Vinegar

I don’t usually pay much attention to the big NZ political blogs. At best, the usual suspects are occasionally insightful, but more often they suffer from varying degrees of simple minded egotism and/or outright vileness. However, like the million monkeys writing Shakespeare that they as a group resemble, every so often someone hits one out of the park:

It’s hard work at the best of times for political parties to attract good candidates. But it’s doubly so for the two main parties, because all the smaller parties are so quick to secure the urine-drinking bank-robbing identity-thieves, leaving National and Labour only the boring and sensible candidates to choose from.

Apart from the woman-bothering expense-rorting ones, those who end up in Parliament for the Nats or Labour often lack colour, but that’s probably because they’re not drinking their own piss

The rest of it is well worth reading as well.

This election is going to be like the Rugby World Cup – pretty much a foregone conclusion but the also-rans will provide much entertainment.