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John “I can’t recall” Banks, on MMP…

5 November 2012 10 comments

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The Electoral Commission’s final report on reviewing the MMP electoral system was tabled today in Parliament.

The four main changes to the system are,

  • Lowering the party threshold from 5% to 4%
  • Abolishing the one electorate seat threshold, which allows other MPs to enter Parliament on the “coat-tails” of a candidate who have won an Electorate Seat
  • Abolishing the provision for overhang seats
  • That Parliament consider fixing the percentage ratio of electorate to seats at 60:40

This blogger supported the first two options (neutral on the last two). Not because ACT could have gained extra MPs if Banks had won just a few thousand more Party List votes – but because the electorate seat threshold was being openly rorted by John Key and John Banks.

It is that rule which benefits small Parties – which while not crossing  the 5% (or 4%) threshold – can still gain extra MPs in Parliament. Because  an Electorate win gives that Party a “dispensation” from the 5%/4% Threshold.

The entire country witnessed the farce of the infamous  “cuppa tea” meeting, last year,  between Banks and Key at the Urban Cafe, in Epsom,

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It was an unedifying spectacle and public disquiet over the workings of MMP  threatened the very existence of proportional representation in New Zealand.

However, National-cum-ACT MP, John Banks, appears to have taken exception to the Electoral Commission’s  second option;  abolishing the one electorate seat threshold. Indeed, he was a very, very unhappy chappy.

Banks was reported today saying,

Voting systems benefit from infrequent change. Voters will not have any confidence in the electoral system if it can be continually tinkered with.”

See: MMP review recommends lower party threshold

That’s interesting.

Banks is worried that making changes to an electoral system, despite over-whelming support through public submissions, somehow threatens public  “confidence in the electoral system “?!

That is a very noble sentiment.

In which case, one wonders how ACT could support the repeal of  “31 redundant acts of parliament and 206 unnecessary regulations“?!

See: ACT Policies – Economy

One would think that changing the law 31 times and removing 206 pieces of regulation might threaten public  “confidence in the Parliamentary law-making system “?!

Or, implement the following radical policies, from ACT’s on-line manifesto,

• Push the next government to reduce wasteful spending.  In 2005, Labour was spending 29 per cent of the national income.  Today, the same figure is 35 per cent.  ACT would push the next government to return spending to the level it was at in 2005 by repealing the “election bribe” spending of the past two elections with a view toward getting the top personal tax rate down to 25% and the company tax rate to 12.5%;

• Push the next government to lock in lower taxes by passing ACT’s Spending Cap Bill into law.  The Bill would require government spending to increase only by the level of inflation and population growth.  By reducing government spending and taxes, it would increase the rewards for wealth creation;
• Push the next government to pass ACT’s Regulatory Standards Bill.  The Bill would test all new regulations for unnecessary red tape, making it easier to do business;
• Sell state assets such as power generation companies; the overwhelming evidence is that such valuable assets produce more wealth when managed privately;
• Allow more mining when the economic benefits outweigh the environmental costs.

See: Ibid

It’s paradoxical that ACT supports a complete radical make-over of our social, legal, and economic systems – and thinks nothing of it.

But when the  Electoral Commission wants to implement a few changes to MMP,  old Banksie is suddenly worried that “voters will not have any confidence in the electoral system if it can be continually tinkered with“??’

But even stranger is this report, from AUT University’s publication, “Te Waha Nui”, last year,

But Banks himself would rather the MMP meal ticket be scrapped completely.

I favour the STV system (Single Transferable Vote),” Banks says.

He declined to explain what elements of the MMP system he disliked, or why he felt STV was a more attractive option. “

See: John Banks backs STV over MMP

So John Banks thinks making four amendments to MMP will damage voter “confidence in the electoral system” . But changing from MMP to STV – two radically different electoral systems – is perfectly ok?

Cutting to the chase.

This has nothing to do with damaging voter “confidence in the electoral system“.

We all know this.

John Banks’ only concerns in this matter is John Banks. Or more to the point, getting John Banks back into Parliament in 2012, preferably with a couple of extra ACT cronies.

Banks knows that the “coat tailing” effect of the Electoral Threshold  is the reason for Epsom voters to support him. Vote for Banks and as long as ACT’s Party Vote is over 1.2%, you get two ACT MPs for the price of one.

But take away the Electorate threshold and the “coat tail” effect, and voting for Banks gets you – one ACT MP; John Banks. Unless ACT reaches the new 4% Party threashold (about as likely as me spontaneously combusting), ACT get’s no extra MPs.

In which case there is no point in any more cosy “arrangements”  between ACT and National, and Epsom voters will simply drop back to their default-setting to voting for their own National Party candidate.

Banks would have to win Epsom on his own ‘merits’. *cough, cough*

Fat chance.

Epsomites have had a gutsful of this mendacious, memory-challenged, clown, and want to see the back of him as much as the rest of the country.

We all know that Banks is utterly self-serving when it comes to politics.

Does he have to keep proving it to us with bare-faced lies about “voters will not have any confidence in the electoral system if it can be continually tinkered with “?”

We know he’s lying.

Stop reminding us.

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Previous related blogposts

Some thoughts on MMP (13 December 2011)

John Banks: condition deteriorating (14 August 2012)

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Labour to win in 2014 – does the media know?

5 November 2012 10 comments

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Full story

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TV1/Colmar Brunton’s recent(4 November) poll yields some interesting results and points to a conclusion that the author of the article has missed.

The results of the recent poll are,

National: 45%

ACT: 1 seat (highly unlikely)

United Future: 1 seat (possibly)

Maori Party: 3 seats (???)

Labour: 32%

Greens: 12%

NZ First: 4.9% (5% rounded up)

Mana: 1 seat (likely)


TV1’s analysis and conclusions are,

The latest numbers mean National would have enough votes to form a coalition.

National would get 58 seats, add three from the Maori Party and one each from Act and United Future and the centre-right would have a majority of 63.

The opposition would have just 41 seats from Labour plus 16 from the Greens and one from Mana.”

Source: Ibid

I see no rationale as to how he author of that article can predict an outcome that “The latest numbers mean National would have enough votes to form a coalition“.

There are at least four unknown variables present in the above data,

  1. NZ First’s 4.9% could easily become 5%, thereby passing them over the threshold. If National legislates to reduce the Party threshold from 5% to 4%, that automatically translates into seats with this poll.
  2. ACT’s John Banks is unlikely to retain his seat.
  3. Without polling the three Maori Party electorates Tāmaki Makaurau, Te Tai Hauāuru, Waiāriki, there is no telling how many seats the Maori Party are likely to win. Neither is their preference to coalesce with National a foregone conclusion.
  4. Ditto for the Mana Party.

Taking more certainly from the following data, a National-led coalition is less than likely, and shows a consistant preference for a Labour-led coalition government,

National: 45%

United Future: 1 seat (possibly)

Maori Party: 3 seats (???)

Total National-led coalition: 45% plus up to 4 seats

Labour: 32%

Greens: 12%

NZ First: 4.9% (5% rounded up)

Mana: 1 seat (likely)

Total Labour-Greens-NZF Bloc: 49% plus 1 seat

Perhaps the most telling aspect of this poll is  Key’s personal rating.

A 2009 UMR Poll had John Key at the stratospheric approval ratings

In 2008, JohnKey’s favourability rating (‘very favourable’ or ‘somewhat favourable’) was consistently in the mid 60’s, however he started 2009 on a high when this jumped to 75%. His ratings were in the high 70’s throughout most of the year, with a couple of peaks of 80% and 81% in June and October respectively. No other politician, in a series dating back to 1996, has recorded a favourability rating as high.”

See: UMR Mood of the Nation Dec 2009

By 5 November 2011, Key’s popularity – though still high – was beginning to drop,

In the preferred Prime Minister stakes, John Key is well ahead of any other rival for business voters, with 69% support.”

See: National a Sure Thing for Business Voters

A year later,  Key’s popularity has plummetted,

John Key’s popularity has been slowly dropping away since the election but 42% still want him as Prime Minister.”

The interesting point here is that more respondents support National (45%) than they do John Key (42%).

This indicates that the scandals; the untenable support for John Banks; the lack of growth in jobs, despite big promises in 2008 and 2011; embarrassingPrime Ministerial faux pas; unpopular policies;  an impression he no longer wants to be Prime Minister; and other bad stories, have eaten away at Key’s image like some political ‘necrotizing fasciitis’.

Any impression that he is the ‘Teflon Man‘ is long gone.  Bad, smelly stuff is sticking to him, and the public perception of Key is that of someone who isfailing to meet expectations; break promises;  and ducks responsibility on major issues. He is not just seen as evasive on contentious matters, but is developing a reputation for witholding the truth; using memory loss as a convenient excuse; and the suspicion that he is telling outright lies.

National’s public support continues to fall, and the outcome in the next election will most likely be a new government.

Addendum

Interestingly, the same  UMR Poll ranks the top five respected professions as nurses, doctors, teachers, police, and dairy farmers. The bottom five are bankers, politicians, share brokers, investment bankers, and real estate agents.

Real estate agents rate below politicians?!

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Sources:

UMR Mood of the Nation Dec 2009

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Heather Roy – head down the mine shaft?

5 November 2012 12 comments

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Both TVNZ’s “Q+A” and TV3’s “The Nation” today (4 November) carried interviews with Bernie Monk, regarding  the upcoming royal commission of inquiry report, due for release at 3.45pm this coming  Monday (5 November).

See: Pike River families to get first look at report

The Q+A interview was especially interesting, as the programme followed up with  panellists from the Left, Right, and a Political Scientist. In this case, the panellists were ex-ACT MP, Heather Roy; political pundit, Jon Johansson;  and ex-Labour Party President, Mike Williams.

The issue quickly shifted to the de-regulation of the mining industry, and the gutting of the Mines Inspectorate. All of which happened under the neo-liberal “reforms” of the Bolger-led government in the early 1990s.

As the Dept of Labour website stated (in a belated attempt to justify de-regulation, but which actually turned into a damning indictment of National in the early 1990s) regarding the backdrop to de-regulation,

The HSE Act 1992 and the Department’s role.

45. In broad terms, the HSE Act replaced heavily prescriptive standards (telling duty holders precisely what measures to take in a particular situation) with a performance-based approach, primarily by imposing general duties (sometimes referred to as goal setting regulation) such as to take ‘all practicable steps’ to ensure health and safety, leaving it to the discretion of the duty holder how they achieve that standard. This approach was coupled with greater use of performance standards that specify the outcome of the health and safety improvement or the desired level of performance but leave the concrete measures to achieve this end open for the duty holder to adapt to varying local circumstances. There was also a focus on systemsbased standards. These identify a particular process, or series of steps, to be followed in the pursuit of safety, and may include the use of formal health and safety management systems.

46. New Zealand embraced the Robens philosophy of self-regulation somewhat belatedly, but with particular enthusiasm and in the context of a political environment that was strongly supportive of deregulation. Indeed, in various forms, deregulation (and reducing the regulatory burden on industry more broadly) was strongly endorsed by the Labour Government that came into power in 1984 and by the National Government that succeeded it in 1990. The HSE Act was a product of this deregulatory environment and in its initial version was stripped of some of the key measures recommended by Robens, not least tripartism, worker participation and an independent executive. It was regarded, so we were told, as a ‘necessary evil’ at a time when the predominant public policy goal was to enhance business competitiveness…

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50. Put differently, whereas under the previous legislation, inspectors had been expected to go into workplaces and direct duty holders as to what safety measures they should introduce (the expectation being that the inspector rather than the employer would take the initiative) under the HSE Act employers bear primary responsibility for health and safety while providing information and support, particularly when it comes to establishing and developing health and safety systems and processes and takes enforcement action where the employer fails to meet the practicability standard.”

See: Review of the Department of Labour’s interactions with Pike River Coal Limited

The up-shot of  the above report is that instead of actively policing mines and their safety standards, it was all left to individual companies to address. Instead of being “prescriptive” as the DoL laments, individual companies were to adopt a “a performance-based approach” and to “to take ‘all practicable steps’ to ensure health and safety, leaving it to the discretion of the duty holder how they achieve that standard“.

Well, we know how that turned out.

29 men paid dearly for the liberalisation of safety regulations, in one of the most dangerous fields of  work on this planet.

The current state of our mines inspectorate is now so bad that even state-owned coal-mining company, Solid Energy publicly expressed it’s dis-satisfaction and called for the process to be handed over to Queensland for safety oversight,

Solid Energy has called for New Zealand’s mines’ inspectorate to be run out of Queensland, saying the lack of resource at the Department of Labour was partly to blame for the Pike River tragedy.

The state-owned power company is hoping to be the new owner of Pike River Coal, and said the best option to ensure the mine’s safety is to align New Zealand’s framework with that of Queensland.

“We are suggesting Queensland because we believe it is at the forefront of safety in Australia,” said chief executive Dr Don Elder.

“The industry needs research capability to look at the best advances overseas and evaluate how those might be applied locally.”

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However, Elder said because New Zealand mining is a small industry, it would be too expensive to provide all of those services, so the most sustainable option is to contract inspectorate and support services to Australia.”

See: Solid Energy wants Australia to run mines inspectorate

So what was ex-ACT MP, Heather Roy’s, response in the discussion, that followed the interview with Bernie Monk, who lost in son in the Pike River Mine disaster?

Her response, to put it mildly, was eye-opening and jaw-dropping. In what should have been a crystal-clear message to worshippers of  Neo Liberalism, that de-regulation does not always work as intended, she managed to totally ignore the lessons of the Pike River tragedy and deflected the conversation elsewhere,

HEATHER ROY:  Well, in part, but I think Bernie was right when he said the New Zealand public haven’t forgotten about Pike River mine. Things like the Royal Commission are gonna highlight that. The real thing, the tragedy for the families is always going to be ongoing for them. The thing is what lessons can we learn from this, and Mike was outlining some of the things that he thinks should be done. This might be a bit of a watershed for OSH, and that would probably be a good thing in the mining sector. Another thing that needs to be examined is New Zealand’s environmental policies. Should this have been an open cast mine? Should it have been closed? All of those things need to be discussed, not just for Pike River mine, but across the board.

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HEATHER ROY:  I think it’s a red hearing to blame deregulation for everything, though. What is actually important is the accountability that follows on from that. Deregulation in itself is not a bad thing. It’s what checks and balances are put in place so that accountability exists beyond that point- “

Source: TVNZ Q+A The panel

I’ve usually found Heather Roy to be the most rational of the right-wing nutjobs that pass for ACT MPs and supporters. She voices views – even if one disagreed with them – with a measure of coherency and logic that elicited a thoughtful response, rather than a gritting of teeth.

On this occassion, I gritted my teeth.

Right wingers make a fetish of demanding a high degree of personal responsibility from us, the Great Unwashed Masses.

See: ACT – Principles

But right wing political parties rarely (actually, never) take responsibility for their own actions.

It is fairly clear to everyone by now that the de-regulation of the mines inspectorates in the early ’90s was a grave mistake. 29 graves, to be precise.

So for Heather Roy to try to shift the blame onto OSH, when legislative “reforms” specifically stated that mines safety had devolved to individual companies, and was no longer the “prescriptive”  responsibility of the State is more than a little disingenous – it’s downright dishonest and insulting to all New Zealanders.

How can Roy say with a straight face, “I think it’s a red hearing to blame deregulation for everything, though. What is actually important is the accountability that follows on from that. Deregulation in itself is not a bad thing. It’s what checks and balances are put in place so that accountability exists beyond that point” – is beyond comprehension.

One can only assume she is relying on collective brainfade as to what National did in the early 1990s, and public lack of knowledge on this issue,  to try to get away with such bullshit.

How else does one explain her incredible statements,

I think it’s a red hearing to blame deregulation for everything, though.” – What else would one blame, when we went from seven mines inspectors in 1992 to 1, currently? When prescriptive safety regulations were replaced with companies taking voluntary “‘all practicable steps’ to ensure health and safety“?

What is actually important is the accountability that follows on from that. ” – It’s a bit too late for accountability after people have been killed in a disaster that need never have happened had stringent safety regulations not been removed.

Deregulation in itself is not a bad thing. ” – It is a bad thing when de-regulation results in injury or death, that was wholly preventable.

Perhaps Ms Roy would approve of de-regulating road safety rules? Would she endorse removing the speed limit, for example?

It’s what checks and balances are put in place so that accountability exists beyond that point” – At this point I had ground my teeth to nothing.  This comment contradicted her previous statement, “Deregulation in itself is not a bad thing“.

How can we ensure that “checks and balances are put in place so that accountability exists ” – when no regulation exists requiring “checks and balances“?!?!

Nothing Roy has said made any sense, and her assertions defy common sense understanding.

For an educated, articulate woman, she has allowed her natural intelligence to be clouded by the braindead dogma of neo-liberalism, which demands de-regulation and “small government” at any cost.

But there is always a cost.

Just ask 29 families on the West Coast.

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Other blogs

Tumeke: The myth of over-regulation and the delusion of self-regulation

The Standard: Two faced John Key on Pike River

Additional

Q+A: Transcript of Bernie Monk interview

Ministry of Labour: A Guide to the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992

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