Improved local government legislation? Not when Mahuta wants to make it mandatory to consider more Māori wards

When Nanaia Mahuta talks about improving local government processes, alarm bells should ring.

In a statement earlier this week, the Minister of Local Government said improvements to processes for electing councils at the next local government elections in 2025 have been introduced to Parliament in a measure called the Local Government Electoral Legislation Bill.

The legislation covers decisions about Māori wards, the number of councillors at Auckland Council, more consistent rules for a coin toss if an election result is tied, and filing nominations electronically, amongst other issues.

“The overall objective for the changes is to improve the processes for individuals and communities to participate and be represented in local elections,” said Nanaia Mahuta.

“The Local Government Electoral Legislation Bill brings together a range of diverse issues for improvements as an omnibus piece of legislation. It picks up recommendations that followed inquiries into the local elections in 2016 and 2019.”

Mahuta had a bit more to say about Māori wards. Continue reading “Improved local government legislation? Not when Mahuta wants to make it mandatory to consider more Māori wards”

ACT could tap into a rich vein of support by pushing for higher education standards and a stronger Defence force

Emerging  from  its  annual conference, the  ACT  Party’s  leadership appears to  regard itself already  as  a key element in  the  next government.

ACT leader  David  Seymour had  the  conference  cheering  as  he  spoke   of  how  ACT  would ensure in the first hundred days of the  next  government,  Labour’s  measures on Three Waters, the Māori Health Authority, the 39c tax rate, and Fair Pay Agreements  would  all be  gone,  just as ACT’s policies on 90-day trials, three strikes, oil and gas exploration and charter schools would be reinstated.

No  surprises  there.

But  ACT   will  need far  more  than  this  if  it is  to  win over  the  thousands  of   additional  votes  to make  certain  it does have  a powerful voice,  rather  than being  just   a  prop  for  National.  It will need  Cabinet  ministers  in  influential   roles.

Most of the issues highlighted by Seymour are likely to get National’s support or are changes which National already has said it will enact.  He admits getting them to repeal the Zero Carbon Act will be harder.

“We’re going to have to push very hard on that one, because they’ve committed themselves so heavily, but I think it’s worth doing,” he said. Continue reading “ACT could tap into a rich vein of support by pushing for higher education standards and a stronger Defence force”

Oh dear – it’s “a disgrace” to look into posts filled by Mahuta family members (which might explain why ACT questions are ignored)

The public are being served heaps of news items about a fellow called Kamahl Santamaria, who was hired by TVNZ as breakfast host but has departed under a cloud.

In contrast, Point of Order has found just one mainstream media report (in the New Zealand Herald) which raises questions about the management of contracts awarded to Mahuta family members.  

It was headed Government contracts to husband and family of Minister Nanaia Mahuta ‘managed for conflict’.

Fair to say, Waatea News has shown an interest in this issue, too, although it was headed Mahuta attack fails to prove link.

Waatea News’ idea of checking out the truth or otherwise of the Herald’s report was to talk with former MP John Tamihere.  Then it recorded his huffing that

“… a New Zealand Herald story linking Minister Nanaia Mahuta to government appointments of family members was a disgrace to the newspaper.” Continue reading “Oh dear – it’s “a disgrace” to look into posts filled by Mahuta family members (which might explain why ACT questions are ignored)”

The PM urges sophistication in our thinking about democracy – to make it gel with co-governance (and unelected councillors)

Jacnd and Maori

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern – answering questions in Parliament on Tuesday – ominously reinforced impressions she believes the Treaty of Waitangi entitles some New Zealanders to more political rights than others.

The entitlement of tribal leaders to appoint their own representatives to local authorities rather than stand for election, for example.

She was asked if she stood by her statement at Waitangi in 2019 that “Equality is our foundation”, and, if so, did she believe that our constitutional foundation should be equal political rights for all New Zealanders?

As Hansard records, she opted to address only part of the question:

Rt Hon JACINDA ARDERN: In answer to the first part of the question, yes.

The questions were asked by ACT leader David Seymour, who has  called for a public referendum on co-governance decision-making arrangements between Māori and the Crown.

In a speech to the Milford Rotary Club last week, he cited He Puapua, Three Waters and the Māori Health Authority as examples of co-governance principles being wrongly applied.

Presumably he hoped his questions in Parliament would flush out Ardern’s thinking on democracy, co-governance, the Treaty of Waitangi and so on. Continue reading “The PM urges sophistication in our thinking about democracy – to make it gel with co-governance (and unelected councillors)”

ACT makes commitment to a referendum on co-governance – but maybe it was too late for the capital’s morning newspaper

The Stuff team didn’t bring out the big headline type to report on a party political commitment of profound importance to anyone who cares about how and by whom we are governed. That – of course – should be everyone.

Stuff didn’t mention this commitment in the Dominion-Post (flagship of the Stuff fleet) – at least, Point of Order failed to find an account of it in our copy this morning, but maybe it was tucked away somewhere between some ads.  Or maybe the press release around 7:09 last night was too late.

An online Stuff report did report it but its headline brought the Maori Party’s highly predictable response into the reckoning:  New ACT Party policy branded ‘divisive’ and ‘bigoted’ by Māori Party

The online report opened:

A new ACT Party policy calling for “a referendum on co-governance” has been branded “divisive”, “bigoted” and “appealing to racists” by the Māori Party.

Thus the emphasis was heaped not on ACT’s announcement of a commitment to strengthening our democracy and to enabling voters to determine how we are governed.

Stuff opted, rather, to highlight the hostile position of a party whose leadership does not enthusiastically champion democracy.  

According to Newshub, Maori Party co-leader Rawiri Waititi has declared:

“We need to start looking at how Maori can participate more equally and equitably in that particular space in a tiriti-centric Aotearoa. Not in a democracy, because… democracy is majority rules, and indigenous peoples – especially Maori at 16 percent of the population in this country – will lose out, and we’ll sit in second-place again.” Continue reading “ACT makes commitment to a referendum on co-governance – but maybe it was too late for the capital’s morning newspaper”

How the law aimed at protecting lenders (and their families) from loan sharks made it so much harder to borrow from banks

In October 2018 the PM popped up with Kris Faafoi, Commerce and Consumer Affairs Minister at the time, to announce a government crackdown on loan sharks.  Tough new measures were being introduced to protect people from loan sharks and truck shops

Jacinda Ardern said her government was committed to making New Zealand the best place to raise a child. To do this it must stop families becoming trapped in the appalling debt spirals and poverty that result from onerous lending and payback terms.

“These new measures will halt the very worst of those preying on vulnerable and desperate people while enabling borrowing that meets their needs in an affordable way.

 “They will protect families through capping the total interest and fees charged loans, introducing tougher penalties for irresponsible lending, and raising the bar for consumer lenders to register as a Financial Service Provider,” Jacinda Ardern said.

A Bill introduced to Parliament in April 2019 amended the Credit Contracts and Consumer Finance Act 2003 by strengthening requirements to lend responsibly, especially in relation to how affordability and suitability tests should be conducted, limiting the accumulation of interest and fees on high-cost loans, and providing new remedies and penalties for non-compliance.  It  had been enacted by the end of the year. Continue reading “How the law aimed at protecting lenders (and their families) from loan sharks made it so much harder to borrow from banks”

We don’t recall Ministers drawing attention to their new road-block laws – but Hone Harawira is making the most of them

There were no new statements on the Beehive website when we checked today, which means ministers have nothing fresh to announce – or rather, nothing they want to boast about or let us know about.

Matters such as changes to the Covid laws which determine who can mount road blocks to stop people going where they might want to go.  

The COVID-19 Public Health Response Amendment Act (No 2) 2021 was enacted on 20 November 2021.

According to the  Ministry of Health website, this legislation mainly continues to enable the Minister for COVID-19 Response to issue Orders to respond to COVID-19 in a flexible and agile way.  

Many of the changes made by this Amendment Act are technical in nature. These include clarifying some terms in the Act and improving transparency around decision making.

And:

Most of the changes in this Amendment Act will not immediately have direct impacts on the general public. However, future Orders made under the Act using these changes may impose obligations or requirements on individuals to ensure the Government can supress and minimise the impact of COVID-19 and reconnect New Zealand.

The one change that will have a more immediate direct impact on all New Zealanders is the increase of infringement penalties for people who breach orders under the Act. The Government believes these higher penalties will more accurately reflect the risks associated with breaching an Order. Continue reading “We don’t recall Ministers drawing attention to their new road-block laws – but Hone Harawira is making the most of them”

Seymour becomes a star in the poll dance – but let’s see a spotlight on the hard policy ACT has choreographed

ACT  leader  David Seymour  seems  to  think  he is  dancing  with the  stars  once more. Whether  he’s  in  step  with the  music is somewhat uncertain.

At  any  rate, he’s boldly  putting  it  about:

“We can  win in 2023.”

Point  of  Order has  received from  him a  note  on  how the latest  polls   are  trending in  which he  asserts the gap between the Government and the Opposition is closing.

He  cites the  latest Taxpayers’ Union Curia poll,   in  which  ACT is steady on 16%, while Labour is down 6 points to 39%.

“In the last 12 months, National has regained its election night polling and we have doubled our support.Two months ago, the gap between the centre-left and centre-right was 19 points. It’s now just 6.

“In the most important barometer of the mood of the country, more New Zealanders now believe the country is heading in the wrong direction than the right direction”. Continue reading “Seymour becomes a star in the poll dance – but let’s see a spotlight on the hard policy ACT has choreographed”

MIQueue – bringing Kiwis together

Scattered across time zones, united in desperation, Jacinda’s team of 25,000 hunched over PCs and phones on Tuesday to secure one of the coveted 3,700 rooms (more or less) for returning New Zealanders.  The two hours or so it took to work down the electronic queue were an opportunity to catch up on international coverage of the government’s acknowledgement that Covid elimination was not going to work. 

Continue reading “MIQueue – bringing Kiwis together”

Graham Adams: The government is stumbling towards disaster over Three Waters

 

The Opposition parties must be watching with glee, writes Graham Adams, as councils reject Nanaia Mahuta’s plan for drinking water, stormwater and wastewater.

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Even Labour’s most one-eyed supporters must be aware by now that the Three Waters reform being pushed by Nanaia Mahuta is fast becoming a make-or-break issue for the government. The eight-week “engagement” period that ended on September 30 saw a swathe of councils across the nation objecting — sometimes angrily — to the proposed changes to the management of drinking water, storm water and wastewater.

Mahuta’s plan is for the 67 councils’ water services to be merged into four giant regional authorities that ratepayers will not directly own or control. As National’s Chris Luxon says, councils are rightly worried about “not having direct influence and no shareholding or formal stake in the new entity whatsoever”.

The roll call of disaffected councils includes those overseeing our two biggest cities. Between them, Auckland and Christchurch represent nearly two million inhabitants — or roughly 40 per cent of New Zealand’s population.

Furthermore, their mayors — Phil Goff and Lianne Dalziel — are former high-ranking Labour ministers, which makes dismissing their opposition difficult.

The rhetoric from Christchurch councillors, in particular, has been incendiary. One, James Gough, said the proposal showed disregard for democracy, and was nothing short of “blatant asset theft”. Continue reading “Graham Adams: The government is stumbling towards disaster over Three Waters”