About robglennie000

Kia Ora This blog is my vent for releasing my frustrations with the state of New Zealand, the New Zealand Government and things going on in New Zealand society, as well as around the world. I vent daily NZDT at 0900 hours. Please feel free to leave comments. Please also feel free to follow my blog. Best Regards, Rob

Talking about bold policy, here is mine


Listening to Labour and National go at each other, both appear to be parties trying to land big hits against each other but only seemingly able to land superficial blows. Neither party seems to have a king hit policy or idea that the other one cannot respond to.

I have said before as have others that Labour need to release some bold policy in order to draw in voters. I find it hard to believe that politicians can be so bereft of ideas as to only think about ones that last to the next election. One might therefore ask, okay if you are so sure that politicians are bereft of ideas, what great ones do you have?

When a political party talks they have a short period of time to get the key points of their policy platform across to the media. Keep it clear and keep it snappy – bullet points are best in a print format. I will be focussing on the following over the next couple of weeks:

  • Constitution
  • Social Welfare
  • Jobs
  • Environment
  • Health

Reform does not always have to be economic. Constitutional and/or legal reform can have equally significant effects, and change anything from the structure of the legal system, to a nations constitutional arrangements and include such areas as type of Government, election frequency, a single House of Representatives or a bi-cameral arrangement.

At some point in the near future, possibly in the next couple of years and certainly in the next two decades, New Zealand will have to have this discussion. I would personally much prefer it to happen now on our own terms, so that if in case a need to defer for a bit longer arises, we can establish an appropriate temporary framework that can be dismantled or added to.

If it happens on terms that are not ours, that would suggest something major has happened, such as the reigning sovereign Queen Elizabeth II has died and the public are not happy with whomever became King. This could be problematic because politicians, whilst wanting to appear in tune with the voting public can often find themselves wanting to make changes when there is no public appetite, or the public want changes, but they insist it is just a vocal minority stirring up trouble.

What I suggest is not new, but I think it is visionary enough to be a departure from the discourse currently emanating from politicians and political commentators. Sir Geoffrey Palmer, former Labour Prime Minister, has likewise suggested that it is time to consider a formal constitution.

I agree with Sir Geoffrey. It is time to hold a binding referendum on the subject. It must be a binding referendum because ignoring it may spark a constitutional crisis of a magnitude not known to have existed in this country. It must also be binding because for all the transparency and relatively smooth functioning of the court system, there are some glaring loop holes, such as (but not limited to):

  • No clear cut legal mechanism for impeaching corrupted representatives who are not fit to serve another minute in office
  • Insufficient entrenching or other legal protection ensuring the key planks of our constitutional arrangement such as the Human Rights Act 1986, the Bill of Rights Act 1990 and the Constitution Act, 1986

I can see a time coming when support for a Republic will grow substantially. This is something I personally support as well, but for reasons ranging from love of the Monarchy, through to concerns about Treaty of Waitangi recognition must be addressed before this can happen and given the contentious nature of becoming a Republic is well known, only a binding referendum can give the result the due legitimacy.

It is probably too late to go back now, but New Zealand should have gone through a binding referendum phase to determine whether or not the country should have a Supreme Court.

So, this is one of my big policies. The extent to which it can play out will be determined by the outcome of the referendum. I envisage that if the answer is NO, then legislation be passed that sets in place the mechanism for revisiting something that believe will eventually have to happen one way or the other.

Show me the money: Parties await the opening of Treasury’s books


Today is the day of the big reveal for Treasury. Today is the day that it reveals the state of the New Zealand Government coffers. Today is also the day that the election campaign writ is issued, enabling the formal period of campaigning to begin.

But back to the Treasury’s books. If not today, tomorrow or in the next couple of days is when, based on what the individual political parties know, to expect substantial policy announcements. The major policies relating to tax, investment and spending priorities will be arriving shortly.

I expect that Labour will focus on health, education and investment in jobs creation. New leader Jacinda Ardern has promised that there will be significant moves made to address climate change and has also mentioned an emphasis on railways.

We have already seen a major signal from National that its priority is road transport in its $10.5 billion announcement on roading projects. The party will also be trying to woo voters by appearing serious about policing, health and education in an attempt to shore up its voters.

New Zealand First made a major announcement in 2016 at its convention that year about its Upfront Investment policy for tertiary education, which was costed at $4.6 billion. It has mentioned several times that its major transport plan will be to improve railways.

We can expect significant policy announcements to follow from the Greens, A.C.T. and Maori Party in the next few days as well. I expect that A.C.T. will focus on reducing taxes and red tape, as well as ways of implementing its promise to build 600,000 new homes. The Green Party will have social welfare, the environment and climate change at its core, and I expect some significant policy from them on mental health. And the Maori Party will be looking at ways to improve socio-economic indicators for Maori in education, health, social welfare and crime – none of which have done very well in the last nine years..

Once the books are open and we can see what shape they are in, I will make recommendations on what the spending priorities for New Zealand should be. Although I showed at the weekend my general drift on where I think New Zealand should be heading, I have not yet mentioned in depth policy. That will come when I have an idea of the state of the Treasury books.

S.A.S. must come clean on Afghanistan


Rumbling back into life after a few months silence is one of the thornier issues in terms of New Zealand foreign affairs that I think the Defence Force and the Minister would love to shut down. I am talking about the alleged atrocities involving the N.Z.S.A.S.mistreating Afghan civilians during or shortly after a fire fight.I am talking about atrocities that threaten to bring huge disrepute onto the Defence Force if found to be true.

So it might be an election campaign period. That means nothing in the context of the events in Bamiyan province, except that the the politicians who oversee the Defence Force on New Zealand’s behalf are suddenly under greater scrutiny as they try to show that their Government should be re-elected. I am looking at – in particular – former Minister of Defence/current Minister of Foreign Affairs Gerry Brownlee and his former boss former Prime Minister John Key (despite not being in politics any more)and his current boss Prime Minister Bill English.

The renewed rumblings include former Prime Minister Helen Clark saying that the Defence Force must explain the treatment of those Afghan civilians. Ms Clark, who was Prime Minister at the time of this particular incident says she was not informed of in any way the nature of the actual events, and says that the S.A.S. have questions to answer.

But there is also the case of six Afghan civilians allegedly (says Nicky Hager’s book “Hit and Run”, released to the public earlier this year)killed in a New Zealand S.A.S. raid. Mr Key, the then Minister of Defence Jonathan Coleman were urged to conduct an inquiry into the raid which also saw heavy damage inflicted on two villages as a result of intelligence gathered by the N.Z.S.A.S.

So it bugs me in no uncertain terms that the exemplary name of the New Zealand Force is being shat on by its senior officers and the Government by their refusal to order the inquiry that will either vindicate the Defence Force or apportion blame. New Zealanders need to know and New Zealand credibility is on the line. The New Zealand Defence Force is well regarded around the world and its professionalism is held in high regard in New Zealand as an employer and referee for those that are moving into other roles.

Of course I give thanks like other New Zealanders to the Defence Force for their great and essential work. Like many other families, we had losses in World War 2. I also give thanks for the existence of teh Geneva Conventions and the New Zealand signature on it as well as our ratification. Sacrificial lives the innocent civilians who died in the incident involving the New Zealand Defence might be to Mr Brownlee and Mr English. To a lot of other people including myself, if the allegations are true, they were people who simply did not need to die and whose deaths are big black stains on the New Zealand Defence Force. Stains that the Defence Force could have avoided.

Stains that the Defence Force SHOULD have avoided.

So, let us hear the truth. I do not want to fund an inquiry if I can avoid it. That means that either something so serious that we need to formally establish the course of events, ascertain wrong doing and ultimately assign blame if there is any found.I would far rather that the Defence Force told New Zealanders what happened in those events rather than it be forced out in an inquiry where the Defence Force is made to tell the truth and nothing but the truth.

National’s $10.5 billion transport bungle


Yesterday, Prime MInister Bill English announced a major new road funding programme that would cost N.Z.$10.5 billion. It involves a series of projects throughout the North Island and upper South Island that would improve road capacity and ease congestion.

But when we look objectively at them, are they all needed and are there not other transport projects more deserving of the funding? Are there not planning issues that arise with an obsession with the car?

My point is simple. Like the roads built in the $12 billion plan unveiled in 2011, National once again has its priorities wrong. They were called Roads of National Significance (R.o.N.S.), and were intended to enable freer flowing traffic in the areas of highest traffic growth, such as between Auckland and Whangarei, Hamilton and Auckland and in the South Island around Christchurch.

More motorways simply because there is more demand is not the whole answer or the only answer. More motorways simply for those reasons have flow environmental and planning issues, in that suburban sprawl tends to follow suit, which poses its own – entirely different and not relevant to this article – set of challenges.

In Christchurch road transport seems to have taken priority during the rebuild with State Highway 1 being upgraded to a dual carriage way from Main South Road to Belfast. A dual carriageway diversion that bypasses Belfast completely is also underway and will pick up traffic from the north end of Johns Road.

New Zealand is about 15 years behind European countries and also large American cities where city planners have put greater emphasis on railways and buses, land use planning that encourages these modes of transport and so forth. This is why my view of transport is that we need to get trucks off roads that the largest of them were simply not meant to be on in the first place. Their cargo can be just as well distributed by rail, the merchant marine or by aircraft. This is why we need to stop looking at these modes of transport in a piece meal fashion, that does not seek to integrate them.

Yes we have a problem in the South Island with quake damaged road and railway lines. However, they are being fixed and will soon be able to have slow freight trains running the length of the Main Trunk Line from Christchurch to Picton. If transport planners really put some thought into it, how about resuming the overnight ferry from Christchurch to Wellington?

This is a bungle. We simply do not need some of these roading projects and others should be scaled back as if rail were given the same opportunities as roading, it could take much of the heat out of our congestion. National are throwing money around funding public transport projects as a desperate attempt to draw some of the votes from Labour. But their lack of cohesion, focus on roads and outright ignorance of some transport modes shows where their real priorities lie.

The Class of 2014-2017


Parliament has dissolved. The class of 2014-2017 have dispersed to start their election campaigns or slip into their first days of post Parliamentary life. The debating chamber shall not see any activity over than public tours until sometime probably in late October. So here is the final report card for the individual parties (the report card for the key M.P.’s will follow in a couple of days):

NATIONAL: C+

National started the term with every reason to be confident. But within weeks Mike Sabin had resigned. Although the party continued to enjoy sky high polling, Ministers have shown signs of being worn out and disinterested in their portfolio’s. Former Prime Minister John Key’s resignation was a bolt from the blue, but National M.P.’s picked themselves, dusted themselves and kept going. Prime Minister Bill English has been solid but unspectacular in his management. Appearing bereft of ideas and controversies such as Todd Barclay rumbling in the background should concern the party.

National might still yet win this election and it would be a truly historic event if they do, but the rise of Jacinda Ardern in the Labour party has many reaching for the panic button. They will need to fight – as Ms Ardern said of Labour – the campaign of their lives.

LABOUR: C

Until a few weeks ago, the signs on the wall for Labour were looking deathly.

Jacinda Ardern is in her early days as leader, but there is no doubt she has shaken up the party – and the New Zealand political landscape – in these last three weeks. Andrew Little came across as a humble guy and liked by many, but he just could not make the necessary hits on National. Slumped in the polls and staring down the gun barrel of electoral oblivion, Labour would have got a D rating.

Labour would get a C+ or potentially a B- except that they have not yet announced any bold policies to get people talking and Ms Ardern was not joking when she said Labour will have to fight the campaign of its life.

A.C.T.: D

David Seymour is A.C.T. and A.C.T. is David Seymour. They rely on each other for survival. A.C.T. has given Mr Seymour a vehicle to get himself into Parliament. That vehicle cannot go anywhere without him.

In fairness to Mr Seymour though, his Bill of Parliament on Euthenasia has been well received in many quarters on both sides of the divide. His support for cannabis reform has also gone down well. That is where it ends though because A.C.T. and everything it stands for is not obviously any more popular than it was in 2014.

Mr Seymour will probably return as National is unlikely to action his demise in Epsom even though it is capable of doing so.

United Future: D

Peter Dunne, the other one man band in Parliament might be on life support in terms of his political career. Sagging in internal polling in Ohariu and faced with a formidable Labour challenge in his electorate one the Governments most stable supporters might not last the election. Mr Dunne started life in the Labour Party and left to start United Future. Over the last nine years he has infuriated people on the left and the right by voting for/against legislation simply because of the confidence and supply deal with National. The one time he probably infuriated the right was shooting down the Resource Management legislation in 2015.

Greens C+

Until Metiria Turei’s admission of deceiving Work and Income New Zealand, the Greens were nicely placed to get a B. They had unveiled a list of candidates that impressed many. Their steady popularity throughout the last three years and the growing environmental and socio-economic problems as well as the increasingly obvious unwillingness of the centre-right to attack the causes of poverty, have made them a constant in the polls. Mrs Turei’s acknowledgement of wrong doing was brave, but her failure to either immediately pay up or quit has caused potentially lasting damage.

The Jacinda explosion has not helped them either, robbing the party of support just when it needed it most.

Maori Party: C

The Maori Party continues to be a source of mystery and frustration to me. For all their talk about helping Maori I am yet to see any progress on any of the rather distressing array of problems confronting Maori in society – whether it is truancy or youth crime, health statistics, educational performance or employment, the preoccupation with Treaty issues has become an issue itself. They will probably pick up another Member of Parliament at the election, but what they are able to do post-election might very well depend on none other than Winston Peters.

New Zealand First: B

I left New Zealand First earlier this year. Disgruntled with the archaic, non communicative ways of the party board, I was one of a number who have either quit the party but will still vote for them, or quit elected positions as electorate committee members.

But despite the internal problems, the party performs well in Parliament and has been a constant source of trouble for National. The fact that the National Party have largely just laughed off or tried to sweep what the New Zealand First caucus have raised in Parliament under the carpet is not so much a reflection on 12 M.P.’s trying their best, as a reflection of the lack of support they got from Labour and the Greens.

Winston Peters, like the Greens has taken a hit in the polls from the rise of Jacinda Ardern. But better than anyone in Parliament he knows there is only one poll that actually counts and that is on 23 September 2017.