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Archive for November, 2013

Labour will compensate Pike River families…

David Cunliffe at the NZ Open Source Awards, 2007

David Cunliffe at the NZ Open Source Awards, 2007 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Pike River Coal

Pike River Coal (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Labour Leader David Cunliffe today committed the Labour Government to paying the court-ordered compensation to the Pike River families and seeking reimbursement from company shareholders and directors.

“Labour will ensure the Pike River miners’ families receive their rightful court-ordered compensation,” said David Cunliffe.

“It is shameful that neither the Crown, nor Crown entities ACC and NZ Super Fund, have upheld their moral obligation to contribute.

“The financial well-being of the Pike River families is uppermost in our minds. Paying the court-ordered compensation is the decent and right thing to do.

“Despite John Key’s promises to stand side by side with the families of the 29 miners, they have been left in the lurch by Mr Key, Pike River Coal Ltd, its shareholders and parent companies and directors.

“The court has awarded $3.4 million in compensation from Pike River Coal Ltd. Its shareholders refused to pay it and the Government has said the only way to get the money is to sue the Crown.

“The families deserve much better than that. Mr Key needs to be a leader, not a lawyer. He has lost his moral compass.

“Today is the third anniversary of that tragic day and the families are yet to receive their court-awarded compensation.

“As Prime Minister my Government would pay the families the full compensation they have been awarded. My Government would work with Pike River Coal shareholders and government entities ACC and NZ Super Fund, to require them to fulfil their moral duty,” said David Cunliffe.



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Cunliffe appoints Cunliffe as his chief press secretary…


David Cunliffe at the NZ Open Source Awards, 2007

David Cunliffe at the NZ Open Source Awards, 2007 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Labour leader David Cunliffe has appointed journalist Simon Cunliffe as his chief press secretary and media director.

The pair are first cousins – their fathers were brothers.

Simon Cunliffe has been a deputy editor of the Otago Daily Times and a deputy editor of The Press in Christchurch.

He was a columnist and won the Best Columnist at the 2012 Canon media awards.

He wrote a play, The Truth Game, about a newspaper in transition to the digital age which was shown at Wellington‘s Circa Theatre last year.

At present he is acting chief of staff at the sub-editing and production hub at Fairfax editorial services in Wellington.

David Cunliffe took over the Labour leadership on September 15. He took no part in the official interview of his cousin which was conducted by deputy leader David Parker, front bencher Grant Robertson and chief of staff Wendy Brandon. The interview team recommended the appointment which was accepted by David Cunliffe.


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Christchurch’s rebuild has been hindered – communication breakdown among agencies involved…

The agencies overseeing the rebuilding of earthquake-damaged Christchurch are not talking enough and are confused about service levels, a report says.


English: Coat of arms of the City of Christchurch

English: Coat of arms of the City of Christchurch (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


The Canterbury rebuild is being hindered by a lack of communication between the three public entities running it, according to a report from the Auditor-General.

The report examines how well the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (Cera), the New Zealand Transport Agency, and Christchurch City Council are fixing roads and underground water, wastewater, and stormwater pipes through an alliance called the Stronger Christchurch Infrastructure Rebuild Team (Scirt).

“Scirt’s effectiveness is increasingly hindered by a lack of clarity about roles and limited involvement from the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority,” Auditor-General Lyn Provost said.

The authority was not engaging with Scirt to the extent needed and Scirt’s rapid operational pace was misaligned with the slower progress of strategic planning for the wider rebuild.

“Protracted decision-making, especially in the central city, could gradually reduce Scirt’s ability to deliver repairs.”

The report also found a lack of understanding about service levels.

Earthquakes in 2010 and 2011 caused massive damage to Christchurch. The cost to the Crown will be about $13.5 billion and Christchurch City Council faces costs of $2.6b, the report says.

It is the second report by the Auditor-General in two weeks to criticise the Christchurch rebuild, after the Earthquake Commission was taken to task for poor communication and inconsistent dealings with customers.

The report also finds that because no decisions have been made about the future of red-zone land and flood defence options, stormwater and street repair works will be delayed.

“Cera is responsible for resolving the future of red zone land. Scirt has explained that delaying stormwater repair work would also delay critical roading repairs.

“It anticipates that these decisions could be delayed for 12 months or more,” the report says.


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Lorde returns to her roots – where it all began…


Lorde (Photo credit: Jem Yoshioka)

Lorde swoops into her old school to judge contest


SUPERSTAR: Global chart sensation Lorde, who performed at David Letterman this week, was back today at her old school today to judge a talent quest.

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Lorde has returned to where it all began.

The singer, real name Ella Yelich-O’Connor, made a special trip to her former school Belmont Intermediate on Auckland’s North Shore today to judge the annual talent quest.

Lorde performed in the same competition – Belmont Idol – at age 12, and a video of her performing Warwick Avenue by Duffy was later shown to Universal music representatives.

She was signed to the label as a result.

Lorde was called last as the judges walked on stage with the hall erupting into screams and cheers.

Lorde read out the winners after the hour-long show with Kip Griffin who performed One More Night by Maroon 5 taking first place.

The global popstar met with the students afterwards, and was swarmed. She signed autographs and took pictures.

Belmont principal Nick Hill said Lorde, 17, initiated the visit once she found out it coincided with her return from New York this morning.

The school’s water polo team saw her in a limousine as she drove home, he said.

But Lorde’s appearance at the school was a surprise to everyone. Staff only found out this morning the Takapuna teen would attend, Hill said.

Belmont’s teachers were all big fans of Lorde, he said.

The singer was adamant the focus was on the school’s performers, and she did not want to speak to media.


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Conservation Minister allegedly mystified by attacks on its moves to protect Mauis Dolphins – what moves you could ask?



The Conservation Minister is mystified by attacks on the Government’s moves to protect the endangered Maui‘s Dolphins.

The WWF and Labour say cabinet papers show the Government ignored advice that interim measures put in place to protect the species don’t go far enough.

Conservation Minister Nick Smith says the advice they’re referring to, is outdated.

“It’s somewhat strange to quote a report that says you should extend the set net ban area, the government subsequently puts a proposition out to extend it, and somehow they’re saying we are ignoring that advice, its exactly why we are proposing an extension.”



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A day in history July12 2012…

English: Anti nuclear power movement's Smiling...

English: Anti nuclear power movement’s Smiling Sun logo “Nuclear Power? No Thanks” Deutsch: Die Lachende Sonne der Anti-Atomkraftbewegung (“Atomkraft? Nein Danke!”) mit englischem Text Dansk: Solmærket (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Logo/Emblem of French Polynesia

Logo/Emblem of French Polynesia (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

  • A slur against the French would mean the info was was wong, incorrect or malicious. The facts are that 25 years ago this week six french saboteur, terrorist frogmen sneaked into Auckland Harbour, and blew up an anti-nuclear protest vessel the Greenpeace, which the NZ Government had permitted to berth there. A Brazilian seaman was killed in the blast – some will say it was murder! France and NZ were were supposedly friends and allies. Two of the terrorists were captured and convicted, and through an agreement between NZ and France sent to French Polynesia to serve their time. But the French renegued and let them go home after only two years. France paid some compo – but nothing to the murdered man’s family in Brazil. A slur against France, my friend?

    peter petterson

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Terror To Love threepeated the NZ Trotting Cup this afternoon…


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Tautoko Crew on Facebook- Kiwis helping Kiwis in Australia…



Media revelations that National MP’s property loophole allegedly ‘stings’ taxpayers

In the first of a three-part series, a Herald investigation of politicians’ property records finds six Govt MPs are using their private Super funds to own properties that do not need to be disclosed, claiming up to $78,000 a year to pay off mortgages 

Minister Simon Bridges said the properties were in his Super fund for genuine investment reasons. Photo / Glenn Taylor

Minister Simon Bridges said the properties were in his Super fund for genuine investment reasons. Photo / Glenn Taylor

A loophole where MPs do not need to disclose investment properties owned in superannuation schemes – and claim up to $78,000 in taxpayer-funded subsidies each year – is “stinging taxpayers in the pocket”, according to a Government lobby group.

Herald investigation of property records for all 121 members of Parliament has discovered that six National MPs use their private superannuation schemes to own property that does not need to be disclosed – unlike assets held in trusts. This is because of an exception in the rules of the Register of Pecuniary Interests.

Read more about how the Herald discovered the MPs’ property investment loophole.

All six – Chester Borrows, Simon Bridges, Anne Tolley, Chris Auchinvole, Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga and Mike Sabin – live in the Wellington properties while working in the capital and claim the accommodation allowance or expenses.

Ministers get a flat annual fee of $37,500 ($720 a week) while backbench MPs can claim up to $24,000 in accommodation expenses.

The newly formed Taxpayers’ Union, set up to “give Kiwi taxpayers a strong voice in the corridors of power”, said it was shocked that the MPs were told to remove the relevant properties from their respective declaration of pecuniary interests.

Executive director Jordan Williams said the Registrar of Pecuniary Interests, which was Dame Margaret Bazley at the time, should ensure the public is fully informed.”We are shocked that she has advised Ministers to withhold information, contrary to the purpose of the register “Today’s revelations show that the MPs’ Register of Pecuniary Interests is unfit for purpose and needs to be amended. These entitlements are stinging taxpayers in the pocket. There is no excuse for not ensuring that there is full transparency.By owning the property in a private superannuation scheme, the politicians can also use their taxpayer-funded superannuation subsidies to pay off the mortgage.

For every $1 placed in the private schemes by the MP, the taxpayer contributes $2.50 to a maximum of $28,920 – an annual superannuation total of up to $40,488.

Combined with the taxpayer-funded accommodation allowances, a minister like Mrs Tolley could pay off up to $77,988 of the mortgage each year while also making a capital gain as the property’s value increases.

– John Key: ‘Cut MPs some slack’ –

Prime Minister John Key said today the MPs needed to be “cut some slack” over the property loophole because they were following the rules.

He defended the parliamentarians, saying it was the way the system was established that meant they were told not to declare their assets.

“As it says in the paper, they were actually advised not to [declare]. They said, ‘we want to do this, we’ve got nothing to hide’,” he said.

“I mean, it’s all in the public domain, and actually what’s ended up happening is they’ve told them, ‘no you can’t do that’.”

He denied it was an administrative error but was simply the rules of declaring pecuniary interests.

Mr Key told TV One’s Breakfast programme that MPs could not list all the assets in a trust because it disrupted trust law.

“So it’s the way these things are established, because what effectively they’re doing, is owning the property they live in through their superannuation fund, and there’s nothing actually terribly new about that, that’s happened for time immemorial,” he said.

He added: “These guys have got to follow the rules, because if they don’t follow the rules they can be hung, drawn and quartered. But if they follow the rules maybe you’ve got to cut them that slack.”

Mr Key said his Government had “actively sought to be much more transparent”.

As well as the six MPs with Wellington properties in Super funds, a further 26 MPs who get accommodation allowances also have properties in Wellington which are disclosed on the register. Nineteen are National MPs and four are from Labour. The others are the two Maori Party co-leaders and NZ First’s Denis O’Rourke.

– Bridges: I was told not to disclose –

Of the six with undisclosed properties held in their Super schemes, Mr Bridges, Mr Sabin and Mr Auchinvole all said they would have no problem with disclosing the properties, but had been advised by the Registrar for Pecuniary Interests not to do so.

Mr Bridges said the properties were in his Super fund because of genuine investment reasons, not to hide them away. He had listed both the Wellington and Parnell properties in his initial return, but was given clear advice to take them out.

“If I’d forced the issue to put them down, I’m sure I could have, but if the rules don’t provide for that or don’t require that, my role in this is to comply with the rules and not more.”

He bought the apartment after becoming a minister because of the extra time he had to spend in Wellington. “It literally is my superannuation scheme. Like a lot of New Zealanders, it’s my way of having something for the future.”

Before that he had stayed in a hotel while in Wellington.

Mr Sabin said he set his up because he did not have KiwiSaver, and a personal scheme gave him greater flexibility. He had bought an apartment rather than staying in hotels because he had to spend four nights a week in Wellington due to the travelling time from his Northland home.

He said the Registrar of Pecuniary Interests had instructed them not to disclose properties in Super schemes.

“I have no problem declaring it for what it is. I’m happy to comply with any determination of the authority, but they set the requirements, not I.”

Mr Auchinvole said he believed it was appropriate to put the property in his Super trust, but said the intention was to give him a Wellington base, rather than to benefit from capital gains.

“If it had been for capital gain, it would have been a disappointment.”

Mr Bridges also had a property in Karikari in his name, but explained he was a trustee for a friend and had no financial interest in it, so had not disclosed it.

When told a rule clarification in 2011 meant MPs had to list all trusts they acted as trustees for, whether or not they had a beneficial interest, he said he would put in a late disclosure of his role as a trustee.

Mr Lotu-Iiga said his apartment was a superannuation investment. He had had it for about four years and stayed there when in Wellington. “It’s part of my Super fund – the way it’s been invested.”

He too said he did not have a problem with disclosing it, but was advised not to.
Mr Borrows said he was a beneficiary of the Super trust he established which owned his Wellington apartment. He said the arrangement made no difference to the amount he got in accommodation allowance as a minister, and in fact he was on the lower payment of $30,000 because it was the same flat he stayed in as a backbench MP.

“If I had changed accommodation this would cost the taxpayer another $7000 per annum if I was renting, in a hotel, or paying a mortgage myself. As an out-of-Wellington MP, an accommodation allowance is payable regardless of the situation and I receive the lowest rate.”

Mrs Tolley would not say why she put her property into a Super scheme or if she still stayed in her apartment in Wellington or rented it out, saying simply that she had abided by the legal requirements for the register.

Although most of the six MPs said they had been advised not to disclose the property in their Super schemes, other MPs have disclosed assets.

Labour’s Chris Hipkins has listed a rental property in Paraparaumu as owned by his super trust, and Labour’s finance spokesman, David Parker, has listed share ownership and a property in Alexandra, which are held in his personal Super trust.

The Green Party was criticised in 2009 – before the rules changed – after it was discovered its Super fund owned two properties which were rented by Green MPs, who then claimed the accommodation allowance. The $48,000 claimed for both properties was then channelled back into the superannuation fund.

The party apologised and repaid $6000 when it was revealed that two MPs, Catherine Delahunty and Jeanette Fitzsimons, each claimed $500 a week to live in the same house – about double the market value.

Co-leader Metiria Turei later announced the sale of both Super fund properties, saying the Green Party wished to clear up all the public confusion that existed around allowances and expenses.

• Click here to see what MPs have and have not disclosed on the Register of Pecuniary Interests.

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Save New Zealand’s Maui Dolphins – once they are extinct they will be gone for ever…

We want to live…

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