Life and Politics

Occasional comment on politics and the media in New Zealand

Tag: Steven Joyce

English under the gun but Key won’t be too concerned

by Jake Quinn

The persistant questions around the Finance Minister’s actions concerning his ministerial housing allowance will really have started to bug and distract him.Labour has assigned a double hit squad, Trevor Mallard and Pete Hodgson, to target Finance Minister Bill English over his housing allowances.

But their aim is to wound him politically, not force him to resign, says Mr Mallard, who talked to the Herald yesterday about why Labour has renewed its attack six weeks after the facts around his situation emerged.
He is running a blogging campaign against Mr English and Mr Hodgson has been running a campaign in the House for the past two weeks.
Mr Mallard blogged this week on Labour’s Red Alert site that: “This story will last as long as English is a minister”, but he said the aim was not to get him to resign. “Actually we would prefer him to stay there.”
They believe Cabinet colleague Steven Joyce would do a better job for National, so politically Labour would prefer to see Mr English stay.
Mr Mallard said that whenever Mr English “gets involved in trying to cut something or talks about priorities or inappropriate expenditure or whatever he will be reminded of this”.

The persistant questions around the Finance Minister’s actions concerning his ministerial housing allowance will really have started to bug and distract him. But what would Prime Minister John Key think about the whole unsavoury affair?

Labour’s Trevor Mallard speaks to the Herald’s Audrey Young about their strategy to keep the heat on the Finance Minister:

Labour has assigned a double hit squad, Trevor Mallard and Pete Hodgson, to target Finance Minister Bill English over his housing allowances.

But their aim is to wound him politically, not force him to resign, says Mr Mallard, who talked to the Herald yesterday about why Labour has renewed its attack six weeks after the facts around his situation emerged.

He is running a blogging campaign against Mr English and Mr Hodgson has been running a campaign in the House for the past two weeks.

Mr Mallard blogged this week on Labour’s Red Alert site that: “This story will last as long as English is a minister”, but he said the aim was not to get him to resign. “Actually we would prefer him to stay there.”

They believe Cabinet colleague Steven Joyce would do a better job for National, so politically Labour would prefer to see Mr English stay.

Mr Mallard said that whenever Mr English “gets involved in trying to cut something or talks about priorities or inappropriate expenditure or whatever he will be reminded of this”.

It might seem unusual for Mr Mallard to be sharing his strategy with the Herald but it’s not. So long as he and his colleagues continue to land hits (and that seems likely as Mr Mallard says “there is more to come”, it will continue to embarrass the Deputy Prime Minister.

The media can’t blame Labour for mounting a scurrilous or secret plot against Mr English because Labour’s cards are very much on the table. If it does back fire, which looks unlikely (it would be more likely to fizzle out than backfire), Phil Goff is protected because he has been kept at arms length from it.

The Prime Minister won’t be too concerned either. After all, Mr English as Deputy PM and Finance Minister with Steven Joyce further down the cabinet list is a case of keeping your friends close and your enemies even closer.

Mr English was and remains John Key’s main competition to lead the party and has always fancied himself as the natural leader of a conservative National Party.

While Bill English has questions looming over him about how moral his actions have been, his popular Prime Minister is getting letters from Barack Obama, planning to meet the President shortly, and generally being statesmanlike.

It wouldn’t be a good look for the PM if he had to change his number 2, and i’m sure that he doesn’t want that, at least in this term.

So while Labour keeps the heat on Mr English but without landing the final death blow, Key can keep looking competent by comparison and all while keeping any hint of leadership aspiration from his deputy easily in check.

Imagine if this guy knocked down your home

by Jake Quinn

So the govt has announced it will be ploughing through Mt Albert to build the SH20 waterview connection (well to be fair they’ve announced that they will ‘consult’ – heh – on some other options, none of which will involve a tunnel), and they’ve used this guy to let us know its all ok.

Because the NZ Herald sure don’t, photographer Andrew Warner must secretly work for the Labour Party! This photo of Transport Minister Steven Joyce will make children cry. It should carry a parental advisory. Especially for those children residing in the motorway’s path.

The Herald reports that “the consent process would be fast tracked and limited to nine months”. Fast-tracking, which I imagine means some kind of ‘call in’ pretty much means the consent bit of the resource consent process gets skimmed across so pesky naysayers such as homeowners (I DON’T CARE IF IT’S BEEN IN YOUR FAMILY FOR ONE HUNDRED YEARS) can’t delay the process.

Don’t get me wrong, calling in projects is important to get passed the NIMBY problems associated with any major development, but suffice it to say, and as discussed earlier, this has ended the debate over who will win Mt Albert in next month’s by-election (yeh, not Melissa Lee).

Why didn’t I purchase ipredict shares earlier? Probably because I’ve got my few bucks all tied up in the greens female co-leader contest and the section 92a disconnect stocks.

Also, Salient editor and independant Mt Albert candidate Jackson Wood might be onto something with his idea for the new route, interestingly named ‘the Peter Davis Skyway':

“Rather than the solutions proposed by any of the other candidates, we should instead look into a series of zeppelins. A motorist can strap their car to the bottom to be dropped off on the other side This saves demolishing any houses, and in fact meets all the concerns raised by other candidates.

Others discuss Joyce’s creative use of numbers and some suggest that there really is nothing to see here and that not that many houses are even going to be demo’d. Yeh Right.

Lee loses Mt Albert over waterview connection

by Jake Quinn

Any chance Melissa Lee had in tapping into National’s current popularity and taking Mt Albert off Labour is gone because of one very important issue for the electorate, an issue voters there largely agree on. That of the building of underground tunnels to connect State Highway 20 at Mount Roskill with the north-western motorway at Waterview.

It is obvious that the National govt wont be paying $2+ billion for the underground tunnel option for the SH20 Waterview connection. But poor old Melissa Lee is not allowed to say so. 

Hooten has also called it, indicating that this by-election is as good as over and Shearer has been handed victory because of the parties support, or lack thereof, for the tunnels.

Transit’s proposal to build twin tunnels to connect State Highway 20 at Mount Roskill with the north-western motorway at Waterview was their “preferred option” under the last government.

Transit New Zealand reports last year (referred to in Question Time) showed:

that 75 percent of the people who responded to its proposal favoured the Waterview Connection tunnel proposal, 8 percent were neutral, and about 17 percent opposed the proposal.

Transport Minister Steven Joyce, upon becoming the Minister, ordered a rethink and asked “NZTA to investigate alternatives to the earlier twin tunnel proposal to make this connection.”

This issue plays well for Labour; the tunnel proposal was designed during a time when spending money wasn’t tabu and investing in Auckland transport infrastructure was a good way to spend it (exactly how the project was going to be paid for however was never agreed upon). 

Labour supported the tunnels then and now in Opposition it can legitimately continue to support them – and in full knowledge that they never need to actually pay for them, as that’s Bill English’s problem.

David Shearer attacks Lee on getting the Nats to come clean here and in the same press release uses this relatively meaningless line, showing his support for err, everything:

“I am happy to make my position clear: I support the Waterview tunnel and more investment in public transport.”

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