Monday, October 17, 2005

Labour New Zealand First Agreement

This agreement, like United Future's, is again only six pages long. Which suggests that the Greens were duped.

The preamble of this agreement is self-serving apologia by NZ First to explain why it reneged on an undertaking it gave to the public.

* Confidence and supply. No surprises. Good Faith.

* Consultation.

While the Greens and United Future have four areas of consultation, NZ First requires consultation on only three (and one of those with a specific qualification). The missing criterion is "major policy issues". Presumably Winston likes to publicly attack government policies in the House rather than make constructive suggestions beforehand.

* Meetings between Winston Peters and Helen Clark as required [emphasis mine - PHM].

I just have to love that "as required". While other parties require regular meetings in their agreement, that's clearly insufficient for Helen or Winston. I'm just a little disappointed that no protocol is established as to what might happen if Helen needs to see Winston who is partying up in Courtney Place.

* Winston gets a portfolio.

* Collective responsibility within portfolio and confidence and supply.

* The Government commits itself to a Senior Citizens Card.

* The Government commits itself to 66% Super as of 2006.

* Investigation into ways of better recognizing war veterans.

* Improve options of access for foreign pensions.

Jonathon Hunt will be happy.

* Address Elder Care in 2006 Budget.

Meaningless fluff.

* Conduct review of immigration and taking note of other items raised by NZ First.

So whenever Winston makes a vague allegation in the media, the Minister of Immigration is required to purge his department immediately and publicly execute the malefactors. Should anybody be surprised why Winston didn't take the Immigration portfolio?

* Increase police numbers by 1000 over three budgets.

Presumably 250 of these are community constables as per Labour's commitments card and 750 are front-line police.

* Review the home detention system with the involvement of the NZ First spokesperson.

Since the relevant spokesperson is Ron Mark, this is better than it initially looks.

* New initiatives to reduce youth offending and discourage youth gangs.

While Old People are to be pampered, Young People are to be disciplined.

* Evaluate costs and benefits of demerging traffic patrol from police.

They would have done better to conduct a review of police traffic priorities.

* Expedite treaty settlements.

I'm surprised they haven't declared a deadline. But then again they don't need to since it is Labour's own policy to have a deadline.

* Review appropriateness of Chief of Waitangi Tribunal being also a Maori Land Court Judge.

Winston's out to get Joe Williams for some reason.

* Nominate 2007 as an export year.


* A new taxation regime for racing.

Why do we even have a Ministry of Racing?

* Increase minimum wage to $12.00/hr if economic conditions permit.

Markedly less fluff than the parallel Green agreement but of course the economic conditions will not permit.

* Review company tax regime.

Same proposal as United Future. This makes me suspect it came from the Labour Party.

* Review Carbon Tax.

Much less detailed than the United Future proposal. So I guess the Labour Party put the same proposal to both parties and Peter Dunne rewrote it.

* No strategic asset sales.

A similar proposal in the 1996 agreement didn't do much good. Winston was forced to agree to a sale of airports and then sacked.

* Investigate the feasibility of decontamination of used car imports offshore.

Decontamination from what?

* Review airline advertising so they display the full price.

I guess Winston couldn't read the fine print when buying a ticket.

* Free primary health care for under six year olds.

The first positive policy towards young people. Although unfortunately under-sixes can't vote for at least another dozen years.

* Reasonable access to 24 emergency health care.

What's unreasonable about our current access? The problem is with waiting lists.

* Reintroduction of Electoral Integrity act.

Oh dear. Fortunately none of the other parties are committed to supporting this.

* Support an NZ First treaty bill to the select committee.

But no word on what the Bill's provisions might contain.

* Support a bill lowering the age of responsibility from 14 to 12 years. If the bill has not been successful in the ballot for two years then incorporate it into a government bill for consideration at the select committee.

In other words, there's a private members bill out there that Winston wants brought before the Select Committee. Why he doesn't decide to withdraw it and impose a government bill on the government instead I don't know. I also don't know why Winston's obsessed with the Select Committee given that a) he can't play to the cameras very well there and b) he doesn't realize that bills can be buried in the select committee.

* NZ First support for Labour's Commitment Card policies.

Winston finally gets around to giving Helen Clark something in return.

* NZ First votes for government on procedural motions unless it is a bill in which they have already registered their opposition.

This clause compromises the Confidence and Supply Clause!

* Confidentiality. Before offering the Papers, the Minister should make it clear if their contents are likely to compromise NZ First's policy positions.

In other words, Winston suspects Labour will try and use the Confidentiality Clause to silence other parties and has negotiated an out.

* Relationship with other parties.

Usual clause.

Lastly there's an appendix in which the government promises to "address" various NZ First goals. These include

* Ensuring aid in south pacific remains a top priority.

* Review Defence salaries.

* Funding Maori Wardens.

* Exploration of a "University of Technology" "non-university" class of institution.

They are called polytechs.

* Appointing a representative of NZ First to the Shipping Dialogue Group and requesting a full report from that group by 2006.

I'm mystified as to why this should interest Winston so.

* Review of Judge's super.

I worry at the possibility of some mischief here.

* Designation of Tauranga bridge as a fully funded highway.

Winston is trying to stop the local council collecting tolls on a bridge it built
and which it has now paid for.

* Review the way in which physiotherapists are paid by the ACC.

Winston raised a question in the house about this but nothing came of it. I'm surprised that he's still pursuing the issue.

* non-statutary proposals for public access to Queen's chain and foreshore.

Similar to the United Future proposals. I suspect that Labour tried to buy them of with a clause and that it underwent slight rewritting.

* Opening access of NZ apples to Australia.

Since every government since Michael Joe Savage has wanted this goal, I don't see why Winston should see the need to include in his agreement.

Look on the bright side. The agreement hasn't mentioned a "commission of inquiry" for anything.