WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND: John Key (L) Prime Minister of New Zealand speaks with deputy Prime Minister Bill English during the 2010 opening day of New Zealand Parliment at Parliament Buildings on February 9, 2010 in Wellington, New Zealand. (Photo by Marty Melville/Getty Images).
We want to know. We want the facts, not the spin. Voters deserve better than a misrepresentation of the facts, if that is what is happening. It’s an insult to people’s intelligence to play those games in Parliament. Very patronising to say the least. Partly helped by New Zealanders’ apathy and paid media not reporting or picking up these issues in the public interests.
So let’s find out. Government Minister versus Opposition Labour: who can we believe? So let’s open the books, the real ones.
UPDATED: “Disgraced former minister Phil Heatley was repeatedly warned by officials about his ministerial credit card use, new documents reveal. Mr Heatley, 42, quit his fisheries and housing portfolios yesterday after moves by Prime Minister John Key to put his spending under more scrutiny by Auditor-General Lyn Provost…”(Source: Dominion Post, 26th February 2010). Read more
Full text of resignation speech by Minister of Housing and Fisheries Phil Heatley. Read out at a press conference an hour ago.
I have called this media conference today to announce my resignation as Housing Minister, Fisheries Minister and a member in John Key’s Cabinet.
I contacted the Prime Minister this morning to let him know of my plans and he has accepted my resignation.
Firstly, I want to say that it has been a privilege to serve the people of New Zealand as a Cabinet Minister in this National Government, but I believe that I have failed to live up to my own standards and for that I am embarrassed and immensely sorry.
The decision today comes after I had a closer look at my Ministerial Credit Card expenses covering the past 18 months.
As I explained earlier in the week, I was not as familiar as I should have been with the rules; in fact, I was careless. I have apologised and have undertaken to pay back any money wrongly billed.
However, a closer inspection of my accounts has revealed an error in addition to that already in the public arena. On reconciling my accounts I discovered an expenses claim that sits apart from the rest.
I charged two bottles of wine already highlighted this week to my account as food and beverages. There was no food included in this purchase, and I accept this could be viewed as an inaccurate representation of the expense.
But rather than arguing semantics about whether this was deliberately misleading or not, I have decided that this is one step too far and I offered my resignation to the Prime Minister this morning.
Furthermore, today I have submitted my accounts to the Office of the Auditor General to conduct an independent inquiry, and I expect those results will be made public in due course.
I believe this is the right course of action.
I have absolutely no desire to become the focus of a distraction for this Government, which has much to do to grow the economy, invest in jobs and help Kiwis get ahead.
I do intend to remain in Parliament as an advocate for Whangarei, and I want to thank the wonderful people from my electorate who have rung to offer their support.
I also want to thank my wife, Jenny and family for their ongoing support in what have been a tough few days.
Heatley’s Profile on http://www.heatley.co.nz
In the National-led Government, Phil Heatley is:
- Minister of Fisheries
- Minister of Housing
|Phil Heatley is 42 years old and the electorate MP for Whangarei.
He attended Maunu & Whau Valley Primary, Kamo Intermediate and Kamo High Schools in Whangarei.
Being born, raised and educated in Whangarei, he has strong personal ties to the electorate with his own family and extended family all residing there.
In 1990 he completed a Masters with honours degree, majoring in Horticultural Engineering. After finishing his studies he returned to Whangarei to work.
Phil’s personal interests include carpentry, tennis, boating and fishing.
In 1993 both Phil and his wife Jenny, a registered nurse, worked voluntarily with an international relief agency aboard a nine-story, 12,000-ton hospital ship. When in port crew undertook medical, agricultural and construction work in developing countries.
After returning from overseas in 1995, Phil was employed as a Professional Engineer for a NZ Dairy Board subsidiary in Northland. Nationally, Phil was responsible for working on behalf of the dairy industry in relation to the Resource Management Act (1991).
PHOTO TAKEN A MONTH AFTER THE NATIONAL PARTY WON A MAJORITY OF THE VOTES MAKING JOHN KEY PRIME MINISTER OF NZ. Taken the same year he promised not to raise GST if elected to Government.
WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND – DECEMBER 08, 2008: Prime Minister John Key (L) speaks with his deputy John English during the swearing in of MPs and the Commissioning of Parliament during the first meeting of the House of Representatives of the 49th Parliament at Parliament House on December 8, 2008 in Wellington, New Zealand. (Photo by Marty Melville/Getty Images).
John Key 2008 before the General Election:
National is NOT going to be raising GST. National wants to cut taxes not cut taxes.
Fast forward to yesterday in Parliament. Prime Minister signals a rise in GST of up to 15 percent. Photo taken yesterday in Parliament during his speech in which he announced the GST hike and other reforms.
Did the Prime Minister lose his memory? That does not bode well for future relationships with voters, particularly the most who are struggling to make ends meet. Maybe the Prime Minister and his Cabinet are the only ones who have forgotten we have been in a recession and it takes time for people to recover from it. That’s because they are one of the few who have not been living in a recession.
Despite widespread disappointment about Key’s speech yesterday, after all the hype and talking it up by the PM’s office, expect to hear more from his spin doctors talking up the next few months of Key’s so-called “tax cuts programme”. Whatever. No more empty platitudes about caring for the poor and needy and fighting crime from the Prime Minister’s office please.
A Herald video reveals Prime Minister John Key ruled out a GST rise during his election campaign, saying “National is not going to be raising GST”.
Mr Key outlined the Government’s 2010 agenda to Parliament yesterday and signalled it was likely to raise GST from 12.5 per cent to 15 per cent in May’s Budget.
But in a 2008 press conference, Mr Key said raising taxes would not happen under a National Government.
“National is not going to be raising GST. National wants to cut taxes, not raise taxes.”
Mr Key made the comment when asked if he could rule out a GST rise as a new Government grappled with deficits.
We think the only people left to trust in the Prime Minister’s office will be the cleaners.
Prime Minister of New Zealand John Key talks with race goers during the Wellington Cup Day meeting at Trentham Racecourse on January 30, 2010 in Wellington, New Zealand. (Photo by Mike Heydon/Getty Images).
DEBATE ON PRIME MINISTER’S STATEMENT NOW UNDERWAY IN PARLIAMENT
Investment property developers can expect to be taxed. GST increases signaled. Government will keep a tight lid on future spending. Mining in NZ will be explored as a valuable use of government land. Some areas of Crown land be removed from Schedule 4. Discussion document will be released. Water storage and irrigation projects, removal of regulatory processes, irrigation can begin in Canterbury. Substantive reforms for businesses to access capital.
Brief Analysis: Disappointing. On a scale of 1 to 10 for delivery: 3.5. On content: 5. Because as the Prime Minister of the country, he gave some general information. That reminds us we live in a democracy. But he gets a C – Minus for what he did share. Not enough detail to flesh out the platitudes about fighting crime and so on. Because although he signaled rises and changes, he leaves a lot unsaid. He signals a proposed rise in GST to 15 percent but discounted that with talk of cuts to personal tax cuts. Don’t be fooled by those cuts because the cost of living continues to rise, and a rise in GST on top of that, Kiwis will not make a difference to whether you can pay your bills on time, put food on the table easier. Those tax cuts, although hardly earthshattering to individuals pay packet when the minimum wage, and part time work hours, is barely adequate for middle and low income earners, will mean major cuts to health, education and infrastructure in New Zealand.
National Government MP Jonathan Coleman, the same one who was responsible for the Melissa Lee by-election flop, is speaking right now and having a dig at beneficiaries to get off benefits. Has he forgotten we’ve been in a recession?Very patronising for the many jobless who are actively seeking work.
RESPONSE FROM LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION
Phil Goff’s reply to John Key
Notes for speech in Parliament
Once again, we’ve heard the rhetoric – but there’s no substance.
It’s Alan Bollard one, John Key nil.
It’s proved Alan Bollard right – John Key’s promise to catch up with Australia is a hollow one – there’s nothing in this speech that represents step change.
Instead, it’s a step back.
There’s no bold plan or any plan at all.
This was hyped by the Prime Minister’s team to be his most important speech.
It was Big Tuesday, they said. More like Tiptoe Tuesday.
He signals a rise in GST, which I oppose, but he trembles as he says it.
“We’re only considering it”.
“No decisions have been made”.
“We’ve asked for more work to be done on it”.
They’ve left a bolt hole they can scamper into when the heat gets too much.
They say they want a fair tax package but they know that it is really about mates’ rates.
Cutting the top income tax rate down to 30% would give the PM, on his salary alone, $509 a week. He doesn’t need it.
Paul Reynolds would get $2600 a week.
Someone on the minimum wage would get nothing, which comes after the miserable 25 cents John Key gave them last month.
A person on the average wage of $48,600 gets 35 cents a week and on $70,000 just $12.69.
And GST would hurt most those who have to spend all their income to make ends met and particularly those with children.
Compensating people for the rise would leave just $200 million more in revenue out of the $2.2 billion in tax take from extra GST, according to Treasury.
Why would you bother?
Aren’t people paying enough for the things they have to buy? Low and middle income earners will ultimately pay more income tax as inflation puts them into higher tax brackets.
Mr Key should tell us who are the winners and who are the losers, but he has failed to do so because the real winners will be his well paid mates.
The bulk of New Zealanders at best will just get compensation for increased prices from GST, if that. They will pay more for their bread, milk, power and their kids’ shoes and school fees, and their block of cheese.
But this statement wasn’t just about tax. It was about the Government’s overall programme to advance New Zealand.
In that, it lacks substance, it lacks conviction, it lacks anything new.
It is a series of reheated announcements we’ve heard before.
Like late night TV, it’s repeat after repeat.
The Kopu Bridge – funded and initiated by Labour — has been re-announced for the 11th time. Even though National’s sole input was to bring it forward by six months.
R&D, where National abolished the $2 billion Fast Forward Fund and repealed the R&D tax credit, has been suddenly found by National to be important.
But they say there’s no extra money to put into it. Australia increased their R&D by 25% and John Key pretends he has a plan to catch up.
John Key said Alan Bollard was wrong about there being no plan to catch up with Australia. He was negative, pessimistic.
But in fact Dr Bollard and the rest of New Zealand were right to be cynical.
New Zealand has the potential to be world beating, with its resources like water, its environment, ingenuity that gave us the digital effects behind Avatar.
But the National Party does nothing in this statement to unleash that potential.
And for all John Key’s rhetoric, his Government has widened the gap not narrowed it.
New Zealand’s unemployment, always lower than Australia’s, is now 30% higher.
Australia has invested in skills and education. National here has dumped the New Zealand Skills Strategy, to the dismay of unions and employers alike.
One in five Kiwi young people are not in work, education or training.
In Australia, it’s less than one in ten.
Where is the plan today to get 168,000 unemployed Kiwis back to work?
Over a quarter of these New Zealanders have bee out of work for more than six months.
Where is the commitment to turn around the sad situation we saw in South Auckland two weeks ago – 3,500 people desperately queuing for 150 low paid supermarket jobs?
John Key last December said he was pretty happy about the unemployment figures. An extra 18,000 extra Kiwis were joining the unemployment queue as he made that statement.
He described unemployment as a backward looking statistic. What he’s actually referring to is human beings who have lost their livelihoods, with all the personal, social and financial costs that entails.
He claimed last week that his Government has done “as much as we possibly can about unemployment”.
That’s simply untrue.
The job summit was just hot air – the talkfest he claimed it wasn’t going to be. At best it saved a handful of jobs while tens of thousands were losing them.
The Aussie’s took serious steps to deal with unemployment and got it down across the Tasman.
Here we just got political rhetoric from Mr Key and Mrs Bennett and unemployment has risen to the highest level in 17 years.
What in this statement gives hope to hard working Kiwi’s to help their families get ahead?
Hundreds of Kiwi families struggled last year to pay their bills as real incomes fell.
The Labour Cost Index this month showed that 56% of salary and wage rates didn’t increase last year but prices continued to rise and will rise further with GST.
Public servants were told not to expect a pay rise for five years by a Minister of Finance who secretly doubled his housing allowance to higher than what the average worker gets as a full-time wage.
Those on the minimum wage got a miserable 25 cents an hour more – less in the hand at the end of the week than the cost of a family size packet of WeetBix.
Middle income earners found that they were working harder but not getting ahead.
Change to the tax system could help. Labour cut company taxes, gave tax credits worth hundreds of millions to families through Working for Families lifted 130,000 children out of poverty, and stimulated the economy with big personal income tax cuts in the 2008 Budget.
National on the other hand gave the bulk of its tax cuts to the highest income earners and nothing at all to families with kids earning under $40,000.
The tax changes foreshadowed here do little or nothing for hardworking low and middle income earners.
If and where tax loopholes are closed and a level playing field is created between different areas of investment, we will support that but there is no evidence of benefits from this tax package for low and middle income earners.
Then there was John Key’s promise that he would look after the most vulnerable. Empty words when you consider he was cutting assistance to severely handicapped children and assistance to those in second chance adult and community education while subsidising elite private schools with tens of millions of extra funding.
Empty words and political spin too when he came to McGehan Close in my electorate, insulted the residence by calling it a ‘dead end’ street nut promised to help those there he termed an underclass.
Remember the spin around taking young Aroha up to Waitangi and giving her mum a job.
What do they say in McGehan Close now?
Joan Nathan says she has been let down by the Prime Minister and her daughter Aroha now wants nothing to do with him.
She says she and her family are worse off since National won the election.
She says she’s “pretty anti with Mr Key at the moment”.
“He just made everything worse for us and made it easier for the ones that are higher up. I’m struggling every week”.
The job she was so generously given by the National Party mysteriously became redundant. Jackie Blue said her office had merged with Sam Lotu-Iinga.
That’s funny. One’s in Dominion Road Mt Roskill. The other in Onehunga Mall.
And Mr Key who said in 2008 that “the rungs of the ladder of opportunity has been broken”, stopping people like Joan Nathan from getting ahead. She says in fact National cut the training allowance she would have got to undertake a job skill course.
Where in this statement is the National Party’s blueprint for lifting skill training and dealing with educational underachievement.
15.4% of Maori are currently unemployed and for young Maori it’s probably one in 4.
At 14% for Pasifika people it’s not much better.
Flying a sovereignty flag over the Harbour Bridge won’t help that, but I guess it will distract attention from the problem.
Soon this Government will exhaust the publics’ patience for political spin.
This statement today was a chance to set out a plan to a real difference for New Zealand.
A chance to share the benefits of international economic recovery across all New Zealanders.
To build an economy that can close the gap with Australia, create growth through building skills, promoting innovation.
But once again it has let the opportunity slip, has offered to serve the few not the many and to tinker around the edges rather than implement change which will matter.
This statement by the PM fails on all counts.
No pretty picture here. Statistics NZ shows the unemployment rate has risen again for Maori and Pacific job seekers. They represent the worst hit groups normally resident in New Zealand. The unemployment rate for Pacific has almost doubled from 7.8 percent unemployment (December 2008) to 14. percent, as at December 2009.
Unemployment among Maori has risen from 9.8 at 15.4 percent. This does not include the figures for European/Maori which is 13.6 percent. Asian unemployment stands at 9.2 percent. The unemployment rate for those who identify as European is 4.6 percent.
MP for Mana Luamanuvao Winnie Laban says the rate should shame the Government into action.“Just over three months ago unemployment rates among Pacific Islanders was 12.3 per cent and we were being promised by the Government it was working to get people back to work, “she says.
The Labour Opposition Spokesperson for Pacific Island Affairs says this latest increase shows their policies are not working. “In just one year, 5000 additional Pacific Island people have lost their jobs. Pacific Island people, who are overrepresented in lower paid jobs, were also bitterly disappointed at the miserly rise in minimum wage announced last month.”
Luamanuvao says many in the Pacific community are saying they are disappointed with a lack of action from the Minister of Pacific Island Affairs Georgina Te Heuheu.
Te Heuheu, who is the second Maori woman to gain election to the National Party, is widely criticised within the Pacific community for her lack of action on Pacific issues.
Luamanuvao on Te Heuheu:
“She is virtually invisible in the portfolio and offering no support or ideas. I am deeply saddened that the Government is failing so many families and that the Minister of Pacific Island Affairs has sat back and done nothing.”
NZ Pacific Affairs Minister Georgina Te Heuheu(right), during a visit to Samoa with the Prime Minister John Key(next to her) and Maori Affairs Minister Dr Pita Sharples (left), July 7, 2009 in Apia, Samoa.
Opposition Leader Phil Goff says unemployment in New Zealand is now at the highest level it has been in 16 years and is growing at the highest rate in a decade.
“168,000 Kiwis are now unemployed. The total number of jobless is more than 275,000,” says the Labour Leader.
“The Government’s stimulus package has produced just 2300 jobs. That is a lot less than the 3500 people who queued for hours last month for the chance to grab just 150 jobs at a new South Auckland supermarket.”
Goff, who is highly critical of Prime Minister John Key’s Job Summit for producing few results to help those who need it the most, says more and more people are struggling to make ends meet, with the young, the less well off, Maori and Pacific communities and other ethnic groups especially hard hit.
|Source: Statistics NZ
Single/combination unemployment rate (unadjusted) by ethnic group
|Pacific peoples only||7.8||14.0|
|‘Other ethnicity’ only||4.1||3.3|
|Two or more groups not elsewhere included||6.5||14.1|
|Note: MELAA = Middle Eastern/Latin American/African|
COPENHAGEN, DENMARK : British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and, Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd hold a bi-lateral talks on December 15, 2009 in Copenhagen, Denmark. World leaders have started arriving today to attend the United Nations Climate Change Conference 2009 that runs until December 18. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/WPA PoolGetty Images)
Key dumped from BBC Copenhagen debateUpdated 8:30 AM Thursday Dec 17, 2009
John Key was dumped in favour of Australian PM Kevin Rudd.
Prime Minister John Key has been bumped at the last minute from a worldwide televised climate change debate – in favour of Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd.
The BBC World news debate today – dubbed The Greatest Debate on Earth – has been billed as the media highlight of the Copenhagen climate talks and the Prime Minister had announced he would be in it.
With all respect to the New Zealand Prime Minister, his dumping is no surprise to pacificEyeWitness.org. What was a surprise was that the BBC had initially included him. Because climate change talks between world leaders have seldom included New Zealand since the change of government at the end of 2008. John Key is not a player on climate change. He never has been.
On the world leaders stage, it was New Zealand’s former Prime Minister Helen Clark who was a key player on climate change globally. Unfortunately, news coverage in New Zealand sometimes makes New Zealand appear more a player than it actually is when it comes to climate change. It is not an example to the rest of the world. That should give you a clue about how un-climate friendly the New Zealand Government’s Climate Change Bill really was. It benefits polluters, not consumers. But most New Zealanders did not know that until after the Bill was passed into law.
What the Prime Minister’s initial inclusion in the BBC debate reveals, however, is how well connected his press secretaries are with the rest of the world’s media. They would have talked him up and made him out to be more concerned about climate change than he really is. But actions speak louder than words. And sooner or later, BBC’s research and talking to other world leaders, its producers would have quickly worked out that New Zealand’s Prime Minister was the wrong guy to put on the debate. Because New Zealand, and the Prime Minister, are not key players at all on this issue. That changed at the change of government last year.
All things considered, Australia’s Prime Minister Kevin Rudd could be the only choice of the two. Let’s look at why Rudd was chosen over Key for BBC’s global panel on Climate Change:
- Australia’s Prime Minister Kevin Rudd is one of the lead negotiators behind, and in front of, the Copenhagen Climate Change talks, along with UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon and Danish Prime Minister who are key movers and shakers at Copenhagen.Did you see John Key sitting at that table? No, of course, you didn’t.
- Rudd, not Key, was also part of the press conference on climate change at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) at Trinidad and Tobago, along with the same key movers and shakers at Copenhagen.Did you see John Key at that table? No, of course, you didn’t.
- Rudd, not Key, who was called to the White House after CHOGM to give Obama an update and further climate change talks ahead of the Copenhagen Leaders. We brought you the pictures on this site so use the search tab to find them.Did you see John Key at that meeting to discuss climate change with Rudd and Obama? No, you didn’t, because he wasn’t invited.
- Rudd, not Key, spoke up in support of Pacific island nations affected by climate change at this year’s Pacific Island Leaders Forum in August. That was duly noted by the United Nation’s Copenhagen organisers. They make mention of it on the official website. Again, those stories about Rudd’s support received coverage in Australian media, but not New Zealand.
So, in light of this information, was BBC right to dump Key from the panel in favour of Rudd? Exactly.
Here’s one piece of the photographic evidence(you can go to the search tab here to find the rest):
PORT-OF-SPAIN, TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO – NOVEMBER 28: (L-R) United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Danish Prime Minister Lars Loekke Rasmussenm, Commonwealth Secretary General Kamalesh Sharma, Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister Patrick Manning, and Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd hold a press conference on climate change during the second day of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) at the Hyatt Hotel on November 28, 2009 in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad And Tobago. CHOGM is held every 2 years, bringing together world leaders to discuss key issues of a global and Commonwealth nature, and key policies and initiatives. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images).
WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND – MAY 19: Tongan Prime Minister Dr Feleti Sevele (2nd L) and New Zealand Prime Minister John Key (2nd R) walk up the steps of Parliament after a welcome ceremony on May 19, 2009 in Wellington, New Zealand. Prime Minister Sevele is expected to discuss Tonga/NZ relations, New Zealands aid programme, the impact of the global financial crisis, and political reform in Tonga. (Photo by Marty Melville/Getty Images)
This is the final week for NZ Parliament for 2009, closing a week earlier than initially scheduled. Listening into the debating chamber this afternoon, we can hear their excitement already, along with louder than usual heckling, from both sides of the House.
You can listen online to Parliament by clicking here and following the directions. We will shortly post some of the highlights in NZ Parliament this year.
Main agenda for Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting 2009:
- Democratic Governance & Governments
- Sustainable Developments
- Assistance for Developing Nations
- Development of youth. A Youth Forum was held.
- A special session on climate change was convened and a declaration made.It is worth noting that although Climate Change grabbed media headlines, the main focus of CHOGM was apparently on YOUTH. We didn’t know that from the mainstream coverage.
PORT-OF-SPAIN, TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO – NOVEMBER 29: Samoan Prime Minister Tuilaepa Malielegaoi attends the 2nd Executive Session on the third day of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) at the Hyatt Hotel on November 29, 2009 in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad And Tobago. CHOGM is held every 2 years, bringing together world leaders to discuss key issues of a global and Commonwealth nature, and key policies and initiatives. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images). Content © 2009 Getty Images All rights reserved.
Although discussions and initiatives on Climate Change have grabbed the headlines at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting 2009, the main issue on the agenda of the Commonwealth’s young people was “Youth Involvement in Decision Making.”The Commonwealth Youth Forum officially closed on Friday night after seven days of intense work and some play but the work was not finished because on Saturday, the Youth Dialogue was held. This comprised of a selection of delegates from the Youth Forum in discussions with Heads of State where the case for decision making inclusion was once again put forward by the youth.
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