National’s Loopy is Don Brash normal…behaviour.
National accused of cronyism over 'loopy rules' report
The National-led government paid tens of thousands of dollars to former National Party MPs, a former candidate and a financial donor to produce its 'loopy rules' report.
The Rules Reduction Taskforce was appointed by the Local Government Minister at the time, Paula Bennett. Photo: RNZ /Claire Eastham-Farrelly
The government taskforce was established in 2014 to rid New Zealand of rules that are unnecessarily bureaucratic and which stop people from getting things done.
The Rules Reduction Taskforce toured the country to hear New Zealanders' tales of ruled that were out of date, inconsistent, petty, inefficient, pointless or onerous.
Last year the taskforce released its report The Loopy Rules Report: New Zealanders Tell Their Stories.
The report cost $750,000 and one of its key findings was that many of the rules complained about did not actually exist.
Half the taskforce members were appointed by the Local Government Minister at the time, Paula Bennett, and had clear ties to the National Party.
On the taskforce were former National MPs Tau Henare and John Carter, former party candidate Mark Thomas and Ian Tulloch who helped fund a National MP's campaign.
Documents released to RNZ under the Official Information Act show they were each paid $500 a day to take part.
In total they were paid more than $25,000 in fees.
Labour MP Phil Twyford was disgusted with the situation.
Phil Twyford said the taskforce and report were an insult to the taxpayer. Photo: RNZ / Mei Heron
"It's an insult to the taxpayer that the National government should undertake a blatantly political exercise like this, blow $750,000 of taxpayers money and essentially provide a make-work scheme for National Party has-beens and apparatchiks."
Green Party MP Julie-Anne Genter said it was a clear case of cronyism.
"We're getting to that point where the National government is losing all perspective or sense of touch with reality - when they think it's okay to pay their former MPs or candidates and donors to undertake what's ostensibly some sort of taskforce work, it's really just an exercise in PR and spin."
But former National Party candidate Mark Thomas said the taskforce members were picked for their skills - not their party links.
"Having worked with everyone on the taskforce I could tell you that all of them had specific expertise, either local government expertise or in building and construction industry.
So from my point of view, having worked for several months on that taskforce, I think it was put together by people who were qualified and capable, and able to contribute to the task the minister had given us."
Mark Thomas was paid more than $10,000 for his work with the taskforce.
National Party MP Jacqui Dean chaired the taskforce but was not paid a fee.
One loopy rule - that lolly scrambles were illegal - was found to be a myth.
But a rule requiring hairdressers be registered and inspected annually by councils - because they were once a source of infection - was found to be loopy, given there's no such requirement for similar industries.
Local Government Minister Sam Lotu-Iiga said people selected for the taskforce were chosen for their strong understanding of the local government and business sectors.
In July, Mr Lotu-Iiga announced the Government would adopt 72 of the loopy rules taskforce's 75 recommendations.
Those recommendations included relaxing building laws and letting builders sign off on more of their own work, getting WorkSafe to do more myth busting, and most importantly stop making loopy rules.
|An image from the Hobson's Pledge|
2. Lobby group formed to oppose 'Māori favouritism'
The group, Hobson's Pledge, is fronted by former National Party leader Don Brash, and intends to pressure politicians into opposing race-based laws and preferential Māori seats in Parliament.
Dr Brash said for eight years the National-led government had been pandering to separatist demands.
He said everyone should be equal before the law.
"We've got a situation where those who have a Māori ancestor, and I say sometimes only one or two Māori ancestors out of many, are given some constitutional preference."
Don Brash is fronting the new Hobson's Pledge group. Photo: Supplied
"That is not helping most Māori and is engendering a great deal of ill will on the part of non-Māori."
Dr Brash said the group started after he was approached from a friend wanting to set up a political party to combat the trend.
"And I said look you're dreaming. Setting up a new political party doesn't work. They're very very hard to build."
"But instead we decided to form this Hobson's Pledge trust, named after chiefs [who] signed the treaty in 1840. Governor Hobson said in Māori 'we are now one people' and that's what we are advocating."
There were now more than 20 Māori MPs in Parliament and the Māori seats had outlived their usefulness, he said.
"It's patronising to suggest that Māori cannot put their own views in Parliament."
Broadcaster Willie Jackson told Morning Report the new group was "the sort of mad stuff that Don's been pushing for years".
"These types of things shouldn't even be talked about on national radio today - this is so out-of-date it's not funny."
Parliament and local councils should have Māori seats, Mr Jackson said.
"Māori have been shut of councils for years and years and years - they've had white councils everywhere."
There was still systemic inequality in New Zealand, he said.
"Every report and survey that's been put forward says that Māori have been treated differently.
"In the last few months we've seen reports ... that Māori, sadly, don't get a fair shot from police or when they go to court."
Labour Party leader Andrew Little said the campaign was racist. "This is really fringe stuff. This only works as an idea if you're prepared to overlook the first 100 years of New Zealand's history, ignored the fact that there were land confiscations, that there were unlawful detentions of Māori people, that there was discrimination and racism against Māori people in the early part of our history."
|Metiria Turei.Greens Co-Leader.|
Metiria Turei said it was an old campaign that had failed in the old days. Photo: RNZ / Elliot Childs
"I think it will be treated, by and large, by most people, with the contempt that it deserves," Mr Little said.
Dr Brash denied the group was racist, saying they were arguing for every New Zealander to have the same legal rights regardless of race.
But Green Party co-leader Metiria Turei said the group's ideas were backwards.
"It's an old campaign, which failed in the old days and is going to fail now. I don't know why he is wasting his time."
"New Zealanders are very concerned to make sure there is real justice in New Zealand."
The campaign will be running ads in community newspapers and making public speeches in the lead-up to next year's general election.
Here is a blog written a few years ago on this racist issue: Don Brash and his aging followers are still pushing their strange views… only these days they are attempting to get young people to front their idiotic ancient bigoted views…no doubt on the advice of a PR team…