Airport opponents are jumping the gun

However the opponents of the proposed airport are jumping the gun. Yes the manner in which they received the news might not have been ideal, but that does not change the fact that this is far from a done deal.

A resource consent application of this size will almost certainly be deemed discretionary by Otago Regional Council, meaning that the council would able to exercise its discretion on any number or combination of aspects pertaining to the airport. It also has a number of steps that would need to be followed (though perhaps not quite in the order set down here) that need to be actioned.

  • Property acquisition, either under the Public Works Act or by sale to the applicant is inevitable.
  • Iwi would need to be consulted
  • A requiring authority may need to issue a designation
  • The application is most certainly going to have to be publically notified. As such it means that the public will then be invited make submissions on the proposal – as well as submissions from a range of community, environmental, economic interest groups

All of the above and a range of other steps would need to happen before resource consent hearings could take place. The resource consent hearings themselves could take years to get through. As with any resource consent application, a basic rule of thumb applies in that the bigger the application the more complex the information that will be needed will be. Building a single story 3 bedroom house is one thing; building an airport of any size, let alone one that could take an A320 short haul aircraft is quite another.

It is also possible in the COVID19 economic environment that the proposal collapses under its own weight. This could happen because the demand for extra airport capacity may take too long to materialise and C.I.A.L. decide it is simply not worth the effort any longer. And indeed, C.I.A.L. cannot see a business case for building a new airport happening until Queenstown airport reaches capacity.

To be honest though I was frankly quite surprised to hear that C.I.A.L. were even considering this, when there is hardly any international demand for flights. Their assumption is clearly that New Zealand will bounce back quickly within a few years and Queenstown reaches capacity relatively quickly. With COVID19 showing no sign of slowing down anytime time soon around the world and our borders being closed indefinitely, I envisage it being years before we event reach the stage where C.I.A.L. are even ready to apply for resource consent.

So, I think if I were the people of Tarras, I would stop worrying about it for the immediate future. At this stage, aside from being a fancy idea on paper and a couple of properties sold to C.I.A.L., my guess is that the lodging of resource consents is at least 5 years away.

Big changes looming for Resource Management Act

Yesterday the biggest amendment to the Resource Management Act – its possible complete overhaul, or replacement – was announced by the Minister for the Environment, David Parker. The announcement was of the release of a report by Tony Randerson, recommending the replacement of the Act.

Since it was formed, A.C.T. has been a proponent of scrapping the R.M.A. altogether. However when I have asked them what they would replace it with, usually the answer has been a stony silence or the subject has been changed.

Most National Party members I have talked to seem to be in a similar boat. They say that it would be replaced with sensible legislation, but no one has elaborated on what “sensible legislation” might look like.

New Zealand First and the Greens have not announced an R.M.A. related policy at the time of writing this. Labour has said that it will campaign on the recommendation of the report released yesterday.

But is it entirely the R.M.A.’s fault that it got to the state that we find it in today? Not necessarily. New Zealand was very slow to realize that the statutory plans each council is required to prepare varied wildly in terms of content, presentation and usability. It was not until 2017 that National Planning Standards were introduced.

The R.M.A., like any other Act of Parliament is only as good as its implementation. As the implementation of the Act falls to the various local councils, ministries and governments, it is they who must bear responsibility for this. As councils budgets are restricted by the size of their rate payer base, sometimes they have not got sufficient staff to adequately cover their statutory responsibilities. This can lead to half baked planning outcomes that were not properly thought through.

When the R.M.A. was first introduced it was about 400 pages long. Today it is about 800 pages long.

It will be interesting to read the Randerson report into one of New Zealand’s most controversial pieces of legislation, and see what the justifications are given.

New Zealand First not as extinct as people think

For two years now, New Zealand First has slunk along at 2-3% in the polls, occasionally rising if one their Members of Parliament manages to get an Act of Parliament through or support significant legislation. It has not been the same since it decided to support Labour’s quest to end the nine year National-led Government.

Yes, Winston Peters is getting old and people are certainly wondering why he does not simply announce his retirement and be done with it. His detractors will be hoping that the current stubbornly low polling translates into electoral oblivion on 19 September 2020. Despite all of the many detractors Mr Peters and the New Zealand First party have, it is important to note that there is no clear cut centrist alternative should New Zealanders decide that New Zealand First is finished in September.

Whilst Prosperity Party exists, it is not ready for Parliament by a significant margin. The party, which was started by Helen Peterson was formed earlier this year to provide an alternative moderate voice in the political spectrum. Even if it did run a good campaign and get warmly received by voters disgruntled with New Zealand First, it is facing several challenges that are not of its making. For and clearly foremost is the 5% Party vote/1 electoral seat hurdle, which is a formidable jump for any out of Parliament party to attempt. Second, running on limited resources and lack of name recognition, it is still building up its basic regional networks and structures. This is not likely to be ready by September.

Whilst New Zealand seems to be experiencing a possible tectonic shift in politics at the moment, it is still too conservative for the Green Party. Mr Peters may have made a mistake attacking it a week ago by calling out their lack of experience. He knows that he can rely on New Zealand’s senior citizens to turn out at the polling both to support a party that despite some progress being made last decade in terms of turning it into a 21st Century organization. He knows that most are just wanting someone who will protect their pensions, ensure that their communities are safe – developing a green economy; housing; education; foreign policy and the environment are someone else’s problem.

I am an ex-New Zealand First voter as I believe that the party is hindering the socio-economic reforms necessary to enable New Zealand to address inequality. The party had a very good policy platform whilst I was a member. However a combination of adversity to a capital gains tax/wealth tax/land tax or other measure that would enable the investment necessary in our social welfare safety net, and it back tracking on the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans Pacific Partnership, has led me to believe that levelling the playing field for those with lesser financial means, and ability.

Despite my loss of confidence in my old party, I do not believe New Zealand First to be an entirely spent force. Anyone who has followed Mr Peters and his uncanny knack of getting the party revived again and again, and believes this must surely be it, need only look at history. This is the party that was evicted from Parliament by voters who chose to that a donations racket involving New Zealand First and Sir Owen Glen was true. The Police found no wrong doing had been done, but it was not enough for the public. This is the party that no one other than party members believed would be back in 2011, but they were – 8 Members in all.

Winston Peters and his party will probably be back. Whether it is on the back of an electorate seat or by getting 5% of the party vote, only the voters in September will know the answer to that. But the voters who remember Labour in the 1980’s and National in the 1990’s taking the country apart with deregulation probably do not yet trust either enough to govern alone.

Conspiracy parties do nothing for New Zealand except tell us they exist

As New Zealand hurtles towards the 2020 General Election, it has become clear to me that the truly extraordinary year of 2020 has extended to the New Zealand political spectrum. From an increasingly desperate National Party wanting to build roads, roads and more roads to New Zealand First and the Green Party hovering near the exit; from the sky high Labour Party to the conspiracy theorists who are the subject of this article the range of parties this year is impressive. But not as impressively disturbing as what they are espousing, and what it might mean for New Zealand.

To claim COVID19 is a scam is to deny the medical catastrophe unfolding in the United States which has killed over 145,000 people there; to deny the fact that 15 million people have been infected around the world have been infected with it and that several countries have lost control of pandemic. The mother of a former colleague of mine now living in America was very nearly taken by COVID19. And yet, there are people in New Zealand who believe COVID19 is a scam and that people as diverse as politicians, epidemiologists and other officials are in some kind of giant conspiracy. More over they believe that long time philanthropists such as Bill and Melinda Gates are planning to inflict.

Many of the COVID19 denialists go much further than this though. Some go so far as to believe it is a Government agenda to take away their rights, all because when long existing provisions that can only be enabled in a Civil Defence Emergency, were triggered by the declaration of a pandemic . Trying to tell the conspiracy theorists behind this idea about the sequence of legal steps that had to be taken to enable the triggering of the emergency provisions is usually met with a stony silence.

In the last four months several parties have been born out of frustration by fringe elements with the direction that New Zealand society is moving in. Some of their supporters are disgruntled with the legislation banning certain types of firearms in the wake of the Christchurch mosques terrorist attack, and think that the Labour-led Government is out to confiscate the firearms of all law abiding citizens. These elements might well have the support of the toxic National Rifle Association of America who tried to apply pressure on the Government to not change the law, and whose intervention even National Party Members of Parliament such as Judith Collins and Chris Bishop were angered by. The Real New Zealand Party will repeal the firearms laws that were passed following the terrorist attack. They will also commit us to rejoining A.N.Z.U.S., which I will take to mean repealing the nuclear legislation and binding us to silly American wars that have nothing to do with New Zealand.

Some think that the United Nations is bent on global take over, and that soon there will be a United Nations New World Order in place. These people point to Agenda 21, which is a non-binding action plan to promote sustainable development, and was born out of the Rio de Janeiro 1992 conference called Earth Summit. This could not further from the truth, based on the schism’s that currently dominate the United Nations Security Council. United States President Donald Trump’s confrontational approach to international affairs, the worsening tensions with China and Russia’s continuing support for the backward Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad have seen many United Nations Security Council resolutions shot down.

Given that Agenda 21 was part of the inspiration for the Resource Management Act 1991 and the fact that the world is in an increasingly parlous state ecologically, I honestly find it incredible such a well intentioned plan could be so deliberately misconstrued. But it has been. At least this is what Bill Te Kahika’s New Zealand Public Party (who merged with the Advance New Zealand Party of ex-National M.P. Jami-Lee Ross) have done.

It is a damning thing when A.C.T., a party many believe to be a fringe party is suddenly made to look rather sane – admittedly its leader David Seymour has contributed to two good Bills of Parliament – because the true fringe of New Zealand politics is further out in whack field than we thought. But here we are in 2020 and that is precisely the case.

Latest poll a warning written in red for National

The Newshub poll released yesterday would be enough to make any genuine conservative weep. For them this is a measure of the public’s absolute disgust with National’s performance on just about everything in the last several months. From the Governments response to COVID19, to leadership ructions to M.P.’s breaching COVID19 patients privacy National has seen an unprecedented run of bad news. So. Just how bad is this poll for National? Devastating. Here are the seats in the House if the election had been yesterday:

  • LAB: 77
  • NAT: 32
  • ACT: 04
  • GRE: 07

Whilst I still struggle to see Labour having an absolute majority on 19 September 2020, I see absolutely no way other than every other party in Parliament putting their ideologies aside if they are to challenge Labour. Thus I imagine Parliament would look like this:

  • LAB: 60
  • NAT: 36
  • ACT: 04
  • GRE: 11
  • NZF: 7
  • MAO: 2

Basically there is only one way to interpret this poll and that is that it is point blank warning written in vivid red ink for National. New Zealanders do not trust you to govern yourselves, so why should they entrust you with the governance of Aotearoa?

For New Zealand First, the Newshub poll will make for terrifying reading. After nearly 36 years of national level politics, it would suggest that the public have finally unequivocally had enough of Winston Peters and New Zealand First. The party loyalists of course will say otherwise, but in the same way that former Prime Minister John Howard was swept from office in 2007, it might be that New Zealanders have concluded the only way to address the socio-economic ills is to give Labour a freer hand in Government.

For A.C.T. both my poll and the Newshub polls will be a hollow victory. Four Members of Parliament will be great news for David Seymour, who will finally have a caucus to maintain. It will be great for A.C.T.’s right wing libertarian base who are smarting at the success of a Prime Minister many name “Taxinda/Cindy”. However it will be largely meaningless because without National anywhere near a position to provide them with coalition options, A.C.T. will at best be able to only put up limited resistance to law changes that they do not like in Parliament.

It is also a blinding hit on the right wing parties that among other things think Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is a Communist; that COVID19 is a scam and the United Nations is a vehicle for a New World Order agenda. It is effectively saying New Zealanders think you are too bat crazy to be entrusted with a respectable portion of the out of Parliament vote, never mind a seat in the House of Representatives.

For the Greens, my poll is an acknowledgement of their efforts at writing solid policy, which is something that seems to be eluding other parties and to some extent the media that follow them. It acknowledges the fact that they have had some policy wins whilst dealing with New Zealand First, whose leader Winston Peters elected to attack in his keynote address last week at the New Zealand First Convention.

For Labour, if you take the Newshub poll and made the date 19 September 2020, this could be construed as a massive mandate by the public of New Zealand to enact comprehensive reform across the board. It would be a once in a generation election It would be a nod to the fact that there really is nothing wrong with “kindness” or “compassion”. I would expect to see a quite comprehensive social plan rolled out. Anything less would be to squander what would be Labours greatest day since before National’s last drubbing in 2002.