When a Minister isn’t a Minister and Auckland Council’s leaky building crisis – James Elliott looks at the news of the week.
There was good news for home buyers during the last week. House prices have come down significantly as measured in the avocado price index. The national median house price is now 112,400 avocados down from 158,300 avocados this time last year. Unfortunately in related news the price of avocados has risen by 50 percent in the last year so the housing crisis is still very much a thing. Even Simon Bridges says so, nearly. He said recently that the housing crisis is what others may have called it but “I’ve tried to call it what it is. We wanted people in houses.” I think he’s read too much Harry Potter and is fearful of a crisis that shall not be named. So just to clear it up for him, Voldemort is not a real thing and the housing crisis very much is.
Our New Zealand house was very much in the news this week. Journalist Nicky Hager’s house was raided by police in October 2014 during an investigation into hacking that led to Hager’s Dirty Politics book. This week the police apologised unreservedly to Hager for what was an illegal search and acknowledged a breach of euphemism, being their ‘duty of candour’ when applying to the Court for the search warrant. Incredibly the police failed to disclose to the court that Hager was a journalist and that the intent of the search was to get confidential source information. That’s like applying for a passport without a name or a photo. Not so incredibly the police’s lack of candour continues as no details have been made public as to whether any police personnel have been held accountable for this fiasco. That just leaves taxpayers to be accountable for the substantial damages that have been rightly paid to Hager by the police.
Goff is dealing with yet another leaky building crisis, and this time it’s the Council Chambers that is the leakiest building in Auckland.
Taxpayers will also be footing the bill if Winston Peters is successful with his breach of privacy claim against former Ministers Paula Bennett and Anne Tolley, and bureaucrats connected to the Ministry of Social Development. The claim relates to disclosure of superannuation overpayments to Peters, aka the seven-year glitch. If his claim for $1.8m in damages is successful, taxpayers will be funding that. There are about 3.6 million taxpayers in New Zealand and I’m assuming that Peters is one of them, so if his claim succeeds (spoiler alert – it won’t, it really, really won’t) he will owe himself one tenth of one avocado which is probably the true worth of his claim in any event.
Although he’s going to be Acting Prime Minister shortly Peters is bringing the claim as a private citizen, which is a handy status to be able to rely on as Shane Jones found out this week. Jones is Minister of Regional Economic Development except when he’s suggesting that the Fonterra Chairman should ‘catch the next cab out of town’. In that case, according to Jacinda Ardern, Jones was expressing a personal opinion and, it has to be said, a pretty lame burn. But given that it was a personal opinion there was no need for Jones to be reprimanded according to Ardern, unlike in March when he called for heads to roll at the board of Air New Zealand and was reprimanded by Ardern. Jones has become the political equivalent of Schrodinger’s cat – whether or not he’s a Minister depends on whether the boss is about to go on leave and his mate’s about to sit in the big chair for a few weeks.
By hosting the Don and Kim Show, Singapore has well and truly moved on from its once strict policy that prescribed what was a socially acceptable haircut.
Goff is someone who knows what it’s like to be a Minister and then not be. Currently he’s Mayor of Auckland and at some point in the future will not be. But for the time being he’s dealing with yet another leaky building crisis, and this time it’s the Council Chambers that is the leakiest building in Auckland. Mayor Goff was concerned about a PWC report on a possible waterfront stadium being leaked so he tried to keep the report under wraps. The contents of the report then leaked resulting in nine councillors expressing their ‘strong dissatisfaction’ in Goff’s leadership in a letter to him that was, naturally enough, leaked. The Ombudsman is now investigating the whole matter with findings to be released in due course in a report that will no doubt be leaked.
Finally, it was impossible to ignore this week’s saturation news coverage of Donald Trump and Kim Jong-Un meeting on Sentosa Island in Singapore. Sentosa Island is a former Japanese prisoner of war camp so it was the perfect location for a man who runs a prison state to meet with another man who may end up in a state of imprisonment. There’s a lot of uncertainty as to what the meeting actually achieved but one thing can be stated with certainty. There’s absolutely no doubt that by hosting the Don and Kim Show, Singapore has well and truly moved on from its once strict policy that prescribed what was a socially acceptable haircut.
Have a peaceful weekend.