Incredibly, there are now four separate official investigations into the ACC scandal. The decision of the Auditor General to launch her own inquiry gives this scandal legs just as the National Party would have hoped the story was dying down as they go into their Easter break. And all eyes are on Judith Collins and whether she will go ahead with her politically fraught defamation actions, with Duncan Garner asking Is Collins bluffing?. According to the iPredict market, there is currently only a 6% chance that the following stock will eventuate: 'Collins to file defamation proceedings against Mallard and/or Little by Fri 6 April'. Meanwhile, Collins has raised the stakes, saying she will resign if the leaked emails came from her office - see Vernon Small and John Hartevelt's ACC Minister Judith Collins lays job on the line. Interestingly, Duncan Garner also reports that Trevor Mallard 'is now hinting he has got something implicating Key's office in the ACC leaks. "It would be good to see John Key's communications with the right wing bloggers," Mr Mallard says'.
Today's must-read analysis of the ACC scandal is by Gordon Campbell writing in The Wellingtonian on The scandal behind the scandal.
Although Campbell takes the scandal seriously, he says that the actual roots of the scandal are even more serious: 'The public continues to be short-changed by ACC, and the main reason that failure has not erupted into political scandal before is that both major parties have supported the quiet erosion of the scheme's original vision.... Long ago, we gave away our right to sue when harmed in accidents, in return for fair, readily available, compensation. The fact that successive governments have got away with welshing on that deal is the real ACC scandal'.
Auckland Mayor Len Brown is now feeling the pressure of the SkyCity deal with the Government, especially with Patrick Gower's story, Brown's mayoral campaign funded by SkyCity. It appears that although Brown used to be strongly anti-pokies, he is now in favour of the proposed trade-off deal. Is this because it's such a good deal for Auckland or is it - to read between the lines of Gower's piece - something to do with the fact that his mayoral campaign was backed by SkyCity with a $15,000 donation? Unsurprisingly, 'Mr Brown's silence is now being attacked by opposition parties'.
Two newspaper editorials also discuss the SkyCity deal today. The Dominion Post is scathing about the proposal in Pokies no way to pay for new centre, and the ODT laments the changes in society that have led to amateur sport being reliant on the proceeds of gambling (Flaws and benefits of pokies).
The Parliamentary Library has released its analysis of the Final Results for the 2011 New Zealand General Election and Referendum written by John Wilson. This provides useful details of not only all the raw results and voter-turnout facts, but also the demographic of the new Parliament - including the fact that 'In 2011 24 MPs (20% of MPs) listed their previous occupation as a 'business person', usually the single biggest occupational category in NZ Parliaments since 1990'. Those with occupational backgrounds in 'Media' or 'Local Government' are at their highest point under MMP, but those with a background in Accountancy or Trade Unions are at the lowest point. It contains lots of other insights about voters too, such as the fact that 'The 60+ age group is now the single largest voting cohort (821,500 voters) in New Zealand, representing 25% of all voters, and up from the 21% share this age group accounted for in 1996'.
The Herald has also put together a very useful and interesting resource with their Parliament Guide: Who's who in Parliament. Using the seating map of the Debating Chamber, the page explains, 'Roll over our interactive Parliament guide to find out more about the MPs representing you in Parliament and what they have been tweeting about'. The map usefully allows you to compare the parties and MPs in terms of ethnicity, gender, uni degree, and age. It also shows each MP's latest tweet (or lack of tweeting) - for example, hover your mouse over Phil Goff's face and it says 'I am stepping down as leader of the Labour Party, effective December 13'.
Other items of interest and importance today include the following:
* Labour is claiming that the Government is intending to take over the rebuild of Christchurch from the Christchurch Council, with Gerry Brownlee labelling this a 'crazy rant', but reportedly refusing to confirm or deny anything (Govt poised to seize control of Christchurch rebuild - Dalziel).
* Rob Salmond follows up his blogpost, Low tax for me, high tax for thee about how New Zealand's tax system is slanted firmly against the poor, with an equally well-researched Tax: Everything in Combination.
* Michelle Duff Looks at the 'poor' state of the private school sector (Pinched private schools ponder integration).
* Former government statistician Len Cook warns of 'the "serious cost" in human terms of further state sector restructuring, without, in some cases, a fully convincing rationale to support it' (High cost seen in 'persistent' public service changes).
* Vernon Small reflects on the fact that fiscal austerity is so embedded that we will accept yet another zero Budget, but if National can pull this off 'it will be an extraordinary achievement'; Zero Budget political and extraordinary.
* Grant Robertson reports on the Launch of the Wellington Branch of Howard League with his own very personal speech to prison reformers. While his sympathetic account suggests there could be a shift in Labour's hard-line law and order orientation there is no mention of the last Labour Government's record of doubling the prison population.
* And this month it's 30 years since the Falklands/Malvinas War, so the Listener's Joanne Black looks back on the New Zealand Government's response to it, including some speculation that the New Zealand Navy played a key role in the sinking of the Belgrano, with the death of 323 men (Rob Muldoon and the Falklands War).By Bryce Edwards Email Bryce