Bryce Edwards ' Opinion

Bryce Edwards is a lecturer in Politics at the University of Otago.

Bryce Edwards: Political round-up: July 27

John Banks. Photo / NZ Herald
John Banks. Photo / NZ Herald

Justice and Law are too often only marginally related. So it seems to be with John Banks and his anonymous mayoral campaign donations. It's not a good look but National had this outcome well covered from the beginning - rapidly lowering the required ethical standards bar for ministers from 'highest' in 2008 to just 'legal' in 2012. Phil Heatley resigned as a minister in 2010 for claiming $70 worth of wine as a ministerial dinner. The Prime Minister said that Heatley had been 'untidy and careless' with his expense claims. How times change.

And stay the same. As John Armstrong points out, while Key needs to distance himself from Banks there are stronger motivations at work: 'as Helen Clark did with Winston Peters, Key needs Banks' parliamentary vote' - see: Toothless law Act leader's savior. The local electoral law should be changed pronto, but even doing that will be too much of an admission of guilt says Armstrong.

Labour are making lots of noise - see Andrea Vance's Labour not satisfied as police close Banks case - but they and Winston Peters have already done their bit to eliminate public expectations that ethics will trump political necessity.

Banks and Act's credibility will be the only serious casualties - or would be if there was any credibility left. Any doubt that Act is a 'dead party walking' it is now gone, and the only winners will be the potential replacement coalition partners: Colin Craig's Conservative Party and, yes, Winston Peters.

It's curious that on issues where MPs are free to speak their mind there is so much coyness about how they will vote. Isaac Davison's Same sex marriage has wide support makes the best job of assessing what stated support there is for Louisa Wall's bill on marriage equality. Patrick Gower thinks it will pass, but it may be close. Rather than exercising their own 'conscience' Gower says that many National MPs will 'follow the leader', and so John Key's vote could be the deciding factor - see: Key will decide if same-sex marriage goes ahead. There are some, of course, only too willing to share their views, including the Conservative Party leader - see: Colin Craig: Gay isn't 'normal'. While his views are well within the minority, his target is only the 4-5% needed to enter parliament in 2014, and this Labour MP's bill may actually provide the parliamentary coalition partner National desperately needs after that election.

For more on how MPs are avoiding giving an answer, watch TV3's What MPs think of gay marriage - extended footage, and see Emma Hart's explanation of MP responses: The Weasel Translator. But the best analysis of how MPs will vote comes in Peter Wilson's No certainty around gay marriage bill.

The NBR's Rich List is out, this year with an added international section - see: A place for business and pleasure - the international NBR Rich Listers. This begs the question as to how much it is actually a 'New Zealand list' in any case. Owning a holiday home here seems to be stretching the definition of 'New Zealand' a bit, but finding out which of them actually pay taxes here might stretch the NBR's investigative powers too far. Not many, may be the answer according to No Right Turn - see A timely question.

Nevil Gibson bemoans 'the lack of understanding of how wealth is generated and the role of private enterprise in the economy. The Rich List provides insights into what one group of New Zealanders - and some foreigners who have invested here - have achieved' - see: NBR RICH LIST 2012: Lessons in wealth. While the focus is on the up-and-comers and down-and-outers, the vast bulk of the list is actually fairly much the same as it has been for years. The lesson in many cases would actually to be born into a wealthy dynasty. Russian oligarch's can teach us a thing or two apparently as the top rich-lister is Alexander Abramov ($7 billion). The NBR may want be careful in expanding this category in future - learning too much about how Russian billionaires came upon their wealth can actually be hazardous to ones health. In the case of another foreign inclusion - the Dowager Duchess of Bedford ($1 billion) - the lesson is presumably to carefully play both sides of the parliament vs King struggle and make sure the serfs pay their tithes on time.

You can see the whole NBR Rich List online, starting with The Top 10 Richest. Incidentally, this week the NBR has also delved into on the whole Bronwyn Pullar ACC saga, which is behind their paywall, apart from this online teaser: Money, Mayhem and Murder - inside the Bronwyn Pullar affair.

Other important or interesting political items today include:

* The Speaker seems to be issuing an open invitation to the public to become one of the 'Swiper-arti' says Duncan Garner - see: Lobbyists too business-friendly, say Greens.

* The Law Commission's recommendations can't be implemented soon enough say the Dominion Post editorial, Information Act overhaul is overdue, but No Right Turn thinks that officials who had the time to make detailed submissions are using the Law Commission to roll back transparency about official advice - see: OIA review: An appalling conclusion.

* Chris Trotter laments that New Zealand politicians seem to deliberately dumb themselves down in an attempt to display 'faux egalitarianism' - see: Intelligence and the average Kiwi.

* Emotional reactions to legislation are not just limited to so called conscience issues as Tariana Turia is moved to tears as four treaty settlements were finalised yesterday - see: Kate Shuttleworth's 'Dark times' remembered as Treaty claims settled.

* John Key is simply not going to go back on his word about the retirement age says the Finance Minister - see Ben Chapman-Smith's English: Raising super age still not an option.

* Five policies the Government seems to be taking a punt on are examined by Jane Clifton who wonders if the risks are actually worth it - see: The National Party: All aflutter. Clifton also wraps up the week in politics with Elephants, childless MPs, and Banksed cheques.

* Twitter users have employed humour to deal Maggie Barry a very effective rebuke for her 'how many children do you have' barb - see Toby Manhire's Maggie Barry standing orders and Claire Trevett's Barry mocked for childless snipe. And not for the first time either - see Danyl Mclauchlan's very funny From the vaults.

- NZ Herald

Bryce Edwards

Bryce Edwards is a lecturer in Politics at the University of Otago.

Bryce Edwards is a lecturer in Politics at the University of Otago. He teaches and researches on New Zealand politics, public policy, political parties, elections, and political communication. His PhD, completed in 2003, was on 'Political Parties in New Zealand: A Study of Ideological and Organisational Transformation'. He is currently working on a book entitled 'Who Runs New Zealand? An Anatomy of Power'. He is also on the board of directors for Transparency International New Zealand.

Read more by Bryce Edwards

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on red akl_a4 at 03 Sep 2014 14:37:55 Processing Time: 646ms