Jacinda Ardern says Labour is 'trying our best' to keep MP expenses down

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says Labour is "trying our best" to keep MP expenses down after a list of MPs' expenses was released by Parliamentary Services today.

Only one Labour MP made it into the top 10 spenders for the last three months.

When asked by media if she was proud of this fact, Ms Ardern replied that her party does it's best to try and keep expenses down among MPs.

"We've got things like ministers moving together to use things like vans," Ms Ardern said of the Labour Party's more frugal expenditures.

Ms Ardern spoke to reporters while she was in the Wairarapa as part of a regional visit. The Prime Minister said she used the ride-sharing method with fellow MPs to keep costs down on making the trip.

Due to the early leak of the National Party expenses, an inquiry has been launched by Speaker Trevor Mallard "to get to the bottom of it", he said yesterday.

MPs who had expenses over $30,000 were Labour’s Kiri Allan, National’s Hamish Walker, Jacqui Dean, Todd McClay, Louise Upston, Anne Tolley and Nikki Kaye, as well as NZ First MPs Jenny Marcroft and Mark Patterson.

The expenses are from April 1, 2018 to June 30,2018, collected by Internal Affairs.

It includes Wellington accommodation, out of Wellington travel expenses, domestic air travel and surface travel.

Due to the early leak of the National Party expenses, an inquiry has been launched by Speaker Trevor Mallard "to get to the bottom of it", he said yesterday.

Mr Bridges' MP expenses were released earlier than scheduled this week, with $113,973 spent on travel and accommodation between April and June.

Ministers' expenses have not been released yet. 


Only one Labour MP made it into the top 10 spenders for the last three months. Source: 1 NEWS

Fair Go: How many companies does it take to change a Wellington street light bulb?

How many times have you taken a small problem, phoned a call centre and felt completely powerless when it gets you nowhere?

Alan Knowles had a small problem – his street light had gone out.

"I would like my bulb replaced," he said.

Alan had been in the dark, navigating a steep path down to his house since Christmas and no amount of calling was changing that.

Trouble was, the bulb is a legal but private street light he'd paid to have fitted to a Wellington City Council pole in the early 1990s.

Alan had been paying Genesis Energy for at least a decade to keep the light on. A monthly charge on his bill of six or seven dollars covered everything.

"The maintenance in 25, or 26 or 27 years has been changing one bulb," Mr Knowles said.

Round after round of calls to Genesis, the Council, and five other companies brought little joy.

"All I get is the call centre people and anybody on the staff is hiding behind the wall of call centre people. They don’t seem to care about people with little problems like mine," Mr Knowles said.

So, he dropped Fair Go a line instead.

Within nine hours, a problem that had dragged out over nine months was sorted in a blaze of brand new LED lighting.

Alan was jubilant. Fair Go likes to dig deeper and happily, so does the Council and Genesis.

Wellington City Council said it was, "really sorry that Mr Knowles has had to go through his ordeal".

Carefully omitting any blame, its statement added:

"Mr Knowles appears to have been the unwitting victim of information not properly shared between a number of organisations."

Genesis told Fair Go the Council had decided on its own initiative to take responsibility for Mr Knowles' streetlight - six years ago.

Genesis’ spokesman says the Council hadn’t told anyone when it did so, leaving records out of date; but admits Genesis hadn’t chased it up either.

"For Genesis' role, we're sorry for that," Genesis’ James Magill said.

"I'd like to have thought we could have been more proactive in finding a solution so, hands up we're very sorry and we can get better," Mr Magill said.

Of course, this also means Genesis has been charging Alan for six years for something the Council was meant to be providing for free.

Genesis offered Alan a refund of all charges plus interest and he accepted.

To make Alan’s joy complete, the Council says it will keep the light on and cover the cost.

Too many it seems, until Fair Go gets involved that is. Source: Fair Go


'There are more options' - medical specialist advises against cold turkey method for those trying to quit smoking

The long-heralded cold turkey method of giving up smoking may not be as good as once believed, with less than 10 per cent of those managing to stay smoke free after quitting.

Around half of those who quit - or attempt to quit - smoking attempt to do so cold turkey, but only three to five per cent of those are successful, says medical specialist Hayden McRobbie.

Appearing on TVNZ 1's Breakfast this morning, Mr McRobbie spoke about the difficulties in going cold turkey, and although it does work for some smokers, better and more reliable options are there.

"Most people who try in that way don't succeed long term," he said.

"If you want my advice, the best way to quit smoking is to get some support.

"There are more options these days, but quitting can still be as hard today as it was 20 years ago."

Asked about the prospect of a smoke free New Zealand, Mr McRobbie said that the proposed target of 2025 would be a big ask.

"I think 2025 is going to be a big challenge, it's not far away of course.

"We can do better, I think we can provide better help for people."

Meanwhile, the escalating cost of smoking is proving to be the driving factor behind many deciding to give up cigarettes once and for all.

"When the price goes up and you're addicted to something, the addiction is often prioritised."

"Many of my patients are saying 'I have to quit because of the price'. It is a real driver, and I think we need to be there to support them."

Less than 10 per cent of those who try cold turkey are successful. Source: Breakfast


Watch as feisty Winston Peters denies NZ First 'swallowed dead rat' over new oil and gas exploration ban

Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters has angrily denied that New Zealand First has “swallowed a dead rat” and that a ban on new future oil and gas exploration was a win for the Greens.

Mr Peters said NZ First had long said sound environmentalism made good economic sense and the ban was a win for all the parties in the coalition.

“The reality is we campaigned as a political party, that’s NZ First, we started way back 25 long years ago saying sound environmentalism is good economics, we’ve never changed our view on that and that’s why we’re not the problem here at all,” Mr Peters told TVNZ1’s Breakfast.

“This is a win for three political parties, the two in coalition and the support party.”

“Put it that way and you might be doing better for the people of this country than to put up something so confrontational which you know we are seriously averse to.”

Mr Peters said the ban on new future oil and gas exploration made sense given the way the world had been tracking in the last 10 to 15 years.

“We don’t know the future, we don’t know how it will develop, we are pretty certain of one thing, the way the world has been going the last 15 years or 10 years is any indication than a lot of this will be wanton theory without future relevance and I believe that is critically important,” he said.

“The coalition government is very set and firm about where we want to go in the future while ensuring our economic survival and sustainable lifestyle.”

Mr Peters also said the numbers MBIE had provided about the economic harm the ban would cause were incorrect.

“Let me tell you, without being nasty on MBIE, that if NASA had had those sort of calculations, I think Neil Armstrong would still trying to be find the moon,” he said.

“Here’s the point, they start at $200 million and the gap is between $200 million and possibly not just $8 billion, but $22 billion.”

“So really this is totally uncharted territory and would require something far better by way of formulaic solution then what they put out.”

Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters has angrily denied the ban on new future oil and gas exploration was a win for the Greens. Source: Breakfast

Derek Handley releases correspondence with Jacinda Ardern and Clare Curran

Tech entrepreneur Derek Handley says his correspondence with the prime minister and former Digital Services Minister Clare Curran shows there was nothing inappropriate or untoward.

Mr Handley this morning released a statement and redacted email and text correspondence between himself and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, and himself and Ms Curran about the Chief Technology Officer (CTO) role and his move back to New Zealand.

Mr Handley was paid $100,000 of taxpayers' money after he was pulled from his job as chief technology officer. Source: Breakfast

In the statement, Mr Handley said there has been continued questioning and speculation over this correspondence and what role it may have played in the CTO appointment process.

"I felt throughout that the right thing to do was to refrain from commenting as I did not see it as my role to clear up concerns regarding a government process or contents of related communications," he said.

"However, the resulting vacuum has fuelled speculation and demands to see emails and texts between myself and Clare Curran and Jacinda Ardern. The government has chosen not to fill that vacuum."

Mr Handley provided to media copies of text messages to and from himself and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

The communications have become the focus of ongoing scrutiny by the opposition.

Ms Curran was stripped of the Government Digital Services role after it was revealed she used a personal Gmail account and did not properly record a meeting with Mr Handley, who was applying for the position of CTO.

The job offer to Mr Handley was withdrawn earlier this month as part of the fallout from Ms Curran's dismissal from Cabinet.

The entrepreneur also released text messages between him and Ms Curran.

Earlier this month, Megan Woods, the Minister for Government Digital Services, who took over the ministerial role from Ms Curran, said a full-stop had been put on the process as the government reconsidered its approach to digital transformation.

Derek Handley says he’ll donate the compensation but is disappointed at the way the issue was handled. Source: 1 NEWS

"Derek Handley was offered the role and we are honouring the agreement we had with him. This decision in no way reflects on him as a candidate and the State Services Commission review shows that the process was suitably robust. Derek showed energy and passion for the development of a digital strategy for New Zealand," she said.

"However as the new Minister I have asked officials to review the CTO role and provide advice on the best ways to drive a forward-looking digital agenda for New Zealand."

Mr Handley said he still hasn't received an explanation as to why the government isn't going ahead with his appointment as CTO and he's disappointed the prime minister hasn't provided one.

"The handling of the Chief Technology Officer appointment and subsequent fall out in the last four weeks is likely to be discouraging to anyone from the private sector contemplating making a contribution to New Zealand through a government role," he said in a statement.

Mr Handley said he will donate the $100,000 he received for the termination of his contract to the funding of digital innovation projects.

- RNZ.co.nz

Derek Handley says he’ll donate the compensation but is disappointed at the way the issue was handled.
Source: 1 NEWS