Volunteers sought for Kiwiblog

October 2nd, 2014 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Earlier this week Kiwiblog joined the Online Media Standards Authority. That puts the same responsibility on Kiwiblog as the mainstream media, but without the resources, Kiwiblog has no paid staff. It has myself, and a couple of existing volunteers.

I’m making a call for anyone who enjoys Kiwiblog, and can make an ongoing regular time commitment to consider volunteering to help both maintain Kiwiblog, but also expand it.

I don’t have any set roles in mind, but I do have a number of things I would like to be able to do.

  • Have someone go through the comments each day and select a particularly insightful or funny comment as Comment of the Day, to be given its own blog post
  • Have someone go through the comments each day and select a comment that argues in opposition to a post I have done as Dissent of the Day (as Andrew Sullivan does)
  • Have someone do a quarterly analysis of MP and Ministerial questions, press releases and news stories (take around 8 – 10 hours a quarter)
  • Have someone monitor the decisions of the BSA, ASA and Press Council, pointing out the more insane complaints which get rejected
  • Have someone read other blogs and do a daily or weekly “Best of the Blogs”
  • Have a person or persons as additional moderators to do warnings over abusive comments
  • Have people read various online columns and editorials, broadly classifying them as pro or anti a particular party, so that we can do a regular analysis of which columnists and newspapers are most often in agreement with, or opposition to, each party. This would be an incredibly interesting exercise. With half a dozen people it would probably be just an hour a week.
  • Have people listen to Seven Sharp, Campbell Live and other current affairs shows and if a segment is political, classify it as pro or anti a particular party .

I’m also open for suggestions as to what other regular features would be welcome, if we had the resource to do it.

If you are interesting in volunteering, then e-mail me and say what areas might be of interest to you – or suggest a new one.

There are those who basically want to silence voices on the right. I want to build them up to be even stronger, and provide even better analysis of politics and the media.


11 pictures showing the fall of the USSR

October 2nd, 2014 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

All Day has 11 pictures showing the fall of the USSR. It was the most significant geopolitical event since WWII. Worth checking out.


Herald on ISIS

October 2nd, 2014 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald editorial:

If ground forces can rid Iraq of the murderers known as Isis, New Zealand should be there. This country ought to be counted among the nations that are willing to act when the cause is just and military force can be effective.

They key word is “If”.

I don’t think ISIS can be got rid of by force. I do think you can weaken them, but can you eliminate them? If there is an invasion then they just disband for a year, then regroup.

If you are willing to have massive collateral damage, you could destroy them. You surround the area, broadcast that everyone within a certain geographic area should leave the area unarmed, and then destroy every building and person in that area. But the civilian toll would be horrendous as many would not leave their homes, and you would create millions of refugees.

The lessons from the last Iraq war is that you can topple a Government, but it is harder to eliminate armed resistance.

The next likely step will be to dispatch armed “advisers” to train and support Iraq’s troops but on previous experience they would soon be fighting alongside the hosts, as New Zealand’s SAS did in Afghanistan. The way Iraqi forces fell away from the initial Isis advance suggests the foreigners would need to do a lot of fighting.


The New Zealand Government should probably call the new Parliament into session sooner than scheduled once a request is received to join the action against Isis.

It’s scheduled to convene on the 20th, in 19 days. I’d be very surprised if the Government made a decision to send troops in before then – in fact surprised if they made a decision to send troops at all.

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The Press on offence

October 2nd, 2014 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

The Press editorial:

EnSoc’s critics, and people generally, need to learn not to be too hasty to take offence. Prejudice and stereotyping are seldom effective humour, but howls of outrage can be a sign that a palpable hit has been made against some sacred cow or other. Even if there is no particular point being made, some leeway should be allowable for youthful exuberance.

Thin-lipped disapproval and the po-faced taking of offence are too often used to shut down others’ freedom of expression.

The claim that something has caused offence can be a veil for censorship and an attempt to create a culture in which a bland homogeneity of thought and opinion prevails.

To put it at its loftiest, one of the rights protected by the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act is the right to freedom of expression. That must include the right to express thoughts and opinions others may find offensive, even odious.

It is unlikely any such high-toned notions were in the minds of the student EnSoc members when they thought up their tasteless defamations of women and Muslims and they should certainly act with greater regard for the sensitivities of others, but the principle applies all the same.

Well said. I recall Otago University capping magazines that were stuffed full of absolutely offensive humour. There is no right in NZ law not to be offended,

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Garner says Greens need to be more centrist

October 2nd, 2014 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Duncan Garner writes:

The Green Party needs a serious rethink. For as long as they have been in Parliament, they have been a left wing party – linked to the fortunes of the Labour Party. The Greens have constantly ruled out voting confidence and supply in a National Government. It means they can only ever be in Government if Labour is in Government. And the truth is – even when the tide was in for the Labour Party – Helen Clark and co shafted them.

Clark chose to officially work with Peter Dunne and Winston Peters to form a Government and she left the Greens out in the cold, knowing their votes came for free. She knew how to keep her enemies close and her friends voted for Labour anyway.

History shows the Greens have missed out on power in New Zealand. If that is to change, the Greens need to evolve and be open to formally supporting a National Government.

I can’t see ever them doing this, but if they did it would guarantee Labour would never take them for granted again. Cunliffe was all set to lock them out of Government (if Labour did better) as the price to get Winston on board.

The Greens talk poverty and social justice, but the poor aren’t listening – and they’re certainly not voting for them. Look at these telling statistics from the poorest electorates in the country:

In Manurewa, in the crucial party vote, just 868 people voted for the Greens; in Manukau, East it was just 744; in Mangere, it was just 865.

Now look at the two most wealthy suburbs in NZ:

In Epsom, the Greens got 3415 votes; in Wellington Central, they got 8627 party votes, more than Labour’s 7351; in Auckland Central the Greens got 4584 votes, compared to Labour’s 4758.

The Greens get votes from wealthy liberals.

The Greens have been in power in Germany and Finland. Of course, they will always oppose National’s intention to mine, and of course they will oppose the numerous free-trade agreements, and of course they will disagree with farming practices and carbon emissions. But Labour supports mining and free-trade too – they aren’t that different to National. And what difference has Labour made to dairy farming in NZ? Zilch. Not forgetting, Labour negotiated and signed the China free-trade deal – not National.

In short, it’s time for the Greens to grow up, modernise and to be a party that can genuinely make a difference. They could be the 10 percent balance-of-power party every election – no matter who leads the Government.

Surely, if you’re a Greenie, that’s worth thinking about?

Again, will never happen I say.

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Otago Uni has every right to restrict the Internet on campus

October 2nd, 2014 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reported:

The University of Otago’s ban on pornography in residential colleges is being slammed as an attack on student freedom.

Genetics student and former Toroa College resident Anton Hovius, 19, yesterday attacked what he called “draconian” alcohol and internet usage policies at Dunedin’s residential colleges.

Internet access at the colleges — most are university owned — runs through the university’s network.Certain websites, including file sharing and pornography sites, are blocked.

University student accommodation director James Lindsay rejected Mr Hovius’ concerns, saying the primary aim of colleges was to provide an environment where students could focus on their studies.

Mr Hovius, who recently unsuccessfully stood for OUSA’s colleges officer position, said he was not the only one who felt this was an unfair restriction on student freedom.

“I know a couple of friends who have been given warning notices from [Information Technology Services] down at the university, informing of their inappropriate use of university resources.”

As adults, students in halls should not be limited from using the internet as they saw fit, which included accessing pornography and file sharing sites.

“It doesn’t make sense when you are paying $340 bucks a week [which covers full board and food], to have the university interfering with what you are doing in your private time.”


The Government should not restrict what sites you can access, but Otago University has every right to say they will not provide access to porn and file sharing sites. They are not greatly different to an employer providing Internet. They do have a duty to not block sites which students need for research, and hopefully their blocking is done in a way which has minimal false positives.


Advice for new MPs

October 2nd, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

As a helpful resource for new MPs, I’ve gone around a number of former MPs, former parliamentary staff and journalists and have compiled the collective wisdom into a set of tips or advice for new MPs. There will be companion posts detailing additional advice for new Opposition MPs and also a post with advice for new Ministers.

In no particular order, the tips are:

  1. If marginal, make seat safe. This should be your first, second and third priority in your first term. If you are a List MP and in with a chance to take the seat next time, then same advice – focus massively on the electorate. MPs who hold electorates do better generally than those on the List – at least in the major parties.
  2. As Keith Holyoake said to new MPs, “Breathe through the nose”.  Look, listen and learn before you talk too much.
  3. Choose a route early on for promotion and work on it. The three main routes are through the House, through Select Committees, or through the Whips Office. The good debaters should go House, the policy wonks select committees, and the well organised ones the Whips Office. Play to your strength. All three routes can lead to promotion and eventually being a Minister.
  4. Don’t do too many press releases. The media have the capacity to do two political issues a day generally. MPs who fire off a press release every two days on their pet topic just become jokes. Wait for a good issue you can jump onto, and listen to your media team.
  5. Do visit the gallery occasionally. Don’t drop in every week with your releases, but it is good to sometimes pop your own release around. You can pick up a lot chatting to the journos. Of course they will try and pump you for info also. Information is a currency to be traded.
  6. Develop a relationship with a couple of journos.  Ones you can trust to have a coffee or drink with, and develop a mutually beneficial relationship with. You should never be friends, but you can be friendly.
  7. The senior leadership team do not want your views on every issue, but don’t be mute if an issue around your electorate or which you have extensive background in
  8. The Leaders Office can be your best friend and resource. Be nice to them. Use them. They can make a significant difference to whether you succeed or not.
  9. Use the Parliamentary Library. You can ask them almost anything.
  10. Have your partner come down during the week sometimes. It can be miserable going home to an barren apartment at 11 pm by yourself. Nice to have someone to go home to during the week sometimes.
  11. Your classmates are the closest you’ll have to friends. Have weekly drinks with them, and turn up. But do not over indulge.
  12. DO NOT attempt points of order unless the Whips ask you to. It almost always ends badly.
  13. Learn at least the basic Standing Orders over time.
  14. Never ever sneak out of Parliament if you don’t have leave and always obey the Whips.
  15. Volunteering for house rosters and select committee substitutions can earn you brownie points. Like in any workplace, a helpful good attitude will take you far.
  16. Don’t screw the crew. No, not even the really hot ones. For the avoidance of doubt, crew includes staff, colleagues and media.
  17. Get to know the lobbyists and govt relations firms. They are massively well connected and can help stop you screwing up. However remember they do work for their clients, not you.
  18. If a blog gets something wrong on you, let them know and they’ll probably correct it. Most bloggers are reasonable.
  19. Do a members bill, once you get approval of caucus. if a Government MP, can be a good way to earn brownie points with a Minister by doing a minor reform for them. If an Opposition MP, then look for a wedge issue the Government won’t want to vote against.
  20. Don’t hassle Ministers directly on all issues – talk to their staff first, and then to the Minister.
  21. Never accept a journalist’s summary of what someone else said, to comment on. It is fine to tell media you’ll give them a call back after checking.
  22. You will not be a Minister in first term unless you are Steven Joyce
  23. Select Committees are important. Read the papers before the meeting
  24. Remember the old saying that you find your opponents on the other side of the House and your enemies on your own side. It is all too true.
  25. Do not hire friends – you may have to sack them one day. But do hire people who are professionally, politically and personally loyal to you if possible. You want staff who will work almost as long hours as you will.
  26. Hiring an existing experienced parliamentary executive assistant is a very very wise thing to do. Experience counts for a lot.
  27. Do not game expenses. If any doubt, pay for it yourself. Think of the Dominion Post front page test. Do you want the Taxpayers Union after you?
  28. Keep a record of all gifts – you’ll need them for the the Register of Pecuniary Interests.


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General Debate 2 October 2014

October 2nd, 2014 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel

How Labour could pay for its leadership ballot

October 2nd, 2014 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

An issue that has been raised is that Labour could struggle t pay for the cost of its leadership ballot, as the last one was estimated to cost $80,000 or so.

A friend of mine is standing for the leadership of the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party, and they have an interesting funding model:

The party requires a registration fee of $75,000 from leadership candidate and a refundable deposit of $25,000.

Make the candidates pay! If David Cunliffe still has his secret trust, he could fundraise through that.

The party demands that the PC Ontario Fund get a 20% cut of the fundraising after the first $100,000 and those voting for the leader must be a member of the Ontario PCs by Feb. 28, 2015.

And they take a percentage of the fundraising.


Latest crime stats

October 1st, 2014 at 4:14 pm by David Farrar

Stats NZ and the Police released the latest crime stats today.

Here’s the change in various crime rates (per 10,000 people) since 2008:

  • Homicide rate down 39%
  • Violent offence rate down 11%
  • Robbery rate down 26%
  • Burglary rate down 17%
  • Theft rate down 18%
  • Sexual offending rate up 30%

So all but sexual offending rates are down, and that may be more due to increased reporting than a change in the incident rate – very hard to know.

Also the change over the last 18 months, since 2012:

  • Homicide rate down 6%
  • Violent offence rate down 5%
  • Robbery rate down 1%
  • Burglary rate down 3%
  • Theft rate up 1%
  • Sexual offending rate up 8%
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Lobby groups should not be taxpayer funded

October 1st, 2014 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

NBR reports:

Taxpayers have forked out over $228,000 to lobby group Federated Farmers since 2009, much to the surprise of its president William Rolleston.

Dr Rolleston has also refused to say whether corporate donations are part of the $7.45 million the federation has received in unspecified “other revenue” since 2008.

When NBR ONLINE informed Dr Rolleston that the Ministry for Primary Industries and its predecessors have paid about $228,000 to the federation over the past five years he replied, “Gosh, really? What have they paid it for?”

A very good question. I’m against taxpayer funding of lobby groups – including the ones I often agree with.

The Taxpayers Union has said:

The Taxpayers’ Union is calling on Federated Farmers to make a firm commitment to reject any future Government funding, after it was revealed that the lobby group had received over $200,000 of payments in recent years.

Taxpayers’ Union Executive Director Jordan Williams says:
“Federated Farmers need to be weaned off taxpayer funding .”

“Government agencies should not be handing over taxpayers’ money to lobby groups and pet causes. Here a group that speaks for one of our largest industries is on the take from the Government’s ‘Sustainable Farming Fund’.”

“How can a lobby group such as Fed Farmers remain credible and independent, when it’s receiving taxpayer funded top ups?”

You can’t argue for smaller Government, when you put your hand out for taxpayer funding.

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Cellphone use now ruled safe on flights

October 1st, 2014 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Making phonecalls and sending text messages on planes could soon be commonplace after international aviation authorities deemed cellphone “flight mode” unnecessary.

The European Aviation Safety Agency (Easa) issued guidelines over the weekend permitting European airlines to allow passengers to use electronic transmitting devices, such as cellphones and tablets, at all times – including take-off and landing.

A similar change on New Zealand flights would need to be given the green light by the Civil Aviation Authority.

It’s been obvious for years there is no measurable risk.

Personally I would not allow phone calls on flights as they are disruptive to other passengers (unless maybe airlines offer a section you can book where calls are okay). But if passengers can get a signal, they should be able to text and access the Internet.


Kiwiblog now a member of Online Media Standards Authority

October 1st, 2014 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Kiwiblog has been accepted as a member of the Online Media Standards Authority.

The other members are TVNZ, Mediaworks, Maori TV, Sky TV, The Radio Network and Radio New Zealand. Kiwiblog is the first blog to apply for and be accepted as a member.

There has been some redrafting and simplification of policies. These are all in the sidebar, under Pages.

The key policies are:

Onwards and upwards!


Orthodox idiots

October 1st, 2014 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

A group of ultra-Orthodox Jewish men delayed a flight and then caused an “11-hour nightmare” because they refused to sit next to women.

The men were travelling on an El Al flight from New York to Tel Aviv, Israel, last Wednesday to celebrate Jewish new year in the Holy Land.

But when they boarded the plane they realised they would be sitting next to women, so they asked people to swap and offered cash to those who refused, news.com.au reported. 

The ultra-Orthodox follow a strict policy of gender segregation.

In Israel, they have insisted women ride at the back of buses.

When the men were unable to get the women to move, and after a considerable delay, they sat down for takeoff but stood and prayed for the remainder of the flight.

One female passenger described her trip as “an 11-hour-long nightmare.”

Another passenger, identified only as Galit, told YNetnews the ultra-Orthodox passengers suggested she and her spouse split up to better accommodate their desired seating arrangements.

“Why should I agree to switch places?” she said.

After she refused, the man seated next to her conceded, but it was only temporary. “I ended up sitting next to a man who jumped out of his seat the moment we had finished taking off and proceeded to stand in the aisle.”

A large portion of the ultra-Orthodox travellers took to the aisle to pray throughout the flight which crowded the aisle and caused the flight to be unbearable.

They should have kicked them off the flight.

A flight is not the place for a prayer session. It is rude and inconsiderate.

If your beliefs are so screwed up that you think it is unholy to sit next to a woman, then don’t fly on a public airline. Charter a private plane.

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Why not Gillard for Leader

October 1st, 2014 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Former Australian prime minister Julia Gillard is urging the Labour Party to pursue purpose to recover from its worst election defeat in 92 years.

She would not comment on whether David Cunliffe should stand aside from the coming leadership battle. However, her new autobiography highlights her belief that disappearing completely after she was ousted by Kevin Rudd last year was the only option for the good of the party.

In the book My Story, the former Labor prime minister warns of the dangers of former party leaders sticking around: “It is almost impossible for someone who has been the leader of a political party to accept and thrive in any other role.”

There are exceptions such as Bill English.

Here’s an idea. Why not make Julia Gillard the NZ Labour Leader? Get Trevor Mallard to resign, so she can enter in Hutt South, and Labour gets a leader that can unite caucus and the wider party.


Cunliffe’s wife behind anonymous attacks on Labour MPs

October 1st, 2014 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

The distraught wife of Labour leadership contender David Cunliffe is behind a Twitter account that anonymously took aim at his rivals and critics.

Karen Price, a high-flying environmental lawyer, is understood to have started the @TarnBabe67 account on Saturday, the day Cunliffe indicated he would resign as Labour leader.

The account first attacked a newspaper for running candid pictures of the New Lynn MP, and went on to criticise others in the media. But the worst barbs were saved for those said to be in the “Anyone But Cunliffe” leadership faction, naming his rival Grant Robertson and MPs Trevor Mallard and Clayton Cosgrove.

It said Hutt South MP Mallard and list MP Cosgrove were “long past their use-by date”. “The jealousy of Cosgrove and Mallard knows no bounds.”

And it suggested MPs who did not back Cunliffe should be expelled from the party.

An anonymous Twitter account attacking Labour MPs, that is really run by the spouse of a senior MP. If it was the wife of a National MP, Nicky Hager would write a book about it, and call it Dirty Politics.

We’ve now had a supporter of Robertson demand Cunliffe leaves politics if he loses.  And Cunliffe’s wife demanding MPs who do not back Cunliffe be expelled from the party. Does it matter who wins now, as it is becoming obvious the party can not be unified.

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Can National win a 4th or even a 5th term?

October 1st, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

My answer up until the election result was no.

I had even mentally drafted a blog post intended for the day after the election, in case of a National victory, in which somewhat somberly I would have stated that while it is great National got a third term, MPs should realise that this is probably their last term in Government. The post would have been about how they need to secure the policy gains of the last six years, so as many of them as possible can’t be reversed, and also how if they can go into opposition with a relatively solid vote, then maybe there will be just two terms in opposition.

The nature of the election result has changed that. A fourth, or even a fifth term, is now a very credible possibility. I’m not saying a probability, but definitely a credible possibility. Here’s why:

  1. National’s 48% is the sort of result you get in your first term, not your last term
  2. The left vote totaled just 36%, and they need to grow this by 12% if they want to be able to govern, without being dependent on what Winston may decide
  3. The Conservatives could well make 5% in 2017, giving National an extra buffer
  4. John Key is now very likely to contest the 2017 election. Previously I would have said it was 60/40 at best.
  5. Labour’s leadership battle is turning off the public, and may leave the party divided and wrecked

Media have already started to say it is hard to see how Labour can be competitive in 2017. Tracy Watkins writes:

Whoever wins the battle over the Labour leadership may already have lost the war.

David Cunliffe’s extraordinary attack on his caucus and his rivals for the leadership over the past 24 hours seems to leave no way back from a bloody and divisive three-year battle for control of the caucus.

Down that path leads to defeat again in 2017; the party will be so focused on its internal battles it will have lost sight of the real war, which is to reach past the sectional interests in Labour and reconnect with the voters who will decide the next Government.

Also Charlie Gates at Stuff writes:

Labour could be out of power until 2020, based on analysis of average voting patterns over nearly 100 years.

Analysis of voting figures from 1919 to 2014 reveals the trends behind the power struggle between National and Labour.

If those trends continue, it could mean Labour will be in opposition until 2020, although political trends can easily be disrupted by scandals and unexpected developments.

With the leadership again up for grabs, the figures show that when Labour appoints a leader while in opposition it takes the party an average of 4.6 years to regain power. That would put its recovery beyond the 2017 election and closer to 2020.

Watkins also earlier said:

Divided. Chaotic. At war. There is even glum talk in Labour about a six-year project to rebuild from last Saturday’s defeat.

Six years would deliver National a fourth term. Possibly even a fifth. If Labour MPs think they know the meaning of despair now, try a 12- or 15-year stint in Opposition.

Here’s where it gets grim for Labour. Their 2011 result was meant to be like National’s 2002 result – their worst result in 90 years etc. Now National won six years later, but that was after they got to within 2% of Labour of 2005, and with the Brash phenomena which saw the vote increase 17%. And that was followed by the Key phenomena.

Labour though did not increase in 2014. They went backwards. Their 2014 result was not National’s 2005, but a repeat of 2002. So to win, Labour probably needs six years, plus a leader either capable of galvanising public support as Brash was, or appealing to middle NZ as Key was.  As Labour has neither of those, this is why Labour winning even in 2020 can not be assured. National has a chance to be a very long-term Government.

But having said all that, a fourth term is still difficult. It has not happened since 1969 – 45 years ago. Voters do tire of Governments, and the biggest challenge to National is likely to be itself. So what does National need to do to win in 2014. Here’s my list.

  1. Continue to rejuvenate. What National did in its second term with significant ministerial renewal and massive caucus renewal needs to continue. The reshuffle in the next few days should be more than tinkering. The future leadership of the party needs to be given opportunities to prove they can handle more demanding portfolios, so they can ascend to the front bench eventually. That must of course be balanced with having confidence they can handle more politically demanding portfolios.
  2. A fresh team in 2017. I do not believe National will win a fourth term with a Government front bench that looks near identical to the one elected in 2008. In early 2017 there should be a quite profound number of retirements of senior Ministers, to allow a new front bench to contest the 2017 election. Of course John Key must remain (sorry Bronagh – Italy will have to wait a bit longer), but others should look at retiring while on top.
  3. Fresh ideas are needed. The public will not give you a fourth term just for being good managers. a Government can not look like it has run out of ideas and steam. Every Minister should be asked to identify at least three significant policy reforms in their area which can be implemented over the next three years.
  4. Don’t get arrogant. It is very tempting to get arrogant about 2017 while Labour is going through a civil war. The danger is not Labour, it is National. Don’t put the boot into Labour too much. The public may see it as the 18 year old picking on the six year old. Yes of course there will be some mocking in general debate, but don’t get arrogant in question time, or generally with the public. Stay focused on what matters – the economy, jobs, wages, schools and hospitals – not Labour’s infighting. Leave that to the bloggers :-)
  5. Keep connected with your communities. MPs all need a decent holiday, and should take them. But next year is when National MPs should start door knocking again. Don’t leave it until election year, when it looks like all you want is their vote. You have an advantage that most of the public don’t want to hear from Labour at the moment, but they do want to hear from National. Both electorate and list MPs should be door knocking in every electortate in NZ next year – including Ministers. Also don’t get third termitis and as Ministers start refusing to meet with sector groups because you think  you know what they will say. Reputations for inaccessibility can damage a Government.
  6. Start work on candidate selections next year also. Identify good candidates, and work with them to plan their best way into Parliament. We need more female candidates especially.
  7. Start thinking leadership succession. National is lucky they will keep John Key for this term, and if they get a fourth term, most of that term. But he will retire at some point, or National will lose in 2017. National will need a credible replacement Prime Minister or Opposition Leader. Preferably a number of options. The public need to know them well, and have confidence  in them, when succession does happen.
  8. Look to build a relationship with NZ First MPs you can work with. Don’t treat them as the Opposition, even though they will oppose much of what the Government does. They have 11 MPs, and may hold the balance of power in 2017. I doubt many of them will want to go near Labour, so there is an opportunity there for National. Winston is very problematic, as always, but he may not be there for ever.
  9. Deliver tax cuts aimed at low and middle income New Zealand. It’s the best way to boost incomes for all New Zealanders, and provides a great contrast to Labour who regard tax cuts as a necessary evil, rather than a good.
  10. Start a conversation about what the relationship between the Crown and Maori will be like, as the final few historical grievances are settled. Ignoring the issue is not wise.

National on 48% is better positioned than one could have hoped to get a fourth term. And Labour has very serious issues. But a fourth term is not easy. In fact it ha snot happened for 45 years. It will be damn hard work to make it happen, but it is now possible. It is up to National, not Labour, if the public decide they should get a fourth term.  It will need more than steady as it goes. It needs further renewal, fresh policy ideas, humility and lots of hard work to stay connected with the community.


General Debate 1 October 2014

October 1st, 2014 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel

13 bizarre statements in 24 hours

October 1st, 2014 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald has compiled 13 rather bizarre statements from David Cunliffe – and all from the last 24 hours! A few include:

“I’ll tell you plenty of politicians who we now revere who were in not dissimilar circumstances. Norman Kirk in 1966 lost 2.3 per cent of the vote (which is) exactly the same.” – Campbell Live last night.

Apart from comparing himself to Norman Kirk, I’d point out that Kirk lost again in 1969. So Cunliffe is saying he may win in 2020!

Also Kirk in 1966 was just 2.2% behind National – not 23% or so!

“This is the third election in a row the Labour party vote has gone down. Fortunately it hasn’t gone down as much this time as the two previous ones, you could argue that we’re starting to turn that around.” – Campbell Live.

So in 2017 we’ll only drop 1% more, and then in 2020 we may get back to 25% and in 2023 27% and het by 2026 we may crack 30%!

“John [Key's] a bit of a phenomenon, to be honest. He’s got a bit of a brand there which there really isn’t a parallel in recent political history for. Plus he had the benefit of a 4 per cent growth rate. It’s pretty hard to get governments out in two terms.” – The Paul Henry Show.

It may be hard to get a Government out in two terms (not actually that hard under MMP), but it is hard to have the incumbent Government increase its vote in its third term and get a majority under MMP.

“Isn’t it interesting that John Key is singling me out as the leader he doesn’t want to be up against in 2017. I hope Labour people take notice of that.” – Campbell Live.

I hope Labour people are taking note indeed.


NZ First MP chairs Waitangi Board charging $15

September 30th, 2014 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

New Zealand First Leader Winston Peters is at odds with one of his new MPs Waitangi National Trust chairman Pita Paraone over the trust’s move to charge kiwis to visit the treaty grounds in the Bay of Islands.

As of Saturday New Zealanders will pay $15 to visit the grounds with children up to 18 free if accompanied by parents or caregivers. The charge for overseas visitors will remain at $25 with children free.

Labour’s new Te Tai Tokerau MP Kelvis Davis has hit out at the decision saying if there was one place in the country that should be free to New Zealanders, it was the birthplace of the nation.

Mr Peters today said Mr Davis was “120 per cent correct” to say New Zealanders shouldn’t be charged.

“It sends all the wrong signals. You’re charging people to see your history either international or domestic it just doesn’t make any sense from a historical point of view, it really is a very unfortunate development, it should never have happened and should never have got to that state of affairs.”

Speaking from Thailand today Mr Paraone said as chairman of the trust he was “very supportive” of the decision to charge New Zealanders, “although saddened to have to make it”.

“The reality is that we have a responsibility to care for that estate and if you consider the state it has been kept in over the years I think the trust has done an excellent job but with the declining overseas visitor rates, this is follow on effect of that lack of income from that source.”


The Waitangi National Trust is in charge. If they want to charge for entry, it is their call. The land was donated by Lord Bledisloe.

Prime Minister John Key said charging New Zealanders for entry was “a step in the wrong direction”.

“It’s a very special place for such a long list of reasons and I think conceptually I think it would be much better to keep as free entry for New Zealanders.”

Both Mr Peters and Mr Davis said the Government should give the trust more funding to allow it keep free entry for New Zealanders but Mr Key said that wasn’t going to happen.

At a minimum I’d want to see the accounts of the Trust before deciding that they need external funding.



Farewelling Tariana

September 30th, 2014 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Audrey Young writes:

Tariana Turia arrived in Parliament with a fearsome reputation after leading the occupation of Pakaitore (Moutou Gardens) in Wanganui. She leaves to the sorts of accolades reserved for few.

The transformation of Tariana Turia from scary Maori radical occupying public land to a distinguished and respected Minister has been remarkable.

Attorney General General Chris Finlayson has described her as his favourite politician – “utterly principled and a very decent woman.”

“The Foreshore and Seabed Act is Helen Clark’s legacy to New Zealand; its repeal is Tariana Turia’s and I have to say that Mrs Turia is by far the greater politician.”

I wouldn’t go that far, but I would say the Foreshore and Seabed Act was a hysterical own goal from Labour. They should have merely appealed the court ruling, rather than legislated over it.

Having worked with Naitonal for six years, Mrs Turia developed her favourites.

“I’ve really like Bill English. I have admired his capacity to understand and to think about things. I think he has quite a strong social justice attitude about things. Chester Borrows is another one. Quite strong social justice leaning. And I’ve always like Nikki Kaye. She’s got a mind of her own and at cabinet committee, she basically gives expression to it and I like that and she’s young.”

I think it has been a good thing, having Ministers working with the Maori Party.

Mrs Turia’s patience was tested by Mana leader Hone Harawira when he was part of the Maori Party and began criticizing the relationship with National.

She said he had always wanted to go with National when given the chance.

He pointed to things up in the north that happened under a National Government. He knew that all the health and social services, kura, kohanga reo, waananga, all grew out of National Government and he wanted to go with them.

“The issue for Hone is that Hone is not a team player. He has to be the leader. At that time, that was the problem.

This is a point often overlooked. Hone did not leave the Maori Party over direction and policy. He left because he wanted to become leader.


Ilam candidate says he can’t be part of Labour if Cunliffe remains

September 30th, 2014 at 2:51 pm by David Farrar

James Macbeth Dann was Labour’s candidate for Ilam in 2011. He writes at Public Address:

We delivered tens of thousands of pieces of paper with your face on it. But the reality, the hard truth, is that people in the electorate just didn’t connect with you. I lost count of the number of times I door knocked someone who told me they had voted Labour all their life, but wouldn’t vote for us as long as you were leader. People who would have a Labour sign – but not one with your face on it.


The Labour Party isn’t a vehicle for you to indulge your fantasy of being Prime Minister. While you might think that it’s your destiny to be the visionary leader of this country, the country has a very different vision – and it doesn’t involve you.

Double ouch.

I think I did a good job in a very difficult electorate, and would like to build on it at the next election.

However, I won’t be part of a party that you lead. Not because I don’t like you, but because I simply don’t want to lose again. That’s the reality David. The people of New Zealand don’t want you to be their leader. The comparisons that you and your supporters have thrown up don’t hold water – you aren’t Norm Kirk and you aren’t Helen Clark. You’re David Cunliffe and you led the Labour Party to it’s most devastating result in modern history.

Triple ouch.

If you win, I’ll step aside from the party, to let you and your supporters mould it into the party you want. But in return I ask this: if you lose this primary, you resign from parliament. In your time in opposition, we’ve had you on the front bench, where you let down your leader at the most critical point of the 2011 campaign. You ran for leader and lost, then destabilised the elected leader. Then when you got your chance as leader, you led Labour a party that was polling in the mid-30’s to one that sits firmly in the mid-20’s. There is no place for you in this party anymore.

And the quadruple ouch.

I won’t be entirely surprised if at some stage Cunliffe withdraws from the leadership race, as I suspect Mr Dann will not be the last candidate, MP or activist to make such a declaration.

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Cunliffe, Cunliffe, Cunliffe

September 30th, 2014 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

The former (and maybe future) Labour leader has said a number of pretty silly things in the last 24 hours. Let’s start with my favourite, reported by NBR:

JC: Hold on a sec. You are a leader, and you are a bright man. Why didn’t they vote for you?

DC: I think at the end of the day, people wanted stability. They wanted prosperity.

Indeed they did want prosperity and stability. As a former National staffer I’d like to thank David Cunliffe for making the job of National research staff much easier for the first question time of the new Parliament. They now have their work done for them.

Next favourite is this:

But the worst moment came when Cunliffe claimed he was the leadership candidate National most feared facing in 2017.

Yes he said that John Key was scared of facing off against him again. Truly.

Stuff reports:

Today, Cunliffe said he “always intended to step down” but there were several routes. That’s in contrast to his comments this time last week, when he repeatedly told media it was not his intention to stand down.

He always intended to step down, yet last week said explicitly he would not step down. And Labour wonders why it got 24%.

“I am seeking a new mandate from the membership, the affiliate and the caucus,” he said today, “because I believe there is value to the party not only in having a contest but having the kind of battle-hardened leadership that you need to take this fight to John Key.”

If that is the test, they should make Trevor Mallard leader.

Voters had shown that his level of preferred PM ratings were around about the same as Helen Clark in 1996, he said. “And on many measures a little better than Phil Goff in 2011.” 


Helen Clark just before the 1996 election was 17% Preferred PM (ONCB). But worth noting she was effectively competing with other opposition leaders as Peters had 15% and Anderton 11%. Also Bolger himself was at just 23% Preferred PM, so Clark was only 6% behind Bolger.

Just before the 2011 election, Goff was 15% Preferred PM. And of course he resigned for such a bad result.

The final ONCB poll before the 2014 election had Cunliffe at 12% Preferred PM. Behind Goff and Clark. And 31% behind Key.

But these pols were pre-election. What I’d love to see is a media poll now on Preferred PM. I suspect David Cunliffe is now well below the 12% he was on 17 September.


The PM should not talk on where he wants the currency

September 30th, 2014 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

The New Zealand dollar has slumped US1 cent after the Reserve Bank revealed a currency intervention of more than half a billion dollars during August.

But the Prime Minister says the currency remains far above ‘‘Goldilocks’’ fair value level of about US65 cents.

The kiwi dropped from US78.3c to US77.3c late this afternoon after new figures were released showing the Reserve Bank sold $521m of its New Zealand dollar holdings in August, a massive jump from July when it sold only $2m.

Economists said the central bank had put its money where its mouth was. The Reserve Bank was ‘‘shorting’’ the dollar when it was high and when it was expected to fall and would be happy with the latest fall, economists said. The scale of the intervention was seen as ‘‘material’’ and involved the most selling of the New Zealand dollar since 2007.

However, while the currency has fallen heavily this month, down more than US6c, it only dropped about US2c during August when the central bank was actually selling.

The kiwi had already fallen earlier today after Prime Minister John Key, a former currency trader, said the dollar was too high and the “Goldilocks” level (not too high or too low) would be about US65c.

“I happen to actually support the view that the Governor has that the exchange rate is over valued, so if they have intervened, it would be a matter for them, but it would seem fairly logical,” Key told reporters this afternoon.

I don’t think the PM should comment (even if in support) on decisions of the Reserve Bank Governor. I tweeted:

I would prefer if the Prime Minister did not think aloud about what the Reserve Bank should do.

Matt Nolan at TVHE blogs:

Given their standing and thereby ability to seemingly signal intervention in markets, the prime minister and finance minister really need to keep quiet about policy where there is an independent body involved – as it both creates volatility and indicates that such things are a more political issue.  I was pissed off when Cullen did this, pissed off when Key has done it in the past, and I’m pissed off hearing it now.  I don’t care if someone asked the frikken question, part of central bank independence is having fiscal authorities show a bit of discipline with their comments.

It is a bad precedent. We are lucky we have had strong Governors who can stand up to the Executive (as happened with LVRs), but we may not always have such people in the future.

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Headline vs substance on SAS

September 30th, 2014 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The NZ Herald headline:

Key: SAS could join Isis fight on ground

The substance:

As far as sending SAS personnel, Mr Key said: “I can’t rule that absolutely out, but what I can say is that I’ll get advice and we’ll see how that goes, but it would be my least preferred option.”

When it comes to any military deployment, no Prime Minister can really rule out a response before a request has been made. But when a PM calls it their least preferred option, it is pretty obvious it will not happen.

Any commitment of personnel “would be a step I think we should take very cautiously and with our eyes open because history tells you that going into places like Iraq is fraught with difficulty and danger and as we know with Afghanistan, it was a very long-term commitment”.

I don’t think we should send troops. If we had air strike capability, that would be a possibility. But we don’t.

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