Archive for the ‘NZ Politics’ Category

Green MP says Ebola should be treated with homeopathy

October 31st, 2014 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Green Party MP Steffan Browning maintains homeopathy is an option the World Health Organisation (WHO) should consider in treating Ebola, despite widespread criticism of his “barking mad” idea.

Browning signed an online petition this week which called for the WHO to end the suffering of the Ebola crisis by testing and distributing homeopathy as quickly as possible to contain the outbreaks.

Meet your future Minister of Health in a Labour-Greens Government!

This video gives you a good idea of how homeopathy works.

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Auckland should be allowed congestion charges or tolls

October 31st, 2014 at 11:44 am by David Farrar

The Herald editorial:

The Transport Minister, Simon Bridges, may not be as loud and brash in his pronouncements as his predecessors but the message yesterday remained the same. He was, he said, “very sceptical” about the options presented by an independent advisory board to the Auckland Council to plug a $12 billion transport funding gap over the next 30 years. Shorn of euphemism, that represented yet another Government thumbs-down for the recommended solutions to the city’s congestion woes.

The board suggested a toll of about $2 as drivers entered the city’s motorways, or a mixture of a rates rise of about 1 per cent and a 1.2 cents a litre higher regional fuel tax. The first would require Government approval which, clearly, will not be forthcoming. Mr Bridges said the motorway system was built by taxpayers, and any revenue raised from it would belong in the first instance to taxpayers. Never mind that the on-ramps are half-funded by ratepayers and offer an ideal and simple charging point. In the case of the second recommendation, the minister noted that rates were a matter for the council, but said the Government did not support new taxes or raising the national tax for the benefit of one region.

I support user pays for transport. A congestion charge is the best form of user pays – a market charge. A toll charge is also an efficient mechanism of making sure users of the transport system pay for the benefits they get from them.

So I don’t think the Government should rule out congestion charges or tolls for Auckland Council, or other councils.

However I do think their position that any charges should not apply to roads already paid for by the taxpayer is reasonable. They should ideally be used on new roads not existing ones. So the Government should allow tolls and congestion charges, but set down some rules for how they can be applied.

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Bishop’s Maiden

October 28th, 2014 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Chris Bishop was given the honour of leading off the Address in Reply debate on behalf of National, and I think almost everyone would agree he was an excellent pick.

Some extracts I particularly liked:

I come to this House as someone who has always, for as long as I can recall, been interested in politics, history, public policy, and the law. My parents, John Bishop and Rosemary Dixon, are to blame. From dad I got my love of politics. Dad was in the press gallery from 1982 to 1987. He was chief parliamentary reporter for TVNZ during that momentous year of 1984. The political bug was transferred to me, or so the family joke goes, when he was told to talk to his new baby. Most people would choose to talk about the weather, what is on TV, or something like that; his topic of choice was none other than this man called Sir Robert Muldoon. I have had an enduring fascination with him and his politics ever since. Growing up I would pepper dad for stories about his time as a journalist—about the night of the 1984 snap election, about the night of the Mount Erebus crash, about travelling with Geoffrey Palmer to try to save the ANZUS alliance. I drank it all in, and those stories and those lessons have shaped who I am today. From mum I got my love of the law, particularly public law. From both my parents I gained an interest in ideas, in current affairs, and in the world around me. Growing up, our household was one where everyone was expected to have a view and not to be shy about expressing it. Indeed, both my parents were champion debaters, and mum was instrumental in establishing the New Zealand Schools’ Debating Council, which I was president of for 4 years much later in life. Almost every year since 1988 the grand final of the Russell McVeagh National Championships have been held where we were this morning—the Legislative Council Chamber . There are now four alumni of the championships who have become MPs: Jacinda Ardern, Megan Woods, Holly Walker, and myself. I am pleased that our side of the House is now represented on that list, and I am sure that there will be many more in the years to come.

Chris is a formidable debater, and I expect he will become a strong presence in the House.

My dad’s side of the family—although, I should say, not necessarily my dad, whose politics I do not know—is true blue. The Bishops were farmers at Hillend, outside Balclutha in South Otago. My poppa Stuart joined Wright Stephenson in 1928 and worked for it until he retired, interrupted only by World War II, where he fought at Monte Cassino . Stewart and Cora Bishop almost certainly voted National their entire lives. They referred to national superannuation as “Rob’s lolly”.

My mother’s side of the family could not be more different. They were Methodists in the great reforming progressive tradition, and Labour voters to their toes. One great-grandfather was a wharfie who won the honoured 151-day loyalty card during the 1951 strike. My grandfather Haddon Dixon was a Methodist minister, a social activist, a director of CORSO, and an inveterate follower of politics. He was the sort of man for whom Parliament TV was made. My nana was a progressive socialist. In 1981, as a 61-year-old, sickened by apartheid in South Africa, she joined the “Stop the Tour” movement, helped organise a sit-down protest on the Hutt motorway during the Wellington test, refused to move, and was duly arrested.

She happily did her 200 hours’ community service painting the Barnardos centre in Waterloo Road in the Hutt, so I think I get my social liberalism and my reforming zeal from my grandparents, although, it is fair to say, not my Labour Party politics. I come to this House as a 31-year-old, a representative of Generation Y. Our generation does not remember needing a doctor’s prescription to buy margarine or needing permission from the Reserve Bank to subscribe to a foreign magazine or any of the other absurdities of life in the Fortress New Zealand economy. It seems scarcely believable to us that from 1982 to 1984 all wages and prices in New Zealand were frozen by prime ministerial fiat. For our generation, inflation has always been low, we have always been nuclear-free, homosexuality has always been legal, and the Treaty settlement process has always been under way. New Zealand is a completely different country to what it was when I was born, and I have always been profoundly fascinated by that transformation and what its effects have been.

The post Muldoon generation do not understand why we have political parties that seem to paint the 1970s as the high point for New Zealand.

It intrigues me, for example, that although Bob Hawke and Paul Keating are regarded by the Labor movement in Australia as heroes and receive standing ovations at Labor conferences to this day, New Zealand’s own Labour reformers are essentially pariahs from their party. I think a significant portion of the left in New Zealand has never made its peace with the economic reforms of the 1980s and 1990s, and in some ways the debate inside the Labour Party today is the most visible manifestation of that lack of reconciliation.

Sadly there seems to be not a Labour MP left in caucus, who defends the legacy of the 4th Labour Government.

A maiden speech is traditionally the time to put on the record your principles, philosophy, and beliefs. I will do so with the caveat that I am not so arrogant as to think that my current views are immutable. Some of my political heroes said things in their maiden speeches they almost certainly would not have agreed with later in their careers. Roger Douglas’ maiden speech in 1969, for example, is extremely sceptical of the benefits of foreign investment in New Zealand. In 1970 Paul Keating told the Australian Parliament that the Commonwealth Government should set up a statutory authority to fix the prices of all goods and services in the Australian economy and he bemoaned the number of young mothers who were entering the workforce. I think good politicians listen, reflect, read, and think deeply about the world, and, if necessary, change their minds. I hope to always be open to that in my time in this House.

Indeed. You should have convictions and ideas when you enter Parliament, but you should also be able to change your mind to changing circumstances and superior arguments.

I am an unashamed economic and social liberal. The classical annunciation of liberalism within the National Party remains John Marshall’s maiden speech as the member for Mount Victoria in 1947. I believe, as he did, that the conditions of a good society are liberty, property, and security, and the greatest of these is liberty. I think individuals make better decisions about their own lives than Governments do. A fundamental belief in the primacy of the individual over the collective should be the lodestar that guides all good Governments. I think we should trust individuals more than we do and be more sceptical about the ability of the Government to solve social problems. I believe that the best way to deliver the prosperity New Zealanders deserve is through a globally competitive market-based economy that rewards enterprise and innovation. The reforms of the 1980s and 1990s were vitally important in transforming New Zealand from a sclerotic economic basket case to a modern, functioning, competitive economy, but there is more to be done.

Lower taxes, less inefficient Government transfers, less corporate welfare, more trade liberalisation and less regulation would be a start.

I support a tolerant, multicultural New Zealand that is confident, proud, and open to the world. Our society is enriched greatly by migration. The periodic desire by some to scapegoat migrants I find is deeply distasteful. I am proud of how far New Zealand has come in only one generation from an inward-looking, insular economy and society to one that is increasingly internationally connected and confident on the world stage. I believe that we can responsibly develop our natural resources and improve our environment at the same time. We are blessed with abundant natural resources in New Zealand, both renewable and non-renewable, and we are not wealthy enough as a nation to not take advantage of them. What we know from history is that the wealthier a country is, the more able it is to take practical steps to improve the environment. Some of the most polluted places on Earth were in the communist Soviet Union. Growing out economy through the responsible development of our resources gives us the ability to preserve things precious to New Zealand like our rivers, lakes, and national parks.

Yes, the economy and the environment are not in opposition. The cure to dirty rivers is not to shoot one in five dairy cows.

I have a profound belief in free speech, the power of ideas, and the importance of persuasion by those in public office. Fundamental sustainable change in public policy is only ever achieved when the argument is won. That is how marriage equality was achieved. It is how Treaty settlements were started and how they have continued. It is how we tore down the walls of the Fortress New Zealand economy. Leaders in this Parliament made the case for those things and won the argument. One of the proudest moments of my life was to debate in the Oxford Union, standing at the same dispatch box that Lange stood at when he delivered his famous speech on the moral indefensibility of nuclear weapons. Lange was at his best when he was arguing. I believe Bill English had it right in his maiden speech as the member for Wallace in 1991: “What I bring to this job is a willingness to get into the argument rather than to avoid it. I owe it to my voters to present in Parliament what is best in them—a credible, constructive, and committed argument. Power without persuasion has no lasting place in a democracy.” As long as I am an MP I will always try to present credible and constructive arguments and I will always be willing to have one.

Sadly the last Labour Government tried to close down much free speech with their Electoral Finance Bill. Today’s law is much better than what was proposed, but it is still too restrictive.

We are the first Government in a long time that has a resolute focus on tackling some of the intractable social problems that have bedevilled New Zealand for too long such as a persistent underclass, welfare dependency, Māori and Pasifika educational underachievement, and poor-quality social housing. We are not doing this simply by throwing more money at problems. Care for those most vulnerable in our community is not, or should not be, measured by the amount of money spent, the number of bureaucratic agencies set up, or the number of people employed to deal with the problem. We should judge policy by results. Milton Friedman was right: “One of the great mistakes is to judge policies and programmes by their intentions rather than their results.”

This is I think a key difference between right and left. Many on the left do think it is the amount you spend that matters. National’s Better Public Services targets has for the first time incentivised the state to focus on outcomes, not outputs.

One thing that I am personally passionate about is our plan to reward excellent teachers and keep them in the classroom, doing what they do best—changing kids’ lives. Everyone remembers their amazing teachers growing up. It is simply wrong that the classic career pathway for teachers at the moment involves leaving the classroom to move into administration.

Absolutely. The most important reform this term I’d say.

When people look back on this passage in New Zealand’s history, it is my fervent hope that they will recognise that it was the fifth National Government that put in place the reforms to raise the quality of teaching in our schools, that challenge the soft bigotry of low expectations, that made progress on tackling child abuse and family violence, that made social housing actually work for people, and that invested in people to support their aspirations for independence from the State. This Government’s signal economic achievements are important, but I think and hope this Government will be known for much more than that.

The bigotry of low expectations is one I particularly dislike.

As I said, an excellent maiden speech. There have been and will be many other fine ones. I normally try to do a summary of each one, but as I am on holiday, I won’t have the time. But they are all on the parliamentary website.

I booked my holiday for October/November on the assumption that Winston would hold the balance of power and take six weeks to decide, ad hence I would get back just in time for the new Parliament. Pleased to say things moved faster than that, even if it means I have missed the first few weeks of the 51st Parliament.

However the Herald has very usefully done a summary of the maiden speeches to date.

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Hide on Labour Day

October 26th, 2014 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Rodney Hide writes in the HoS:

Tomorrow is Labour Day. Once again we will endure the annual claptrap that unions are great and won for us the eight-hour day. Without unions we would be working 24/7. It’s nonsense. …

On-board was shipping agent George Hunter, who asked Parnell to build him a store. Parnell agreed but on the condition that he work only eight hours a day. Hunter wasn’t happy. Eight-hour days weren’t the custom in London, but he had little choice: there were only three carpenters in Wellington.

Hence was born the eight-hour day. The practice caught on. For more than 100 years we have celebrated the eight-hour day as a victory for trade unionism. We know it as Labour Day which, on the fourth Monday of every October, is a public holiday.

We hear every year of the union movement’s long, hard struggle. It wasn’t easy winning the eight-hour day, we are repetitively told.

Without unions, greedy employers would have us working every hour, every day.

It’s a myth. The so-called victory had nothing to do with unions. It was simple supply and demand. The demand for skilled labour was high in the new and growing settlement. The supply was low.

Parnell could have negotiated more pay. But he chose fewer hours. That was his choice. That was the free market.

Every Labour Day we should be remembering how the eight-hour day was “won”: it was by two men negotiating, no third party involved. There were no unions. There was no labour legislation.

 

An excellent point. And today we thankfully have a country where generally people can negotiate their own hours. The unions tried to stop Saturday shopping, but failed.

I won’t be celebrating unions tomorrow. Quite the opposite. I will be working and celebrating the freedom that enables us to prosper and build a great country.

I will also be laughing. The union movement is so bereft of success that it has had to commandeer Parnell’s win through the free market. Such is the myth-making of the left. Even history isn’t safe.

Personally I think we should rename Labour Day.

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Falling for Labour spin

October 25th, 2014 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Hipkins also pointed out the irony of National MPs enjoying a leisurely 90-minute break for dinner during debate on the Employment Relations Amendment Bill, which takes away the statutory entitlement to … a meal break. You can set your clock by the time MPs rise for dinner – every sitting day at 6pm, stretching it out till 7.30pm. National hoped to pass the legislation this week but ran out of time.

Good spin by Labour, but falls short on numerous grounds.

First of all that is only the time during which the House is suspended. That does not mean it is a 90 minute break for MPs who do nothing else during that time. Almost every day of the week there are seminars, speeches, events they get invited to. Also most have a quick dinner in their office and carry on working on their correspondence, reading etc. Being present in the House is a small part of what an MP does.

Secondly I would note that that few jobs have you working from 9 am to 10 pm – a 13 hour day instead of a eight hour day.

Thirdly the law change does not take away an entitlement to a meal break – it merely restores flexibility in what they are. This was the situation up until around ten years ago when Labour decided to pass law mandating inflexible breaks, which caused chaos in industries such as air traffic controllers.

One size fits all statutory requirements tend to be stupid, and Labour’s one was. 99.9% of employees will be unaffected by the law change.

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A bad look for Hone

October 25th, 2014 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

3 News reported:

As Northland faces its latest high-profile sex case, 3 News can reveal the alleged offender had been working for Hone Harawira and paid by the taxpayer.

Leaked Parliamentary documents show he’s one of three men hired by Mr Harawira who have either been convicted of, or ended up accused of sexual offence charges.

Patrick Rivers, who goes by the name Mangu Awarau, is one of Mr Harawira’s closest friends. He was part of the Internet Mana campaign and spoke at Mr Harawira’s election night function, just days after being charged with raping a girl younger than the age of 12.

“There he was on election night standing as the pillar of society giving a mihi, and yet everybody there – the whole community knew – a couple of weeks in advance that he was facing these charges,” says Te Tai Tokerau MP Kelvin Davis.

Neither Mr Harawira nor Awarau would talk to 3 News today – they did not reply to questions via email or phone.

Hone can not be faulted for hiring him before the charges. But to have him speak at your election night function, after he had been charged by Police was a massive error of judgement, and sends an awful message out to the community.

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Guest Post: Smart green rhetoric but dumb dirty policies

October 25th, 2014 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

A guest post by a reader:

During the 2014 election campaign both Labour and the Greens told us how they want a ‘smart green’ economy that takes advantage of new technology to produce higher value products and lower carbon emissions. In addition, they want an economy that discourages speculation in housing, reduces inequality and puts more people in work.

These are admirable goals and not new. However, the irony is that the policies put forward by Labour and the Greens (and most of the other parties to be honest) are not smart or particularly green. Rather, their polices are dumb and dirty.

For the most part, both Labour and the Green’s economic policies rely on the assumption that the private sector is dumber than government officials. They assume the private sector is holding off investing in innovative green ventures or productive research until the government assists by giving a grant or tax incentive.

Their economic policies require a bureaucratic money-go-round. Some taxpayers pay more tax in order that other taxpayers pay less tax or receive grants in return for undertaking the deemed beneficial activities. Or it may be the same taxpayer paying less tax on income from favoured activities and more tax on other income! Such schemes are more likely to create a drag on the economy than boost it. That is unless you believe government officials are masterminds! Sam Morgan recently pointed out that if officials really had a superior record in picking winners, he’d hire them.

If one accepts the need for the government to raise more money, substantially raising the top rate of income tax for a small group of higher income taxpayers is not smart. People don’t like paying more tax, particularly a huge 40% of any extra income they earn as the Greens propose, so find ways to lower their taxable income. Raising the top tax rate inevitably raises less revenue than the relatively small amount mathematically possible.

The tax avoidance encouraged by higher rates of income tax also distorts investment. For example, the huge growth in tax loss generating rental properties in the 2000s was driven in part by taxpayers avoiding the fifth Labour government’s increase in the top rate tax to 39% for any income over $60,000.

However, a capital gains tax would do little to discourage the middle class from continuing to invest in rental properties. A capital gains tax is not payable until way into the future, if ever, in their minds so would cause them little immediate concern. Furthermore, with Labour’s version the CGT rate would only be 15%.

A more effective way to make residential property less attractive and raise revenue would be to impose a tax that immediately hits the pocket and is impossible to avoid. A land tax set at a small percentage of the value of land owned, payable annually or maybe quarterly, would do this. A tax free threshold of around $200,000 could exempt the land occupied by the average family home while discouraging the pouring of more money into low yielding property.

A land tax would be better at reducing inequality and do less to discourage productive activity than a CGT or raising income tax. Other taxes on the stock of capital such as inheritance and gift taxes have similar advantages. Such taxes were used in the past to break up big estates and reduce inequality. Any party serious about reducing inequality needs to consider using them.

On the supply side, if we really want innovative businesses and individuals to bring their ‘smart green’ ideas to New Zealand then we should stop trying to tax them on their worldwide earnings. New Zealand has to be more attractive than alternative destinations, and not trying to sweep all residents’ offshore income into New Zealand would be a good start.

The Greens would have us believe that a large increase in public transport spending at the expense of building new roads would also somehow be good for the economy and the environment. The reality is that it would largely be a waste of money and likely increase pollution.

The Greens are keen on ribbons of steel snaking across the land to support massively heavy and expensive rail carriages. Even so called light rail, which they also like, is still heavier, far more expensive and less flexible than buses. Unless there are constant large volumes of freight or passengers, rail never comes anywhere near paying its way.

Even using buses for public transport is efficient only for busy and peak-time routes. Having off-peak buses run around nearly empty (which is very common) is actually worse for the environment than everyone using cars. A bus puts out at least four times the carbon emissions of a car. Given buses follow a less direct route, it is likely that every bus with less than 8 passengers on board is emitting more carbon than if all those passengers were driving one car each! Electrified buses or trains, and all the infrastructure they require to operate, are substantially more expensive so even less viable. Anyway, a material amount of electricity generated in New Zealand comes from the burning of fossil fuels.

Those people who rely on off-peak public transport could easily be transported more efficiently in shuttle vans or cars. There are apps such as Uber that make taxis easier to use and more efficient. Software to efficiently route transport picking up multiple people going to the same location has already been developed. The conditions are therefore ripe for the development of new, innovative, cost effective off-peak public transport solutions that use small vehicles and technology – solutions that really would decrease carbon emissions.

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Remember the manufactured manufacturing crisis?

October 24th, 2014 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

I’m sure readers recall the inquiry by Labour, Greens, NZ First and Mana into what they called the crisis in manufacturing. They traveled up and down the country trying to dredge up stories of doom and gloom.

Well today the Herald reports:

Whatever the attractions of the virtual economy, manufacturing is the star in New Zealand’s high-tech sector this year.

The annual Technology Investment Network TIN100 report was launched on Wednesday, and TIN managing director Greg Shanahan says one of the strongest trends has been the resurgence of the manufacturing sector, with strong growth seen this year as well as a number of manufacturers making it into the two Top 10 lists.

In perhaps the most positive year seen since the TIN100 report began in 2005, manufacturing, ICT and biotech are all on the rise.

The success of manufacturing is a strong indicator that the tech sector in general is recovering from the effects of the global financial crisis, as manufacturing has been an area of concern over the past few years, with the sale or closure of companies such as Navman, Provenco and VTL resulting in significant job losses, and major companies including Fisher & Paykel Appliances moving manufacturing overseas.

This year, however, manufacturing is the success story of the three sectors with revenue of $5.1 billion, helped by larger companies including Fisher & Paykel Healthcare with revenue growth of 12 per cent, BCS Group (revenue up 68 per cent) and NDA Group (32 per cent). The smaller TIN100+ manufacturing companies have also been helping boost this trend, with growth of 7 per cent overall, and companies such as Metalform, RML Engineering and Escea all feature in the Hot Emerging Companies list.

This has all happened, without the Government having to try and waste billions of dollars in forcing the level of the NZ dollar down.

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The last splurge

October 24th, 2014 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Departing and defeated MPs went out with a splurge on the taxpayer tab, the latest expense details show.

The latest release of MPs’ and ministers’ expenses covered the entire election campaign period and the 10 days after the election.

It shows that most MPs spent less than usual during the election period.

In all, MPs spent a total of $1.5 million between and July 1 and September 30, compared to $1.7 million in the same period in 2013.

But a few MPs were not as frugal.

Mana leader Hone Harawira was the biggest-spending MP. In the last three months before he lost his Te Tai Tokerau seat he racked up $54,020 in expenses.

This compared to $44,737 in the same period last year.

MPs in Maori seats often had big travel bills because their electorates were larger than the general electorates.

Disgraced National MP Claudette Hauiti was again one of the bigger spenders.

Although she was not running for re-election, she spent more than $23,000 in three months – the second-largest bill for a National MP.

I wonder how much money Mana has left from Kim Dotcom? Will he keep funding them? The coalition agreement between the Internet and Mana parties will end next month. Will it be renewed?

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The 51st Parliament Select Committees

October 23rd, 2014 at 3:47 pm by David Farrar

selcoms

The composition and chairs of select committees has been decided. Well, almost decided. NZ First seem unable to decide as quickly as other parties which MPs go on which committees. Ironic as they have just 10 MPs.

National has a clear majority on 10 of the 14 select committees.

On Finance and Expenditure the swing vote is ACT’s David Seymour. If Labour are smart (unlikely) they’ll look for issues they could get him on board with such as an inquiry into corporate welfare.

Government Administration is tied between National and Labour/Greens and chaired by Labour MP Ruth Dyson. That is normal for this committee.

Justice and Electoral could be tied with five Nats, two Labour, one Green, one NZ First and one Maori Party. But chaired by National’s Jacqui Dean so unlikely to have issues.

The Maori Affairs Committee has eight MPs on it – three National, two Labour, one Greens, one NZ First and one Maori Party. So National can be outvoted, but if Maori Party vote with them, it is a tie and new National MP Nuk Kurako is its Chair.

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A Little hyperbole

October 23rd, 2014 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Former union boss Little’s message seemed to resonate well with the audience, which included a strong union presence.

He also attacked the employment law making its way through the House.

“We have never had a more niggardly, nasty National government than the one we’ve got now.”

I guess he has to try and win over the union vote, but this is a ridiculous statement. The Employment Contracts Act of the early 1990s was a magnitude more radical than anything currently in the law, or proposed.

And is Andrew really saying the John Key led Government is more “nasty” than the Muldoon Government?

Such hyperbole may be good red meat for the unions, but they won’t resonate with the voting public.

He said Labour was the only party that took work seriously and balanced the rights of employers with workers’ rights to be protected.

Actually Labour basically has the unions write their industrial relations policy. I’d assert National is the party that gets the balance right.

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NZ won election on the first round

October 23rd, 2014 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Now I’ve had time to check the detailed voting results, impressed that not only did New Zealand beat Turkey to win a spot on the UN Security Council, we also got more votes than Spain, and made the two thirds majority in the first round of voting.

To be elected you need 129 votes out of 193 member states, and NZ got 145 in the first round. Spain was on 121 and Turkey 109.

It then took two further rounds to elect Spain, as the normal pattern followed of states slowing peeling off the lowest polling candidate.

A win on the first round, scoring more votes than Turkey and Spain is truly impressive. Especially when you consider Turkey starts with almost all the Muslim countries on side, and Spain starts with almost all of Europe and the Spanish speaking countries. NZ stars with basically just Australia!

It would be interesting to see how each country voted, but I can’t find this online.

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Assistant Speaker Trevor

October 23rd, 2014 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

From Hansard:

Hon GERRY BROWNLEE (Leader of the House): As I move this next motion I hope the last discordant moment is not some sort of a portent of what is about to happen. I move, That the Hon Trevor Mallard be appointed Assistant Speaker. I did not think that I would ever be in this House moving a motion like this. If it were not for the fact that I have been reminded by the honourable gentleman over there that this is a parliamentary occasion, I may well have quipped that should he be successful, the Hon Trevor Mallard may be the first Speaker in the Chair to remove himself from the House.

But appreciating the comments Mr Peters has made to the House, I will simply say that I have worked with Mr Mallard on the Business Committee and in his role as shadow Leader of the House over a number of years, and I know that he is, at heart, a true parliamentarian. I think—[Interruption] Well, his colleagues opposite, of course, may find it hard to believe that anyone on their side of the House has a heart, but the reality is that Mr Mallard is a gentleman who does appreciate the procedures of Parliament and does respect the procedures of Parliament. But certainly over his political career he has enjoyed the theatre of Parliament as well. I think his broad experience in that regard will equip him very well as an assistant to you in your role, Mr Speaker, and we look forward to supporting him.

For my 2c I think Trevor will be a very good Assistant Speaker. He has an excellent understanding of Standing Orders, and as Gerry said, he has played a very constructive role on the Business Committee and the review of Standing Orders.

But he will have to restrain himself not to interject when he is not in the chair – or even when he is!

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Parker says Labour is like a cult

October 23rd, 2014 at 1:28 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Labour leadership contender David Parker says Labour borders on feeling like “a cult” and must look at its branding – including its symbolic red party colour.

Cult is too harsh a term, but what Labour does suffer from is diversity – diversity of opinion.

National has a caucus and a party that has social liberals and social conservatives. It has those who see the role of the state in the economy is to get out of the way, and those who see its role to be an active participant.

By contrast Labour looks on people who are even close to the economic centre with disdain and suspicion. I know many Labour members who say they feel the party no longer represents them.

Even worse is if you are a social conservative in Labour. Then you are seen as blot on their conscience to be exorcised. You will be told you are in the wrong party.

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What will it take for John Key to lead National to a 4th term? Could he ever be NZ’s longest serving PM?

October 21st, 2014 at 4:22 pm by kiwi in america

On election night September 20th, centre right supporters, flush with the enthusiasm of National’s historic win seemingly achieving the impossible of being able to govern alone under MMP, talked excitedly of a 4th even 5th term and for John Key to be able to challenge the long standing record in continuous office of Richard John Seddon. But what is the likelihood of Key pulling this off. David had a more detailed post on this subject

http://www.kiwiblog.co.nz/2014/10/can_national_win_a_4th_or_even_a_5th_term.html

that covers some of the more technical aspects of governing that National must pay heed to – the suggestions in this post arise from studying the history of other 4th term governments and emulating their successes and avoiding their failures.

Since the commencement of the modern party era in New Zealand, Australia and UK (late 19th century) there have only ever been eight four term governments with four in New Zealand (these are highlighted below with an *). All eight are listed below in order of their longevity with the number of elections won in parentheses. Please note that UK Parliamentary terms have a maximum of 5 years and elections are called at the whim of the sitting Prime Minister. Australia, whilst also having the same 3 year term as the NZ Parliament, have held more snap elections than NZ due impasses in their Senate leading to what are called double dissolutions (snap elections of both the House and the Senate):

Australian Liberal Country Government 23 years (1949 to 1972) – 8 terms (won the 1949, 1951, 1954, 1955, 1958, 1961, 1966 and 1969 elections)

* NZ Liberal Government 21 years (1891 to 1912) – 7 terms (won the 1893, 1896, 1899, 1902, 1905, 1908 and 1911 elections)

UK Conservative Government 18 years (1979 to 1997) – 4 terms (won the 1979, 1983, 1987 and 1992 elections)

* NZ Reform Government 16 years (1912 to 1928) – 4 terms (won the 1914, 1919, 1922 and 1925 elections)

Australian Labor Government 15 years (1983 to 1996) – 5 terms (won the 1983, 1984, 1987, 1990 and 1993 elections)

* NZ 1st Labour Government 14 years (1935 to 1949) – 4 terms (won the 1935, 1938, 1943 and 1946 elections)

* NZ 3rd National Government 12 years (1960 to 1972) – 4 terms (won the 1960, 1963, 1966 and 1969 elections)

Australian Liberal National Government 11 years (1996 to 2007) – 4 terms (won the 1996, 1998, 2001 and 2004 elections)

The list of New Zealand Prime Ministers and their length in continuous office is listed below. Long serving Australian and UK Prime Ministers are added as a frame of reference:

Robert Menzies (Australia 1949 to 1966) – 16 years 2 months

* Richard Seddon (1893 to 1906) – 13 years 1 month

* William Massey (1912 to 1925) – 12 years 10 months

John Howard (Australia 1996 to 2008) – 11 years 9 months

Margaret Thatcher (UK 1979 to 1990) – 11 years 6 months

* Keith Holyoake (1960 to 1972) – 11 years 2 months

* Peter Fraser (1940 to 1949) – 9 years 9 months

* Helen Clark (1999 to 2008) – 8 years 11 months

Assuming the 2017 election is held at a more traditional time of the year (mid November) and also assuming that nothing occurs in the 3rd term of the 5th National Government that causes John Key to resign as Prime Minister, by the time Parliament rises in November 2017, John Key will have served for almost exactly 9 years thus becoming NZ’s 5th longest serving Prime Minister. If he is re-elected for a 4th term then in that term by early 2020 he will eclipse Keith Holyoake and become NZ’s 3rd longest serving Prime Minister. He would need to be re-elected for a 5th term and not resign or be ousted from office before midway through 2021 before he could claim the crown of NZ’s longest serving PM off King Dick.

In examining the experience of these eight 4 term (or more) governments, several key tactics emerge that should be closely adhered to by John Key and his inner circle. Suggestions for National are in bold.

1 – Economic conditions affect a government’s popularity

Economic good times underpinned National’s 2014 3rd term re-election. They kept the Liberals in power in Australia for an unprecedented 23 years – Robert Menzies presided over a 50% growth in real incomes in Australia through the 50’s and early 60’s. Share market and wider economic growth saw Thatcher and the 4th Labour government in NZ re-elected in the mid 1980s.

Likewise sour economic conditions, contractions and high unemployment have cost many governments power (Labour in 1975 and 1990 was swept out of power on the back of very adverse economic conditions). Likewise the Tories in the UK and Labor in Australia in 1996 and UK Labour in 2010 were ejected due to tougher economic times. A collapse in the terms of trade, a severe global contraction on top of the fall in dairy prices could reverse National’s path to surplus and leave it hard pressed to deliver on budget promises making re-election in 2017 much tougher. National’s growth agenda must proceed apace with greater thought given to easing economic reliance on dairy exports.

2 – You must have a plan of transition of power to a rival(s) rising in your own party ranks and this must be carefully managed

In Australia John Howard’s protracted wrangle with Peter Costello as to when he would hand over power destabilized the Howard government. Keating had to fight Hawke to take over Labor. The same tension was evident between Tony Blair and Gordon Brown in UK Labour. Holyoake should’ve had Muldoon as his deputy and sooner to satisfy his ambition as his handover to his gentle old friend Jack Marshall meant he was easily outshone by the younger feistier Muldoon. Bolger’s poor handling of Winston Peters led to Peters leaving and forming NZ First. Clark’s failure to have a transition plan is why Labour is in the pickle it is in today.

Robert Menzies was the only long serving PM to leave at the height of his power on his own terms and to ensure he had a successor that was popular (Harold Holt). Menzies won the 1966 election (his 7th) and then after being sworn in as PM resigned as leader and then resigned his Melbourne seat one month later and exited Parliament altogether. The Liberals went on to win one more election and governed for six more years under four different PMs after Menzies left.

Managing Judith Collins will be one of John Key’s crucial tasks in his 3rd term. Mishandling her could result in backbench disquiet that might coalesce around a Collins challenge if National began to consistently poll poorly. Even if the failure to advise her of the delay in giving her the Honourable honourific was unintentional, it created ill will that could fester and was an early unforced error by Key. If she is cleared of any wrongdoing from the Feely SFO interference inquiry, Key should tell Collins privately that she will come back into Cabinet in the next reshuffle if she continues to exercise restraint with her behaviour and public pronouncements.

3 – Disunity destroys governments ….and oppositions

A case in point was Labour in 1990 – its internal civil war was one of the main reasons for its near annihilation. Its disunity in Opposition since 2008 has assisted National’s two re-elections. Menzies stayed in power so long because Australian Labor was disorganized, faction fraught and led by so many leaders. The Rudd v Gillard civil war made it easier for Tony Abbott to win their 2013 election. Australian Labor infighting in the late 90’s and 2000’s helped keep Howard in power. Key and his inner circle must make ongoing caucus and party unity a continuing priority.

4 – Whilst excessive reforming zeal can erode popularity, so can excessive caution

Labour’s flat tax in 1987 was a bridge too far for a centre left party and it led to the Rogernomics related revolt inside Labour that rent it asunder. Howard’s industrial reforms in 2007 were too radical for Australia with its entrenched union power. Margaret Thatcher’s Poll Tax almost killed the Conservatives until reversed by Major.

Holyoake was steady as she goes for too long especially as economic conditions in NZ worsened after Britain joined the EU. Kirk showed energy and vision versus a tired National Government under an old school PM. National in 1949 defeated Fraser’s tired worn out 1st Labour government. Key should not be content to do a Holyoake and just carefully manage the economy – National need to have fresh new policies but ones that are not too radical.

5 – Stay in touch with and listen to middle, centrist swing voter aspirations rather than the media elites, beltway types and the chattering classes

John Howard won several elections against the odds because he followed that advice. The media and opinion shaping elites pounded him over his hard line over illegal asylum seekers. He pushed for major Australian involvement in the War on Terror after 9/11 and he backed Tasmanian loggers jobs over the influential environmental lobby groups. Key kept pressing on with asset sales and the reform of the GCSB in the face of vociferous media opposition knowing that they were beltway issues not influencing middle NZ voters. Similarly his aggressive stance against Nicky Hager and Kim Dotcom in the face of a virtual media obsession on reporting these sideshows in the last election campaign was found to be largely in line with the majority of voters. Cynics will call this poll driven politics but Key has been remarkably adept at staying in tune with centrist voter sentiment and he should not swerve to the right to carve some kind of policy legacy.

6 – Arrogance in office is a vote killer

Her ‘my way or the highway’ attitude in Cabinet ended Margaret Thatcher’s long run as PM as she was ousted by fed up and humiliated Cabinet colleagues. The 5th Labour Government attempt to shut down political dissent with the Electoral Finance Act and its retrospective legislation legalizing the pledge card rorts were acts of arrogance that angered voters. Part of Keating’s problem when he came to fight his second election was a perception of arrogance. Key must do all in his power to keep arrogance out of his office and from his Cabinet no matter how fractured the opposition may be.

7 – Introducing more extreme policies from the more right or left wing base of a governing party is usually unpopular

Keating moved Labor from a careful centrist mild reforming position to more union friendly industrial reforms, aggressive native land title reform and pushes for Australia to be a republic. Clark’s 3rd term was littered with nanny state interventions like telling school tuck shops to stop selling pies, regulating shower nozzles, banning incandescent light bulbs and flirting with regulating sausage sizzles outside supermarkets. Allowing socially liberal legislation to come to the House (legalizing prostitution and civil unions) distracted from core economic policy and came to dominate the agenda a bit too much.

Roger Douglas’ flat tax proposal was too right wing for even the right leaning 4th Labour government. Howard’s aggressive anti-union legislation proved to be too right wing for the Australian electorate. Likewise Labour’s lurch to the left since it has empowered its harder left base with the change to its leadership election process and its need to fight with the Greens for the left vote has made it less electable. A classic example was the suite of envy taxes it proposed – staple fare for left wing parties but not popular in the wider electorate. National should continue to hew a careful mildly centre right agenda with incremental gradual reforms that allow prior reforms to bed in. National’s welfare reforms have been implemented successfully by following this strategy. National should attempt further reform of the RMA in a similar incremental fashion.

8 – Do not create too many enemies inside your own party

John Gorton the longest serving Liberal PM after Menzies in the late 60’s was toppled by his own party for this reason. David Cunliffe created many enemies in his caucus. Under Labour’s old rules, he would never have been elected and his presence as leader exacerbated factional tensions in Labour. Thatcher’s treatment of her Cabinet was legendary in its rudeness and arrogance. In the end they turned on her.

Key must be careful to manage the egos inside Cabinet and not get too far away from the opinions and views of his wider caucus. He should never become isolated on the 9th floor and hide behind staff and he should consult regularly outside his inner circle of Joyce and English.

9 – Refresh your caucus and front bench regularly

Holyoake’s government was tired by the end. Ditto Labour under Clark. Many 4th term governments succumbed to this and the voters tire of the same faces. National under Key has been superb at revitalisation and Key must continue to foster, develop and promote National’s talent inside and outside of Parliament

10 – Exploit the weaknesses of your opponents

All of the long serving PMs were adept at this. Rather than just watch their opponents fight among themselves, they threw down banana peels to kick this process along. John Key is brilliant at this – he uses Parliamentary Question time to hammer his opponents in the split second before they use Points of Order to object. He is also very good at exploiting the tensions between his rivals on the left driving wedges wherever he can between Labour and the Greens. Key’s tactics of attacking his opposition rivals with cheeky humour and quick, good natured barbs must continue.

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Can Labour ever again lead a governing coalition? – 3 scenarios

October 17th, 2014 at 6:10 pm by kiwi in america

Political parties are formed with a view to govern. When a party’s vote drops deep into the 20’s, what must it do to revive its fortunes and poll high enough to lead a governing coalition? Can Labour rise again as National did under Don Brash?

Regular readers of Kiwiblog will recall my lengthy essay posted on Easter Friday about the recent history of Labour; some of it based on my time as an activist there until the mid 90’s attempting to explain Labour’s present day conundrum.

In a nutshell it said that an attempt by the left of the party to seize permanent control of Labour after the massive post Rogernomics ructions under the leadership of Helen Clark, led to a gradual purging of activists from the centrist and right wings of the party. Clark, and her followers in the Head Office and regional hierarchies, ensured the selection of candidates in winnable electorate seats (and after the introduction of MMP, also the party list) that not only ensured she could topple then leader Mike Moore after the 1993 election but also cemented her power base inside Labour guaranteeing her an unchallenged 15 year reign as Labour’s leader. This handed power in the party to an increasingly narrow base of sector and interest groups such as academics, trade unions, progressive feminists and the rainbow coalition gradually driving out activists who were more likely to be white, male, socially conservative, small business owners and church going people of faith. After Labour’s 2008 election defeat, former members of the harder left New Labour Party, homeless after the dissolution of the Alliance, the demise of Anderton’s Progressives and the rise of the Greens, began to come back to Labour assisting in the movement of the party more to the left.

This trend culminated in the amendment to Labour’s Constitution at its 2012 Annual Conference giving 40% of the vote for Party Leader to the party membership and 20% to the affiliated unions leaving only 40% in the hands of the Parliamentary caucus. This new formula enabled David Cunliffe to win the first full leadership primary in 2013 despite having only minority support in caucus – the first time this had ever happened in Labour’s history. The result of his elevation to the leadership was Labour’s third successive and even more disastrous defeat.

When you drive out of the party its more centrist activists, you leave a vacuum that has been filled by harder left activists. When these same activists, alongside the more traditionally left wing trade union leadership, have control of the party’s candidate selections, its policy formation and now the election of its leader, over time you end up with a party, candidates and policies that no longer appeal to middle NZ and a party that is no longer the broad church it used to be. The party may be truer to its left wing principles but it now produces candidates, policies and campaigning rhetoric out of step with the aspirations of floating middle NZ voters that decide elections. National’s moderate centrist direction under John Key has become the natural repository for various key demographic groups that once used to strongly vote Labour and accordingly, Labour has ended up falling further behind National in each subsequent election post its 2008 defeat culminating in its second lowest vote this election since its formation in 1916!

Labour is now undertaking yet another review of why it was defeated and another likely more bruising leadership primary. Here are three possible scenarios as to what Labour can do to revitalize its electoral fortunes:

Scenario 1 – Status quo = no real revitalization

Any of the four current contenders for the Labour leadership are only going to result in variations of a status quo outcome. Here’s the predicted outcome if:

Little wins

With Cunliffe’s withdrawal from the race and the unions’ 20% vote representing a key swing voting bloc, Little stands a better than even chance of winning. However the manner of his victory (as it was with Cunliffe) would be an indictment of modern Labour because he is beholden to an interest group whose power and influence in the wider economy and political marketplace has waned to relative insignificance outside a handful of industries (ports and freezing works) and the public sector. Labour’s Constitutional amendment giving the union affiliates 20% of the vote reinforces one of the most unpopular and unattractive aspects of modern Labour – that of it being controlled by ideologically driven sectional interest groups. Little will find it next to impossible to campaign as a reformer of one of the features of Labour that is a prominent part of its lack of electoral appeal. Little brings other baggage. He’s a poor campaigner as evidenced by his consistently poor showing in both the electorate and party vote in the electorate seat (and his home town) of New Plymouth. Little is also a dour speaker and consistently underwhelmed in the House during Question Time. Whilst he has some experience dealing with the corporate sector, he’s not an aspirational Tony Blair like figure who could transform Labour into a viable New Labour type electable force. Key and Joyce will easily portray Little as a tool of the extremist union movement now largely discredited by middle NZ. The problem of competing for the left wing vote with the Greens also remains and the fault lines of the left leaning party and the right leaning caucus remain making a Little led Labour party just as unelectable in 2017. Status quo.

Robertson wins

He’s campaigning as a fresh face to unify the party. The party membership, bruised after the 2014 defeat, may give the leadership to Clark’s office insider who learned the Clark/Simpson winning way to electioneering and party management. However a Robertson front bench would make no more inroads into Key and the Nats than Goff, Shearer or Cunliffe could manage. The policies will be largely the same because the party is still controlled by the harder left activist base. Robertson may try to move Labour to the centre to woo back the old demographic groups lost over the last 20 years but let’s be honest, is ‘Waitakere Man’ going to be persuaded by a chubby, cardy wearing gay man who is a beltway insider with no work experience outside Parliament. It’s not going to happen. The same need for the Greens will hobble a Robertson led Labour Party just as much it did as the Cunliffe led one. A lurch to the centre will be bitterly opposed by the party’s base and unions. Robertson will campaign on amorphous themes of unity and reaching out but the ideological core of the party precludes the kind of radical shift in thinking it would take to truly win back the middle ground. Thus Robertson is also status quo.

Parker wins

Parker formulated and then campaigned strongly for Labour’s economic programme that was just soundly rejected by voters. How can he credibly repudiate that and try and steer Labour to the centre. The same internal tensions apply to him as to any leader. Parker is an earnest policy wonk with questionable morals – not a recipe to unify Labour and topple John Key. Again the status quo.

Mahuta wins

Mahuta’s candidacy is a long shot and more about positioning herself as deputy. How can a person clearly identified with a minority faction (Maori) who has a reputation for laziness and lacks a charismatic vision ever unite Labour’s factions and win back white male voters.

Scenario 2 – Labour fractures in two

The reality is that Labour has boxed itself into a corner with the change in how it elects its leaders. This scenario could only come about if a truly charismatic outsider or newcomer were to attempt to genuinely move Labour property and provably to the centre. The only current MPs likely to be able to do this would be Stuart Nash (invoking the name of his famous grandfather – we know already he dabbled with Simon Lusk over this very possibility) or Kelvin Davis (making the alluring pitch to be NZ’s first Maori PM!). A future MP such as John Tamihere could also drive such a move to the centre. Labour cannot win back the middle ground with its current panoply of politically correct policies, left leaning special interest factions, MPs with narrow appeal and head office dominated procedures. The man ban and any other gender based quota attempts would have to be abandoned. The new leader would need to be an obviously heterosexual rugby playing beer drinking male to counter the PC, metrosexual, chardonnay socialist perception and stop pandering to the rainbow coalition, reverse Labour’s appearance to be soft on crime and no longer embrace the Greens and their nanny state bans and interventions. This new leader would have to unequivocally sever any connection with the Greens and vow to never be in coalition with them in any form. Ditto the unions. This bold new leader would attack National’s centre heartland with a subtle combination of business friendly policies with a tinge of social conscience. Labour’s right faction remains in Parliament because they have a good number of the electorate seats and could just leave and form a new party. They would take Parliamentary Services funding for their Wellington and electorate offices and likely would get a fresh allocation to pay for a party researcher.

The drawbacks are that a centrist Labour breakaway would still be competing for the centre ground with a moderate National Party and also competing with NZ First. Whilst they would inherit the Parliamentary funding and staffing, they would lack much in the way of party machinery to back them as Labour’s activists are mostly left leaning and would stay with old Labour. Finally what would they call themselves and brand themselves? Remember right leaning Labour MPs (like Peter Dunne and Margaret Austin) left Labour and formed United in 1994 and only Peter Dunne remains. Dunne managed to ride a wave of disgruntled centrist support on the backs of a better than expected debate performance and brought 8 MPs into Parliament in 2002 but lightening has not struck twice.

Scenario 3 – Complete realignment of the centre and left parties

I’m of the view that this is the only option that could see a Labour like party be in a position to govern. But in order to do so, there would have to be a major re-alignment of the current parties that straddle the centre and left of NZ politics and changes of this magnitude could only occur after some key figures retire. Here’s the scenario.

Labour factures into two; a left and a centre party. The centre/right faction as per Scenario 2 merges with NZ First once Winston Peters retires. The only current NZ First MP with the electoral appeal and experience to run or co-run a centrist party is Ron Mark. Let’s call this party the New Democrats (a name similar to Germany’s long standing centrist Party the Free Democrats). Labour’s right leaning members would rally around a Nash or Davis or Tamihere leadership. By combining with Mark (as deputy) and keeping some of the NZ First policy orientation to the elderly, this new party could be good for 20% of the vote as a good base to then try and carve off soft National support. Such a party would be more succesful at this than Labour with all its baggage and factional infighting.

Labour becomes New Labour and, shed of its querulous right leaning caucus members, is free to become a truly left wing party. Mana is done as a brand after the disastrous hook up with Kim Dotcom but Mana hard left activists like Sue Bradford, Annette Sykes and John Minto will be more at home with New Labour shorn of all centrist MPs and members. All that remains is for the Greens to realign themselves and return to their true roots as an environmental party. This cannot happen until Norman and Turei stand down. The socialist elements in the Greens will feel right at home in New Labour and perhaps to consummate a proper marriage of the left, Norman becomes New Labour’s deputy; after all he was a hard left socialist before he was a greenie. This would reduce the Labour versus Greens cannibalization of the left’s vote. The hard left of NZ politics represents about 20% of the electorate. The remaining Greens can hew a consistent and principled mainly pure environmental policy line and be good for 5 to 7 % as they did under Rod Donald and Jeanette Fitsimmons.

Absent the factional infighting and lacking any real competition for the left vote and with a leader unsullied by caucus white anting or wider party unrest, New Labour could attempt to claw its way back to 30%. Add the Greens at 5% and the New Democrats could offer the balance of power that sees the election of a Labour PM. If the new parties operate more strategically (like National, ACT and United currently do) and the New Democrats don’t run candidates in Labour held electorate seats and Labour don’t run candidates in the ND seats, they would enhance the chances of a centre left coalition’s electoral success.

Problems still remain even with this realignment. What policy concessions would New Labour have to make to be acceptable to the Free Democrats? The harder left the policies, the less the electoral appeal. But this realignment seems to be the only hope the left has of ever forming a government – at least while John Key heads National.

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The free flights for the leadership contest

October 17th, 2014 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

The four Labour leadership contenders have defended using taxpayer funded flights for their campaigns, saying most of the other costs will have to come out of their own pockets.

The four — Andrew Little, Nanaia Mahuta, David Parker and Grant Robertson — were at Labour Party HQ this morning to sign a Code of Conduct and go through the campaign rules.

They can use the MPs’ unlimited air travel allowance to travel around the campaign — but have to pay for any other costs themselves including hotels, taxis and meals.

Mr Robertson said the use of air travel was within the rules. “[The taxpayer] is not picking up the tab for the contest. We are obeying the rules we have around airline travel. Everything else is our own cost.”

Mr Little said the contest did involve meeting with the public, which was part of an MPs’ job.

They’re meeting people to get them to vote for them – ie campaigning.

I think it is fine for MPs to get travel to party conferences, just as they also get free travel to speak to rotary clubs, business conferences, union conferences and the like.

But this is different. This is travelling to events which are specifically to get people there to vote for you. There is a direct personal benefit, rather than an indirect political benefit.

They should pay for their own airfares.

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Vernon Small on the Labour circus

October 16th, 2014 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Vernon Small writes at Stuff:

By rights the political debate should be focused on the Government’s handling of two things.

How does it meet its self- imposed need to do something alongside traditional allies and friends in Iraq and Syria without getting too deeply embroiled in the war against Islamic State?

And how will John Key make a dent in the number of children in poverty, given the Government’s pre-eminent focus on work as the best route out of poverty? …

But then along came Andrew Little, Nanaia Mahuta, David Shearer and the whole Labour three-ringed circus to demand its place in the limelight.

Don’t forget David Parker who wasn’t standing and then did stand.

Just what Shearer, a former leader, hoped to achieve with his frustration-download is hard to tell.

He seemed to have an irony bypass attacking David Cunliffe, his supporters, the union voting strength and even Labour’s brand – all in the name of a call for party unity.

He probably has every right to feel aggrieved at Cunliffe’s behaviour at the 2012 annual conference, though Cunliffe continues to deny any involvement in a coup or intent to undermine him.

But to argue Cunliffe should have stayed in the race for leader in order to be defeated, as part of a scenario that would take him out of contention in perpetuity?

It all smacked of a stake through the heart – of taking revenge a kilometre too far.

He was right that Cunliffe’s backers in the blogosphere were off the wall, painting anyone but Cunliffe as a dangerous conservative running dog in harness with the mainstream media.

Danyl McL also has an opinion on how the Labour-aligned blogs are doing more harm than good to the left.

Also, Labour’s Maori caucus is asserting itself as a significant proportion of Labour’s reduced 32-person caucus.

Party sources say it is seeking greater autonomy within the caucus, and is even arguing for a share of research and other resources.

Oh that would be fun. A semi-autonomous caucus within a caucus. So if they formed Government, would they also be a semi-autonomous government within the Government?

 

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Collins’ title

October 16th, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Prime Minister John Key has admitted his office may have mishandled matters when he left former Justice Minister Judith Collins to find she had been denied an “honourable” title through the media.

But he is refusing to apologise for failing to call her, and said she may have been “confused” about standard procedure.

Collins was left seething yesterday after she was delivered a humiliating snub by Key, who declined to recommend her for the official title afforded to most government ministers.

I think it is reasonable to wait until the outcome of the inquiry, for not waiting could allow the opposition to say the Government has pre-judged the outcome.

But it would have been desirable for someone in the PMO to have directly communicated with Judith that they were delaying a decision on the title until after the inquiry, so she didn’t get questioned unawares about it by media, as she came out of a funeral.

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Bob Jones on the living wage

October 15th, 2014 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Sir Bob Jones writes:

Through hard work, he and his wife have built a nationwide airport and CBD lunch retail operation with more than 100 stores, supplied by his Wellington factory working through the night, its output flown out early in the morning across the land. They have about 400, mainly retail, staff.

What staggered me most, given its scale, is how marginal this operation is. Some stores do well, others badly, while many just break even in this intensely competitive field. Raise your prices, I suggested, inducing a derisive laugh. The owner told me regulars making the same daily purchase comprise a large component of their business. Apparently, even the most minor increase elicits outrage and the loss of their custom.

My inquiry as to the best employees brought an unsurprising answer – new immigrants by a country mile. What particularly interested me was the salaries for what’s essentially menial work. In most cases they’re on the minimum wage. Any more and they’re out of business, he said, and I believe him.

Margins in retail are often minuscule. So that would be 400 jobs gone.

I mention all of this in the context of the absurdly titled living wage clamour, the noise invariably coming from leftish critics not employing anyone, nor ever likely to. There are exceptions. Two leftie Wellington city councillors, respective owners of small city retail food businesses, led the charge recently for menial task council employees to be paid the so-called living wage. Inquiry however, revealed their own employees were on the minimum wage.

“We’d go broke,” they wailed when their hypocrisy was exposed. It was classic left do as I say, not as I do, double standards.

It was indeed.

The answer is elementary. If you want the $18.50 “living wage” or better, choose employment paying it, rather than complain.

Harsh but not entirely untrue. There are very very few people in New Zealand that couldn’t train to do a job that pays better than the minimum wage.

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The other five affiliate unions should follow the SFWU lead

October 15th, 2014 at 10:58 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Shearer said the people who walked away from Labour were middle New Zealand – “white blokes” – and Labour needed to win them back.

He also believed every worker in the unions should vote for the leadership rather than delegates casting affiliated unions’ votes, which count for 20 per cent of the vote deciding the leader.

“If we are going to have affiliates contributing to the leadership it should be one person one vote,” he said.

“That’s democracy … not two dozen people voting on behalf of 4000.”

The most powerful delegates are the EPMU ones. Only 35 of them voted on behalf of probably 30,000 or so affiliate members.

In the last leadership election only 149 delegates over five unions decided the votes for the union. Only the SFWU gave all members a vote.

If the Labour Party itself decided that all members should vote, rather than just the caucus bosses, then why not apply the same to the unions?

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Mahuta stands for the leadership

October 15th, 2014 at 12:23 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Labour’s Hauraki-Waikato MP Nanaia Mahuta will contest the Labour Leadership.

Ms Mahuta said late this afternoon she had made the decision to stand after giving the matter serious consideration.

“This decision has been made with the knowledge that if the party reviews the election outcome, we can learn from the base of support that was demonstrated across Maori electorates in South Auckland and amongst Pacific and ethnic communities.”

Ms Mahuta’s announcement brings the number of contenders to replace David Cunliffe to four with former Deputy leader David Parker, Andrew Little and Grant Robertson also in the running.

Her candidacy announcement at 4.30pm came just before the deadline of 5pm.

Cynically I think this is more about a play for the deputy leadership, or at a minimum ensuring she remains a front bencher.

However it may also be as a result of complaints that all the contenders had been middle aged white men.

There are seven Maori MPs in caucus. If she picks all of them up, then that gets her over 20% of caucus. But hard to see here getting many votes from members or unions.

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Shearer says Cunliffe should quit politics

October 14th, 2014 at 2:11 pm by David Farrar

I think we are starting to see the reality of life in Labour. One former leader is telling another to quit politics. The Herald reports:

Mr Shearer said he would have preferred it for the new leader’s sake if Mr Cunliffe had stayed in the race and lost.

“I think it would have been easier for whoever wins if he had stood and lost. It would be a cleaner break for whoever takes over. His followers undermined Phil Goff and myself and I think he continues to be a presence that will make it difficult for a new leader.”

He said if Mr Cunliffe had lost this would have sent a clear message to his supporters, rather than let them have the impression he could have won if he hadn’t withdrawn. He was also disappointed with Mr Cunliffe’s decision to stay on as an MP. “It would be easier for the new leader if he decided to move on.”

It was a sentiment echoed by several other MPs, although none would be named.

To quote Lady Macbeth – Out, damn’d spot! out, I say!

Cunliffe has pointed out:

Mr Cunliffe pointed out Mr Shearer was also a former leader.

“I think that’s an unfortunate thing for him to say and it belies my long-term loyalty to the party and caucus.”

But Shearer has only been an MP for one and a bit terms. Cunliffe has had five full terms. And I think Phil Goff and David Shearer have a different idea of what loyalty looks like.

“It’s about making sure we set ourselves up for the future so the new leader doesn’t have the same experience I had.”

He had been white-anted by Cunliffe’s supporters when he was leader and did not want the same thing to happen to the new leader.

If Parker or Robertson wins, it is inevitable I’d say that they will also face undermining.

“The people who had attacked himself and Mr Goff were mostly anonymous, Mr Shearer said.

“There are certainly some who’s names I think I know, but these are people who sit behind darkened screens and blog and undermine people.

And several of them now work in the Labour Leader’s office – which explains why so many are so unhappy.

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Don’t rush the law

October 14th, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

The first Cabinet meeting of the new Government will consider a proposal to tighten New Zealand’s terror laws by cracking down on New Zealanders who go to fight alongside the Islamic State (IS). …

Cabinet would meet today however to discuss a proposal that would extend the time passports could be cancelled and make fighting with IS an explicit criminal act. That legislation would likely be passed under urgency.

While there might be a case for a shortened period from the normal nine months or so to pass a law, any bill should at a minimum go to select committee for public submissions. Again, one might reduce the time period for submissions and consideration from the normal six months, but it would be a bad start to the third term to pass a law like this with no public input.

Urgency could arguably be warranted for certain stages of the bill, but it should not be used to bypass a select committee altogether.

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Cunliffe pulls out

October 13th, 2014 at 3:16 pm by David Farrar

This afternoon David Cunliffe announced he is pulling out of the contest for the Labour Party leadership, and is endorsing Andrew Little. This should boost Little’s chances considerably and may have David Parker regretting his entry into the race, as I suspect if Little wins, that Cunliffe will be his Finance Spokesperson.

This is obviously the end of the road for David Cunliffe’s prime ministerial ambitions. Cunliffe had many political skills, but being able to lead his caucus was not one of them.

It is worth reflecting though that his political career should be judged on more than his 15 months or so as Labour Leader.

He was one of Helen Clark’s better performing Cabinet Ministers. I’ve said many times that I thought he was an excellent Communications and ICT Minister. Also his reign as Health Minister was relatively successful, with the exception of his sacking of the Hawke’s Bay District Health Board.

While I would have disagreed with many of his policies, I always thought that David Cunliffe could have been an excellent Labour Finance Minister. While he has gone left to win over the activist base, he does have a rare (in Labour) understanding of the business world and private sector.

While Cunliffe had many skills, there was no better display of his weaknesses that on election night, and in the weeks following. Launching his campaign to stay leader on the night of the worst election result for Labour in 90 years was incredibly dumb. And then declaring he won’t resign to try and get caucus to sack him, and then resigning, and trying to cling on despite barely 20% of caucus backing him – well it was a sad end to a career which deserved better.

It will be interesting to see what portfolio Cunliffe ends up under the new leader, whoever that may be. Finance is the logical pick, but I can’t see that happening with Robertson or Parker.

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