Archive for the ‘NZ Politics’ Category

Ardern says she does not want to be PM

November 29th, 2015 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Labour’s rising star Jacinda Ardern says she is too “selfish” to want to lead the Labour Party – she’d rather have a private life.

In an interview announcing her new role as a Sunday Star-Times columnist, Ardern says people are wasting their time speculating about her as a future leader … she doesn’t want the job.

Winston also claimed for some decades he was happy to be the member for Tauranga.

The playbook is you deny any interest in the job, so that when you do stand for leader, you say that you do this reluctantly, and at great personal sacrifice, but your party and country needs you.

The latest 3 News-Reid Research Poll has Ardern at 4.2 per cent in the preferred prime minister stakes, fourth behind John Key (38,3 per cent), Andrew Little (10.4 per cent), and Winston Peters (9.3 per cent).

Ardern’s rise is as rare as it is meteoric for a lower-ranked MP.

What I can’t work out is if you don’t want the job, and your rationale is you want a private life, why do you do the multi-page spreads in the Women’s Weekly where not a word of politics is discussed, but it is all about your family, and partner?

There’s one way you could put the speculation to bed, and that is a Shermanesque statement, the short version being:

“If drafted, I will not run; if nominated, I will not accept; if elected, I will not serve.”


80 years since the 1st Labour Government elected

November 28th, 2015 at 11:56 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

A dinner to celebrate the 80th anniversary of the election of the first ever Labour Government will bring together a potentially explosive mix of people as some of the Rogernomes return to their original home for some reminiscing.

The dinner at Parliament is organised by current MP Stuart Nash, the grandson of the Prime Minister in the Second Labour Government: Sir Walter Nash.

It is to mark the anniversary of the election of the first Labour Government in 1935, under then Prime Minister Michael Joseph Savage.

You might not agree with all their policies but at least they were a positive reforming Government.

To mark the 80 years since, I’ve compiled this chart to show how they have done in the 26 elections since.


A long way down from 1935!


Liberty Fest

November 27th, 2015 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Students for Liberty have organised:

New Zealand’s inaugural conference on all things Liberty! Hosted by Australia and New Zealand Students for Liberty, anarkiwi, and friends. It will be at Cotton Lecture Theatre 122 (COLT122) at Victoria University’s Kelburn campus, from 10am until 6pm, with drinks afterwards. This is a one day, general liberty conference to be hosted in Wellington on the fifth of December!

Come for speakers, panels, like-minded liberty lovers, and of course stimulating intellectual thought! Info updates on the facebook event at



Cotton Theatre, Victoria University, Kelburn, Wellington, New Zealand – View Map

Speakers include:

  • Tim Goggin, economist on digital currencies
  • Jamie Whyte, former ACT Leader on Transsexuals and capital allocation
  • Richard McGrath, former Libertarianz Leader on immigration
  • Don Brash, former National and ACT Leader on economic freedom
  • Jason Jrupp, NZ Initiative on the RMA
  • Jenesa Jeram, NZ Initiative on productivity
  • Aidan Carter on gaming liberties
  • Andie Moore on marriage privatisation

Sounds a great line up of intriguing topics.


Dom Post editorials dripping with venom

November 27th, 2015 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Today’s Dom Post editorial is a great example of how they have become the sort of rant you expect to see on some blogs, since their change of editorial writer a bit over a year ago.

I think editorials should generally criticise the Government. That is not my point. But is is the highly emotional language used that really lets the Dom Post down. They differ massively in tone from other editorials such as the Herald, Press, and ODT.

Some quotes:

  • “English and his loyal servant, Treasury boss Gabriel Makhlouf” – so the CEO of the Treasury is now a “servant”
  • “English’s minions” – the staff are minions, all language used to personalise it to English
  • “Treasury has wheeled out another lame-brain excuse”
  • “This is hilarious balderdash”
  • “Bennett’s flummery”

Calling people minions. You pretend to be a serious newspaper and you write like a 10 year old trying to be insulting.

Now to avoid doubt I have no problem with the substance, being that Treasury should be criticised for going over its staffing cap. I agree. But day in and day out, the Dom Post leader writer turns any issue into a personal attack on Ministers. And hey that is their right, but the style of writing is akin to The Standard or The Daily Blog, rather than what was once a good newspaper.

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More on iPredict

November 27th, 2015 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

NBR report:

The website says it applied for an exemption from the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism Act (AML/CFT) but Associate Justice Minister Simon Bridges denied it on the basis that iPredict was “a legitimate money laundering risk.”

Mr Bridges says the decision was taken on the recommendation of the AML/CFT National Coordination Committee, which is established to consider the policy.

He added the main reason for denial was that iPredict does not identify its customers, “which creates an opportunity to use the iPredict market to launder illicit funds.

And the chance of this? People could use a fruit market to launder funds.

“Deposit restrictions apply but these can be circumvented by setting up multiple user accounts as the customers’ identities are not verified,” the minister (who iPredict says only has a 4% chance to become the next prime minister) says.

Mr Bridges says he recommended iPredict discuss with the FMA how to meet its obligations under the AML/CFT Act such as requiring users to provide their full name, date of birth and address.

And also scans of passports to verify?

All that is needed is for iPredict to agree with the Government that if they detect suspicious activity which could be money laundering, they’ll report it. So if there was a pattern of deposits and withdrawals without any stocks purchased, that would ring a warning bell.

But requiring them to verify the identify of every customer is over the top.

“We are an academic not-for-profit organisation and our agreement with the FMA dictates we place caps on transactions. For example, over the past seven years, we have handled a total of 3,782 withdrawals, with an average trader net worth of $41. Our withdrawal process is lengthy and we are a low risk of money laundering,” iPredict says.

Yes an average net worth of $41. That will fund a lot of terrorism!

The prediction tool says the cost of compliance is too high so it will wind up operations.

A great example of regulatory overkill.


Serco in trouble

November 27th, 2015 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

NBR reports:

Serco has mounted a legal challenge about a draft report by the Department of Corrections into the way the private prison operator has run Mt Eden prison.

Concerns about Serco’s performance, particularly in relation to the allegedly high incidence of violence at the Mt Eden institution, resulted in Corrections taking over running the prison in Julyand an inquiry being launched.

The basis for Serco seeking a judicial review of the report, which is still being considered by Corrections’ chief executive Ray Smith, is that the company claims it didn’t have sufficient opportunity to comment on and respond to it.

It must be damning if they are going to court.

If Serco are unable to meet the levels of performance they agreed to in their contract, then there are contractual remedies for that. That is the good thing about a contract for services.

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Labour only believes in the OIA for itself!

November 27th, 2015 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Labour have been asking pretty much every entity in the public sector, including SOEs, the following:

Did xxx receive any Official Information Act Requests during 2014/15 from Cameron Slater/WhaleOil, David Farrar/KiwiBlog, Carrick Graham, or Rachel Glucina? If so, for each please provide the text of the request, the receipt date, the final response date, and whether the request was granted or declined. 

This is not the first time they’ve done this. They did much the same nine months ago. They’re obsessed and have sent this question off to hundreds and hundreds of public agencies.

They seem to think that the OIA is only for people whose politics agree with them. Do they think I shouldn’t be able to use the OIA?

As it happens I use it very infrequently. As Labour will now have discovered after causing hundreds of public servants to check their files, I do maybe two or three OIA requests a year.

I’m going to do another one next week – to OIA the documents around the Government refusing iPredict a waiver from the money laundering regulations. I hope Labour approve of this. Do they think I should seek their approval in advance before I do an OIA request?


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Dunne on Labour

November 26th, 2015 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Peter Dunne writes:

Later this week I will join current and former Labour MPs to celebrate the 80thanniversary of the election of one of New Zealand’s most reforming and innovative governments – the first Labour Government under Michael Joseph Savage. No doubt there will be much reminiscing and catching up with former colleagues, particularly those from the equally reforming and innovative fourth Labour Government in which I was privileged to serve.

Amidst the banter and inevitable backslapping, there will assuredly be reflection on the remarkable Labour Prime Ministers New Zealand has had over the years. Savage, Fraser, Kirk, Lange and more recently Clark come to mind.

For me, the remarkable thing about the Labour Party, which attracted me to join it while still at school, was its ability to continually adapt to the circumstances of the time to promote a new vision for the New Zealand of the future. Savage and Fraser expanded the incipient welfare state Seddon’s Liberals had ushered in during the 1890s to meet the needs of a society recovering from the 1930s Depression. Kirk and subsequently Lange captured the yearning for national identity of the restless baby boom generation and beyond. Lange and Clark oversaw the painful economic adjustment necessary to shift New Zealand from Muldoon’s Gdansk shipyard of the 1980s to the modern dynamic economy of today. Differing circumstances and differing challenges, but the constant was the capacity to develop responses attuned to the time.

And now:
Sadly, today’s Labour Party is but a shadow of its bold predecessors. There is no sense of future direction or purpose, and even in its rare positive moments, the Party’s best offerings seem to be a hankering for yesteryear. The boldness in politics is now coming from the National Party – formed primarily to oppose the first Labour government – with no more striking example than its Budget decision this year to lift basic benefit payments, the first such upward adjustment in over 40 years(including the 3rd to 5th Labour Governments). Labour, the traditional friend of the beneficiary, was left gasping in its wake.
Labour’s challenge today is to recover its soul and its place. In this post market age, there is a still a role for a radical reforming party of the left, if it is prepared to be bold. There is the opportunity to pull together the threads of the Labour heroes and promote a new commitment based around strengthening New Zealand’s national identity through constitutional and social reform, and encouraging diversity. There is still a place for a progressive party promising a new, more co-operative economic approach in today’s globally digitally and free trade connected world. And there is still a place for a progressive party to promote new, innovative approaches to education and social services.
But rather than grasp these opportunities, Labour has become predeterminedly negative.
The latest is Little attacking John Key for talking about domestic security risks. Little said Key was scaremongering! He really should turn on a TV at some stage!
Its approach to economic policy is stalled because it cannot make up its mind on the Trans Pacific Partnership. Its stigmatising of people with Chinese sounding names buying property in Auckland has robbed it of any credibility in the diversity stakes, and its capacity to champion meaningful education reform is zero while it remains the plaything of the PPTA.
This is from someone who served as a Minister in the 4th and 5th Labour Governments.
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Jacinda in Women’s Weekly

November 26th, 2015 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

TV3 poll this week had Jacinda Ardern climbing higher in the Preferred PM poll, and closing on Andrew Little rapidly.

Not by coincidence she had this multi-page spread in Women’s Weekly a few weeks ago.

Now Jacinda defended her women’s magazines profiles on Q+A a few months ago:

KATIE You also get criticism for doing soft media, for appearing on Next Magazine’s cover and things like that. Why do you feel it’s important to do those sort of interviews?

JACINDA Yeah, as I said, you know, in the current context, do people watch Parliamentary TV? Do they seek out political ideas in the old traditional forms? No. And we have to be realistic about that. And if someone offers an opportunity for me to take issues like child poverty into another format and reach perhaps a different audience, then that’s an opportunity I’m going to take.

Now I agree with Jacinda. It is quite legitimate to do soft pieces as a way of connecting with voters on political issues. Many politicians do it.

But if you read the article, there isn’t a single mention of a political issue. It is 100% about holidays in Niue (where her parents live and work). It could almost be a travel advertorial for Niue.

So yes it is legitimate to do interviews and profiles with soft magazines, to connect to voters on issues. But is it legitimate when there is nothing at all about politics in there?

I wonder how many more months it will be until Jacinda is polling ahead of Little as Preferred PM?


Government thinks iPredict is a money laundering risk!

November 26th, 2015 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Hamish Rutherford reports:

Prediction website iPredict is to be closed down, with the Government deciding it represents a money laundering risk.

The site, run by Victoria University of Wellington, issued a statement to its website on Thursday and on Twitter.

According to the iPredict statement, Associate Justice Minister Simon Bridges refused to grant it an exemption from the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism Act, declaring that it was a “a legitimate money laundering risk” because of the lack of customer due diligence.

The Government must be joking. Or high.

I really don’t think Islamic State are funding their operations by laundering their money through iPredict by investing $50 on the likely level of interest rates in 2016.

Although iPredict said that most of its transactions were small, three traders hold portfolios on the website worth in excess of $10,000.

One of the site’s higher profile traders, Kiwiblog author David Farrar said the decision was hard to fathom.

“Their turnover is teeny. You could only money launder a few hundred [dollars], maybe a thousand, because their’s just not enough people,” Farrar said, adding that the requirement to give bank accounts or credit card details meant the money should be traceable.

“You could money launder many times larger amounts and much more effectively by going to gaming machines,” Farrar added.

“It just seems like such an overreaction.”

It really is a nuts decision. Most stocks have tiny liquidity. It would be the hardest way to launder money you could think of. Plus unless the terrorists were experts on NZ politics and economics, they’d probably lose most of their money.

So much for being a Government that believes in small Government and proportionate regulation!

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474 fewer government staff

November 26th, 2015 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

The Government is trumpeting a big reduction in back office staff over the past year, with the number of core administration staff now at the lowest level since the current “cap” was put in place in 2012.

That comes just a day after it was revealed that the Treasury had blown its 390 staff cap by 64 to reach a payroll of 454 full time equivalent (FTE) employees.

State Services Minister Paula Bennett said “ongoing restraint in the public sector and a focus on better frontline services” had seen the number of core Government employees fall by 474 in the past year to 35,632 – 843 fewer FTEs than the cap set by the Government in 2012.

Good. And how does this compare to the past:

Back office staff numbers climbed by close to 10,000 to over 45,000 under the previous Government, she said.

And no doubt will again once they are back in office. Labour has never found a problem to which the solution isn’t more staff and more spending.


Little wins big in Australia – gets an invitation for us to become a state

November 25th, 2015 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

As Andrew Little flew to Australia yesterday to address politicians today about Kiwis’ lack of rights in their adopted country, an Aussie senator made a suggestion that would likely make the average bloke in his stubbies choke on his tinnie.

Ian Macdonald, who chaired the parliamentary committee that recommended a new law leading to the detention and deportation of NZers, said New Zealand could become the country’s seventh and eighth state.

He said Labour leader Little’s calls for, among other improved rights, access to citizenship for Kiwi expats would not be controversial to most Australians.

“The issue of closer ties with New Zealand is one beyond any limited expertise I might have, but as an observer … I would love to have New Zealand join us perhaps as the seventh and eighth state.

A huge diplomatic victory for Andrew Little. Kiwis who are criminals can stay in Australia for as long as they want, so long as New Zealand gives up being an independent country.

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Less staff and more services

November 25th, 2015 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

A decision to cut staff in the Ministry of Youth Development, and instead work with philanthropic and businesses, is an ideological decision which cuts against good process, the Public Service Association says.

Youth Development Minister Nikki Kaye announced today that about 10 staff would go under a restructure which could also see the Ministry’s headquarters move to Auckland.

The cuts were to free up $1 million, which would be put into a new partnership arrangement between the Ministry and philanthropic and business groups to boost the number of youth in leadership programmes from 50,000 to 70,000.

The number of staff is being cut in half, with the savings to go into increasing programmes for youth. That’s excellent, and I hope we see more of this.

She is also considering moving the Ministry’s base to Auckland to be closer to the philanthropic organisations and businesses likely to be involved.

Also good – ministries do not need to be based in Wellington.

Ms Kaye said it would be a big change for a small department, but currently $2.9 million was spent on operational costs by the ministry which administered $6 million for youth development programmes.

Spending $3 million to administer $6 million is way too high.

“That is too much for a small agency. I guess there’ll be 10 fewer officials in Wellington, but that’s 10,000 more places for youth development opportunities.”

It’s tough for the staff affected, but the role of Government is not to create jobs for officials, but to have the right number of officials to deliver government services and policies.


Craig claims $3,000 a month copyright fee for romantic poem!

November 25th, 2015 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Colin Craig appears to have claimed ownership of a poem allegedly written for his former press secretary, Rachel MacGregor.

WhaleOil blogger Cameron Slater posted the poem, Two of Me, on his site in July – the day Craig stepped down as leader from the Conservative Party.

In an email to the blogger, seen by media, Craig claimed a “copyright dispute”.

He allegedly wrote that he had withdrawn a previous offer and wanted $3000 per month for the use of his work and a “clear breach of copyright”.

Part of the poem reads: “There is only one of me it’s true, but I wish this were not the case, because I wish that I could have you.”

This just gets more bizarre.

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Key on diplomacy

November 25th, 2015 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

An interesting Q&A from Audrey Young with the PM on diplomacy. Some extracts:

Q. Which leader have you got to know a bit better on this trip?

A. Justin Trudeau. I’ve ended up talking to him, for some reason, I don’t know we’ve ended being in these break-out groups and talking to each other. He is extremely friendly and really personable and a thoroughly nice guy. In my heart of hearts I sort of almost didn’t want to strike up an immediate friendship because I was very good friends with [Trudeau’s predecessor] Stephen Harper and feel slightly disloyal. But I have a responsibility as Prime Minister to do my job and also anyway he is just a really nice guy.

Key’s developed good relationships with leaders on the left and right.

Q. What did you make of the Filipino people and why do you think the country hasn’t done better?

A. They are really lovely people and they are incredibly polite so they are very, very nice people and I feel quite tall there. I’m the Sam Whitelock of the Philippines.


Q. What do you think of Malaysia?

A. I like it. On the basis I am never going to be an ambassador so I am not pitching for a job but if they were sending me somewhere, I think as High Commissioner to Malaysia, there’d be a lot worse places to go than Malaysia. The food is great; it’s an interesting place; and I like the climate.

I’ve only ever been to Malaysia for conferences. Would be nice to properly look around one day.

Q. Obama and Turnbull both greatly admire you and it is pretty clear Chinese president Xi Jinping is a fan too. Is that just personally flattering or good for NZ in any way?

Hopefully both. In the end there is no point having stores of political capital unless they can be used for the benefit of the country. That’s where the benefit is. Xi Jinping, I think, but I wouldn’t to overstate things, but I reckon he genuinely does like me. In our bilateral, he was really engaging, really smiley, didn’t use his notes. That is highly unusual for a Chinese leader. He just talked about the issues, how he saw things going.

That is probably the key sign – when you are confident enough to just talk, rather than follow the script.

Obama, I think in a lot of ways we are just easy. A) I’ve been around the whole time he has been around. We speak English. In our system he’d probably be almost right of me. The Democrats are, on our basis, very similar politically to where [National] are. He’d be stronger on climate change, for instance, and maybe the odd issue but generally speaking, pretty right wing, relative to our system. It’s just that the Republicans are very far right.

Cue screams from some commenters here!

I always remember after the G20 [in Brisbane where New Zealand was a guest] I had some intervention [verbal contribution to the issue under discussion] and Cameron texted me and said ‘in all the G20s I’ve been to, that has been the best intervention I’ve heard.’ And Obama came up to me with Cameron afterwards and he said: ‘Ah, it’s a shame you’re not bigger. You’re fun to have around.’ Doesn’t mean they are going to invite me back when they host the G20 but it was kind of flattering.

Our small size can work for us though.  We’re not seen as big enough to threaten anyone!

Q. What is the secret to your success at international diplomacy?

A. Have your own style. The one thing that they like is I don’t read out the MFAT notes. I obviously use them to inform the kind of point I’m making and we have a serious point.

I remember one TV series which had two leaders meeting and they agreed to save time, they’d just pass each other their briefing notes :-)

Q. Are you meeting Merkel at COP21?

A. No, we are going to Berlin afterwards. She invited us back. She had such a great time in New Zealand. She loved New Zealand [when she visited before the Brisbane G20]. She came up to me at the G20 and said she had such a great time and she really loved all the nature stuff. She said so much of her time is spent in meetings inside. The Germans love nature anyway, I reckon as a general characterisation. Her staff said to me she got more coverage in Germany from releasing a kiwi [on Motutapu Is] than what she did at the G20.

Heh.John K


Herald on Goff

November 24th, 2015 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald editorial:

Pointedly, Mr Goff offered to bring “a different personality” to the role in his announcement on Sunday. The pity was that he did not offer much else that was different, or indeed much at all. He promises to eliminate wasteful spending and needless bureaucracy. So do they all.

Can he point to any spending committed to by the current Council he does not support? If not, then why should people think rates won’t continue to skyrocket?

He aims for rate rises no higher than at present.

No higher than 10% per annum!!!

He supports higher density residential development and the central rail link. He will not allow the port to expand but he will not sell it, or even shares in it. He will not sell any “strategic assets”.

These are all off-the-shelf positions for a candidate from Mr Goff’s side of politics. Nothing he said on Sunday gave any sign he has been thinking deeply or originally about Auckland and the problems of the council, and what he might do with the sole executive powers of the mayor. Mr Goff has had a long time to consider these things.

It’s swapping one Labour Party Mayor for another.


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Little angling for Rongotai

November 24th, 2015 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Labour leader Andrew Little won’t run in Mt Roskill if MP Phil Goff is successful in his bid for Auckland Mayor, but Rongotai is in his sights.

Little has ruled out running in the long-held Auckland Labour seat saying, “there is a depth of talent out there already”.

Goff announced on Sunday that he would run for the super-city mayoralty next year and would stay on as Mt Roskill MP through to the election.

He would, however, relinquish his Auckland issues portfolio to avoid confusion as to whether he was attending events as an MP or with his mayoral candidate hat on.

When asked if Auckland Central’s Jacinda Ardern was an obvious replacement for the Auckland portfolio, Little said there were a number of Auckland MPs who are “potential candidates for that”.

Little will make his reshuffle announcements in the next week after holding off doing so until Goff had made a decision about the mayoralty race.

Leading the Labour Party and not being “tied to a seat” is a good position to be in, and Little said he would only stand in a seat in 2017 if a “suitable” one came up.

“We could be in a position where Rongotai becomes available so I can’t rule out not standing in a seat,” he said.

Labour deputy leader Annette King holds the Rongotai seat but Little said “depending on what she decided to do” would determine whether he stood there.

That’s pretty unsubtle. Roll over for me Annette!

Little has stood and lost to National MP Jonathan Young in the New Plymouth seat in the last two elections and those losses appear to have taken their toll.

“I haven’t ruled out New Plymouth and I’ve got an office up there and have a presence up there but I’ve run their twice and missed out twice so there are other options I need to consider.”

I recall in 2011 Little was toasted as someone who could win a seat off National, and would do so in his home town. He got heaps of publicity.

The result was Jonathan Young grew his majority from 105 to 4,270.

In 2014 Little stood again.  This time Young’s majority exploded to 9,778.

In fact Little only got back into Parliament because Labour stuffed up their list ranking and failed to achieve the gender target they set. If they had followed their own policy, he would not be an MP!

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Hide on Labour and unions

November 24th, 2015 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Rodney Hide writes in NBR:

The stunning revelation of Whaleoil blogger Cameron Slater’s e-book Dodgy Unions is how little they give the Labour Party.

I had always thought it was millions.  

That’s because of the power union bosses exercise over the party. Union bosses get to vote for party leader, they block vote candidate selection, get a say on the party list, have a seat at the all-powerful national council and carry a block vote at regional and national conferences. …

I had always assumed that the Labour Party put up with the unions for the money.

But what’s truly shocking from Dodgy Unions is that Labour sells itself so cheap.

The union movement takes in $120 million a year. It has equity of over $120 million.

But over the past 18 years the unions have given Labour only $700,000. That’s less than $40,000 a year. For every thousand dollars the unions rake in only 33c goes to Labour.

Labour sell themselves cheaply!!

Imagine if the national board of Federated Farmers had a vote for the leader of the National Party, National’s list, electorate candidates and had a guaranteed seat on the board of directors. There would be outrage. And rightly so.

But somehow the unions’ unhealthy sway over Labour is overlooked.

If National had such an arrangement there would be numerous books by Nicky Hager on it. It would condemned by every editorial writer in the land. But Labour gets a free pass for it.

The unions are fat and rich, they have enormous power within Labour but are tightwad funders; so much so that Labour is running deficits unable to afford its pretence of a democratic election for leader.

Labour MPs have long complained union domination is disheartening and disempowering them and their members. The question I have now, is why do they put up with it?

Because they get deselected if they complain publicly.

Labour’s constitution reads like something from the UN. The all-powerful National Council must have a Maori senior vice-president, an affiliate vice-president, a Pacific Islands vice-president, a women’s vice-president, a youth vice-president, a rainbow representative and two representatives elected by Te Kaunihera Maori, one of whom shall be a woman.

The party exhausts itself on identity politics overlaid with raw union power. It’s no wonder it’s broke and out-of-puff.

National’s board is much simpler. Apart from the leader and caucus rep, it has seven members – all elected by the National Conference. No quotas, no representatives – just the people deemed best suited to serve on the board.

The party needs deep constitutional and organisational reform to be fit for purpose. What’s needed is a leadership not pandering to special interests but smashing them.

As their current leader only got elected by the union block vote, that is unlikely.

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Pity being the PM’s Press Secretary

November 24th, 2015 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

An interesting article from Audrey Young detailing a week in the media pool travelling with John Key. Covers the breaking of the news about Paris to Vietnam and APEC.

The parts that made me laugh was these:

Newstalk ZB’s Barry Soper gets a pic on his iPhone, and more: his request for Key to talk to ZB’s Leighton Smith is turned down by the press secretary. Soper texts Key personally and gets the okay immediately.


Afterwards, TV3 asks the press secretary if Key could do a down-the-barrel-of-the-camera piece for Story before he leaves the hotel. There’s no enthusiasm. The reporter texts Key who says yes immediately.

Poor press secretary. Their role is to play bad cop and try to keep the media requests manageable. But when the gallery all have the PM’s number and can just text him directly, well of course they do.

Young notes:

Most visits abroad, Key has two “stand-ups” a day worked into his schedule in which he is asked questions on domestic issues and those relevant to the place he is visiting.

He almost never declines to answer a question. He almost never gives a brief answer.

While it must make life challenging for his media team, I do like the fact he is so open to the media.  In a average week there may be seven or more press conferences or stand ups.

In the absence of any action or decision required by the Government, Key dispenses with being Prime Minister and becomes commentator, giving his opinion on anything and everything.

Which is generally fine, but he really should stop speculating on what the Reserve Bank may do!


The Remuera Golf Club subsidy

November 23rd, 2015 at 4:08 pm by David Farrar

Bernard Hickey writes:

Just imagine if someone told you the ratepayers of Auckland and the taxpayers of New Zealand were giving billions of dollars to the wealthiest property owners in the land.

How would the public react? Probably not well. Yet that is exactly the case and I haven’t heard a chorus of talkback abuse or any outraged front pages or indignant questions in Parliament.

So here goes. Did you know that 1400 members of the Remuera Golf Club receive the exclusive benefit of a piece of Auckland Council-owned land valued at up to $517 million?

The club pays rates of $130,000 a year. If up to 70 per cent of that land was broken up and sold for housing and the rest left in parks, it would produce revenues of $16.5 million a year.

That’s an annual subsidy of $16.37 million, or $11,700 a member.

Councils should and do provide recreational and sporting facilities. But I don’t think golf courses should be subsidized like this. Sporting fields tend to be open to anyone to play on for a minimal fee, and often can host multiple codes. Also they are much much smaller than golf courses.

I think golf courses should have rates assessed at market prices. If the land is worth $500 million, then their rates bill should reflect that.

Even if each member played 50 rounds a year, that would be a subsidy of $233 per round or $13 a hole.

That’s a huge subsidy.

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DNA solves a crime

November 23rd, 2015 at 3:35 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

DNA evidence taken from a man 17 years after he abucted and raped a woman has led to his conviction and a lengthy prison sentence.

Glenn Te Kahu, 38, was arrested in Whanganui on December 10 last year, and a DNA sample was taken from him as police planned to charge him with intending to injure.

Since a 2010 law change to the Criminal Investigations (Blood Samples) Act 1995, police have been permitted to obtain DNA from people they intend to charge with an imprisonable offence.

When Te Kahu’s DNA was entered in the national profile databank a “hit” occurred, and it was matched to an unsolved rape and abduction in Napier on the evening of February 5, 1998.

The victim, a 27-year-old woman, was out having drinks in a Napier bar with her fiance and another couple. About 2am the group decided to leave the bar. As they walked back to their car, the woman was ahead of the group and turned into a side street.

Te Kahu, a 20-year-old Mongrel Mob member at the time, was standing next to his car on the side street. He grabbed the woman, threatened to kill her if she disobeyed, and pushed her into the car before speeding away. He dragged her on to the beach at Marine Parade and raped her, then ran to his car and drove away.

The victim screamed for help and people came to her aid. She spoke to police, who took swabs from her and entered the DNA in the national databank.

Despite an investigation that lasted months, the woman’s attacker was not found – until December last year.

Great to see the law change working, and a rapist going to jail for his crime.

Sadly two parties voted against the law change in 2009 – Greens and Maori Party.


Phil Goff’s plan for Auckland is to try and get non Aucklanders to pay for his promises

November 23rd, 2015 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports on Goff’s announcement:

“We need to do more than just finish the motorway network. We need to get on with the city rail link to double passenger capacity and deal with congestion at Britomart. We need light rail on the isthmus, in the East and out to the airport,” he said.

So he plans even more spending than Len. And how would he fund it?

But as far as he was concerned funding for that infrastructure would not come from asset sales, as two independent reports released last week suggested.

So he won’t free up capital to reinvest in more capital. That means borrowing for it, which means rates to go up to pay the interest.

However funding for major infrastructure could not come from rates, and he believed Aucklanders would see a change of heart from central government.

This is almost dishonest. It is the same thing Len Brown did. Promise all this spending, but just assume that the Government will pay for it. And when they don’t, well bang rates go up 10% (on average – often much more).

Phil Goff is campaigning for taxpayers in Napier, Invercargill and Christchurch to fund his campaign promises for Auckland.

“If we go with a well presented case, and it’s central government that’s holding up what needs to happen in Auckland, then central government wears the opprobrium for doing that”

So Phil Goff’s plan is to win the Mayoralty and then campaign against the Government for not giving him taxpayer money to fund his promises.

Under his leadership the council would learn to do more with less, and rates increases would be brought under control, he said.

How? Can he give any concrete examples of where he would reduce spending?

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Greens wrong on Ministerial funding

November 23rd, 2015 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Tracy Watkins reports:

The Government has been told to boost political party coffers with more taxpayer funding and it probably should. But if MPs want the extra money, they are going to have to swallow some very big dead rats first.

The first is agreeing to come under the Official Information Act, just like the rest of the public service.

This would then allow people to OIA e-mails between opposition MPs, and between opposition MPs and their staff.

I think the OIA should apply to Parliament for financial information, but not communications.

Anyway to the main point:

The ARC is a panel convened once every parliamentary term to review funding for Parliament and MPs. It usually comprises former MPs (on this occasion John Carter and Rick Barker, who have respect across the political spectrum) and an accountant or similar to lend it the air of independence. Its job is to poke into every aspect of parliamentary and state funding for political parties represented in Parliament and decide whether more money, or any other tweaks, are required.

These areas include the costs of running electorate offices, staff pay rates, support staff funding and political party funding, which largely comprises the leader’s budget. Controversially,the leader’s budget is one area where the ARC proposes a boost in funding – controversially because “leader’s budget” is really just a euphemism for slush fund. Millions of dollars in taxpayer funding disappear into these slush funds every year with little public accountability.

The ARC points out that these budgets have not been increased since 2007, so have fallen in real terms thanks to inflation.

Overall funding has not increased – as is the case for most of the public sector.  That is how we have managed to get out of deficit.

But a breakdown of how the funding is divvied up between the parties shines a light on the problem .

National gets by far the biggest cut, receiving $3.7 million in leader’s budget funding. Labour trails by $800,000 on $2.9 million. Parliament’s third biggest party, the Greens, get $1.3 million.

The reason for the disparity is obvious – National got easily the most seats at the last election so qualifies for the most funding as it’s on a per-MP basis.

Note you only get leaders office funding for MPs who are not Ministers. Otherwise National would get twice as much as Labour.

But that’s not where the problem is, according to the Greens and ARC.

As the governing party, National also has a large number of staffers funded by Ministerial Services. And that budget has not been squeezed to anywhere near the same extent.

Figures supplied to the Greens by the Parliamentary Library show support funding for ministerial offices has risen from $26 million in 2007/2008 to about $38 million now.

This is incorrect. Totally incorrect. In fact funding for ministerial office has fallen.

The 2007 Budget allocated $26.72 million for Support Services to Ministers (M47). It came in slightly over that at $26.84 million.

In the 2008 Budget, $27.28 million was allocated. So that was Labour’s last Budget.

Now we turn to the 2015 Budget. And here is where the Greens have made a mistake. There is a total called Services supporting the Executive which is $38.22 million but that includes VIP Transport and Official Visits. The actual comparable line item is Support Services to Ministers and in 2015 is $25.84 million. If you look back at the 2007 and 2008 estimates, you will see VIP Transport and Official Visits are separate items there also. The Greens have compared a sub-total to a line item. This is a basic fail.

So in fact National’s latest Budget has support services for Ministers $1.44 million less than in Labour’s last budget – a 5.3% reduction in nominal terms. I think most taxpayers would be pleased that they have reduced their own support budget by 5.3%.

So the Greens has misled the media with their press release. I look forward to their apology.

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Moore retires

November 23rd, 2015 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

New Zealand’s ambassador to the United States, Mike Moore, will leave his post next month and return to New Zealand.

Moore, a former Prime Minister who went on to be World Trade Organisation director-general, suffered what was described as a “minor stroke” in April of this year.

In a statement to embassy staff on Saturday (NZ time). Moore said he and his wife Yvonne would ” go home content that we did our best”.  

“Pity the old body gave up,” he said.

Mike Moore was hit hard by his stroke, and it is the right decision to put his health ahead of the job.

Moore – who has held the post since 2010 – said he was the longest-serving continuous ambassador to the US. “I didn’t seek this job but felt I should do it because great issues were at stake. The time was ripe for it.”

He said security issues and the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement had been major part of the job.

“On a security level things have moved up several notches. You are aware of the many exercises we do together and the important contribution we are making in the struggle against ISIS.

“TPP was the second part of the job and we have worked to getting acceptance for this by Congress.  I believe it will be forthcoming.  It will be a question of time.”

Moore said that in his political life, he had “always been in the wrong place at the wrong time but the mission I was given here was correct and the timing was right”.

Moore has served his country well – as a Minister, as Director-General of the WTO and as an Ambassador.


Trevett previews Little’s reshuffle

November 23rd, 2015 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Andrew Little is expected to announce his reshuffle this afternoon. Claire Trevett says it is critical for his creidbility:

His team is small and he needs his performers to perform. There are precious few of those. Those who got opportunities and made the most of them will do the best, such as Kelvin Davis and Phil Twyford. Beyond those, few of the MPs have stood out in the public eye.

Both have been in the public eye a lot, and generally been performing well. However both have over-reached – Twyford with his Chinese surnames idiocy and Davis with his portrayal of the detainees on Christmas Island. But I agree both should be promoted.

Little has already indicated Jacinda Ardern will be moved up from her ninth position. That is likely to be a shift to fourth in the rankings. Although Labour’s top three are all from Wellington, they cannot be moved given one is the leader, the other the deputy and the third the finance spokesman.

Ardern’s job is to win over Auckland. She is also likely to take on a meaty portfolio in place of the justice portfolio, which is not a natural fit for her.

Jacinda remains opposed to the three strikes law despite the evidence that the reoffending rate for those convicted of strike offences has dropped around 60%..

Expect Kelvin Davis to leapfrog over Nanaia Mahuta to be the highest ranked Maori MP and for Mahuta to drop down.


Carmel Sepuloni was one of those Little promoted soon after he became leader – a show of faith which she is yet to repay.

Little had intended Sepuloni to take over as his deputy after his first year in the job but since then she has failed to fire, partly distracted by personal issues.

So King stayed on as no one was up to it!

The key target for that message is likely to be Cunliffe. Cunliffe has been relatively quiet since the election. Despite that, trust in him is low. He is currently ranked 14th. Little may well use this reshuffle to send a signal to him that there is no road for him into a Labour Cabinet. That in turn would be seen as a hint for Cunliffe to consider a life beyond Parliament.

Actually Cunliffe has been pretty active in his tertiary education portfolio.

Little’s focus will be instead on bringing forward talented newcomers from the 2011 and 2014 intakes, such as Jenny Salesa, Davis and Stuart Nash.

Labour is polling around 30%. If they manage to win Government with 30% of the vote, then they may only have 12 or so MPs in Cabinet. So only the top 12 are shoo-ins. A few more might get outside Cabinet.