Little’s reshuffle

November 24th, 2014 at 1:06 pm by David Farrar

Overall Andrew Little has done a good job with his reshuffle, considering the somewhat limited options he has. I’d give it a 7/10. He has rejuvenated the front bench and not played factional politics too much. Most appointments seem to be based on merit.

His first week as leader has gone well. He has been comfortable in his press conferences, and his tone has been good. When asked on TV this morning why he is calling for Rennie to go, but not also the DPMC head, he gave a logical response based on their different roles.

He hasn’t set the world on fire, and maybe our expectations are lower because of the stuff ups by previous incumbents, but at this stage there is nothing much you can fault him on. Labour need a solid leader, and that may now have it.

In terms of the new line up, let’s start with the overall look, and then the details.

  • A plus for a fresh front bench, of whom only two were Ministers in the last Government
  • A plus for a front bench which has good gender and ethnic diversity
  • A plus for a front bench largely based on merit
  • A big negative for four of the top six being Wellington MPs including Leader, Deputy Leader, Leader of the House and Finance Spokesperson. Labour may struggle to reconnect with NZ when their top six is so beltway.
  • A small negative that no one wanted to be Deputy Leader (except Nanaia) so poor Annette had to be drafted in again

In terms of the individuals

  • Little having no portfolios outside security is sensible
  • King as Deputy Leader is a good short term move (she has it for a year only). While it is a bad look that they need an MP who entered Parliament 30 years ago to remain Deputy, her personal skills for he job are superb. One Labour insider commented to me that the gap between Anette and the next most competent female Labour MP is astonomical.
  • Robertson as Finance is a risk. He is a skilled politician and communicator, but I am not sure how much credibility he will have talking about the economy, when he has never worked in the private sector. His challenge is to bridge that gap.
  • Mahuta gets No 4 mainly because her followers all voted for Little. few could seriously suggest she is their 4th best MP. What are her achievements in the 18 years she has been an MP? With just one portfolio (Maori Development), her workload could be very light.
  • Twyford as Housing and Transport is a good choice – he knows the issues well.
  • Hipkins as Shadow Leader and Education also sound.
  • Sepuloni is promoted ahead of Ardern to get Social Development. A big opportunity for her considering she has had only one term in Parliament. Has to prove she deserves the spot.
  • A very good call making Davis front bench and giving him portfolios such as Police, Corrections and Domestic Violence. Could do very well so log as he gets Little to dump his policy of making people accused of rape having to prove their innocence.
  • Ardern gets demoted for the second time in a row and drops off the front bench (they have only eight front bench seats in the House). She gets a major portfolio in Justice but is against Amy Adams who I think will excel there.
  • Clark gets a promotion and Economic Development. Could have gone further but has a chance to prove himself
  • Sio has Pacific Island Affairs and Local Government. Doubt we’ll see much more than in the past,
  • Lees-Galloway gets the important (for Labour) portfolio of Labour. Suspect Little will lead most of the work in this area though.
  • Woods gets Environment and Climate Change. Likely to be over shadowed by the Greens.
  • Cunliffe, Parker, Shearer and Goff are Nos 14 to 17. This is smart by Little. All get a ranking to reflect their contribution, but also one low enough to suggest they are on the way out (maybe not for Shearer).
  • While Cunliffe has a low ranking, he has meaty portfolios in Regional Development, Tertiary Education and Science. A path to redemption.

In terms of the unranked, surprised Louisa Wall and Stuart Nash not put into the top 20. Also somewhat surprised Sue Moroney not given a ranking.

As I said, overall a pretty smart reshuffle by Little, considering his limited options. The heavy Wellington skew at the top is a significant weakness, but overall he has done a good job of rejuvenation, and starting to put together what could look like a competent alternate Government.

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Garner on Little

November 22nd, 2014 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Duncan Garner writes:

A bunch of faceless union hacks chose Andrew Little to lead the Labour Party this week.

That’s the truth. It’s as simple and as brutal as that.

Six unions got to vote in the leadership race – but just one union, Service and Food Workers, actually gave all its members the right to exercise their vote.

The other five unions gave the power to about 100 senior delegates to cast the crucial votes on behalf of those on the factory floor.

Who are these delegates? Who knows. If it wasn’t for Little’s 100 union mates who wielded the power and the final say, Little would have come a distant second in this race.

The Labour system is awful. If you want to do membership voting, then do it as the Greens do it – one member, one vote. Not one union delegate having 30 votes.

This is unprecedented for Labour – 27 of its MPs don’t want Little to be their boss.

Yet leader he is. It’s a perverse outcome that looks farcical. But the process is the process – despite it looking like an ass. It certainly doesn’t seem fair to Robertson, and of course he’s gutted and licking his wounds.

So what to make of Little?

In my time covering politics I found him to be straight-forward, competent, organised, gruff, a little grim, dry and blunt but likeable.

So it’s not all bad. Get Labour back up into the early 30s and it’s game on – that’s MMP.

At 30% you lose less badly. At 35% you can govern if Winston chooses you.

At least Little’s not a trumped-up fake like the last leader and a stuttering mess, like the one before that.

Ouch.

But this is a divided bunch. If I was Little I’d offer the deputy leader’s job to Jacinda Ardern.

They need some Auckland influence in there – and she’s a Robertson loyalist. Little could offer the job to Robertson – but then the leader and deputy are from Wellington and that’s a problem.

He must not offer it to failed leadership contender Nanaia Mahuta for all the obvious reasons. And he must promote new blood like Kelvin Davis and Stuart Nash on to the front bench.

I agree Ardern is the logical choice for Deputy. She doesn’t want to be his Deputy, but she is a List MP and a servant of the party. She should be told that she has to take the role.

And what about Robertson? Is he finished? I say no.

He’s promised not to run again for leader – but surely that commitment only lasts for this term.

Robertson, in my view, will always have ambitions to be the leader. But he wants to give Little three years.

However, should Little fail and John Key wins a fourth term, Robertson’s commitment to never stand again means nothing.

Little is now the boss. But don’t write off the apprentice – politics is a long game and Robertson is still running a marathon, not a sprint.

Or will he be Jacinda’s campaign manager next time, rather than vice versa?

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A profile of Little

November 22nd, 2014 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Andrea Vance at Stuff has a profile of Andrew Little.

In the mid-2000s, the EPMU took on Air New Zealand over plans to outsource heavy maintenance engineering and airport services. Little hired experts and drew up an alternative business strategy.

A former airline executive – on the other side of the negotiating table – was impressed.

“There is a really interesting blend of practical compassion within Andrew. That pragmatism realises the commercial realities of a business … It was a very tense and adversarial approach taken by both parties but there was a degree of calmness about him, borne out of recognising as a leader that he has got to let the situation unfold a little bit.”

He says Little “opened his eyes”.

“We understood [then] the impact of the decision that we would have been taking. He was a measured, reasonable voice as opposed to antagonistic. He played a very good, diffusing role.”

Little is “well regarded” by many in the business world, the former airline executive says.

The irony is Little is more popular with some employers he negotiated with, than some of his rival union leaders.

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Why Little may be Prime Minister

November 20th, 2014 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Based on history Andrew Little should become Prime Minister. No opposition leader who went up against a third term Government has failed to become Prime Minister.

Even when a Government did got a 4th term as in 1946 and 1969, Sidney Holland and Norman Kirk went out to win the time after.

So it is more than likely Andrew Little will become Prime Minister. Normally I’d say he’d had a 65% chance or so of winning, as getting a fourth term is so difficult. But bearing in mind Labour’s awful 25% result, and their caucus issues, I’d say his chances at present are around 40% or so of winning in 2014 2017. That’s not an insignificant chance.

I also think he is likely to do better than his three predecessors in the job, for mainly one reason – authenticity. With Little, he will say what he honestly believes, and this is a prerequisite.

The previous three leaders have all suffered from the fact their natural instincts were out of kilter with what they thought they had to say and do.

Phil Goff was a 4th Labour Government Rogernome who as leader pushed policies to the left of Helen Clark.

David Shearer is a guy who wrote about how the private sector could play a useful role in the defence area, yet was forced to come up with a stunningly stupid policy to effectively nationalise the electricity generation industry.

David Cunliffe was the PPP champion in Helen Clark’s Government, but to win power had to reinvent himself as the red reverend.

Andrew Little is a professional unionist, whose beliefs and policies will not (or should not) change greatly in order to be Labour leader. This is a strength for him.

He has some significant handicaps with the 2014 election result and the caucus, but he has a more than decent chance of becoming Prime Minister.

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Labour in New Plymouth

November 19th, 2014 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

It’s well known that Andrew Little hasn’t done well in New Plymouth as the candidate in 2011 and 2014. But how much has Labour lost support in this seat they used to hold? Here’s the change from 2008 to 2014.

  • Party vote – dropped from 31.4% in 2008 to 21.2% in 2014 – a 10.3 percentage point drop
  • Electorate vote – dropped from 47.9% in 2008 to 31.9% in 2014 – a 15.9 percentage point drop

By comparison Grant Robertson in Wellington Central increased his electorate vote from 42.2% in 2008 to 52.0% in 2014 – a 9.8 percentage point gain.

UPDATE: Russel Brown makes the point:

I’ll be brief (it’s 5am where I am and have to catch a plane) but the Labour’s leadership result and the means by which it was achieved both seem disastrous for the party and for the prospects of the centre-left.

Little didn’t win the support of the party or the caucus, he loses his electorate more badly every time he contests it, and he’s vowing to dump all the intellectual capital built up by David Parker. I can’t see any good thing about this.

Despite all that it is hard to win a 4th term. Little has a 40% chance or so of becoming Prime Minister, despite just four caucus votes for him.

Brown continues:

The result ends the leadership aspirations of Robertson, easily the best campaigner in the field, and pretty clearly lays waste to the coherent economic philosophy that Parker had been patiently building. I could be wrong, but for now I’m of the view that this result borders on tragedy for Labour.

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Little had only four other Labour MPs vote for him!

November 18th, 2014 at 1:52 pm by David Farrar

Andrew Little has been elected leader, but with the support of only four of his colleagues. That’s half the support David Cunliffe managed!

Full results are here.

Here’s how it went each round

Caucus

  • Round 1 – Robertson 14, Parker 7, Mahuta 6, Little 5
  • Round 2 – Robertson 14, Parker 7, Little 11
  • Round 3 – Robertson 18, Little 14

Members

  • Round 1 – Robertson 38%, Parker 22%, Mahuta 14%, Little 26%
  • Round 2 – Robertson 41%, Parker 25%, Little 34%
  • Round 3 – Robertson 55%, Little 45%

Unions

  • Round 1 – Robertson 19%, Parker 7%, Mahuta 10%, Little 64%
  • Round 2 – Robertson 20%, Parker 9%, Little 71%
  • Round 3 – Robertson 24%, Little 76%

Overall Little beat Robertson by 50.5% to 49.5%. This is a disaster of a result for Labour. Not in terms of Andrew winning, but the way the votes split. The takeouts are:

  1. The new leader was the first choice of only four of his colleagues!!
  2. The new leader wasn’t the preferred choice of the members, barely beating David Parker
  3. The new leader is only there because of the bloc union vote
  4. More Labour MPs thought Nanaia Mahuta would be a better leader than Andrew Little
  5. If only two (or at the most three) faceless EPMU delegates had voted Robertson instead of Little, then Robertson would have been leader

Andrew has the personal ability to do well, but this result makes it much harder for him. To only have four of your colleagues vote for you makes the job of convincing the public to vote for you much harder.

UPDATE:

  • Grant Robertson has said he will never seek the leadership again. However his statement is not a Shermanesque one which leaves wriggle room in future. I think his statement is premature. If he had lost the members vote it would be justified, but Grant was the popular choice of both the members and caucus and if Little fails, he is the logical sucessor.
  • David Parker has said he will refuse the Deputy and Finance portfolios. He says no plans to leave Parliament but I predict he will be gone by 2016.
  • Little will either make Cunliffe Finance spokesperson (which will make him even less popular with his colleagues) or go to Nash or Clark in the next generation
  • Names being bandied for deputy are Mahuta, Sepuloni, Robertson and Ardern
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How the Labour MPs may vote

November 17th, 2014 at 3:57 pm by David Farrar

Have had a number of discussions over the last few days with various Labour people on the leadership. Everyone expects Little will win, but will it be on the first ballot, and how will the members, unions and caucus vote.

Below if my best estimate of where the Labour MPs loyalties lie. However this may not be reflected in the actual vote. With a Little victory highly likely, some Labour MPs may vote tactically and give Little their first preference to minimise any stories on him being elected with little Caucus support.

The preferences appear to be:

Andrew Little

  1. Lees-Galloway
  2. Sepuloni
  3. Cunliffe
  4. Little
  5. Moroney
  6. Rurawhe

David Parker

  1. Davis
  2. Henare
  3. Nash
  4. Curran
  5. O’Connor
  6. Parker
  7. Shearer
  8. Tirikatene

Grant Robertson

  1. Ardern
  2. Clark
  3. Faafoi
  4. Hipkins
  5. Woods
  6. Cosgrove
  7. Robertson
  8. Twyford
  9. Dyson
  10. Goff
  11. Mallard
  12. King

Nanaia Mahuta

  1. Wall
  2. Mahuta
  3. Salesa
  4. Whaitiri
  5. Sio
  6. Williams
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Assessing the Labour Leadership Candidates

November 17th, 2014 at 1:16 pm by David Farrar
Little Mahuta Parker Robertson
Internal Attributes
Unite the caucus Well placed to do so, as few enemies. Cunliffe endorsement did not help him though Would unite the caucus, but against her, not with her Well respected. Would be given a fair go Would have very loyal support from majority of caucus, but resentment from a few
Establish competent Leader’s Office Would recruit mainly from unions which has problems Very unlikely. Has little personal networks, so would leave to his deputy Robertson has huge networks and would attract a very talented staff
Satisfy the activists Most likely to be given support from the activist base Has gone down well with some activists Unlikely to motivate many Would have huge loyalty from many, but also huge resentment from Auckland ones especially
Attract donors Little had a constructive relationship as EPMU head with many businesses and could do okay here. Unlikely to attract any outside Maori organisations Very credible with business and would rebuild finances Unlikely to attract donors unless Cullen and Palmer agree to become party fundraisers for him
Manage the parliamentary team Little has not made a big impression in Parliament, but did well in growing and managing EPMU Unknown Has been a competent deputy who does much of this for the leader Robertson is hugely experienced and would by far be the best parliamentary team leader
Develop and stick to a political strategic plan Little shows signs of this with his campaigning on removing issues that distracted core voters Unknown Generally good at focusing on important issues Robertson tends to forget the bigger issues of the economy, and go after the scandal of the day.
External Attributes
Media appeal Reasonable relationships with journalists No strong relationships with journalists Rather boring Robertson is very close to many in gallery and would get favourable coverage
Match Key in House Little has been solid in the House but never spectacular Did not perform well when on front bench A solid performer in the House but unlikely to bother Key The only Labour MP who can cause trouble for Key
Likeability Rather dour Rather sour Bland Projects likeability – someone you want to spend time with
Hold own in debates Little is a competent debater Unknown, as has rarely been on TV, but did well last time she was on Won’t get a knock out, but won’t stuff up Formidable and tricky
Have economic credibility Little does have some economic credibility from his EPMY days. He was a welcome change from the old style unionists who only striked, and often struck sensible deals with employers Unlikely Mahuta will be seen to have economic credibility Parker has strong economic credibility Robertson’s employment record has been purely public sector which makes economic credibility challenging for him
Appeal to Waitakere Man Little is from provincial NZ, and EPMU work kept him in touch – but proposals like reverse burden of proof in rape go down like cold sick Mahuta could do quite well here – she is down to earth and relatable Too nerdy Too Wellington
Appeal to Maori Little has no special appeal here Mahuta is effectively a Tainui Princess, and well connected and respected No special appeal No special appeal.
Appeal to Pasifika EPMU background can help Mahuta has significant support here No special appeal Sexual orientation is an issue for some
Appeal to unionised workers Little well ahead. No special appeal Wants to increase their retirement age – not popular with union workers Robertson struggles here.
Appeal to urban liberals Little is effectively an urban liberal, but hides it well, so should retain support from them Unlikely to appeal to urban liberals Parker has some appeal Robertson is King of the urban liberals
Appeal to Auckland Little has little profile in Auckland. Would need Ardern as his Deputy if he wins. Unlikely to appeal to Aucklanders Parker has built up some respect in Auckland Robertson seen as alien to Auckland, hence why he named Ardern as his preferred Deputy
Lift Labour to 30% so they lose less badly Little should safely be able to get Labour back to 30% Hard to see Labour becoming more popular with Mahuta as Leader Hard to see Parker doing better than Goff Robertson should safely be able to get Labour back to 30%
Lift Labour to 35% so they can win if Winston will let them Difficult to see Little attracting an extra 10% of the vote Will not happen Will not happen Robertson has an interesting back story (his father etc), very good communications ability and an association with Clark which could bring some former Labour voters back. Make take more than one term but could get Labour back to mid 30s
Lift Labour to 40% so there can be a Labour/Green Government No No No No

So this is my honest opinion of the four candidates. They all have some strengths, and none of them look like they have the potential to be a game changer (Shearer and Cunliffe had the potential to be, they just didn’t manage to do it).

If I was a Labour Party member and wanted to maximise the chances of winning at the next election I’d rank Grant Robertson first. Also even if he doesn’t win, he has the best skill set to rebuild the party organisation team and parliamentary team so they are less dysfunctional – and this would help the leader after him.

My second preference would be Andrew Little. Andrew was hugely impressive as EMPU General Secretary and a pretty good Labour Party President also. However he hasn’t been a star in Parliament. He may rise to the occasion, if given the leadership (which seems likely), but his record in New Plymouth shows his electoral appeal may be limited.

Prior to them both entering Parliament, I had said that Robertson and Little are potential future leaders.

The third preference would be David Parker. He’s a better Deputy than Leader though.

The last preference would be Nanaia Mahuta. I have nothing personal against her, but when she has had front bench opportunities such as being Education Spokesperson, she doesn’t seem to have been highly effective. I suspect her candidacy is more about becoming Deputy Leader.

I expect Andrew Little will be the winner tomorrow. It will be interesting to see if he gets 50% on the first ballot, and if not, how the preferences flow.

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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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Little puts policies on the table

October 10th, 2014 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Little signalled a major shift in direction if he won the leadership, including the likely ditching of unpopular policies such as raising the pension age.

At a press conference today, the former union boss also signalled a rethink of a capital gains tax, power reforms and free doctor visits for over-65s.

Little said the policies were raised constantly on the campaign trail as either scary or unaffordable.

Most Kiwis were pragmatic enough to realise when some policies seemed “too good to be true”, he said.

His approach could pitch him against finance spokesman and acting leader David Parker, who advocated strongly for Labour’s policy mix.

Little is right to say their policies were part of their failure. Kudos to him for being the only candidate willing to say so.

Parker is the architect of three of those policies, and it will be fascinating to see what he now does.

In terms of the four policies, here’s my views on them.

  • Power reforms – this one is near barking mad. If any one policy scared the entire business community off Labour, this was it. A de facto nationalisation of the industry, with the state setting the price for all generation. Even the guy whose work they claim it is based on, came out and said it was crackers (in more polite terms). This policy must go for them to be credible.
  • Super age to 67. Personally I think this is one of their better policies. But Little is right that there was a backlash from union members about it. Blue collar workers saw it as Labour wanting them to work two years more than previously. However it is fiscally the entirely correct thing to do. The motivation for the policy was to embarrass Key over his silly pledge not to raise it, but they’ve tried that twice now and failed. Also Labour can’t govern without Winston, and Winston will never agree to it, so why take the flak for it?
  • Capital Gains Tax. Apart from being riddled with exemptions, the problem with their CGT policy is that it was one of several new taxes, and NZers saw it as Labour just wanting to tax families and businesses more. I shouldn’t give Labour free advice, but what they should do is copy the Greens with their carbon tax, and say yes we will have a CGT, but we will reduce income and company tax to compensate. This way it is about a fairer tax system, not about taking more money off families and businesses. That would neutralise the issue. However it would mean Labour not having all the extra money for spending.
  • Free doctors visits for over 65s. I don’t think that was a particularly unpopular policy for Labour – just a cynical one that didn’t work.

As I said I think it is a good thing to have a leadership candidate campaign on specific policy changes, as it gives members a chance to vote on them.

Little’s performance in New Plymouth may be an issue however. Not only has did his electorate vote in 2014 drop 12% from what it was in 2011 (and is 28% lower than Duynhoven in 2008), but Labour’s party vote in New Plymouth dropped 9% in 2014 and is 28% lower than in 2008. In absolute terms 2,954 fewer people in New Plymouth voted Labour in 2014 than 2008 and 4,646 fewer people voted Little than Duynhoven.

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And Little makes three

October 9th, 2014 at 12:28 pm by David Farrar

Andrew Little has announced:

I have decided to contest the Labour Party leadership.

There are three immediate issues to deal with: creating greater cohesion across the caucus, rebuilding the relationship between caucus and the Party and, most importantly getting the process under way to listen to the voters who have abandoned us.

I have demonstrated skills from my time as a union secretary and former Party president in challenging the status quo and lifting organisational performance.

Andrew has a reasonable chance of winning the contest.

If he can avoid being the lowest polling candidate on first preferences, then he is likely to pick up most of the second preferences from Cunliffe or Robertson supporters.

So Andrew has two challenges, to allow him to win:

  1. Gaining enough first preferences to get him to at least second place.
  2. Having enough caucus votes so that if he wins the overall ballot, he doesn’t face Cunliffe’s problem of being seen not to be backed by his own caucus

I think he has a reasonable chance of achieving the first. I would have thought he would take votes off Cunliffe mainly, especially the union votes.

The bigger challenge is getting a credible number of caucus voters. Very roughly (have not yet done exact count), Grant has around half the caucus, Cunliffe a quarter and a quarter don’t want either (sort of Camp Shearer people). Even if Little gets six or seven of the ones who don’t want either, that is not enough to be credible. Camp Robertson is fairly solid for him. So again his best strategy will be to win two or three Cunliffe caucus members over so he can get to 10 or so.

We’ve yet to see if David Parker enters the race. I’ll do more detailed analysis once the final contenders are known.

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Little for Leader

October 7th, 2014 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Andrew Little is talking up his connections outside the Labour caucus, amid signals he may stand for the Labour leadership.

The former Labour Party president who has twice failed to win the seat of New Plymouth, was confirmed as an MP on Saturday only after a dramatic swing in special votes away from the Government.

But Little, a former head of the EPMU, said that in the hours since the election result was finalised he had been “prevailed upon by a large number of people” to consider nominating for the party leadership.

While saying that Labour should ideally reflect on its poor election result before a leadership contest, Little talked up his broad connections.

“I know the party because I’ve been party president, in terms of my union work I . . . continue to have a lot of contact with the corporate sector, with working people, a whole range of people. It’s those networks we need to get out to,” Little told TVNZ’s Q+A.

Andrew is a credible and strong contender for the leadership. He is right that a lot of members and activists are saying they want more than two candidates, as the contest risks turning into a referendum on who is to blame – the leader or the caucus.

The Cunliffe and Robertson factions have little time for each other. If Little can gain enough support to not be the lowest polling candidate, he could then pick up second preferences from the candidate eliminated and have a decent chance of winning.

Having a former union boss as the Labour leader, would of course entrench the perception that Labour is beholden to sectional interests, rather than the national interest. This is part of why they got 25%.

But on the positive side, he is in a better position than Cunliffe or Robertson to unify the party.

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Will Little, Shearer or Nash run?

October 3rd, 2014 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

The race to be Labour’s leader may no longer be a two-way contest, with Stuart Nash said to be seriously considering a tilt at the top job.

The newly elected Napier MP is biding his time to see if former union boss Andrew Little will throw his hat in the ring. Little’s political future hangs in the balance until tomorrow, when the official election results are declared.

If Little, a former EPMU president, did make it back to Parliament on the list, and decided to enter the primary contest to choose the leader, Nash would not run, a source said.

Nash had earlier ruled it out, saying it was too soon for him.

An insider said he backed away as the caucus waited to see if David Cunliffe would resign and leave Grant Robertson to run unchallenged.

“[He] didn’t want to be the one to trigger a leadership battle that the party had no appetite for.”

But sources say he is reconsidering as the rivalry between Cunliffe and Robertson has turned increasingly bitter. “This is the last thing our party needs, two people going hammer and tongs at each other. It will just turn off New Zealand,” one source said.

Nash is being lobbied hard by Maori and Pasifika members of the party, who believe neither of the two declared contenders can unite the divided factions.

A wildcard option, Nash, 47, represents a break from the rivalries that have torn the party apart in the last three years.

A Cunliffe vs Robertson contest risks being a who is to blame for the loss referendum – the leader or the caucus. Having more than two contenders may focus it more on the future than the past.

It’s not known if the possible nomination of his old boss David Shearer would change his decision. Shearer is still undecided and did not return calls yesterday.

In his Napier electorate yesterday, Nash said his status had not changed. “At this point, I won’t be seeking the leadership of the party.”

The new leader will be installed by November, with the party’s council setting the timetable for the runoff. Nominations will close on October 14, followed by 14 hustings meetings around the country.

Party members, the 32 MPs and affiliated unions all get a say and the result of the vote will be announced on November 18.

I’m picking up a lot of disillusionment among Labour members. I would predict that the number of members who vote will be well down on their last leadership election. This will make the relative power of union votes even more powerful.

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Little on the presumption of innocence

July 11th, 2014 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Meet your next Justice Minister people. The Herald reports:

Labour’s justice spokesman Andrew Little did not think the party’s proposal would lead to more innocent people being convicted.

“I don’t see why. You’re assuming that there is a propensity to lay false complaints. There is no evidence pointing to that.”

So Labour’s next Justice Minister thinks that an accusation is all you need to convict someone, as there are no false complaints.

Why doesn’t he go the whole hog, and save us the expense of trials. You’re accused, and you’re automatically guilty. Bang.

Again I urge everyone to make sure people understand that if Labour is elected, you will need to prove your innocence if you have sex with someone and are accused of rape.

David Cunliffe has started to back away from the policy, but Andrew Little has confirmed it is official policy and is obviously still extremely wedded to it.

I would have thought Mr Little would not have to think too far back in Labour’s recent past to think of how stupid it is to have a presumption of guilt based on allegation.

I am staggered that this policy got approved by the Labour Party. It is horrendous and wrong. Unless they rule it out totally, then don’t vote for them if you believe in the presumption of innocence.

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Labour’s official policy is you must prove you are not a rapist

July 5th, 2014 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

This is a major policy by Labour, that has had very little attention. It is now Labour Party policy that you have to prove your innocence if accused of rape.

Andrew Little said on the 2nd of July:

“A better measure would be to hand control of all examination of a victim to the judge with lawyers for both sides notifying the court which issues they want dealt with, along with shifting the burden of proof on the issue of consent to the defence.

This means that if two people have sex, and one person accuses the other of rape, then the accused must prove beyond reasonable doubt they had consent.

Now you might think this is just Andrew Little musing aloud. Not so.  He confirms in this tweet it is official policy.

Graeme Edgeler sums their policy up:

Andrew Little says:

“This approach does not contradict the fundamental principle that a defendant is innocent until proven guilty – the basic facts of the case still have to be made out – but it does mean the prosecution doesn’t need to prove a negative, namely that there was no consent.

This is sophistry. If the act of sex is not disputed, just consent, then the defendant does have to prove themselves innocent.

I wonder how many hours it will take until Labour does a u-turn on their policy, once people realise its implications.

Rape is a terrible crime, and the court process is very hard on many victims, and I am sure it can be improved. But reversing the presumption of innocence and burden of proof is not the answer.

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Andrew Little attacks Labour’s record on wages

May 14th, 2014 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

In a speech to various unions, Andrew Little has bemoaned:

last 20 years, bottom 50% of earners – their wages either stayed the same or went backwards …

The story of the last 20 years is it’s been tough on workers.

Labour were in office for nine of the last twenty years, so what is Andrew saying?

Is he saying that the last Labour Government (which he was President of the party for) failed to lift wages for low income workers?

Or is he saying that the EPMU, which he was the head of, failed to lift wages for their members?

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Another Labour lie

February 14th, 2014 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Andrew Little has proclaimed:

The Easy-Vote card which has been used in the last couple of elections should be reinstated says Labour’s  Justice spokesperson Andrew Little .

This is a lie. The implication is that the card has been removed. The Easy-Vote card will be used in the 2014 election in the same way as it was in 2011.

The Electoral Amendment Bill which had its second reading today removed clauses in the original Bill that would have seen the use of the Easy-Vote card confirmed for all future general elections.

No, this is deceptive. The Electoral Commission proposed *extending* the use of the card so that one would not need to check a name off the electoral roll at the time of voting, if they had a card. The Justice and Electoral Select Committee *unanimously* declined to do this as it would have meant that scrutineers would have no chance to effectively object to a vote card being issued, as they would not know who the voter is purporting to be.

The key thing is these changes do not in any way remove the Easy Vote card and they were unanimously agreed to by the Select Committee – which includes several Labour MPs on it. There was no minority report.

Andrew Little is outright lying when he says he wants the card reinstated. He knows it has not been removed. It will be used in the 2014 election in the same way as in 2011. It is a very useful device as it gives the returning officer the page and line number of the voter so they can be quickly located on the electoral roll.

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Someone teach Mr Little what fascism really is

November 14th, 2013 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

3 News reports:

A bill that would have allowed employers to hire temporary workers during a strike has been defeated on its first reading in Parliament.

The member’s bill was drafted by National’s Jami-Lee Ross to repeal a section of the Employment Relations Act that has been in force since 2000.

It was not a government bill.

Mr Ross said that under current law unions held an unfair advantage.

“It allows them to hold employers to ransom,” he said.

“Firms can’t hire casual or temporary workers during a strike and millions of dollars worth of productivity are lost every day.”

Labour fiercely opposed the bill.

“We’ve just heard the voice of the fascist National Party,” said Andrew Little.

Oh yes a law change that would not allow a union to cripple an employer is fascism. Pretty fucking insulting to all those people who died actually fighting fascism.

“This bill doesn’t just cover strikes, it covers lock-outs as well,” he said.

“An employer would be able to lock out its employees and hire casual workers in their place – it would cause very serious harm.”

I believe the bill should cover strikes only, but not lock-outs. Basically I think both strikes and lock-outs should be a last resort. Hence allowing temporary labour for strikes but not lockouts would discourage both employers and unions from resorting to them. Once you do, it is very hard to ever have good faith relations going forward.

Although all 59 National MPs and ACT leader John Banks voted for the bill, government ally Peter Dunne didn’t.

The vote was tied at 60-60, which meant the bill didn’t pass its first reading.

A pity, as I think it would have been good to have it go to select committee, so people could submit on it, and it could be amended. But under MMP the major party in Government doesn’t win all the votes.

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The perils of being an MP

August 15th, 2013 at 7:31 am by David Farrar

 

Now for most people, complaining about poor service on Twitter is a good idea. Companies tend to be pretty responsive to you when you have an audience.

But I have to say if you are an MP, companies are already pretty sensitive to keeping you happy. Using a public forum to complain about service is just not a very good look.

Hat Tip: Whale

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Finally a road Labour supports

April 7th, 2013 at 7:05 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

A Labour MP is calling for Government action over the poor condition of State Highway 3, between Taranaki and Waikato.

Andrew Little says the Government is allowing a road to block for exporters trying to transport goods efficiently.

We should celebrate this day. A Labour MP has called for spending on a road. This is a good thing.

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Mallard and Little fold

November 14th, 2012 at 5:14 pm by David Farrar

Adam Bennett at NZ Herald reports;

ACC Minister Judith Collins’ defamation action against Labour MPs Trevor Mallard and Andrew Little has been settled following a hearing in the High Court at Auckland today. …

In a statement today following their meeting, the three parliamentarians said they agreed “the leak of the email Ms Boag sent to the minister and forwarded on her instructions as the responsible minister to the chairman and chief executive of ACC raised an issue of serious public concern, and that Messrs Mallard and Little were entitled to question who was responsible for that leak”.

“The parties continue to differ over whether the comments made by Messrs Mallard and Little respectively on Radio NZ implied the minister falsely assured the House that neither she nor her office was responsible for the leak.

“Messrs Mallard and Little have confirmed to Ms Collins that was not their intention and wish to make that clear publicly that in the event such meaning was taken they regret it.”

In the statement, the three politicians said they would make no further comment.

If Mallard and Little had said that a few months ago they could have saved themselves a lot of money.

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Little advocates huge increase in ACC costs

November 6th, 2012 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Vernon Small reports:

Labour ACC spokesman Andrew Little is urging his party to remove an “injustice” in the no-fault scheme by extending it to cover incapacity caused by illness or disease as well as accident.

First of all Andrew is correct that there is a disparity at the moment. If you are born disabled with only one leg, you get nothing from ACC. If you lose a leg in an accident you may get payments for life.

But his solution is massively expensive. It would lead to dramatic increases in ACC levies. It means that if (for example) someone was grossly obese and couldn’t work anymore due to their diabetes – they would get ACC payments based on their former salary for life. This would be far more costly than the Invalids Benefit.

Likewise as drug addiction is an illness, drug addicts would get ACC compensation rather than a benefit.

There is merit in looking at combining together the ACC and Welfare systems to remove the “injustice” but doing it by merely extending ACC to everyone with a temporary or permanent incapacity is likely to prove hugely expensive. It would mean a drop in take home pay for every employee and an increase in employer premiums.

He is also calling for it to dump the fully-funded model, which sets levies to cover the future cost of current injuries.

I’m against this also. Apart from the accounting argument, the benefit of having premiums reflect the full cost of current injuries is that it acts as a fiscal deterrent to widening coverage (as Labour did multiple times when last in Govt) because the premiums increase more under full funding (to reflect the full cost). It is all too easy under pay as you go to keep adding things into the scheme because the immediate impact on ACC finances is low. But the long-term impact can be quite massive. Basically full funding means that the Government is less likely to keep adding on extra costs to employees, employers, taxpayers and motorists who fund the scheme.

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8 pm closing!

October 25th, 2012 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Claire Trevett reports:

Andrew Little’s amendment had apparently time-travelled all the way from the 1920s and proposed off-licences shut at 8pm rather than the proposed 10pm.

The explanation for this early “lights out” was such a masterpiece of delicious, pious absurdity that it requires repeating: it was because people buying alcohol any later than 8pm were likely to be already a bit tipsy “and may not have the judgment and self-control necessary to make cogent decisions”.

Good God. The woser factor out in full force. We weak humans need protecting from ourselves because at 8 pm we’re already “tipsy”.

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What happened to the claims this would never go to court?

July 18th, 2012 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

ACC Minister Judith Collins begins court action against Labour MPs Trevor Mallard and Andrew Little for defamation today.

The High Court list for Auckland yesterday named Judith Anne Collins v Trevor Colin Mallard and Another for first call before Justice Geoffrey Venning.

Collins has accused the two MPs of defaming her in relation to a leaked email from former National Party president Michelle Boag.

Boag had emailed Collins about a case involving ACC claimant Bronwyn Pullar, who blew the whistle on ACC inadvertently releasing her details about thousands of ACC claimants.

Defamation cases often take some time to come to court with both sides jockeying to set the terms of the case.

Today’s hearing is a face-to-face conference for lawyers to plot out the case’s timetable and sort out how it is going to be run.

Both sides have retained senior and experienced counsel with Collins being represented by Queen’s Counsel Julian Myles and Mallard and Little represented by Wellington lawyer John Tizard.

Collins is not seeking damages – just a declaration that the statements made were untrue and defamed her, and of course her costs.

UPDATE: The application by Mallard and Little for a stay of proceedings until the report of the Privacy Commissioner is done was declined by the Judge. The settlement hearing is in November (the report is due in September anyway, but could of course be delayed) and the trial in February 2013.

 

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Is the taxpayer funding Mallard and Little’s legal fees

June 27th, 2012 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Judith Collins has stated she is paying for her own expenses in the defamation suit against Trevor Mallard and Andrew Little. She had the option of applying for taxpayer funding, but chose not to.

Has anyone confirmed whether or not the taxpayer is funding the legal costs for Trevor Mallard and Andrew Little? It would certainly be within the rules, for them to be funded  out of David Shearer’s parliamentary budget – but have they chosen to do so?

If they lose, and have to pay Collins’ legal expenses (she is not seeking damages, just a declaration and costs) will that also be funded by the taxpayer?

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