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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The hatred and bile from Labour

June 21st, 2012 at 6:03 pm by David Farrar

From general debate yesterday:

ANDREW LITTLE: I gave her the benefit of the doubt because I am a generous chap. I am a generous chap. Some would say naive, and others might say innocent. Well, I have learnt my lesson, because what has become patently obvious is not only that this Minister has no interest in cleaning it up—she wants to see the board gone—but also that this is part of a nasty, ugly, dirty, filthy game being played out inside the National Party, with ACC and its board as collateral damage. That is what is going on.

I regarded the Minister originally as responsible, but not to blame. I have changed my mind. She is responsible and she is to blame. She is not fixing the problem. She is not fixing the problem; she is making it worse. It is time for her to do the right thing.

It was bad enough that there was a privacy breach to begin with. It was bad enough that ACC did not seem to respond effectively, and it is bad enough that since the privacy breach there have been even more privacy breaches. But none of this compares to the prevarication, the evasion, and the dissembling that has gone on in this House with the Minister failing and refusing to front up, and no wonder. It is quite clear that her conduct is not the conduct of a reasonable and responsible Minister. Her conduct is the conduct of a sociopath, Ms Tolley. Maurice Williamson understands that, because he has worked with too many of them for too long. He knows sociopathic conduct when he sees it.

David Shearer is a decent man. I am sure he does not condone his spokespersons calling Ministers of the Crown sociopaths. Hopefully someone in Labour will have a quiet word to Mr Little, and tell him to pull his head in.

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Very Little proof

June 21st, 2012 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

 ACC bosses laid a police complaint alleging blackmail by claimant Bronwyn Pullar and Michelle Boag after being pressured by their minister Judith Collins, Labour MP Andrew Little says.

In a general debate at Parliament this afternoon Mr Little claimed that during a meeting between ACC Ralph Stewart, chairman John Judge and Ms Collins in Auckland the day after a massive privacy breach at ACC was revealed, Ms Collins told the two men to “go after Michelle Boag”.

“She urged and pressured and pressed the chief executive and chairman of the board to make a complaint to the police and that’s what they did”.

It seems Andrew has learnt one lesson. He has refused to repeat this claim outside the House, so is hiding behind parliamentary privilege.

If he had been able to produce even one shred of evidence for his previous claims about the Minister, then one might give him the benefit of the doubt on this issue. But we’re all still waiting for his proof.

Anyone can get up in the House and claim anything about another MP. They have a legally privileged right to do so. but it is an abuse of that right if you do not have some proof for your assertions.

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Has it happened already?

June 20th, 2012 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

TV3 does a premature promotion. I wonder who will be more upset – David Shearer or Grant Robertson?

Hat Tip: Dan News

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Clifton on Little

June 15th, 2012 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Jane Clifton writes:

There is one thing worse for an Opposition MP than getting knocked back on an application for a snap debate in Parliament on a subject embarrassing to the Government – and that is being granted a snap debate when you are not expecting it and suddenly having little to say.

That was the fate yesterday of Labour’s Andrew Little, who must have felt like the dog that chases cars, but cannot think what on earth to do on the day one obligingly stops and surrenders. He had to get up and speak about the Government’s ACC woes for 15 long minutes, and by the time he had lamented the running down of the corporation, upbraided the Government for being beastly to claimant Bronwyn Pullar and her friend Michelle Boag, and demanded ACC Minister Judith Collins be sacked, he had started to repeat himself rather forlornly.

Not a good look to call on the Minister to resign for doing exactly what you asked her to do!

But, in time, the fabled Labour machine swung into action. Frontbencher David Parker took out a pad and started scribbling large-print notes, which he passed behind him to Trevor Mallard, who appeared to proof-read them, before passing them on to Mr Little, who quickly glanced down at each sheet of paper and, without missing a beat, introduced a new aspect of the Government’s perfidy. Socialism in action.

When finally his ordeal was over – no-one was mean enough to move an extension of time

Oh dear having to have Parker write your speech and Trevor vet it.  They probably stepped in after he said this:

Then when the heat gets really tough she starts suing her political opponents, because that is the best way she knows to shut them down. This is not a Minister for ACC worth speaking of. This is not ministerial conduct that we understand in a Western democracy. This is shocking stuff. If you asked anybody else in the world “Is there a country where a Minister of Justice, who is charge of the courts, is using those courts to sue her political opponents?”, you would think we would be talking about somewhere in Africa, or maybe a Pacific Island. 

I guess Andrew isn’t going to be Foreign Affairs Spokesperson after those comments. As I have commented, he seems more focused on stopping the lawsuit against himself (which he could have stopped with a simple retraction and apology), than on the actual ACC issues and how they impact on New Zealanders.

 

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Silliness from Little

June 13th, 2012 at 1:35 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Cabinet minister Judith Collins should be the next scalp in the ”ACC crisis”, Labour’s Andrew Little says.

Chief executive Ralph Stewart quit this morning following a boardroom clean out which has claimed chair John Judge, deputy John McCliskie and another director Rob Campbell.

That is either silliness by Andrew Little, or him trying to get escape the consequences of the defamation suit over his earlier remarks.

The Opposition has called for the Chair and CEO to go. That is exactly what has happened. They should be thanking the Minister for actually taking action to fix ACC’s culture.

Collins has been the Minister since December 2011. The Board and CEO all pre-date her.

Andrew may not like the fact that the Minister is suing him. His call for her to resign has no basis in substance.

I think it shows that Little is more concerned about utu against the Minister for suing him, rather than genuinely wanting change at ACC.

UPDATE: Stuff reports:

However, Green party MP Kevin Hague said Collins must stay on the job.

The “sick entitlement culture” in the House was the “big picture issue.”

“The minister who presided over that, Nick Smith; the hatchet man that he appointed, John Judge; and now Ralph Stewart – [their departures] were necessary steps to begin the process of refreshing the organisation.

“Now, in terms of Collins’ culpability around that – she wasn’t the minister that required all those changes. She has actually dealt to Judge, although I would have preferred a more explicit sacking.

“She’s clearly said ACC’s privacy sackings are unacceptable and must change and that’s actually a pretty good start. She may be the minister to do all this.”

I think this shows the stark differences between Greens and Labour. Kevin Hague actually cares about the people who have had a bad experience with ACC. He want to improve things – not just to score political points. This is in stark contrast to Labour’s Little who sees ACC purely as a political issue to help Labour gain their rightful place governing the masses.

I’ve never had a problem congratulating Labour Ministers when they do something right. Little seems incapable of doing the same with Collins.

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Collins seeks a declaration, not damages

May 30th, 2012 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Vernon Small at Stuff reports:

Justice Minister Judith Collins is not seeking damages, but wants the court to declare she was defamed and to award her costs in her case against two Labour MPs.

This is a very smart move. It means that Mallard and Little can’t claim she is seeking to make money out of her lawsuit – she just want their (alleged) lies to be found to be false and defamatory. They had the choice of withdrawing their comments at no cost early on, or doing it at a later stage by which time there will be considerable costs (but not damages) attached to it.

Canterbury University law Professor Ursula Cheer said it was unusual not to seek damages.

“The most common remedies sought are an apology and damages.”

The provisions allowing a declaration had hardly ever been taken up, but they were a symbolic way to clear your reputation.

That was the point of including them in the law.

One could say that no one believes anything Trevor says anyway, so there was no point in taking proceedings. but it is possible there are some acolytes out there who do take his talk of anonymous e-mails proving his allegations, as literally true.

Collins has filed her claim in the High Court at Auckland despite the MPs being based in Wellington and the alleged defamatory comments being made in Wellington. As justice minister, Collins knew Auckland had the longest waiting list for civil hearings, Little said.

Umm Judith is an Auckland MP, and lives there most of the time. Where the comments were made has little bearing as they were broadcast on national radio. It seems pretty clear the ones trying to delay the case and Little and Mallard with their unsuccessful attempts to avoid being served.

Again, I look forward to their statements of defence. I hope Trevor especially refers to the anonymous e-mail he seems to be relying on, as I am sure the Judge will find that definitely constitutes proof.

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Only yourself to blame

May 23rd, 2012 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Radio NZ reports:

Labour MP Andrew Little is critical of the way he was served papers on behalf of ACC Minister Judith Collins who is suing him and fellow MP Trevor Mallard.

Mr Little says a man emerged from the darkness on Monday night, shone a torch in his eyes and served him the papers as he got out of a taxi at his house.

Mr Little says the way the papers were served is typical of Judith Collins’ approach.

It is very hard to have sympathy for Andrew when he of course could have done what 99% of people do when a lawyer asks for an address for service – supply one. But if you’re going to go all macho and boast about how you will not co-operate, then don’t think you can take the moral high ground that you get served getting out of a taxi.

Incidentally the server rather than being a thug, had a nice sense of humour as it seems his words were “You’re served Mr Little, but no fries with that I’m afraid”.

He now has 25 days to file a statement of defence, but says he does not believe Ms Collins intends the matter to go to trial.

I’m pretty sure Andrew also said he never expects Judith to file in court.

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Southland Times on the parliamentary fugitives

May 21st, 2012 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

The Southland Times editorial:

Trevor Mallard and Andrew Little would have us see their machinations to avoid being served court papers as indicative of their sheer scorn for the allegation that they defamed ACC Minister Judith Collins.

But they’re being unwise.

Whatever the merits of the case itself, legal process itself does require respect. And it’s not getting it from this pair.

On top of which, they don’t necessarily emerge as being on the high ground, at all.

Whatever their rhetoric, and it has been loudly and jovially dismissive, the methodology of dodging legal papers requires actions that are liable to look like skulking and hiding.

It’s hardly a good look for men proclaiming they have nothing to fear.

I don’t think they realise how bad it looks to the average member of the public.

This being the case, and given that Mr Little has plans to film any attempt to serve him and post it online, unofficial Nat advisers have already been suggesting that the best thing Ms Collins could do would be to hire the most petite and unthreatening woman available to serve the papers.

I can think of a couple of Auckland Young Nats who would be perfect!

Not that the documents really need to be thrust into the hands of the person being sued.

If the courts can be persuaded that someone is trying to avoid the process – and seldom would a more easy call be made in that regard than this case – the papers can simply be taped to their front door.

And Trevor and Andrew have guaranteed a court would agree. Another own goal.

The place to win an issue like this is in court.

They should welcome the chance to produce their proof. I mean surely they would have done a retraction, if they had no proof at all?

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Trevor goes undercover

May 19th, 2012 at 3:30 pm by David Farrar

Danya Levy at Stuff reports:

Labour’s MP Trevor Mallard says he’ll be driving an unmarked car to avoid having papers served on him, as he and fellow MP Andrew Little laugh off defamation proceedings against them by ACC Minister Judith Collins.

If they were really laughing about it, they’d be keen to have their day in court. The poor duo in fact seem very anxious not to end up in court before the election having to detail the proof for their claims.

Trevor is already reporting to unmarked cars. Will he go further and start wearing a disguise? Will he refuse to turn up to electorate clinics, in an attempt to delay his day in court? His constituents may not be too happy with an MP that might shirk his duties so he can remain in hiding.

Mallard said he hadn’t defamed Collins and he had a good understanding of defamation law.

He has faced several legal threats but has only been sued for defamation once, by former NZ First MP Tuku Morgan.

This is what you call a partial truth. Someone should ask how often has he had to settle out of court or do an apology? I think he had to do three just to Rosemary Bradford.

Prime Minister John Key said the Labour MPs ”could run but can’t hide”.

Heh.

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Mallard and Little defamation suit filed in court

May 17th, 2012 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Adam Bennett at NZ Herald reports:

Justice Minister Judith Collins has initiated High Court defamation action against Trevor Mallard and Andrew Little but the two Labour MPs remain defiant, saying the case is unlikely to make it into the courthouse.

They also said they didn’t think she would file in court, so their track record on this is not good. I thought Trevor and Andrew would welcome the chance to prove in court that what they said is true.

Mr Mallard late yesterday confirmed he’d received a letter from Ms Collins’ lawyers Morrison Kent informing him proceedings had been filed and asking him to co-operate in allowing papers to be served on him.

“I see no reason to co-operate in what is clearly a vexatious action.”

Oh dear, this means that Trevor is going to play hide from the lawyers, rather than man up. Expect several weeks of Trevor cowering in Parliament where he can’t be served.

UPDATE: Little is also refusing to accept service. I think both men are idiots. The average Joe Public think the sort of people who avoid court documents being served on them are gang members and criminals. Little rather hysterically says:

Labour MP Andrew Little says ACC Minister Judith Collins will have to hire ”thuggish characters” to serve defamation proceedings against him and fellow Labour MP Trevor Mallard after the pair refused to cooperate with demands from her lawyer.

I’ve got the perfect person for the job. He has had to collect debts off gang members and the like, so this should be easy fodder for him – Whale Oil!

Just give the papers to Cam, and a travel allowance and I’m sure he’ll have them served within a few days.

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Little: The only parasites are employers

May 8th, 2012 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Labour MP Andrew Little reveals his views on employers. Think if a National MP referred to some unions as parasites.

Incidentally I would have though a parasite would be a union which deducts PAYE off its employees wages and then spends it on political campaigns instead of paying it to the IRD, as legally obliged.

Hat Tip: Whale Oil

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Will Mallard and Little promise to quit also?

April 5th, 2012 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

ACC Minister Judith Collins has promised to quit if she or her office is found to have leaked an email at the centre of a spat over an ACC claimant as the auditor-general launches an investigation into governance at the state insurer.

So will Mallard and Little resign if their allegations it was Collins are found to be untrue?

Mr Little, along with Green MP Kevin Hague, earlier asked Auditor-General Lyn Provost to look into aspects of ACC’s governance that would not be examined by the investigations already under way by the privacy commissioner and being considered by the police.

Ms Provost said yesterday she would hold an inquiry examining aspects of ACC’s governance.

“The inquiry will examine how ACC manages a range of risks at the board level of the organisation. It will also examine how any matters relating to ACC claimant Ms Pullar that came to the attention of the board or individual board members were dealt with,” she said.

As well as this inquiry, Ms Provost intended to develop an audit proposal on ACC’s general operations, with a focus on its case management.

I’m pleased the Auditor-General is investigating.

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Who pays?

April 2nd, 2012 at 6:24 am by David Farrar

Adam Bennett at NZ Herald reports:

A spokeswoman for Ms Collins was unable to say whether the minister had asked for Crown funding but did say the matter would cost the taxpayer nothing if Mr Mallard apologised or backed up his remarks with evidence.

Wellington lawyer Graeme Edgeler said that while there were instances of the Crown paying legal costs for ministers who were the target of defamation proceedings, he could not recall ministers receiving taxpayer funding when they were the plaintiffs.

Furthermore, “this doesn’t really seem government-related at all”.

“This is an offence to Judith Collins’ personal reputation.”

Even though any damages and costs awarded if the suit was successful would go back to the Crown, the case was “really for her personal benefit”.

My view is that when the Minister is a defendant, then the Crown should pay the legal costs. But I am uneasy with the notion of the Crown paying legal costs for a Minister as a plaintiff to sue other MPs and a media outlet. It may be permissable within the Cabinet Manual rules, but that doesn’t make it a good idea.

Apart from anything else it would allow Mallard and Little to portray themselves as martyrs with the resources of the state being used to try and silence them.

If it is privately funded, then it is a very different matter in terms of how the public will view it.

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Collins taking defamation action against Mallard, Little and Radio NZ

March 29th, 2012 at 10:05 am by David Farrar

John Hartevelt at Stuff reports:

ACC Minister Judith Collins is taking defamation action against two labour MPs and a news organisation, her spokeswoman says.

I understand the MPs are Trevor Mallard and Andrew Little, and the media organisation is Radio New Zealand.

It will be fascinating if it proceeds, to see the proof Trevor and Andrew have to back up their assertions.

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Labour Maiden Speeches

February 15th, 2012 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The draft transcripts of the four Labour maiden speeches is here. I used to e-mail MPs asking for a copy of their maiden speeches but now the draft transcripts are out in 150 minutes, I just wait for them.

First some extracts from Dunedin North MP David Clark:

Politicians do not exist to rubber-stamp what the electorate has already decided, but to articulate and share a vision of a better society. I will describe the better society to which I aspire. It has similarities with what founding members of the Labour Party described as an “applied Christianity”. It is a society where accident of birth does not dictate one’s station and prospects. It is a society where every citizen can get ahead by dint of hard work that builds on their natural endowment. It is one where all have free and equal access to high-quality education, a society where all have the ability to develop their talents sufficiently to ensure fulfilling and enriching lives. It is one in which choices are not driven by fear, but are afforded by opportunity, in which everyone has access to legal representation, regardless of their means. 

I agree with those sentiments, even though I suspect we disagree on how to achieve them.

I would describe how we might consider financial transactions taxes, gift and estate duties, and a capital gains tax in order to broaden our tax base.

Broadening the tax base is good, if it leads to lower rates. Not good if it leads to the state growing in size and crushing the private sector.

And I don’t support taxing people for dying, or gift duty which cost three times more to administer than revenue it took in.

A third reason that greater equality makes pragmatic sense relates to public investment. Infrastructure is an example—witness growth in China’s high-speed rail network. It is 12 times bigger than it was in 2008, four times larger than in any other country, and still growing at an astonishing rate. It is hard to imagine this happening in the USA today. Where a critical mass of the truly wealthy exert undue influence on the political process, investment in infrastructure, education, research, healthcare, and other matters related to the common good dwindles …

Oh nonsense. China is growing its rail network because it has 10% economic growth and the cost of labour is so low. To suggest that the USA is not growing its rail network at the same pace because of the wealthy is batty.

Andrew Little:

This year marks the centenary of one of the most bitter and violent industrial disputes in New Zealand’s history: the Waihī miners strike. It is an important part of the Labour story. A young Scottish union organiser was witness to that dispute and saw how workers who wanted nothing more than decent pay and a fair go were intimidated, divided, and—after a striking miner was beaten to death by those opposed to the strike—run out of town. Those dark events led to that organiser and many others realising that justice would be achieved only when working people reached beyond the workplace for influence and had a direct say on the laws and policies they were subject to. The union organiser was Peter Fraser, who later became a Labour Prime Minister.

I found the Waihi link to Peter Fraser quite interesting. Fraser is my favourite Labour PM.

New Plymouth is a great city with, I might add, a great mayor and I enjoyed campaigning there last year, although I remain intrigued by a question I was asked at one of the first meetings I held: what my position was on the merger of Air New Zealand and NAC. I said that Labour was taking a “wait-and-see” approach.

Heh.

Megan Woods:

In my previous role at Plant and Food Research, I observed firsthand the real difference science and innovation can make. We need more businesses to access and utilise the exceptional knowledge that is being created in our Crown research institutes and universities. And we need a proper commitment to the fundamental research that underpins this. To improve this we must commit to adequately fund science and innovation to create jobs and lift wages. …

 I am a New Zealand historian by training who has worked in science and innovation. I am a former community board member who believes in the power of communities and the grassroots. I am a Christchurch native who grew up in the ravages of a user-pays world, who, despite being glued to the royal wedding in 1981 believes in the desirability and inevitability of our country becoming a republic in my lifetime, who celebrates the diversity of modern New Zealand. I am here because I have a strong belief in social justice. I am here because I believe that there are always real alternatives in working to ensure that hope, opportunity, and being all you can be, is not an accident of birth for the privileged few but the birthright of all New Zealanders.

And finally Rino Tirikatene:

Eighty years ago, in this room, maybe even in this chair, my grandfather Sir Eruera Tirikātene stood before this House as the member of Parliament for Southern Maori. Forty-five years ago, in this room, maybe even in this chair, my aunt Whetū Tirikātene-Sullivan stood before this House as the member of Parliament for Southern Maori. Today, I stand before the House as the member of Parliament for Te Tai Tonga. At the time my grandfather rose to address the House for the first time, the Māori population numbered a mere 82,000. We were at that time a rural people, still recovering from the ravages of land sales and the scourge of introduced diseases. We existed at the very margin of the country’s economy. What income we were able to earn as unskilled labourers in the agriculture and forestry industries was supplemented by gardening and foraging. The land development assistance programme introduced by Sir Apirana Ngāta in the 1920s, which eventually gave rise to the Māori incorporations and trusts of today, was in its infancy and poverty was all pervasive, especially among those communities that had been left landless by confiscation and land sales. Statutory recognition of the Treaty of Waitangi, the claims of Ngāi Tahu, Waikato, and Taranaki, and poverty were my grandfather’s main concerns.

We have made some progress since then.

[Today] more than 1 in every 2 Māori was living in a household with a combined income of more than $50,000, and well over 1 in every 3 in a household with a total income of $70,000 or more. What we are witnessing is the steady growth of a Māori middle class. On the collective front, we are witnessing the rise of the Māori economic authorities, Māori land trusts and incorporations, and iwi authorities.

And:

Life and prospects for Māori are so much better than they were 80 years ago, but Māori know better than anyone that much remains to be done. We are still overrepresented at the bottom of the wealth pyramid. We will, on average, die sooner than our Pākehā mates. We will, more so than our Pacific cousins, end up in prison, and, unlike any other group in Aotearoa – New Zealand, we now receive more in transfer payments than we pay in tax. Too many of use remain locked into a cycle of dependency and poverty.

I am glad he mentioned dependency as well as poverty. The two are linked.

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Mrs Little

November 23rd, 2011 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

There’s a nice story on Stuff about the dilemma facing Andrew Little’s mother as she has been a National Party member for 30 years:

Andrew Little has his work cut out when it comes to winning his mum’s vote on Saturday.

By day Mr Little battles to win New Zealand’s most marginal seat off MP Jonathan Young; by night he lives under the same roof as his mother, Cicely, a National Party member of 30 years.

When Mr Little announced he would contest New Plymouth’s seat as the Labour Party candidate, Mrs Little said she wrote a letter to Mr Young saying her political beliefs would fall on neutral ground this election.

But with only four days until New Zealanders head to the polling booths, Mrs Little said she still hasn’t decided whether she will vote.

“What am I to do? Obviously my loyalties lie with my son but my husband and I were always National Party supporters,” she said.

This advice is for Mrs and Little only, but I reckon blood is thicker than water, and they should vote for Andrew. Everyone else should vote for Jonathan though!

He and his four siblings were never pressured by their parents to support the National Party, he said.

Mr Little’s parents had always been fully supportive of his achievements and political stance.

“Both my parents always expressed pride and support in my life and the direction I’ve taken.”

This is why I actually blogged on this story. I think this reflects on what excellent parents the Littles were and are. It is in stark contrast to the highlighting yesterday of the seven year old girl who had been so indoctrinated she was drawing pictures imploring John Key not to sell off her fish, treasures and toys.

I have strong political views, but if I ever have children I would make sure I always explain both sides of a political issue to them, as the critical thing is for them to develop skills of reasoning for themselves. And if they grow up voting Greens or Labour, I’d be absolutely fine with that. Thankfully NZ First will (statistically) be long dead, by the time any future kids of mine vote, so I don’t have to consider that nightmare scenario :-)

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