Labour lashed

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

Patrice Gaffaney Heather du Plessis-Allen writes the NZ Herald:

If there was a prize for sounding like the biggest pack of sad sacks, the Labour Party would win it.

He cites three things. First:

Our biggest rivals had just been told by their new Prime Minister that the leader he’d most like to emulate is the guy running New Zealand.

Malcolm Turnbull had the whole world to pick from: Obama, Cameron, Merkel. …

Andrew Little told Australians he pitied them if that’s what their new leader wants.

That was the third time he missed the chance to display a little magnanimity or leadership in the past fortnight. If he carries on like this, it will be as hard to vote for his party in 2017 as it was in the last election a year and a week ago.

The second is the flag:

Possibly his biggest mistake though was playing politics with the flag referendum. Forget what Labour was saying publicly about wanting to get Red Peak on the ballot. They didn’t want that. …

That’s why Labour mucked around and that’s why the Greens and National outmanoeuvered it. Labour was more interested in embarrassing the Prime Minister than making sure we hand the right flag on to our grandkids.

Yep. And the third:

How do you turn a story about panda bears into something negative? Here’s how.

It sounds increasingly like our biggest trading partner might hook us up with a couple of cute – but admittedly expensive to keep – YouTube favourites.

If you’re Little, you don’t use this as a chance to show your sense of humour and crack a few panda puns or display your understanding of the tourism the bears generate.

Instead, you say there are better things to spend money on. There are always better things.

Little will have done his research. He’ll know about panda diplomacy. He’ll know getting pandas from China is the equivalent of a diplomatic BFF note.

Overall Labour and Little has just come across as relentlessly negative on everything.

Sense from Little

September 9th, 2015 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

The future ownership of New Zealand’s biggest meat processor, Silver Fern Farms, is a matter for its farmer shareholders to determine, says Finance Minister Bill English.

Silver Fern is going through a capital raising process, which media reports have suggested will involve an investor from China – the company’s biggest market – spending up to $100 million on taking a stake in the company.

Any overseas investor would have to go through the Overseas Investment Act processes to get there, English said.

“But fundamentally that is a choice for the shareholders of the company. So the owners who are the farmer shareholders have had quite some time to look at the issue, various attempts to raise the capital.

“The New Zealand farmers who are shareholders have total control over that business now, and it is in their power to keep control over it, so we can’t really force them to own a business if they don’t want to own it.”

English said some of the company’s owners believed the business was a strategic asset and one that should remain in New Zealand hands, but for that to happen the necessary capital needed to be found.

“The real test is not whether people have an opinion, it is whether they are willing to put the money up.”

Separately, Labour leader Andrew Little said Silver Fern’s capital structure would be a matter for Silver Fern’s shareholders to decide.

“My position on foreign direct investment is that adding jobs, adding investment and creating new value for New Zealand – that’s a good thing. If it doesn’t achieve that, then it’s something that we should be concerned about.”

Good to see Little pulling Labour back from some of their previous hostility to foreign investment, and recognising it is a matter for shareholders.

This is in contrast to Winston who as far as I can tell wants the Government to nationalise the company.

Little falls for demented conspiracy theory

August 25th, 2015 at 11:40 am by David Farrar

I’ve blogged on this before, on how a few nutbars on the left think that Bill English and Nick Smith have devised a cunning plan to enrich themselves by a hundred million dollars or so by transferring land and houses to the Tamaki redevelopment company which they own 59% of.

Except they don’t of course. They are shareholders in their capacity as ministers, not in any personal sense. Anyone who has an ounce of common sense or intelligence could see this, and know this.

Now one nutbar facebooked Andrew Little saying:

Govt ministers Bill English and Nick Smith each have a third interest in a company BUYING state houses, the Auckland Council the other third. Wouldn’t this be subject to a conflict of interest?

What do you think and what will you say Andrew?

Now Andrew is not responsible for what nutbars post on Facebook, but he then responds to the nutbar:

The least I can do is make some inquiries. Company ownership is a matter of public record

Oh dear, that is an epic fail on the scale of an MP saying they will inquire into whether to ban dihydrogen monooxide.

So you have the Leader of the Opposition promising to make inquiries into the fact that shares in a government owned company are owned by the Government!


Chicken Little

August 22nd, 2015 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Audrey Young writes:

It was not such a huge leap for Labour to demand that McCully step down because leader Andrew Little has already demanded his resignation.

Since April, he has called for six ministerial resignations: Simon Bridges over the Northland bridges promises; the minister whose brother is facing criminal charges because of what Little believes is a conflict of interest, Nick Smith after running into difficulties with Ngati Whatua and first right of refusal on excess Crown land, Te Ururoa Flavell over claims he may have influenced Maori TV to cancel a debate on Whanau Ora, Sam Lotu-Iiga over the management of the Mt Eden Corrections Facility and McCully.

Little is in danger of devaluing the importance of ministerial accountability by demanding resignations so often.

He’s acting like Chicken Little. Six demands for resignations in six months. It’s like a once trick pony.

John Key was opposition leader for two years. How many ministerial resignations did he demand? I’m not sure, but it certainly wasn’t one a month. I think the only one may have been Peters over lying to Parliament.

Hosking trying to make sense of Little

August 15th, 2015 at 7:40 am by David Farrar

Mike Hosking writes:

From our mixed message file… comes Labour leader Andrew Little.

Andrew is spending the week trying to scare the bejesus out of us over dairy.

According to Andrew there is a crisis in dairy, farmers will go broke, the banks will bail on them and they’ll need to sell their land at which point the foreigners will pounce and come and sweep it out from under our feet.

Having said all that… And we can deal with the specifics of why he’s out to lunch in a minute.

He then goes onto say in another interview that what this country needs is… You ready for it… More foreign investment… Hello?

He said this was a country built on foreign direct investment and more of it was needed.

What he wasn’t asked and should have been was what happens if that foreign direct investment comes from people with names like Wang or Chow?

You say one thing to one audience, another thing to another audience, and hope no-one notices.

Secondly in trying to stir this up into something it isn’t, Little is using classic Labour party thinking in asking the government what they’re going to do.

Why the government?
What’s a bloke buying a farm got to do with the government?
What has any person setting up a business got to do with the government?
When a shop closes is it the government’s job to mop it up?
When a factory down sizes… Is the govt supposed to do something?

Dairy, like all business products and markets is beyond a government scope.

A government is there to provide over arching policy direction… Like tax and trade deals and welfare.

It’s not there to milk the cows, man the tills and set the price for commodities.

Exactly. The Government doesn’t decide if we have a dairy industry. Land owners do. They decide whether to use their land for forestry, lamb, beef, wool, dairy, viticulture, horticulture etc. Tens of thousands of land owners decide individually (not collectively) what to use their land for.

We don’t have a country where the Government decides what industries we will or will not have, and how much of each industry we are allowed.

So Little says a referendum needs 50% turnout to be valid

July 30th, 2015 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Andrew Little has said:

Labour has moved to have the second flag referendum canned if the first attracts fewer than half the eligible number of voters, Opposition Leader Andrew Little says.

This is the same Andrew Little who said last year he favours a referendum on the flag and it should be changed. But anyway is this the leader of the Labour Party who forced a referendum on the partial asset sales in 2013 that had only a 45% turnout. So is Andrew Little say the referendum Labour, Greens and the unions forced on the public was a waste of time as it got under 50%?

And how about the union organised referendum in 1995 that had a 27% turnout only?

So Kiwis prefer Australian anthem to our own?

July 29th, 2015 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Labour leader Andrew Little has described the national anthem as a “dirge” and said many New Zealanders preferred to sing along to the Australian anthem than our own.

Mr Little made the comment during debate in Parliament on the Flag Referendums Bill, a bill Labour is opposing despite Mr Little’s own desire for a new flag and Labour’s 2014 policy to start the process to secure that change.

Mr Little said while thousands of New Zealanders wanted a change of flag, they did not believe it was the right time.

“This is not a poor reflection on New Zealanders, many of whom would like something different. Many of them want a change to the national anthem too, because they are sick of singing a dirge every time you turn up to a festive occasion. Most of them sing along to the Australian national anthem before they sing along to our own.”

I don’t know any Kiwis who do this. Genuinely interested if you do.

Latest poll

July 27th, 2015 at 7:49 am by David Farrar

I’ve blogged at Curia the results of the 3 News Reid Research poll broadcast last night.

Like the One News Colmar Brunton poll the previous week, it shows no bounce for Labour from its targeting of people with Chinese surnames.

What it does show is that Andrew Little has fallen below Winston Peters as Preferred Prime Minister.

This is a feat never achieved by Phil Goff, David Shearer or David Cunliffe.

The last time an Opposition Leader failed to poll in the top two as Preferred Prime Minister was in October 2003 – 12 years ago. Later that month he was rolled in a coup.

So the results of Labour’s concede Northland to Winston strategy has been to have their leader fall into third place behind Winston as Preferred PM.

And the results of their decision to highlight home buyers with Chinese surnames has been to achieve nothing in the polls, but alienate many Chinese New Zealanders.

Saying different things to bosses and unions

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

The Herald reports:

Labour leader Andrew Little has indicated Labour will come up with its own version of trial period for new workers by merging aspects of the 90-day trial and a separate probationary period.

Mr Little caused confusion about his stance on the 90-day trial periods last week after he said Labour was looking at making changes rather than scrapping them altogether.

That was to a business conference.

Mr Little’s initial statement about the 90 day trials prompted unions to call for a ‘please explain.’ There was further confusion after a Labour Party member on the party’s Te Kaunihera Maori group tweeted that Mr Little had assured him Labour still planned to repeal it. Mr Little later told the Herald he had not said that but had discussed Labour’s intention to review it with the group.

And then says something quite different to a Labour group.

Little’s hypocrisy on the flag referendum

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

Andrew Little yesterday demanded the Government stop the flag referendum saying there was no need for one.

Here’s Labour’s official policy from 2014:

Labour will: review the design of the New Zealand flag involving flag design experts and with full public consultation and involvement.

We believe that the time has come for a change and it is right for the issue to be put to the public.

And in case that isn’t clear enough, here’s his personal views from last October:

Q: Should NZ change its flag: What’s your personal opinion? Should there be a referendum? If you want the flag changed, what’s your favourite design?

A: Yes, my personal opinion is we should have something more relevant to an independent, small Asia/Pacific nation. I think a referendum is a suitable way to deal with an issue that can be very polarising. I don’t like the idea of the silver fern on a black background. The elements I would like to see in a flag are the Southern Cross, blue for the sea, green for the land and mountains, and a reference to our Maori heritage.

So Little’s demand yesterday to scrap the referendum is pure hypocrisy.  He’s now against it, because the PM proposed it.

Little melts down

July 21st, 2015 at 1:33 pm by David Farrar

Go to TV3 and watch Andrew Little melt down and lash out at Patrick Gower as he is questioned over Labour’s targeting of Chinese sounding surnames.

I’m sure he could if he tried.

Little rejects outdoor smoking ban

July 21st, 2015 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Labour leader Andrew Little says banning smoking outside bars, cafes and restaurants would be a step too far, describing a smoke after a drink as one of “life’s little pleasures” for some people.

About 70 per cent of councils at the Local Government NZ conference yesterday voted to ask the Government to ban smoking outside cafes, bars and restaurants.

The former Labour Government banned smoking inside bars and other workplaces in 2003 but Mr Little did not believe that should be extended to outside areas.

“I agree people shouldn’t be allowed to smoke inside buildings which the public have access to. But in the end, people are able to lawfully buy tobacco products, they must be able to lawfully use them somewhere. We can go a bit too far sometimes in banning their use outside in public places.”

Bar owners had told him restrictions did impact on them and smoking was already restricted to outside areas. “There are some people, they go to a bar, they have a drink and they have a smoke and it’s a part of life’s little pleasures.”

Pleasing to see a Labour leader take a balanced approach and reject a ban. I suspect Andrew is remembering his days a EPMU leader, knowing that a fair proportion of his members would like to have a smoke down at the pub – and Labour won’t win them back by demanding that they lose the ability to do that.

Labour’s Flavell smears still lacking the vital element – proof

June 24th, 2015 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Labour leader Andrew Little has called for Maori Development Minister Te Ururoa Flavell to be stripped of responsibility for Maori TV after questioning whether Mr Flavell put pressure on the broadcaster to scrap a debate.

Stuff reports:

Calls are coming for the Maori Development Minister to resign, as it emerges he met with the Maori Television chief executive less than two hours before a contentious debate was canned.

This is just getting pathetic. Now Labour thinks Ministers should be sacked on the basis of a conspiracy theory with no proof.

I blogged on Monday on the issue of the e-mails from his staffer. They are quite mundane and if Labour think it is now illegal for a press secretary to negotiate details of a press appearance with media, well there won’t be any left in the building. That is their job. And Flavell’s staffer was quite explicit that Flavell would appear regardless of whether their views on other participants were taken on board.

The latest element is that Flavell met the Maori TV Chief Executive a couple of hours before the decision was taken to scrap the debate. Now certainly if Flavell and the CEO came to an agreement to cancel the debate, that would be outrageous. But the Herald reports:

However, the show was cancelled on May 20 and those involved were told two hours after Mr Flavell had a meeting with Maori TV chief executive Paora Maxwell.

Mr Flavell said that was coincidental and told Radio NZ he had not discussed the programme with Mr Maxwell at that meeting.

A file note from the meeting between Mr Flavell and Mr Maxwell provided to the NZ Herald contains no specific mention of Native Affairs or the proposed Whanau Ora debate.

However it does mention Maori TV plans to increase advertising revenue through the Ministries of Health and Education and “partnership with Whanau Ora Commissioning Agencies re: future growth of services.”

Mr Flavell said it was a regular quarterly meeting which was set up back in February.

So Labour are basically claiming both Flavell and the CEO are lying, and the file note deliberately incomplete. And their proof for this …. well, nothing at all.

A spokeswoman for Maori TV said the planned debate was cancelled because of low ratings on public holidays. “It was a format change because of ratings. Previous ratings for panel shows on public holidays were low.”

Seems pretty logical. And I’m sure Maori TV will have many debates about Whanau Ora over the next year.

Mr Little acknowledged he did not have firm evidence of any interference by Mr Flavell but the press secretary’s concerns and timing of the cancellation did raise questions Mr Flavell had to answer.

“In the absence of explanations about what happened in the meeting and in the absence of an explanation about why the debate on Whanau Ora was cancelled we are entitled to draw inferences. I have and I smell a rat.”

Translation: I made it up with no proof at all.

Little showing ignorance on civil defence

June 22nd, 2015 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

The consistency of Civil Defence responses around the country is being questioned by Labour leader Andrew Little, who says his visit to Dunedin has highlighted more should have been done when flooding hit there.

Civil Defence had responded straight away to flooding this weekend in Whanganui, Taranaki and Wairarapa, but Little said “in Dunedin it looks like there was no response at a time a response was needed.”

Little visited the South Island city and said some properties were “pretty badly damaged, there’s still a long way to go for them to be fixed.”

It was “a misjudgment” to have not called a Civil Defence emergency in Dunedin, Little said.

“So compare that to what is happening in Whanganui, Taranaki and Wairarapa where Civil Defence reacted as soon as it became apparent that the rains were very heavy and it could be flooding, and acted to evacuate even, strictly speaking, before people needed to be evacuated.”

Little doesn’t seem to understand how civil defence in NZ works.

His comments indicate he thinks that the Ministry of Civil Defence decided whether to call a state of emergency, and that it has not been consistent.

Civil Defence at the local level is the responsibility of the respective territorial authorities, and the decision to call a state of emergency is made by the local Mayor, not by the Ministry or the Minister.

So Andrew Little is basically saying he knows better than the local Mayor.

Well done Andrew

May 22nd, 2015 at 2:30 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Labour leader Andrew Little says the party will consider means testing superannuation but he did not agree with increasing the age of eligibility despite concern about the rising costs.

It should be means tested. It is silly that we pay NZ Super to someone earning $500,000 a year. It is good to see Andrew Little open to means testing.

Asked about means testing, Mr Little said there were some elements of unfairness in universal superannuation.

An example was where someone over 65 was still working and receiving the pension on top of their wages.

He said Labour would look at that issue, which he considered was unfair. Such a step would break almost four decades of political consensus on universality.

The only real argument against means testing is if the cost of doing so was prohibitively high and costs almost as much as it saves.

Rather he indicated Labour’s focus was on prefunding the cost of it by contributions to the Super Fund which the current Government suspended during the Global Financial Crisis and is yet to re-commence.

Pre-funding has a minor impact at best on sustainability.

UPDATE: I was too quick with my praise. Little has done a u-turn in just six hours.

Please, please watch this

May 21st, 2015 at 4:13 pm by David Farrar

Please, please take 20 minutes out of your day and watch this. Ask your family and friends to watch this. Ask as many people as possible to watch this.

Once you have watched it, feel free to share your reactions below.

UPDATE: In case you need cheering up after that, here’s the PM’s reply:

Little gets hysterical

May 13th, 2015 at 2:57 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Labour leader Andrew Little says the Government is guilty of gross deception in the election campaign, accusing it of knowing it could not meet its promised surplus in the current financial year but continuing to promise it.

“I see it for what it is – one of the biggest political deceptions in a lifetime,” he said in a pre-Budget speech to the Wellington Employers’ Chamber of Commerce.

To say this is a hysterical over-reaction would be unfair to hysterical people.

It’s an economic and fiscal forecast that didn’t occur due to (mainly) low inflation and low interest rates. Calling it the biggest political deception of his lifetime is desperate and hysterical.

As some on the left have pointed out, Little is saying the fact the forecast surplus didn’t eventuate is a bigger issue than the fact the Weapons of Mass Destruction which justified the invasion of Iraq did not exist!

Labour seem to have adopted a strategy of having no policies on anything for 18 – 24 months, and just shrilly call John Key a liar as often as possible. I’m not sure this will succeed anymore than their previous strategies – except to make Little fairly unpopular. People want leadership, not whatever they think this is.

Mr Little argued that the economy was suffering from over-reliance on dairy and that the John Key-led Government should have directed investments into a more diverse range of economic activity.

So Andrew thinks it is the job of the Government to direct investment? Does he suggest a law forcing people to sell their cows and plant trees? The Government sets the environment, but does not direct investment. It is alarming he thinks the Government should be.

Labour demands stand down due to Minister’s brother!!!

May 4th, 2015 at 3:49 pm by David Farrar

3 News reports:

Prime Minister John Key must stand down a Cabinet minister whose brother has been charged with sexual offending against a child if there’s any chance of a conflict of interest, Labour says.

This is bottom of the barrel stuff, attacking Ministers over what a sibling may have done.

You do not stand down a Minister because an adult sibling has been charged with something. At the most, you would make sure they have no involvement in any discussions or decisions on that case (if that even applied).

Would Andrew Little stand down as Leader of the Labour Party, if one of his siblings was charged with a crime? Of course not.

Labour leader Andrew Little says Mr Key must uphold the highest standards of government.

“If there is any chance of a conflict of interest in the portfolio of this Cabinet minister and the charges a family member is reportedly facing, then they should be stood down,” he said.

The use of the words “any chance” is equivalent to asking someone to prove a negative.  The reality is the Police have operational independence, so it doesn’t matter who the accused’s brother is.

Politics should be about what an MP or Minister has done, not about what their sibling has done.

I recall President Obama had an uncle arrested for drunk driving and facing deportation. By Andrew Little’s logic, Obama should have stood down as President while the case was being heard!

Just a desperate attempt at publicity.

Hide on Little

May 3rd, 2015 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Rodney Hide writes in the HoS:

The old hands weren’t so sure. Dumping on your own candidate didn’t seem right. And Labour’s support for Peters embarrassed them.

They also knew that giving Peters an opportunity, any opportunity, would not necessarily develop to Labour’s advantage.

This week’s Herald-Digipoll survey confirmed their worst fears. Little is polling below Labour’s previous leaders, David Cunliffe and David Shearer.

Peters is breathing down his neck. Key remains on 51 per cent as preferred Prime Minister.

Peters has emerged the victor with a soapbox. It’s he who beat National in a safe seat. It’s Peters who is giving Key a contest. It’s he who is news.

Little has crowned Peters Leader of the Opposition. It’s hard now to see what Labour has gained.

Peters took their support, brushed them aside and now eclipses them. Such is his power and ability.

He’s now not pinching National’s votes. He’s pinching Labour votes.

Indeed. In March National was only 15% ahead of Labour in the polls. In April the average has them 20% ahead.

Hooton on Little

May 2nd, 2015 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Matthew Hooton writes at NBR:

Mr Little started strongly. His call in Parliament for Mr Key to “cut the crap and just apologise” risked being tut-tutted but it hit home beautifully after the prime minister’s ever more ludicrous denials over his staff’s abuse of SIS information.

As the number of such scandals increased late last year, Labour strategists advised their leader that Mr Key’s government was entering a terminal phase.  Based on the doctrine that “oppositions don’t win elections; governments lose them,” Labour’s backroom recommended Mr Little and his MPs largely drop out of the public eye and let the inevitable unfold.

The strategy reached its zenith with the decision – which I thought made a lot of sense at the time – not to contest the Northland byelection but implicitly back Winston Peters.  It was argued it would do more harm to National, and thus more good for Labour, for Mr Key’s numbers in Parliament to be cut than for Labour to run a serious campaign.  Sure enough, Mr Peters humiliated National in a seat it had held since 1943.

But whatever caused Mr Peters’ landslide – the Sabin cover up, the disgraceful bridges bribe, a weak candidate, Steven Joyce’s ham-fisted campaign, the thrill of voter rebellion without changing the government, the lure of a celebrity as local MP – it has had no wider impact on Mr Key’s poll numbers.  The overwhelming beneficiary has been Mr Peters who is now touching Mr Little in the preferred prime minister stakes. By far the main loser is the Labour leader who now polls worse than Phil Goff, David Shearer or David Cunliffe.

It was a strong start last year, but Little is now having to fight off Peters for the mantle of Opposition Leader. And the last two polls have Labour back in the 20s, not the 30s.

No red bus

It didn’t have to be this way. Mr Little could have hired a big red bus and travelled through Northland with his candidate and the press gallery, visiting some of the poorest parts of the country trying to shock middle New Zealand. Labour would ultimately have lost but Mr Little would have built up his profile, National would be burdened with a weak local MP and Mr Peters would not have re-emerged as either a prop for a National fourth term or a potential candidate for the prime ministership in a Labour-majority regime.

Also Labour may have pushed away their best chance of Government. Peters won Northland by vowing not to change the Government, just to hold them to account. He is now an MP in a very blue seat. If he holds the balance of power in 2017, is he going to put Labour and Greens into power? Less likely now he is MP for Northland.

Labour’s decision in Northland was a classic example of being a good tactical decision, but a bad strategic one.

A beltway beltway issue

April 15th, 2015 at 8:59 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Labour is calling for John Key to sack Simon Bridges as a Cabinet minister, after emails emerged showing officials gave him advice days ahead of the Northland one-lane bridge announcement. …

Labour leader Andrew Little said Bridges should be sacked not only as Transport Minister, but should lose all of his ministerial warrants, because of the emails. …

Little said that if he were prime minister and a minister acted in that way, he would have their warrants stripped.

“To get advantage for the purposes of an election, that’s a gross breach.

Generally Labour have been acting more intelligently and focused since the election, but this shows they’ve still got some way to go.

Crying wah wah wah because a Minister may have acted in a political way, and even more ridiculously claiming that this means they should be stripped of all their warrants is hilarious. And I suspect Andrew Little will regret his statement that he would sack a Minister in Government for the same.

I don’t believe that anything Simon Bridges did, is a breach of the Cabinet Manual. But regardless this is what you call a classic beltway issue. The number of people who get excited over this is miniscule. Mrs Jones in New Plymouth and Mr Smith in Hamilton want jobs, incomes, decent schools, good healthcare etc.

The sort of people who think this is great politics are the same sort who orgasm over who won question time in the House. I know, because I used to be one of them. One of the good things about leaving Parliament is you get a much better idea of what really matters to New Zealanders.

No surprise – hypocrisy from Labour

March 9th, 2015 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Labour have spent the last decade condemning tactical voting in seats like Epsom and Ohariu, where National has indicated to supporters that it may be in the party’s overall interest to vote for another candidate.

Little has now done the same in Northland. Now I have no problem with his decision to encourage people to vote for Peters. It makes tactical sense. But the issue is their hypocrisy of having spent a decade condemning National for the same.

Interestingly while having Peters win Northland may be a tactical victory for Labour, it could also be a strategic blunder for Labour and the Greens.

If Peters does win Northland, then that is a potential lifeline for NZ First post Peters. They can’t be guaranteed to make 5% with someone else leading them, but if they win and can hold Northland, then they would be able to continue post Peters.

Now neither Ron Mark nor Tracy Martin could I think hold Northland (if Peters wins it), but Shane Jones could. If Peters wins Northland, then Shane Jones could stand in the next election (or the one after) for NZ First, and he would be very likely to hold it.

Now think about what this means for the Greens and Labour? Can you imagine a Shane Jones led NZ First ever letting the Greens into Government? he hates them more than Winston.

Also can you imagine Shane Jones going into coalition with the party that he said no longer has room for people like him in it? I think it is unlikely.

So the irony of Little’s ploy is that it may give the left a tactical victory, but it may be a strategic blunder that pries NZ First away from the left and leaves Labour and the Greens marooned in near perpetual opposition.

Incompetence from Little and Labour

February 19th, 2015 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

There has been so much incompetence in the saga of the unpaid invoice to David Cohen, it is hard to know where to start. Let’s try and take it in order.

  1. Hiring a right wing journalist to advise on your Labour Party leadership campaign in the first place
  2. Not paying him promptly when invoiced on 10 November
  3. Not responding to the next three e-mails from Cohen asking to be paid
  4. The Leader’s Chief of Staff gets involved on 22 December and doesn’t get it paid that day or even tell the Leader
  5. Two weeks later still unpaid, and COS gets e-mailed again.
  6. Another three weeks goes by and it is unpaid, and the journalist (NB journalist!) has to e-mail again
  7. The COS finally tells Little at the end of January and Little doesn’t get it paid that day
  8. Another week and another reminder and still no action
  9. Little gives a speech on how Labour wants to help small businesses, infuriating the self-employed journalist who e-mails again, now angry. Warning bells should be ringing loudly by now.
  10. Two more weeks later Cohen writes an article in NBR that appears in their print edition last Friday complaining he has not been paid. The incompetence is so huge that this does not result in a payment being made by end of day, but is ignored
  11. Four days later Steven Joyce raises the non payment in the House and finally it is paid
  12. When confronted over the bad look for the Labour Leader to not be paying a worker the money he is owed, Little gets angry at the media and demands they call him a contractor not a worker!

The unpaid bill by itself is not the issue. It is the gross incompetence in Labour that they allowed this to carry on so long. You’re the aspiring prime minister, you’re told a journalist who did work for you has been trying to get paid for months, and you do nothing about it for weeks – even after the journalist writes an article complaining about it.

This may hurt Little significantly. People can relate to the small things, such as stiffing someone for $950. Combined with the stuff up over not consulting with the other opposition parties on the Intelligence and Security committee, and there is a real risk for Labour that their leader’s brand which started off positive, will turn negative. The public rate competence well ahead of ideology.

Little the law breaker

February 18th, 2015 at 7:09 am by David Farrar

The Herald  reports:

The Green Party says Labour has broken the law by not consulting its co-leaders about a spot on the powerful intelligence and security committee.

The party pointed to the Intelligence and Security Committee Act, which said the Leader of the Opposition could nominate an MP “following consultation with the leader of each party that is not in Government or in coalition with a Government party”.

There is no doubt the Greens are correct and Little has broken the law. He failed to not only consult other parties over his nominations, but failed to even notify them – they found out by way of media release.

His nomination of David Shearer is illegal, and a judicial review would I am sure be successful. However a law suit would only force him to restart the process, not to ultimately make a different choice.

But his failure to consult, despite a statutory requirement to do so, should be alarming. He aspires to be Prime Minister, a role which has numerous positions he effectively appoints, some of which require consultation with opposition parties such as Governor-General, human rights commissioners, officers of Parliament, the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security etc. Will a Prime Minister Little be as unconcerned about breaking the law on consultation, as Opposition Leader Little is?

Stuff reports:

Little said he would “consult” with the Greens about the committee’s deliberations. That would fulfil his legal obligations.

No it doesn’t. The obligation is around the nomination of members. He is meant to be a lawyer, yet seems unable to read the statute.

His failure to follow the law also raises issue around his office. His staff should have been aware of the legal requirements, and advised appropriately.

He earlier said he chose Shearer because Norman was standing down as co-leader in May.

He had rejected appointing co-leader Metiria Turei because he wanted someone with “skills, understanding and experience.” 

While he has clearly broken the law in not consulting, his actual decision in not appointing a Green MP is the right one. The Greens are effectively opposed to the very existence of the intelligence agencies. Hence appointing them to an oversight committee means that their interest is just to find ways to discredit the agencies, not to play a constructive role in oversight.

However I do think it is regrettable that Labour kept both spots for itself. While I am not his biggest fan, I think it would have been quite suitable to appoint Winston Peters on the basis he is a former Minister of Foreign Affairs.

UPDATE: It appears from what Peter Dunne said on Twitter that he was not consulted by the Prime Minister of the Government’s nominees. If correct, this is also a breach of the Act and equally bad behaviour. It is also a bad way for a Government to treat a coalition partner.

There is no question that Dunne himself could not be appointed to the committee, after his leaking of the Kitteridge report to Andrea Vance (denied but not believed). But even though he could not be appointed himself, that doesn’t mean the Government is released from its obligations to consult him (and ACT and the Maori Party).

Paul Buchanan on Islamic State

February 13th, 2015 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Paul Buchanan writes:

There are three specific reasons why NZ has to join the fight, two practical and one principled.

The practical reasons are simple: First, NZ’s major security allies, the US, UK and Australia, are all involved as are France, Germany and others. After the signing of the Wellington and Washington security agreements, NZ became a first tier security partner of the US, and as is known, it is an integral member of the 5 Eyes signals intelligence network. It therefore cannot renege on its security alliance commitments without a serious loss of credibility and trust from the countries upon which it is most dependent for its own security.

Secondly, most of New Zealand’s primary diplomatic and trading partners, including those in the Middle East, are involved in the anti-IS coalition. Having just secured a UN Security Council temporary seat at a time when the UN has repeatedly issued condemnations of IS, and having campaigned in part on breaking the logjam in the UNSC caused by repeated use of the veto by the 5 permanent members on issues on which they disagree (such as the civil war in Syria), NZ must back up its rhetoric and reinforce its diplomatic and trade relations by committing to the multinational effort to defeat IS. Refusing to do so in the face of requests from these partners jeopardises the non-military relationships with them.

The third reason is a matter of principle and it is surprising that the government has not made more of it as a justification for involvement. After the Rwandan genocide an international doctrine known as the “Responsibility to Protect” (R2P) was agreed by UN convention to prevent future horrors of that sort. It basically states that if a defenceless population is being subject to the depredations of its own government, or if the home government cannot defend the population from the depredations of others, then the international community is compelled to use whatever means, including armed force, to prevent ongoing atrocities from occurring. There can be no doubt that is the situation in parts of Iraq and Syria at the moment. Neither the Assad regime or the Iraqi government can defend minority communities such as Kurds or Yazidis, or even non-compliant Sunnis, from the wrath of IS.

That, more than any other reason, is why NZ must join the fight. As an international good citizen that has signed up to the R2P, NZ is committed in principle to the defense of vulnerable others.

The best summary I have seen of why NZ should contribute. Buchanan continues:

Most of all, why has Andrew Little run his mouth about reneging on the NZDF contribution to the anti-IS coalition (which involves formal and time-constrained commitments)? Little has previous form in displaying ignorance of international affairs, but this level of hypocrisy takes the cake. Does he not remember that the 5th Labour government started the rapprochement with the US after 9/11, and that it was the 5th Labour government that initially deceived and misled about the real nature of the SAS role in Afghanistan as well as  the true nature of the mission in Southern Iraq (which is widely believed to have involved more than a company of military engineers). Is he not aware that a responsible country does not walk away from the security alliance, diplomatic and trade commitments mentioned above? Did he not consult with Helen Clark, Phil Goff or David Shearer before this brain fart (or did they gave him the rope on which to hang himself)? Does he really believe, or expect the informed public to believe, that on defense, security and intelligence issues Labour in 2015 is really that different from National? If so, it is he, not us, who is deluded.

All this shows is that Labour is still unfit to govern, or at least Little is not. If he does not understand the core principles governing international relations and foreign affairs, or if he chooses to ignore them in favour of scoring cheap political points, then he simply is unsuited to lead NZ before the international community.

Buchanan concludes:

Andrew Little should know that, and the Greens and NZ First need to understand that this is not about belonging to some exclusive “club” but about being a responsible global citizen responding to the multinational call for help in the face of a clear and present danger to the international community. Because if IS is not a clearly identifiable evil, then there is no such thing.

In any event the fight against IS is dangerous but cannot be avoided.

It is worth remembering that Dr Buchanan is from the left himself. This makes his criticisms all the more stinging.