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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Little as well as Goff supported selling 25% of Air NZ to Qantas

November 22nd, 2011 at 4:48 pm by David Farrar

From the old nzoom website:

Air New Zealand and Qantas have announced an alliance which will give Qantas up to 22.5% of its smaller transtasman rival. …

Engineering Union national secretary, Andrew Little, says Air New Zealand needs a larger partner, such as Qantas, if it is to be financially secure in the long-term. He says his members will not have job security while Air New Zealand remains a small South Pacific airline, but they will not want to be swamped by the Qantas brand.

So that is both Phil Goff and Andrew Little on the record as having supported Labour’s plans to sell 25% of Air NZ to Qantas in 2002.

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Little says heart not in Wgtn but still lives here and will return here if he loses

November 10th, 2011 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Jo Moir at the NP Daily News reports:

Andrew Little says rumours in the blogosphere that his heart lies in Wellington are nothing more than “conspiracy theories”.

The New Plymouth Labour candidate said he has no plans for the Wellington-based Rongotai seat, currently held by Labour MP Annette King, and is putting his heart and soul into winning the New Plymouth seat.

Over the past few months right- wing blogger and political activist David Farrar hinted Labour’s 15th ranked candidate has been non- committal in his approach to living in New Plymouth because he plans to stand in the Rongotai electorate in 2014.

Actually I think I said he plans to stand in the 2012 Rongotai by-election.

Look Andrew would like to win New Plymouth, but he hasn’t gone about convincing people he is commited to the seat. Take this quote later on:

At a New Plymouth candidate debate on Monday night Mr Little said he would not live in New Plymouth if he lost the election then got into Parliament as a List MP.

He said the cost to the taxpayer in travel expenses ruled out that possibility.

Oh what nonsense. The expense of not being based in Wellington is a trivial amount of overall parliamentary expenditure.

If Andrew wanted to convince people he is commited to New Plymouth, he should have done the following:

  1. Given up his two full-time jobs in the first half of the year. He stayed on far too long as Labour President and EPMU National Secretary
  2. Not stayed on the staff of the EPMU, and campaigned fulltime instead of part-time
  3. Not be seen protesting with Young Labour on a weekday on Lampton Quay
  4. Moved the family up to New Plymouth, and rented out the Wellington house. Instead he commuted to the electorate to campaign up until recently. That does not indicate commitment.
  5. Pledged to live in New Plymouth, if he is a List MP

Note that Andrew has not in any way ruled out standing for Rongotai if he does not win New Plymouth. All he has said is he is elected the Electorate MP for New Plymouth, he will stand again for New Plymouth – well doh that is hardly a surprise. In the last 30 years only one electorate MP has ever ditched their seat, to stand for another seat while an MP for their original seat.

If you want to win a seat off an opponent, you have to throw everything at it. Some candidates give up theri jobs nine months before the election, and then campaign seven days a week for nine months. They don’t keep their Wellington based jobs and commute into the electorate to campaign, and announce that if they lose they’re out of there never to return.

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I’m not sure Labour is raising the age of eligibility after all?

October 27th, 2011 at 3:39 pm by David Farrar

Labour’s detailed policy is not online, but according to this Herald report, this may all be a smokes and mirrors policy. Why do I say that? Well the Herald reports:

Mr Goff said Labour recognised for some New Zealanders, to continue working beyond 65 such as those doing physically demanding work and would introduce a “Transition” payment at the same level as NZ Super which could be accessed between the age of 65 and 67.

Now my reading of this is that people aged 65 and 66 will be able to access the payment, which is at the same level as NZ Super. Sothat means they will be getting Superannuation from age 65, just under a different name.

There is a current benefit for those close to retirement, but it is far below the level of superannuation. A transition payment at the same level as NZ Super, is well NZ Super.

Maybe Labour is proposing that superannuation for 65 and 66 year olds be means tested – you only get it, if you are not working or earning below a certain level. If this is the case, then Don Brash will be endorsing their policy even further – means testing and a higher age. For if you are going to means test 65 and 66 year olds, why not 67 and 68 year olds also?

I  also look forward to the reaction from Andrew Little to this policy. Here is what Andrew said in 2010 about raising the age:

Retirement Commissioner Diana Crossan’s proposal today to raise the retirement age from 65 to 67 is unfair and won’t work, says New Zealand’s largest private sector union, the EPMU.

“In a low wage economy sch as New Zealand shifting more of the burden of superannuation funding onto working people doesn’t make sense,” says EPMU national secretary Andrew Little.

Will the New Plymouth candidate stand by his words?

Also David Cunliffe seems unconvinced:

Labour will keep Super as it is – will National?

Labour is committed to keeping both the current age of eligibility and entitlement level for New Zealand Superannuation, Opposition Finance spokesperson David Cunliffe said today.

“Labour is committed to retaining the age of eligibility at 65 and entitlement at 66% of the average wage,” David Cunliffe said.

That was in 2009.

I’m starting to think No Right Turn is right in his analysis:

its a cynical, calculated ploy to wedge National against their own base while driving voters to Winston, who is Labour’s only hope of government. Winston, of course, will veto any increase as the price of his support, so its an empty threat, purely for show, dishonest as well as evil.

They are desperate to get Winston back in.

UPDATE: Now seen Labour policy here. It confirms they will means test superannuation for 65 and 66 year olds.

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Whale 2 – Labour 0

October 19th, 2011 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Whale has two more hits against Labour today.

First he reveals that they have used a photo of the Clyde Dam in their anti-mixed ownership model pamphlet. The Clyde Dam is not owned by a Government SOE, but by Contact Energy!! It’s like saying we won’t see Air NZ and having a photo of a Qantas jet.

Also is this the same Clyde Dam Labour fought so hard against?

Whale’s second post is a Facebook comment from Labour Party candidate and former President Andrew Little. Little makes a vicious personal attack on former North Shore Mayor and Police Commander George Wood.

Wood facebooked:

I certainly agree with my colleague Chris Fletcher. These people should have been removed from the Aotea Square on Sunday. Their actions are illegal and the more that they are allowed to remain in situ the more difficult it will be to remove them.

This is not an unreasonable view, that if people are staging an illegal occupation, they should be removed. Some call it the rule of law. Anyway reasonable people can agree to disagree on the pros and cons of such a move.

Cactus Kate suggested:

Water cannons George. Hose them down hourly.

And then Andrew Little opened up with:

Water cannons? Pah!Weakness! How about ice guns to freeze them out. No, no, wait a minute. Flame throwers. That’ll burn their little arses. Forget that. Just strafe them with rifle fire, the way George always dreamed of dealing with unruly crowds when he was a cop. Just who do they think they are challenging George’s smug, self-satisfied, complacent little world? Eh? The cheek of it. Tell them to get a real job. Like George. BTW, what is George’s job?

I’ve got no problems with hitting back at Cactus’s suggestions, but the venom against George Wood is quite remarkable, and dare I say it rather nasty. He basically says George Wood wanted to mow down protesters with guns when he was a cop and goes on to say Wood lives in a smug, self-satisfied, complacent little world.

So this is Labour’s great hope for the future?

I have to say I am surprised. I hold Andrew in considerable regard. He has done many good things as EPMU National Secretary. His attack on George Wood is beneath him, and he should apologise.

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Campaigning in Wellington for New Plymouth

October 10th, 2011 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Whale Oil has a photo of Andrew Little leading a protest on Lambton Quay. Wow he must be super-confident of his chances in New Plymouth, if he has time to campaign in Wellington.

It’s not even clear if Andrew is a full-time candidate. Most candidates who want to win a seat off an incumbent will spent six to nine months working full-time in the seat. The EPMU website lists Andrew as remaining on the staff, as special counsel. I presume that takes up a bit of time also.

Or maybe Andrew is positioning himself for a by-election in Wellington, such as Rongotai or Hutt South?

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Will Little stay in New Plymouth?

August 22nd, 2011 at 7:51 am by David Farrar

A reader highlighted this story from July:

Mr Little joined the union as a lawyer in 1992 and was elected unopposed as national secretary in 2000.

His family lived in Wellington now, and although he planned to spend five days a week in New Plymouth campaigning, he would not move them there until he won the seat.

Would he move if he lost in the seat but was elected as a list MP?

“Not sure about that. I will gauge that closer to the time.”

Andrew is all but guaranteed to be an MP after the election. He could easily pledge to remain in New Plymouth. I don’t think locals will be overly impressed by someone who won’t commit to the region.

I suspect the reason Andrew won’t commit to New Plymouth, is because he will want to stand in Rongotai if there is a by-election after the general election.

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A little testy

August 16th, 2011 at 4:14 pm by David Farrar

The Taranaki Daily News pointed out in a recent editorial that Andrew Little will be in Parliament regardless of whether or not he wins New Plymouth.

Andrew wrote the letter above saying there is only a “slim possibility” there will be two MPs in Parliament with strong links to New Plymouth.

Now Andrew is ranked No 15 on the Labour list, which is No 6 on their effective list. So long as Labour gets 22% he should get elected to Parliament.

So when Andrew says there is only a “slim possibility” there will be two MPs in Parliament with strong links to New Plymouth, the only two interpretations I can take from this is:

  1. Andrew thinks there is only a slim possibility that Labour will win 22% or more of the party vote; or
  2. Andrew will not maintain any presence in New Plymouth if he fails to win the seat, and will be based elsewhere as a List MP – presumably Wellington

Perhaps Andrew could clarify which of these two interpretations is correct, or perhaps they both are?

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Light for Little

July 1st, 2011 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

I blog at Stuff on how the recent New Plymouth poll may be better news for Andrew Little than it appeared on the surface.

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