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.


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.


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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Will the fearful five turn down 11 months salary?

March 26th, 2011 at 10:41 am by David Farrar

The NZ Herald reports:

Labour Party president Andrew Little has sent a strong signal to the five people next in line for the list seat vacated by Darren Hughes to opt out and let Manurewa candidate Louisa Wall take it.

Mr Hughes’ resignation yesterday opens up his seat for the next person on the Labour Party list. That is Judith Tizard, followed by Mark Burton, Mahara Okeroa, Martin Gallagher and Dave Hereora. All are former MPs who did not get back into Parliament in 2008. The lacklustre line-up has long been a source of mockery from Labour’s opponents.

Mockery? No. Never.

Worth remembering that it was Goff himself who asked Twyford not to stand in Mt Albert, as they were so worried about having Judith Tizard return.

Judith Tizard, a former minister, said last night that it had not occurred to her that the situation would arise.

“I’ve had 18 years in Parliament. I know the attractions of it and I know the problems of it, so I will take time to make a decision.”

And don’t rush that decision.

She said that since leaving Parliament she had been “getting a life”, including doing volunteer work and recovering from hepatitis.

Ouch. That is a nasty illness, and does take time to get over.

Mr Little indicated Ms Tizard and the four below her should not waste too much time in making the decision. He said none was standing again this year, and it was logical for Ms Wall to take the slot.

I blogged a few days ago that this was logical for Labour. However it does rather go against the whole notion of informed voting. People voted Labour on the basis of a known party list for the 2008 – 2011 Parliament. I don’t approve of what is effectively rearranging the list after the election as the Greens often do, and now Labour looks to do. Its the same principle as you should stick to the policies you announced before the election.

But can Labour get all five MPs-in-waiting to turn the job down? How much money will they be turning down if they say no?

If they return as an MP, and retire at the election, they’ll actually get paid to three months after the election under s18(3)(b) of Civil List Act 1979. This means they’ll get paid for 11 months. What will they get paid in those 11 months?

  1. Salary of $123,350
  2. 20% super contribution of $24,670
  3. Expenses allowance of $14,000

That’s a total of $162,020 Andrew Little is asking those candidates to turn down. And they have every right under the law of the land to become an MP and get paid that money, as Labour ranked them high enough up their party list. So we await with anticipation, their decisions.

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Did the Goffice lie to the media?

March 25th, 2011 at 1:35 pm by David Farrar

I meant to cover this story on Wednesday, but there has been so much on. NewstalkZB reported:

Meanwhile the Labour leader is also maintaining there has been no misleading of media over the allegations.

Mr Goff confirms he’s known about the matter for two weeks. However when Newstalk ZB approached the Labour Party about allegations on Monday, Mr Goff’s staff denied a Labour MP was involved and claimed Mr Goff knew nothing about it.

Phil Goff says his staff hadn’t checked with him.

“I think the person that told you that told you it in good faith, she was not aware of it,” he told Newstalk ZB today

Okay so you have a situation where the media were told something false by one of Phil Goff’s press secretaries. There are broadly three possible scenarios to explain this.

  1. The press secretary knew the information was false and deliberately lied to the media
  2. The press secretary didn’t bother to check if the allegation was correct, and gave a response withotu checking
  3. The press secretary did check and the press secretary was lied to, so they would give out false information unwittingly to the media

All three scenarios are bad, but to different degrees.

I personally think scenario 1 is highly unlkely. Press secretaries know it is fatal to lie to the media, especially if they have been media themselves. You can be obtuse, even a bit deceptive. You can omit relevant stuff. You can give a non helpful response. You can refuse to comment. But it is a cardinal rule that you can not and do not say something that you know to be untrue – it means the media will never trust you again. And personally I don’t think the press secretary in question would – I think they are an honest person.

Scenario 2 is also pretty unlikely, because it means you’re totally incompetent. I just can not imagine a scenario where a press secretary is asked about whether an MP is under a criminal investigation, and you do not check with someone before responding. When the truth comes out you look like an idiot. Note Goff only said that the staff did not check with him – it does not mean they did not check with someone else.

That leaves scenario 3, where the press secretary did check, and someone lied to them and told them there was no Labour MP under investigation and that Goff knew nothing about any such allegation. It may not be an MP who lied to the press secretary – it may be a more senior staffer who did know and lied to them.

If scenario 3 is what happened, this is very very unfair to the press secretary, because they end up having misled the media, and it still undermines them in their effectiveness. Sure they may not have knowingly lied (which is worse), but the media will then wonder next time they ask a question, can they rely on the press secretary to know the truth? How do they know her boss and/or colleagues won’t lie to him or her again in order to get a denial out to the media?

I don’t know which scenario is correct, but scenario 3 is most likely, and if so then the press secretary in question is owed a huge apology by whomever lied to them, so they gave out false information.

The way the issue was dealt with by the Goffice, reminds me of a quote from a book by Harvey McQueen who worked for both David Lange and Phil Goff as Education Ministers:

“With Phil it was always the department’s or its officers’ or another Minister’s or the PM’s or someone else’s fault when things went wrong…” (p.212)

Finally in terms, of who did know, NewstalkZB also said:

Phil Goff says he had been keeping the information to himself and hadn’t shared it with his caucus.

Not telling Caucus is one thing, but what staggers me is that Goff did not tell Party President Andrew Little. I’d be very pissed off if I was Andrew, at being kept in the dark for two weeks.

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Fisking Andrew

February 4th, 2011 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Andrew Little was on Morning Report today. I can’t recall which of his hats he was on as, but anyway he was talking unemployment. He said the Government needs to invest mreo in infrastructure to create jobs, specifcally:

“It complains about debt, it doesn’t make a distinction between public debt and private debt, actually the Government does have the means to continue at least spending on infrastructure projects that are about building assets and that are about creating real work. It is the very role the Government should be playing at the time of an economic downturn and it appears to have stepped aside from playing that role.”

But this is exactly what the Government is doing. It has not put a lot of money into social spending programmes like in the US, but it has increased and acclerated its infrastructure programme. Specifically:

  • The Government has embarked on the single biggest infrastructure investment programme ever over the next five to seven years.
  • It is spending $7.5 billion through the Budget process over five years. In addition it has increased spending on State Highways to over a $1 billion a year and is spending more than ever before on upgrading the National Grid. All up the Government is spending about $6 billion a year and rising.

Without this unprecedented level of investment in infrastructure, the construction sector would be in a bad way.

Andrew is also quoted as saying by the presenter:

While John Key insists there is an improving economic picture, Andrew Little says there is little change on the horizon to a flat market for New Zealand’s products and he says that in the next few weeks between 200 and 250 will be made redundant from the manufacturing sector with employers reviewing other positions as well.

The manufacturing sector though is actually a growing sector. The HLFS has the total number of manufacturing jobs growing by around 12,000 in the last quarter and 17,000 in the last year.

The job losses are in the financial and education sectors, not manufacturing.

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When will Little give up the three hats?

February 1st, 2011 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Andrew Little has said he will give up in election year two of his three hats – EPMU National Secretary and Labour Party President, to focus on becoming Leader an MP.

Now we are in election year, the question is when will this happen? Labour supported legislation saying all of election year counts as part of an election campaign, so presumably they’ll apply this to themselves.


A premature article

January 17th, 2011 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Claire Trevett in the NZ Herakld writes:

Labour leader Andrew Little said there was a greater reluctance to donate, which many attributed to the recession.

“We are getting a steady flow but they are more modest by comparison to those which are reported in the election returns [of more than $15,000].”

National Party president Peter Goodfellow was overseas.

Claire is ahead of herself. Andrew Little has not yet rolled Phil Goff.

H/T: Whale

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Labour Party President adds to the muck raking

January 15th, 2011 at 9:22 am by David Farrar

Newstalk ZB reports:

EPMU secretary Andrew Little thinks sealing the mine would be wrong on at least two fronts.

“Making a decision to seal the mine now is not just a decision to leave the men down there, but a decision to say we’re not going to get the evidence to find out what really happened.”

Mr Little said the Government has let the families down and the union will continue to work with them to get justice.

Does Andrew have some magic way to enter the mine we do not know of?

Is Andrew speaking as Labour Party President or EPMU Secretary when he alleges any decision to seal the mine is part of a plot by the Government to conceal evidence?

The local Mayor is more rational:

Despite the union’s concerns, the Grey District Mayor said he is confident there will be enough evidence for the Pike River mine inquiry, even if the mine is sealed.

“They’re going to interview 400 (people) all up. They’ve got every single hard drive and computer from day one of Pike River coal. Even though they can’t get evidence from the mine, I feel there’s enough evidence out there to get to the bottom of this”, Tony Kokshoorn told Newstalk ZB.

Maybe Andrew could explain exactly what evidence he thinks still exists after weeks of thousand degree fires.

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The Te Atatu selection

December 18th, 2010 at 9:03 am by David Farrar

The NZ Herald reports:

Labour Party president Andrew Little says its next candidate in Te Atatu will have to repair damage done to it by ousted MP Chris Carter to stop the seat slipping into National’s hands.

The party will select its candidate today. After a threat from Mr Carter to stand against the party as an independent if his preferred candidate, Phil Twyford, does not win that selection, Mr Little said Mr Carter was now irrelevant and any remaining local support was “dwindling rapidly”.

How does Andrew than explain the letter from the Te Atatu LEC which said that they supported Chris Carter unamiously?

Mr Carter said he believed Mr Twyford had the best chance of keeping the seat out of National Party hands. Although not a local, Kingsland resident Mr Twyford had a profile from his work opposing the Super City. Mr Carter said if Mr Twyford was not chosen, he himself would consider standing again to keep the seat in centre-left hands.

Mr Twyford has the support of at least three unions with voting rights – the Service and Food Workers’ Union, the Maritime Union and the Amalgamated Workers Union.

Mr Little is standing aside from the selection panel because Mr McCracken was an EPMU organisere about five years ago. However, Mr Little said yesterday that the union had not endorsed any candidate.

With Chris Carter threatening to split the vote as an independent candidate if anyone but Twyford is selected, and with three unions behind him, and the EPMU neutral, even Phil should be able to clinch the nomination.

Mr Carter said he did not know what his political future held and he might leave politics before the election if a good job came along – forcing an unwelcome byelection for Labour.

And this is what will be his ultimate revenge. Twyford gets the nomination, then Carter suddenly picks up a job (maybe with the UN) and we have a by-election. And if Twyford wins the by-election, it brings Judith Tizard back into the Labour Caucus for seven months or so.

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We have always been at peace with Eurasia

December 14th, 2010 at 5:04 pm by David Farrar

NZPA report these words from Andrew Little:

“There’s no tension at all — the party is united,” he told NZPA.

This is the day after he gloats about how an MP is lazy, and how his mission was to get rid of him. That is a strange way to describe no tension and total unity.

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Audrey on Little

December 14th, 2010 at 1:19 pm by David Farrar

Audrey Young at the NZ Herald reports:

Andrew Little is right: the threat by retiring MP George Hawkins’ to quit Parliament if the Engineers’ Union organiser was picked to replace shows the sense of entitlement that some MPs develop.

I’d go further and say it was a disgraceful abuse of the process. No one will know how many people in Sunday’s marathon selection in Manurewa favoured Louisa Wall over the Engineers’ candidate because of Hawkins’ blackmail to quit if Jerome Mika won.

But unfortunately for Little, the moral high ground has just collapsed under him with his extraordinary admission this morning that the ultimate aim had been to get rid of Hawkins.

“The key objective had been to remove George Hawkins and we achieved that objective,” he is reported in the Dominion Post.

He also called him a lightweight, which is as much an insult to the local members who put him there year after year. It’s one thing to think it – it’s another to say it.

The party deserves to feel as outraged by Little’s statement as Hawkins’ antics.

The Labour caucus this morning could have expected an explanation if not an apology from Little if he were at the caucus.

This shows the problem of Little’s dual roles. As EPMU National Secretary he can call an MP useless, but as party president he can not slag off a long-serving MP in that way. It will cause MPs and party members to questions whose interests he is representing – Labour’s, or the EPMU?

The re-emergence of factional fighting is Goff’s worst nightmare. It kept Labour out of office for nine years and then Helen Clark kept a tight lid on it for another nine years.

Goff is portraying the Little-Hawkins clash as a personality clash rather than a power struggle within the party to limit the power of the unions.

Whatever take you put on it, Labour goes into the summer break in a worse place than when it started the year.

BBQ season perhaps.

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The Labour Civil War goes public

December 13th, 2010 at 3:30 pm by David Farrar

Tracy Watkins and Kate Chapman at Stuff report:

A public spat has erupted between Labour Party head Andrew Little and MP George Hawkins after a replacement candidate was selected to represent the party in Hawkins’ Manurewa electorate last night.

Hawkins said this morning he was “very happy with the selection”.

“It wasn’t someone forced on the electorate by the engineers union who turn up once every 20 years to have a say, so we’re very pleased.”

This is what annoys a lot of rank and file members. They can spend years paying a sub and working hard for the party, and they get the same vote for selection ass a union affiliate member who gets bussed in to vote the way his union has told him to, and otherwise has no interest in Labour.

Little replied saying Hawkins was a lightweight within the party and had been on the sidelines for a long time.

Hawkins comments were unhelpful but not surprising from an MP who believed he had an entitlement to remain in the Manurewa electorate, Little said.

“The key objective was to remove George Hawkins and we achieved that objective.”

Is this Andrew speaking as EPMU National Secretary or Labour Party President? If I was a Labour MP I’d be very worried that the party president openly boasts of taking an MP out.

Hawkins said he had not discussed the selection with Little, who had not spoken to him for two years.

My God. They can’t even pretend to tolerate each other.

He dismissed suggestions, meanwhile, that concerns over his health might be another reason for him to quit Parliament early after winning a place on the Manurewa community board.

“Since I’ve had the stroke, I’ve had deep vein thrombosis, I’m diabetic and I’ve had bowel cancer. None of that’s going to stop me and the engineers aren’t going to stop me.”

George the battler.

Asked why he was opposed to the union Hawkins responded: “If you want to take part in the Labour party you should turn up each month, go to the meetings, have your say. If they did that I would have been happy to support them but that’s not happened.”

The point I made earlier.

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Te Atatu LEC expresses no confidence in Goff

December 6th, 2010 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

A fascinating letter turned up in the post the other day. It was a copy of a letter from the Labour Party’s Te Atatu Electorate Committee (LEC) to Party President Andrew Little.

The letter has the unanimous support of the LEC and expresses their “disgust” at the way Chris Carter was treated by Labour.

It is to be expected that they are supportive of their former MP, but what is exceptional about the letter is the explicit statement of no confidence in Phil Goff.

They specifically state Goff’s leadership is uninspiring, and that they are concerned about his policy flip-flops. They attack him for his attacks on Helen Clark’s legacy and say he is betraying the legacy of a popular and successful Labour Government.

They go on to say that they have been expressing these concerns over Goff’s leadership for many months, including to their area representative.

Now remember that this is a letter agreed to unanimously by the LEC. It shows that this is not just an issue about Carter’s travel, but that there is serious discontent with Goff’s leadership in this solid red electorate.

In National over the years I’ve seen electorates get unhappy over various issues and write to the Board about them. I’ve never seen an electorate committee use the harshness of language about the leader, that the Te Atatu LEC is using – its is unprecedented.

The letter is below. You can click twice on each page to see them full size.

I found the references to Goff betraying Helen Clark’s legacy especially interesting – they indicate to me that the Clark loyalists will roll Goff straight after the 2011 election, unless he wins.

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Little speaks the truth

October 30th, 2010 at 9:23 am by David Farrar

Michelle Hewitson has interviewed Andrew Little. Quite amusing, as normal for Hewitson. One extract to highlight:

I’m not sure who (as in which hat he was wearing) he was being the day I saw him. He is, I think, practising for his campaign. I was initially surprised that he slagged off (he would not, of course, put it quite that way) another union: Actors’ Equity. I’d said that it had been a bad week for the unions, thus, to pinch a bit of union lingo, collectively lumping all unions in together. He said, “It’s been a shockingly bad couple of months for Actors’ Equity. It’s been a difficult week for unions … And I’m not going to defend the Actors’ Equity because the handling of it has been an absolute disaster.” Is it helpful of him to say that? “I’ve spoken to people in Actors’ Equity. They know my view.”

Andrew has spoken the truth, as no other unionist has been willing to do so – he is smart enough to know you do not defend the indefensible.

He has been what I call interfering and what he calls trying to help, behind the scenes. He spoke to John Barnett, and to Robyn Malcolm, whom he flatted with years ago when they were both at Victoria University.

Trying to help behind the scenes is what Helen Kelly should have restricted herself to doing, rather than calling Peter Jackson a spoilt brat. It is a pity Andrew is standing for Parliament – he could do more good arguably as the CTU President.

He has long been seen as not Left enough by some factions of the Left; as too friendly with big business. An indication of where he sits is that he is equally scathing about Fran O’Sullivan and Chris Trotter. In other words: he is firmly in the centre.

Andrew is not centrist, but he is not extreme – he is mainstream centre-left.

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The rise of Little

October 17th, 2010 at 12:56 pm by David Farrar

Audrey Young blogs:

Labour president Andrew Little has just delivered the best speech he has probably ever given.

It was to the party conference at the Aotea Centre in Auckland.

And it wasn’t so much what he said – but how he said it.

There are many doubters in Labour’s caucus that Little has what it takes to be a future leader of the party.

Andrew is not popular with a fair number of Labour MPs. Some feel he has not raised enough money, others don’t like him holding three jobs – candidates, President and union boss, and others just resent the talk that he may come in and become leader quickly.

But I have been saying for many years that I believe Andrew will become Labour Party Leader, and probably Prime Minister one day. When, is another matter, but he has time on his side.

The HoS today reports:

Andrew Little’s been widely touted to succeed Phil Goff as Labour Party leader, but yesterday he told supporters that Goff was the man to take the party to victory at next year’s election.

What happens afterwards, if Labour loses, he was not saying – Little is a frontrunner for the New Plymouth seat next year.

Goff is goneburger if Labour loses. But I think it is unlikely that Little would become leader in his first term as an MP. More likely is Cunliffe becomes Leader and if he loses in 2014 then watch for a Robertson v Little battle after that.

“One thing is certain about Phil – if he were confronted with a racist outburst he would know it and challenge it, up front, there and then,” he said, referring to Prime Minister John Key’s failure to respond immediately to broadcaster Paul Henry’s slur against the Governor-General.

Here thought Andrew could not be more wrong. Goff was even worse than Key on the issue of Paul Henry. Despite having had several hours to reflect on what Paul Henry had said, Goff’s response was a totally dismissive line about it just a case of Paul being Paul.

It amazes me how much some in Labour try to rewrite history, as they think if you tell a lie enough times it becomes the truth.

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Little calls for a republic

October 16th, 2010 at 10:12 am by David Farrar

Two good announcements from Labour in two days!

Audrey Young at the Herald reports:

Labour president Andrew Little has called for a fresh debate about republicanism following a speech at the party’s conference by former Wallaby Peter Fitzsimons, an outspoken advocate of ditching the monarchy.

Mr Little said that he backed Fitzsimons’ views, and it was time for New Zealand to engage in the debate.

“It’s a cop-out to say, ‘Yes, I’m a republican, but it’s not time’, that it be left up to somebody else.

“That’s a failure of leadership, in my view,” said Mr Little.

He was not saying it was something that had to be done tomorrow.

“But it is saying are committed to making a move and we do it in a courteous and respectful way.”

It was an issue that ought to be actively debated in terms of what constitutional arrangements might be set up, and negotiating with the UK over what a transition might look like.

A minor correction – we do not need to negotiate with the UK. It would be polite to negotiate with the Queen however.

I’m intrigued by Andrew saying it is a failure of leadership to say yes, but let’s wait until later. Fitzsimons also commented:

Fitzsimons was applauded last night when he spoke of republicanism and changing the flag for Australia. He did not think the decision should be put on hold until the Queen died.

“As a sovereign nation we shouldn’t be deciding our politics on the health of an elderly English woman. She’s a good woman, no doubt about it. But we should be carving out our independent way.”

Now look at what Phil Goff said a couple of weeks ago:

Goff said the end of Queen Elizabeth’s reign was the logical transition point.

“Succession of the monarchy is the time to have a head of state who is a New Zealander,” said Goff. “We need to start the conversation now. Don’t rush it. Fully consult the people of New Zealand. It’s a major change and needs a reasonable consensus.”

Is this the failure of leadership Andrew was referring to?

Regardless I’m pleased that both the Labour Party Leader and President are supporters of a move to a republic. It means that when there is an inevitable change of Government, there will at least be a silver lining – assuming their preferences becomes some sort of formal commitment to starting a process to allow NZers to decide the issue.

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