Once again Labour MPs mock people for mental illness

June 29th, 2014 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Inventory at Keeping Stock has the latest example of a Labour MP mocking a National MP over their mental health. They used to do this a lot, until they got shamed into stopping, but Clayton Cosgrove is back at it again.

 

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Final boundaries – winners and losers

April 17th, 2014 at 12:52 pm by Jadis

Well the final boundaries are out.  There are some changes (as there always are) and a couple are quite significant.

Winners:

Nikki Kaye, Auckland Central – Having won and held Auckland Central by less than a thousand votes in 08 and 11 Nikki will be overjoyed to see ALL of Grey Lynn move into Mount Albert.  Grey Lynn was Jacinda’s territory and I am pretty sure she owns a house there so she will now be living outside of the electorate that she says she will contest in this year’s election.  Nikki is probably sitting on a conservative majority of 2000 but it is useful to remember that with strategic voting and the like locally, and the high profile of the seat, that it will still be a hard race.

Nicky Wagner, Christchurch Central – I am really pleased for Nicky as she was gutted when the provisional boundaries came out as they made it a strong red seat. There must have been some fascinating discussion at the Commission table because it is a crazy shaped seat – how many legs does it have?  Nicky only won the seat by 47 votes so holding Christchurch Central was always going to be extremely tough.  Big chunks of red vote have been cut out of the electorate so Christchurch Central is back in play for both parties.  Still too close to call but certainly gone in Nats favour compared to the provisionals.

Tim MacIndoe, Hamilton West – Hamilton is unique as it is the only urban centre held by the Nats .  Similar boundaries to the provisionals means that by crossing the river MacIndoe has gained some strong blue areas in a high growth zone.  This seat should get stronger as more development occurs.  Tim’s majority may get as high as 5000-6000 this year.

Matt Doocey, Waimakariri – While there are no changes since the provisional Waimakariri is well and truly one of the most marginal seats in the country.  The electorate already had a big party vote in Nats favour but Clayton Cosgrove has been pretty popular there.  With Kate Wilkinson retiring Cosgrove would have been hoping to regain his seat but the boundaries haven’t been so helpful for him.  Wilkinson’s very thin majority is expected to climb just into four figures – not a big jump but it matters when a race is as tight as this one.

Losers:

Ruth Dyson, Port Hills – Dyson is the biggest loser in this boundary review.  Her majority has been reversed with the Nats stronghold of Halswell moving into the seat, and Anderton’s old stomping ground of Sydenham moving into Christchurch Central.  Dyson will have a real battle to hold this, even with the Nats putting in a new candidate.  How winnable the seat is very much depends on the strength of the Nat candidate, but a good candidate could take the seat with a 2000 majority.  I’d be gutted if I was Dyson as Pete Hodgson (who did the boundaries for Labour) is a good mate of hers.  Perhaps this is Labour’s new (poor) strategy of retiring MPs.

Trevor Mallard, Hutt South – This is the surprise of the final boundaries.  Mallard has gained all of the  Western Hills (good Nat territory) and lost super red areas of Naenae and Rimutaka. Labour should have been able to stop this occurring but appear to have put up no fight.  Mallard should be furious with his party for failing to keep Hutt South a real red seat.  Why didn’t Hodgson fight hard for Mallard?  Was it a directive from on high?  Realistically, Mallard should hold the seat but he’ll be working hard for it and never should have been put in this position. I expect Mallard’s majority to be pegged down a few.

Sam Lotu-iiga, Maungakiekie – Labour were grumpy in 2008 when Sam took one of ‘their’ red seats in Maungakiekie, so they will no doubt be pleased that the blue booths have almost all been taken out of Maungakiekie.  Beaumont would be silly to think her win is a foregone conclusion as Sam will throw everything into his beloved electorate and is able to cross party divides for electorate support.  This seat is too close to call.  Another true marginal.

Cunliffe and Labour – Labour have racked up few gains, and have taken significant hits in Christchurch, the Hutt Valley, Hamilton and Auckland.  In Maungakiekie where Labour locals organised a large number of submissions they’ve made headway but they could have been similarly organised elsewhere and chose not to be. That poor organisation has put a number of Labour MPs at serious risk.  At this rate, Labour will have no provincial seats (Tamati, you are dreaming in Rotorua with another Nat stronghold (Te Puke) going into Rotorua) and are fighting from behind in the marginal seats. Where was the leadership from Cunliffe, Coatsworth, Barnett and the hierarchy to stop this happening?  Overall, a fail for Labour.

 

 

 

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Brownlee in General Debate

September 19th, 2013 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

In yesterday’s General Debate, Gerry Brownlee revealed the extent of the fixation Clayton Cosgrove has with him:

That leaves just one possibility as a dead cert to be dropped off the front bench, and that is my Canterbury colleague the Hon Clayton Cosgrove. This comes as a deeply disturbing thing for me because Clayton Cosgrove has spoken in the House 21 times since the beginning of 2012—not a bad sort of record for substantial speeches in the House. In every one of those speeches he has mentioned my name multiple times. It is almost a fixation that the poor man has. In the imprest supply debate he mentioned my name six times. In the Environment Canterbury bill it was five times. There are many threes, there are many fours, and there are many fives. I got mentioned six times in the Canterbury schools debate. But, somewhat inexplicably, he mentioned me five times in the debate on the State-owned energy companies and delay of sale of Mighty River Power—five times. Then when it came to the Mixed Ownership Model Bill in Committee I got nine mentions—nine mentions. These were 5-minute speeches and I took up most of them. In the Address in Reply debate this year he outdid himself. In the Address in Reply debate he outdid himself. In a 10-minute speech I got 11 mentions. That is one a minute. It is quite clear that the man thinks of nothing else but me. Clearly, he is a man who does not have his eye on his policy portfolio issues and who has a certain fixation with me, which is worrying because the deputy leader once had one of those as well. 

We await the caucus reshuffle on Monday with interest!

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Caygill confirms candidacy for Chch East

August 5th, 2013 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

The Press reports:

Labour is eyeing up four potential party candidates to replace long-serving Christchurch East MP Lianne Dalziel now in the running to be mayor.

The Press understands Ngai Tahu manager James Caygill, son of former Labour finance minister David Caygill, is emerging as a favourite among party members.

Nominations as Labour’s Christchurch East by-election candidate opened last week.

Caygill said last night he would put his name forward this week.

Labour was doing its “due diligence” and the party’s candidate needed to able to stand up “in front of the party and the public and advocate for Christchurch East in Wellington”.

Caygill was made redundant from the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra in January 2012 and is now acting general manager of tribal interests for Ngai Tahu.

He owns a house in Richmond that has been zoned Technical Category 3 and lives in Mairehau with his partner Serenity Thurlow, the orchestra’s principal viola player.

Can I just say that Serenity is a cool and somewhat apt name for a viola  player!

List MP Clayton Cosgrove, who was recently given the EQC portfolio, is also understood to be considering a bid, but said he had not given it “any serious thought”.

I doubt Cosgrove will seek the nomination unless he thinks he will clearly win. If he seeks it and loses, it will undermine his chances in Waimakariri. He also could struggle with a winnable list place, so the decision will be a critical one for him.

Will also be interesting to see if Tony Milne stands.

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Caygill vs Cosgrove?

June 24th, 2013 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Vernon Small at Stuff reports:

Ngai Tahu manager James Caygill, the son of former Labour finance minister David Caygill, has thrown his hat in the ring for the Christchurch East seat and in the process taken a swipe at his main rival.

Caygill, 35, yesterday confirmed he would seek Labour’s nomination for the seat to be left vacant by Christchurch mayoral hopeful Lianne Dalziel, saying he represented “renewal” for the party – a clear comparison with list MP Clayton Cosgrove who is tipped to stand but has so far refused to confirm or deny that.

 
Cosgrove, who lost the Waimakariri seat to National’s Kate Wilkinson in 2011, is seen as to the right of Labour and his election would clear the way for the next candidate on its party list, Northland-based Kelvin Davis, to return to Parliament.
 
Caygill yesterday described himself as “reasonably Left-wing”. He was the chair of the environment sector and “you won’t find me disagreeing with our stances on social policy or individual rights or the fact that we need to build a more sustainable economy”.
Caygill also worked for a while in Lianne Dalziel’s ministerial office.
On social issues he would be a better fit than Cosgrove within Labour.  I’m not sure they would be that far apart on economic issues. Caygill comes from the relatively sane economic faction of Labour.
“Clayton’s a sitting MP and a senior frontbench MP. No-one could dream that counts as renewal. He’s a senior MP and he deserves his shot if that’s what he wants to do but I don’t think he would run under a banner of renewal.”
The other issue with Cosgrove is he is already an MP. If National stands a fresh candidate, then you could get tactical voting that voting for the National candidate over Cosgrove means an extra MP for Christchurch, instead of Northland.
Caygill said if he won the nomination he would step down from his role as a senior manager with Ngai Tahu where he is responsible for environmental policy work, regional economic development, education policy, research and development and the iwi’s savings scheme.
One of the things I like about Ngai Tahu is they hire the best person for the job, even if they are not of Ngai Tahu themselves.
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Will Clayton go for Chch East?

June 20th, 2013 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Vernon Small at Stuff reports:

A stoush is brewing in Labour over a possible replacement for Christchurch East MP Lianne Dalziel, with locals warning that attempts to parachute list MP Clayton Cosgrove into the seat will be resisted.

Speculation inside Labour has suggested that Cosgrove, who lost the Waimakariri seat in 2011, could be an option.

If he won that would bring in the next candidate on Labour’s party list, Northland-based Kelvin Davis, who is seen as a strong supporter of leader David Shearer.

Sounds like he needs the numbers!

Yesterday, Cosgrove would not rule himself in or out as a candidate for the seat. He was “very flattered and humbled” to be mentioned as a possibility.

“But it’s all speculation. That’s all I’m saying.”

However, a well-placed Labour source in Christchurch East said there was a lot of “negativity” towards Cosgrove.

“If he does come this way there will be big problems.”

Locals being mentioned in connection with the seat include James Caygill, whose father David Caygill was finance minister in the Lange Labour government.

Councillor Glenn Livingstone has not ruled himself out but said he had no plans for a tilt at Parliament at this stage.

Leanne Curtis, a manager at Canterbury Communities’ Earthquake Recovery Network, said yesterday she was “happy to say I am not standing”.

I expect Caygill to go for Chch Central, but he may go for this one. The trouble is teh seat may radically change at the next election. My pick for Labour’s nominee is Tony Milne.

Idiot/Savant is not keen on Cosgrove:

So the worse-kept secret in Christchurch is out, and Lianne Dalziel is officially running for mayor. Which means a by-election of she wins, which in turn requires a Labour candidate. So naturally, Labour are talking about parachuting Clayton Cosgrove – a man without a connection to the area, but with a very strong connection to David Shearer – into the seat, so they can in turn get Kelvin Davis – another man with a strong connection to David Shearer – in off the list.

This encapsulates everything that is wrong with the Labour Party: taking their voters for granted, treating their support like a gift from the leadership rather than something which must be won, and the infection of everything with their petty internal politics. And then they wonder why people treat them with contempt? We’re only returning the favour…

Nor is Emma Hart:

You’re thinking about standing Clayton Cosgrove in Christchurch East, instead of him fighting to regain Waimakariri? I mean, I guess it would be an efficient way of showing both electorates exactly the same degree of respect, but really? This is Christchurch. Even moving someone in from North Canterbury is considered carpet-bagging here. …

It will be interesting to see whom both National and Labour select.

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Transtasman on Robertson and Cosgrove

July 12th, 2012 at 1:35 pm by David Farrar

Transtasman reports:

Cosgrove’s party did not exactly leap to defend him either.

Deputy leader Grant Robertson said all Cosgrove did was help a constituent, and everyone immediately recalled the last Labour MP this defence was used for, Philip Field, went to prison.

What’s more, Robertson was in then-PM Helen Clark’s office when she used the defence. It is theoretically possible Robertson’s comments were made innocently, just as it is theoretically possible to build a perpetual motion machine.

Heh. I actually think the phrasing was incompetence, not malice, but I seem to be in a minority on this issue.

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Geddis on Cosgrove

July 8th, 2012 at 10:56 am by David Farrar

Andrew Geddis blogs on the Clayton Cosgrove issue at Pundit:

First of all, no-one is accusing Cosgrove of accepting a bribe from Independent Fisheries – at least, they are not doing so out loud. Both Cosgrove and the company adamently deny there was any connection between his introduction of a members bill that would financially help the company (as well as a number of other constituents) and its later decision to donate money to his campaign. Not only is this most probably true in fact, the dual denial means that there is no way of proving it to be false.

Personally I don’t think that there was a pre-condition on the donation.

Second, Cosgrove quite rightly declared the $17,500 in donations to the Electoral Commission – from which we all then were able to find out about the relationship a couple of months ago. True, this action tells against any corrupt relationship existing in fact; you’d have to be a pretty silly (or incredibly brazen) person to openly tell the world that you’ve accepted a chunk of money which was paid to you in exchange for trying to get a change in the law. But the point of declaring donations is to let us make those sorts of judgments about what may or may not have been the motives on each side – if we were to say that simply declaring a donation automatically means that, ipso facto, there cannot be a corrupt intent behind it, then that would have a rather perverting effect on the disclosure regime!

Exactly – this is why we have transparency – so people can judge for themselves if they think there is a connection between donations and (for example) specific policies or acts.

Which brings us once again to the third level of protection. What does the decision to accept a considerable donation from a long-term friend whom you have, in your official capacity as an MP, taken steps to help in a quite significant fashion say about Cosgrove’s internal sense of political morality? By this I mean, what does it say about his ability to scrutinise not only his own motives for taking the money, but also understand how taking that money would look to others? And here I mean not those political enemies who would like to see him taken down, but rather the “average voter” who is assessing the behaviour of her or his political masters? Is it a “good look” to them for an MP to be in this sort of relationship, even if all involve protest the purist of motives?

This is the point I made yesterday. Wise MPs do not lobby on behalf of mates, do not push private legislation that provides significant financial benefits to their mates, and do not then accept large donations from a mate whose financial interests would have benefited from your advocacy.

One last point. I note that Cosgrove is alleging that this story has been “shopped around” by Gerry Brownlee in an effort to distract from a court case being brought by Independent Fisheries against his use of CERA powers to rezone their land. That may well be true. And that case also may well reveal what some of us said from the outset – giving Brownlee or any other Minister extensive powers to override existing property rights and legal processes in order to “help Canterbury” carries considerable risks of their misuse.

However, the motives for drawing attention to Cosgrove’s relationship with Independent Fisheries do not touch on its basic rightness or wrongness. Or, to put it another way, the problem isn’t so much that people are noticing the donation to Cosgrove, but rather that the donation was given and accepted in the first place.

It shows how defensive Cosgrove is on this issue, that he is trying to shift attention by alleging that the story has been shopped around by National. The Nation have confirmed that they have had no contact with Gerry Brownlee’s office on this, and the first I know what the story was about was watching The Nation.

The ironic thing is there is an MP who is known to do smear campaigns about donations – even when there haven’t been any. That MP may be behind this “smear campaign” also. It is a Mr Clayton Cosgrove. Back in June 2008 he said:

On June 3, Mr Cosgrove received a letter from a member of the Institute which indicates that deals have been done between some senior industry members and the National Party to wind back this consumer protection legislation. “The letter said the REINZ president Murray Cleland recently told members at a regional AGM that if the National Party won the election it is likely to change the legislation to suit the Institute,” he said.

Mr Cosgrove said this raises serious questions over what deals have been done. “The National Party has confirmed it has met with REINZ representatives so now it needs to come clean on when this happened, who was present and what promises were made. National should tell us if any election campaign funds have been solicited or received by the Party, its MPs and/or its candidate, and whether any contributions have been made by REINZ and/or its member companies,” he said.

So when National advocated something, Clayton went out there and effectively alleged they were doing it due to donations from REINZ or its members (something that in fact was not true – he just made it up, and posed it as a question), while in this case the donation is a matter of record.

But to get this clear, the media asking Clayton questions about a donation from a property company which would have received huge financial benefits from legislation he proposed is a smear campaign, but him alleging National is in the pocket of the real estate industry (whom did not donate to National) is not a smear campaign. It is only wrong if it is not Labour doing it.

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Clayton Cosgrove and the Independent Fisheries Donation

July 7th, 2012 at 6:07 pm by David Farrar

The Nation had Clayton Cosgrove on this morning, with the news summary being:

Labour MP Clayton Cosgrove says he is a long standing friend of a property developer who donated $17,500 to his campaign at the last election.

The donation came after Mr Cosgrove drafted a private members’ bill which would have allowed the developer, Mike Dormer, to go ahead with a development stopped by the Christchurch District Plan.

Speaking today on TV3’s “The Nation”, Mr Cosgrove said, he was a longstanding friend of Mr Dormer.

“We go back about 12 years,” he said. 

“He’s a friend of my family, I know his family well. 

“He’s a respected person, I’m proud to say I’m a mate of his.”

In 2008 Mr Dormer’s company, Independent Fisheries, bought 22ha of land at Styx Mill, north of Christchurch Airport and in Mr Cosgrove’s then electorate of Waimakiriri with the intention of developing it for houses.

But the company became frustrated at restrictions on the development imposed at the behest of Christchurch Airport.

Other landowners in the same area were also concerned at the tight noise boundaries around the airport which prohibited residential development.

In June 2009 Mr Cosgrove convened a public meeting about the boundaries and announced that he was preparing a private members’ bill to counter them.

His Bill would have required landowners within the noise boundaries to forfeit any right to object to airport noise. In return residential development would get a go ahead.

Mr Dormer described the bill as “win win” and “outstanding”.

And five months later, in November 2009, Independent Fisheries donated $2500 to

 I had discussion with all landowners.  We set up a group of landowners across the board who had legal support, some who didn’t.  I was leading negotiations on behalf of over a 100 constituents with the International Airport and others, for years on this.

After the Christchurch earthquake in September 2010, Mr Cosgrove withdrew his bill from the private members’ list of bills in Parliament.

In June 2011, Mr Cosgrove got another donation from Independent Fisheries. This time it was for $15,000, making a total of $17,500, one of the highest sums given to any individual MP at the last election.

And in August 2011, Mr Cosgrove issued a press release advocating passage of his Bill as a way of freeing up land for desperately needed sections in Christchurch.

But he vigorously denied that there was any connection between the Bill and its obvious benefits for Independent Fisheries Ltd and the donations.

“I’ve never accepted a donation with any preconditions and I have never been offered a donation with any   preconditions,” he said.

Mr Cosgrove rejected the suggestion that it could appear that he had a conflict of interest.

There would have been a conflict of interest from any person, and I have people donate money to me in support from all political persuasions.” he said.

“There would be a conflict of interest if it came with preconditions, and by the way every MP receives donations. 

“There would be a very bad look and a lack of judgement if those donations were hidden and not declared. 

“There is transparency here, and the reason you can question me is because I declared them.”

Mr Cosgrove claimed the report on “The Nation” had been “shopped around” by Earthquake Recovery Minister, Gerry Brownlee, in an attempt to smear him.

But Nation presenter, Rachel Smalley, said that no one from Front Page, the production company which produces “The Nation” had spoken to Mr Brownlee or anyone from his office.

Independent Fisheries is one a number of parties who have a legal action against Mr Brownlee on this issue currently before the High Court in Christchurch. 

I have included the transcript of the show after the break, so people can see it in context.

I would make four observations.

  1. I accept absolutely that there were no conditions attached to the $17,500 donation (in two parts). I also accept that Cosgrove genuinely sees the change he advocated as desirable. Just to be absolutely clear I do not believe this was a case of “purchasing policy”.
  2. I do think it is somewhat inappropriate for an MP to promote legislation via the member’ ballot which would allow developments, not allowed under a local authority plan.
  3. I think it is unwise of any MP, including Cosgrove, to lobby for something that is of huge financial benefit to someone he describes as a long-standing friend.
  4. Accepting such a large donation from someone whose interests you have promoted legislation for, is also unwise. $17,500 is ten times the disclosure level for candidates and represents over half the $25,000 you can spend on a campaign during the regulated period.  Donations should be based on general support for a party’s policies, or belief that a candidate is the best local representative. When the MP has advocated a law change that your company is the biggest beneficiary of, then I don’t think it is a great idea to donate.

The full transcript is below.

(more…)

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A solution for Clayton

July 5th, 2012 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Clayton Cosgrove has said:

Buying shares in the Government’s sell-off of state assets would break the bank for most New Zealanders says Labour’s State Owned Enterprises spokesperson Clayton Cosgrove.

His comment follows an analysis of figures which show the median Kiwi household has only $1700 in savings and would be struggling to buy shares in Mighty River Power, the first of the SOEs to be floated.

I have an easy solution, based in fact on Labour Party policy. Labour have spent three years attacking the Government for not borrowing more money from overseas, to give to the NZ Super Fund to invest in shares and bonds.

Using Labour’s logic, then obviously the solution is that every Kiwi household should go out and borrow $2,000, so they can buy shares in Mighty River Power. It’s a win-win.

Now some of you may say it is daft to borrow money to invest in shares. I might even agree. But that is what Labour spent three years advocating, so I am sure they want households to go out and do it. Plus that way, more shares will stay in local hands!

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Cosgrove trailing by 18%

November 12th, 2011 at 8:45 am by David Farrar

The Press reports:

Waimakariri Labour MP Clayton Cosgrove faces a crushing defeat as a new poll shows his National rival, Kate Wilkinson, has opened up a huge lead in the seat.

A Fairfax Media-Research International snap poll in the seat put Wilkinson on 53.9 per cent of decided voters against 36 per cent for Cosgrove. The only consolation for Cosgrove is that the poll of 250 voters had a margin of error of 6.2 per cent and a high proportion of undecided voters – 23.5 per cent.

The poll also showed a huge lead for National of 71.9 per cent to Labour’s 17.4 per cent.

That compares with 2008 when National won the party vote in the seat by 49.4 per cent to 33.9 per cent for Labour.

Paul Epplett of Research International said his best explanation for the huge shift in support was related to the earthquake and polling on that had been positive for National.

This will worry Labour greatly, to be 18% behind in a seat they currently hold. Having said that, the party vote figures look a bit extreme to me, so I wouldn’t take the exact margin as gospel.

But what will be worrying Labour, is if one seat they hold now has them 18% behind, what about the others? Their next most marginal seats are Rimutaka, Christchurch Central, Palmerston North, Wellington Central, New Lynn, Hutt South and Te Atatu.

UPDATE: Whale has a post pointing out that the woman in the advertisements Cosgrove is running who says “Why I’m voting for Clayton Cosgrove” is not even registered to vote in Waimakariri – she is on the Te Tai Tonga roll. He couldn’t even find someone from his electorate to endorse him so he got a union official

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Debranding

November 10th, 2011 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Claire Trevett at the Herald writes:

Act’s Epsom candidate, John Banks, and party leader Don Brash are campaigning separately, but Mr Banks denies he is promoting himself at the expense of his party to try to win the Epsom seat.

Asked on Campbell Live what brand he was presenting to Epsom voters, Mr Banks said, “Brand Key”, and talked about the popularity of Prime Minister John Key and ensuring National remained in power.

It’s certainly true that John Banks is downplaying the ACT brand, as he needs National voters to tactically vote for him.

But Banks is not the only candidate debranding himself from his party. Whale sent me this photo.

He is the 6th highest ranked Labour MP, and he won’t even put the party logo on his advertisements.

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So who is lying?

October 14th, 2011 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Jordan Carter has blogged on the now well publicised accusations over what was said and denied at the Rainbow Wellington election forum. A number of Labour Party candidates and supporters have all accused ACT candidate Stephen Whittington of getting it wrong.

Well to para-phrase Mandy Rice-Davies, they would say that, wouldn’t they. But Green MP Kevin Hague has backed Whittington’s version of events. Now unless one subscribes to Labour’s mad theory of a vast right wing and non-labour left wing conspiracy, I think we can trust Kevin Hague as an honest witness.

With that in mind, Jordan may regret the title of his blog post – a clarification for some liars out there.

Does this mean he is calling Kevin Hague a liar?

I get a mention also, which I need to respond to.

This has been amplified today by that well known defender of the rights of queer people, David Farrar, on his blog KiwiBlog, and by Whittington himself in a media release.  The result is this Stuff story “Labour accused of homophobia cover-up” by Andrea Vance.

Now the reference to me as a “well known defender of the rights of queer people” is obviously meant to be sarcastic and imply I am insincere when it comes to this issue, and just using it to score political points.

I think my record stands for itself. I have blogged in supports of gay issues such as civil unions, gay marriage and gay adoption on scores and scores of occasions. I actively lobbied in favour of the Civil Union Bill, assisting Tim Barnett with it.  I blogged in 2004 how great the Civil Unions Bill party was to celebrate, and how great it was to be a very small part of helping something positive happen.

Unlike many in Labour I have been willing to criticise MPs from my own party on these issues. At the time of the Civil Unions Bill I blogged somewhat critically of some of the speeches from MPs against, including National MPs. The following week my public criticisms were raised in Caucus (so I am told, I don’t attend of course) by some of the MPs I had criticised, asking for something to be done to shut me up.

Also just last year I blogged quite harsh criticisms of a Cabinet Minister for comments which I thought were taunting a gay MP. It actually turned out (once I saw the video and wasn’t just going off the NZPA report) that I had misinterpreted the comments, and it was a fairly good natured exchange, so I actually was unfairly critical of the National Minister. But again, note I was publicly critical.

So even though Jordan was using the term sarcastically, I think I have been consistent in my advocacy on gay rights. Perhaps my crime is actually being heterosexual and a National supporter – after all how can a straight right winger be anything but insincere on gay issues?

Farrar’s allegations are nonsense.  He (and Whittington) are lying when they say that Grant and Charles denied Trevor’s ‘tinkerbell’ stuff.  They did no such thing.

Well let me quote Kevin Hague:

Green MP Kevin Hague, who was also at the meeting, backed Mr Whittington’s version of events. “My sense was that Charles and Grant were denying that Mallard and Cosgrove had abused Chris Finlayson in a homophobic way.

Also Jordan and Grant’s version of events are not even backed by Chauvel himself. In the Herald he said:

Mr Chauvel said he had never heard anybody refer to Mr Finlayson by that name “and if I did hear it, I would tell them that was unacceptable”.

So Charles was denying anyone had ever said it. So now the list of liars is Stephen Whittington, myself, Kevin Hague and Charles himself.

They would have been stupid to. The remarks were well covered at the time.  We told Trevor what we thought. Making slurs like that in Parliament is totally unacceptable.

They were well covered at the time. Do you know why? Because I blogged about them. Off memory there was no publicity around this until I highlighted this. No one in Labour did anything about Trevor and Clayton until there was adverse publicity.

And don’t think it was only the three times it has been recorded in Hansard. Hansard only records comments if made in a speech or if an interjection is responded to. I understand Trevor and Clayton has yelled out Tinkerbell to Finlayson on numerous occasions – but as Finlayson ignored them they do not get recorded.

So good on Jordan and others for telling Trevor (and hopefully Clayton) to stop. But did you say anything publicly like I have with National MPs?

What they denied is that Mallard is homophobic. They are right.  Trevor has been a staunch defender of social liberal causes and was a key player in the fight to decriminalise homosexuality in the 1980s. His voting record on queer rights issues is perfect.

I tend to agree that Trevor is not homophobic. He is just someone willing to use homophobic comments to attack other MPs. It’s much the same with Winston. I don’t think Winston really hate Asians. I think he just knows it is effective to bash Asian immigration, so does it to be popular.  I note Jordan has not said whether or not he thinks Clayton is homophobic.

In terms of the argument that someone can not be homophobic because they have a perfect voting record on queer right issues. By that logic, Senator Larry Craig can’t be homosexual because he has a perfect voting record against queer rights. I think behaviour counts as much as one’s voting record.

So my message to Whittington and to David Farrar is: stop lying on this point.

I trust Stephen’s integrity, just as I trust Kevin Hague – a gay Green MP who politically has nothing to gain by backing up the ACT candidate’s version of events. And then add onto that the fact that Chauvel has said he has never heard anyone refer to Finlayson by that name, and I am very comfortable with what I have blogged.

Jordan would do well to stop shooting the messengers. If only he spent as much time condemning the remarks publicly when they were made, than denying they were denied.

For someone who is a social liberal, David sure does spend a lot of time stirring up nasty stuff.

I love this Orewellain view of the world. If I was a Labour activist who criticised a National MP for denying homophobic comments from other National MPs, I would be trumpeted as the good guy, and the National MP would be the nasty guy.

But no God forbid that I criticise a Labour MP/s because in the heat of a debate they made the wrong call and embarrassed by the mention of these homophobic comments by colleagues they tried to bluff it and deny said comments had been made.

I can only conclude that criticising a Labour MP for anything at all, is automatically nasty stuff.

On that note I’ll talk about why I did the series of posts on Charles Chauvel. It is not because he is gay as Charles has suggested, or because some mythical polls show him leading in Ohariu and Peter Dunne has put me up to it.  It is because I received information (from a number of sources, including people in his own party) that revealed he was doing shameless self-promotion to a degree that was deceptive.

In the past I have been complimentary of Charles, such as when he was moved to the extended front bench, noting:

Chauvel was a no brainer.  … Chauvel to environment is logical and what I predicted. He is one of the few MPs who understand the complexities of the ETS etc.

And before the reshuffle I said:

But a couple of others would also be contenders on merit for the front bench, or at least the front row of the cross-benches. Charles Chauvel and Grant Robertson would be the two strongest contenders. …

I also blogged in favour of his private members bill on credit reform going to select committee.

Charles is not the only MP who is a self-promoter. All MPs are (by necessity) to some degree. But I think where most MPs are under-graduates, Charles seemed to be well on his way to a PhD in it, so I called him out on some of his practices. No conspiracy, no homophobia, nothing to do with Ohariu. At the end of the day if you don’t write letters praising yourself and send them out to people, then there is no way I can be sent a copy of them to blog about it.

UPDATE: Whale Oil has blogged that the video of the House shows Chauvel was present when Mallard used the term, and sitting just three seats along and one back from him.

UPDATE2: The Secretary of Rainbow Wellington has released his summary of the meeting based on his detailed notes. Tony Reed’s summary states:

The Banks issue was taken up further and the Labour MPs reminded us of his homophobic actions in the House when Chris Carter came out as the first openly gay MP. Stephen agreed this was wrong, but in turn accused Labour MPs of making homophobic remarks about Chris Finlayson, a charge which was hotly denied.”

I won’t hold my breath waiting for an apology for being called a liar.

 

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Not Guilty: Clayton Consgrove

May 25th, 2011 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Andrea Vance at Stuff reports:

Labour MP Clayton Cosgrove has been forced to defend himself after calling an MP “Old Sooty” during a parliamentary debate.

He says the insult was aimed at Health Minister Tony Ryall.

However, his fellow politicians assumed the remark was directed at Samoan-born, Auckland-raised National MP Sam Lotu-Iiga, who had just addressed the House. …

Last night Mr Cosgrove said the row was “PC gone mad”. The comment was made while Parliament was in urgency last Thursday to pass Budget legislation.

“I’ve called Tony Ryall Sooty for years … Sooty and Sweep are glove puppets.

I’ve always thought of Mr Ryall as a glove puppet, he does what the Government wants. In no way was it directed at Sam. End of story. I think people need to get a life.”

He agreed it was “unfortunate” his remark was misinterpreted: “I understand what the term means if used in the way suggested.

“It is a concern.”

Mr Lotu-Iiga, the MP for Maungakiekie, said Mr Cosgrove approached him the next day.

“He said it wasn’t directed at me. I didn’t hear it at the time. If it was directed me, it’s a reflection on him.”

Mr Borrows said he was watching the debate on TV.

“Clayton followed Sam Lotu-Iiga and he was referring to him quite a bit.

“The camera was flicking back to him and in the last 30 seconds of his speech, he referred to `old Sooty over there’.

“I put it together in my head that he making a racist comment which brassed me off.”

 So did Clayton call Sam “Sooty”, or was he referring to Tony Ryall? My first thought was to check Hansard, to see if they have a record of Clayton ever using that term before.

In May 2009, he also used the term. He said:

Hon CLAYTON COSGROVE: Exactly. What all of them have done—and old “Sooty” in the front row in the pink shirt ought to remember, because he—

I think it is fair to conlude that it probably was Tony Ryall wearing a pink shirt that day (Tony is well known for his colourful shirts and ties), so this supports Clayton’s contention that the remark was aimed at Tony.

So I have to go with the facts here and say that Clayton is not guilty of calling a Pacific Island MP “Sooty”.

But considering the term “Sooty” has a number of slang meanings, some of which are equally objectionable, maybe Mr Cosgrove might want to stop using the name alltogether when referring to any MP at all.

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Labour’s nominations

September 8th, 2010 at 7:06 pm by David Farrar

Labour have announced:

Labour Party organisations in these electorates will hold their confirmation meetings shortly:

• Bay of Plenty Carol Devoy-Heena

Lost in 2008 by 17,604 votes. Ranked 76th (2nd bottom). I think Tony Ryall can relax.

• Botany Koro Tawa

Ranked No 65. Lost by 10,872 in 2008. Not a lot of new blood coming through is there!

• Christchurch East Lianne Dalziel

An MP since 1990.

• Coromandel Hugh Kininmonth

Lost by 14,560 in 2008. Ranked 75th (third bottom)

• East Coast Moana Mackey

Lost by 6,413 to Anne Tolley. List MP since 2003.

• East Coast Bays Vivienne Goldsmith

Lost by 13,794 to Prince of Darkness. Ranked No 67 in 2008.

• Hamilton East Sehai Orgad

2007 President of compulsory Waikato Student’s Union. Stood for East ward of Hamilton City Council in 2007 and came 10th.

• Hauraki-Waikato Nanaia Mahuta

MP since 1996

• Helensville Jeremy Greenbrook-Held

Very appropriate Jeremy stands against John Key as he writes so many letters to the editor complaining about the Government.  2005 President of the compulsory VUWSA. Is standing for Henderson-Massey Local Board in 2010 elections.

A little known trivia fact is that a few years ago Jeremy and I co-authored a petition to Subway asking them to reverse their sacking of an employee for sharing a free $2 staff coke with a friend.

• Manukau East Ross Robertson

MP since 1987.

• New Plymouth Andrew Little

Former President of compulsory VUWSA, and NZUSA. Labour Party President.

• Rotorua Steve Chadwick

Lost her seat in 2008 by 5,065 votes. MP since 1999.

• Selwyn David Coates

Lost in 2008 by 11,075 votes.Ranked No 74 (fourth bottom) on list.

• Taranaki-King Country Rick Barker

Now this is weird. Barker presumably can’t get nominated again in Tukituki, so desperate to carry on has headed to the west coast. Has been an MP since 1993.

• Waimakariri Clayton Cosgrove

MP since 1999. Holding on with a 390 vote majority.

• Wellington Central Grant Robertson

Former President of compulsory OUSA and then NZUSA.

• Wigram Megan Woods

2007 Mayoral candidate against Bob Parker.

If the list above, is Labour rejuvenating, then someone has a sick sense of humour. Their only new candidates are from compulsory student associations.

Of their 2008 candidates, the ones standing again were all ranked in the bottom dozen, and lost by huge majorities.  Where are the Kate Suttons, Michael Woods, Conor Roberts, and Louisa Walls  who all actually have some talent?

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More on expenses

June 11th, 2010 at 1:53 pm by David Farrar

Air New Zealand have got into the fun with this advertisement for their $20 specials. Heh.

More details coming out today. The Press reports:

Progressive leader Jim Anderton racked up a $22,000 bill on his ministerial credit card during a month-long trip to Europe in 2003.

He also spent $324 on a gift from Kirkcaldie & Stains before leaving on the trip.

The cash splash while in Europe  from April 9 to May 3 included $3500 at Hotel Hilton in Frankfurt, $3400 at Hotel Conrad in Dublin, $2600 at the Palace Hotel in Helsinki and $1000 at a restaurant in Vienna. His wife and private secretary went with him on the trip.

At the Frankfurt hotel he spent about $2100 on “room charges”. No details are provided in the documents.

How do you rake up $2,100 in room charges??? That would tire even Shane Jones out.  I sure hope there are some details.

It also wasn’t easy on the tax-payer’s back pocket sending Mr Cosgrove and his wife to Beijing for the 2008 Olympics. The accommodation for the nine day-stay in an executive deluxe room at China World Motel alone was $6,388.

A spokesperson for Mr Cosgrove said the hotel was designated by the Chinese government, with the Minister not allowed to choose.

Then Prime Minister Helen Clark agreed Mr Cosgrove had to go but questioned the length of the stay in a hand written note on the proposal for overseas travel.

I have no issue with the Minister of Sport attending the Olympics.But like Helen, I would question whether nine days is excessive.

Stuff also reports:

One night at a top-end London hotel in Mayfair cost the tax-payer $1435.93, Ministerial credit card receipts reveal.

Labour MP David Cunliffe travelled to London in his capacity as the Minister for Communications and Information Technology in March 2007.

The receipt from the staff credit card used to pay for the trip shows Cunliffe and one other person booked two rooms at The Westbury Hotel in Mayfair, London.

The Westbury is a five-star hotel on London’s exclusive Bond Street. The hotel charged $441 per night for each of the two rooms Cunliffe booked. Lunch at the hotel cost $117 and breakfast was $66.

I thought the opening sentence is actually a bit misleading as one could assume the $1,400 is the room rate. Only later on do you see the actual room rate is NZ $441 a night which frankly is pretty damn reasonable for London.I don’t see anything inappropriate there.

In the Herald, Chris Carter defends his spending as “minor mistakes”:

* $607 for some campaign posters and 14 British Labour Party coffee mugs:

“We had visitors [to the office] every hour and we served tea and coffee. While in a bookshop [in London] we bought 14 cups – they’re bright red and say ‘Labour’ on them. We could have bought cups in Briscoes but these had ‘Labour’ designs.

I’m amazed that this one was approved by Ministerial Services. The taxpayer should not be funding campaign posters from the UK and if a ministerial office needs some coffee mugs then one can get some very nice one locally for around $5 each – from Briscoes in fact. It looks like the “Labour” cups cost around $40 each.

A $5507 bill for car travel in Adelaide:

“We were told by Ministerial Services in Wellington that when a Minister goes to Australia you must use cars provided by the Australian Government because of security reasons.

“They’re horrendously expensive but that’s how it was. [We were] a prisoner of the Australian rules and had no choice. I would have been just as happy in the cheapest taxi.”

I am highly highly suspicious of this claim, and hope media ask some more questions on it.

My understanding is that many Ministers use taxis in Australia. I think Anne Tolley recently went there for two days and her taxi bills were around $80 to $100. So this requirement or policy Carter refers to has either lapsed or never existed.

Also remember that Chris Carter had the rental hire in his partner’s name in the Northern Territory. How would that be possible if the Australian Government really insisted that you had to use Government limos if you are a visiting Minister.

I think some calls to the Australian DFAT are in order!

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Nice to see cheap point scoring avoided

September 8th, 2009 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The Dom Post reported:

Police Commissioner Howard Broad has a chauffeur as the force slashes its vehicle fleet and considers selling stations and houses to cut costs.

Police are defending the driving position, despite claims that some community constables have lost their cars to help shave $21 million off the police budget. Police are selling up to 340 vehicles and are considering selling stations or housing to help make budget savings.

Police National Headquarters said a “logistics and project officer”, who is a sergeant, acted as a driver for Mr Broad, but said he also had other duties. These included organising security and providing support to Mr Broad while he was on the road.

I think the story is a bit of a beat-up, but often people will use it to score points. But look at this. First the Minister:

Police Minister Judith Collins backed the role. “He has got to be available to take urgent phone calls of a critical nature at a moment’s notice.”

Then the union:

Police Association president Greg O’Connor said he believed the driving job was “an absolutely essential role”. He agreed that some officers would question it continuing while cars were being cut from the fleet, but said it was a completely separate issue because Mr Broad would have a car regardless.

And then the Opposition:

Labour law and order spokesman Clayton Cosgrove said the role was justified. “[The commissioner] is on deck 24 hours, seven days a week and he is running a department of in excess of 10,000 people.”

Well done Clayton Cosgrove. Being in opposition doesn’t mean having to criticise everything.

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Some signs of hope within Labour

August 16th, 2009 at 10:20 am by David Farrar

The Herald reported:

“We’d only go down the private route if we thought we were going to get a more cost-effective service,” Mr English said. “So over the next 12 months or so we’ll see whether the publicly funded and run prisons can give us better management of the prisons and less escapes, if the other arrangements look like they will give us a worse service then we won’t go with them.”

Labour’s law and order spokesman Clayton Cosgrove said the jury was still out on whether private prisons offered maximum value for taxpayers’ money.

Maybe I’m reading too much into it, but this seems a less hostile tone to the private sector that usual for Labour. Cosgrove has just said the jury is out, rather than state an ideological hatred opposition to having the private sector involved. I’m hoping this is deliberate and this is progress.

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Harre labels Cosgrove’s comments disgraceful

April 20th, 2009 at 2:30 pm by David Farrar

I blogged earlier today about Clayton Cosgrove’s comments. On Nine to Noon politics Matthew Hooton called them unhelpful. That was restrained to Laila Harre who said:

I think Matthew’s description of Clayton Cosgrove’s comments as unhelpful should be restated as “disgraceful”.

Matthew responded he was being subtle, and Laila said that in relation to Clayton Cosgrove there is no need to be. She continued:

His comments are utterly disgraceful.

Finally Laila said she was ashamed to see Labour behave like this. I suspect many in Labour feel the same.

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Clayton Cosgrove at work

April 20th, 2009 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

The HoS Editorial attacks critics of the proposed Maori prison unit:

It is dispiriting to hear the word “apartheid” bandied about in such circumstances. That word applied to a particularly loathsome kind of institutionalised racial oppression written into law in a specific time and place. Under the guise of separate development, it deliberately maintained one racial group as an underclass. Tackling the appalling Maori imprisonment rate cannot reasonably be seen as oppressive towards non-Maori.

Those who seek to depict it as an easy ride for which an inmate qualifies simply by virtue of his skin colour are being at least mischievous, if not reactionary.

So who is this reactionary critic, the HoS refers to? It can only be Clayton Cosgrove, whose PR said:

“Punishments for violent offenders who commit crimes against ordinary New Zealanders should not be based on an accident of birth and that is exactly what the Government is proposing.

“Targeted rehabilitative programmes delivered within the mainstream prison system are appropriate and their benefits should continue to be explored.

“Unfortunately the Government is not proposing to do this; it is proposing to develop an entirely separate set of punishments and of privileges based solely on race.

“Minister of Maori Affairs Pita Sharples stance is an insult to victims of crimes.

“A rape victim or victim of any violent offence should know that their offender will be punished equally no matter what their race.

“Dr Sharples seems to care little for victims of crime if he believes that allowing violent offenders to go flatting or be given special privileges based on race is an appropriate punishment.

As others have noted this was a total misrepresentation of how these units would work – no one would be sentenced to them. Towards the end of their sentence they may qualify to go there to increase their chance of rehabilitation.

Some commentators have compared Cosgrove’s outburst to Don Brash;s Orewa speech. Now personally I feel such a comparison is very unfair to Dr Brash (Brash never used such inflammatory language) but let us accept it is in the same vein . Now my spies have dug out a SST newspaper story from February 2004, in response to Orewa. Quotes include:

[MP] yesterday compared Brash’s rhetoric to that of Australian ultra-nationalist Pauline Hanson, who also used the “one people” line to argue against special treatment for Aborigines. …

“If Dr Brash continues with these coded messages of division, then you’re going to see that behaviour coming to a pub or a street near you. And that would be a tragedy.”

“If Dr Brash is not careful, his legacy to this country will be the politics of divisions, the Hansonite politics,” he said.

“Brash has gone too far. He’s Xeroxed off Pauline Hanson’s words and Pauline Hanson’s campaign strategy. Those words are a code for division, a code for unrest, a code that tore Australia down the middle.”

So who was this MP viciously attacking Don Brash for his Orewa speech, and comparing him to Pauline Hanson?

It was a Clayton Cosgrove MP.

So will Clayton Cosgrove MP compare Clayton Cosgrove MP to Pauline Hanson?

Is this new strategy approved by Phil Goff and Parekura Horomia?

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The Upper South Island Seats

November 13th, 2008 at 10:16 pm by David Farrar

The birthplace of Labour, West Coast-Tasman went to National on the party vote by 11%. In 2005 the had a 3% margin. Damien O’Connor had a 1,500 majority and lost to Chris Auchinvole by 1,000 votes. Auchinvole (who once famously told Parliament you pronounce his name like it was Dock in Cole or a rude version that is easy to work out) wan a strong campaign with 160 hoardings and a large campaign team. O’Connor is first in on the Labour List, so if Michael Cullen retires he will be back as a List MP.

National finally won the party vote in Nelson. Labour won it by 6% in 2005 but National has a 5% lead in 2008. And no one was surprised that Nick retained his seat, although his majority did shrink from 9,500 to 7,900.

Kaikoura was marginal in 2002 and today the party vote was won by 23%, up from 9% in 2005. Colin King doubled his 4,700 mJority to 10,100.

Clayton Cosgrove did well to hold on in Waimakariri with 500 votes against the competent and hard working Kate Wilkinson. National won the party vote by 15%, up from a 0.3% margin in 2005. Cosgrove’s 2005 majority on new boundaries was 5,000.

Christchurch East remains red with 45% party vote Labour to 36% for National. However that 9% gap is a lot less than 24% in 2005. Dalziel’s 11,000 majority halved to 5,500 – still very safe. However National now has a List MP in the seat and will have hopes for when Lianne retires.

Christchurch Central was a great battle. Labour won the party vote by 1.4% and held the seat by 900 votes only. Nicky Wagner ran a very strong campaign but seats ending in Central are very hard to win for National. In 2005 the party vote margin was 22% and the majority for Barnett was 7,800.

Ilam has National 53% to 27% on the party vote. Gerry Brownlee also drives his majority from 5,500 to 10,800. This may finally stop Gerry from referring to his seat as marginal :-)

Wigram saw Labour win the party vote by just 2%. In 2005 it was 12%. And Jim Anderton scored a fairly safe 4,500 majority despite new boundaries.

Finally we have Port Hills. National won the party vote by 16%, yet Ruth Dyson held the seat by 3,100. In 2005 Labour won the party vote by 12% so there was a massive swing there, yet Dyson’s majority shrank from just 3,600 to 3,100.

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ODT looks at new leadership for Labour

July 8th, 2008 at 12:20 pm by David Farrar

The ODT looks at who will be the new leaders for Labour:

However, within Labour circles the speculation has started on likely replacements. …

But if Labour loses and the election result is close, party sources believe Trade Minister Phil Goff is the principal candidate for the job.

He is seen as a safe replacement who would not shift Labour markedly away from its centre-left position.

Goff is centre-left but more centre than left. He would be far more in touch with the electorate and less likely to make massive blunders such as Clark’s positioning over Section 59.

Police Minister Annette King is seen as the logical deputy leader for Mr Goff, to give the party a gender balance and an Auckland-Wellington split.

Gender balance will be important for Labour. I am not sure King is looking to spend another nine years in politics though. Also her star has dipped this year.

If the polls hold up, Labour could lose up to 18 MPs, including electorate members.

If the defeat is not too broad, Mr Goff will be challenged by Health Minister David Cunliffe and Labour Minister Trevor Mallard.

The conventional wisdom is Cunliffe will stand against Goff. I can’t see Mallard being a contender after his demotion last year.

Both would bring with them an image problem.

Mr Cunliffe was identified early in his career as a potential leader, but has earned the disdain of some colleagues for his “superior” attitude.

However if he has Helen’s backing against Goff, I would not count him out.

A decimation of Labour will see other candidates chancing their arm in the belief that it will take Labour six years, or two terms, to win office.

Energy Minister David Parker and Immigration Minister Clayton Cosgrove will mount challenges.

Neither is particularly popular with colleagues, and Mr Cosgrove will be a fiercer competitor than Mr Parker.

Parker for Leader? I’m sorry but my first reaction is has the ODT gone mad? But then I realised no they are just parochial and feel the need to include a local person in the speculation.

Mr Cosgrove has been a member of the party since he was 14, and is a protege of former prime minister Mike Moore.

Which is about as helpful in Labour as being endorsed by Dick Cheney is in the US.

Mr Parker is seen more in the mould of former prime minister Sir Wallace (Bill) Rowling, and would offer a leadership style out of step with modern politics.

Hmmn, the ODT has a point. Parker is a lot like Rowling.

Also in the mix at this level will be Building and Construction Minister Shane Jones, a Maori MP of whom was expected great things.

He is said to be “hugely bright” but pompous and obviously ambitious.

I think they have the hugely before the wrong word :-)

My genuine best advice for Labour after the election would be Goff Leader, Cunliffe as Finance and Street as Deputy.

Hat Tip: Homepaddock (which is now a daily read)

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Espiner on Cosgrove

June 13th, 2008 at 2:50 pm by David Farrar

Colin Espiner analyses what is happening with Clayton Cosgrove and the Real Estate Bill:

But Jones has been left in the shade by Cosgrove. We’re getting used to the minister’s “I’m gonna run dodgy real estate agents out of town” Bush-isms but things reached a new level this week when the MP for Waimakariri pulled the old “If I’m too tough then too bad” line out of the hat.

“National Party leader John Key has admitted that reform of the sector is needed but he opposes the (Real Estate Agents Bill) because he doesn’t like my tough guy approach,” said Cosgrove with a straight face. Shrugging off what was left of his self-effacement, Cosgrove went on: “If protecting consumers from getting ripped off and supporting honest real estate agents is being tough, then I am guilty as charged.”

Good grief. It’s Cosgrove versus Key at the OK Corral.

I have praised Cosgrove in the past for his tough line in an industry which needs reform, but his ego seems to now be taking over. There are times when you have to talk tough, and times when you need to work constructively and a good Minister knows when to deploy both.

Cosgrove made a couple of other quite extraordinary claims during the week, too. First, he said real estate agents had met top Fairfax executives in an attempt to heavy them into writing nicer things about the industry, and threatened to pull advertising if they didn’t agree.

Then he said National had stitched up a secret deal with the institute to overturn the Real Estate Agents Bill if it got into government. He even hinted the institute was funding part of National’s election campaign.

He made these claims without any proof, besides the hearsay claim of an anonymous real estate agent-turned-informer, who claimed he’d heard institute president Murray Cleland tell a regional branch meeting in Palmerston North about it.

Hmmn, is that the same anonymous person who told Trevor Mallard about the anonymous American bagman?

And of course National MPs have met with the institute – as have Labour MPs, and indeed MPs from all parties. It’s called lobbying. What Cosgrove is trying to say, however, is that meetings with the Government are fine, but meetings with newspaper executives or the National Party are immediately suspicious.

Having done some lobbying myself (for InternetNZ mainly) one often meets with MPs on select committees outside the formal meetings. It is totally standard practice, and usually invaluable to increasing understanding of the issues. And normally you get a sympathetic hearing but no  guarantees, as parties need to undertake their own discussions at Caucus level on how they will ultimately vote.

One of the reasons for Cosgrove’s anger could be the fact that his bill is losing support. NZ First has indicated it has problems with it, National says it won’t vote for it, and neither will United Future or Act.

But he may be the victim of his own moderate success as a politician, too. The tough-guy routine works OK for a while, but at some point change needs to be effected by getting alongside your enemies, not trying to run them out of town all the time.

Cosgrove could probably have kept both National and NZ First onside with a little attitude change on his part, but he doesn’t appear to have cottoned on to this yet. If he wants to become more than just an attack politician, Cosgrove needs some lessons in diplomacy.

I think Clayton would be wise to listen to Mr Espiner. It would be a shame if some needed reforms do not happen, because of the way he manages the Bill.

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Ministers under pressure

May 29th, 2008 at 8:27 am by David Farrar

The Herald looks at three new Ministers under pressure.

First is Maryan Street who spent all of Wednesday defending the $65,000 conference at Tongariro Lodge (ably backed by various Labour blogs) to then have the carpet pulled out from under her by the PM who declared yesterday it was totally unacceptable, the Minister was wrong, the Chair had been reprimanded and the CEO should have her salary docked.

Clark’s response, while somewhat over the top, is the one Street should have had from the beginning. I do think David Parker went far too far when he actually said he thought the CEO should have their pay docked – does the man not know anything about employment law and undue pressure? Anyway Clark understands that the issue is the nature of the resort. As I said – hold it at Rotorua Novotel and there would be no issue.

It didn’t get better for Street as it was revealed there was a second plush conference in 2003 at the Heritage Hotel & Spa du Vin. Meanwhile the Hawke’s Bay DHB couldn’t help scoring a point, pointing out their retreat for managers cost only $180!

What is surprising is the Street ignored Clark’s advice not to defend it, but did anyway – and then got over-ruled. Street has impressed many for her abilities to date – it remains to be seen.

Then you have Clayton Cosgrove, as more and more questions are asked about what he did or did not know, and how he has claimed there has been no cases of corruption – directly contradicting answers from his predecessor, Again Cosgrove has generally been astute championing populist issues. Hell even I cheered him on as he deals to elements on the real estate industry. But he does appear to have shown a remarkable lack of curiousity when it comes to a less populist issue – the Immigration Service.

The Herald also looks at Parker dealing with both the power shortage issues and the Emissions Trading Scheme. I have to say Parker baffles me. He came in as a potential star and I was initially a fan as he actually had a sucessful business background and appeared to be quite snesible and moderate on economic issues.

I’m not sure what has happened, but he really is struggling for credibility. He is almost cut out of the decision making process on the ETS, and just does not inspire confidence at all. I’m not saying this because he is Labour. Many of their Ministers are quite competent – I just don’t like their policies. I thought Parker would be one of the better ones, but I remain unconvinced.

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Shabby behaviour as usual

May 16th, 2008 at 4:15 pm by David Farrar

Just to show that there is no shame, have a look at how Labour Ministers both claimed wrongly a National MP had said something he had not, but then how nasty they get, and how the Speaker protects them. From yesterday:

Dr the Hon Lockwood Smith: What changed between the time when David Cunliffe, the then Minister of Immigration, was briefed, as he now alleges, on completion of the Oughton inquiry in July of last year, and when he himself was fully briefed in December last year on the Oughton report—what changed between then and April this year, when the Oughton report was exposed to public scrutiny, other than the fact that the cover-up was over?

Hon CLAYTON COSGROVE: In order to assist the member, I tell him that the previous Minister was not briefed in December. I was the Minister at that time.

Dr the Hon Lockwood Smith: I said you.

Hon CLAYTON COSGROVE: No, the member said “the Minister at the time”, and “the previous Minister”.

Now have a look at the Hansard.  Lockwood clearly refers to David Cunliffe as per-December and Cosgrove as the Minister in December as he says “he himself” in the question to Cosgrove. Cosgrove is clearly wrong with his insistance Lockwood had it wrong.

Hon Dr Nick Smith: You’re wrong.

Hon CLAYTON COSGROVE: I think we may need stretcher-bearers for one particular member. This is a serious issue, and should be dealt with in a serious way. We may need stretcher-bearers for the other Dr Smith. Can I say—

Now again remember Cosgrove is in the wrong here, and Nick Smith is correct in backing up Lockwood. So what does Cosgrove do – resort to the normal smear they use against Nick.

Hon Dr Nick Smith: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker.

Madam SPEAKER: There is a point of order; it will be heard in silence.

Hon Dr Nick Smith: The Minister, in reciting my colleague Dr the Hon Lockwood Smith’s question, was mistaken in his restating of the course of events. In response to an interjection from me saying that he was wrong, I was then subjected to personal abuse. I think it would be helpful if Dr Smith re-asked his question—in which his dating and timing were correct—because it seems that the Minister was confused about the question that my colleague Dr Smith was asking.

Nick doesn’t respond to the taunt, but just makes the point that the Ministers were mistaken so the question should be re-asked, so the Minister addresses the correct question.

Hon David Parker: I, as well as Minister Clayton Cosgrove, listened carefully to the question, and I am clear that the question that was asked included the imputation that the Minister was the prior Minister, not the current Minister, and that is the point to which Mr Cosgrove was responding.

David Parker jumps in, and also has it clearly wrong, as the Hansard shows.

Madam SPEAKER: I thank members for their interventions. I think if members would keep the noise down, it would be easier to hear. As I have said, interjections do occasion responses. Would the Minister please just respond to the question as succinctly as possible.

Dr the Hon Lockwood Smith: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. It would appear that confusion has arisen around my question. It was very clear. I would be very happy to repeat it to avoid that confusion.

Madam SPEAKER: No, I think we should take it in the order it was. I am happy to look at the Hansard. I heard it also in the way that, I am afraid, others did. The member, obviously, feels that he did ask another question. As I said, I am happy to go and look at it later. Could we have a succinct answer to the question, and there is always an opportunity to ask another question—there are still supplementary questions available.

And now the Speaker also gets it wrong, and even worse won’t let Lockwood re-ask the question, despite the fact clearly the Ministers misheard what he said.

Hon Annette King: I raise a point of order, Madam Speaker. We are on question No. 8 and we have had Dr Nick Smith running interference on every question across the House. He is not asking questions; he is just interjecting and yelling out personal comments. I think we have just about had enough today, and I ask you to require him not to continue going on in that fashion.

Annette seems to have missed the log in her own colleague’s eyes.

Madam SPEAKER: Well, I think that today comments have been made from all sides of the House. Obviously, it does create disorder, and it has. Members have noted the comments that have been made from all sides of the House on this matter. Could I please ask the Minister to succinctly address the question, and then we will ask Dr Smith to ask the question again. Thank you.

And then the Speaker totally confused says Cosgove will answer/address the question, and then have it re-asked!!! And then it isn’t!

Labour have been warned many times over their repeated goes at Nick with references to taking pills, and now out on a stretcher. That is bad enough at any time, but Labour may wish to consider the old saying that those in glass houses should not throw stones.

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