Four more valedictories

July 25th, 2014 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

First is Rajen Prasad:

 I have been entrusted with the roles like New Zealand’s Race Relations Conciliator, Human Rights Commissioner, adjudicator in immigration cases, and * Chief Families Commissioner. But nothing prepares you for your life as a politician. In the eyes of many, I became useless, self-interested, untrustworthy, and just a bloody politician overnight. Such is the contempt in which we are held, but that reputation is neither accurate nor deserved. I have the utmost respect for all my parliamentary colleagues across the House. I have never worked with a more hard-working group of individuals dedicated to providing 24/7 for the nation and for their constituents.

A nice reminder that most MPs are very hard working and dedicated people. Yes there are some bad eggs, but they are the minority.

I have been asked to speak directly to Mrs Macindoe of Hamilton, Tim’s mother, who wants to know why I am always mean towards her son when debating in the House. Tim has been unable to convince her otherwise. Mrs Macindoe, I am speaking to you. I count your son as a friend, and we have travelled together through China and Mongolia with our partners. Tim is a perfect gentleman and on every occasion outside this House we act as friends and we always inquire about each other’s health. It is the nature of life in this Chamber to debate vigorously when our values lead to different policy prescriptions, but we remain civil, we remain supportive, we remain friends, and I count you as one of them and, through you, everybody else. 

Nicely said.

I want to make a few comments about ethnic affairs and immigration. But first I want to acknowledge the current ethnic members of this Parliament: Raymond Huo, Kanwaljit Singh Bakshi, Melissa Lee, and Jian Yang. Although we come from different sides of the House, we collectively understand ethnic issues and the demands of our communities. However, I wonder whether the nature of these demands is fully understood in the various courts of this Parliament. There are 500,000 members of ethnic communities in New Zealand, and this is our constituency. These communities have come to see ethnic MPs as their link to our formal systems. In addition, they have a not unreasonable expectation that we will be their advocates, their advisers, and their champions. We are required to be present at all their major events and functions, to speak at all of them, to act like their electorate MPs. So for ethnic MPs the country becomes our electorate and there is no end to the constituency matters that we have to deal with.

Sadly Labour may end up with no Asian MPs after the election. Hell they may end up with no List MPs at all!

I have seen a suggestion that all MPs should prepare an individual annual report on what work we have done as a way of informing our people. This is a sensible idea and could be useful in reaching over the media to inform people more widely. Instead, what is reported is how many press statements we put out, how many Official Information Act requests we lodge, or how many questions for written answer we ask. These have become the measuring stick, never mind the fact that most of them are never published, and that many are binned immediately after they have been received. 

Hmmn, I think he is referring my league tables. The trick is to get them published, and if you never put any out – well …

DARIEN FENTON (Labour): Tēnā koe, Mr Assistant Speaker, ngā mihi nui, kia koutou, tēnā koutou katoa. I want to first of all acknowledge my buddy Rajen Prasad, and tell him that I have still got the photos from our trip to Taiwan and that I am planning to divulge them before I leave. I also want to acknowledge you, Mr Assistant Speaker, because you will make your valedictory next week, and I am also looking forward to that, and it has been a pleasure working with you. I want to acknowledge all members of Parliament whom I have served with, and I do so without rancour or criticism, because much to my surprise, over nearly 9 years in Parliament, I have found that despite furious debate about political difference, most MPs come here with sincere intent. 

It’s a pity we only get reminded of this as valedictories.

I know that some people think I was born a devil beast trade unionist, but my apprenticeship to the labour movement in this Parliament was forged in many different experiences and some very tough jobs. I grew up in a family where war and politics cast a long shadow. My grandfather Frederick Frost fought and was injured in Somme* in the First World War*. . That man started his first job at the age of 12 as a pit boy in a Northumberland mine. So if I am a bit rough around the edges, I think you probably get it now. He was elected the Labour MP for New Plymouth in the wartime Labour Government led by Michael Joseph Savage* and then Peter Fraser*. . My father Verdun Frost was a navigator in World War II* and patrolled the Pacific. Like his father he was a declared socialist. My mother, the very staunch and Catholic Patricia Mary Te Rata Mahuta Kerr, came from an ancestry of Irish rebels. She was very stroppy. I was scared of her. Tau Henare descends from that line, so you kind of know what I mean. You cannot help your relatives. My parents instilled in their two sons and two daughters the hope of a better and fairer life for all in New Zealand. My generation profited from their sacrifice and hard work. Early Labour Governments meant that I, along with John Key, grew up in a State house and benefited from State-funded health and education. That gave me choices that younger people do not have today. I had the freedom and security to be different and to challenge. With my troublemaking heritage, it was inevitable that I would be drawn to the anti-war nuclear movements and the remote hippy generation of the 1970s. It led me on a journey that was both good and bad. I dropped out of education. I had a range of interesting and boring jobs. I travelled through dangerous countries, and I did some silly things. Some will have read the story of my drug addiction, when I was a younger person in the 1970s. Despite treatment and recovery years ago, I reluctantly agreed for my story to be published this year. It is still such a taboo topic, so hard to talk about. It was one of the hardest things I have ever done. I blame no one but myself for my mistakes, and I have made plenty. Drug-taking was a means of defiance against the establishment and seemed cool at the time. I know that the threat of law-breaking or addiction did not stop me, and the opprobrium of society made no difference. I want to say that smoking a joint did not lead me to other drugs; criminals selling drugs did. That is why I believe that the war on drugs has been a total failure. That is why I think it is time for this Parliament to treat drug abuse as a health problem, not a criminal offence—that means properly funded addiction treatment. I also believe it is time for politicians in this House to decriminalise personal marijuana use and take the crooks out of the business. 

A very interesting background, and I agree with her on drugs.

Hon Dr PITA SHARPLES (Minister of Māori Affairs):

I will just tell you straight that I go up and down the country talking to my people and I say to you—and I will say it again now—that Parliament is a Westminster system that is all about the vote. If you are able to secure the vote you are able to secure change and progress for you and your party. It is not just how loud you protest outside is or the issues you bring up; this is about sitting at the table. You have got to be at the table. That is why parties go to extraordinary lengths to try to do deals and be at the table and so on, and that is great—that is the system. But just know that that is the system. I really feel strongly that there should be programmes introduced in schools. This is what we did with * Te Reo Māori. It was slipping away—gone burger. Then, suddenly, we brought in * kōhanga reo and started teaching the little ones. Now they are reading the news in Māori. Now they are working for companies. Now they have got their own companies, kōrero Māori ana. And it works. So what about if we had some lessons in schools about our system of Government: what it is, what you do there, how you make laws and you get rewards and things for your people?

If you’re not at the table, then you’re just a series of press releases.

Well, you think you know your Prime Minister. I am going to just give you the real Prime Minister. You are a strong, forceful leader, albeit with a strange sense of humour.

Very strange :-)

I have got a lot of * mokopuna. They are all here—downstairs, I guess. I have got one great mokopuna. He is 1 now, and his name is Kanohi Tanga Utu Kanohi Tū Hanga. I want to speak to him now. E moko, in 30 years you can become the new co-leader of the Māori Party. You will have more than 20 Māori caucus members and be deciding which ones should be in the House of Representatives—in Parliament—and which ones should be in the “Upper Treaty Senate”, which, 30 years ago, began with our constitutional review. Moko, in 30 years’ time you will be dealing with a * superministry called * Whānau Ora. In my time, they had separate ministries for social development, education, employment, and so on. Moko, in 30 years’ time you will be dealing with the chief executive officers of Māori statutory boards all around the country. In my time we had to have a * hīkoi, we had to have lots of hui, and we had to have a scrap in * Cabinet to get the first one up and running in Auckland. In 30 years’ time you will be dealing with a “Minister for the Rights of Indigenous Peoples Negotiations”. That is right—that is the one who replaced the * Minister for Treaty of Waitangi Negotiations after all the settlements were completed. In my time, when we got the declarations signed they said it would not mean anything—by the way, that is what they said about the Treaty as well. Moko, in 30 years’ time you will be dealing with all the * Whare Ōranga Ake units that have been created. Back in my time they were called prisons and did not provide any rehabilitation programmes. Oh yes, moko, keep up with your English language, because in 30 years’ time * Te Reo Māori will be the official language of New Zealand, spoken by all. And so, mokopuna, grow strong; you have much to do. * Tēnā tātou.

A vision for NZ for his grandchildren.

Hon TARIANA TURIA:

There is nowhere where I feel more at peace than in the still tranquillity of the * Whanganui River, * Te Awa Tupua, our life blood, our tribal heartbeat, the sacred umbilical cord that unites us from the mountain to the sea. Every year our iwi come together to connect as one through the journey that we call the Tira Hoe Waka. In many ways the last 18 years in this place have been like that same journey that we take: a journey of hope, hope for a better future for our * mokopuna. 

Like Sharples, a focus on the future.

And my beloved friend-in-arms Parekura—I miss him so much. Whenever I think of Parekura, I think of how important he has been to my family. My baby, my mokopuna* whom I have raised, Piata, who would have given anything to be Ngati Porou*, , used to come home from school and say to me “Māmā*, , can I just say that I am?”, because she wanted Parekura to be her real pāpā.

Oh, that is so nice.

 And Darren Hughes—that amazing young man Darren Hughes—who I thought would one day be the leader of the Labour Party and who in fact will end up being the Prime Minister of New Zealand. I miss him so much; he was a great young man, a beautiful young man.

If Darren was still an MP, I suspect he would be Deputy Leader by now.

 I want to take this opportunity to mihi to somebody in the House for whom I have huge respect and regard, and that is Hekia. Tēnā koe ki te Minita*. . I have absolutely loved your passionate belief that all of our children have a right to succeed in education. Second-best is not part of your vocabulary, and only excellence will do. You know that we are preparing the next leaders of this nation. I believe totally in what you are doing and I want to say that today in this House.

And the results for young Maori doing NCEA are improving significantly.

I cannot leave this House without recognising a real friend, Chris Finlayson. Chris is the greatest Treaty settlements Minister that we have ever had in this country.

If National gets a third term, we may see the last historical settlement completed!

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Fenton retires

May 16th, 2014 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Labour MP Darien Fenton will leave Parliament at the next election.

The list MP announced today she would not seek re-election at the September election.

“I’m grateful for the opportunity to have served in Parliament as a Labour MP for nearly nine years,” she said.

I wish Darien well. She always stood up for her views, and is a very approachable MP.

The retirement makes sense. It helps Labour rejuvenate, and even in the unlikely chance of a Labour-led Government she was unlikely to be a Minister (not close to Cunliffe).

This brings the number of retirements to four – Ross Robertson, Shane Jones, Rajen Prasad and now Darien Fenton.

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Fenton on addiction

February 14th, 2014 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Darien Fenton wrote in the HoS about her addiction to heroin in the 1970s. Good on her for talking openly about her experience and struggle. It can be painful talking about areas of our past where we have struggled with things, but I think it is good when people do so, as it sends a signal to others in the same position that can can get better.

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Fenton on Craig

October 8th, 2012 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Darien Fenton blogs:

Last night I attended the 101st anniversary of the Republic of China (Taiwan) anniversary, along with other parliamentary colleagues, Rajen Prasad, Hon Peter Dunne and National MP Jami-lee Ross. Peter Goodfellow, National Party President was there, and Paul Hutchinson attended, but had to leave early.

This was one of those occasions when we were there as invited guests to help celebrate the community’s pride in their country’s history and their place in New Zealand. When MPs attend these kind of events, we are welcomed as an important part of the celebration. As guests, our job is to respond appropriately and join in with the spirit of the occasion.

Speakers from all sides of the political spectrum spoke respectfully. There were no party politics, just an acknowledgement of the friendship and links between our countries, the contribution of the Taiwanese community in New Zealand and the celebration of their 101st special birthday.

But one person got it wrong. Colin Craig, Conservative Leader was also an invited guest.

He chose to use his speech to try to draw links between the Conservative party’s “family values” and Taiwan. For example,  (he said)  Taiwan has lower divorce rates than New Zealand.  And then he launched into a political speech about the marriage equality bill.

Maybe he thought he was onto a vote winner. But he caused embarrassment to his hosts and other guests.

And he showed appalling judgement.

I heard about this from almost every MP that was there – from three different parties. They all said Craig showed awful judgement in thinking a national day celebration is a forum for partisan speeches.

Some people think I am against a conservative type party in Parliament. I am not. I recognise there is a segment of the population that are socially conservative and economically wet, and they should be represented in Parliament.

My objection isn’t to there being a Conservative Party (or a NZ First Party). It is to their respective leaders. I actually wish Colin Craig would stop doing so many pratfalls. But if keeps saying idiotic things like being gay is a choice, and embarrassing himself at functions, then he’s going to have a tough time of it.

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Squashed

January 18th, 2012 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Despite the considerable union influence within his party and calls for him to offer support to Maritime Union members, new Labour leader David Shearer has kept quiet on the matter.

Yesterday Labour industrial relations spokeswoman Darien Fenton, who has been spotted on the picket line at the port, said her party was not taking sides in the dispute.

“We’ve been hoping that the parties will settle this, that they’ll find a way through this.”

You’ve been on the picket line, and now you’re saying you’re not taking sides? I think someone has squashed Darien.

Ms Fenton said Mr Shearer had been in regular touch with both sides, “and he’s in contact with me and we’re all discussing it regularly”.

“Our strong view at this point is it’s not helpful for politicians to get involved.”

Apart from being on the picket line?

I suspect that strong view is Mr Shearer’s.

Chris Trotter did an open letter to Shearer yesterday urging him to wade in:

Ultimately, isn’t it about answering the question: “Who is strong enough to stop the stone-throwers?” The men and women who formed the Labour Party in 1916 decided that the answer to that question was the State. If the State could be made to stop working for those who already exercised power, and began instead to work for those who were powerless, then a political party seeking to put an end to poverty, war and injustice would have a fighting chance.
Labour was formed to create a State that wasn’t neutral; a state that never stood on the side-lines when working people were being threatened and abused. Labour was about intervention: constant, massive, intelligent and creative intervention on behalf of the weak and against the strong.
It’s time to bid farewell to the white sands and the Pohutukawa blossoms, Mr Shearer, and come on down to the Auckland wharves. It’s time to cast aside the gathered cloaks of a spurious and culpable “neutrality” and place yourself and your party between the stone-throwers and their victims. It’s time to end the silence.
Chris writes beautifully, and his wonderfully penned missive almost had me wanting to rush down to the picket line. But the reality is that this is not a romantic battle between the forces of oppression and victims of oppression.
Shearer has made the right call staying out of it. If he rushed in, he would look like a puppet, not a principled politician.
And I’m not sure defending the right of people to be paid for 43 hours but only work 28 hours, is quite the same as being against the stoning of Christian martyrs, or seeing starving kids in the Sudan scrabbling over scraps of food.
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Don’t do it David

January 12th, 2012 at 10:29 am by David Farrar

Denis Welch blogs:

The Labour Party’s silence on the Ports of Auckland dispute is getting louder. Robert Winter has drawn attention to this in an excellent post: he says the dispute has become, potentially, the first defining moment for Labour under the new leadership of David Shearer, and they have to ‘step up and come out swinging on this issue.’

We wish. What is already remarkable about the dispute is how depoliticized it is, with not just Labour but all political parties keeping well clear of it. It’s a far cry from the days when ministers personally intervened in industrial action and Labour politicians sided with striking workers, even joining them on the picket line.

Oh I would love to see Labour MPs out on the wharfie picket line. That would be the best Xmas present ever.

But unless David Shearer is a moron, he will not be getting involved in this industrial dispute – especially as public support for the wharfies is confined to the UNITE union and the hard left.

When Denis Welch and Robert Winter urge David Shearer to get involved as a test of his leadership, they are not advocating in the best interests of the Labour Party – they are advocating for their views (nothing wrong with that) which are far to the left of Labour.

I don’t know if anyone has approached Shearer for comment or asked, um, wait a minute, who is Labour’s spokesperson on labour issues? I just looked it up: it’s Darien Fenton. Who knew? She may well be intensely credible on industrial relations but I don’t believe we’ve heard from her yet on the ports dispute.

I presume they have sedated Darien to stop her joining the picket line :-)

The only Labourish public figure to even put a fingertip over the trenches so far is Auckland mayor Len Brown, and he has come down on the woolly side of woofterish by declaring resoundingly that he supports both sides.

There is an unhappy echo there of Walter Nash’s infamous response to the 1951 waterfront dispute when he was Labour’s leader: asked whether he supported the watersiders he said he was neither for nor against them. I have a horrible feeling that Shearer, if he ever does comment, will say much the same thing.

Shearer should choose his words more carefully than Brown, but he absolutely should not come out swinging for the Maritime Union. It would just pigeon hole him as captive to the unions which fund the Labour Party (MUNZ is one of them). Only 25% of NZers voted for Labour. I suspect not even a majority of those 25% have sympathy for militant industrial action from a union representing what must be the most highly paid unskilled jobs in New Zealand.

At the most you might get Shearer saying that he is against contracting out (as this is existing Labour policy), and wants both sides to reach a settlement. But he should resist all efforts to get him involved. He is the leader of the parliamentary labour party and of the opposition – he is not a union spokesman. Clark would have never got involved, and Shearer shouldn’t either.

Talking of MPs with a view though, a good column from Botany MP Jami-Lee Ross. He notes:

Every Aucklander has a stake in the Ports of Auckland. It is not a privately owned company. Nor is it listed on any stock exchange. Each and every share in the company is owned by the Auckland Council on behalf of 1.4 million Auckland residents and ratepayers. The destruction in value in one of our city’s largest public assets is alarming and has to be of concern to us all. …

But numbers aside, it is obvious that losing the trade of New Zealand’s largest company, only a month after losing the business of one of the worlds largest shipping lines, has to be a wakeup call. Yet sadly for the Maritime Union, it isn’t. Sadly for port workers and Aucklanders alike, the Maritime Union continues to be unphased.

This isn’t a story of a greedy corporate hammering the little guy. This isn’t a story of a David versus Goliath battle where workers are being ripped off or paid a pittance. Few could call poverty on an average annual wage for a wharfie understood to be north of $90,000, with a proposed 10 percent hourly rate increase and performance bonuses of up to 20 percent, sitting on the table. To the average person on the street, the latest Ports of Auckland offer to the Union would almost seem generous.

It would be most interesting if the Herald (or someone) did a poll to ascertain the public’s views on the stand off.

The trade union movement evolved through a desire for workers to band together to protect their common interests. This is not a dishonourable goal. But when a union loses sight of its members long term interests and cavalier negotiating tactics start to backfire, the union itself begins putting its own member’s livelihoods at risk.

Unions still occupy a privileged position in New Zealand’s employment law; a relic of the last Labour administration which has not seen significant overhaul for some years. Few non-government organisations can boast clauses in legislation specifically designed for their benefit. Despite only 18 percent of the nation’s workforce being unionised, trade unions can look to whole sections of the Employment Relations Act written exclusively to aid union survival through legislative advantage.

Unions do get many major legislative advantages. These should be reviewed. Take just one – why should employers act as unpaid fee collection agents for unions?

I say unions should be like any other incorporated society – let them invoice their members directly for their membership fees.

UPDATE: It seems Labour Whip Darien Fenton has been spotted on the picket line. No surprise, but will we see other Labour MPs join her?

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Was it a cunning plan?

October 3rd, 2011 at 3:27 pm by David Farrar

The latest iPredict update notes:

There has been a change of forecast winner in West Coast-Tasman. For the first time since March, National’s Chris Auchinvole is expected to retain the rugby league loving West Coast-Tasman (55% probability up from 47% last week). This follows media reports of attacks on prominent rugby league supporter Sir Peter Leitch (“The Mad Butcher”) by two Labour MPs.

Now of course we don’t know why this has changed, but O’Connor has been in front since March, so you would think there is some specific event which changed this.

Sir Peter is popular on the Coast. He helped a west coast old lady “fleeced of life savings” and the Warriors played a match for Pike River Miners.

Now what is interesting is that Damien O’Connor is not on the party list. If he does not win West Coast-Tasman, he is out of Parliament. Now what this means for Labour is that they get one extra List MP. And you know what if Labour get around 24% to 25%, Darien Fenton would lose her list seat if Damien O’Connor wins West Coast-Tasman, but will keep her seat if he loses it.

So was her outburst on Facebook just a stupid unthinking outburst, or was it not so stupid after all?

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Labour v Leitch

October 1st, 2011 at 10:59 am by David Farrar

Labour doesn’t seem to learn. I’m now awaiting their attack on Richie McCaw. The Herald reports:

Rugby-netball double international Louisa Wall is sticking up for fellow Labour MP Darien Fenton over her attack on the public “bromance” between the Mad Butcher Sir Peter Leitch and Prime Minister John Key. …

But Ms Wall, who is back in Parliament for a second stint as a list MP, said the comments were misinterpreted, and she shared the disappointment at Sir Peter’s support for Mr Key – despite admiring his work.

 “We would have assumed Sir Peter was a working-class champion,” Ms Wall said.
But instead he is a class traitor, is the implication.
Ms Wall, who is contesting the safe Labour seat of Manurewa, said “personal is political”, and Sir Peter could not endorse Mr Key without endorsing his policies.
So if you say something nice about the Prime Minister, Labour thinks it means you hate working people.
The issue made the editorial of the NZ herald today:
For Ms Fenton, though, his broadcast utterances were political treason. That any member of the country’s working class could speak well of a “Tory” leader is anathema. Unthinkable. Unforgivable.

The Mad Butcher was shocked by her withering personal rejection and the attempt to denounce him for saying what he thinks. His former butchery business was also stunned by an inference some had taken that a Labour MP was calling for a boycott of the Mad Butcher stores, many of them in rock-solid Labour seats.

The Fenton comments would have been politically dumb and personally reprehensible at any time, given Sir Peter’s record for serving the communities the MP purports to represent.

But her timing, amid Sir Peter’s well-publicised but tentative recovery from cancer and the joy of all league fans at the Warriors’ late season success, was particularly damaging.
And Matthew Hooton lets loose in the NBR:

Labour has also rounded on Sir Peter Leitch, the Mad Butcher, who, after strongly supporting Helen Clark, now favours John Key. 

Labour List MP Darien Fenton declared she was, and I quote her directly, “never going near him again.” While he was “good in the past” he had “gone way out on a limb.” When asked whether it wouldn’t be better to try to win back his vote, she replied, and again I quote her directly: “Why?” Ms Fenton is guaranteed to be re-elected as a list MP, at the expense of quality Labour people like Kelvin Davis and Stuart Nash, who are both doomed.

At thestandard.org.nz, a blog written by Labour and union staffers and other leftist activists, the attacks on Sir Peter, who won his knighthood for services to philanthropy and the community, were even more vicious. One, defended on free-speech grounds by the blog administrators, was: “I wish the Mad Butcher would hurry up and die.”

Hooton concludes:

Such attacks on the Greens, left-leaning academics, the media and the popular Mad Butcher (in the very week his beloved Warriors will finally win the NRL!) suggest some kind of derangement syndrome caused by Labour’s fury at Mr Key’s popularity.

These people have learned nothing from their defeat in 2008. They despise the voters, whom they regard as ignorant and wrong. Unless such bitter and paranoid individuals lose influence within Labour, New Zealand won’t benefit from proper opposition until late 2014 at the earliest.

Matthew has commented that he received more positive feedback on this column, than any other he has written.

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Fenton v Leitch

September 30th, 2011 at 11:56 am by David Farrar

At Red Alert Darien Fenton blogs an apology to Sir Peter Leitch:

Peter’s a top bloke and he’s done a lot for Kiwi communities, and even though we might disagree on politics these days, I’ve still got a lot of respect for him.

So, Peter, if you are reading this, sorry about the comments.

Leitch has raised over a million dollars for charities.

We will be charitable and assume Darien’s apology was spontaneous and the timing at 10.43 pm was coincidence, not after she got phoned by the NZ Herald in relation to the story they were running today:

Sir Peter said from Melbourne yesterday that he did not know what to say when he heard what Ms Fenton had said about him.

“I honestly don’t know what to say, to be fair – and it’s not often that I’m lost for words. I don’t know what I’ve done wrong.

“I’m very disappointed and it’s just taken the wind out of my sails. I’m absolutely gutted by her comments.”

Sir Peter said he supported Helen Clark when Labour was in power and took her to Warriors matches.

“The National Party never complained that I supported Helen Clark,” he said.

“I’ve done nothing with John Key that I didn’t do with Helen Clark – I’ve been a little bit more vocal.”

Poor Sir Peter. He doesn’t realise that this makes him a class traitor. They don’t see it as supporting the PMs you like, they see it as betrayal.

In response to Ms Fenton’s claims that he was “sucking up to John Key big time”, he said: “I thought freedom of speech was one of the things people went to Gallipoli for. But obviously in her opinion, it’s not.”

Ouch. Of course that is not to say that free speech doesn’t have consequences, but advocating not to shop there because someone praised John Key is rather over the top. Phil Goff got it better:

Labour leader Phil Goff said today he did not agree with Ms Fenton’s comments about Sir Peter.

“I’m a real Warriors fan. I’ve been going to their matches for years and have caught up with the Mad Butcher many times. He is a great guy and a great ambassador for rugby league. He is absolutely entitled to express whatever opinion he likes. Go the Warriors against Manly.”

Much smarter.

UPDATE: Sir Peter reveals to Whale Oil how Fenton’s attack made him break down and cry, and how he spent all day cooking at David Lange’s funeral:

“I have been hurt immensely by her, last night I broke down and cried, I just feel stabbed in the back”. Sir Peter then went on to outline all the things he has been doing recently for Christchurch and the huge effort and toll that has taken on him. ” For her to attack me when I am trying my best for this country, well mate, I’m gutted.”

“The worst part in all this is in trying to attack me she has instead attacked 37 hard working, working class franchisees, she is taking the bread from their mouths” he said. “I sold the business 3 and half years ago and she didn’t even get that right”

“I though Labour was for the working class, after this I just don’t know”.

“But the thing that hurts the most is that I feel stabbed in the back. I gave free product and spent all day cooking at David Lange’s funeral, another working class hero, and this is what I get?

And Whale concludes:

When I asked him some political questions he refused to answer them, he said “Mate, I don’t want to get political, I’ve never been political, I just want what is best for this great little country.”

Just as well for Labour there isn’t an election in 57 days or anything like that. Oh shit …..

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Labour hating the Mad Butcher

September 27th, 2011 at 2:09 pm by David Farrar

Whale has screen shots of a Facebook thread from Labour MP Darien Fenton on the Mad Butcher. It reveals a lot.

Darien posts:

So, Mad Butcher, you have a choice, but so do I

So the Mad Butcher dared to say he though John Key was doing a good job (something that only 15% of NZers disagree with), and for that Darien wants him punished with a consumer boycott.

She stresses:

Sucking up to John Key big time. I’m never going near him again.

It must be tough for Darien, only able to shop at places where the owners agree with her political views. Personally, I shop based on location, price, quality and service.

Darien then exclaims:

Yes, he’s been good in the past. I don’t know what happened.

Note how the thinking is that something must have happened to Leitch to turn him evil.

Brad then makes the suggestion:

Perhaps Labour should work to earn back his support then.

Darien then responds with a priceless:

Brad – why?

Need any more be said.

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Lining up for Te Atatu

October 7th, 2010 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

The race for Chris Carter’s plum Te Atatu seat is suddenly wide open after a rush of nominations.

Apart from Mr Carter, who is still seeking the nomination despite being expelled from the Labour caucus, it is believed six people are vying to stand in the seat for Labour at the next election.

Among those believed to have thrown their hats into the ring are list MPs Phil Twyford and Darien Fenton and former Epsom candidate Kate Sutton. Another of Labour’s 2008 candidates, Hamish McCracken, could also be in the mix.

Twyford v Fenton could be interesting as there is a bit of history of tension there. After Twyford missed out on Waitakere, someone suggested on his Facebook page he could consider Northcote. Darien jumped in and basically said naff off, she’s been working hard there.

Kate Sutton would be fairly strong contender, but I don’t know if she has Westie roots. Hamish McCracken seems to try for every seat.

Will it be 4th time lucky for Twyford? Will Carter be expelled? Will Carter stand as an Independent if he is? To find out tune back in tomorrow at the same bat time on the same bat channel!

UPDATE: Carter has announced he will not stand in 2011:

Member of Parliament for Te Atatu (Labour), Chris Carter, has announced his decision to withdraw his candidacy for the Labour Party in the electorate of Te Atatu for the 2011 General Election.

“In good conscience I cannot campaign on behalf of a leader I have criticised,” said Mr Carter. “It would not be fair to him or ethical of me.

So not standing, as he can’t honestly say he supports Goff.

“Of course there are some things I wish I had handled differently. At the same time I also regret that, during the pressures I have faced in the past year, I did not receive the support, advice or guidance I expected from my party leadership. However I want to look forward to focussing on continuing to serve the people of my electorate and it is for the Labour Caucus to resolve the Leadership Question.

I can’t imagine Phil Goff’s initial response to the Paul Henry comments would have helped his position with some of his caucus members. Goff’s response was that it was just “Paul being Paul”. Goff could have inflicted some damage on John Key if it were not for that initial response. I can only imagine how furious some Labour MPs are at Goff for the missed opportunity.

‘I look forward to seeing Labour returned to the Treasury benches in the near future.”

Chris has also said that Labour can not win under Goff. So his implication is pretty obvious.

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Reconciling the polls

September 20th, 2010 at 5:52 pm by David Farrar

Darien Fenton at Red Alert blogs:

A UMR survey released today by the CTU shows that 80 per cent of New Zealanders oppose the Government’s planned changes to dismissal law.  Previous polls had asked the question about whether respondents supported a 90 day trial and unsurprisingly, the majority said yes – because after all these were already allowed under previous law.

But Darien is wrong in claiming the UMR poll shows 80% are opposed. The question that was asked is:

“Do you think that all employees should have the right to appeal if they think they have been unfairly dismissed, even if their dismissal was during the first 90 days of their employment?

Now that question is open to a very wide interpretation. An appeal can mean anything from asking your boss to reconsider, to appealing to your boss’ boss to “appealing” to the ERA.  The question is so wide, that it of relatively little value (in my opinion) in judging whether or not people support or oppose the Govt’s law change.

Note this is not a criticism of UMR.  This is a criticism of how Labour and the CTU have portrayed the results.

As a comparison, let us look at the poll done by Colmar Brunton for One News. It asked:

Currently employment law allows a business to take on a new worker and then if it does not work out dismiss that worker within 90 days without the worker being able to take a personal grievance claim. Currently the scheme only applies to companies with fewer than twenty employees but now the government plans to extend the 90 day trial period to cover all companies and so all new workers could be subject to the scheme. Some people believe this places workers in a vulnerable position but the government claims it creates jobs because businesses will be more willing to take on a new worker.

Do you think the 90 day trial law should be extended to cover all companies every time someone starts a new job?

Now this is a far better question (for judging if someone agrees with the Government’s proposed law change) as it tells people what the current law is, tells them what the proposed change is, and summarises arguments for and against.

Colmar Brunton found 60% in favour of extending the 90 day law to all companies.

This is a good example of the importance of poll questions. And again it isn’t that one question is necessarily “good” and one is “bad”.  It is about whether one can fairly interpret the poll result as reflecting what the public think of a proposed law change.

It is quite clear that the UMR result can not be used as representing public opinion on the Government’s law change. All it can be used for is representing whether people think there should be some sort of generic appeal from dismissal decisions – no details on who the appeal should be to – which is crucial. And an appeal is not the same as the right to take a personal grievance and get compensation etc.

One has to wonder why the CTU did not ask the same question as One News? The answer is obvious.

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Labour’s balanced transport policy

July 26th, 2010 at 8:18 pm by David Farrar

Labour’s Darien Fenton has said:

“Labour would support the lowering of the alcohol limit, because anything that will save lives on our roads is worth doing,” says Ms Fenton.

So we know what to look forward to if Labour get elected. Labour have said they will support anything that will save lives. Therefore I expect we will see:

  • A maximum speed limit of 30 km/hr. This will save hundreds of lives.
  • All cars to be fitted with technology which restricts speed to 30 km/hr
  • A doubling of petrol tax as pushing poor people off the roads will mean less traffic crashes.
  • A zero blood alcohol limit for all motorists
  • Carless Days, like under Muldoon, This should reduce the road toll by one seventh.
  • An offence to eat or drink while driving, as this can cause distractions
  • An offence to change the radio station while driving

What other policies can you think of for Labour, with their declaration that anything that will save lives on our roads is worth doing?

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A lock out

June 22nd, 2010 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Darien Fenton blogs at Red Alert:

Today I went to support the locked out staff at Auckland’s 4.5 star hotel, the Rendezvous – that’s the staff who keep the hotel clean and help provide an enjoyable stay for hotel guests.

I have to say I don’t like employers locking out staff as a way to solve a pay dispute, just as I think strike action over pay disputes should be a last resort also.

From an employers point of view, there is even less reason to do a lock out. If one can’t settle a pay dispute, then the existing terms and conditions carry on. So locking staff out has a certain bullying factor to it.

This trans-national hotel chain is offering a measly pay increase of 1.5% from now (no backdating) for two years until 2012.

1.5% over two years isn’t a lot. However would have been useful for Darien to specify what their current rates are, so one can judge in context. Also of interest is how profitable that hotel is. If the hotel is losing money, then that might explain it.

The last pay increase was in January 2008 so the workers have already been 18 months without a pay increase. And there’s a catch. The employer wants the workers to give back one day’s sick-leave, to increase the costs of staff parking and remove a subsidy for health insurance.  The Rendezvous says this is the final offer and the workers have been locked out from their jobs until they accept it.

As I said earlier, I don’t like employers who lock out staff to try and force them into accepting a pay offer. Again it would be useful to have more precise details of the “claw backs” such as how much sick leave is there currently, what is the current cost of staff parking and the current health insurance subsidy.

Look at these workers.  Are they militants?  Are they highly paid?  I don’t think so.  One housekeeper told me that she is expected to clean 18 rooms a day – an increase in 4 rooms since the Rendezvous took over the former Carlton Hotel.  Isn’t this a productivity increase?  Isn’t this supposed to deliver better wages?

I agree – greater productivity is what should lead to higher wages. Again, would be useful to have some stats on whether 18 rooms a day (I presume an eight hour day) is standard for the hospitality industry.

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Is Phil phucked?

March 22nd, 2010 at 12:08 pm by David Farrar

Chris Trotter comments on his blog about the career prospects for Phil Twyford:

His enemies in the EPMU, combined with his possession of a penis (and, increasingly rarely for a Labour MP – a pair of balls) have reduced his chances of securing a solid political base to something approaching zero.

Those same handicaps also put his position on the 2011 Labour List in doubt.

Clearly, being an intelligent and compassionate human-being, with an impeccable background in the voluntary/humanitarian sector, counts for far less in Labour circles than having a few union mates and a vagina.

Now it is tempting to this Chris is being a but harsh, but look at this extraordinary comment on Phil Twyford’s own Facebook page. Twyford said:

My colleague Carmel Sepuloni is the new Labour candidate for Waitakere. My congratulations to her. She will be fantastic going up against Paula Bennett. Commiserations to my fellow nominees Hamish and Ann. I’m very disappointed. I was excited about the chance to take on Bennett. But it was not to be. Good though for Labour to have a robust contested selection.

Very gracious. Then Labour activist Greg Presland left a comment saying:

Commiserations Phil. We have to fine a place for you, There should be another westie seat next time. Altenatively, Northcote and Coleman is the next most marginal Auckland seat. I am sure you could do it.

A reasonable suggestion, especially as Twyford stood on the North Shore last election. But then Twyford’s colleague, Darien Fenton, comments:

Well, Greg, we should have a conversation about Northcote. Other people, including me, have been working hard there.

Good God. Now remember this is on Phil Twyford’s own Facebook page, and he is being warned off Northcote by one of his colleagues who has the two essentials Trotter refers to.

UPDATE: The Herald also asks the same question over Twyford’s future.

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Fine the rich pricks more

January 13th, 2010 at 10:52 am by David Farrar

Labour MP Darien Fenton is “intrigued by the idea of fining people who break the law according to their wealth” and hopes Steven Joyce will consider this in his road safety review.

I look forward to Labour revealing more of its thinking for its 2011 election manifesto. What other proposals might we get:

  • Longer jail terms for rich pricks
  • All Govt owned companies (such as power) to introduce a rick prick tariff where you pay more if you earn more.
  • Primary and secondary schools to be able to charge compulsory fees to children of rich pricks
  • A&E Departments to refuse treatment to rich pricks unless they sign a statement showing their net wealth and hand over a credit card for 5% of it
  • Supermarkets to have two prices for every item – one price for those earning under $60,000 and another for those earning over $60,000

What other policy ideas for Labour in this vein can you think of?

UPDATE: Darien is not alone. Senior Labour MP Lianne Dalziel backs her. Lianne has already advocated fining the rich more in a letter last year to Steven Joyce, and thinks they should do more policy work on it.

Please, please do that policy work.

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Labour’s Northern List

March 25th, 2008 at 9:12 am by David Farrar

Tim Donoghue at the Dom Post has got hold of Labour’s list rankings for the Northern Region. Somewhat disappointing to see they are once again protecting all their incumbent MPs by ranking them ahead of any newcomers, no matter how talented.  But even that may see some List MPs fall away.

The average of the polls have Labour getting 42 seats. They currently have 31 electorate seats and it is not unreasonable to assume they will lose two Maori seats and five general electorate seats so assume 24 electorates and 18 List MPs. Where I note likely to win a seat, this is not a prediction or a concession. It is an assumption for this scenario.  Things can and will change in a campaign.

Now let us look at their Northern List:

  1. 1. Helen Clark* -likely to win seat
  2. 2. Phil Goff* – likely to win seat
  3. 3. Chris Carter* – likely to win seat
  4. 4. David Cunliffe* – likely to win seat
  5. 5. Shane Jones* – 1st list spot
  6. 6. Judith Tizard* – likely to win seat
  7. 7. Mark Gosche* – 2nd list spot
  8. 8. Lynne Pillay* – likely to win seat
  9. 9. Ashraf Choudhary* – 3rd list spot
  10. 10. Darien Fenton* – 4th list spot
  11. 11. Dave Hereora* – 5th list spot
  12. 12. Louisa Wall* – 6th list spot
  13. 13. Sua William Sio – likely to win seat
  14. 14. Raymond Huo – 7th list spot
  15. 15. Phil Twyford – 8th list spot
  16. 16. Hamish McCracken – 9th list spot
  17. 17. Carmel Sepulone – 10th list spot
  18. 18. Kelvin Davis – 11th list spot
  19. 19. Michael Wood – 12th list spot
  20. 20. Kate Sutton – 13th list spot

Now how many winnable list places would there be in Northern Region? Well generally their population is 1/3 to 1/4 of the total country, so if it follows population, one might expect four to six List MPs getting through from Northern.

So at this stage (and Labour has yet to combine the regional lists into a national list) Jones, Gosche, Choudary and Fenton look fairly safe, while Heroera and Wall are marginal, and the chances of a non MP making it in is remote on current numbers.

Choudary, Fenton and Heroera are not exactly high flyers. Despite Clark’s talk of more new blood needed, candidates like Phil Twyford look unlikely to make it in.

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