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.


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.


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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Spot the Spoof

April 16th, 2014 at 1:33 pm by Jadis

* Jadis post

So yesterday we had the dump truck policy from David Cunliffe, where he said:

“There’s nothing Kiwis like more than getting on the road and going on holiday. But on public holidays like Easter and Anzac Weekend fun can quickly turn to frustration when the family realises the rego for the caravan has expired or there’s a big truck hogging the fast lane.”

Then today we get this different kind of statement from Cunliffe (via Imperator Fish)

But we’re not stopping there. People also tell us that they can’t stand it when they’re merging in traffic, and when some clown in a souped-up car tries to push ahead of everyone else. We’ll make sure everyone merging in traffic follows the rules.

I’ve been travelling up and down this country talking to people, and I hear a lot of complaints. People are fed up. People have had enough. They’re at their wits’ end. They want to know why it is that when their neighbour’s car alarm goes off at three in the morning for the fourth night in a row, the police lack the power to confiscate the vehicle. We’ll fix that.

It simply isn’t good enough for this government to throw up its hands and say “not our problem” every time you go to open a tin of baked beans, only to find that the tin opener fails to cut the last bit, and then you have to get a spoon or a knife to twist the lid up, and then you have to wiggle the lid until it breaks off.

It’s not good enough for John Key and his rich mates to say “we’re not responsible” when you buy a carton of Anchor vanilla custard from the supermarket, take it home, and then open the carton at the top to pour the contents out, only to find that the custard is too thick to come out. Where’s the support for hardworking Kiwis forced to use a pair of scissors to cut the top of the carton off? Who’s looking after ordinary mums and dads forced to scoop the custard out with a spoon?

This is quality satire – all within the realms of possibility.  Well done, Scott.  I am sure you got a few heads nodding in agreement.


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Clustertruck continues

April 15th, 2014 at 5:18 pm by Jadis

* a Jadis post – by now you know the drill.  DPF will return one day

So it turns out that yet again Cunliffe and the Labour team haven’t checked the numbers or the unintended consequences of a policy announcement.  Ministry of Transport analysis shows that under Labour’s new policy many motorhomes would actually be charged higher Road User Charges – not lower as Cunliffe tried to suggest earlier today.  Brownlee explains this latest clustertruck from the Labour team:

“But analysis by the Ministry of Transport shows that based on the difference between average and maximum weights for trucks versus motorhomes, the owners of many motorhomes would end up paying more for Road User Charges than they do today.

“Road User Charges already assume that a vehicle travels empty about half of the time, as trucks frequently do travelling from a depot to pick up a load, or returning to the depot.

“Motorhomes, however, generally carry their furniture, fittings and other material at all times, which means they weigh more than an equivalent unladen truck.

“The 4.6 tonne average motorhome is in a weight band required to pay Road User Charges of about $57 per 1000 kilometres.  If paying by actual weight, Road User Charges would typically be between $50 and $70 per 1000 kilometres, depending on the exact weight of the vehicle and its fit out.

“So this policy would see many motorhome owners penalised rather than compensated, in some cases by as much as 22 per cent.

I wonder, was this Cunliffe’s intention?  May be he is doing us a favour by stealth and getting those slow motorhomes (and tourists) off the road.  The attack on the truckies was just a cunning sideshow.  Yeah, nah… I call Clustertruck on this one


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Cunliffe says “Truck off”

April 15th, 2014 at 1:32 pm by Jadis

* a jadis post as DPF lost on the mountain for days and days.  I could have posted earlier but to be honest I have a life of family, work, work, voluntary work, etc that means Kiwiblog got a lower priority


Well, it seems that David Cunliffe and Labour were so concerned about Kiwiblog’s hibernation that they felt the need to launch a nutty ‘waste of time’ policy.

What the truck is Cunliffe thinking with his ultimate ‘truck off’ policy?   This is real Matt ‘gamechanger’ McCarten stuff.

Under the transport proposals, trucks would not be able to drive in the fast lane in three or four-lane motorways. The move was designed to reduce congestion because trucks had a lower speed limit of 90km/h.

Cunliffe’s big speech today (the one where he is avoiding the House (despite multiple political angles he could run) and the speech that wasn’t even properly advised to media!) is titled ‘Leading and managing our economic future’ and this ‘Truck off’ policy” is his goldmine announcement to (his words) ‘leading and managing our economic future’.

OK, so here’s a few wee things for Mr Cunliffe to think about:

1. Trucks, yes those heavy ones, are very important to New Zealand’s economy.  There’s an awful lot of them particularly in the Golden Triangle (Auckland-Hamilton-Tauranga) that move goods to port for export, that move goods from suppliers to customers, and that employ thousands of New Zealanders.

2. The road rule is already 90km maximum for heavy trucks (as Cunliffe says himself) and the Police can (and do) tell off truckies if they could use a different lane.  The answer is not more legislation Mr Cunliffe.  The answer is if someone is breaking a rule then Police it.  Somehow I don’t think you’ll be asking the Police to up their focus on this area… or will you?

3. Sometimes truckies use the so-called fast lane because they have a turn coming up.  At what point does Mr Cunliffe propose the lane ban takes place? 100m? 50m? Will he then take responsibility for any crashes that take place as trucks try to keep with the lane ban policy and wipe out a car or two in the process?

4. We need trucks to get our goods to retailers and customers and from suppliers.  Manufacturing relies heavily on trucks.  I thought you cared about manufacturing Mr Cunliffe.  How about our primary production industries?  They need trucks too?  It seems you want to drive down the number of trucks on our roads.  Does this mean the next big policy from Labour is a massive investment into rail.  Hmmm… lots of New Zealand isn’t electrified so it’ll either be dirty diesels or millions and millions of investment in rail infrastructure and rolling stock too  Who is paying for that, Mr Cunliffe?

5. Your policy only applies to three and four lane motorways.  There’s quite a few of those in Auckland but very few in other parts of the country.  You talk about:

“There’s nothing Kiwis like more than getting on the road and going on holiday. But on public holidays like Easter and Anzac Weekend fun can quickly turn to frustration when the family realises the rego for the caravan has expired or there’s a big truck hogging the fast lane,” he said.

Umm… Aucklanders generally get held up on one or two lane highways on their way to the Coromandel or the North for their Easter break.  They are more likely to get held up by a caravan or a car and trailer (or boat) than they are a heavy truck.  Most heavy trucks set off pretty early in the day (mine must be one of the few families that can be organised pre-8am) and there is significantly less heavy truck traffic on statutory holidays.  Methinks your holiday quip out of the ‘feels about right’ file rather than the fact file.  PS – the Herald doesn’t help your case by using a file photo of a two lane motorway.  And, FFS, if we are keeping registration (to offset road use/damage) then surely Dad or Mum can create their own checklist of making sure it is done before the holiday rather than legislate away?  I dare you to cut the fees altogether – the administrative churn is probably higher than the actual fee when you get below $35.

6. I hope you’ve checked and re-checked your figures.  It’d be so embarrassing if you took another policy at face value and the costings or the reach or the unintended consequences weren’t considered.



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Royals rule… the media

April 9th, 2014 at 6:18 pm by Jadis

* This is a Jadis post as DPF is lost on a mountain putting together yet another travel blog while us in the real world cover his work load, blog load and ensure people think he is may still be a serious political commentator.  Warning: this post may or may not apply!

Blue bear

I love the blue bear.  I am awaiting Cunliffe’s response to how blue the bear is.  Clearly this is a plant from the National Party who are clearly using poor wee George for political gain.  Remember, Cunliffe accuses Key of using the Royal tour as some sort of electioneering stunt.  Well, Duncan Garner calls Cunliffe (and Winston) on this BS:

David Cunliffe does himself no favours accusing John Key of using the Royal visit as some kind of vote booster.

It’s laughable.

And Winston Peters ain’t much better.

Peters says Prince William, Kate and baby George shouldn’t even be here in election year at all.

I completely disagree and I hardly think we have much say in when they travel.

This is petty and I hope the royals don’t read about this stupid and snarky politics from our leaders.

It’s classless and uncouth.

Does anyone really think voters, at the end of September, are going to support John Key because they recall how months earlier the PM hosted the royals? Really?

Come on. I just don’t buy it.

David Cunliffe said Labour welcomed the royals and did not want to play politics with the visit but he said such visits should be as ‘even handed as possible between the Government and Opposition.’

Isn’t Cunliffe playing politics with the visit by saying all that?

He sounds like a kid that missed out on pass-the-parcel.

He sounds like he’s screaming at the top of his voice saying – pick me, pick me!

Surely it’s the job of the PM to host the royals at different times throughout this 10 day visit.

He is due to meet them 5 times during the tour.

Seriously there’s something wrong with us if we can’t host the royals in April and have an election at the end of September.

Our politicians need to grow up. They look bloody stupid – and none more so than David Cunliffe and Winston Peters.

I totally agree with Duncan.  Most Kiwis won’t associate the Royal Tour with politicians (unless they do something to embarrass them). They’ll associate it with having the opportunity to see the Royals up close, in our wee country and “oooh ahhh what a gorgeous George”.






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Talking down NZ’s contribution

April 2nd, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

I know being in opposition is hard, but you don’t have to try and portray a victory as a defeat. David Cunliffe on NewstalkZB:

TIM FOOKES:     Exactly. So the earlier the better, and I will get to one of your calls in just a moment, but just a quick comment on the issue that came out late last night over the court ruling on whaling, I think this is a significant victory New Zealand and Australia.

DAVID CUNLIFFE:             It’s fantastic. Well, it’s a significant victory for Australia. Where the hell was the New Zealand Government? I mean, we had New Zealanders testifying, but once again, the National Government’s asleep at the wheel. Kiwis hate whaling. We hate whaling and previous governments had a really strong record against it. Why did we leave it to the Aussies to take the thing to the International Court?

So did we leave it to the Aussies and was National asleep at the wheel. Let’s look at the official court ruling from the International Court of Justice:


New Zealand was represented by no less than the Attorney-General, the Deputy Solicitor-General, an Ambassador, five MFAT staff and one of the Attorney-General’s staff. Not exactly asleep at the wheel.

NZ is mentioned 53 times in the judgement.

Also while looking through the transcript a few other fibs:

Well, they did rise in some cases by more, although there has been a real open jawing since of the residential versus industrial power prices and, of course, now, thanks to John Key and his mob, half of that money goes to private investors, most of them offshore. 

Over 70% of investors are domestic. False.

TIM FOOKES:     Well, it’s – look – I am looking in your eyes. Why, then, is John Key so popular? Why does…

DAVID CUNLIFFE:             He has had a long time at it, which is good for him, and I’ve only had a few months, so I’ve got work to do. I completely acknowledge that. Second thing is, he has got the best PR that money can buy. He’s got more money than God. 

How did attacking John Key for his wealth go for David Cunliffe last time he tried it? He doesn’t seem to learn.

And is he really saying that John Key is popular because he uses his personal wealth on purchasing public relations?

If one-quarter of the missing million vote it’s game over red rover, you’ve got a Labour led government, right? One-quarter of the missing million vote – game over. And we’re going to get them to the polls.

Such confidence.

UPDATE: A commenter has pointed out it was Helen Clark who dropped the legal action against Japan on the basis NZ could not win. So Cunliffe was a member of the Government that decided not to take legal action, and he criticises National as being asleep at the wheel, when they are the ones who actually decided to take legal action.

Prime Minister Helen Clark will push for a diplomatic end to whaling after the Government dropped plans for legal action against Japan.

Miss Clark said “fantastic” legal advice – from New Zealand whaling commissioner Sir Geoffrey Palmer – suggested it would be difficult to mount a successful case at the United Nations International Court of Justice.

What an own goal. Maybe a journalist could ask David Cunliffe if he voted in Cabinet in favour of not taking legal action.

Of course he doesn’t seem to think it is fair to point out what he did in Government. From NewstalkZB:

TIM FOOKES:     But, hang on, it was eight and a half per cent or close to 10 per cent in those 2007-2008 years, as well. So why…

DAVID CUNLIFFE:             Yeah, and we could go back to the Holyoake years, and justify all sins by saying, well, when Rob Muldoon was a boy, or Keith Jacka was in Parliament, you know, things were different then. Well, sorry, the current Government has been in power nearly six years. It’s time they manned up and took some responsibility. They cannot get away with excuse after excuse, wah, wah, wah, it was different under Helen Clark. Sorry, guys, grow up. 

Holyoake was Prime Minister 50 years ago. There is a big difference between harking back 50 years and pointing out the record of Labour the very last time they were in office, ad their leader was a senior Minister.

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Cunliffe tries to deflect over his secret trust

April 1st, 2014 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

On Breakfast on TV1:

DAVID CUNLIFFE:        Absolutely not. In fact there’s a huge difference between what I did, which was to open up a campaign trust that wasn’t even under the Electoral Act, it was an internal party matter, for a trivially small amount of money and said to all of the potential donors through the trustee, you must make yourselves public. The Prime Minister has done none of that. The Prime Minister’s trusts have taken millions of dollars over the last few years and he’s refused to name even a single donor. So I’m afraid the National Party is in absolutely no position to be high minded with me. I have done everything I can to be transparent and frankly, I’ve had about enough of National’s hypocrisy on that matter.

This is a bare faced lie. The Prime Minister, unlike David Cunliffe, does not have any secret trusts for donors.

The National Party used to have trusts for donors to donate through, but they were wound up in 2007 – long before John Key became Prime Minister.

Cunliffe just doesn’t get it. It’s the hypocrisy. He railed against secret trusts and then set one up himself. His party passed a law effectively outlawing the use of such trusts for political parties, and he went and set one up for his leadership contest.

Also the amounts of money are not trivial. The disclosure limit for personal donations and gifts is $500. His secret donors donated ten times the disclosure limit.

And he has not done everything he can to be transparent. He still refuses to name the two remaining secret donors. Rather than face the embarrassment of New Zealanders knowing who his donors are, he refunded the money. That is not transparency.

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Labour’s problem with the Ladies

March 19th, 2014 at 3:05 pm by Jadis

* a Jadis post – DPF has made his way out of the bush but is still analysing his data for his travel blog extravaganza

Cunliffe’s Labour has a problem with women.  This week’s Herald-Digipoll highlighted that Labour is losing support from women.  The reasons for loss of support aren’t simple.  And while much of the support is crossing the aisle to National, it is also redistributing itself to the Greens.

But why is Labour losing the female vote?

  • Is it the way that Cunliffe appears smarmy and a little creepy when he talks to camera or uses rehearsed lines?
  • Is it because Cunliffe pretends he is ‘middle New Zealand’ while living in a multi-million dollar house with a combined family income over $500K?
  • Is it because Cunliffe patronises women with his suggestion that he bought the multi-million dollar house so that his wife could pop home to breastfeed?*

Sure, all those perception issues matter but I think we need to unpack a little more.  Some of Cunliffe’s policy is also turning women off.

The ‘baby bonus’ has backfired dramatically.  Women who I’ve previously known to be Labour voters are  surprised that Labour thinks a family with a $150K income needs as much help as their $50-$70K earning family.

Labour’s paid parental leave policy has also backfired.  Women aren’t idiots.  They too recognise that while it might be wonderful to have more paid parental leave it also needs to occur within the available budget.  Many of the women I know run their home finances.  They know how to live within their means and how to scrape together a bit more when the washing machine breaks down.  They know that they are coming out of a tough time and they are still being careful with their own and household spending.  So when Bill English suggests that yes at some point a modest extension to PPL could occur dependent on the budget then these women are much more likely to believe that than Cunliffe and Moroney’s “all and everything” approach.

Labour are also losing votes on Education. It is amazing this is even possible when National were doing such a good job of shooting themselves in the foot on Education and then the whole Novopay saga.  Hekia’s recent announcements to fund quality teaching and leadership is pulling parents back to supporting National on Education.  More importantly, Labour spent a whole lot of time on attack and have filled that opportunity for their alternative Education policy with… well, nothing.

I cheekily asked a few of my left-leaning friends why they thought Labour had a problem with attracting female voters. One response struck me: “I personally think Labour men are just as smarmy as National men, but the reason I am turned off by Labour is their women are, by and large, much more ineffectual than National women.  For all their baggage, Collins, Parata, Kaye and Tolley on the front bench kicks Labour’s offering of Ardern, Mahuta and Moroney.”

So it seems it is not all about Cunliffe but that the women in Labour’s caucus need to either ‘step up’ or be replaced with some ‘new blood’.  Oh, that’s right… Labour don’t believe in new blood.   And a ‘man ban’ is unlikely to help this wee problem.

Most of all, Mr Cunliffe, stop patronising us womenfolk.

* this is not an attack on breastfeeding.  It is an attack on a silly politician thinking women get won over by that sort of rubbish AKA patronising and just a little paternalistic.


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Mr Cunliffe the poll trend doesn’t lie

March 18th, 2014 at 3:33 pm by Jadis

*Jadis post as DPF collecting info for a travel blog piece.

Audrey Young has a fascinating opinion piece today that calls out David Cunliffe’s spin on today’s demoralising Herald-Digipoll for Labour – that precarious drop into the 20s.

It was disappointing to hear David Cunliffe suggesting today’s Herald DigiPoll survey putting Labour at 29.5 per cent is off the mark.

On the one hand he said he accepted that Labour’s polling has suffered from him using a trust for donations to his leadership campaign.

The next thing he is touting his party’s own internal polling which apparently puts Labour at 34 per cent.

The fact is that if Labour’s own polling is 34 per cent, it is at odds not just with DigiPoll, but with two other recent polls: Roy Morgan on March 6 which had Labour at 30.5 per cent and the Ipsos Fairfax poll a month ago which had Labour at 31.8 per cent.

The DigiPoll result of 29.5 is not much lower in reality but falling into the 20s from 30 is like falling into a canyon and is devastating for any party with designs on Government.

I am wondering if Cunliffe, his closest advisors and others have only been presenting some of the truth of Labour’s predicament to caucus.  You see that ’34 per cent’ that Cunliffe talks about is entirely possible if we add in the ‘prompted’ voters.  A prompted result is where a voter who says they are undecided is asked who they are most likely to vote for.

Today’s report on the Herald-Digipoll result very clearly states that the 29.5 per cent result is of “decided voters only”.  The decideds are what matter at this point of the cycle and Cunliffe knows that.  If I were in his caucus I’d be asking to see the decided or unprompted numbers.

If I was in Labour’s caucus I’d also be asking why Labour is becoming less attractive to women and Aucklanders.  Two groups that are pivotal to the quest for the undecided vote.  If you aren’t picking up decided voters from those groups now then you are very unlikely to pick up votes from those groups closer to the election.

A 29.5% result is a big deal.  One public poll in the 20s sends the caucus and party activists into a bit of meltdown.  As Whaleoil points out electorate MPs run back to their seats, and activists only focus on MPs or candidates they think can win a seat. A 29.5% result also means that a 25% result is not that far away… and that is frightening.  A 29.5% result means that Matt ‘Game Changer’ McCarten hasn’t worked his magic (the way Bomber talked him up it sounded like we’d see a result day 2).

In all this National also has to be a bit careful.  National needs to retain women and Auckland voters and ride very high in the polls due to a lack of support partners.  National can chortle a bit and I am sure Bill English Is thinking “so much nice being this side of the result’ but National cannot get complacent.  It needs to defend its fine batting total and bowl Labour out.

Labour can get away with some low polling if the Greens also shoot up (as they have) so that the Left vote is still high or near to National’s vote.  If they can do that then it is still a close run race.  A true decimation is less likely on the Left as Labour has (and I think it will continue to) fragment into distinct parties or collections of interests.  We are seeing a re-organisation of the Left.  Yes, Labour could drop into the mid 20s but the Greens and possibly Mana will shoot back up.

The Right needs to continue to look at the total Left vote vs the National (plus two seats) scenario.  Right and Left need to run two very different strategies.

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Economic confusion from Cunliffe

March 15th, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Jamie Whyte blogs:

David Cunliffe today gave a speech to the New Zealand Initiative, an economics think tank. The talk outlines the Labour Party’s economic policy. It displays so much economic confusion that it will take several posts to get through it all. Today I want to identify a fundamental conflict between Labour’s economic goal and its proposed monetary policy.

Mr Cunliffe begins his speech by saying that New Zealand businesses produce too much low value stuff. Labour wants to “support New Zealand business in the journey from volume to value”. 

Personally I’m very wary of any politician that makes a sweeping statement about what NZ businesses need to do. There is no one correct answer. For many businesses, volume is best, for others value is best. Having the Government declare businesses produce too much low value stuff is easy to do from an academic viewpoint –  but the businesses out there fighting for market share tend to be the best judge of what works for them.

He then claimed that “the biggest obstacle to our exporting businesses is the consistently over-valued and volatile exchange rate. Labour has long signalled it will review monetary policy to ensure our dollar is more fairly valued to help business and lower our external balance”.

The translation of this, is Labour is campaigning for higher inflation and price increases for everyone.

A devalued dollar helps exporters sell more overseas by reducing the price foreigners pay for our goods. For example, if the NZ dollar fell from US$0.85 US$ 0.70, what an American pays for a NZ$1,000 widget would fall from US$850 to US$700. So Americans would buy more of those NZ made widgets. But, of course, the value of those widget sales would have fallen. The reduced exchange rate increases the volume of what we sell overseas by decreasing its value – the exact opposite of Mr Cunliffe’s goal.

That is a total contradiction which exposes Labour’s economic policy to be slogans around a few tried left wing canards. Their monetary policy is, as Dr Whyte points out, in total opposition to their economic policy.

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More tricky

March 9th, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald on Sunday story summary:

The Labour leader dodged questions about helping his rich friend and donor buy an idyllic holiday home

You see the Herald on Sunday asked David Cunliffe about the $4 million purchase. His response:

When the Herald on Sunday asked Cunliffe two weeks ago about the four-bedroom, 200sqm house at Ti Point, overlooking the Omaha holiday home of Prime Minister John Key, he said he had nothing to do with the sale.

Cunliffe said he had no beneficial interest in the property, and his wife Karen had simply played a legal role with the trustee company which bought the property.

If he was not telling the truth, Cunliffe said, “you can have my testicles for garters”.

So the clear impression he gave the Herald on Sunday was it had nothing to do with him, and his wife was simply acting as a lawyer with the sale.


Real estate agent Lorraine Mildon said Cunliffe had been involved in the purchase, and had visited the property.

Cunliffe returned to the property shortly before Waitangi Day last year, she said, on behalf of a friend who was in America.

“He didn’t buy it. His friend did. He came and looked at it on behalf of his friend but he didn’t sign the agreement.”

Neighbour Jan Haslam said she believed Cunliffe had been to visit the property. 

The real estate agent says Cunliffe was involved in the purchase and visited the property pre-sale.

Cunliffe said he first visited with Keenan, who wanted to buy the property, but the gate was locked. “We weren’t able to get on to the property.”

Keenan returned to the US, but Cunliffe went back to Ti Point with his wife and children to inspect the house.

So why did Cunliffe give the Herald on Sunday the impression the sale had nothing to do with him:

Cunliffe did not disclose his visits when the Herald on Sunday inquired about it on February 22. This weekend, he said he had checked his recording of the interview and he had truthfully answered questions about any beneficial ownership of the property. “If you had asked me whether I had visited the property, then my answer would have been yes,” Cunliffe said.

They asked him if he was involved in the sale and he said no. Most people would answer yes if they had been out to visit the property on behalf of the prospective owner. But once again, Cunliffe goes for the tricky response.

Let’s be clear. I don’t have a problem with an MP helping an old friend who is based overseas purchase a property. Nothing wrong with helping your friends. It does get murkier when the friend later becomes a personal donor, which is why disclosure requirements are so important.

The issue is Cunliffe’s response to the Herald on Sunday. His response shouldn’t have been to deny he had anything to do with the sale. It should have been “Yeah I helped Perry purchase it. He’s an old mate and was only in NZ for a few days, so I checked it out for him. It was great to be able to help him out, as that is what mates do for each other”

But he basically denied all knowledge of it, and only when the Herald on Sunday came back to him with testimony from the real estate agent did he admit he was involved, but then claimed he didn’t lie when he originally denied it because he interpreted the Herald on Sunday’s inquiries to be about whether he had a beneficial interest in the property, rather than any involvement.

This is exactly what people mean when they talk about being tricky.

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Pundits on Cunliffe

March 8th, 2014 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Fran O’Sullivan writes:

David Cunliffe must be kicking himself he didn’t just fund his own way into the party’s top job.

The Cunliffe household – lawyer Karen Price and Opposition leader David – would pull in a combined income of at least $500,000 a year. Writing a campaign cheque for $20,000 to cover last year’s leadership campaign would not have stretched the family’s finances one iota.

Instead he had his campaign manager rattle the tin for him resulting in about $20,000 of anonymous donations being laundered through a secret trust.

$20,000 is a decent amount of cash, but affordable. The median household income is $70,000 so it is the equivalent of $3,000 for a median household.

Cunliffe has been battling the stench of hypocrisy since the use of a secret campaign trust to launder leadership campaign donations from five donors was disclosed.

It’s not surprising that wealthy businessmen such as Tony Gibbs and Selwyn Pellett tossed some of their chump change into Cunliffe’s leadership campaign trust.

He’s a known quantity. He’s personable. Many business people like him even if some are deeply wary about just what changes will occur under a Labour-led government because Cunliffe sometimes says one thing in public and something very different to them in private.

This is the interesting thing. The donations were from wealthy businessmen, not from unions, social justice campaigners and the like.

The episode underlines Cunliffe’s essential political duality. He relies on secret donations from wealthy supporters to fund a campaign which positions himself as a man of the people. 

Tracy Watkins goes down this path also:

The great enigma about David Cunliffe has always been how someone so smart managed to make so many enemies among his own colleagues.

He is by many accounts a caring boss and doesn’t take himself so seriously that he can’t laugh at himself.

The schemozzle surrounding the Labour leader in recent days probably helps explain the unease of those among his colleagues who opposed his leadership bid.  Cunliffe’s biggest critics have always complained about a lack of self awareness as his potentially fatal flaw.  

That is what causes him to swing from a caricature of himself as a gun-slinging troubleshooter to working class hero, who forgets along the way that he also lives in one of Auckland’s swankiest suburbs, Herne Bay.

David is smart, and for my 2c I’ve always found him likeable. He performed well as a Minister in the previous Government, and I could never work out why so many of his colleagues were so anti him. I think Watkins is right when she says it is the lack of self awareness.

That tough talking would likely reinforce the message that Cunliffe’s wounds so far are all self-inflicted and that he would be well advised to reflect on the old adage that it’s never the mistake that gets you, it’s the cover up. 

This is so true, time and time again.

What  Cunliffe shouldn’t do is circle the wagons as some of his more one-eyed supporters outside Parliament would have him do by insisting that everything he did was legal and above board and his woes the product of a smear campaign.

Which he is now doing. He’s now blaming it all on the National Party. It’s a dumb strategy as these issues were all pursued by the media on their own initiative and calling it a National Party smear insults the media involved as it implies they are too stupid and lazy to dig these stories up on their own initiative.

Setting up a trust to take anonymous donations to his leadership campaign was clearly wildly contradictory to Labour’s rhetoric over secret trusts when applied to National and John Banks.

The uncomfortable parallels with Banks were apparently spelt out to Cunliffe by some of his MPs.

It was probably not something that occurred to his close friend and lawyer Greg Presland, who was no doubt more concerned with legal boundaries than political ones when he set up the trust on Cunliffe’s behalf.

It’s not as if Presland is just a lawyer though. He is an elected local government official, long time party activist and prominent blogger.

It was also Presland who advised Cunliffe as his lawyer that he didn’t need to declare an investment trust on the MPs’ register of pecuniary interests, though Cunliffe later did so after advice from the registrar that ‘‘when in doubt, declare it’’.

What’s baffling is why Cunliffe thought he needed legal advice at all on which of his assets and financial interests should be declared.  The starting point for any politician would surely be disclose everything, hide nothing.

That is a very good starting point. It is not as if you have to disclose the value of the investments. It’s just the name.

Mike Hosking weighs in:

As we end the week he now has himself a major credibility problem. Go back two weeks and they had themselves a poll that showed they had trouble. National had 51, Labour stalled on 30, and ever since then Cunliffe hasn’t done a thing to change that. In fact it will be interesting to see the next series of polls because it’s possible he’s done a bit to make it worse.

The best case scenario is that all this stuff is what they call beltway stuff – stuff that fascinates the Press Gallery but no one else. Worst case scenario is that a growing number of people are seriously questioning whether he’s up to it.

This could not have played better for the Government. They wanted to label Cunliffe and they came up with ‘tricky’. Its short, it’s sharp, it’s effective. They came up with tricky after the baby bonus, which not only gave money to people who didn’t need money but actually didn’t give money to as many as they said it would. This was Cunliffe’s first major blow.

The problem is he’s compounded it with mistake after mistake, followed by back down after back down. The problem with the problem is once it starts, in the game of politics it’s hard to break. A reputation  is formed and it follows you wherever you go. You become a target.

Hosking is right that once a brand is set, it is hard to break. I’m surprised Labour didn’t have a strategy to pro-actively set their own brand for Cunliffe for the first four to six months before he was elected. Six major speeches to define him – each with new ideas, and clear policy positioning.

Toby Manhire also writes:

No one could reasonably begrudge David Shearer about now were he to lean back on his chaise lounge, log on to his New York bank account and let out a sigh of relief. A text message might arrive on his phone, from Phil Goff, saying something like, “Show me the money!” The series of mishaps that have befallen their successor as Labour leader, David Cunliffe, the very man whose supporters made their own tenures difficult, bears out Helen Clark’s observation that Leader of the Opposition is “the hardest job in politics”. In the past fortnight, however, the unmistakable impression is that it is Cunliffe who is making it hard.

It is a tough job, but as Manhire says there has been a series of blunders (I’m up to 10 this year already) that are totally self-inflicted. To be fair to Cunliffe, the fault is not his alone. There is meant to be a team behind the leader.

Part of the strength of Project Tricky is that it prods ceaselessly at a nerve within the Labour caucus itself. The persistent whispered complaint from Cunliffe’s colleagues is that they still don’t really know who he is. Is he for real, is he authentic? It’s not an easy one to square and, paradoxically, the strident speeches of recent months have only added to that puzzlement. He has, at least, demonstrated a humility some of his colleagues claim not to have seen previously, in admitting errors and lapses of judgment in the past fortnight. It’s just that there have been rather too many admissions, too many lapses.

The best way to win the backing of colleagues, of course, is straightforward. Comradely affection will climb in direct proportion to poll numbers. 

Heh, this is true.

Perhaps the most telling slip by Cunliffe in recent weeks came in an interview last week in which he said that the Government was clearly going to change – “it’s either going to change this time or next time”. Gulp. He’s scrambled since to emphasise that Labour is full-throttle for 2014 victory, but it nonetheless feeds a creeping sense that a number of people within his caucus have in large part given up, deliberately or not, on a Labour-led government in 2014.

That was a significant statement.

The political Grim Reaper has been stalking the blue halls of the Beehive, with 14 National MPs having left or signalled already that they will not seek re-election. Labour, by contrast, has had only one MP, Ross Robertson, announce retirement, leaving them facing a crisis of “bed blocking” – a term that was borrowed from hospital wards to describe the geriatric UK Conservative MPs who refused to budge during their long Opposition stint last decade.

Somehow, Cunliffe’s team needs to persuade the dead wood of the Labour benches that their day is done, that they should embrace the many joys of retirement For The Sake Of The Party. And with a general election looking increasingly likely to take place in September, they haven’t got long to do it.

You look at the new talent coming through in National such as Shane Reti, and contrast it to the hold ons in Labour from the 1990s and even 1980s.

Finally John Armstrong gives some sage advice: The summary is

  • Rebuild Cunliffe’s image as a credible and competent leader – and quickly
  • Give Cunliffe the ammunition to make voters sit up and take notice of him
  • Talk the economy up – not down
  • Start talking solutions – not problems
  • Up the work rate
  • Send out a search party to find David Parker
  • Leave the personal attacks on John Key for someone else

Or maybe for the last one, don’t do them at all.


Will Banks use the Cunliffe defence in court

March 7th, 2014 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Claire Trevett at NZ Herald writes:

On Tuesday, he buckled and revealed the names of three donors who had agreed to be named. A further two would not be named, and their donations will be returned to them. He said it was a lapse in judgment but done with the noble aims of respecting the donors’ wishes for secrecy and keeping Cunliffe at arm’s length from it all. Cunliffe claimed the latter aim was achieved – he had not known the identity of the donors. He also admitted at least one of them had approached him directly to offer a donation, but claimed he had referred that person on to the trustee, Greg Presland, so had not known for certain whether the donation ended up being made.

By this stage a neon sign with “John Banks” should have flared in his head. If Cunliffe’s 2013 donations were “historical”, what were Banks’ 2010 donations? And Banks, too, had argued his donation from Kim Dotcom was technically anonymous because his campaign manager had dealt with it after he was offered it, so he had not known for certain if it was made.

This is an interesting point. John Banks got rightly savaged for having the initial discussion with Dotcom over a donation, and then saying it was anonymous because he left the details to his campaign manager. This is what Cunliffe is now also claiming, so Banks in court can now get up and say Cunliffe did it also.

The question also arises as to how Cunliffe declared the donations to the Labour Party. Labour and Mr Cunliffe have both refused to say whether he declared the donations to the party individually, or as a lump sum from the trust. Presumably it was the latter, given Cunliffe has claimed not to know who the donors were. If so, it might not strictly be against the Labour Party’s own rules but it certainly isn’t in the spirit of them.

This is a very intriguing issue. The fact Labour will not say whether Cunliffe declared just the trust to them, or the individual donors, makes me very suspicious. I doubt Labour Head Office would have deemed it acceptable not to be told of the individual donors (in confidence).  But if they were told of the individual donors, then it means that Cunliffe has lied in saying he doesn’t know who they all were. The only possible way out from the contradiction is to do a Banks and claim he didn’t read the form his campaign manager signed.

If his disclosure to Labour did just name the trust, then they would confirm that to kill the story. I think they did disclose individual donors, and they are terrified at having to admit this because it would compromise their leader so badly.

Cunliffe is now talking about changing the rules to make the situation clearer. If any rules are to be changed, it should be those of the leadership contest, not the Register of Pecuniary Interests. Labour may be selecting its own leader, but it is also selecting the person who could be Prime Minister. No MP who is effectively auditioning to be Prime Minister should be exempt from disclosing donations simply because it is an “internal process”. If anything, it is a greater reason for disclosure.

Somehow I don’t think it is their own rules they will seek to change. If they get the numbers in Parliament, they’ll change the rules of the Register of Pecuniary Interests to exempt donations to leadership campaigns.

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Blaming others for his own problems

March 7th, 2014 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Labour leader David Cunliffe came out swinging in Hamilton after weathering an onslaught of criticism over repeated gaffes that threaten to derail him in an election year.

He was in Hamilton to push his Best Start policy to the education and social service sectors and the party faithful after a week-long scandal he said was just a storm in a teacup.

“Mate, that is just Wellington beltway politics,” he said yesterday. “Government has been trying to throw the kitchen sink at me in the last couple of weeks just to discredit me.”

Cunliffe said the same on Radio NZ, saying that the Government has been trawling through his accounts and trying to make out he is the victim of some Government hit campaign. But the reality is that all of his problems have been self-inflicted. Let’s take them in order:

  1. His misleading speech and false advertisement about the baby bonus – own goal
  2. The next day not knowing the details of part of his own policy – own goal
  3. Deciding to go after John Key for living in a leafy subject – own goal
  4. Describing his own household as a middle rang existence while on prob $600,000 or more a year – own goal
  5. Setting up a secret trust for his leadership donations – own goal, and exposed by NZ Herald – nothing to do with National
  6. Failing to disclose an investment trust to the Registrar of Pecuniary Interest on time – own goal, and exposed by TV3 after they heard him mention it
  7. Having his own office send Amy Adams their ICT policy ideas – own goal
  8. Letting Clare Curran take the blame and fall for a stuff up by his own office – own goal

I sort of wish National was so good they had a secret smart unit that was responsible for all of Cunliffe’s problems. But they’re not. All of them have been own goals, and the two about trusts have all been stories exposed by the media.

Earlier in the week the Labour leader admitted the late disclosure was a lapse of judgment but yesterday he said: “They are threatened by the ideas that we are bringing to New Zealanders. Everybody gets a chance, not just the few at the top. I guess the guys at the top, they don’t like that because they think they are going to pay for it and so they are really trying to take me out.

“Well, they can try but I am tougher than that.”

The humble phase doesn’t last long, does it.


Pundits on Cunliffe

March 6th, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Duncan Garner writes at Radio Live:

Labour Leader David Cunliffe’s apology for setting up a trust for his campaign donations baffles me. I can see why he’s done it. He wants the issue to go away. But it leaves just so many unanswered questions.

The big question for me is, who are the other donors? Is Kim Dotcom one? Or is it another fancy, wealthy businessman who is embarrassed to be linked to him? If not, who are the other two and why can’t we know?

They must be very embarrassing to demand their donations back rather than be named.

Cunliffe has only apologised to lance the boil; he’s only done it because he’s been caught red-handed and embarrassed. So, who is the real David Cunliffe? And why did he set up the trust in the first place?

Trusts are set up to either hide something, protect something or to give people and donors anonymity. In politics, that always draws attention. What on earth was Cunliffe thinking when he agreed for the trust to be set-up? This trust wasn’t set-up without his knowledge. He gave it the nod. Nothing happens in an MP’s life without their say-so.

As I said his apology is more than odd. He said: “I don’t think in hindsight that a trust structure fully represented the values I would like to bring to this leadership”. That is weird and simply doesn’t stack up. It looks like a fake apology to me. I actually don’t believe him.

Values don’t just appear issue by issue. Values and principles are things that guide you in your everyday life. Surely Cunliffe would have known by now if having a ‘trust’ represented his values. And a trust structure completely represents who David Cunliffe is. ..

David Cunliffe is a former high-flying business consultant – his wife is a top lawyer – they know how these things work. His friends are business people. His wife knew about it and kept all this secret. How on earth did she think they were going to get away with this approach? Their collective judgement on this is woeful.

Where was he when Labour rallied against National’s use of trusts to fund its many elections campaigns? It’s why Labour changed the law and brought in the Electoral Finance Law. Was he not in the Parliament at the time? No, he was there. Did he speak up against National’s use of secret trusts? Oh yes he did.

Labour politicians of all shapes and sizes criticised National for months for receiving secret money. Cunliffe was in there, boots-’n’-all. Trevor Mallard went further and claimed there was a ‘secret American bag-man.’ It was never proved.

I’ll never forget Labour climbing into National over electoral finances. Now Cunliffe looks like a complete hypocrite despite the apology. National has every right to pile into him on this. Just like Labour piled into National over secret trusts and campaign donations.

I’m starting to wonder just who Cunliffe is. What does he stand for? Is he anti-business or pro-business? Does he care about the poor? Or hang out with the rich? My big question really is this: Who is the real David Cunliffe?

Is he a fake?

A reasonable question.

John Armstrong also writes:

You could almost hear the “told you so” refrain that is never far away from the lips of David Cunliffe’s many detractors.

Those within the Labour Party who warned that electing him as leader would be a mistake may well feel vindicated. But they will take cold comfort from that.

You do wonder if there is the odd Labour Party activist who is now sitting back an saying ‘Hey maybe the MPs in my caucus are not a total bunch of idiots after all, and we should have listened to them”

That he cannot seem to stop his fingers hovering over the self-destruct button is no surprise to anyone who has watched him for any length of time. It is a great mystery why someone overly blessed with essential political attributes gets it wrong with such frequency.

Maybe it is overconfidence. Maybe it is an inability to see the line between being bold and being foolhardy. He got away with it when he held lower ranked positions in the Labour caucus. The role of Leader of the Opposition offers no escape from the spotlight.

This latest piece of bungling follows other gaffes this year including being badly caught out as to how many parents would actually qualify for Labour’s promise of a $60-a-week “baby bonus”.

Then there was the odd decision to ping John Key for residing in a “leafy suburb” when Cunliffe does likewise. On Saturday, he admitted on TV3′s The Nation that he had not made the best choice of words on that occasion.

That makes it two mea culpas in four days – not a pretty strike rate. It is one that could see Cunliffe being indelibly labelled as accident-prone; that everything he touches ends up backfiring on him and Labour’s less-than-solid poll ratings.

For my 2c I think it is over-confidence.

And finally people may enjoy a 30 second musical compilation from Newstalk ZB’s Laura McQuillan called “Tricky


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A second secret trust for Cunliffe!

March 5th, 2014 at 7:04 pm by David Farrar

3 News reports:

3 News can reveal Labour Party leader David Cunliffe failed to declare a financial trust, as MPs are required to do with investments.

He initially tried to keep the trust off the official record – but was forced to make a late change.

“I’m the beneficiary of the Bozzie Family Trust and a bare trust called ICSL which does savings and investments,” he says.

A check of the latest register of MP’s Pecuniary Interests shows only one of these two was actually declared on time – The Bozzie Trust, which owns his house.

Cunliffe says he didn’t forget about the trust, just that he decided not to disclose it because Greg Presland told him he didn’t have to!!!

ICSL is an investment trust. Cunliffe is one of 20,000 investors.

It manages $8 billion in investments; if evenly divided, that’s $400,000 each.

Mr Cunliffe refused to front to media on the issue, instead releasing a statement through his office saying it was initially left out because “legal advice” was it didn’t need to be disclosed.

Mr Cunliffe got further advice from the registrar, who said “if in doubt – declare it”.

The advice to declare it if in doubt is long standing. Cunliffe didn’t declare it, and worse he didn’t check at the time with the Registrar. Many many MPs check with the Registrar before they do their return. Cunliffe did not, because presumably he didn’t want people to know about the investment trust.

David Shearer forgot about a foreign US bank account. David Cunliffe decided not to declare an investment trust, on the basis of advice from a blogger at The Standard.

I feel sorry for Matt McCarten. he must be wondering what the hell he signed up for. If Matt does do the sensible thing and bails out, then maybe Labour could make Greg Presland their Chief of Staff as he already seems to be the chief advisor to the leader.

This non disclosure of the trust in the return would not be too bad a story by itself. But coming the same week as he got forced into revealing another secret trust used for his leadership campaign, well it really speaks for itself. A total shambles.

UPDATE: Greg Presland is alleging the fact in the TV3 story are wrong. Maybe he is just being set up as the fall guy, as Clare Curran was yesterday. More details to come in time it seems.  The Herald is the news source alleging that the initial legal advice came from Presland.

UPDATE2: Presland is claiming he has been defamed by Patrick Gower and is asking people if he should sue for defamation!

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Cunliffe’s secret trust

March 4th, 2014 at 12:58 pm by David Farrar

Just imagine the howls of outrage from left wing commentators if the successful winner of a National Party leadership race was found out to have used a secret trust for donations from businesses to fund their leadership campaign. Their outrage would be massive. As far as I can see, No Right Turn is the only left commentator to have said anything at all on Cunliffe’s secret trust.

The Herald reports:

David Cunliffe has admitted a trust was used to take donations for his leadership campaign, allowing him to sidestep the obligation to disclose donations in the MPs’ register of financial interests.

So the public will never know who funded his successful leadership campaign. These donations were not to a political party, but effectively to the MP personally to pay for their leadership campaign.

Mr Cunliffe said his campaign team opted to use a trust because the Labour Party’s rules for the contest specified donations would be confidential. “That is a decision we made as a campaign team at the time, pursuant to the rules which meant donors could have an expectation of confidentiality.”

Asked if he was trying to hide something he said “not at all. That has been common practice in New Zealand.”

Neither Grant Robertson or Shane Jones used a trust. And while trusts have been used previously in wider political terms, they have been outlawed for general elections and local body elections (can still be used but donors to the trust must be revealed so donor identities can not be hidden). And the party that has campaigned loudest and strongest for outlawing these trusts – Labour. Cunliffe himself has railed in Parliament against the use of secret trusts, yet here he is defending his own one/

By deadline, Mr Cunliffe had not responded to further written questions about whether he knew the names of donors who had given to the trust, or whether he had included individual donations in his return to the Labour Party under its rules.

That’s a fascinating question. I suspect that Cunliffe does know the donors (especially if family members are trustees of the trust, which is what I have heard) and has revealed them to the party. He is just refusing to reveal them to Parliament despite the requirement in Standing Orders to do so.

What surprises me about this is the political idiocy in using a trust to hide donations. When he decided to run for leader and someone proposed setting up a secret trust to launder the donations through, did none of his advisors think or say “Hey, that may not be a good idea, we could look a bit hypocritical”.

Equally surprising is Labour’s response to this is to focus on the legality, not the politics. The brand damage to Cunliffe from having a secret trust for his donations is considerable. It neuters Labour on any issues of transparency. If I was an advisor to Cunliffe I’d be saying “Why don’t we ask the donors if they are happy to be named”. I imagine most donors would be happy to do so. Shane Jones received donations and he has stated his are included in his Register of Pecuniary Interests.

Getting permission from the donors seems the obvious thing to do, to defuse this. The fact they are refusing to do so, despite the political cost, makes you wonder why. I can only conclude that they believe revealing the identities of the donors would do more political damage than keeping them hidden.

UPDATE: Labour are in full retreat now. Cunliffe now says using the trust was an error in judgement. No shit Sherlock. Why did it take so long to work that out. Two donors are refusing to be named, and their donations are being returned. Named donors include Selwyn Pellett (owner of “independent” Scoop News), Tony Gibbs and Perry Keenan. Keenan appears to be a colleague from Boston Consulting Group now based in Chicago. I presume Tony Gibbs is the company director.

UPDATE2: Just returning the anonymous donations doesn’t avoid the need for transparency. Maybe they’ll just donate the money to Labour now instead. At the end of the day the donations were made in the last calendar year and should be disclosed in his Register of Pecuniary Interests – even if refunded this year. And you have to wonder why those two donors are so desperate not to be named? How embarrassing would it be if their names were disclosed.I can only assume the answer is greatly, if they are being refunded.




This is hilarious. Attack National for secret trusts (which were wound up in 2007 by the way) and then go and set up a secret trust for your own leader to hide the donations to his leadership campaign. Again, how did no one think this was a bad idea?

The number of “errors” by David Cunliffe is growing. Off memory it includes:

  • The secret trust for donors
  • Getting the details wrong for the baby bonus and a false advertisement
  • Claiming he had  a”middle range existence”
  • Breaking the law by encouraging people to vote Labour on the day of Chch East by-election
  • Including details in his CV that were inaccurate

I leave the last word to Danyl Mclauchlan:


Imagine what it would be like if they were running the country!

UPDATE4: Idiot/Savant at no Right Turn quotes Cunliffe:

“I don’t think in hindsight that a trust structure fully represented the values I would like to bring to this leadership. Decisions that were made to set up the trust could have been better. I have learned form that and am now making sure I do whatever I can to ensure transparency.”

Idiot/Savant comments in turn:

Which is just sociopathic “sorry I got caught” bullshit. The thing about values is that you live them, and they’re instinctive. Cunliffe’s aren’t. When faced with a choice between transparency and corruption-enabling secrecy, he chose the latter, and then tried to cling to that choice when it was questioned. These are not the actions of an ethical man who believes in open politics – they are the actions of someone trying to get away with something they know is wrong. 

I’m sorry I got caught!

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Will Cunliffe’s donations be revealed?

March 3rd, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Labour leader David Cunliffe used an “agent arrangement” to take donations to his leadership campaign last November and is refusing to say whether he has disclosed individual donors in the MPs’ register of financial interests or whether they were disclosed as being from a trust.

This sounds too ironic to be true. Surely the “agent” wasn’t one of those secretive trusts that Labour has spent almost a decade railing against and legislated against?

The returns for the Register of Pecuniary Interests were due last Friday, and Mr Cunliffe said his return met both the rules of the register, which requires disclosure of donations of more than $500, and those of the Labour Party, which said all donations would be confidential.

He refused to say how he had met both rules, or whether he had declared donations as being from a trust rather than the original donors.

But he confirmed his campaign was run through an “agent arrangement” rather than taking donations directly. He sought a legal opinion before filing his return and defended the use of trusts.

What this means is that the Leader of the Labour Party used a trust so that we will never know who paid for his leadership campaign – despite Parliament’s Standing Orders requiring all donations of over $500 to be disclosed.

The stench of hypocrisy is massive.

“In the event donations are made to a trust, the trustee will have information about donations which a candidate or campaign team won’t have. So [if] there is a trust involved, it will be the donations of the trust to the campaign that are declared, as per the rules. If there is a trust, trustees owe obligations of confidentiality.”

But who decided to set up a trust? The purpose of the trust was to defeat the transparency requirements of Parliament’s Standing Orders.

I’m also not convinced that Cunliffe can refuse to name his donors, eve if it went through a trust. If he is aware of the ultimate source of the donations, you can argue Standing Orders require him to disclose – or risk a privilege complaint.

Of his rivals for the job, Shane Jones said he had disclosed all donations of more than $500, and the donors, and Grant Robertson said he did not receive any individual donations of more than $500.

So Jones and Robertson have disclosed – it is only their leader hiding behind a trust to protect his personal donors.

In 2005, Labour changed electoral finance rules to stop National filtering large anonymous donations through trusts. Grants made through a trust must now be disclosed separately if larger than the disclosable limit of $15,000 to a party or $1500 for an individual candidate.

Mr Cunliffe said there was “nothing at all” to embarrass him in his return.

That’s because it seems the return will just reveal the trust, and not the actual donors.

Mr Cunliffe also said Labour was likely to raise the issue with the standing orders committee, a cross-party group of MPs which decides on the rules for the register.

“It’s quite clear that having primary-style elections is new and not something that has been explicitly foreseen before in the register rules. It does raise a number of legal technicalities over the match between internal party rules and the rules of the standing orders.

“It would be better for everybody if they were aligned.”

The party can align its rules with standing orders if it so wishes, and drop the confidentially clause around donations. I can only presume that what Cunliffe is proposing is that standing orders be amended to allow Labour leadership candidates in future not to reveal donations to their leadership campaigns.

If any Labour MP or candidate now tries to campaign on better electoral finance transparency laws, they’re going to be laughed at.

UPDATE: Idiot/Savant at No Right Turn comments:

So, as usual, he’s claiming that it was All Within The Rules. But that’s not enough – his behaviour needs to be ethical as well. And by failing to tell us who he owes political debts to for financing his leadership ambitions, David Cunliffe has clearly failed that test and is unfit to be in Parliament, let alone a party leader.

UPDATE2: In 2008 Cunliffe said in Parliament:

Gee, the irony of that man impugning this Government on money issues will not be lost on Kiwis. He is the millionaire that Merrill built, the son of the “Hollow Man”, taking on the Government about transparency. Why does he not tell that to the millionaire brokers of the Waitemata Trust or the millionaire sponsors of the Exclusive Brethren? We believe in one person, one vote; not one dollar, one vote. We do not believe that elections should be bankrolled by big business, which is why the Electoral Finance Act is in place.

So he attacks people using trusts to hide the source of their donations in Parliament, yet uses the same device himself to hide the source of personal donations to his leadership campaign.

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McCarten confirmed as Cunliffe’s Chief of Staff

February 26th, 2014 at 11:19 am by David Farrar

The Daily Blog has announced that Matt McCarten will be David Cunliffe’s Chief of Staff.

As I said earlier, this will be great when Labour say people should pay more tax, when their chief of staff ran an organisation that owed $150,000 to the IRD in unpaid taxes – and even worse most of it was tax deducted from employees and not passed on.

Imagine if John Key hired a chief of staff who had run an organisation that spent employee’s taxes on political projects, rather than paying the IRD, He’d be crucified by the left as condoning tax avoidance.

McCarten is a very skilled operator, but he is from the hard left. This is a clear signal that Labour is going to go even more hard left.

Danyl at Dim Post notes:

Can Matt McCarten turn things around? If you’re seeking to unify the party then the answer there would be a massive ‘No.’ The last thing Labour leads is a Chief of Staff with a big personality, big profile, big ego, talent for skullduggery and a strong left-wing political agenda that’s totally at odds with those of his leader’s enemies within the party.

But if you’re Cunliffe and you’re looking at Goff, Mallard, Cosgrove, King et al and coming to the conclusion that unity with them is impossible, war is inevitable and the best thing to do is try and win it then McCarten would be a pretty great choice

So McCarten’s appointment isn’t to help Labour win the election, but to help Cunliffe defeat his enemies in caucus.

UPDATE: Looks like the misappropriated tax payments have never been paid. The documents for UNITE Support Services show it was finally liquidated on 29 May 2013 with no funds available for creditors.

An earlier report showed that the IRD was owed around $101,000 by the shell company.

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Cunliffe says Labour will win – but maybe not until 2017

February 25th, 2014 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

In an interview with Radio New Zealand, David Cunliffe said:

“We all know the Government is going to change. It’s either going to change this time or next time. I think it’s more likely to change this time, and if it does, the question in front of New Zealanders is what is the composition of that new government going to be?”

To have the Leader of the Opposition basically say they may not win this election is in itself unusual.

But what makes it even more interesting is that for a couple of months there has been talk coming from some in Labour about how they are going for a two election strategy – to do well enough this time, to win in 2017. Others might call that a strategy to lose!

Even more interesting is that it seems some of the ABC club have worked out that this may be the strategy, and this is posing them a dilemma. They definitely want to win this time, and get into Government. But they are unconvinced they can. They think a loss is most likely.

The issue for them is if Labour loses, is it better if they lose narrowly or lose badly? Their concern is that the worst result would be a very narrow loss. Because then Cunliffe would remain leader for three more years (and then if they win in 2017, maybe six more beyond that).

The view that very reliable people have been putting around is that some in Labour have decided that while they want a win if a loss is inevitable then they want a big loss, rather than a narrow one. Why? Because then they can not just replace the leader, but convince the party to return the selection of the leader to the caucus. That could happen, if the leader forced on them by the activists and unions leads them to a worse result then even Goff got in 2011.

I wasn’t planning to blog at this stage on the maneuvering going on within Labour, but Cunliffe’s explicit mention of winning in 2017, if not 2014, suggests that he is aware of the issue, and he is also looking to shore up support for a two term strategy so he doesn’t get rolled if they narrowly lose in 2014.

The next couple of months will be essential for Labour. If the left doesn’t improve in the polls, then some MPs will decide a big loss is preferable to a narrow loss and the go slow will become a strike. However if the left do improve in the polls, then the scent of victory will keep them united.

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Armstrong on Cunliffe

February 22nd, 2014 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

John Armstrong writes in NZ Herald:

The Labour Party is guaranteed one thing in the countdown to this year’s general election: there is no danger of David Cunliffe peaking too soon.

Indeed, if the three-year electoral cycle is likened to a three-lap middle-distance track race at the Olympics, then most of the other parties are currently jostling for room on the back straight before rounding the final bend for the sprint to the finish.

Meanwhile, Cunliffe-led Labour is still at the starting blocks, slowly taking off its dark-red tracksuit and planning nothing more taxing than an afternoon stroll.

Harsh. Not entirely false.

The opinion polls since have offered little succour. The party’s rating at just under 32 per cent in the latest Fairfax survey, which indicated National might be able to rule alone, is said to have had a chilling impact on the Labour caucus.

The continuing high levels of support for National are making a nonsense of the two absolutely essential tasks required of Cunliffe.

First, he has to build a mood for a change of Government when there is no sign of any such feeling abroad in the wider New Zealand electorate.

Second, Cunliffe has to persuade voters that Labour is the party that must be given a strong mandate to carry out change.

That would normally call for fresh ideas to excite voters. The problem for Labour is that the voters do not want to be excited and are happy with what is dubbed the “progressive conservatism” that is the hallmark of John Key.

As it is, Cunliffe has precious little to show from his five months in the job. A peaceful Labour Party conference and a comprehensive byelection victory in a safe Labour seat do not really count for much.

And the problems:

There is also a lack of urgency, which is failing to provide the momentum to keep Labour in the headlines for the right reasons – rather than trying to ping John Key for living in a “leafy suburb” when you do likewise.

Cunliffe has also been unlucky in losing his office chief of staff – an absolutely pivotal position.

Much speculation on who will take that job. It’s rare to have a vacancy in that role so close to an election.

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Google on David Cunliffe

February 21st, 2014 at 3:13 pm by David Farrar

Radio Live reports:

Do try this at home: Google search ‘David Cunliffe’.

One of the images that Google is pulling to create its little rich bio on the right there is not of David Cunliffe, but is actually of a cat that looks like David Cunliffe, off of the popular tumblr site Cats That Look Like David Cunliffe.

That’s very funny.



I presume Google picks the images that are most commonly clicked on or something. Such fame for the tumblr site.

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The ABCs are back

February 21st, 2014 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Duncan Garner talks on Radio Live about how the ABCs are back. He cites both a current and former Labour MP who have said that there is growing discontent over how Cunliffe has started the year.

Duncan was very clear that there is no challenge to Cunliffe’s leadership looming.Both sources were explicit on this. What has happened is that the the ABCs had gone into hibernation, but now they are talking to each other again.

The strategy that seems to be emerging is more a go slow. They think Labour can’t win, so they won’t bust their backs slogging away for a leader they don’t support. They’ll just wait for the loss, and then vacate the leadership after the election.

That’s what Garner has said a current and former Labour MP have said. And it is worth noting that Garner was one of the first to expose the maneuvers that were happening against David Shearer.

Labour dropping to 30% in yesterday’s Roy Morgan poll won’t help settle things down much either. The RM poll is very volatile, so eyes will be out for other polls in the next month or so.

Pete George has a transcript of what Garner said.

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Edwards on Labour’s chances

February 19th, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Tracy Watkin at Stuff reports:

Politicians may rate lower than used car salesmen in most polls, but it seems they are not all created equal.

A Fairfax Media-Ipsos poll reveals that Prime Minister John Key is by far our most liked and trusted politician, with 59.3 per cent of people liking him, and 58.7 per cent also trusting him.

Key is also well ahead of his opponents as preferred prime minister on 51.2 per cent.

Labour leader David Cunliffe appears to be more polarising, with those who like and trust him, and those who don’t, falling into roughly equal camps. His rating as preferred prime minister is just 18.2 per cent.

The bad news for Cunliffe is that only Conservative Party leader Colin Craig, Mana Party leader Hone Harawira and Internet Party leader Kim Dotcom are more disliked. Harawira and Dotcom are also the least trusted.

At least he beat out Dotcom!

Brian Edwards, veteran commentator and media trainer to former Labour leader Helen Clark and others, said for a political leader to be truly successful, they needed the public to both like and trust them – but being likeable may provide the biggest advantage.

“John Key is widely liked and I think this is a problem for anyone that wants to oppose him because that liking is the sort of liking people have for a mate or friend or someone they know.

“Key has got this easygoing pleasant demeanour, he doesn’t seem to take things all that seriously and kids around a bit, which gives him a very accessible personality. He enjoys this tremendous liking among the public, which is very difficult for his opponents to deal with.”

Even when people considered him to be dodgy on issues such as the SkyCity deal, or electorate accommodations in seats like Epsom, that was outweighed by the fact they liked him.

“With David Cunliffe he probably does not come across as such an easygoing, warm sort of character . . . he’s not hated, but I don’t think he enjoys that popular appeal John Key has.”

That was not fatal to Cunliffe’s chances of becoming prime minister, but it would make his job harder, especially with a “feel good” factor around the economy – “for some people at least”. “It’s going to be extremely difficult for Labour to win this election.

Their best chances are a Labour/Greens/Mana Government endorsed by Kim Dotcom. But you can see above the problems associated with that also!

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A middle range existence?

February 18th, 2014 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

TV3 reported:

“Mr Key spent time in the money markets and has a personal fortune, which is many times our reasonably middle-range existence.”

A middle-range existence?

The Leader of the Opposition gets a salary of $268,500 a year and a superannuation subsidy of almost $30,000 so a remuneration package of around $300,000 a year.

David’s wife is a partner in an Auckland law firm. A 2012 survey found the mean earnings is $244,460. Karen Price is very highly regarded and I suspect would be earning well over the mean, but let’s go with the mean. The idea isn’t to speculate on her as an individual, but to test the claim of a “middle-range” existence.

The household income is probably around $550,000 per annum. Now there is nothing wrong with that. In fact I think David Cunliffe should be proud that he has had a very successful business career, and now parliamentary career. It is a good thing. You can talk about how you hope others can be as successful as you are.

But what is not a good idea is to try and downplay your wealth, in an attempt to paint others as even more wealthy, for political attacks. People know John Key is very wealthy. He has never ever hid that.

The median household income is $70,180. If your household income is around $550,000 a year that is not a “reasonably middle-range existence”.  That’s eight times the median income. Definitely part of the 1%, not the 99%.