A day of horrors for Labour

February 18th, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Monday started off badly enough for Labour with the weekend poll showing them 17% behind National.

Then they veered towards the ridiculous with David Cunliffe saying that he thinks the National Party may be paying people to follow MPs about.

It got worse when Cunliffe attacked John Key for living in a $10 million mansion, as this shifted focus on the fact he lived in a $2.5 million mansion himself.

Herne Bay is one of the country’s most expensive suburbs. Mr Cunliffe’s road, Marine Parade, is considered the suburb’s best street.

What this means is that Marine Parade is the most expensive street in the entire country.

“We bought the worst house in the best street,” says Mr Cunliffe. “It was a do-up; it probably wouldn’t be the average of the area.

John Key is open about the fact he has been successful and is well off. Cunliffe does not help himself when he describes a $2.5 million house on the most expensive street in New Zealand as a “do-up”.

Then the news broke that TVNZ had been hosting Labour Party campaign meetings, and that a senior TVNZ manager has resigned after hosting a hui which David Cunliffe attended.

A disaster of a day for Labour. No political management. And just to make it worse, the Taranaki Daily News reports that a young photographer was asked by David Cunliffe to delete a photo she took of him.

Where was Cunliffe’s press secretary. It is their job to stop the Leader doing stuff such as asking for photos to be deleted, or expressing paranoid musings that the Government has hired spies to follow MPs about. Likewise his staff should be pointing out to Cunliffe that you shouldn’t attack John Key for living in nice house, when you live in a $2.5 house on the most expensive street of New Zealand. It really is shambolic. If they are like this in opposition, how would they go trying to actually run a country?

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More shark jumping

February 17th, 2014 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

NewstalkZB reports:

David Cunliffe has suspicions the Government’s paying someone to keep tabs on other Party leaders, following revelations of Winston Peters visiting the Dotcom mansion.

Oh dear God. This is almost comical. Look at the nice political party jump over the horrible shark, like Fonzie did.

John Key has admitted he heard about the visits from right-wing blogger Cameron Slater.

A big surprise, as Cameron wrote about the visits a couple of weeks ago.

Mr Cunliffe doesn’t believe it’s as innocent as that.

“More likely it’s some form of private individual and one can only speculate of the relationship between the National Party, that blogger and whoever else is doing the work.”

David Cunliffe wants to know where the information came from in the first place – and if MPs have been tailed.

People gave Colin Craig a lot of (deserved) shit for not ruling out moon landing conspiracies on the spot. Well how much worse is it when the Leader of the Opposition openly muses paranoid conspiracy theories about MPs being tailed by Government paid spies.

I mean seriously. This is even more demented than the GCSB being the source of the info on Winston’s visits.

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Smellie on TPP

February 16th, 2014 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Patrick Smellie writes 10 things he says TPP opponents don’t want you to grasp:

  1. The secrecy surrounding TPP negotiations is typical of any such exercise.
  2. The bogey of corporations being able to sue governments is not only overblown, but corporations can do that now, without a TPP.
  3. Corporations might try to sue but they’ll be whistling if the government is acting in the public interest.
  4. United States corporate interests are obviously among those seeking influence on the TPP agenda, but that doesn’t mean the US Senate and Congress are on board.
  5. US politicians know less about what’s in the TPP negotiating documents than US corporate lobbies.
  6. No-one knows what the TPP could be worth to the New Zealand economy
  7. The US on the backfoot on many of the most contentious issues
  8. This is the end of Pharmac. Balderdash.
  9. The deal will be done behind closed doors. It can’t be. Every Parliament of every country involved will have to ratify any deal signed by leaders.
  10. There’s no guarantee TPP will come in to land.

It is quite legitimate to oppose some of the things that the US (especially) is asking for in the TPP, I am strongly opposed to many of their proposals for the intellectual property chapter. But there is a difference between opposing some of what the US is asking for, and demonising the TPP negotiations as a whole.

Matthew Hooton makes a similiar point in his Cunliffe’s Four Fails:

Mr Cunliffe’s fourth fail was over the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) about which Labour has been fully briefed by the government, through Mr Goff.

Pandering to the Greens, Labour’s radicalised membership and Auckland anti-globalisation activist Jane Kelsey, Mr Cunliffe called for the TPP negotiating text to be released.

The good news is that Mr Cunliffe accepts this can’t happen while negotiations are under way and that the text should remain secret until it is finalised.

He says, however, it should be released two weeks before it is “signed.”

It is difficult to know what Mr Cunliffe – who claims, implausibly, to be “a former New Zealand trade negotiator who worked on the GATT negotiations and bilateral trade agreements” and to have “represented the New Zealand dairy industry overseas in many markets and on many occasions” – even means.

He cannot seriously be proposing that New Zealand unilaterally release the text without the agreement of the other parties.  That would see New Zealand excluded from all further international negotiations on any topic.

He must also know there is no two-week gap between a treaty being “finalised” and it being “signed.”  At trade minister level, they are the same thing.

Trade agreements are negotiated under the principle that nothing is agreed until everything is agreed.  When trade ministers do reach agreement, there is seldom even a formal signing ceremony.  Instead, the agreed text is released as part of a communiqué and each country then decides if and when it will ratify it.

For the TPP, the US Congress has not granted President Obama fast-track negotiating authority, reserving the right to re-litigate each clause.  The text will be debated in detail in our parliament and media.  While the cabinet holds the formal ratification power, Parliament retains the right to legislate over the top of it.

 It could be a long time – even years, if other TPP countries have difficulty ratifying the deal – between a final TPP text being publicly released by trade ministers and it ever being finalised and ratified to come into force.

If he really ever were a trade negotiator, Mr Cunliffe would surely know this.

Matthew is a former press secretary to a Minister of Trade Negotiations.

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Armstrong on Jones

February 15th, 2014 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

John Armstrong writes:

The applause from his colleagues ought to be long and loud when Shane Jones arrives for Labour’s weekly caucus meeting on Tuesday. This week was Labour’s by a country mile thanks to Jones’ carefully conceived, astutely timed and precisely targeted blitzkrieg-style offensive on Countdown, the Australian-owned supermarket chain.

In the space of just a few minutes in Parliament on Wednesday afternoon, Jones made an extremely serious allegation regarding Countdown’s business practices. In doing so, he also entrenched Labour as the White Knight on the frontline of the Supermarket Wars.

It’s all about repositioning Labour more firmly in voters’ minds as the consumer’s friend who will confront big business greed rather than being a corporate lap-dog like National.

It’s about ensuring the economic debate at this year’s election concentrates on prices, wages, income inequality and child poverty – not economic growth forecasts, Budget surpluses and debt repayment where National has a huge advantage.

Yep a very good week for Shane Jones. It may backfire if he has over-egged the problem, but from what I have heard it does seem that there is some fire behind the smoke.

In fact, it could have been the perfect week for Labour had David Cunliffe not wasted an opportunity to nail the Greens to the wall, thereby making it very clear to the public who is going to be the boss in any Labour-Greens coalition Government.

Norman’s musings aloud on the Greens’ stance on Dotcom’s fight against extradition was a major gaffe. The Greens seem to believe that the wide discretion the law gives to the Minister of Justice amounts to carte blanche for the minister to pick and and choose who goes and who stays.

That discretion in the law is obviously there to deal with any anomalies or unforeseen circumstances.

Norman’s mistake was to talk about blocking Dotcom’s extradition if given the chance, while in almost the same breath referring to Dotcom not going ahead with the launch of his Internet Party which would have dragged votes off the Greens and other left-leaning parties.

Norman might argue he was talking about two very different things. But it was inevitable Key would link them and declare the Greens, who have attacked National’s electoral accommodations with minor parties, were about to strike a far more dodgy one of their own.

It is unwise to declare publicly you would try and veto extradition of someone, at the same time as you’re trying to negotiate an agreement for him to support your party, instead of setting up his own one.

So a good week for Jones, and not a good one for Cunliffe.

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Still making conventions up

February 4th, 2014 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

In November, David Cunliffe invented a new convention. He claimed there was a convention you did not have royal visits in an election year.

I labelled this “Making Shit up“, pointing out there were royal tours in 1954, 1963, 1981, 1990 and 2002.

This invented convention has now been modified to a claim made this morning in the Herald:

Labour leader David Cunliffe said the G20 invite was a “nice to have”and should not be a factor in determining the election date. He said he was more concerned about the timing of the Royal visit.

“New Zealand is not even a member of the G20 so the G20 is not going to bat an eyelid whether we are there or not.

First of all that isn’t the point. It’s a privilege and opportunity to attend. Anyway back to the main point:

A more important factor was the timing of the Royal visit in late April – the usual convention was that any such visits should be at least 6 months before an election. “I’d really challenge him to say whether he was going to abide by that convention.”

This convention is also invented.

The 1981 visit was just two months before the 1981 election and the 2002 visit five months before the 2002 election. David Cunliffe was a Government MP in 2002 so should know this.

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The secret diary of David Cunliffe

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

Steve Braunias writes:


That’s why I’m announcing that a Labour government will give every new-born baby 60 hot meals of nutritious baked beans every week until they’re old enough to operate a can opener.


I slightly misspoke yesterday. I meant to say new-born babies will receive 60 hot meals of nutritious baked beans every week until their parents are old enough to operate a can opener.


I slightly miscalculated on Monday. I meant to say new-born babies will receive 60 nutritious baked beans every week, as in 60 individual beans, not 60 cans of beans.


I slightly miscommunicated on Monday. I was absolutely frank and absolutely clear when I declared my love for Genesis.

But there’s a distinction between liking early Genesis, and liking mid-career Genesis, when Phil Collins’s presence became more apparent. You can’t like both. At no point have I ever said that you could like both.


I slightly mispronounced on Monday. I meant to say that under a Labour government, new-born babies will receive exactly 60 nutritious baked beans every year.


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Does Cunliffe stick by shoes claim?

February 1st, 2014 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Hamish Rutherford at Stuff reports:

When David Cunliffe tried to hit home the message that many Kiwis were struggling this week, he chose a simple, heartbreaking example.

Not only was one in four living below the poverty line ‘‘one in five don’t even have two pairs of shoes to wear to school’’ the Labour leader said in his state of the nation speech in Auckland.

Later in the week Cunliffe was challenged by Prime Minister John Key in Parliament to quote the source of the claim (as had Right wing commentators), but he did not do so.

His office is now ignoring questions on whether he sticks by it, but the foundations are shaky.

Staff confirmed that it was based on the report last year of Children’s Commissioner Russell Wills, which said 17 per cent of children (which is one in six, not one in five) were exposed to ‘‘a range of economising behaviours’’.

These included having at least two pairs of shoes in good repair, but could also mean parents cut back on fresh fruit, limit heating or avoid going to the doctor to save cash.

The report this all comes from I blogged on last week. It clearly states that only one in 20 families can;t afford two pairs of shoes. Cunliffe’s figure was 400% higher.

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Watkins on Labour’s shambles

February 1st, 2014 at 6:42 am by David Farrar

Tracy Watkins writes at Stuff:

This week Cunliffe had his own ‘‘show me the money’’ moment. 

Labour’s $500 million dollar “Best Start” package should have put National on the spot over its own support for new parents.

But what unfolded instead was a shambles over which parents would qualify for the $60 a week baby bonus. That succeeded only in giving National a platform from which to erode confidence both in the package and Labour’s fiscal credibility.

It is tempting to think the policy fell victim to Labour’s desire to dress it up as something other than its 2011 campaign promise to extend the $60-a-week in work tax credit to beneficiaries.

That policy was hugely popular within Labour’s activist base but deeply unpopular among the so-called ‘‘battlers’’ Labour spent most of its 2011 campaign talking about.

Broadening that policy by extending it to households earning up to $150,000 a year makes it more politically palatable among the middle-income nesters. But by years two and three of the baby bonus, the rules around eligibility are squarely pitched at beneficiary households. 

The extension to paid parental leave helps sweeten that pill among working couples. But Cunliffe’s omission of the fact they would not also receive the baby bonus for the first six months while they were receiving paid parental leave was a mistake.

In Key’s words, it looked tricky.

And their advertisement implied that you would get both.

Architect of the policy was Labour’s welfare spokeswoman Jacinda Ardern, but she was not on hand later in the week when Cunliffe fumbled again over detail of the policy.

Finance spokesman David Parker has been strangely absent from the debate, meanwhile. 

Looking back at the days of Helen Clark and Michael Cullen, it is hard not to imagine the former finance minister stepping in to monster his opponents on the fiscal detail when necessary.

I think David Parker was too busy trying to stop David Clark banning Facebook!

Labour’s front bench will be demanding a post mortem on what went wrong. 

Cunliffe may have put the cart before the horse in announcing a big ticket package before opening the books on Labour’s alternative budget.

In an election which will hinge on economic credibility, Labour has not yet  found a way to neutralise National’s narrative that it is the more prudent fiscal  manager.

Labour’s problem is that it has opposed pretty much every single decision of fiscal restraint taken in the last five years.

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Armstrong on Cunliffe and Key

January 30th, 2014 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

John Armstrong writes:

John Key was looking forward to a good old-fashioned stoush in Parliament yesterday. He did not get one. A new year and Labour is experimenting with a new tactic to spike the Prime Minister’s potent verbal guns. That tactic is to simply ignore him when he holds the floor for any length of time.

Heh, they’ve given up!

When it comes to one-upmanship, Key performs best when he is feeding off Opposition insults. He thrives on interruptions and the challenge of winging it with devastating put-downs of his adversaries. Usually being on the end of all that, Labour well knows it.

This is like Labour in the 1970s when Kirk instructed his MPs not to try and engage with Muldoon in the House!

Depriving Key of a crucial audience took some of the sting out of his mixture of barbs and pre-rehearsed jokes at Labour’s expense. Labour could not claim a victory. But the party probably denied Key being able to claim one either.

This was underlined when Cunliffe got to his feet. He is normally an impressive orator in a Parliament sadly short of such creatures.

But not yesterday. His relentlessly negative diatribe on Key’s and National’s perceived faults was too over the top to ring true and failed to answer one pertinent question. If things are going as badly wrong in New Zealand as Cunliffe claims, why are Key and National still so popular?

“You can do better than that, David,” interjected National’s Tau Henare at one point. The backbencher’s critique was one with which it was difficult to quibble.

Not a good start of the year for Labour.

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Some fisking

January 25th, 2014 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Matt Nolan at TVHE fisks Rob Salmond over his claims to be revealing the truth about income inequality in NZ. he points out numerous flaws, including how his figures are not per capita, so as more population enter the highest income band, this exaggerates income growth. Nolan also makes the point:

We have seen median income growth outstrip mean income growth in NZ for a long period of time, implying that static inequality has come down a little bit. 

Another claim which should be fisked is David Cunliffe who said:

“Kids don’t leave their lives at the school gate. When kids go to school hungry and one in five doesn’t even own two pairs of shoes, we can’t expect them to achieve.

I’ve looked long and hard for a source for this claim, but can’t find one. Can anyone find one?

What I could find was the latest NZ Living Standards Report which does ask if everyone in a household has two pairs of good or sturdy shoes. And 92% said they did, and only 5% said they did not because they couldn’t afford it.

Now 20% is four times greater than 5%, so that is some exaggeration.

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A tale of two Cunliffes

December 28th, 2013 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Fran O’Sullivan writes:

Cunliffe also uses an essential duality – which has been accurately pin-pointed as “talking out of both sides of his mouth” – to try to assuage middle-class and politically adept New Zealanders that he doesn’t really mean all the tosh he threw as bait to Labour’s bedrock base to garner voting support during his leadership campaign.

What fascinates and frustrates is that it is difficult to work out which side of Cunliffe’s mouth will triumph if he ends up this time next year as Prime Minister.

Will it be Raging Red Cunliffe or the former consultant for Boston Consulting Group?

But at year’s end, Labour under its new leadership is no further ahead in the political polls than it was at the start of the year.

The pendulum has swung back again towards National, with the optimism indexes showing much of the country in good heart and the Government poised to post a return to Budget surplus next year.

The problem facing Cunliffe is how he can convince enough voters the country is on the wrong track given the resurgence in economic growth. This growth will continue into next year as a result of a range of factors including Auckland’s housing boom, big demand for dairy exports, the Christchurch post-earthquake rebuild, immigration and the favourable terms of trade.

Overcoming this is no easy feat for any politician even one as experienced and competent as Labour’s leader.

My predictions – lots of tax and spend promises.

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Cunliffe warned by Police

December 21st, 2013 at 10:01 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Labour leader David Cunliffe has been warned by police over a message he posted on Twitter on November 30, the day of the Christchurch East by-election.

Cunliffe’s tweet urged residents to vote for Labour candidate Poto Williams, breaching electoral laws which ban any campaigning on election day.

“If you are resident in Christchurch East don’t forget to vote today – for Labour and Poto Williams!” Cunliffe wrote.

The Electoral Commission referred the tweet to police, with Cunliffe revealing today he had been warned.

“It was an inadvertent mistake which I regret. I took steps to rectify the error by immediately deleting the tweet and Labour also notified the returning officer as soon as possible,” he said.

“I have taken the warning on board and will not repeat the error.”

Still incredible that a party leader could think it is okay to tweet “Vote for Labour” on an election day.


Cunliffe referred to Police

December 5th, 2013 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

A tweet by Labour leader David Cunliffe on Saturday, the day of the Christchurch East by-election, has been referred to police.

Cunliffe published a message on his Twitter profile urging Christchurch East residents to vote for Labour candidate Poto Williams.

“If you are resident in Christchurch East don’t forget to vote today – for Labour and Poto Williams!” he wrote.

Under Electoral Commission rules, no campaigning of any kind is allowed on election day.

The Electoral Commission announced this afternoon it had referred Cunliffe to the police saying it believed he had breached the Electoral Act.

It said Cunliffe had allegedly breached the act because the message “was a statement published on polling day advising, or intended, or likely to influence electors as to the candidate for whom they should or should not vote in the by-election”.

I understand serial litigant Graham McCready has announced that he will do a private prosecution, if the Police don’t prosecute. This will be very embarrassing as it is an open and shut case, and Cunliffe would I think have to plead guilty as there is no dispute he sent the tweet, or that the tweet broke the Act.

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Cunliffe breaches election day law

December 3rd, 2013 at 1:58 pm by David Farrar

The Press reports:

Labour leader David Cunliffe might have fallen foul of the law with a message posted on his Twitter profile on the day of the Christchurch East by-election.

The Electoral Commission is looking into the tweet by Cunliffe on Saturday urging Christchurch East residents to get out and vote for the successful Labour candidate Poto Williams.

“If you are resident in Christchurch East don’t forget to vote today – for Labour and Poto Williams!” he wrote.

Under Electoral Commission rules, no campaigning of any kind is allowed on election day. …

He said he was not aware of the rules at the time it was sent. He would co-operate with the Electoral Commission if it investigated.

David Cunliffe has been a candidate in five general elections, and even the lowliest candidate knows you can not campaign on election day. The Leader of the Opposition can not plead ignorance of the law.

If the leader of NZ’s second largest political party can campaign without consequences on election day, then how could the Electoral Commission expect anyone else to take the law seriously?

The tweet may not have had a huge impact, but I can’t see anyway the Electoral Commission can not refer it to the Police without setting an awful precedent.

UPDATE: The Electoral Commission wrote to all parties contesting the by-election the day before, telling them what the rules are for e-day and they even specifically referred to not using Twitter to campaign.

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Cunliffe calls Collins a trout

November 22nd, 2013 at 3:55 pm by David Farrar

David Cunliffe blogs:

A couple of months ago I was asked to write a post for the Ruminator and, rather optimistically, I agreed.The original brief was to respond to a post by Judith Collins. My post was going to be about snapper, not trout. But considering that issue, along with Judith’s leadership aspirations, has floundered, I’ll try another hook.

What is extraordinary is this is a written blog post – not an off the cuff remark.


This is quite correct. If a male National MP had called a female Labour MP a trout, almost every female Labour MP would have done press releases condemning the sexism.

This is not the first time Cunliffe has made an off colour remark about Judith Collins. he previously said:

The controversial radio host asked Cunliffe if he ever contemplated who he would mate with if he was on a plane and everyone else in the world suddenly died.

Cunliffe answered: “Well, I have thought that if Judith Collins was the last woman on Earth, the species would probably become extinct.”

He seems to have a fixation about Judith.

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Is it wise to proclaim yourself the next Prime Minister in your biography?

November 21st, 2013 at 8:09 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Federated Farmers may be preparing for a change in government. With Labour Party leader David Cunliffe due at its annual conference, president Bruce Wills said he would go and find “the minister”. Mr Wills did, however, query Mr Cunliffe’s supplied biography, which referred to him as the “next prime minister“.

I’ve never heard of an opposition leader including that line in their supplied biography.

Sure at party conferences and the like, it is normal for the person introducing the leader to use a line like that. But a fairly significant difference between having someone else call you that, and referring to yourself as the next Prime Minister.


Cunliffe says he would force Pike shareholders to pay compo

November 20th, 2013 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Labour leader David Cunliffe has marked the third anniversary of the Pike River mine disaster with a promise to pay the full court-ordered compensation to the families.

“Under the Labour Government I lead, the Government will pay the full $3.4 million court-ordered compensation to the families of the dead miners,” he said today.

There are two things to note here.

The first is that we have ACC which Labour introduced as a no faults compensation system. All families have received large amounts of money from ACC.

The $3.4 million court order is for unlawful acts by Pike River Coal. It was Pike River Coal that was charged and found guilty. It was not the Government.

Now of course the Government can agree to pay fines on behalf of private companies. But should it? If there is a bus crash killing 20 people and an inquiry finds the Ministry of Transport needs better regulations on bus safety, would you want the Government paying the fine on behalf of the bus owner?

Cunliffe said he would be surprised if legal avenues were needed, but he left open that option as well as a legislative change as a last resort to force payment.

“The companies’ shareholders and directors have two choices. One is the easy way, the other is the hard way.”

As prime minister he would use the authority of the office, including perhaps a private dinner with the chairs of the relevant companies “where they see good sense and decide to take something back to their boards or a range of other tools at the prime minister’s disposal”.

That is quite extra-ordinary. It is close to blackmail. Pay the Government some money or else we will legislate to take it from you.  The precedent is beyond terrible.

It is not as if Pike River shareholders have got off with paying nothing. Basically every shareholder in Pike River has lost 100% of their investment. There were many small share-holders in Pike River. They lost every cent.  Now of course their financial loss is nothing compared to the tragedy of loss of life, but reporting often glosses over this fact – some readers may think Pike shareholders have got off with losing nothing. They lost every cent invested. And some like NZOG put in an extra $25 million off memory on a voluntary basis.

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All in the family

November 19th, 2013 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Labour leader David Cunliffe has appointed journalist Simon Cunliffe as his chief press secretary and media director.

The pair are first cousins – their fathers were brothers.

Well at least he will be able to trust his chief press secretary to be loyal – blood is thicker than water!

Simon Cunliffe has worked for David Cunliffe before. He was his Ministerial Press Secretary for a while in the 2000s.

He wrote a play, The Truth Game, about a newspaper in transition to the digital age which was shown at Wellington’s Circa Theatre last year.

Was a very good play.

David Cunliffe took over the Labour leadership on September 15. He took no part in the official interview of his cousin which was conducted by deputy leader David Parker, front bencher Grant Robertson and chief of staff Wendy Brandon. The interview team recommended the appointment which was accepted by David Cunliffe.

The article doesn’t make clear if anyone else was interviewed, but in the end it doesn’t matter. A party leader has total discretion to employ anyone they want. The only restriction is on partners and children (off memory).

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A story of two Cunliffes

November 16th, 2013 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

John Armstrong writes on the two David Cunliffes:

Allies and enemies of David Cunliffe are quickly discovering that Labour’s leader of two months is something of a two-headed hydra.

It seems at times as if there are two David Cunliffes – the one who speaks from the heart, and the one who speaks out of both sides of his mouth. …

Then there is the other Cunliffe. This is the slightly too brash, but still decisive-sounding version who – when his statements are subject to scrutiny – leaves the listener none the wiser as to what he really thinks and where he stands.

This is Cunliffe the professional politician who either refuses to or cannot give a straight answer. Instead, the listener is served up rhetoric and bluster.

The straight-shooter persona could be Cunliffe’s making as a leader of real stature. That persona must prevail if he is to have any show of beating John Key next year.

The duck-and-dodge persona threatens to be his undoing, leaving the impression that, beneath the surface gloss, he is just another politician, albeit a very clever one.

The tendency to try and be all things to all people is becoming noticeable and much commented on.


Doocey responds to Cunliffe

November 11th, 2013 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar



Matthew Doocey, National’s Christchurch East candidate, responds to David Cunliffe’s suggestion he won’t stay in Christchurch. An unwise accusation to make when your own candidate has been in Christchurch for less than six months!

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Cunliffe refusing Farming Show

November 9th, 2013 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Jamie Mackay writes:

There’s a certain irony in the position I find myself in with Labour leader David Cunliffe.

You see, David C has red-carded me.

Meaning, for the first time since 2000, when then Prime Minister Helen Clark agreed to a weekly slot, I will not be interviewing the Labour leader on the Farming Show.

Rightly or wrongly, Cunliffe says he won’t get a fair hearing, that we will make fun of him. Heck, we make fun of everyone, including ourselves.

MPs of course have the right to choose what shows they go on. but it is unusual for an opposition leader to boycott a show. Normally in in opposition you take every opportunity you can for free media.

When I think of Labour, I think of politicians such as Damien O’Connor, David Shearer, Grant Robertson, Annette King and Phil Goff. 

They’re eminently sensible people and, at a push, I could live with them running the country

But then I see remits such as the one proposed by the party’s ruling New Zealand Council at the annual conference and I shake my head. 

That remit would require the list-ranking committee to ensure its list fairly represents sexual orientations as well as tangata whenua, gender, ethnic groups, people with disabilities, age and youth.

What a load of politically correct bollocks.

So here’s my message for PC David C, which unfortunately I can’t pass on personally. 

If you really want to be the next prime minister, get your teeth into some issues that affect middle and low-income NZ – jobs, education, health, and the minimum wage are traditional Labour strongholds.

Attack National where you have an inherent political advantage and where it might have dropped the ball.

And his replacement for David Cunliffe?

On second thoughts, I might save that message for my new Farming Show correspondent, Dr Russel Norman.

Good on the Greens, for taking up the challenge.

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A political talk show with no politicians?

November 9th, 2013 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

The Prime Minister won’t appear on Willie Jackson and John Tamihere’s radio show again this year as pressure mounts on their bosses to take action against them for their treatment of a young woman on air.

Labour leader David Cunliffe also confirmed he would decline an appearance if invited.

It caps off a mostly horror week for RadioLive parent company MediaWorks as several major advertisers withdrew from the station amid the furore, and the broadcaster lost some of its most popular US television shows. The furore shaded to a degree the work of TV3 in leading television coverage of the story.

John Key has appeared on the show on occasion but a spokeswoman said he would not do so again this year and no further appearances were scheduled.

Mr Key would continue with his regular interview slot on Marcus Lush’s breakfast programme.

Mr Cunliffe said he would not appear on the show “at the moment”, with some party members unhappy with Tamihere’s comments.

John Tamihere is a Labour Party member, former MP and Minister, and aspiring candidate. Cactus Kate points out in an open letter to Cunliffe the hypocrisy that she is deemed unsuitable for membership, yet Tamihere is. She writes:

I have never accepted there may be any defence or explanation to gang raping girls as young as 13 years old.  Girls that young cannot by law even give consent and Mr Tamihere as a lawyer should know that and he seems incapable of accepting this publicly without attempting to justify it or blaming the girls in some way.

Mr Tamihere is aiding discussion with his fan club of neanderthals, not of grown women but girls only young enough to be my niece and your daughter.  He entertained the thought they may be asking to be raped by a pack of sweaty, nose-ringed, want to be gangster ferals due to what they wear.  He invoked what  Miley Cyrus wears and commented on what is written on girls Facebook pages.  Every educated adult seems to understand apart from Tamihere and his radio partner that these girls have made allegations of intentional, violent and publicly humiliating pack rape which is an entirely different matter to mature adults having consensual group sex.

On the same show on Thursday Mr Tamihere suggested that a person challenging his views was imparting “middle class” values as if it explained away that girls from working class or poor backgrounds should just accept pack rape, underage sex and sexual assault from older boys and men as a normal activity in the suburbs he claims to be at the “coalface” and a Leader of.

I might have to wear the eventual rejection of my membership as a badge of some honour such is the reported rarity of the action.  In light of this however I expect some consistency and that you step in as a Leader before your more vocal and active female members demand it of you and remove Tamihere’s Labour membership completely before even entertaining he may stand for Labour in 2014.

Will anyone in Labour take action? Will Cunliffe?

Back to Radio Live, you now have a political talk show that no MP from National or Labour will go on. I expect no Green MP would either. So will any MP still go on the show with them? I can think of just one – Winston. Inquiring media should ask Winston what he thinks of what Willie and JT said, and whether he is still happy to go on their show.

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A dumb argument

November 6th, 2013 at 11:15 am by David Farrar

Audrey Young reports:

Labour says it will reduce the dominance of overseas-owned insurers, keep profits in New Zealand, and bring competition, flexibility and choice to New Zealanders.

Cunliffe implied that National’s opposition to the policy is because it received big donations from the insurance industry in 2005 and attempted to table the Hollow Men documentary on the Nicky Hager book.

Please tell me you are joking? Did the Labour Leader really claim that National’s policy in 2013 is influenced by some donations made in 2005? That’s just desperate.

Finance Minister Bill English said the idea of a bank taking on more insurance risk “is about the dumbest proposal that could possibly be made in the light of events following the global financial crisis.”

“We have already got the bill for $7 billion of Earthquake Commission risk. Why would we take on more?”

It was glorious day outside but English was having none of that. “Having low-income people working in the rain, paying their PAYE and underwriting financial risk is as dumb an idea was you can have in the 2020s.”

KiwiAssure, if it came to pass, would also be New Zealand 97th insurance company.

The other 96 are not good enough?

Key responded on KiwiBank. Yes it was a good little business.

“I might point out though this it has taken $860 million of taxpayers’ money and it has never paid a dividend in 10 years.”

It’s arguable that KiwiBank doesn’t even cover the cost of capital, and is effectively subsidized by the taxpayer.

He challenged Cunliffe to name another bank operating in New Zealand that had an insurance company, and offered insurance on the same property they were lending on.

“They do not do that.”

Cunliffe: “Is he aware that ASB Bank own Tower Insurance? If he is, why is he asking such a stupid question.”

Within minutes of Cunliffe’s comment, National’s research unit – or perhaps a few friends in the insurance industry – had got the message to Key that Cunliffe was wrong.

ASB did not own Tower. They sent the list of owners. Key tried to read through the list.

That’s a big fail.

Eventually Labour’s deputy, David Parker, and possibly the source of his leader’s error, did the honourable thing and acknowledged the error by asking Key: “Has he received any advice that ASB in fact own Sovereign Assurance?”

Key: “Yes it does own Sovereign and let us get to the better bit…Sovereign provides life insurance, and the way [Cunliffe] is going, he will need life insurance.”

I don’t think Labour are proposing a state owned insurer to provide life insurance. It is obviously targeted at property and contents insurance, the idea of having a bank own a property insurance company is a great way to have it go bankrupt.


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Making shit up

November 3rd, 2013 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

He also used his speech to accuse the Government of snubbing a convention that invitations were not issued for a royal visit during an election year.

He believed Prime Minister John Key would invite the royal family to bring “its newest and cutest member here for a long series of photo ops in an election year”, Cunliffe said, referring to Prince William, wife Kate and their baby George.

Cunliffe has just invented this convention. The convention is not to have visits during or close to election campaigns. Rather silly to invent a fake convention and then accuse John Key of planning to break this fake mythical convention.

Based on some quick research, here are the previous royal visits which have occurred in election years:

  1. 1954, QEII
  2. 1963 QEII
  3. 1981 QEII
  4. 1990, QEII, Prince Edward and Princess Royal
  5. 2002, QEII

When you devote a proportion of your speech to attacking the PM for breaking a non-existent convention, then I guess it just means you din’t have much of substance to say.

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Cunliffe gets personal

November 1st, 2013 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

3 News reported:

Despite criticism of the sales, Mr Cunliffe says Prime Minister John Key would sell his mother if he got the chance.

I don’t think the public will respond well to snide personal attacks. You can follow the link and see the video at one minute 30. I can’t imagine any swinging voter will respond well to the combination on display there.

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