Parker says Labour is like a cult

October 23rd, 2014 at 1:28 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Labour leadership contender David Parker says Labour borders on feeling like “a cult” and must look at its branding – including its symbolic red party colour.

Cult is too harsh a term, but what Labour does suffer from is diversity – diversity of opinion.

National has a caucus and a party that has social liberals and social conservatives. It has those who see the role of the state in the economy is to get out of the way, and those who see its role to be an active participant.

By contrast Labour looks on people who are even close to the economic centre with disdain and suspicion. I know many Labour members who say they feel the party no longer represents them.

Even worse is if you are a social conservative in Labour. Then you are seen as blot on their conscience to be exorcised. You will be told you are in the wrong party.

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Can’t blame Grant

August 4th, 2014 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Robertson sleeping again

To be fair to Grant, it is pretty difficult to stay awake when David Parker is speaking!

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Pagani says Parker did not get nine things wrong

May 4th, 2014 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Josie Pagani responds to Steven Joyce’s statement that David Parker made nine mistakes in just one interview. It’s a war of competing statistics as Pagani does a better job of defending Parker than Labour has managed!

 

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Is this a record?

April 28th, 2014 at 2:55 pm by David Farrar

Steven Joyce points out:

The Labour Party’s attempts to talk down New Zealand’s economic performance have hit a new low this weekend with David Parker making at least nine factually incorrect statements in one short interview, Associate Finance Minister Steven Joyce says.

In the interview, with TV3’s The Nation programme, Parker made assertions about low export prices, a poor balance of trade, job losses in the export sector, New Zealand’s current account deficit,  high interest rates, a lack of business investment, 40 per cent house price increases, no tax on housing speculators, and low levels of house building.

Mr Joyce says all of Mr Parker’s assertions in relation to these nine things are incorrect.

Is this a record for a single interview?

The nine inaccuracies are:

Schedule of inaccuracies in David Parker interview on The Nation – April 26 2014

1. “Export prices are going down”

Export prices in fact rose 13.8 per cent in the year to December 2013 (Statistics New Zealand).

The ANZ NZD Commodity Price Index rose 11.6 per cent in the year to March 2014 and is just 6 per cent below its all-time March 2011 peak.

2.  “We are not covering the cost of our imports (and interest)”

Statistics New Zealand reported a merchandise trade surplus for New Zealand in the year to February 2014 of $649 million (1.3 per cent of exports).

January and February’s merchandise trade surpluses were the highest ever for their respective months.

3.  “We are losing jobs in the export sector”

The number of people employed in the agriculture, forestry, fisheries, mining and manufacturing sectors has increased by 16,100 in the last twelve months. 

Total New Zealand employment increased by 66,000 in the last year or 3.0 per cent in one year. This is the fastest employment growth since December 2006. (Statistics New Zealand Household Labour Force Survey December 2013).

4. “This challenge of getting New Zealand’s current account deficit under control”

New Zealand’s balance of payments deficit is currently 3.4 per cent and has averaged only 3.1 per cent over the last four years.

Under Labour the Balance of Payments peaked at 7.9 per cent in December quarter 2008 and averaged 7 per cent over their last four years.

New Zealand’s Net International Investment Position is currently down to 67 per cent of GDP after peaking at 85.9 per cent in March 2009.

5. “Ridiculously high interest rates”

Interest rates have just edged up above 50-year lows.

Floating mortgage interest rates are currently between 6 and 6.25 per cent. They peaked at 10.9 per cent between May and August 2008.

6. “Exporters…. Aren’t willing to invest in plant”

Investment in plant, machinery and equipment by New Zealand companies was up 7.5 per cent in the December quarter and 3 per cent for the year. Investment in plant, machinery and equipment is now at its highest level ever (Statistics New Zealand – December quarter 2013 GDP release).

Just yesterday, long term New Zealand forestry processor Oji Limited announced a $1 billion investment to purchase Carter Holt Harvey Processing assets.

7. “House prices are up 40 per cent under them”

House prices under this government have increased at around 5.7 per cent per annum, compared to 10.7 per cent per annum under Labour, according to REINZ figures. Total house price increases over the period is 30 per cent, not the 40 per cent Mr Parker claims. That compares with a 96 per cent increase in house prices under Labour.

8.  “You need to tax the speculators. They are not taxing speculators”

Taxpayers who buy and sell houses for income are currently taxed at their personal income tax rate on their capital income.

9.  “They are not building any more houses”

The actual trend for the number of new dwellings, including apartments, is up 95 per cent from the series minimum in March 2011.

The trend is at its highest level since October 2007 (Statistics New Zealand February 2014 Building Consents Release).

Nice to see Ministers do some fisking.

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Labour says Apple et al plundering NZ economy

January 30th, 2014 at 7:03 am by David Farrar

Labour continue with their jihad against the tech giants. From Hansard yesterday:

Hon DAVID PARKER: … Neither do we think it is fair that some of the multinationals plunder the New Zealand economy—like Google, like Apple, like Facebook—take hundreds of millions of dollars out of the New Zealand economy, compete with New Zealand – based companies, and pay virtually no tax. 

Wow I didn’t know that there were NZ companies competing with Apple, Google and Facebook. Is David Parker saying that Microsoft, Yahoo and Bebo are NZ based companies?

But regardless we can all agree that multinationals who plunder the NZ economy are evil and must be shunned. I await all Labour MPs giving up their iPhones and closing down their Facebook accounts.

As I have often pointed out Fairfax and APN also pay virtually no (income) tax. Will Labour shun these multinationals also?

We in the Labour Party are willing to move on that, but the Government is not because once again it is preferring the interests of the wealthy. It is not willing to take on the multinationals, despite the fact that there is a glaring unfairness there, that they should pay their fair share of tax too, which they do not, and that there are mechanisms that could be used. 

Here’s my challenge to David Parker who wants to be Minister of Finance. It is a very simple challenge. Name these mechanisms that can be used. You don’t even have to name them all. Just name one of them. Just give us one specific example of how they would change the law in a way that would require those companies to pay more tax?

In related news, 3 News reports:

Banning Facebook was an extreme suggestion from Labour Party MP David Clark – and it took party leader David Cunliffe just 24 hours to shut it down.

Mr Cunliffe has now ruled it out completely, but ridicule from the Government still came hard and fast.

Half the population, nearly 2.3 million, are on Facebook, and Mr Cunliffe’s own page has more than 8000 likes.

The social networking website has been accused of avoiding paying its fair share of taxes in New Zealand.

To recoup the cost, yesterday, Labour’s tax spokesman David Clark suggested the Government should “always have in its back pocket the ability to ban websites as an extreme option”.

But Russell Norman says he thinks it is “ridiculous” to consider banning Facebook or any other website.

When the Greens call a Labour policy ridiculous, you know how bad it is.

Labour’s musing on banning Facebook has even gone international, making the International Business Times.

Anyway the next time you see a Labour MP using an iPhone or iPad or Apple laptop, make sure you tell them off for using an evil company that plunders the NZ economy.

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Superannuation vs Education

August 28th, 2013 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Mr Parker said Mr Key’s position, including his pledge to resign rather than increase the age of eligibility was “just populism” intended as a vote catcher.

“We know that it’s wrong to be spending more on super than education, that it comes at the cost of caring for children, and yet he has got his head in the sand.

Vote Education is $12.4 billion.

Vote Superannuation is $10.9 billion.

I would have though a Finance Spokesperson would know this.

I of course do support increasing the age of eligibility for superannuation, and delinking it from the average wage.

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A tale of two responses

June 6th, 2013 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reported:

In a 28 page paper delivered to an industry audience in Auckland, Dr Brent Layton argues current arrangements are working well but can be better, and that returning to a central planning approach will lead to higher prices and more likelihood of power shortages.

“Conclusions based on inadequate research are not a basis for sound economic policy,” said Layton, in a direct attack on Victoria University Institute of Policy Studies economist Dr Geoff Bertram, whom he accuses of producing graphs that overstate the extent of household power price increases relative to other countries.

Dr Layton is the Chairman of the Electricity Authority, which is the sector equivalent of the Commerce Commission. It is the body that helps regulate the market to try and maximise competition to benefit consumers.

Dr Layton is not a politician or lobbyist. He is not campaigning for votes. His job is to identify what sort of regulatory regime will best deliver for consumers.

Layton also says he would not implement the Labour-Greens’ NZ Power proposal because it would contravene the requirements of the regulator’s legislation “to promote competition in, reliable supply by, and the efficient operation of the electricity industry for the long term benefit of consumers.”

Asked whether he would be able to serve on the Electricity Authority if a Labour-Green government were elected, Layton said: “I personally wouldn’t.”

What he is effectively saying is that their proposal threatens reliable supply. Not surprisingly, he doesn’t want to be the fall guy, should that come to pass.

On central buyer proposals, he said similar policies had been examined four times in the last 25 years and “found wanting in terms of what would be of long term benefit to consumers.

That is not just his view. That was also the view of David Parker when he was Minister of Energy.

What is fascinating is the responses from David Parker and Russel Norman to his paper.

David Parker has done a critique of his analysis. I don’t agree with Parker’s critique, but it is policy based and respectful.

Contrast that to Russel Norman’s response:

“Dr Layton’s extraordinary foray into political debate is nothing more than a National Party-appointed civil servant who has failed to do his job and is now trying to protect his patch,” said Dr Norman.

So once again Dr Norman attacks the man, instead of the issue. Rather Muldoonist, dare I say.

It is worth recalling what the annual increase in electricity CPI have been. For the last ten years they have been:

  • 2003 9.3%
  • 2004 8.8%
  • 2005 4.1%
  • 2006 7.1%
  • 2007 6.5%
  • 2008 7.7%

Then since the election

  • 2009 2.1%
  • 2010 5.8% (of which 2.2% was GST increase, so underlying figure was 3.6%)
  • 2011 2.4%
  • 2012 5.2%

The increases in the last four years have been fairly modest. Excluding the GST change, it has been around 3.3% a year which is higher than desirable but much less than the previous Government.

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Which Ministers appointed themselves to CEO recruitment panels?

May 28th, 2013 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Readers will recall the fuss over John Key making a phone call to Ian Fletcher informing him of the GCSB vacancy. Labour would have had you believe this was an unprecedented ministerial involvement.

As has happened in all the recent appointments that Labour has criticised, all were recommended by a panel of neutral civil servants.

This got me thinking. Has there even been an interview panel that didn’t include just neutral civil servants but a Minister?

It’s one thing to have the Minister sign off on an appointment, but do you want Ministers actually sitting on CEO interview panels? Wouldn’t that be far worse than merely making a phone call.

So I asked the State Services Commission if any Ministers in the last 14 years have sat on interview panels for state sector chief executives. They replied that this has happened on four occasions – in 2000, 2004, 2007 and 2008.

What is disturbing about these ministerial membership of appointment panels is all the roles were ones of pivotal importance to our democratic institutions. They were:

  • 2000 – Margaret Wilson on interview panel for the Solicitor-General
  • 2004 – Trevor Mallard on interview panel for the State Services Commissioner
  • 2007 – Michael Cullen on interview panel for the Clerk of the House of Representatives
  • 2008 – David Parker on interview panel for the State Services Commissioner

So this puts it all into perspective – a phone call, vs actually sitting on the interview panel – which means you are effectively hand picking your preferred candidate.

Ministers should be consulted on recommendations and for some roles they make the final appointment. But i think it is generally undesirable for Ministers to sit on interview panels for state sector chief executives. It is rather hypocritical to complain about bad process in appointments, when they did far far worse themselves.

The OIA response is here – Scan-to-Me from 11-util2 ssc govt nz 2013-05-15 124921

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Talk is easy

May 15th, 2013 at 10:19 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

The one thing alternative finance minister, Labour’s David Parker, won’t be criticising in tomorrow’s Budget is the Government’s confirmation that it is on track to return to surplus in 2014-15.

“I always thought it would; I’ve always said it should, and we would have too,” Mr Parker says.

That is unadulterated crap. Nothing Labour have done in the last five years suggests they would have done the same. Quite the opposite.

Labour left the incoming Government with not just a decade of deficits, but actually a permanent structural deficit. A deficit that would never have been plugged without policy changes. One so large that you could not just rely on economic growth and increased tax revenue to get back into surplus.

National has both frozen and cut spending. On every single occasion they have done so, Labour has attacked them for it. Labour has also consistently come up with massive new spending proposals such as extending paid parental leave and attacked the Government for not agreeing to it.

They also relentlessly criticised the Government what what they said was austerity measures, and said it was the wrong policy.

So to turn around now, and say “Oh yeah we would have got the Government back into surplus also” is just crap. They’ve spent years opposing every single spending cut and even explicitly saying that there is no rush to get back to surplus (I don’t regard six years as a rush!).

If you want an idea of what would have happened if Labour had been in power, just look at Labor in Australia.

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Do you want a Finance Minister who can’t do basic maths?

November 28th, 2012 at 1:56 pm by David Farrar

From Hansard yesterday:

Hon David Parker: I would ask whether the Minister checked his arithmetic coming to the House, because, by my reckoning, if there was going to be one house built every hour for every hour of the day, 7 days a week for 10 years, there would be a build of 613,000 houses, not the 100,000 houses that Labour says we are going to build.

Let’s make this easy for the Labour Shadow Finance spokesperson:

  1. An house an hour is 24 houses in a day
  2. That is 168 houses in a week
  3. That is 8,736 houses in a year
  4. That is 87,360 houses in ten years

It is clear that David Parker must also be responsible for the same calculations that they can build houses in Auckland for under $300,000 each. He was out by a factor of 7000%.

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Parker offends Mexico

April 23rd, 2012 at 3:15 pm by David Farrar

Remember all the fuss over Gerry Brownlee offending Finland. Well I trust as much attention will be paid to David Parker offending Mexico. The Mexican Embassy has put out a release saying:

Is Mexico A Cigarette-Based Economy?

Following the recent comment made by Hon. David Parker about Labour’s concerns for New Zealand becoming ‘Australia’s Mexico’, the Mexican Ambassador, Mrs Leonora Rueda, has written a response to the MP noting that Mexico has been awarded the privilege of assuming the annual Presidency of the G20 this year not only because of its being the 14th largest economy in the world, but also through the good performance of its economy over the past 20 years.

Amongst other points, she notes that thanks to a highly developed infrastructure and a modern multimodal transportation system, including a vast network of commercial corridors, ports and airports, Mexico is one of the largest recipients of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in the world.

FDI in Mexico is nowadays concentrated in high value-added products, such as the aerospace, telecommunications and biotechnology industries, which opens up careers in technology and creates specialised education and allows the integration of academies into the productive sector, thereby increasing research and development and productive chains based on the knowledge economy.

No visits to Mexico for Mr Parker. He will have to join Jeremy Clarkson on the “off-side” list.

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Parker pulls out

December 1st, 2011 at 4:58 pm by David Farrar

Stuff has just tweeted that David Parker has suddenly pulled out of the race for Labour Party Leader. This is a huge boost for David Shearer, and I suspect Shearer is now the favourite.

No word yet on why Parker pulled out. It seems he has endorsed Shearer. I presume if he had stayed in that Labour requires the leader to get 51% of the caucus vote so in a three way contest, the lowest polling candidate would drop out and then have a second vote between the remaining two if none had got 50%.

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A double fail

November 20th, 2011 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Almost everyone is aware of The Press debate two weeks ago when Phil Goff couldn’t answer John Key’s question about how much revenue their proposed CGT will bring in the first year it starts, and what year that is. The result was a week of bad headlines for Goff, and serious damage to Labour’s economic credibility.

So after that fiasco, you would have thought that the first thing a semi-competent party leader would do is to make sure they can answer that question without hesitation. But amazingly Phil Goff couldn’t answer it for a second time!

On The Nation yesterday:

Duncan        One of the crucial questions that John Key asked you that night was around capital gains, and he asked you in your first year what sort of money do you raise in the first year, and you didn’t know.

Phil              Well the figures are out there, the figures are it’ll raise 26 billion in 16 years.  And what I said, let me finish this, it starts slowly, it starts with you know 20 – 50 million or whatever, it gets up to half a billion very quickly, gets up to a billion in about eight years, and then it hits about three billion.

Duncan        But do you know in the first year what it raises.

Phil              Yeah I’ve got it right here…

Duncan        No – do you know without looking?   It’s 68 billion (DPF: meant to be million)

So even after a week of ridicule over not knowing his numbers, Phil Goff still couldn’t answer, without looking it up, that Labour’s CGT will only bring in $68m in its first year.

Now of course no party leader will know every number, but again after what happened last week, this is one number that should have been tattooed.

But the problems for Goff don’t stop there. In a fit of loyalty Trevor Mallard in an online chat said that as campaign manager he takes full responsibility for Goff not being prepared for The Press debate. But the two Davids have told quite a different story to The Nation:

Here’s what David Cunliffe said:

N: Should he not have known those numbers for a debate like that?

DC: Well I’m sure he does, and did, but you never know the bounce of the ball on the day and what comes to mind but that’s really a question you should address to him

N: So , did he know the numbers did you know the numbers then?

DC: Well some of those questions were numbers that had been previously released by our tax package… but it’s sometimes it depends about how the question is framed at the time but I’m not going to second guess – Phil’s done a great job on this campaign….

So Cunliffe is saying that Goff did know and that basically he just stuffed up.

And Parker:

N: When was the fiscal strategy ready? When did you know it?

DP: Well it had been prepared in advance of our savings forum. Phil had determined we would release the strategy two days after debate.

N: Had he seen the numbers

N: Yes he was of course aware of the numbers, he was aware of the numbers when we made decision to increase kiwisaver compulsory — our fiscal numbers were worked out at that stage. The exact date of release was the Friday, the press debate was the prior Wednesday, the two day gap between that I don’t know there’s a lot in that.

Parker basically confirms that the numbers didn’t change in those two days, that Goff could have answered the question on the Wednesday if he had been on top of it.

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ACT and the Sensible Sentencing Trust

October 25th, 2011 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

I ran a guest post by Labour MP David Parker on Saturday.

In his guest post Mr Parker stated that at the last election ACT took a large donation from the Sensible Sentencing Trust.

This appears to be a false statement. All donations over $10,000 are required to be disclosed to the Electoral Commission, and none was.This is an audited statutory return.

The ACT Party Treasuer and Secretary both say no donation of any amount was ever received, and the Sensible Sentencing Trust has said it never made any donation. In the absence of any proof from Mr Parker, I conclude the statement is wrong and have added a statement to that effect at the bottom of the post.

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Guest Post: David Parker on What’s going on in Epsom

October 22nd, 2011 at 10:17 am by David Farrar

This is a guest post from Labour MP and Epsom Candidate David Parker:

What’s going on in Epsom?

The latest NBR poll for the Epsom electorate highlights problems for both National and Act.

My vote is up from 4.3% in the prior Herald poll to 17% in this latest one. Who wouldn’t be pleased with that 400% increase or the fact that at 17 % I am closing in on John Banks on 24%?

But the reality is that National’s Paul Goldsmith at 37% is well ahead, despite effectively saying “vote for Banks”. It is obvious that the Epsom voters are reluctant to be told how to vote, as shown by John Banks only mustering a quarter of the votes in the bluest electorate in the land.

I am not surprised. From my campaigning in Epsom, it is absolutely clear the Act Party is seen as an embarrassment by the vast majority.

If there is a surprise for me in Epsom, it is that so few people knew that John Banks tripled Auckland City Council’s debt during his last three years as Mayor. This recent history is very damaging for Key as well as Banks, given their repeated assertions that they are fiscally responsible and Labour is profligate.

The reality that Banks was “borrow and spend” will get through. I am telling everyone! Every letter box in Epsom will get this message.

Each step John Key takes to do a deal with Act’s borrow-and-hope-Banks and the-ends-justify-the-means-Brash undermines the image he has crafted for himself. He knows this erodes his political capital, but obviously thinks he needs Act.

The economic creds of John Key have been tarnished by his misrepresentations about the Standard and Poors downgrade statements.

Further, this has caused a renewed willingness to accept that Labour under Michael Cullen ran substantial surpluses and reduced government debt, which Key and Brash opposed. There is a widening acceptance that Labour was fiscally responsible at a time when the USA, the UK and most of Europe were not.

So the fact that Key is willing to do a deal in Epsom with Banks allows Labour to highlight these truths, which then causes voters to consider that, notwithstanding all of National’s spin, it is National’s deficit.

The Epsom platform enables us to remind voters of these facts, and contrast our plan to grow the export economy (substantial changes to tax, savings and monetary policy without selling our power companies) with National’s lack of an adequate plan.

All this at a time when so many are concerned that the world is changing fast, yet National and Act are stuck in a Chicago School of Economics time warp on the side of the bankers who were part of the problem and who are symbolic of the 1% who the 99% are protesting about.

Just as John Key’s image as a non-politician is undermined by what is happening in Epsom, so are National’s attacks on Labour.

The reality is that Banks’ very public record is there to haunt Key and Banks. The man who claims Muldoon as his hero has the worst economic record of any Mayor, ever, in the entire history of New Zealand.

While the last Labour government ran budget surpluses and reduced government debt, this is what John Banks did to Auckland:

Auckland City Council debt more than trebled in his last 3 years as Mayor!
2007          2008         2009                31/10/2010
$135m      $322m      $499m             $738 million !!!!!!!!

This was all pre amalgamation, and resulted in three credit downgrades for the council from Standard and Poors (from AA+ to AA-).

The Act spin that debt increased because the old Auckland City was borrowing for the new City is untrue. (That extra $416m of borrowing in the 2010 year took Auckland City Council debt to $1,155m at the time of amalgamation, but is excluded from the above figures.)

So John Banks certainly does not stand for fiscal responsibility.

The problems for National and Act go further.

I can attest from my campaigning in Epsom that voters still remember voting in the perk buster Rodney Hide, only for him to be busted for his use of perks.

They still remember the hypocrisy of the Act party opposing name suppression and favouring tougher sentences, and then finding out that David Garrett had name suppression and a discharge without conviction for stealing a baby’s identity and passport fraud.  Some are also aware Act knew this when they took a large donation from the misnamed Sensible Sentencing Trust and made Garrett Act’s law and order spokesperson.

It should be no surprise to anyone that no-one is sure what Act stands for. Liberals or conservatives?  Populist or principled? Take your pick.

The Epsom voters also regularly say to me that they can’t understand why Act has been taken over by Don Brash and John Banks, both of whom are past their use by date. That this is a widespread view was confirmed in the latest NBR poll where only 14% of those polled thought the change to Acts leadership had improved things while over 40% said it had made things worse and 30% said that there was no change to what was an already dire situation.

More people than you might expect also remember that Banks left National when last in Parliament with a reputation more sullied than Rodney Hide’s. Banks was kicked out of Cabinet by National. He then refused to sit on any select committee and while drawing a full salary as an MP took a paid job as a talkback host for Radio Pacific.

For all of these reasons the people of Epsom are very reluctant to hold their noses and vote for Banks.

I thought that Jon Johansson’s comment on Q&A last weekend was interesting. He made the point that Act is now polling at lower levels than at the last election. Voting for Banks in Epsom may in itself be a wasted vote (those unintended puns can’t be avoided given Brash’s proclamations). The problem for Act is that even if Banks did win Epsom, he is likely to bring in only himself and perhaps Brash to Parliament. Any extra votes gathered between now and the election would come off National. Not only will National want them for themselves, but Act still won’t make 5% and voters won’t want to risk wasting their party vote either. 

With Act polling low, an Epsom win is unlikely to bring a substantial voting wedge to prop up National.  Add to that this latest NBR poll showing Act is much less likely to get Epsom this time compared with last (and thus their party votes would be lost), and Act should be nervous.

The motivation for Epsom voters to throw their votes to Banks is undermined for so many reasons.

All in all, the Epsom election is proving useful to Labour and is allowing us to highlight issues National would much prefer had less profile.

The result will be more party votes and more electorate votes for Labour – inside and outside of Epsom. Thank you John, John and Don.

David Parker – Labour Candidate for Epsom -22 October 2011

I am happy to run guest posts from other (significant) Epsom candidates, of course.

UPDATE: In his guest post Mr Parker states that at the last election ACT took a large donation from the Sensible Sentencing Trust. This appears to be a false statement. All donations over $10,000 are required to be disclosed to the Electoral Commission, and none was. The ACT Party Treasuer and Secretary both say no donation of any amount was ever received, and the Sensible Sentencing Trust has said it never made any donation. In the absence of any proof from Mr Parker, I conclude the statement is wrong.

UPDATE2: David Parker has asked me to add the following on:

Garth McVicar has today (25 October) said that the Sensible Sentencing Trust has not made donations of money to any political party, including Act. It appears from his statement that the only gift the Trust itself made to Act was David Garrett. What donations, if any, came from members of the so-called Sensible Sentencing Trust to Mr Garrett or Act  I do not know.

 

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Garner on Leigh

September 22nd, 2011 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Duncan Garner has a strong blog post on what happened to Erin Leigh:

Remember Erin Leigh? You may not.

Here’s a quick synopsis. She worked at the Environment Ministry in 2006 as a communications consultant and witnessed Labour Party Ministers David Benson-Pope and David Parker’s complete politicisation of the Department. Benson-Pope was sacked for lying over his role in getting rid of a completely competent and professional woman whose partner worked for the National Party. Then enter Parker the new Minister. Parker hired Clare Curran (now a Labour MP) as an “independent consultant” in the Department, to run the PR team – he claimed she was politically neutral.

In my opinion it was so Labour could control and run the messages the Department was sending out. Leigh left in the end – disgusted with what she witnessed, but stayed silent until I rang her in 2007. Leigh ended up speaking out, she was a brave and consummate neutral public servant – who witnessed something that was wrong. But the Labour Party, supported by the so called “neutral” public service management, brutally attacked her, her work and her reputation. Leigh took the Crown to the Supreme Court and last week she finally won.

The Erin Leigh case is often held up as an example of why the public service nickname for Wellington was Helengrad. Those who spoke out were dealt to.

Firstly, Leigh in my view deserves an apology, and a payout to not only cover costs, but to reflect damages. This has destroyed her in many ways.

The apology must first and foremost come from the State Services Commissioner Iain Rennie.

He needs to make good on all the rhetoric he and his Department talk about every day about ethics and the neutrality of the public service. A real and brave leader would stand up Iain. Make good on all your talk, and all your workshops. Because without an apology from you on behalf of the public service, your talk is cheap Iain.

That’s a very good idea.
David Parker should also acknowledge his role in all this and openly apologise to Leigh. Clare Curran should do the same.

Trevor Mallard’s apology at the time was half-hearted, coming out stronger now Erin Leigh has won her case certainly wouldn’t hurt.

Parker and Mallard are certainly culpable, but I will disagree with Duncan on the issue of Curran. As far as I can tell, Clare did nothing wrong. She didn’t demand the job and demand Leigh be sacked. She got hired for a job, and did it.
The fault lies primarily with Parker who told the CEO that they should hire her. Parker should never be making any suggestions to the CEO about whom they employ, let alone suggesting a Labour Party activist be employed in what is meant to be a neutral communications role.
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John does not understand

July 21st, 2011 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

John Pagani blogs:

Give me a break.

“Interesting to be in a party where the leadership decide selections,” David Farrar says of David Parker’s decision to stand in Epsom, as if National’s selection of Paul Goldsmith wasn’t one of the worst leadership stitch-ups in the entirety of MMP.

I mean, he’s just shameless. I blogged when Goldsmith was selected that it made sense. But to then take the mickey and claim it was a local decision is bizarre. Goldsmith has been selected by party command  to throw the seat to former National MP John Banks, whose biography Goldsmith wrote. The locals wanted Bhatnagar.

John’s experience of political parties is limited. In the Alliance Jim Anderton decided everything. On the one occassion the rest of the party wanted a say, Jim stormed off in a huff and killed the party. Then in the Progressives Jim even named the party after him so he had full control.

In Labour, the head office had three votes on a seven person panel, and combined with the unions can decide most selections.

This is why John thinks that in National, the head office decided the Epsom selection. He can’t imagine a party where this is not possible.

In seats with membership under 900, the Regional Chair can have influence as they select some of the 60 delegates. But in a strong seat like Epsom, the 60+ local delegates are selected purely by the members in their branch meetings, and those delegates get 100% of the votes (the Regional Chair has a casting vote but not a deliberative vote).

Party members take their duties seriously as delegates. Unlike Labour where a union can bus in scores of “members” who have never attended a Labour Party meeting in their life, and have never even met the candidates, National has eligibility criteria. You must have been an individual member for at least a year, and more importantly you must have attended a Meet the Candidates meeting to be able to vote at the selection meeting.

On top of the formal MTC meetings, candidates generally will meet every delegate one on one in their house. To win a selection you need to spend weeks getting around all the delegates – some you may even meet two or three times as they question you on your beliefs, your experience, your ambitions.

I accept this is all alien to John, but it is how it works in the seats where National has membership of 900 or more.

Meanwhile NewstalkZB report:

Labour Party frontbencher David Parker’s to take a tilt at Epsom.

The list MP has confirmed he will be taking on National’s Paul Goldsmith and Act’s John Banks at the general election.

Now I am told nominations are still open. Yet the story treats Parker as if he is the confirmed candidate. That is because they know in Labour if the hierarchy support you, you will almost always win – their rules are written that way.

What is more interesting is that Parker is moving from Dunedin to Auckland. His relationship is part of it no doubt, but look at the politics.

If Goff loses, him and Annette will go. Parker and Street could well be the replacements. But Labour could not have a Leader from Dunedin and a Deputy from Nelson. Auckland is their stronghold, and where elections are won.

By moving to Auckland, Parker makes himself a far stronger contender for the leadership.

Also I should note that the blogs were first to say Parker would seek Epsom.

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Labour MP says Parker would have won

April 2nd, 2011 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

An interesting profile of David Parker by Vernon Small in the Dom Post. What grabbed my attention is:

But last week one senior Labour MP said he believed if Mr Parker moved, he could get the numbers to roll the leader.

A senior Labour MP must mean a front-bencher I’d say. It confirms what I suspect that if someone did want the job, they would have it.

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Did Parker tip off Hooton?

March 26th, 2011 at 9:32 am by David Farrar

I blogged yesterday how both Scoop and NBR have reports that Parker is planning a coup against Phil Goff.

Both media outlets quote Labour insiders, which means they have spoken to at least two separate people. It doesn’t mean that it is 100% certain a coup is on, but means that some people within Labour are saying there is one. Either Parker is planning a coup against Goff, or the rumour has been put out there by supporters of another leadership aspirant, to damage Parker (and Goff).

David Parker has claimed he doesn’t aspire to the leadership, but I’ve never heard an MP admit they do. Remember Winston saying he was happy to be the MP for Tauranga. I’ve seen three coups in my time in National, and they were all denied up to them occurring. If an MP truly wishes to make it clear they are not seeking the leadership, then their denial would take the form of a Shermanesque statement.

I have no special knowledge of whether a coup is on, beyond what Scoop and NBR have reported. I do have to say though that if Goff’s handling of the Hughes affair is not enough to get him rolled, I really don’t know what would be.

But there is one aspect to this that makes me very curious. Up until recently the only names seriously speculated about as leadership contenders were David Cunliffe and Shane Jones. Grant Robertson and Andrew Little are mooted as future leaders, but not current ones. So how did David Parker’s name come to the fore? And remember both Scoop and NBR say their Labour sources say that Parker will be the candidate, if there is a coup.

Well on the 11th of March, Matthew Hooton wrote in NBR (paywall):

Attention is turning within Labour to the question of Phil Goff’s successor. …

The overlooked candidate is David Parker, who has emerged as Labour’s genuine backroom intellectual and whose ambitions are now being made clear to selected media. …

As far as I can tell, this is the first time Parker’s name has been raised as a serious contender for the leadership. And the date is fascinating. It was two weeks ago. The Hughes incident was only known to Goff, King and Hughes at that stage.

Hooton makes it quite clear in his column, that he has been briefed by either Parker or someone close to Parker. And while you might wonder whether Hooton would have any relationship with Parker, the answer is he does. Off memory Hooton represented the interests of several major sectors or companies who wanted the ETS drafted a certain way, and Parker was the Minister in charge of the ETS.

So when Parker, or someone close to Parker, tipped Hooton off as a leadership contender, the Hughes affair was not a factor. In other words if there is a coup against Goff, the planning for it started before the Hughes affair – Goff’s handling of it will be a catalyst, rather than a cause.

Again I have no direct knowledge of if Parker is planning a coup. But when you consider someone obviously briefed Hooton several weeks ago, and that in the last 24 hours at least two Labour insiders have been putting Parker’s name out to Scoop and NBR, it does make you suspicious.

Adding to this is this article in the Dom Post by Tracy Watkins and Vernon Small:

The Labour Party is in turmoil, with senior figures questioning leader Phil Goff’s judgment over the Darren Hughes affair and a crucial frontbench meeting on Monday and Tuesday likely to discuss the issue. …

Yesterday he dismissed talk of a move on his leadership as “bullshit” and said he had received no criticism of his handling of the affair and expected none.

If Goff has received no criticism of his handling of the affair, then things are dire for him, as it means no one is telling him the truth. Worse, he comes across as arrogant in saying he expects none. By his own admission, his actions has been totally inconsistent with his previous statements and he has had to do a mea culpa.

But one of the party’s rising stars, who asked not to be named, said next week’s meeting was likely to crystallise how angry MPs were over Mr Goff’s handling of the issue and whether there was the will for a leadership challenge.

“It depends if people like Charles Chauvel, Shane Jones, David Parker and Trevor Mallard have the balls to say something.”

A rising star, is a term that can only apply to an MP or a very high profile candidate.

Sources said the appointment of Mt Albert MP David Shearer to the plum education job, after Mr Hughes was stood down, had only made the matter worse.

“How much consultation was there on that? There are already those in the 2008 intake who were brooding about being overlooked,” one source said.

Now that is definitely an unhappy MP being quoted.

Party president Andrew Little, who steps down on April 2 and is running for Parliament, is thought to be furious at not being told about the accusations against Mr Hughes, which he heard from reporters.

So he should be.

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Scoop and NBR say a coup is on

March 25th, 2011 at 7:25 pm by David Farrar

Selwyn Manning at Scoop writes:

Scoop has also learnt that indeed a cabal representing a group within caucus is counting numbers against Goff.

Maryan Street and Ruth Dyson are representing a cabal that is seeking support for David Parker to replace Goff. And rumours that Helen Clark and her strong-arm strategist Heather Simpson have been consulted appear to have some substance.

Today, Scoop understands Parker has the numbers to roll Goff. He does have the support of the majority of the Labour caucus. But Scoop also understands the cabal will not make its move to roll the leader until Goff absorbs full responsibility for his handling of the Hughes affair.

Also, Labour’s caucus will not be meeting this coming week, leaving little opportunity for a formal leadership vote to be put.

While Parker has Street and Dyson counting the numbers, Goff is left undefended. Hughes was his chief whip, he would normally go bidding for the leader. But with him out of the picture it is left to Stevie Chadwick who does not have the clout to stave off a leadership coup.

The earliest this situation can be put to bed is when caucus meets in over one week’s time. That is unless a crisis meeting is called with all Labour Mps returning to Wellington to vote.

Scoop understands that when the Parker cabal finally decides to make its move, Annette King will also be rolled from her deputy leadership position.

This is a very detailed story, so one can only assume there is significant substance to it.

Also NBR reported today:

Word from inside the party is that the New York branch (aka former leader Helen Clark) has been involved in secret talks over the future of current leader Phil Goff. …

“I am reliably informed that Labour rank and file are planning a challenge to Goff,” a well-placed insider told NBR.

“David Parker, Maryan Street and Ruth Dyson – with the approval of the New York office – are gathering numbers to see what can be done,” the source said.

Mr Goff’s handling of the Hughes event was the final straw.

If the plotters have the numbers, they don’t actually have to wait until the next Caccus meeting. If a majority of MPs are willing to sign a letter saying they want Goff to go, then they can just present it to him in Auckland – and he will probably resign rather than test a vote.

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O’Connor got rolled

February 16th, 2011 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

When the Govt announced in August that the Government would be implementing high country rentals based on earning capacity it was welcomed by Labour’s Damien O’Connor as “a good principle” and one that offered a “principled position” that would be “welcomed by farmers”. Damien, one of Labour’s few farmers, said the decision reflected Labour’s position.

But last night when the Bill came up for its first reading Damien had clearly been rolled and  Labour withdrew its support with David Parker giving what can only be described as a spite and hate filled speech calling the policy

  • “rent reductions being given to millionaires”
  • “A sop from National to its farming mates”
  • “Governing in the interests of narrow few”
  • ” a small number of rich people are getting millions of dollars at the expense of taxpayers”

So Labour shat over their own spokesperson, just to try and score some petty points. Another reason not ready to govern. Maybe an inquisitive jouranlist could ask Damien if he agrees with what David Parker said last night.

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Erin Leigh wins

January 26th, 2011 at 8:38 am by David Farrar

The Court of Appeal has just released a decision, that may have political ramifications.

Erin Leigh has had her case for defamation restored, after the High Court had struck it out. This does not mean she will eventually win, but it does mean there will be a trial, which could include evidence from Labour MPs and their former officials.

Leigh was a whistleblower who alleged wrog-doing over the appointment of Clare Curran as  a comunications contractor to the Environment Ministry, on the recommendation of David Parker, the then Minister.

The Ministry provided a written and oral briefing on her to Trevor Mallard, who then said very uncomplimentary things about her in Parliament. She is not suing Mallard (as he is protected by parliamentary privilege) but is suing the Government for the contents of the briefings.

So the case will proceed to court, and it will be a very interesting case. I’ll let people know once a date is scheduled.

Hat Tip: Steven Price

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Hodgson to retire

June 5th, 2010 at 10:55 am by David Farrar

I tweeted yesterday that I had heard a rumour that Pete Hodgson will announce his retirement this weekend, and the ODT confirms he has.

No doubt he will spend his last 18 months in Parliament trying to dig up H Fee Mark III on John Key, after the failure of H Fee Mark I and H Fee Mark II.

Asked if he thought he would be offered board appointments by Prime Minister John Key, Mr Hodgson said “No way”.

Thank God. Cullen’s appointment was bad enough.

I expect David Parker will get the nomination for Dunedin North. Despite being the MP for Otago for three brief years, he has always lived in Dunedin. Parker is ten years younger than Hodgson, and has performed pretty well in Opposition. In fact he might be a future Finance Minister in a Labour-led Government.

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Hilarious viewing

December 16th, 2009 at 4:56 pm by David Farrar

Oh this is great. Go to In the House and watch the video of this question from David Parker to Gerry Brownlee:

Has he received my invitation dated 14 December to accompany me, after Parliament rises, on the Gillespie Pass tramping circuit in the north-eastern parts of the Mount Aspiring National Park, so that he can inspect first-hand areas in the conservation estate included in his stock-take of mineral resources, and will he accept it?

Gerry’s response is superb, as is the other contributions to the debate. A nice light touch for the final session of the year.

If anyone is able to You Tube the video, that would be great as I could them embed it here. I see in the comments that next year In The House will allow embedding which is excellent.

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Electoral (Administration) Amendment Bill submissions

November 17th, 2009 at 4:45 pm by David Farrar

You can make a submission until 10 December on the Electoral (Administration) Amendment Bill.

The bill is generally excellent – it merges the Electoral Commission and the Chief Electoral Office, and allows the Commission to give advice on the legality of propose ads etc.

The one change I would like is to the method of appointment of the Electoral Commissioners. The current bill provides for the Minister to (effectively) appoint them after consulting with other parties. I would like to see the appointments either made by Parliament directly, or for the consultation requirement to be made an agreement requirement.

The reason is that different Ministers interpret a consultation requirement in different ways. I know in the 1990s that National consulted Helen Clark as Opposition Leader on some appointments and actually withdrew proposed nominees after Clark objected.

But when Margaret Wilson was Attorney-General, she was terrible. Her idea of consultation was to send a letter out Friday notifying the name of the person she proposes to have Cabinet appoint on Monday.

I was hoping some MPs would touch on this issue in the first reading, and they did:

Hon DAVID PARKER (Labour) : The Labour Opposition will be supporting the Electoral (Administration) Amendment Bill. I thank the Minister of Justice for the consultative process that has surrounded this bill. He has properly engaged with Labour, as, indeed, I am sure he has with other parties in this House in the preparation of this bill. As a consequence of that, Labour members are happy to support it in its reference to a select committee. Initially, the Electoral Commission, which is a new body set up by this bill and not the current Electoral Commission, was to include the Secretary for Justice as a member. Labour and, I understand, some other parties said that would not be right. Of course, the Secretary for Justice is the head of a Government department, so it would not be appropriate for that office holder to hold a role on the new Electoral Commission. The Minister agreed with that, so the commission will now be fully independent, and we agree that that is appropriate.

This is an example of good consultation. Simon Power had feedback from other parties, and modified the proposal. My concern is not about Simon as Minister of Justice failing to act on consultations. He won’t be Minister for ever, and my concern is some future Minister will act like Margaret Wilson and ignore any objections from consultation. That is why I think it should requirement agreement, not consultation.

I think there is still a question as to how the commission should be appointed. I have heard some people suggest that the commission ought to be appointed by Parliament, rather than by the Minister as part of the Government. I think that some people may submit on that issue to the select committee. We in Labour would be interested to hear from submitters and be informed by them on that matter.

I’m glad David Parker raised the issue, and hope that Labour will agree to a change – despite the fact they will be Government again one day.

The need for independence is even greater now, with the Chief Electoral Officer being one of the three Commissioners, as the CEO is the key individual who actually runs the election, and declares the result.

Previously the CEO was within the Ministry of Justice. So the State Services Commissioner appointed the Secretary of Justice and the Secretary of Justice appointed the CEO. While I don’t particularly like it being witin the Ministry of Justice, it did make it hard for a Minister to put in someone inappropriate.

Now though the Minister can appoint the Chief Electoral Officer directly. That is too great a power I submit.

METIRIA TUREI (Co-Leader—Green) : I do not intend to take a long call on the Electoral (Administration) Amendment Bill. The Green Party will support its first reading to get it before the select committee. We look forward to submissions by the public on the bill. …

When the National Government consulted the Greens on the proposal, we suggested from the outset that an Officer of Parliament – type body should be established, that it would be preferable to ensure that the new agency is absolutely and fully independent of the Government, and does not report to a Minister. The Officer of Parliament model is used here in Aotearoa with the Parliamentary Commissioner for the Environment, for example. It is also used in Canada for their electoral organisation and management. It places the oversight of the body with Parliament, as opposed to a ministry of the Government managed by one particular political interest. It reinforces its role to oversee and enable free and fair elections, which is a core concern of the House of Representatives and of Parliament. Certainly an Officer of Parliament model would be perceived by the public as more truly independent and would have more ability to comment on how the electoral process is operating, because it would not report to a particular Minister in the executive.

I agree with Metiria that the Commission is most suitable to be an Officer of Parliament. If this change is not practical in the short-term, than a fallback option is to at least require the Minister to gain agreement, not just consultation, with a super-majority of parties on appointments.

CHARLES CHAUVEL (Labour) :

There is also the police, and I will speak a little bit about their function, because the police are the enforcement body as far as our electoral law is concerned.

Although Labour supports this bill being read a first time, we believe that the bill does not address the issue of the enforcement machinery when there is a breach of electoral law. I suggest that that might be something the select committee looks at. The problem that the police always have, of course, is that electoral offences never go to the top of the queue. The police will always be concerned with crimes against the person, and with dealing particularly with violent crime. They will never be able to prioritise electoral matters, nor will they necessarily have the forensic expertise to do so. These days those questions require skills in dealing with tracking donations and financial disclosures, and so on, which call for quite sophisticated levels of skill that are probably more properly found in organisations like the Serious Fraud Office rather than the police. It might well be that with the forensic skills that are required, it would be useful to think about having an enforcement function under this new independent Crown entity rather than the police being responsible for that function, if we are truly interested in bringing all the functions together in an expert body that has the resources and the time to deal with the questions before it.

I agree with Charles that the Police do not see electoral breaches as a priority and it would be better with the Commission. However that is not so much an issue for this bill, but more for the bill which will come out of the Govt’s electoral finance review.

The final point I make is that if one has a look at the explanatory note, one sees that one of the options canvassed was to have an Officer of Parliament for this function. Personally, I think that would have been the most compelling option to go for. The explanatory note suggests there was not enough time to get that sort of apparatus going before the next election. But if we really want a truly independent body, charged with the conduct of elections in an honest and serious way, then, given the conduct of our other Officers of Parliament, in whom we have enormous faith, then that seems to me to be the best way to go.

Excellent.

What has been nice is that all the Opposition praised Simon Power for his consultation with them over the bill. It is great to see the merger happening after years and years of no action, and electoral law should be an area of bipartisanship as much as possible – it is too important to be treated as a bauble of office, as some sort of winner takes all prize.

I hope other people take the time to do a submission. If you don’t, then no complaining if you wake up one day in the future to read that Winston Peters has been appointed as an Electoral Commissioner :-)

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