Mr Cunliffe the poll trend doesn’t lie

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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A Green policy with some merit

March 15th, 2014 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

The Greens have announced:

The Green Party has announced a new policy to make walking and cycling to school safer.

We will invest $200 million in new transport infrastructure so kids can cycle and walk to school safely and to ease congestion on New Zealand’s roads.

Our aim is to get most kids walking or cycling to school again by making it a safe and pleasant experience.

A generation ago, most kids walked or cycled to school. Today, only a third do When kids walk or bike or ride their scooter to school, it’s good for their health, it’s good for their learning, it eases congestion and it’s good for the environment.

I agree with the aim of the policy. Far better to tackle obesity by making it easier for kids to cycle to school, than trying to ban large easter eggs and tax certain foods.

Allocate $50m a year for four years to build modern, convenient walking and cycling infrastructure around schools: separating kids and other users from road traffic, giving a safe choice for families

The $50 million a year seems a figure plucked out of thin air. I’d rather a smaller sum spent on say a couple of dozen schools and measure the impact it has on cycling rates before committing to a larger spend.

The latest research shows that we can get up to $20 of gains for every dollar spent. That’s a billion dollars of gains for each year’s $50 million investment.

First of all it isn’t 20 to 1. Eric Crampton points out they’re comparing benefits in 2051 to the cost today, not taking into account the cost of money over the next 40 years.  At even a 5% discount rate $1 today is $7 in 2050. And the benefit to cost ratios they cite range from 6:1 to 20:1 so in fact they may not provide a net benefit. As I said, it could well be beneficial, but if it really was a 20:1 benefit – would have happened by now.

A key is whether the rate of kids cycling to school will increase as they have assumed. Best to test it, before you spend $200 million.

The other issue is paying for it. They say they’ll divert money from roads. They should be more specific and say explicitly which current road project they will scrap. To be credible it has to be one that has not yet started construction.

But overall not a bad policy.

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It’s like a teen drama!

March 12th, 2014 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Stacey Kirk at Stuff reports:

Labour leader David Cunliffe has dismissed suggestions of a cooling in relations between his party and the Greens, saying the Greens would be the obvious first choice for Labour to strike a coalition with.

Yesterday, Cunliffe refused to say whether he would negotiate with the Greens before NZ First.

But today he appeared to back down from those statements, dismissing speculation that tension had arisen between the two allies.

Well Cunliffe not only distanced himself from the Greens, but described Winston as a good guy. That’s a great deal of enthusiasm for him. I guess he regards lying to the media, public and Parliament over his knowledge of the Owen Glenn donation doesn’t stop him being a good guy.

The backdown comes after the Greens lodged an official complaint with Labour over outspoken MP Shane Jones’ attacks on the party.

Yesterday, Cunliffe said he would work with whatever cards the voters delivered after the September 20 election.

“That may indeed quite likely be with the Greens, it may well be with Winston first … NZ First.”

But he would not say the Greens would be his first choice, saying there was “no preordained order”.

This morning, he told Firstline talking with the Greens first was the logical step, if in a position to form a Government.

The Greens are somewhat terrified that Labour will lock them out of Government if Winston demands it as the price of his support. And what could they do about it? Vote for a National-led Government? Of course not. They’d have to just swallow the butter medicine.

The reality is that it looks incredibly improbable that Labour and Greens will have enough seats by themselves to form a Government after the election. Even a bauble to Hone won’t get them over the line. They’ll need Winston and as he has the option of going with National (which the Greens do not), he has all the power.

UPDATE: And looking even worse for the Greens, as Peters says they can’t win without him and his policy is to rule them out:

Winston Peters doesn’t think a Labour/Greens coalition can win the September 20 election.

Chris Trotter thinks they can’t win also. Back to Peters:

Mr Peters says Labour’s strategists must be worried because they must know they can’t win with the Greens.

“They know full well that those two parties can’t get up in this election,” he said on Radio New Zealand.

“Some people should get their hard hats on, because together they won’t make it.”

Before the 2005 election Mr Peters ruled out working with the Greens in a coalition government, and says his position hasn’t changed since then.

But he didn’t rule it out.

“We are six months out from an election and from what we have heard thus far our position has not changed from 2005 on the Greens,” he said.

“However, they’ve got six months in which they might make changes, so you can’t rule that out.”

The Greens are not going to change their policies in the next six months to appease Peters. So if he holds the balance of power, he will block the Greens from Government as a price of support for Labour.

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Fighting on the left

March 11th, 2014 at 3:10 pm by David Farrar

Vernon Small writes:

The Greens have lodged a formal complaint with Labour over outspoken MP Shane Jones’ attacks on the party.

They’ve complained because an MP from another party criticised them? Who is being thin skinned now?

It comes as the Northland-based list MP faced a ticking off from leader David Cunliffe this morning over his anti-Green comments as well as for straying into other MPs’ areas of responsibility.

It is understood the Green’s chief of staff Ken Spagnolo invoked the official mechanism for airing disputes with Labour’s new chief of staff Matt McCarten and it will be on the agenda of the next top level meeting between the two allies.

Good to see them focusing on the big issues. Again, imagine how they’ll be going running a Government!

Green co-leader Russel Norman said he imagined the matter would be dealt with at chief of staff level.

But he said Labour was obviously had some “internal issues” to deal with.

Just a few!

”There’s clearly some people like Shane Jones within Labour who are uncomfortable about protecting the environment and embracing our clean energy future. but … the Greens know what we are doing and why we’re here.”

Wait, isn’t this a personal attack on Shane Jones? Maybe Jones should complain also through their dispute process!

Meanwhile NewstalkZB report:

Labour leader David Cunliffe says the Greens won’t necessarily be the first cab off the rank if he’s in a position to form a Government after the election.

The translation is he’ll sacrifice them for Winston if Winston asks for it. Poor Greens – 18 years in Parliament and no baubles for them.

There was another oops in David Cunliffe’s life earlier this morning when he referred to his possible coalition partner New Zealand First as ‘Winston First’.

“Winston’s a good guy but I’m not doing coalition negotiations before the vote and we will work with whatever cards the voters put on the table. That may indeed quite likely will be with the Greens, it may well be with Winston First.”

I’m very pleased to see the official Kiwiblog term for New Zealand First catching on!!

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Former Labour energy minister slams Labour/Green power policy

March 6th, 2014 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

A former Labour energy minister has slammed the party’s proposed power policy, saying it would mostly benefit the rich while damaging the renewable energy sector.

David Butcher, who now runs a consulting firm, was one of four speakers debating the merits of NZ Power at the Downstream energy forum in Auckland. …

Butcher said the proposal would overturn 25 years of collaborative market development for an “untested and very flawed model”.

“I think it would largely destroy the renewables industry, or at least set it back five or six years,” he said.

Butcher said that before deregulation in 1990, power prices were rising by about 20 per cent a year.

Today, 72 per cent of new generation was renewable, there was private investment in renewables and there were no blackouts, he said.

Butcher said the benefits of the policy would largely go to rich people with high power usage and companies like Rio Tinto, which runs the Tiwai Point aluminium smelter.

Of their many bad policies, I rate this one the worse.

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Greens trying to fundraise on back of defamation case

March 5th, 2014 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

The Greens have announced:

The Green Party has launched an appeal to cover the costs of defamation action being taken against the party by Conservative Party leader Colin Craig.

Or is it!

The fine print:

You should know that any funds not used in the court case will go towards the Green Party’s work to create a smarter, cleaner, more compassionate New Zealand for all of us.

So actually it is a plea for campaign funds. You see it is highly likely that the Greens will use the taxpayer funded leader’s budget to cover Norman’s legal costs. They have every right to do that, but don’t be surprised if they use that fund to cover most of the costs, and then pocket all the donations for their election campaign.

On Facebook, a Green party member, Alan Bell, comments:

Totally misguided and somewhat deceitful. Nothing to do with free speech. Russel could well have spoken about Green policy without referring to Craig. Does the Green party so underestimate our intelligence as to infer we are unable to evaluate Craig for ourselves? Do the Greens plan to repeal the Defamation Act? Will the Greens introduce policy that means access to the courts is available to all rather than only the wealthy? Russel made his bed and should lie in it – his political stunt backfired. As a paid up member of the Green party I expect my representatives to stand up for the rights of all NZers including women and homosexuals and respect my ability to gauge for myself the policies of other parties. Craig has a right to defend himself against defamation – I despise the man and hope his case falls over. But I also think positing this as a defence of free speech and LGBT and womens’ rights is a load of bollocks and a stain on the integrity of the party. MPs are are on far more than “middle income” (as Cunliffe should know) so you lot can pay for it.

Another person, Graham Hooper comments:

Rusell could have made a speech defending the rights of Women and Gay people without mentioning Colin Craig. Why give the Guy any News coverage? You MPs get a Good pay. if You feel that you should waste money on Paying Lawyers then your Choice but there is an election coming up why not just say sorry and put the money towards an election

So sounds like some unrest with members and supporters.

Hat Tip: Pete Goerge

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Green Party member who stood for leader suspended

February 24th, 2014 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

The Greens have announced:

The Green Party has suspended David Hay’s membership for one year following an investigation into misconduct.

A panel found Mr Hay’s behaviour breached party rules, and recommended he be suspended for one year.

The panel’s recommendations are contained in a report (attached) released to the party’s executive and Mr Hay today.

The report recommended a “cooling down” period of one year, after which Mr Hay may reapply for membership.

Suspending a member is very rare. Unless the member does something such as stand for another party, it is rare for disciplinary action to reach this level.

While the report makes clear Hay has acted unwisely with some of his actions, they also find that he has a genuine grievance. Also of interest is they say:

We made it very clear that any member is entitled at any time to challenge for the leadership or any other position but asked if he had considered the effect on the party and the campaign of doing this in election year.

Which suggests that his decision to stand for leader, did play a part in the decision to suspend him. David Hay has done a release stating:

“For my part, I don’t resile from the statements I made in public, nor apologise for them. In summary these were:
• The Green Party is too weak in Auckland: it should have a co-leader based here, and at least 1/3 of the Green Party caucus should be Auckland-based.
• I was removed from the candidate pool because of a dirty smear campaign, led by senior members of the party. I concluded that the party co-leaders must have known about about this and approved of it, which is why I called for them both to resign.
• The main “smear” made against me was that I campaigned for the electorate vote in Epsom in 2011, contrary to party instructions. That allegation is untrue and is not supported by any evidence.”
“The Green party vote in Epsom increased from 6.93% in 2008 to 12.03% in 2011, and Epsom was one of only four electorates in Auckland that exceeded the national party vote of 11.1% for the Greens.”

Hay goes on to say he will not rejoin the Greens under its current leadership.

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Greens want to be in the PM vs Opp Ldr debate

February 24th, 2014 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Claire Trevett at NZ Herald reports:

The Green Party has lobbied the television networks to take part in prime-time televised leaders’ debates during the election campaign alongside Labour’s David Cunliffe and Prime Minister John Key rather than being lumped in with the minor parties.

I’m all for Labour and Greens taking turns at being the Leader who goes up against Key, but the reality is these debates are about showcasing the two people who may be Prime Minister after the election.

Andrew Campbell, the Green’s communications director, confirmed it had put in a formal request to both networks to debate National and Labour rather than the smaller parties because it was in a much stronger position in the polls.

“It seems ridiculous to put a party with a genuine strong support base, a significant portion of the electorate, in the same debate as people who can’t even win their own seat without the help of another party. Why would we debate a person who can’t even win it’s own seat without help?”

Why would a party on 51% debate a party on 8%, using the Green’s own logic?

I do understand where they are coming from to a degree – that they and NZ First are medium sized parties compared to some of the “minnows”. Maybe the solution is to just have a medium sized leaders debate between a Green co-leader and Winston. That would be entertaining.

National’s campaign chair Steven Joyce said National wanted to keep the one-on-one debates but that did not necessarily mean Russel Norman would miss out. “We will be very happy to debate with the leader of the largest Opposition party at the time. You never know, maybe the Greens will get there. They’re not that far behind.”

They’re a fair way behind now, as Labour’s campaign strategy appears to be to take votes of the Green at the same rate as they lose centrist voters to National.

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Have Labour and Greens broken the CIR Act?

February 21st, 2014 at 3:01 pm by David Farrar

Whale blogs:

Back in March last year David Farrar asked if the Greens, Labour and the Unions might break the Citizens Initiated Referendum Act.

On top of that leaked documents showed that they intended to work together on the referendum, utilising taxpayer funds to do so.

Those documents clearly show it was a co-ordinated campaign working together.

S42 of the Citizens Initiated Referenda Act states:

Every person commits an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding $20,000 who, either alone or in combination with others knowingly spends, on advertisements published or broadcast in relation to an indicative  petition, more than $50,000

And the election returns show:

  • Service and Food Workers Union – $26,269
  • Labour party - $45,382.95 
  • Public Service Association – $3987.18
  • The Green party  - $39,541.49
  • The NZ Council of Trade Unions - $523.20
  • First Union - $23,356.08
  • The NZEI – $547
  • NZ Nurses Organisation – $556

Whale points out:

Total Spend  by Unions, Labour and the Greens is $140,162.90

Labour and the Greens by themselves breach the act, with combined spending of $84,924.44

Will be very interesting to see what the result of a complaint would be.

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The solar numbers

February 18th, 2014 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

The head of New Zealand’s largest renewable energy company is dismissing the economics of home-based solar, saying he “can’t follow” the numbers put forward by proponents.

Last week, ahead of the Green Party announcing a major loan scheme to subsidise solar installation through low-cost loans, Meridian chief executive Mark Binns said he could not understand why people installed them.

“I can’t follow the economics that are put forward by proponents of household solar in terms of returns as an investment,” Binns told Parliament’s commerce select committee.

“On our numbers, in our analysis, it is still probably not viable if you went to an accountant.”

Greens energy spokesman Gareth Hughes, who is part of the committee, defended the economics, asking Meridian management “it’s still cheaper than buying from a retail provider, isn’t it, over the lifetime of the solar panel?”

Binns and Meridian chairman Chris Moller replied simultaneously “no”.

While Green Party co-leader Russel Norman said the major obstacle for people investing in solar was the up-front cost, Binns said the major challenge posed by solar was that after 25 years the panels were worthless.

“The thing people don’t realise is that [if] you invest in solar facilities, you get nothing back at the end of 20 or 25 years,” Binns said.

So you need to be pretty certain the savings from electricity will be greater than the cost of both the capital and the interest.

An academic is also cautious:

University of Canterbury engineering lecturer Dr Alan Wood said there were 1250 New Zealand households with solar panels installed, with predictions this would increase to 30,000 by late 2018.

Whether there was a benefit in cost-savings to the consumer depended on how they used the solar-generated power, Wood said.

“Early adopters should be people that consume electricity during the day.

“For them it does stack up but only just.”

Wood thought the Green Party’s predicted savings to households of $100 a year were over-estimated.

“They have assumed you use all the power yourself, which is not the case.”

I’m willing to bet a very large amount of money that even if the Green Party policy is implemented, there will not be 30,000 new solar installations in three years. A 1.9% reduction in the interest rate on a loan saving $2 a week is not going to increase take up by 2000% as they claim. Their numbers are more dodgy than a used car salesman.

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Will a $2 a week saving increase uptake by 2000%?

February 17th, 2014 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

The Green solar energy policy of a slightly lower interest rate on loans for solar power would reduce loan repayments by around $2 a week.

I am very sceptical that a huge number of people will decide to take out a $10,000 to $15,000 loan to save $2 a week.

But let us be generous. Let’s say that the $2 a week saving will result in twice as many people deciding to install solar power. What sort of increase is that?

Well currently there are 40 to 50 installations a month. So we will be generous and say an extra 50 a month or 600 a year.

Yet the Greens claim there will be an extra 10,000 a year. Yes they claim their $2 a week reduction in interest rates will result in a 2000% increase in solar panel installations.

If you believe that, I have a bridge for sale.


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Green solar power policy

February 16th, 2014 at 4:01 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Government will loan households up to $15,000 at low interest rates to help them install solar power if the Greens are elected.

Party co-leader Russel Norman launched the new energy initiative this afternoon in Auckland, estimating that it would save a family $100 on electricity bills a year.

“Power prices have risen 22 per cent since National came to power, which means energy companies are making big profits while ordinary New Zealanders struggle to pay their bills,” Dr Norman said.

Under the proposed scheme, New Zealanders would be able to borrow the full cost of installing photovoltaic panels and then pay it back via their council rates over 15 years.

Greens had a target of 30,000 installations in three years, and hoped that the boost for the solar industry would create 1000 jobs and also make the technology cheaper by increasing demand.

The party said that a typical solar-powered system cost $10,000, and households would be able to get loans of up to $15,000.

Interest on the loan would be charged at the Crown’s low sovereign interest rate – currently 4.1 per cent. This rate was not fixed, and could increase over time.

Greens’ policy document said that a 3kW solar-powered system would produce $1000 of electricity a year.

Because households would be paying off the loan at $900 a year, it was expected to save families $100 each year for the first 15 years.

Solar power is a great supplemental power source. However it costs a lot more than other power sources. It can make sense to borrow to install a solar power kit, but you need to be damn sure you’ll be at the place you currently live in for at least the next 15 years.

Also the slightly lower interest rate may not result in much greater take up than at present (and remember the more the Government borrows, the more that rate of borrowing will increase).

A $10,000 loan for 15 years at 4.1% according to Sorted is $74 a month or $888 a year. So yes in theory you can save $2 a week under this policy – but that is not much for a 15 year commitment. But at 6.0% current floating rate, is it only $84 a month so are people going to flock to solar power being it is $10 a month cheaper for a 15 year loan? I’d be amazed.

And what if costs of solar installations increase, if demand does increase? If they cost $15,000 not $10,000 then the cost is $111 a month for 15 years.

This isn’t a terrible policy. There are far far worse policies around. Greater uptake of solar power would be a good thing – but mass uptake will only occur when the costs of solar power becomes comparable to other power types.  I just don’t think a 4.1% interest rate compared to a 6.0% interest rate will make much difference to uptake.

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Kim’s little helpers

February 13th, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Has been fascinating to look at the nexus between certain MPs and Kim Dotcom. We now know some MPs have had multiple meetings with him at his mansion (lesser mortals visit MPs in their offices, but for Dotcom they flock to his mansion), and the same MPs have asked multiple questions about his case in Parliament. And again at least one of those MPs is vowing to fight his extradition – even if the NZ Courts find he should be extradited. And finally, we have learnt that Dotcom will wind up his political party during the election campaign and endorse one or more other parties – no doubt those who have been helping him so much.

So who have been Kim’s little helpers. I’ve searched the parliamentary database and these MPs have asked multiple questions on his behalf or about his case.

  • Trevor Mallard – 132 questions (128 written, 4 oral)
  • Winston Peters – 82 questions (71 written, 11 oral)
  • David Shearer – 36 questions (22 written, 14 oral)
  • Grant Robertson – 17 questions (15 oral, 2 written)
  • Russel Norman – 13 questions (7 written, 6 oral)

We know that Mallard has met with Dotcom, Peters has been to his mansion three times and Norman at least twice. Norman can’t recall whose idea the meetings were.

Audrey Young has written on how Peters is back to his Owen Glenn tricks and refusing to answer questions about his taxpayer funded trips to talk to Dotcom. Many a wag has suggested he should wave the NO sign up when asked if Dotcom has donated to his party or him.

John Armstrong also writes on the issue:

It is bad enough that the Greens are naive enough to sign up to the fan club which accords Kim Dotcom the folk hero status he clearly craves, but scarcely deserves as some modern-day Robin Hood of cyberspace.

Much worse, however, is that it now turns out that party is blithely willing to play politics with New Zealand’s courts, the country’s extradition laws and its extradition treaty with the United States.

Were John Key to allow some right-wing businessman facing extradition to stay in New Zealand in exchange for him abandoning his plans to establish a political party which might drain votes off National, then the Greens would be climbing on their high horses at break-neck speed and leading the charge in slamming the Prime Minister in no uncertain terms. And rightly so.


By appearing to countenance such a massive conflict of interest through political interference in Dotcom’s potential ejection from New Zealand, Norman has instantly disqualified his party from having any ministerial posts in a coalition with Labour which involve responsibility for the extradition process.

In fact, Norman has probably disqualified his party from having any role in the Justice portfolio full stop.

That’s a win for New Zealand!

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Would Labour and Greens over-rule the court for Kim Dotcom?

February 11th, 2014 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Patrick Gower writes:

So now it is becoming clear why Kim Dotcom wants a change of Government so badly – Labour and the Greens could stop his extradition.

Yes, it is that simple: a Labour/Green Government could save Dotcom’s bacon.

Because under the Extradition Act, the Government of the day’s Justice Minister has the final say on whether someone stays or goes.

It doesn’t matter what the courts find, the Justice Minister can stop one “for any reason”.

The Extradition Act 1999 says the Justice Minister can say no “for any other reason the Minister considers that the person should not be surrendered”.

So Dotcom has a final get-out clause should he lose the extradition hearing.

I have consistently said that the decision on whether DotCom gets extradited should be made by the appropriate Judge, after hearing the evidence. The Minister should and must go along with the decision of the court. We head towards corruption if people can buy themselves a different decision.

Yesterday, we asked David Cunliffe and Russel Norman.

David Cunliffe:

3 News: In terms of Kim Dotcom – would you stop him being extradited?

Cunliffe: That’s in part a legal matter – and I would want to take some further briefing before I gave you a view on that.

3 News: You know it’s a Government that signs off an extradition – if it was a Labour Government – would Kim Dotcom have a chance that any court decision could be overturned?

Cunliffe: “I haven’t formed a view on that yet and I’d want to see more of the arguments. Prima Facie the current Government’s operation against Mr Dotcom appears to be outside the law in a number of respects my anticipation is that would make it quite difficult for an extradition to proceed but because that’s currently before the courts I don’t think that’s a matter politicians should be opining on”.

Russel Norman:

3 News: A Government of the day has to sign off on Kim Dotcom’s extradition – should the Government sign off on Dotcom’s extradition?

Norman: No. I’ve always said I don’t support the extradition process. I mean, I just don’t think it’s fair. I mean the fairness isn’t there – look at the way they have been acting illegally against him… They illegally raided his mansion, they illegally obtained evidence, they illegally gave the evidence to the U.S Government against the directions of a judge. That is not a lawful or fair process…The case that John Key has jacked up with the US Government I don’t think stands up.

3 News: So if the Greens were in power, would you fight to keep Kim Dotcom in New Zealand?

NormanYes. I think that we would

This is appalling. The only acceptable answer is that the decison is one for the courts to make, and we will not over-turn whatever decision they make.

Russel Norman has been out twice to meet Dotcom, and ask him to support the Greens instead of setting up his own political party. And in return he is offering that a Labour/Greens Government would basically corruptly over-turn the decision of the court in Dotcom’s favour. Cunliffe is not ruling out that he would also over-turn any court decision. We also learn Winston Peters has been out to meet DotCom multiple times.

I have no animosity towards Dotcom. He has been charged with serious criminal charges in the United States. The decision on whether the charges warrant extradition should be made by the relevant NZ Judge after a hearing, and if he is extradited the decision on his guilt or innocence is up to a US court. It shouldn’t be up to politicians, who are saying they will over-turn the courts in his favour at the same time as they meet him to discuss political strategy. That is pretty close to corruption.

Which brings me to the folly of Dotcom’s Internet Party – having a political movement behind him will obviously be another argument against extradition.

While it polled 0% in the first 3 News-Reid Research poll since it was named, when asked specifically, 1 in 5 voters said they would “consider” voting for it.

Most of its potential voters come from “undecideds” or Labour/Greens/NZ First – technically the Opposition.

But with Dotcom incredibly unlikely to make 5% or win an electorate seat, then this will be what’s called “wasted vote”, rather than change the Government.

And that favours one person – John Key.

It seems a bit of a selfish political own goal by Dotcom to me, and is why Russel Norman has been scurrying up to the mansion begging Dotcom not to stand.

But what a delicious irony: Kim Dotcom might actually help John Key win the 2014 election.

That would be irony.

Also Kim Dotcom has tweeted that if his party is not polling 5% by the time ballot papers are printed, he’ll scrap the party and endorse another party. Wonder which party? Maybe the very same party that is promising not to extradite him! So much for one law for all.

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Green Party List Ranking

February 11th, 2014 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The Green Party Co-Convenor, Georgina Morrison, has e-mailed an explanation of their list ranking process:

I thought it would be useful to clarify the list selection process used by the Green Party.

 In my view the Green Party has the most democratic list selection process out of the major parties. We are proud of the high level of member involvement.

It is largely members who draft the initial list and then all members subsequently get a direct say on that list. This initial list has not yet been developed, contrary to inferences on your blog.

Let me also be clear that there is no proposed list circulated by “party hierarchy” or leadership, such an action would be seriously frowned upon by members. The list selection process is one that is proudly owned by party members only. There is no parliamentary involvement in it. 

All candidates seeking list ranking attend our election year candidate conference, which is taking place this Friday through Sunday in Auckland.

Each electorate sends delegates to this conference, which has the primary purpose of giving the delegates the opportunity to access the candidates. The number of delegates per electorate is determined by the number of members in the electorate. These delegates then go back to their electorates and discuss their observations of the candidates with branch members. Each delegate takes this feedback and ranks an initial list. There will be 132 delegate spaces at the conference.

In addition each candidate also gets to rank a list. There are 52 candidates.

Finally the key leadership roles in the party get to rank a list too. These positions are our Co-leaders and party convenors and policy convenors. However each person can only rank one list. Thus only the Co-convenors will submit a list as both the Co-leaders and policy Co-convenors are also standing as candidates. That means there will only be two lists from the party leadership.

In total there will be 186 lists submitted. 70 percent of those lists will be from electorates, 28 percent from candidates and two percent from party officials. STV (successive elimination) is the voting method used to determine the initial list that goes out to a members vote.

All members (who have been members for more than six months) are given the chance to rank a list. They are provided with the draft list for an indication of what the branch delegates and branch meetings thought of the candidates. STV (successive elimination) is again used as the voting system. The only influence the initial list has is that it is sent to all the members. Members can ignore it entirely if they wish. The final members list is the list that goes to the candidate selection committee and leadership group and may be subject to minor adjustments for gender, race, age and location. No candidate can move more than two places from where the party members ranked them.

As to the issue of a draft list in circulation, I can only assume that, if the list is genuine, it is nothing more than the individual musings of an individual member. Because we allow all members the opportunity to vote on our list it is not surprising that people are thinking ahead.

However for the list to be purported on your blog as holding some form of official significance is totally false and misleading. Let me be clear, there is never a list prepared by party or parliamentary staff at any point. The candidate conference later this week kicks the list process off and is driven by members the whole way. Your readers would be advised to wait and see what members decide when the list they rank is released later this year.

Georgina Morrison
Green Party Co-convenor

It’s good to have the process explained in detail, and I agree it is more democratic than the other parties. I have been critical of National’s list ranking processes on several occasions, and think National’s list ranking doesn’t give sufficient weight to regional rankings.

I do note that the leadership group and candidate selection committee (the hierarchy) can “tweak” the list as voted on by members, and even a movement of two places may be the difference between being an MP or not. But I agree overall the Greens have a very good process. However the views of those in Parliament I am sure have great influence on the outcome (as they do in National) and I look forward to seeing (hopefully) both the draft list and the final list.

My thanks to Georgina for the explanation.

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The Green Party self-assessment

February 10th, 2014 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The Green Party has a self-assessment that aspiring candidates are required to complete. One candidate has his on Facebook.

Most of the self-assessment is quite sensible and laudable, and in fact other parties would do well to consider requiring the same. Example questions include:

  • What professional, trade or life skills and experiences do you have which are relevant to being a Green candidate / MP?
  • What experience/skills do you have in public speaking, facilitating meetings, writing articles or media releases and cross cultural communication?
  • Which sources do you use for collecting political information, and how do you rate your skills in information collection and analysis?
  • What fundraising have you done for causes /organisations and how did you do it?
  • What are some examples of your ability to plan and to form and lead teams?

As I said, good questions to ask.

But it gets more fun on the personal qualities.

How do you walk the Green talk by living sustainably, fairly, democratically and peacefully?

My personal level of commitment to the Green Party is, in many ways, the greatest demonstration of living these values. 

Have long configured my life so that I live within walking distance of work to avoid motorised commuting and am able to ride my bicycle often; I eat minimal meat and never buy products of cruelty

So if you eat more than minimal meat, would this affect your list ranking?

I am generally a conscious politicised consumer and channel any recreational shopping urges that arise entirely into visits to op shops and recycling centres.

So if you shop at the Warehouse, does that

Rate yourself on the following personal attributes and qualities.

Personal Qualities

Rating 1(low) -5(high)

 Speaking succinctly in simple language – 3
Ability to prioritise work – 4
Ability to delegate work – 4
Co-operation, working well in a team – 4
Even temper – 4
Self-confidence – 3
Sense of humour – 5
Stamina – 3
Humility – 3
Ambition – 3
Commitment to working hard to get results – 4
Attracting and maintaining personal and political support –  4
Being enthusiastic and motivating others – 4

How do you rate your own humility? If you give yourself a 5 for humility, doesn’t that imply you are not humble if you think you are that good at humility?


More on the Greens list

February 10th, 2014 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

I published last week a draft Green Party list. The Greens said it was an entirely unofficial list, and was not the list that the hierarchy and electorate delegates put together for members to vote on. That is correct, as that list is yet to be drawn up. But in political parties it is not unusual for different factions to start circulating what they see as their desired list.

The source who provided the draft list has elaborated:

I can confirm that the list I gave you the other week came from the parliamentary wing of the party. It reflects internal thinking that the party needs to constantly refresh caucus as this has been done well up to now. Good performance needs to be rewarded and poor performance needs to be dealt with accordingly.

In particular, there is a lot of support for Julie Anne Genter to secure the Transport Minister role amongst parliament and and the wider party. Hence her big jump and high ranking.

Marama Davidson and Aaryn Barlow are seen as up and comers with strong personal backgrounds and were good candidate performers. James Shaw rounds off a solid 1st 15.

David Clendon has been demoted in the list as he is regarded as lazy and lacking cut-through while Steffen Browning is seen as a political liability by his caucus colleagues. Kennedy Graham begins to drop down the rankings and while being a poor performer in opposition it is hoped his previous experience may help in government.

I would be surprised if many in the Greens disagreed with those assessments. What will be interesting is if the draft list out together by the hierarchy is close to the list that was circulating last week. It will not be identical of course, but the key things to look out for is whether Genter shoots up the rankings, and if Browning and Clendon stay in the top 10.

UPDATE: A manager with the parliamentary party has said on the record that the parliamentary leadership and senior staff have not had any involvement with the unofficial list that was sent to me. They can’t rule out that someone at Parliament hasn’t compiled their own wish list, and been pushing it – but they are unaware of any activity like that and do not sanction it. I believe those assurances.

I have no reason however to doubt the source has said anything untrue, and that they did not receive the list from someone in Parliament. I won’t print anything I believe to be untrue. The source has been reliable in the past. Also I do apply my own judgement to a degree and the rankings in the unofficial list do meld with general consensus around the beltway around individual MPs. If for example someone sent me what purports to be an unofficial Green Party list with Browning ranked No 3, I’d laugh out loud as I hit the trash bin.

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Told you the Greens would adopt them as policy

February 8th, 2014 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

I joked that the long list of requests from the UN Human Rights Council (which has some of the worst global abusers of human rights on it) would probably end up as Green Party policy.

My joke may become reality, with Green MP Jan Logie saying we should be concerned that there were 155 recommendations, compared to 64 last time.

I look forward to the Greens pledging to implement all 155 recommendations if they are in Government!

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Australia vs NZ with exports to China

February 3rd, 2014 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

I blogged a few days ago on the extraordinary growth in exports to China in the years since we signed a free trade agreement with them, and said people should recall those who voted against it.

A reader asked if Australia had also experienced the same levels of growth in exports to China, and hence is it just that China is growing and importing now, or did the FTA make a difference.

It’s a good question, especially as Russel Norman often claims that the growth in exports to China has nothing to do with the FTA, and hence their opposition to it wouldn’t really have cost us tens of billions of dollars if their view had prevailed.

So I’ve looked at the value of exports to China for both Australia and NZ from 2008 to the year ending June 2013 (the last year Australia has reported on).

Australia exported A$37.1b in 2008 and $78.4b in 2012/13. That’s an increase of 111% or an average of 24.7% a year approx. Pretty good and there is no doubt China’s growth is leading to more exports generally.

But look at NZ in the same period, from when the FTA was signed and came into effect. In 2008 exports were NZ$2.5 billion and in 2012/13 were $7.7b. That’s growth of 205% or 45.4% a year – almost double Australia’s.

So if NZ export growth to China had followed Australia’s export growth for the last five years, what would be the difference? Around $6.6 billion.

Now it is overly simplistic to say the difference is solely the FTA. We have different export profiles. But I think there can be little doubt that the cost of Green and NZ First policies to our exporters would have been well into the billions of dollars.

The sad thing is not that they were wrong, but that they don’t admit they were wrong. Those who once opposed Nelson Mandela being released and opposed decriminalizing consensual same sex relations, generally admit today they were wrong, and on the wrong side of history. But the Greens and NZ First refuse to accept that their opposition to the China Free Trade Agreement was wrong, despite the billions of dollars in extra exports NZ has gained since we signed it.

The sad reality is that the Greens just do not like trade full stop, and NZ First just doesn’t like Asians full stop. That is their motivation to their opposition to the free trade agreement, rather than any rational analysis of what is good for NZ.

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Greens call for taxpayer funding of political parties

February 1st, 2014 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

The Green Party believes the rules could be amended further. It wants an inquiry to investigate state funding for election campaigns.

A spokeswoman said: “We see partial public funding of parties as a further step to help level the playing field between parties and to help combat parties being captured by wealthy interests.”

That would be a terrible thing. Any significant donations must be disclosed so people can then make informed decisions on consent. The Greens just want taxpayers to fund their own party, rather than be reliant on members and supporters. Then they’ll use that to limit how much money supporters can donate.

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Two Greens MPs facing sacking with Green Party List

January 31st, 2014 at 4:44 pm by David Farrar

I’ve been leaked a copy of the draft an unoffical Green Party List. This is the version done by the hierarchy and leadership. The initial draft list is done by the hierarchy and then members then get to vote on this, and tweak it. They often do make some changes, but the bulk of the rankings don’t change much.

  1. Russel Norman (+1 from 2011)
  2. Metiria Turei (-1)
  3. Kevin Hague (nc)
  4. Eugenie Sage (+2)
  5. Catherine Delahunty (-1)
  6. Julie Anne Genter (+7)
  7. Gareth Hughes (nc)
  8. Kennedy Graham (-3)
  9. Denise Roche (+2)
  10. Jan Logie (-1)
  11. Marama Davidson (new)
  12. Holly Walker (nc)
  13. Mojo Mathers (+1)
  14. Aaryn Barlow (+4)
  15. James Shaw (nc)
  16. Steffan Browning (-6)
  17. David Clendon (-9)
  18. Dora Langsbury (+4)
  19. Barry Coates (new)
  20. Sea Rotman (nc)

So the big winner is Julie-Anne Genter who in 2011 was ranked below Holly Walker, but has shot up to 6th place – twice as high as Holly. Genter has been a very hard and effective worker, so no surprise.

Browning and Clendon face demotion to unwinnable places.

Women make up nine of the top 13 of the draft list. Imagine the outcry if it was the other way around!

Davidson looks likely to become an MP, if this list is accepted. Aaryn Barlow may make it in also, which if they got 14 MPs, would make around 30% of their caucus Maori.

It will be interesting to see the final list, and if Clendon and Browning remain in unwinnable spots.

Also interesting to see if the well respected James Shaw gets higher than 15.

UPDATE: Just had clarified that this is not the official draft list out together by the hierarchy. That process begins in around two weeks.

The source who provided this says this is a draft that has circulated internally among some members. The source is reliable as they also provided the official draft list to me last time.

So the list that the hierarchy draws up, is not necessarily this list. The official process has yet to begin. No doubt we will see in time if the official list resembles this unofficial one doing the rounds.

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Greens think NZ is shameful when it comes to human rights

January 29th, 2014 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The Greens have said:

UN inquiry highlights NZ’s shameful human rights record

The Greens really think New Zealand has a shameful record on human rights? Isn’t that the sort of rhetoric and language you expect to hear about repressive regimes. Is that really what the Greens think of New Zealand?

Of course NZ is not perfect when it comes to human rights. But we have an incredibly strong and proud record with human rights – better I’d say than almost every other country on Earth. Yet the Greens think our record is shameful.

Well how do we rank internationally:

  • Freedom rating 1 (top rating)  Freedom House
  • Civil Liberties rating 1 (top rating)  Freedom House
  • Political Rights rating 1 (top rating)  Freedom House
  • Human Freedom – 1st/123 – Free the World
  • Press Freedom – 8th/179 – Reporters without Borders
  • Democratic Authority – 10/10 (top rating) – Polity
  • Freedom Meta-Index – 1st/173 Free Existence (for freedom of expression, from corruption and property rights)
  • Democracy Index – 5th/167 Economist
  • International Human Rights Rank Indicator – 12th/208 – GNRD

So again, this is what the Greens call a shameful record.

Rather ironic also to have the Greens go on about human rights, when they proudly supported the Electoral Finance Bill and Act, and were the only party to vote against its repeal.

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Greens will push for cannabis decriminalisation

January 27th, 2014 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

The Green Party wants to see cannabis decriminalised, saying it will push for the law change in any post-election discussions but that it is not a bottom line.

Speaking after her State of the Nation speech at Waitangi Park in Wellington, co-leader Metiria Turei said they wanted to see the law changed.

“I would like to progress a vast amount of our policy, actually and that would be one that would be very interesting,” she said.

Turei said they believed a drug-free lifestyle was the healthiest, but did not believe adults should be convicted of a crime if they smoked cannabis.

I agree. There may be other ways to move from the status quo, such as the Law Commission’s recommended mandatory diversion scheme if people undertake drug counselling and treatment.

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The stupidity of free school lunches in every decile 1 to 4 school

January 27th, 2014 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The Green policy to provide free (ie taxpayer funded) school lunches to all decile 1 to 4 primary schools is a woefully bad use of taxpayer money – even if one accepted that it is the state’s role to provide two out of three meals a day to school kids.

The Greens own policy says only 9% of pupils at decile 1 to 4 schools go to school hungry. Their policy costings are based on only 9% of pupils in those schools wanting free lunches.

Are you kidding?

You think that if lunches are available for free, only 9% of families in those schools will ask for them? What world do they live in?

Their projected costs will double, treble and quadruple at least.

Taxpayers already fund school lunches for low income families. It is called Working for Families. Over $2.5 billion a year is given to families to cover the costs of breakfasts, lunches, dinners and more.

The cost of breakfast is about 40c a day for cereal. Lunch is around 60c to 80c for a couple of sandwiches.

But again, why stop at having the state just provide two meals a day to families. Just as kids can’t be expected to do well at school if they miss breakfast or lunch, how can you expect kids to do homework at night, if they possibly are missing dinner? Surely the Government must step in and start providing dinners also, in the name of solving inequality?

I also love (not) how the Greens sneer at the current food in schools programme that is mainly provided by Sanitarium and Fonterra as “corporate welfare“. Ummn, it is not corporate welfare, that is when corporates get welfare from the taxpayer. What Sanitarium and Fonterra do is called charitable giving. Sure they do it for brand reasons, but how depressing that a political party sees charitable giving as a bad thing. They think it is better to force taxpayers to fund the direct provision of two meals a day to families.

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Why not free dinners also?

January 26th, 2014 at 2:41 pm by David Farrar

Claire Trevett at NZ Herald writes:

The Green Party has launched its election year today by announcing the $90 million a year package for low decile schools, including free after school care and holiday programmes, free lunches, and school nurses in every decile 1-4 primary and intermediate school.

So the Greens want schools to provide free breakfasts to all kids, free lunches also, and free after school care. Why stop there? Surely schools should also be required to provide free dinners also? And look by 7 pm, the kids are tired, so maybe look after them for the night also – as well as for the holidays.


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