Maybe The Standard should charge commissions?

November 24th, 2014 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Whale quotes the SST:

Police are investigating an entity that funded Auckland mayor Len Brown’s 2010 and 2013 election campaigns.

More then $750,000 in backing for Brown’s two successful campaigns was paid by a trust that kept donors’ identities secret. Since February police have been investigating whether the trust breached the Local Electoral Act.

The Sunday Star-Times has confirmation from Brown’s former campaign team that Greg Presland was involved in the donor trust. He was also the main trustee of the trust that paid almost $20,000 in anonymous donations to former Labour leader David Cunliffe during Labour’s 2013 leadership contest.

Greg is of course one of the main authors at The Standard which of course campaigns vigorously against the use of secret trusts in politics!

Maybe they could help fund their blog if Greg put in the trust deeds that 1% of all donations go to The Standard 🙂

As to whether there is a breach of the law, my initial response was there isn’t, as secret trusts were legal for local government elections in 2010 and 2013.

However the issue raised by the complainant is that a person must be listed as a donor and a trust is not a person. A company is and an incorporated society is, but a trust is generally regarded as not being a legal person, but something on behalf of the trustees (lawyers will correct me if I have this not quite right). So the complainant has said that as the trust is not a person, then the trustees should be named. That seems a not unreasonable thing to do. So it will be interesting what the Police decide – my pick is as usual, nothing.


Beveridge on Shylock comment

August 12th, 2014 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Matthew Beveridge blogs:

Steve Gibson also claims that he was not aware of the meaning of the term. However, Greg Presland, whose post the comment was made on, is a lawyer. He is claiming on Radio New Zealand that he was just repeating comments that he has heard elsewhere. However Greg Presland should also be being questioned about his knowledge of the term. Does he claim that he was not aware of the meaning of the term?

Greg Presland is a close advisor and friend of David Cunliffe and was one of the lawyers involved in the setting up of the secret trusts used to fund David Cunliffe’s leadership challenge. He has held office in the Labour Party, including being electorate chair for David Cunliffe’s New Lynn electorate, he is a member of the Waitakere Ranges Local Board, and is descirbed by The Daily Blog as a “labour activist“. It is not like this post was made on the profile of Steve Gibson’s friend Joe Bloggs. Considering the profile and position of Greg Presland his actions, or lack thereof, in relation to this post should also be raising questions.

I don’t think you hold authors responsible for comments made on their site, unless they have previously seen the comment. for example I do not see 90% of the comments on Kiwiblog. I only read General Debate when someone complains about something. But from what I can see there were only two comments on Presland’s post, so I would be surprised if he had not seen the Shylock comment.

He notes that David Shearer said on Facebook:

I’ve been shocked and disappointed at the anti-Semitic comment and defacing of billboards over the past few days, including in my electorate of Mt Albert. I don’t want John Key to win the election because I believe NZ can do much better with a different, fairer government, not because of whether he’s Jewish or not. 

NZ is a tolerant society. We pride ourselves on it. Most of what I’ve seen shows the utter ignorance of the writers. I’ve taken the worst off my page here when it crops up. I don’t want to see it. 

Perhaps Mr Presland could emulate what David Shearer does. Beveridge points out:

There appears to have been no comment, from anyone, about the nature of Steve Gibson’s post on Greg’s wall, until it became public, two weeks after it was posted. If Greg had replied to Steve, pointing out the offensive and anit-Semitic nature of this post, or if he had deleted it before it became public, then it would have been a clear sign those involved in the high levels of the Labour Party take seriously the issue of anti-Semitism and their pledge Vote Positive. However neither Greg Presland nor any of his friends, appear to have made any comments, or taken any action to counter these comments.  Does this lack of action, or comment, from a senior figure in the Labour Party, and his friends, suggest an acceptance of the comments and their nature?

The fact is the comment was only removed after we highlighted it.

UPDATE: Patrick Gower writes:

If Labour’s campaign really was about “vote positive”, then leader David Cunliffe would have axed candidate Steven Gibson for the John Key “Shylock” call.

Mr Cunliffe has instead put him on a “final warning”, missing a golden opportunity to look decisive and find some moral high ground in what is already a dirty election campaign. But he should have just got rid of Mr Gibson.

Mr Gibson is responsible for calling Mr Key “Shylock” – a reference to the Jewish money lender in Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice.

The Shylock comment is off-colour and has anti-Semitic overtones. It is also rude, nasty and incredibly politically naive. It is the worst kind of negative politics.

He went even further on the Facebook post, calling Mr Key a “nasty little creep … with a nasty, evil, vindictive sneer”.

This is not the standard of discourse worthy of someone who wants to be an MP and it is certainly not “vote positive”.

Gower concludes:

I cannot come up with a single valid reason why Mr Cunliffe should have kept Mr Gibson as a candidate. He probably didn’t axe him because he and his strategist didn’t think of it and “kicked for touch”.

But Mr Cunliffe needs to take risks. He should have got rid of Mr Gibson.

Yes, he should have.

Violent Crime

June 12th, 2014 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The latest desperate go by Labour is to blame National for the recent killings in West Auckland.

David Cunliffe’s chief setter upper of secret trusts blogs at The Standard:

Lately West Auckland has been in the news for all the wrong reasons.  Four alleged homicides in less than a month, two domestic, one from a neighbourhood dispute and the latest allegedly involving a 12 year old and a 13 year old and the robbery of a local dairy owner have put West Auckland in the media for all of the wrong reasons.

The deaths have created a deep sense of unease.  What is going wrong?

Local MP Phil Twyford has expressed his deep misgivings:

What kind of country have we become when a dairy owner is killed in his shop at 7 o’clock in the morning allegedly by a child with a knife?

“The young accused were well known to local shopkeepers in a retail centre where begging, intimidation and anti-social behaviour have unfortunately been all too common.

“The community is asking why there has not been a more visible police presence, with regular foot patrols to discourage law-breaking. There is a community constable delegated to cover Henderson but the officer is based in Massey. We’d like to see a community constable based in the town centre, with a shop front on the main street.

The right have responded predictably.  Cameron Slater claimed that Twyford was politicising murder.  Obviously as far as he is concerned it is better for the causes not to be debated.

This claim is deeply hypocritical.  David Farrar during 2008 posted a series of posts suggesting that violent crime was worsening and implying that the fifth Labour Government was responsible.

Firstly I blogged on official crime stats, I never went blaming the Government the day after a (alleged) murder. That is sad and desperate.

As for the “suggestion” that violent crime was worsening, well here are the stats from Stats NZ:


Doesn’t that tell a dramatic story.

The Government doesn’t control all, or even most, of the factors that cause crime. But it does control policy on sentencing, parole and bail, and also funding for Police and for rehabilitation.

Presland continues:

As far as I am concerned there is a political element to what is happening out west and this is why this Government’s policies should be put under the microscope.  Potential causes include the following:

  1. Poverty.  Three of the deaths occurred in one of the poorest parts of West Auckland and the alleged killer in the fourth was apparently begging.  Trickle down is not working.

  2. Policing.  I have heard that the Waitakere Criminal Investigation Unit is severely understaffed, with up to a third of positions not currently filled.  There are many dedicated police officers working in the area but if the Police does not have sufficient resources they will not be able to do their job properly.

  3. Education.  It is astounding that the Government can find $360 million to attempt to bribe teachers with promises of more pay but cannot increase funding for alternative education.  Imagine what a difference this sum could make if applied to kids who are clearly at risk.

  4. Working conditions.  The right are already saying “what about the parents”.   Sure there are bad parents around.  There are also good parents working inhumane hours just to make ends meet.

I think my favourite is that National offering $360 million to pay the best teachers more, so they can share their skills with colleagues, is somehow linked to the murder in West Auckland. And this isn’t some deranged anonymous blogger – but one of the closest advisors to the Labour Leader.

Incidentially see Mr Presland wants to play this game, there were 234 homicides (and related offences) in the last three years (2011 to 2013). In 2006 to 2008 there were 291. So does that mean Labour in its third term had failed to do anythng about poverty, policing, education and working conditions? And doesn’t the 20% drop in homicides then mean that those factors have all improved?

Of and finally, as Mr Presland is talking about West Auckland, I had a look at the violent crime stats for Waitemata Police District.

In 2008 there were 3,952 violent crimes in Waitemata. In 2013 there were 3,134. That’s a huge 26% drop.

So I say bring it on, if Labour wants to start talking violent crime in West Auckland. It will be a great way to get them ever lower in the 20s in the polls.

UPDATE: Rachel Smalley also calls out Labour for politising a tragedy. Smalley notes:

However Mr Twyford suggests that questions should be asked about why there hasn’t been a more visible police presence in Henderson with regular foot patrols to discourage law-breaking. There is a suggestion that a more visible police presence would have prevented this crime.

I don’t think you can say that a lack of police resources contributed, on some level, to Mr Kumar’s death. I don’t think that police officers walking the streets would have stopped such a senseless crime. Whoever killed Mr Kumar had no compassion or respect for humanity, and I don’t believe that you could have prevented what happened by instructing a policeman to walk down the street from time to time.

Tragedies like the murder of Arun Kumar should not be politicised. We’ve seen politicians out in Henderson. Len Brown’s been there, the Auckland mayor. Labour MPs have paid their respects. But I think the Kumar family’s greatest support right now will come from the police, not from politicians.

I don’t want to see more police on the streets. I want to see better parenting in our homes. That’s where the issue of accountability lies. Children who are loved and nurtured don’t grow up to be killers.

Labour, I think, has picked the wrong fight on this.

I think it is just a sign of Labour’s desperation.

A second secret trust for Cunliffe!

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

3 News reports:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Cunliffe speech

April 30th, 2012 at 3:18 pm by David Farrar

David Cunliffe delivered a speech yesterday that has many Labour and left activists praising it. It is a speech well outside his area of economic development (He is Economic Development, not Finance spokesperson after Shearer demoted him), and is an effective state of the nation or state of the party speech. I have seen these speeches before, and inevitably when portfolio spokespersons give speeches like this, they are wanting a certain job. Some extracts:

You know that at the last election, the one that we lost so badly, nearly 1 million people didn’t vote. Over 800,000 people: a fifth of the population didn’t vote.

Now you know, there are lots of reasons that people didn’t vote, and there were even more reasons why people didn’t vote for Labour. Let me give you just a few.

The major reason that voters didn’t vote for Labour, and sometimes didn’t vote at all, is simply that Labour failed to inspire voters that it was a credible alternative to National. …

I want to be clear from the outset that this speech represents my own views and does not pretend to represent overall Labour policy. All policies are being reviewed in the post-election period. 

All the classic signs. “My personal views”. “Why we failed”. The implication is “Why we continue to fail”.

When the right-wing party says that it’s going to cut your leg off, voters want the left-wing party to say that it’s not going to cut your leg off. Voters don’t want to be told that the left-wing party is also going to cut your leg off, but cut it off a bit lower down and give you some anesthetic.

 I think that’s a major reason that nearly one million voters deserted us at the last election. It wasn’t because we failed to communicate our policies. Quite the opposite. Those voters saw that our policies – with the exception of asset sales – were mostly the same as National’s. So we can’t really be surprised at the result.

This is a clear call to arms for the left activists. Never mind the reality they were promising $70 more a week to beneficiaries and the like, and most commentator said their policies under Goff were more left-wing than even under Helen Clark. Cunliffe needs the left activist base. The activist base is always less moderate that the supporters. The average National activist is well to the right of a National Government, and the average Labour activist well to the left of a Labour Government.

But you’d never know this if you listened to John Key. Like a quack doctor whose cure has failed, his response is to double the dose until the patient is dead.

 Sorry, John, but let me quote Sir Winston Churchill:

“The truth is incontrovertible, malice may attack it, ignorance may deride it, but in the end; there it is.”

No matter how many politicians and economists still defend the economic policies that led us into this mess, the truth is steadily showing itself.

The obligatory Churchill quote every leadership speech has.

Labour has a new leader with strong values, who’s focused on reconnecting with the voters and has the courage to stand up to bullies. It’s up to us, as a Party, to share with our leader, our hopes, our fears and our dreams, to reconstruct the Party from within, to reclaim our natural constituency of decent, ordinary New Zealanders who believe in fairness and hard work.

This paragraph is astonishing. It strongly implies that the leader does not already share their hopes, fears and dreams. It is a call to action for activists to back Cunliffe’s views and policies and insist Shearer implements them, with a clear implication about what may happen if he does not.

But we didn’t. And we don’t have to back away from creating policies that can turn us away from the economic insanity of the last three decades.

David Cunliffe was a Minister in the last Labour Government. He is now saying that the economic polices of that Government were insane. This is what you do when trying to position yourself as a new leader.

What I find surprising in this speech is not that Cunliffe is making a leadership style speech, but that he has done so in such an unsubtle way. Normally these things are much more subtle and coded. I have never seen an MP urge activists to “share” their views with the leader, in a way which suggests he is out of touch.

The other interesting thing is events of the last week. First we have top Auckland Labour Party official, Greg Presland, who blogged last Wednesday praising David Cunliffe. He implied the Robertson camp was behind the attacks on both Cunliffe and Shearer, and openly said:

Cunliffe may now be Shearer’s best chance of survival as Labour Head Office and the Beehive are filled with Robertson supporters. 

Now bear in mind to have your top Auckland official openly talk about the leader not surviving, and how it is is only the good graces of Cunliffe keeping him alive. In National such an official would be outski. Party officials should never ever talk about how the Leader is struggling to survive.

Then two days later on Friday Chris Trotter blogged:

I was wrong about David Shearer. I made the mistake of believing that a politician with a brilliant back-story couldn’t fail to give us an equally brilliant front-story. …

It’s time for the Labour Caucus to put an end to “the unfortunate experiment” and begin a new one. They could call it “democracy” – and stop taking their party for Grant-ed.

A clear attack on both Shearer, and Grant Robertson, which by omission suggests Cunliffe should be Leader.

Then another two days later, Cunliffe makes a “True Labour” speech, with Tumeke noting:

It was given by David Cunliffe at 2pm Sunday at the Blockhouse Bay Community Centre on his personal beliefs for the economic vision for Labour. 70 people were there by invitation including myself, Chris Trotter and Peter Davis and I have never heard the explanation of why Labour lost the 2011 election and what vision is necessary to regain that support with the passion and intelligence that Cunliffe brought to it. 

Cunliffe launched a personal vision of what I’d call ‘True Labour’, a renouncing of the neo liberal agenda and an explanation that the reason a million enrolled voters didn’t bother to vote Labour was because despite a few policy differences, Labour was still the lighter shade of blue. 

Now I am sure this is all a coincidence because I am a trusting sort of person. But someone more cynical and suspicious than me might wonder about the timing of all this.

UPDATE: Am sure this David Cunliffe campaign website is also a coincidence and is really aimed for the general election in 31 months time.

Nice try Greg

November 22nd, 2011 at 4:34 pm by David Farrar

Been released some amusing e-mails from one of the participants (should be easy to guess). Well known Labour activist and wannabee candidate Greg Presland e-mailed New Lynn and Waitakere candidates the following:


I am the acting chair of the Titirangi Ratepayers and Residents Association.  We are intending to hold a “meet the candidates” meeting on November 22, 2011 from 7 pm to 9 pm at the Presbyterian Hall, 244 Atkinson Road Titirangi.  As the area has parts of two seats in it we are inviting all candidates for the New Lynn or Waitakere seats to attend. …

I am in the process of arranging an independent chair for the debate part of the meeting.

Can you each confirm that you are available..  Can national secretaries send this email to their local candidates.

Greg Presland

This was sent on the 10th of November. Most genuine meetings have had incites go out well in advance of the final fortnight. Now Paula Bennett could have just replied with a I’ve already got something on that day (which she has) but her reply was:

Dear Greg –

I must admit your invitation did make me smile. I well remember 6 years ago as a very new candidate unwittingly going to this meeting that was a complete set up by the Labour Party and how appallingly it was run and how rude everyone was, fool me once and shame on me, fool me twice … well it ain’t going to happen. I will not be attending.  Since the boundary changes around 4 years ago, none of the Waitakere electorate is in the Titirangi catchment – hence why I wasn’t invited 3 years ago.

Anything involving you would be blatantly party political as you are the West Auckland Labour Party Chairman and constantly negatively blog about me under the psuedonym Mickeysavage, I could bring as many of my supporters to match the Labour stacking that will go on and everyone could have a mud slinging match, but what a waste of everyones time.

Enjoy your evening.


So it was an invite for a group that do not even live in her electorate by the main Labour activist in West Auckland. Don’t have to be a rocket scientist to work out there won’t be a single undecided voter there. Now Paula’s response was fairly polite. Then Greg replied with this:

Dear Paula

Six years ago I arranged for a local Headmaster of impeccable standing to chair the debate because I acknowledged that I have strong political views and I considered that an independent chair was appropriate.  There were at least two members of the National Party on the TRRA executive at the time and I was careful to make sure that the meeting was conducted properly.  I received no complaints and thought the meeting went well.

Last election we decided to have candidates from the Tamaki Makaurau seat, this time we thought that we should have Waitakere candidates again.  And you are wrong, part of the Titirangi area is in the Waitakere seat.  You should get out a map some time and check the boundaries.

This time Deputy Mayor Penny Hulse will chair the debate.  Am I missing something?

As for blogging well using taxpayers money to advertise constituency clinics deserves criticism and your particular style of politics is appalling.  Why someone who gained a degree using public funds should destroy the opportunity for others to do the same is beyond me.  And your disrespect for the rights of privacy of beneficiaries while supporting a Prime Minister that tramples over the independence of the media in trying to protect rights of privacy that were surrendered as soon as he called a press conference is distressing in the extreme.

May this election return a Government that will work in the best interests of ordinary Kiwis.

By the way I am not the West Auckland Labour Party chair.  There is no such position.

The funny thing is Greg sent that version of the e-mail with the paragraph part-bolded just to Paula. The next day he sent a sanitised one to all the other candidates, including Paula.

What is funny is Greg regards Penny Hulse as an independent chair. I have no beef with Penny, but she is a politician of the left and not independent, in the sense of someone apolitical.

Anyway good on Paula for not falling into the same trap twice.