Clark reappointed

April 13th, 2013 at 2:58 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Former Prime Minister Helen Clark has been appointed for a another term in her role at the United Nations.

Miss Clark was first appointed as the UN Development Programme Administrator in 2009.

She said it had been an “honour and a privilege” to serve in the role for the past four years.

“I thank the Member States of the United Nations General Assembly and the Secretary-General for their confidence in me to lead the organisation for another term,” she said.

Four years goes quickly.

The position has a tax free US$450,730 salary and US$240,000 housing subsidy which is a total package of US$690,000 tax free. That is NZ$803,500 net which is equal to NZ$1.19 million gross. A lot better than being PM! I suspect she’s still like her old job back though.

Her new term will expire in April 2017.

The trans-Tasman relationship

March 25th, 2013 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

Tracy Watkins at Stuff reports:

Seated across from each other in a New York restaurant they made for an unlikely couple.

On one side of the table was John Howard, one of Australia’s most successful prime ministers; darling of the political Right, bogeyman of the Left after taking the role as America’s deputy sheriff in the Pacific, and becoming the villain in the Tampa affair.

His lunch companion was Helen Clark, the socially liberal former New Zealand prime minister, a flag-flying Iraq war opponent, standard bearer for the Left-wing social democratic movement – and the woman who even now, four years on from losing the election, can spark visceral dislike among many on the Right.

Mates? Of course, says Howard, after they caught up recently for a chinwag in New York.

“We don’t just exchange Christmas cards.”

It reflects well on both Howard and Clark that they worked well together, despite being from different sides of the political spectrum.

 But historic and geographical ties have not always been enough to put the relationship on a friendly footing. Before Howard and Clark it was Lange and Hawke, Muldoon and Fraser. Tension, backstabbing, and suspicion reigned.

Fraser was an idiot, and Muldoon a bully. Hawke thought Lange was a flake, and he was right. There was also Bolger and Keating – Keating was just simply untrustworthy.

Gillard and Key, again polar opposites politically, have forged even stronger bonds than Clark and Howard.

Key says getting the personal dynamics in the relationship right is “critical”. With Gillard, it helps that their partners get on as well.

Once all the official business was out of the way during their two-day summit in Queenstown last month, Key and Gillard escaped to the exclusive Millbrook resort for dinner with partners Bronagh and Tim. They did the same in Melbourne last year.

“We have a no officials, casual dinner, have a drink together,” Key said.

A good relationship between leaders is no guarantee of success, but it is almost a precursor.

The big unknown is a possible Tony Abbott government – though he and Key have already struck up a good relationship, and speak to each other regularly.

Howard, meanwhile, is confident Abbot can only be good for New Zealand.

“He’s got a good start. His wife is a New Zealander.”

Heh, that may be useful.

UNDP slated by its own board

January 16th, 2013 at 8:43 am by David Farrar

Michael Field at Stuff reports:

Former prime minister Helen Clark has been hit with a devastating critique of her United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in an official report saying much of its annual US$5.7 billion (NZ$6.8 billion) budget is only remotely connected to ending global poverty. The densely worded report by the UNDP’s executive board – Clark’s bosses since she became secretary-general in April 2009 – amounts to a stinging performance review. US media reports say she is leading a counter-attack claiming the study misses the point behind its work.  But the report paints a striking picture of a confused organisation seemingly unable to bring significant change to the world’s 1.3 billion poor people despite spending US$8.5 billion on fighting poverty between 2004 and 2011.

Anyone who knows the UN won’t be totally surprised by this critique. What is surprising is that it comes from the UNDP’s own executive board, which suggests major discontent internally.

A longer story is at Fox News, along with the full report and the management response.

Bottom line: after spending more than $8.5 billion on anti-poverty activities between 2004 and 2011—and just how much more is something of a mystery– UNDP has only “limited ability…to demonstrate whether its poverty reduction activities have contributed to any significant change in the lives of the people it is trying to help.”

Those devastating conclusions come in a densely worded, official “evaluation of UNDP contribution to poverty reduction,” which will be presented to the agency’s 36-nation supervisory board at its next meeting, which begins on January 28 in New York.

Among other things, the document casts significant doubt on the extent to which UNDP is actually living up to its declared identity as “the United Nations anti-poverty organization—a world partnership against poverty,” a claim the report says was made by UNDP’s then-chief—James Gustave Speth—in 1995.

Moreover, it lays a significant part of the blame for that failing on the way that UNDP has spread itself across a growing range of activities in the name of promoting “development” –from environmental projects to trade promotion and border management—that “dilute” its anti-poverty effort.

The normal problem of bureaucratic empire growing rather than focusing on actually achieving things.

I love the buzz words in the management response:

Towards the goal of transformational change in the context of poverty reduction, the UNDP theory of change represents a holistic, pragmatic and consistent approach that impacts the lives of people, particularly the most vulnerable. The theory of change presents an end-result of an empowered, resilient and equitable society. 

UNDP must be stuffed full of management consultants!

Labour selections under Clark

November 26th, 2012 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

John Crysler of the Department of Political Science of Carleton University in Canada has done a paper looking at the influence of party leaders on selections in two parties, with one of them being NZ Labour under Helen Clark.

It is a fascinating contrast to the current situation with David Shearer who couldn’t even stop conference voting to lower the threshold to challenge him – and just as importantly couldn’t get the party to agree to rules on future candidate selections.

Here’s what Crysler says about how it worked under Clark:

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, when the parliamentary party and the party organization were divided, the Labour Party leader had very little influence over candidate selection. In fact, some interviewees reported that in 1993, the party president and her allies deliberately influenced candidate selection to move the ideological orientation of caucus to the left and to replace the incumbent leader (which is how Clark came to the leadership in 1993). However, under Helen Clark’s leadership, during which time the parliamentary and extra-parliamentary wings were far more united, many interviewees reported that she did influence many electorate selections.

Clark was firmly in control. Now, no one is.

The institutional framework was such that all she had to do was communicate her preferences to the three head office representatives to have some influence. It is not clear how often these representatives took her advice, but many in the party believe it to have been frequent.

By the way this can not happen in Labour National. The head office gets zero say at all on selection meetings. Their role is just the traditional veto early on of totally unsuitable candidates.

According to the party’s constitution, there are 36 members of the moderating committee, only three of which are parliamentarians (the party leader, deputy leader, and someone elected by caucus). The rest represent the various elements of the party (party executives, sector councils representing various demographic groups and trade unions, and regional representatives). Despite (or perhaps because of) this disparate membership, Clark was widely reported to have taken a strong hand in the ranking process. Some interviewees reported that her influence stemmed from the respect the other committee members had for her judgment. One member of the moderating committee for three elections described Clark’s influence this away: Helen Clark’s opinion “was sought and always acted upon. If one slot didn’t reflect her preference, the next one would

I think the 2014 Labour Party list ranking will be fascinating. Think if Cunliffe is ranked No 3!

In Clark’s case, she also appears to have used her influence to augment the party’s electoral chances. For example, she tried to ensure that those demographic groups shown by Labour polling research to be likely Labour supporters be represented high on the party list.

Such as Rajen Prasad!

The conclusion is worth noting:

The experiences of Helen Clark and John Howard suggest that political media stardom is not necessary (nor, perhaps is it sufficient) for sustained political success in New Zealand and Australia. Instead, party leaders must be very competent media performers (preferably superior to their parliamentary colleagues) and media managers, and they must continually forge party unity through the drudgery of managing personalities and attending to party affairs so that their political messages are unsullied by unseemly divisions.

I think they are missing Helen!

Clark’s photo

August 4th, 2012 at 11:47 am by David Farrar

NZ Herald reports:

Former Prime Minister Helen Clark has been accused of misrepresenting her appearance in a United Nations website profile picture.

She was appointed Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme in 2009.

Her profile page on the UN website carries a biography and high-resolution version of the picture.

John Creser, of Wellington, complained to the UN ethics office that Helen Clark had misrepresented her image on the website, saying it was wrong for her to use a computer-generated image, or avatar.

This reminds me of the 2002 or 2005 campaign when they used a similar photo on the billboards, and at a photo op of one going up a eight year old kid asked Helen “Is that you, when you were younger” which was priceless.

The joke was that if Helen tried to travel on a passport with her “official” photo, then she would be stopped at the border.

Hilarious

July 18th, 2012 at 8:59 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Former Prime Minister Helen Clark has reacted with shock that a business award she gave was to India’s top tobacco company.

Clark, who is now head of the United Nations Development Agency, presented India’s largest cigarette maker, ITC (formerly Indian Tobacco Company) with the World Business Council for Sustainable Development’s (WBCSD) highest prize for improving the environment and removing poverty.

This drew an angry reaction from a leading Indian health advocate who termed it a travesty of justice.

In New York, UN watcher Inner City Press asked Clark to explain her award.

She replied with a written statement.

“I have worked tirelessly throughout my career to achieve a smoke free society in New Zealand, and was, thus, shocked to learn that a World Business Development Award, supported by UNDP, was given to a company which derives a substantial proportion of its profits from tobacco,” she said.

“Unfortunately the criteria for the World Business Development Awards did not exclude projects implemented by companies from certain sectors like tobacco. This has clearly been a serious oversight. “

Clark said UNDP would review its rules and regulations and ensure than an incident like it never happens.

“UNDP will not participate in these awards in the future unless companies like this are excluded,” Clark said.

Heh, I’d love to have seen the reaction when Helen found out. Rather unbelievable that you can present a major global prize to a company and not know what they do. A two minute check of their website or even Wikipedia would have found this out.

Anyway isn’t it a good thing a tobacco company is improving the environment and reducing poverty. While tobacco is a legal product (as it is in every country on earth), we will have tobacco companies – and isn’t it better they be encouraged to do good things such as reduce poverty and improve the environment?

One index to rule them all

July 2nd, 2012 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Philip Booth blogs at the IEA:

The UNDP held a forum this week entitled: ‘Beyond GDP: Measuring the Future We Want’. What they actually mean, of course, is ‘measuring the future the UN wants’. The best way to ensure that we get the future we (the people) want is to have a free market, governed under the rule of law, with good protection for property rights (including, where appropriate, property rights for environmental goods). The seven billion people in the world all want a rather different future from each other. We can only achieve those different aspirations if we are free.

That is not to say that an argument cannot be made for the subsidisation of, for example, education and health care for the poor and for other forms of assistance through government. However, the success of the human race as a whole cannot and should not be measured by some kind of unified aggregate index.

Specifically, Helen Clark has proposed that the UN develop an index that combines: ‘Equity, dignity, happiness, sustainability’ arguing that ‘these are all fundamental to our lives but absent in the GDP.’ Just because something is fundamental to our lives does not mean that we need to measure it and combine it with other variables into a single index measure. Relationships are fundamental to our lives, but do we need to measure the success of the relationships of seven billion people and combine that measure with other data into some kind of aggregate index? Indeed, it is interesting that the best conditions for GDP growth in the history of the UK were created before we even started measuring GDP.

It is just about possible, nevertheless, to make a coherent case for measuring GDP. GDP does, at least, make a reasonably rigorous allowance for trade-offs that different people make in their everyday lives. If I give up £1 worth of apples to buy £1 worth of oranges and Mark Littlewood does the opposite, it can (within certain bounds of reasonableness) be said that we both have £1 of utility from the transaction. Austrian arguments can certainly be made regarding the undesirability of aggregating data and the fact that all transactions involve consumer surplus, but there is some reasonableness and consistency there.

We can also look at other statistics such as working hours, travel time, leisure time, carbon footprint (if it is thought necessary), and so on, to obtain a more comprehensive picture if we wish. However, once we try to produce an aggregate index of everything that is important, the index will lose all meaning. How can we trade off a small increase in reported happiness for somebody in Zambia for an extra £500 a year of national income per head in New Zealand? How can we trade off a tiny change in the Gini coefficient in Rwanda with a small change in the stability of marriages in India, and so on? These things have completely different values to different people.

Even trying to track one of these datasets is problematic. As the IEA’s monographs on happiness economics showed, well-being measures are suspect. There is no clear indication of a relationship between reported well-being and almost any other reasonable indicator of social progress.

Overall, we have the biggest folly imaginable: the body that some would desire to be a world government attempting to measure in a single index number everything that matters to everybody.

GDP does record economic activity only, and that is not everything – absolutely. But trying to come up with one master index will never work, because as the IEA states, we all value different things.

Helen says we have enough

June 22nd, 2012 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Not PC blogs:

Happy with her own lot, our former Aunty Helen thinks “we,” i.e., everyone else, could do with less.

Attending the eco-gathering in Rio in her new guise as United Nations Development Programme head, Aunty Helen told media

frankly human development in the West — we don’t need more cars, more TVs, more whatever. Our needs are by and large satisfied, although the recession has put a lot of strains on that.

What a pity Helen never told us this, when she was PM. That she thought we all had enough.

The 37th and 38th PMs

January 5th, 2012 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Sent to me by e-mail. Very well done.

A non story

August 1st, 2011 at 9:04 pm by David Farrar

TVNZ reports:

Prime Minister John Key’s appearance on Late Show with David Letterman may have cost taxpayers up to $10,000.

Not really.

“I’ve been informed that Tourism New Zealand have a PR company. They’re on a retainer. They pay them every month, irrelevant of what I do.”

“Apparently, when the Letterman show was on, that was one of the projects they worked on. They would have made the payment whether I was there or not.”

So in fact no extra money was spent. Not that I would have had a problem if there had been – as a tourism promotion, $10,000 would have been ridiculously cheap.

In fact one 25th the cost of the $250,000 spent in 2002 on a Discovery documentary about NZ, starring Helen Clark. And that was in an election year.

I have no problem with either expenditure if they are genuinely deemed a worthwhile tourism investment.

A job for Chris

June 6th, 2011 at 1:53 pm by David Farrar

Belinda McCammon at Stuff reports:

Axed Labour MP Chris Carter looks set to take up a job with his old boss, Helen Clark, at the United Nations before the end of the year.

The independent MP has just returned from a three-week trip to New York where he said he had positive meetings over working at the UN. “I had some very interesting and productive interviews, so we’ll see.”

If Carter does take up a job at the UN, he will join former PM Clark, who is the administrator of the UN’s Development Programme.

Carter said nothing was confirmed. “Until it’s in the hand, it’s not in the bag.”

If the role is confirmed, Carter said it was likely he would leave to take up the job before the November 26 election.

However his departure would not cause a by-election as it is within the six-month threshold.

Who says the taxpayer doesn’t do enough to help people find jobs. Three weeks in New York is what anyone can get. Must have been some very extended job interviews.

Clark on Wikileaks

December 27th, 2010 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Audrey Young at the NZ Herald reports:

Former Prime Minister Helen Clark believes the effort the United States has put into improving its relationship with New Zealand in the past few years has been damaged in the eyes of ordinary New Zealanders because the WikiLeaks cables showed “disrespect” for New Zealand’s independent foreign policy.

That is a typical Clark view of reality. Most would say that the cables have in fact showed Clark’s claim to have an independent foreign policy to be a platitude, as Clark sent troops to Iraq, in order to help Fonterra.

She said the ones authored in particular by former ambassador Charles Swindells and deputy chief of mission David Burnett were “distinctly unpleasant about New Zealand and about the Government, really quite disrespectful, if I can put it that way”.

I’d forgotten how much Clark tended to project herself as being the same as the Government and indeed even the country. So when she says the cables were unpleasant about New Zealand, she means unpleasant about her.

Clark denies milk for blood

December 22nd, 2010 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Former Prime Minister Helen Clark has angrily denied a claim in a United States diplomatic cable that the previous Labour-led Government sent New Zealand non-combat engineers to Iraq so that dairy company Fonterra could secure a United Nations contract.

She described the claim as preposterous.

So why did Helen send tropps to Iraq, if it were not to help Fonterra?

Mr Goff yesterday said the allegation was ridiculous.

“No such trade-off was ever suggested and if it ever had been, it would have been rejected out-of-hand. We do not trade putting the lives of our military personnel at risk for commercial deals. It is a completely false claim.”

What is interesting is that Michael Cullen has not denied that he did talk about the risk to Fonterra.

Milk for blood

December 20th, 2010 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

Critics of the Iraq war claimed it was about oil for blood – that the motives for the US sending troops and spilling blood, was to gain control of Iraq’s oil. This of course was leftish paranoia – the US has gained no control of any oil, and the cost of the war has been massively more, than any oil revenue could match.

But Wikileaks has revealed that one country which did send troops to Iraq, qas motivated by commercial factors. Yes, Helen Clark sent in troops to Iraq (something Labour hopes that people forget), and the reason was to help Fonterra.

So there was no oil for blood by the US, but Helen Clark was willing to trade blood for milk.

I look forward to Labour talking about their principled foreign policy.

Key is not campaigning to have Helen made Secretary-General

October 28th, 2010 at 5:54 pm by David Farrar

NZPA report:

Mr Key was today on his way to Vietnam, where he will attend the East Asia Summit in Hanoi, but his bilateral meetings with world leaders outside the summit will draw most attention, one of those with Mr Ban.

The two were likely to discuss a possible bid by former prime minister Helen Clark for the secretary-general role when Mr Ban’s term ended in 2015.

Miss Clark heads the UN Development Programme.

Climate change, New Zealand’s bid for a seat on the UN Security Council and the Pacific Islands Forum, to be held in Auckland next year, would also be discussed.

I can only imagine that NZPA’s reporter interviewed themselves. I can’t imagine there is any way John Key will be chatting to Mr Ban about how to make Helen his successor for four reasons.

  1. First of all Ban is still in his first term in the job and has yet to gain re-appointment to a second term. There is no way you talk to someone not yet reappointed about their possible successor.
  2. Secondly his first term ends at the end of 2011 and his second term would end at the end of 2016 – so no idea where 2015 comes from. Clark’s term ends in 2013 incidentally. Anyway you don’t talk job succession six years before there is a vacancy.
  3. Helen does not speak French, and that is an unofficial requirement for the job.
  4. Also NZ belongs to the Western Europe and Others regional grouping. The job is rotated amongst the regions and the next region due is the Eastern European group.

So Helen will not be the next UN Secretary-General, and media who say she might be do not understand the UN system. She is from the wrong region (not fixable) and does not speak French (she could learn if she thought she had a chance).Also there will probably not be a vacancy until 2017.

Further, it is my personal view she does not have the skills and experience necessary to do the job. I think she was qualified to be UNDP Administrator, but Secretary-General is a very different ball game.

Herald praises Goff

September 10th, 2010 at 11:55 am by David Farrar

The Herald editorial:

Hats off to the Labour Party leader, Phil Goff. In suggesting that New Zealanders should start talking about our country becoming a republic, he has gone where influential sitting politicians have feared to tread.

Most, including the current Prime Minister, talk about the inevitability of a republic but are unwilling to do anything to create it.

Others, such as former Deputy Prime Minister Michael Cullen, wait until they have retired from politics to voice similar sentiments. Such passivity has dampened the prospect of debate.

I agree.  It has been frustrating that previous Leaders such as Helen Clark refused to openly engage on the merits of becoming a republic. Instead she did republicanism by stealth – changing individual aspects (such as the Privy Council) one by one, without actually engaging the public in a debate on republicanism.

I don’t want a republic by stealth. I want a republic that New Zealanders vote for, as a better way forward. For that debate to happen, senior political leaders like Phil Goff need to engage on the issue.

Yet this is an issue that, given the absence of stridency on both sides, will have to be galvanised by political leaders.

Mr Goff has acknowledged as much in stating emphatically that a republic would be the “making of New Zealand as a country”. If he has his way, that notion will have seeped into the national consciousness by the end of Queen Elizabeth II’s reign.

But we should not wait until then.

Matthew Hooton also writes in the NBR today on a republic:

One day, though, Queen Elizabeth II’s reign will come to an end, the Prince of Wales will immediately become King Charles III of New Zealand, and we’ll panic and rush reform and get it wrong.

(That’s if he calls himself “King Charles III”.  Apparently he’s keen on being “King George VII”.  Go figure.)

The Queen has carried out her duties with impeccable integrity, never once having been known to interfere in New Zealand’s affairs, even privately, and in effect making us a de facto republic throughout her reign.

In contrast, King Charles (or is it George?), is an eco-extremist, advocate for neo-Roman architecture and devotee of quack medicine and cannot be so relied upon to operate as a responsible constitutional monarch.

Plus he talks to plants.

Heh, Matthew does not hold back.

We’re in the bizarre situation where all important New Zealand leaders, once out of office, apparently become advocates for constitutional reform but no one dares put a hand up when they could actually do something as an incumbent.

Exactly. And Phil Goff has an opportunity to say that if he becomes PM, he will push for having a public debate and vote on constitutional reform.

Still not contrite

June 20th, 2010 at 8:57 am by David Farrar

Phil Goff sent Chris Carter home, hoping he would come back to Parliament contrite for his spending. But as the SST reports, he is anything but:

Goff said Carter, MP for Te Atatu, had failed to express contrition and forced him to apologise unreservedly. …

Carter said: “We could argue the rights and wrongs of whether I’ve done anything wrong. The only personal items were two bunches of flowers that a staff member sent on their card, and all ministerial travel was signed off.”

Once again, he is arguing he did nothing wrong. Also overlooks the flowers were to his own partner.

He said the apology was given “because you have to think about what is good for the Labour Party”.

In other words, he didn’t mean it. He did it to help Labour, not because he accepts any errors of judgement.

Carter was embarrassed again last week when it was revealed he promised exclusive interviews to both TV3 and TV One. “I guess I just wanted to be nice. It’s called PR, that’s what politicians do.”

No, there is another word for that, one you can’t use in the House.

So last week Carter was at least pretending to be contrite. Now he has emerged to talk to the media and once again declare he has done nothing wrong and only apologised to help Labour. So who is advising him?

Chris Carter last night broke his silence, saying he was returning to parliament, having taken advice from the party’s former head, Helen Clark.

This really makes Goff look a man not in charge of his own party.

Matt McCarten writes in the HoS:

But Carter’s meltdown this week surely finishes him. It’s not the card misuse that will kill him, it’s his clear inability to admit he’s done anything wrong.

As we see above.

His tiresome claim that he was being targeted because he was gay was absurd when of the four Labour MPs Phil Goff promoted, three were gay.

They were promoted on merit – their sexuality had nothing to do with it.

Yep.

Carter’s actions this week was politically unforgivable. Goff had his perfect story.

The errant credit card behaviour was under Helen Clark’s watch, not his. It was a golden opportunity for Goff to act tough; discipline the three transgressors and stamp his authority on his caucus. …

But Carter’s actions completely destroyed Goff’s strategy. Understandably Goff hit the roof and banished Carter to home detention to reflect on his indulgence. But the damage was done.

Instead of Goff looking like a leader in charge and his party being able to move on from the scandal we have a party still being rocked by their own indiscipline.

Will Goff now demote Carter to the backbenches? Surely after the SST story, he has no choice? Or is Clark still protecting Carter from afar?

Clark: NZ deeply racist

May 30th, 2010 at 4:01 pm by David Farrar

The SST reports Sir Ian McKellen’s interview where he reveals Helen Clark told him that NZ was deeply racist.

For example, I met Helen Clark while I was in Wellington. I was invited to her official residence, and waved in by a lone policeman who didn’t even check who I was, then I had a barbecue with her. I congratulated her on the public’s enlightened attitudes towards racial issues, but she disagreed. She said to me that New Zealand was really a very racist country , and she was determined to do everything she could as prime minister to change that.

First I could comment with bemusement how Helen thought attacking critics of her law removing the right of Iwi to go to court by labelling them”haters and wreckers” changed things for the better.

But I am sure that McKennen is correct and Helen did and does think NZ is a deeply racist country. We saw this when she spoke out on the Police shooting of Steve Wallace as being to do with racist attitudes. The fact the officer who had to fire the gun was also Maori was an inconvenient fact.

So in one sense, Clark’s view of New Zealand as deeply racist is no surprise. It would be interesting to ask her successor as Labour Leader whether or not he agrees with his former boss that New Zealand is a very racist country, and what does he plan to do to change it.

Jevan Goulter vs Labour

April 20th, 2010 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Whale Oil has blogged a summary of a 24 page story in Investigate, with a large number of allegations by a Jevan Goulter against various Labour MPs and others.

These are not anonymous allegations – Goulter is making them himself under his name. However that does not mean they are overly reliable, and are the gospel. In fact Ian Wishart himself concludes the article by saying:

As for the abuse of trust, did Labour abuse its trust in looking after a troubled 14 year old badly, or did Jevan Goulter abuse the trust of a political party who’d taken him under their wing?

At several points through the article, Wishart reveals that Goulter’s story is incorrect or exaggerated, and my personal take is that there is a lot of bragging there. It does not mean everything he has said is false, but I would caution people not to assume everything he has said is true.

Also in one section he says:

As for Phil Goff I probably had more to do with his daughter, who worked for a Government agency when Labour was in. Her name is Samantha. She was just stunning, she was beautiful when I met her, she was really hot. And I was like, ‘Piss off, you’re not his daughter?’ And she was, so we used to go out and have dinner and lunch quite a bit. Phil was a, I think he was a bit of a nobody then.

Now Phil Goff does have a daughter whom, umm could be seen to fit that description. However her name is not Samantha. If Jevan really was going out for meals with someone “quite a bit”, you think he would correctly remember their name. So again, does not help the credibility.

He makes allegations of sexual harassment against Tim Barnett. And some time later his partner (Mika) asked Barnett to pay $25,000 as compensation for Javen’s mental health. To my mind that is close to blackmail

Barnett makes the reasonable point that as a prominent gay MP pushing the boundaries of social legislation he was careful, like Caesar’s wife, to be above reproach, and not to be alone with people in situations that could be misconstrued.

There are no witnesses to the allegations so it is a case of he said vs she said. As someone who worked in Parliament for eight years, I got to hear a lot of gossip about a lot of MPs. You get to know which ones screw around and are sleazy. I don’t recall at the time any suggestion of inappropriate behaviour from Tim Barnett, and to the contrary he seemed very committed to his partner, Ramon. Without witnesses, I do not regard the allegations as credible. There are other MPs I would be more sceptical of.

Another allegation I find lacking in credibility is this:

INVESTIGATE: Michael Cullen?

JEVAN: I know he smoked it at the annual – I think it was the Christchurch Labour conference with Annette, but I don’t think Annette had it. I couldn’t be honest and say I saw her smoke it.

INVESTIGATE: But you did see him?

JEVAN: He had it in his hand, yes. I just remember him having it, it was passed to him by one of the young Labours.

This is in reference to cannabis use. It is quite possible Dr Cullen, like many NZers, has used cannabis at some stage. However to think the Deputy Prime Minister would openly smoke cannabis at a labour party conference – and in front of dozens of Young Labour activists is frankly incredible. I just don’t think it happened, and if that did not happen, I doubt some of the other allegations about cannabis use.

Not everything can be dismissed though. It seems very clear that some Labour Party MPs did lie about whether or not they knew Javen. The most blatant fib came from Lianne Dalziel, who confessed it online:

And yet…within five minutes of making the call to Dalziel’s office, Investigate received a phone call from Jevan, “You’ve just rung Lianne? She’s just sending me a Facebook chat apologising for denying that she knew me”.

This is what Dalziel said to Goulter:
“I owe you an apology. Ian Wishart has just contacted me and I’m afraid I said I didn’t remember you. I feel so guilty. All I’ve said, I told him you were a Facebook friend, so I knew ‘about’ you.

I hope this doesn’t affect what he is writing about you.”

Considering Lianne lost her ministerial job for not telling the truth, this doesn’t help her credibility.

The person who comes out of this looking very wise and sensible is Jacinda Ardern:

Young Labour were always very angry towards me, they didn’t like how I got to do what I wanted. Jacinda Ardern, who’s now an MP, she was my biggest hater….

But then I’m getting drunk and Jacinda comes over and rips the glass of wine out of my hand, ‘You can’t drink in here, you’re only 15!’

‘Yeah I can drink in here, it’s a private function, you’re not my mum, piss off’, and I got really verbal with her, I really didn’t like her.

So I walked over to Helen and I said,‘Jacinda’s just said I’m not allowed to drink. Am I allowed to drink or not?’ And Helen’s exact words were, ‘Of course you are, this is my house.’ I said, ‘I’m only 15’. And she said, ‘It’s my house’.

So I got my glass of wine and I started boozing up again. Jacinda just went off her nut. Now, Helen was drunk that night, in my view. Helen was drunk and she gets to the point when she’s drunk where people just take her away.

I think a number of Jacinda’s colleagues may rue that they were not as cautious around Jevan as she was. Jacinda’s actions look very prudent to me.

Incidentally I am also unconvinced of Helen Clark being drunk, and having to have people take her away. It’s not exactly an image that fits the former Prime Minister.

So overall I find the allegations lacking in credibility in significant areas. Having said that though, I think there are some lessons for Labour in the perils of letting a 14 year old run riot through Parliament and the party. He should have been in school in Christchurch.

As I have said before, I am a big fan of encouraging young people to get involved in politics. But I never encourage school age people to get significantly involved. Your school years should be a time of fun and learning, plus one often lacks the maturity to cope with “adult politics”.

That is not a universal rule. One friend of mine got involved at age 15 or 16 and went on to become a highly valued parliamentary and ministerial staffer. [UPDATE: Said staffer has e-mailed to say they are not highly valued but in fact under paid and over worked :-)]

But I also recall the 1993 election night when I allowed a 14 year old Young National to attend the election night HQ function, as a “results chalkie”. There was of course an open and free bar and I failed to supervise properly with the end result being the poor girl vomiting up in the boardroom, and then collapsing unconscious on the floor as she had never drunk alcohol before. I had to decide whether or not to take her to A&E or home, and had to deliver her still unconscious to her parents, who quite rightly were less than impressed. I visited the next day to check she was fine, and the parents were blaming her more than they were holding me responsible, but in the end I was the one responsible as the adult and still feel some remorse about it to this day.  Similarly, I suspect some Labour MPs are regretting allowing Jevan to spend so much time at Parliament, at functions at Premier House and the like.

Superb Cartoon

January 2nd, 2010 at 4:15 pm by David Farrar

Spot on cartoon by Guy Body in the Herald.

And the honours are …

December 31st, 2009 at 6:00 am by David Farrar

The full honours list is here.

The top honour of membership of the Order of New Zealand goes to Helen Clark. In some ways, it is no surprise, as former PMs David Lange, Mike Moore and Jim Bolger were also made ONZ, and Don McKinnon also is a member for holding high international office.

So it was inevitable Clark would be made a member, but so soon after she left office will leave a sour taste for many. One right wing friend commented:

What the fuck Farrar?  First a UN appointment now this!!!

Next Key will name a star in her fucking honour and have her face on the new flag.

Personally I’m still more upset by Cullen being appointed to an SOE Board while an MP.

We have one new Dame, and five Knights.

Aucklanders will know Dame Lesley Max well.

Professor Sir Mason Durie is one of the most prominent Maori health professionals.

Sir Peter Jackson may not have got the tax breaks he wants for the film industry, but he is now KNZM. He has said this award surpassed winning the Oscars. I suspect he would not have said this, had titles for the top honours not been restored. I am so pleased the Government did restore titles.

Sir Douglas Myers recognition is long overdue.

Justice Sir Bruce Robertson is a former President of the Law Commission and current Court of Appeal judge.

Finally it is honorary but nice to see recognition of the amazingly generous philanthropy of Sir Julian Robertson. Robertson first visited New Zealand in the 1950s to spend a year here writing a novel. He obviously fell in love with it. In May 2009 he announced the donation of $115 million of art to the Auckland Art Gallery – the single largest gift ever in Australasia.

Won’t comment on the entire list, but also worth mentioning former Auditor-General Kevin Brady who is made a CNZM. He was the public service at its finest as he stood up to Parliament and insisted that their funding of various pledge cards and the like was illegal.

Media criticises Clark for lack of openess

October 20th, 2009 at 4:35 pm by David Farrar

There was a fascinating radio interview at 7.40 am on National Radio today. It was from a specialist newspaper that reports on the UN, and complaining about the refusal of Helen Clark to do press conferences, how Clark and Heather Simpson try to handpick journalists for interviews and a general lack of accountability.

You can listen to the interview here.

It sounds like the UN media is less compliant than some of the NZ media has been. Some extracts from the interview with Matthew Lee the founder and editor of the Inner City Press that focuses on the UN:

In the six months she has been in office there have been a number of UNDP issues that have arisen and repeatedly, I would say half a dozen times, myself and other journalist have asked that she comes and do a press conference, an actual Q&A and take questions and it is yet to happen.

He points out she is the third most senior official at the UN, and not a single press conference in six months.

It has become somewhat striking, a total failure to answer questions about the agency as they arise. … Once requests were made for Helen Clark to do a press conference there were a flurry of calls from her two spokespeople at the UNDP to specific media outlets saying do you want a one on one. One of them responded and said Okay here’s the journalist who will do it. But UNDP responded No No we prefer this other journalist who works for you. That’s a degree of micro-management of press coverage that is almost unheard of in the UN.

But very familiar to people back in New Zealand. And many in the media went along with it, or they risked losing access.

If she is the third highest official in the UN, she needs to come and take questions because everyone else does. The Secretary-General does it on a monthly basis, the head of peacekeeping every two weeks.

Almost funny that Helen’s managed to actually lower the standards at the UN!

He also goes on to say how the only briefing anyone in the UNDP has given for some months has been about relief efforts in Samoa and Tonga.

Geoff Robinson: Are you the only journalist, is yours the only organisation raising this as an issue?

Lee: No, No … In July an issue arose about a hiring, a kind of nepotism hiring took place in UNDP. Inner City Press had the exclusive but after that it was covered by the Times of London, Reuters and even newspapers in Italy. All four of these publications wanted answers from UNDP and none of them got them. I sent e-mails to her long time staffer, Heather Simpson, to make sure we got her answer as to why this nepotism scandal was not a problem. There was never any response at all.

Heather’s job is to block media, not facilitate them!

But here is what is really interesting. All the media listen to Morning Report. Yet this quite stunning and significant interview has not been reported anywhere else at all!

Pun of the day

October 19th, 2009 at 11:30 am by David Farrar

In reference to the frequent texts from Helen Clark to her former colleagues, Geoffrey Miller e-mails me the following:

National uses Crosby Textor.

Labour uses Clarky Texter.

Heh, very good.

A speeding Key

October 5th, 2009 at 5:35 am by David Farrar

The Dom Post reports:

Prime Minister John Key was driven at more than twice the legal speed limit across battered Samoan roads so he could have a shower before seeing tsunami damage.

Journalists travelling with the speeding motorcade report fearing for their lives as they careered at more than 100kmh to deliver the prime minister from the airport to the high commission.

The legal speed limit is 40kmh.

John Key’s office has said New Zealand police who were part of the motorcade claim the maximum speed it reached was 64kmh during his visit. The motorcade later slowed after Mr Key’s staff expressed concern at the speed.

“Staff were uncomfortable with the speed, which NZ police inform us reached a maximum of no more than 40 miles per hour,” spokesman Kevin Taylor said. “Samoan authorities were notified of the concern at the end of the first movement, and the speed of the motorcade was reduced in subsequent movements.”

But journalists driving with the motorcade agree it reached speeds of more than 100kmh, with one reporting 120kmh – three times the limit.

What got Clark into trouble wasn’t the speeding per se, but her insistence that she had not even noticed they were driving at 170+ km/hr as she was so engrossed talking to Jim Sutton, and then leaving the police officers out to dry.

I’m pleased to see the staff noticed the speed, and asked for it to slow down. That will or should mean that it does not become as big an issue.

Thought of the Day

September 25th, 2009 at 7:22 am by David Farrar

I might be wrong, but I suspect Helen Clark hated that her first meeting with Barack Obama was having John Key introduce her as his predecessor, after Obama goes out of his way to say hi to Key.

We sometimes forget what a great reputation our country has overseas as a place to live:

Mr Obama had a friend living in New Zealand who had raved about the country praising its golf courses, skiing and lifestyle for families.

If Obama does visit at some stage, he’ll be a lot more popular than he is back home. UMR released a poll yesterday on NZers views of world leaders. The net positive ratings were:

  1. Barack Obama +82% (88% favourable, 6% unfavourable)
  2. Kevin Rudd +45%
  3. Angela Merkel +15%
  4. Nicolas Sarkozy +2%
  5. Gordon Brown -1%
  6. Silvio Berlusconi -16%
  7. Vladimir Putin -19%