The Nation this weekend

June 10th, 2011 at 4:51 pm by David Farrar

The Nation’s lineup:

We will profile John Key then Sean Plunket will be live with the PM for half an hour — the interview will focus on John Key the person, what drives him, what his deep down beliefs are and what sort of legacy he wants to leave behind him.

Also: The lighter side of politics with retiring Civil Defence Minister and long time party whip and after dinner wit, JOHN CARTER.

The Key interview could be very interesting, and the Carter one likely to be hilarious.

John Carter’s Valedictory

June 10th, 2011 at 12:15 pm by David Farrar

Northland MP John Carter gave his valedictory speech to Parliament on Tuesday. John is one of the funniest guys you will ever meet, but also one of the most hard working MPs around. His advocacy for his constituents is legendary, and this is why he has such huge majorities in an area which is economically quite poor.

Parliament won’t quite be the same without John there. But as he said in his valedictory speech:

Here I am, giving my valedictory. If I had known it would be this good I would have done it years ago! I must say people have been kind enough to say they are sad to see me going. I am sorry they are sad; I am as happy as all hell.

It’s great to see an MP leave with no regrets or rancour.

I cannot help but mention the “Hone” affair. This is the real “Hone” from the far north, by the way, folks. The only thing I want to say in that regard is that it made things rather difficult for me, because the Prime Minister, who had been waiting 10 years to meet the President of the United States, happened to be in the United States meeting the President at the time the “Hone” affair occurred. I think otherwise I might have got away with just a good boot in the proverbial. Unfortunately, what happened was the Prime Minister, who had had his photo taken shaking hands with the President, appeared on page 8 of the New York Times andI appeared on page 1. It seriously pissed him off, I can tell you.

Oh it did indeed. He was absolutely ropable.

So I got stuck into the Labour Party in Opposition and talked about all the cunning things those members were doing. I said we were not going to put up with these cunning things and we would not have cunning stunts like this happening. It went on and on. I kept saying it, and I know that Gerry, who was sitting there, was waiting for me to bugger it up, and so was everyone else, funnily enough, even people in the gallery. I carried on about cunning stunts until I slipped up. Eric Roy was in the chair. He fell over in collapse. Ailsa Salt, who was a dear, dear lady and a very prim and proper lady, just about fell out of her chair. Gerry Brownlee collapsed in his seat. Trevor Mallard, who was sitting on the other side, got redder and redder and sort of fell back; I saw tears flooding down. Annette King, who was sitting there, said “I resemble that remark.” and slid under the chair. The worst part was that I had to keep talking while the whole place around me was bloody hosing themselves laughing.

I was watching Parliament when that happened. It was even worse than John described. The entire house was in tears of laughter and I’d say it took at least two minutes until people stopped laughing.

The thing that disappointed me was that I had thought I would be the first person ever to have that word recorded in Hansard—the Speaker could not pull me up, because he was laughing—but when I got it I saw it had been written as “cunning tricks”.

I checked that myself also. Sadly the c word is not to be found in the hallowed pages of Hansard.

I raise that story for a reason. There is a serious issue that we all need to consider, and it is this: we need to have humour. We need to be serious. Obviously, we need to debate issues—this place is important to the country—but we also need to be able to share humour. I have to say that I am more and more concerned—indeed, I am pleased I am retiring—that the scrutiny we are coming under, particularly from the media, who are trying to sanitise us and turn us into saints, is ridiculous. We need to have members who are real, who can laugh at themselves, share things about themselves, and be real people. If we do not, how else can we represent the people in this country who are real? I ask the people who are prone to criticise us to let us have some space and let us be real people. Occasionally, we will make mistakes, but let us be real, because that is what New Zealand is.

I could not agree more. The last thing we need is 120 plastic fantastics who never say anything in case they offend someone.

I will start with racing, which has been seriously frustrating, to say the least. I just want to say that the people in the racing fraternity are a wonderful group of people, but, sadly, until they realise that the changes that need to be made to the racing industry have to come from within, it will not succeed. We need to get more focus from within. Craig, I say to you good luck my friend. Every racing Minister—with one exception—has not been well liked. I also thank Michael Stiassny, who has done the best job he can in trying circumstances to get the changes that are needed. But if the racing industry does not change, in my view it is doomed.

That is a shot across the bows.

I also want to comment on local government. I am particularly proud of the part I played in the Auckland reforms. We made an amazing change, working with the likes of Mark Ford and Brendan Boyle and so many others from the Department of Internal Affairs and local government offices. What a wonderful team we had. But, in particular, I commend Rodney Hide for the leadership he gave and for the way in which he brought together that team to put together the Auckland reforms, which are now such a success. I know there may be one or two who do not agree, but in the main it was an outstanding achievement. Rodney, thank you for your friendship and thank you for your leadership. It is a real credit to you and to those who were able to work with you in that role. Thank you very much.

Very classy.

Finally, there was the civil defence portfolio. I have to say that of all the portfolios it became rather challenging, given that I was told by John Hamilton when I started that the portfolio would not take too much time and that I would not have to put too much focus on it.


I am proud to have been the longest-serving member of Parliament for the Northland electorate. Mr Speaker, I am conscious of the fact that you have served in this Parliament longer than I have, but as far as the electorate goes, I have been the longest-serving member. One of the things I am proud of is that, with the exception of 1993, with every election the majority has increased. I am really proud of that fact. It is something I am very proud of.

John won Bay of Islands in 1987 and 1990.Then the Far North in 1993, and Northland since. His majorities were:

  • 1996 – 5,961
  • 1999 – 5,454
  • 2002 – 7,558
  • 2005 – 9,275
  • 2008 – 10,054

Growing the majority in 2002 was especially impressive.

I will finish with this little ditty that someone sent to me. I thought it was worth reading it out, and it goes like this:

He walks, his head beneath the clouds
He strides across the North
He helps the people far and wide
He is the people’s man.


There was a nice function afterwards also, with great speeches from Maurice Williamson and others. My highlight was having the PM note that John was the first Minister who had resigned who wrote his own resignation letter!

I won’t say that I hope John enjoys the Cook Islands, because I know he will. Farewell for now, mate.

Foss made Minister

June 7th, 2011 at 1:43 pm by David Farrar

Congrats to Craig Foss, who has been appointed Minister of civil defence, racing and senior citizens plus associate minister of local government and commerce.

Craig replaces John Carter who will be resigning in the next few weeks from Parliament to become High Commissioner to the Cook Islands.

Carter to Cooks

February 13th, 2011 at 8:54 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

A senior National MP has been confirmed as the next High Commissioner to the Cook Islands.

Foreign Minister Murray McCully announced today Civil Defence Minister John Carter would take up the post in August.

This will leave his Northland seat vacant but the Government can avoid a by-election if the seat becomes vacant within six months of the election date.

75% of Parliament has to agree, but I am sure they will.

John Carter had massive popularity in Northland. It is one of the poorest areas of New Zealand, but he has always had huge majorities. The reason is because he is probably the hardest working constituent MP of this generation.

I recall one giving John a lift up to Palmie. He spent the entire time on his cellphone calling back constituents to give them updates on the issues they had raised with him.

If John brings the same vigour to his job as High Commissioner to the Cooks, I suspect he will be just as popular over there as he is in Northland.

The battle for Northland

December 13th, 2010 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

John Carter’s retirement at the 2011 election, means his prized Northland seat is up for grabs, and with a 10,000+ majoirty in the electorate vote and 9,000+ in the party vote, you would expect a lot of interest in the National nomination.

And so it is. My spies report that even though nominations will not open until the 11th of March next year, there are already 12 known candidates. Three of them have publicly declared – Mike Sabin, Grant McCallum and Mark Tan. Six other men, and three women are also known to be intending to stand. By March, the numbers may hit 15 or even 20.

Northland has the highest membership of any electorate for National – around 1,800 people, and with a contested selection could rise to over 3,000. All 12 prospective candidates live in the electorate.

The likely date for the selection is on the 30th of April. Prior to that the pre-selection committee will have what could be a very tough job of whittling the field down to five candidates.

Mike Sabin is a former Police Detective and now a expert on Methamphetamine and drug policy.

Grant McCallum is a farmer and long-serving activist and officer for National – he is currently on the Board of Directiors, which indicates considerable grass-roots support.

Mark Tan is a local teacher who has impressed a few people as a “dark horse” to watch.

It will be a very interesting race to watch. The winner is likely to have a long parliamentary career. They will also have almost impossibly large boots to fill as a local MP.

John Carter announces retirement

November 8th, 2010 at 6:26 pm by David Farrar

NZPA report:

National’s Northland MP John Carter has announced he won’t stand for re-election at next year’s general election.

“This is my eighth term as MP for Northland, the region where I was born and bred,” he said today.

“I believe I have represented Northland well for 23 years…the time has come for me to move on in my life, thus giving an opportunity for new representation in Northland.”

There are few MPs I like as much as John Carter. He is a great guy, and an absolute model of an effective constituency MP. I once drove him to Palmerston North and he spent pretty much the entire trip on his cellphone ringing agencies and the like on behalf of various constituents. Northland is not the most natural seat for National, but John’s popularity turned it into a very safe seat

Who will be Speaker?

November 15th, 2008 at 11:27 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports four contenders for Speaker. They are:

  1. Lockwood Smith
  2. John Carter
  3. Eric Roy
  4. Richard Worth

They each have their own claims for the job. Lockwood is National’s longest serving MP. John Carter has been a Whip for many years, knowing Standing Orders well. Eric Roy was a very popular Assistant Speaker and Richard Worth would being a first class legal talent to the role.

This may dismay some, but I think Michael Cullen would also be a damn good Speaker. But I think his latest game playing over Treasury accounts has killed off any chance that he could be seen to make the transition from partisan player to referee.

As for the four candidates, it will presumably go to a National Caucus decision and then the preferred candidate checked with coalition partners.

But wouldn’t it be nice if it was left to the House as a whole to decide? If all parties would agree not to apply the whip and allow a free vote, then they could have a preferential ballot as allowed for in Standing Order 19. It would be fascinating to see all MPs vote from their seats.

I presume two of the unsucessful candidates will probably become Assistant Speakers and that Labour’s Ross Robertson will be Deputy Speaker.

UPDATE: Mallard is against Lockwood being Speaker. That probably helps Lockwood immensely.

The Electorate Battles

November 12th, 2008 at 8:58 am by David Farrar

Over today (and maybe beyond) I’m going to review the 70 electorate battles. Helping me in this will be the nice graphics above done by the NZ Herald.


On the party vote National was up around 6% and Labour down 5%. The majority for Carter of around 9,500 is unchanged despite Shane Jones being the candidate. A party vote of over 50% for National is quite exceptional for what is a relatively low income area. Of course some peopel going on the Te Tai Tokerau roll makes the comparison not so simple.


NZ First once almost won this seat, but Heatley has made it his own. The party vote for National hit 50% in a first – up 7% and Labour dropped 8%. Heatley’s 9,000 majority has expanded to 13,600 making it one of the safest in the country now.


Not too many small handed voters here as Lockwood’s majority climbs from under 10,000 to 14,400. The party vote National goes from 52% to 59% and Labour falls from 28% to 21%.


John lifted this party vote from 55% to 65%, and Labour fell from 28% to 18%. And his personal majority went from 12,500 to a stunning 18,500 – the largest in the country I think.

Overall the four seats north of Auckland averaged 56% party vote for National, making it one of the strongest regions in the country for them, if not the strongest.

MPs and traffic

June 12th, 2008 at 6:32 am by David Farrar

The NZ Herald has a story alleging Far North MP John Carter swore at a traffic cop when the officer alleged (incorrectly) his car was unregistered.

It’s not a big story, and John has said his behaviour was inappropriate, which he regrets.

Both MPs (and candidates) have to be angels when it comes to on road behaviour. I recall a few years ago an MP telling me regretfully that the thing he misses most about, is that he can’t give an idiot the fingers if they cut in front of them dangerously!

Nandor blogs from the IPU

April 22nd, 2008 at 9:50 am by David Farrar

Nandor blogs from the IPU (International Parliamentary Union) meeting in Cape Town. He has some interesting observations on Zimbabwe and whether South Africa will step in if Mugabe starts massacring opponents. The IPU has also got involved:

The IPU did put out a strong statement last week. As well as being instrumental in putting it on the agenda, the NZ delegation also played a key role in getting the wording strengthened. John Carter and I worked together on amendments to the drafts, and I was impressed with what he got the drafting committee to support.

Well done John and Nandor. But who else is there:

Pressure also neeeds to be put on China to not sell arms under the circumstances. Zimbabwe is totally skint, so they can’t even pay their current bills. Any credit advanced for arms is even more unethical than normal. I had intended to mention it during the plenary debate. NZ had 8 minutes, split between Dover Samuels and me, but Dover spoke first and used up the whole allocation, so I had no opportunity to speak.

(I wouldn’t have minded so much if he hadn’t spent the whole time saying what a waste of time the IPU is before swanning off on a sight seeing tour with the delegates’ spouses!)

Oh dear.