Now that is irony

August 17th, 2012 at 8:58 pm by David Farrar

A couple of weeks ago The Listener profile on me included the quote from John Pagani that I tend to have a more reasonable tone than The Standard which can be hard to read as it comes over embittered and angry.

And on Wednesday Josie Pagani facebooked in response to criticism (such as calling her a silly bitch) from some of The Standard people that they were like an anonymous lynch mob. Most of her post is actually attacking National on welfare.

So what do you do if you have been criticised for being a bit angry and embittered and a tendency to lynch people you disagree with?

You dedicate an angry and embittered post to lynching both Paganis, with the charming title “Two little Pagis squeal and squeak“. The post author is of course an anonymous coward who sees nothing wrong with slamming people who have the guts to stand behind what they say and link their reputations to it – but cowers behind a pseudonym.

The charming little thread, even had one regular make not very veiled death threats, using an analogy of an execution for treasons. And remember again this is how they respond to an accusation they are angry and get like a lynch mob. The irony is so overpowering it is staggering.

Now the commenters on a blog do not represent the views of the authors. But this was a post started by an author, purely to heap abuse on the two Paganis.

But do you know what is even more interesting. Do you know the crime that both Paganis are guilty of? They have dared to defend the Leader of the Labour Party David Shearer!

Whale v Pagani

July 1st, 2012 at 4:55 pm by David Farrar

Whale blogs:

Tomorrow I have a special treat for readers.

John Pagani and I will be hosting an hour of morning talkback at NewstalkZB Wellington.

Sean Plunket is away and so we are doing a filler spot for him. It will be no holds barred crossfire from the two of us with talkback.

Unfortunately for Auckland listeners you will have stream it live if you want to listen to me smack up Pagani…again. Wellington listeners can tune in on 89.3FM 1035AM.

Whale and Pagani on air for an hour together should be like sticking a mongoose and a rattlesnake in a small container and watching the mayhem.

Highly recommended listening. They are on from 11 am to 12 noon tomorrow (Monday).

Two more Shearer staffers leave

April 27th, 2012 at 11:22 am by David Farrar

I understand that David Shearer’s Chief Press Secretary, has resigned her job and will be leaving the Labour Leader’s office in the near future.

Also Senior Advisor John Pagani’s contract terminated this week, and he no longer works for David Shearer.

Grant Robertson is almost going to run out of friends to fill these new vacancies 🙂

UPDATE: A reporter has tweeted A Labour media spokesperson says “as far as we’re aware Fran has not resigned”. She’s not answering phone calls.

My understanding is that Mold did resign by e-mail some time ago. This was before Nash left the office. However even after Nash’s departure was confirmed, she told other senior staff that she still intended to leave. Maybe she has been persuaded to change her mind. I have this from a very reliable source. I would suggest media ask specifically about any e-mails that include the word resignation or resign in them.

UPDATE2: A reporter has tweeted Mold denies she has resigned. Again I suggest people ask about whether or not she e-mailed her resignation or at least an offer of resignation in recent times. It is possible she has been persuaded to change her mind for now.

UPDATE3: A commenter has stated:

She resigned and announced it to colleagues some time ago. She has been talking about going off on an OE.

Maybe it has all changed now Nash is out of the way.

The commenter is someone with Labour Party connections, as is my original source. That is two independent people who have said Mold has or had resigned and more so announced it to some of her colleagues. Changing one’s mind (if it has changed) does not negate the fact it was announced originally.

Economic illiteracy

December 24th, 2011 at 7:01 am by David Farrar

John Pagani blogs:

When ministers sit around next year asking if they what policy they can tweak here and there to increase wages and reduce poverty, they should look at increasing the minimum wage and increasing union membership so that wages rise as the economy recovers.

There – fixed, and they didn’t need to spend a dollar in the stretched budget. In fact, people who earn more pay more tax, so it helps the budget.

Pagani has made the same mistake the Greens have made. They seem to think that money prints on trees.

If an increase in the minimum wage pushes wages up for those on the minimum wage by say $800 million, then yes at 12.5% tax that will be an extra $100 million of PAYE tax collected.

However those businesses will have their profits reduced by $400 million (as money does not grow on trees as the left always assumes) and at 28% company tax, that is $224 million less tax. Hence the Government has $124m less tax revenue overall. So rather than help the budget, it actually does the opposite.

Also ironic that Pagani thinks increasing union membership will help the budget. The only budget most of them help is the Labour Party’s. And at least one of them don’t even pay PAYE tax on behalf of their employees – preferring to spend it on political campaigns instead.

Pagani on MMP

December 16th, 2011 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

John Pagani blogs at Stuff:

The biggest change people are talking about is to remove the electorate winners’ bonus that allows a party winning one electorate seat to bring in other MPs. The loophole created the shoddy deals in Epsom and Ohariu by evading the rule that requires a party to get 5 per cent to get into Parliament.

As it happens no MP qualified for Parliament this way. The only List MPs are from parties that exceeded 5% party vote.

And why is it shoddy for National voters to vote for Peter Dunne but quite okay for Green voters to vote for Labour MPs in marginal seats?

The single worst feature of MMP is the quality of party lists and the frequency of MPs getting into Parliament with too little democratic mandate.

Lists must be compiled “democratically” but what does that mean? In practice, the people who put together lists are unaccountable. I’ve been involved in list selection in three different parties – small, medium and large – and I’m convinced that the missing ingredient is public input capable of vetoing backroom deals.

The best model is the Greens’ one, where the party’s high priests emit a draft that goes to members, who can rearrange it. This  resulted in Steffan Browning coming to Parliament this year, when the draft list had him unelectably low.

We need the public to have an opportunity for rearrangement of every party list. I am not a fan of so-called “open lists”, where voters can rearrange the list as they vote – they make  the ballot paper too long.

Why not have independently run primary list elections six months before the election? Individuals could get an independent mandate for their place on the list.

I can’t see open lists working, but requiring a party to let all members vote on the final list is a possibility.

Another improvement MMP needs is an increase in the proportion of electorate seats. We could easily have 85 electorate seats – 15 more than today, and consequently 15 fewer list seats –  without disturbing proportionality. That would give more local MPs, with the small parties still tending to keep their status intact. Eighty-five would leave room for about another five or 10 seats to be created with population growth, without needing to increase the size of the House.

John is wrong here on the numbers. If the House in 2002 had 85 seats (and assuming National and Labour won the same proportion), then Labour would have had a three seat over-hang. Also at 95 seats, Labour would have had a 10 seat over-hang and National a two seat over-hang.

Also the Maori Party has had an over-hang in 2008 and 2011, and an increase in electorate seats would possibly increase their over-hang also.

Ministries are big simply because party leaders need to hand out rewards. Now they’re getting even larger because the prime minister is struggling to cram in all his support partners. This is an abuse that we don’t need.

Repeating a lie told by Trevor doesn’t make it true. The Ministry is the same size as under Helen Clark. And in fact the 2011 Ministry has one fewer Minister from support partners than in 2008.

Ministers ranked below about 9 or 10 in Cabinet are not part of the real Cabinet anyway.

This is basically correct. Any group which has more than 10 or so members will inevitably form an inner circle.

Ten MPs would be enough to run super-portfolios, with another dozen as ministers outside Cabinet. That would help create pressure from new talent knocking at the door, and improve the quality of ministers. Most MPs would never make Cabinet – but voters don’t need them to.

This is basically what I have long proposed.

I would reduce the pay gap between MPs and ministers. If there were no financial penalty for losing their jobs, ministers could be fired and resign on a point of principle more easily. Support parties would see policy gains as more important than salary gains.

A highly attractive feature of MMP is it helps make Parliament more powerful relative to the government. If chairs of select committees were to enjoy as much responsibility and reward as, say, ministers outside Cabinet, then that would be an alternative career path for MPs.

I think this is just stupid. Is John saying Jim Anderton stayed a Minister because of the salary, rather than his ability to contribute?

Pagani on welfare reform

December 7th, 2011 at 9:12 am by David Farrar

John Pagani blogs:

The sections National has agreed to are not especially obnoxious. The sections are mainly about intervention to have someone else manage household budgets or use a payment card when childrens’ needs are not being met.
This isn’t entitlement reform. It isn’t slashing benefits. In order to disagree with them you have to construct an argument about entitlement to a living wage, and somehow also say that parents should be paid by the state to parent even when they’re not doing their job as parent. The consequence of failure is more help rather than punishment….
It’s interesting that National has allowed them to be branded as Act gains, which will provoke an automatic assumption that the gains are hopelessly right wing. But they will be highly popular if the public research into voter attitudes to welfare holds.
I hadn’t had time to check out the detail, so it is interesting that the assumption John refers to is not correct. It will be interesting to see if Labour under its new leadership supports or opposes them.

Pagani on Labour’s Maori Policy

November 15th, 2011 at 9:39 am by David Farrar

The blog post below appeared briefly on John Pagani’s blog last night. It disappeared very quickly and I suspect it was unintentional. You can e-mail posts into Posterous, so an e-mail meant for someone else that you send to your Posterous address will automatically appear on the blog.


johnpagani’s posterous: Mate, you are going to love this – an actual policy

Monday, 14 November 2011

Labour will tackle barriers to Iwi, Hapu, Whanau and Maori progress head-on with a holistic approach to snuffle snooze snore

“In many ways the past three years have been an up-hill battle for Māori,” Parekura Horomia waffled, taking tike only to make sure all Maori problems are fixed by applying that irritating and vaguely North Korean macron to the “a”.

“Institutions such as Te Kōhanga Reo, the Māori wardens, Hauora and the Māori Women’s Welfare League have been systematically undervalued by the National Government.’

“Systematcially undervalued.” Who wouldn’t vote against that two-macron sentence.

“This is on top of an unprecedented increase in the cost of living. With an unemployment rate of 16 per cent Māori Whānau in rural towns and cities are feeling the pinch more than most.

Whanau gets one with a capital W!

“Labour has concrete – fucking concrete man, not just your flimsy fucking balsa wood –  policies on the table that will have tangible benefits for Maori, growing the Māori economy to equip rangatahi with the skills they need to secure a job.

Tangible benefits. Who doesn’t want a tangible benefit?

“Tamariki are the foundation of our whānau and make up a significant chunk of the Māori population at large.’

And a significant chunk of our cliches. Therefore we have to do something. But what?

Too many Māori children are living in homes where people struggle to make ends meet as the cost of living outstrips wages.

“Labour will address this encouraging participation in Positive Parenting programmes, making access to medical care and early childhood education easy and affordable, and expanding support for Te Kōhanga Reo.

“Importantly, Labour will immediately restore $2 million to the Training Incentive Allowance so people on benefits can expand their own and their children’s horizons.

Yay. In the 85th par, an actual policy.

“All New Zealanders agree that we must look after our young people to look after our future.

, so if all nzers agree, is it necessary to mention it? All NZers shit. somethings are best left unsaid.

“Labour has a host – a fucking host maaaan – of policies which target Māori youth to ensure they get the best out of extracurricular activities, are insulated from the risks of drug and alcohol abuse and have opportunities for training, work experience and employment.

Hang on, that’s: Getting the best out of extrafuckmeisthisaword?; 2: insulating from risks associated with things you cannot insulate from the risks of; and opportunities for waffling. Wow. IN one sentence. But where are the macrons?

“Labour is staunch supporter of the Maori economy and will invest more in Maori tourism as well as looking into iwi collaboration with private investors to boost Maori productivity.

“Labour will also develop a mentoring programme to develop better Maori governance and executive strategies which span obligations between community and commerce.

“executive strategies which span obligations between community and commerce.” How are these people not smacking the Maro seats?

“Labour has strong policies to lift the prospects of the Maori nationwide, ”Parekura Horomia said.

What the fuck happened to my macron there?



Māori Affairs Spokesperson


14 November  2011                                                          MEDIA STATEMENT

Labour tackles Maori progress head-on

Labour will tackle barriers to Iwi, Hapu, Whanau and Maori progress head-on with a holistic approach to the cost of living, with policy that puts our kids first, supports rangatahi development, invests in jobs, skills, and grows the Maori economy, says Labour’s Maori Affairs spokesperson Parekura Horomia.

“In many ways the past three years have been an up-hill battle for Māori,” Parekura Horomia said.

“Institutions such as Te Kōhanga Reo, the Māori wardens, Hauora and the Māori Women’s Welfare League have been systematically undervalued by the National Government.

“This is on top of an unprecedented increase in the cost of living. With an unemployment rate of 16 per cent Māori Whānau in rural towns and cities are feeling the pinch more than most.

“Labour has concrete policies on the table that will have tangible benefits for Maori, growing the Māori economy to equip rangatahi with the skills they need to secure a job.

“Tamariki are the foundation of our whānau and make up a significant chunk of the Māori population at large. Too many Māori children are living in homes where people struggle to make ends meet as the cost of living outstrips wages.

“Labour will address this encouraging participation in Positive Parenting programmes, making access to medical care and early childhood education easy and affordable, and expanding support for Te Kōhanga Reo.

“Importantly, Labour will immediately restore $2 million to the Training Incentive Allowance so people on benefits can expand their own and their children’s horizons.

“All New Zealanders agree that we must look after our young people to look after our future.

“Labour has a host of policies which target Māori youth to ensure they get the best out of extracurricular activities, are insulated from the risks of drug and alcohol abuse and have opportunities for training, work experience and employment.

“Labour is staunch supporter of the Maori economy and will invest more in Maori tourism as well as looking into iwi collaboration with private investors to boost Maori productivity.

“Labour will also develop a mentoring programme to develop better Maori governance and executive strategies which span obligations between community and commerce.

“Labour has strong policies to lift the prospects of the Maori nationwide, ”Parekura Horomia said.

Contact:  Parekura Horomia xxx xxx Authorised by Parekura Horomia MP, Parliament Buildings, Wellington

Vikki Carter

Press Secretary

Office of Hon Phil Goff 

xxxx | |

Maori_Devleopment_policy.pdf Download this file


JOHN PAGANI  |  021 570 872

I think this may be John’s best blog post ever, albeit unintentional. He skewers Labour’s waffle posing as policy, expertly.

The Press debate

November 3rd, 2011 at 8:34 am by David Farrar

I didn’t watch it, but saw John Pagani tweet:

Huge win for Goff tonight at the Press debate. One sided – he absolutely smashed it.

Sadly for John, he seems to be a minority of one. Fairfax’s Vernon Small who actually attended the debate wrote:

Who won?

On first and final impressions from someone typing madly in the front row?

Key had the audience eating out of his hand – a showman in top form.

A clear victory for the PM.

I presume Trevor Mallard won’t attack Vernon as a tool of the vast right wing conspiracy.

John Hartevelt tweeted:

A clear win to Key tonight. Proud that The Press hosted such a great debate.

Many people said the format was much better.

ZB’s Felix Marwick:

Calling tonight’s debate for Key. Goff undercut himself by not definitively answering the $ question

And the Herald’s Claire Trevett:

What a jolly Press debate that was. Both entertaining – Goff stood ground till Key Jerry McGuired him, good and hard.

I am deeply disturbed by Claire’s choice of metaphor.

Vernon Small goes further today:

If the first TVNZ debate was a narrow-points victory to Phil Goff, last night’s Press debate was not far short of a rout by John Key.

The next time John Pagani calls something a huge crushing win for Goff or Labour, I’m going to buy National win shares on iPredict!

Funnily enough when judging a debate, I tend to be harder on those whose arguments I agree with. The reason why is because I know thee arguments so well for “the right”, that I’m always thinking (or yelling at the screen) “You should have said this …..”

UPDATE: Danyl at Dim-Post notes:

Goff couldn’t respond. He couldn’t account for the $14 billion shortfall. Instead he prevaricated. He talked about asset sales. He talked about tax evasion. Key continued to press him, and Goff insisted we’d get a spreadsheet ‘soon’, which explained everything. Then he spent the final quarter of the debate insisting that he’d already explained where the money was coming from, while Key and the audience simply laughed at him.

It was a humiliating defeat. And totally unnecessary. Three-and-a-half weeks from the election and Labour’s leader can’t produce a credible budget.

I suspect we will see Labour’s costed budget later today or tomorrow. I also predict it will miraculously balance and show no extra borrowing needed. What will matter is whether Labour’s figures hold up to scrutny. Anyone can make a budget balance by just fiddling with assumptions, such as saying “Our policies are good for the economy, so we predict economic growth will be 05% higher which means this much more tax revenue”.

Pagani on National Standards

October 18th, 2011 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

A refreshing blog from John Pagani:

Principals say they say they can’t give us objective measurements of how our kids are doing in relation to his or her peers.

I don’t believe them. No one believes them. Principals themselves don’t believe it.

What’s really going on is they believe it’s not desirable. And parents think principals are wrong.

Parents know that by a certain age their kids should be able to do some things.

No parent is saying ‘mark my child as a failure.’ We know every kid is different. But we cannot know if they have talents or if they need help unless we know whether they are making as much progress as other children.

Exactly. I just wish Labour had the same view as John Pagani on this.

I’m glad we’ve moved on from the days of ‘this child didn’t make it so that’s the end of that’. But what we want teachers to tell us now is: ‘it’s ok, this child is doing about the same as all the others’; Or, ‘a bit better than  I would expect for her age’; Or, ‘he needs help to catch up, and this is what we are going to do.’ 
And many parents are frustrated those clear statements are so damn hard to get.

Instead, principals hit us with glibness like this: “You can’t write a novel with 3 letters.” Excuse me. I know you can’t. But I don’t want you to write a novel with 3 letters. I want you to tell me in clear language whether my kid is doing about as well he or she should be doing for his or her age.

One can communicate whether or not a child is achieving at the minimum level expected for that age group, without labelling them a failure.

It drives parents nuts to hear teachers say ‘it’s hard to tell you when kids have grasped something’, or ‘you can’t say a child should have learned a skill by the age of 8.’ If most children have learned something and ours hasn’t – we really want to know that. And when you won’t tell us, we think that’s about your discomfort with accountability.

And it’s even worse to tell us, “Underachievement is so closely related to poverty and unemployment and other issues beyond the school environment.” So what? Even an unemployed or impoverished parent wants to know how their kid is doing. It is arrogant and nasty for principals to make excuses before they even give the kids a chance.

I’m not a teacher basher. If I didn’t think we were lucky to have so many talented and professional staff who do so much, I wouldn’t want to trust my kids’ education to them. This debate is held back by people who sneer at teacher unions and repeat crocked ideas imported from countries behind us in educational achievement.

I sneer at teacher unions, but not teachers. And there is a big difference. I actually want the good teachers and principals paid much more and given the ability to manage their schools more fully.

In the comments, one person said:

I am a former secondary teacher. Kids are measured at Y11 onwards through NCEA. Why wait until then to find out they are struggling. Kids already know where they fit into the class structure so why try fooling them. The sooner weaknesses are identified, sooner they can be corrected.

I have found over recent months that many secondary teachers are very supportive of national standards. The reason is that so many kids and parents never realise they are struggling or not achieving at a high enough level until they get to secondary school, by which time it is almost too late. So this puts huge stress on the secondary teachers and worse parents blame them, because they say that they never got told Johnny wasn’t doing okay at primary school, so if he now isn’t doing okay at secondary school, it must be that school’s fault.

Comparing migration to Australia

October 3rd, 2011 at 7:04 am by David Farrar

I could write this in my Stuff blog, but I’m going to write about Winston instead for them. So I’ll do a little fisking of this graph published by John Pagani in his blog (and originally from The Standard he says).

First of all John uses gross migration to Australia. Most people would say that the more useful figure is net migration, taking into account those Kiwis who move back to New Zealand.

Secondly it almost makes it look like no-one left to Australia before that nasty John Key took power. But let’s add on the three years prior to that, using the quarterly net migration stats from Stats NZ.

Now don’t get me wrong. I am not saying that things are good, just because they are not as bad as the three years previously. I think the level of migration remains a big concern, and that the Government needs to undertake more extensive economic reform to lift productivity and hence wages.


September 23rd, 2011 at 4:50 pm by David Farrar

John Pagani blogs with a photo of a hoarding in Manawatu for the National Party candidate for Rangitikei.

The problem is the under the bylaws of the Manawatu District Council, no hoardings are allowed until two months before the election which is Sunday/Monday.

Now by itself that may not be the biggest issue around, as a few candidates have gone early (which they shouldn’t). But what makes this one very stupid is the National candidate is also the Mayor of the Manawatu District Council.

Someone should be getting their arse kicked for what is a very bad look of hypocrisy.

Labour announces policy for traffic delays

July 30th, 2011 at 9:58 am by David Farrar

Shane Jones says:

Labour’s Transport spokesman Shane Jones says a future Labour government is committed to 100 per cent funding of a two-lane link road on the Kapiti Coast instead of National’s planned four-lane expressway.

Shane Jones made the announcement at a meeting in Waikanae last night.

“Transport Minister Steven Joyce ditched the long-planned link road when he announced a four-lane raised expressway about 18 months ago, roughly along the same route,” Shane Jones said.

“But the link road is what people want. It’s far cheaper, which is important when cash is strapped, will have far less environmental impact on the district than the four-lane expressway, and will do the job that’s needed of reducing congestion.”

No, it won’t. Two lane roads are terrible for congestion, as all traffic slows down to the slowest vehicle.

After decades of dithering, Steven Joyce announced a plan for four lanes from the airport to Levin. This is exactly what the Wellington Region had been calling out for. We’ve alll had the multiple congestion delays on Sunday afternoons etc.

However a road is only as fast as its slowest point. Under Labour you would have four lanes everywhere but Kapiti, which means when it is busy the entire corridor will slow down to the slowest car on the road.

John Pagani notes on election results:

Before the transport agency decided on its particular route, it put out options that seemed to threaten most homes in the region. Colmar Brunton did a survey (pdf) and a route was selected that was the most popular in that survey.

49 per cent supported it.

Opponents of the motorway have argued the poll was flawed because it didn’t offer a ‘no expressway’  option.

Since about 15 per cent of respondents selected ‘no need for expressway’ or some variation such as ‘upgrade existing SH1’, I’m not sure how people arrive at this claim, but it is what they say.

Yesterday, Labour came out with a policy – the one supported by 7 per cent in the poll.

If opposition to the expressway was as strong as opponents say, then you would expect Labour would have picked up support in Otaki.

Interestingly iPredict stocks in Otaki haven’t moved at all.

Labour are just pandering to a vocal but minority pressure group. This isn’t unusual, but in this case they are prepared to screw over all the Wellingtonians who drive to Kapiti or beyond.

John does not understand

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

John Pagani blogs:

Give me a break.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Meanwhile NewstalkZB report:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Funniest column of all time

June 13th, 2011 at 12:34 pm by David Farrar

You just have to read John Pagani’s column on dirty tricks, and how virginal and pure Labour are, and how they don’t do that stuff. The sentence that actually had me collapse into laughter was this one:

There’s no point complaining about it – Labour could play dirty pool if they wanted to. They think they don’t have to because their ideas are good enough to win them elections.

I’d almost think it was satire.

Pagani on MMP

June 11th, 2011 at 11:53 am by David Farrar

John Pagani writes at Stuff:

First Past the Post was awful, but MMP’s flaws have been worse than I hoped.

Party lists have mostly been rubbish, especially in the big parties.

Anonymous party officials have too much say and their party list choice are inadequately transparent even to members of their own parties.

I agree with John’s concerns over transparency of list ranking in the major parties. But I disagree that the party lists have been mainly rubbish. In National they have given us Katherine Rich, Chris Finlayson, Don Brash, Hekia Parata, Tim Groser, Steven Joyce etc.

There are too many MPs who can’t win a marginal seat but cling on through the list because of their special skill at palace politics.

This is what NZers really don’t like – defeated electorate MPs coming back on the list.

Parliament is more diverse if you keep a score of ethnicity, gender and other outward characters; I’m not sure thinking within parties is more diverse. Having fresh or unconventional ideas is a good way to get bounced down the list.

When there are more locally elected representatives, there are more MPs who have room to speak and act independently. A little courageous independent thinking is a good thing.

This is very true. Electorate MPs can take a more independent line. A List MP trying to do so will have a short future.

I like the idea that MPs should have to persuade a group of voters to get elected. One way to rehabilitate MMP would be to increase the number of electorate MPs, to around 90 or 95 out of 120.

It’s a nice idea but it would break the proportionality of MMP. If there were 95 electorate seats, in 1996 Labour would have a one seat overhang and in 1999 Labour would have had a nine seat overhang. In 2002 Labour would have a 10 seat overhang.

The other thing we need to do is get rid of the messy two-ticks business. By the time of the 2015 election more people will have only ever voted under MMP than voted under First Past the Post. Yet unacceptably high numbers of people still don’t understand how the two ticks work.

Separate votes for electorate and party votes invite cynicism and manipulation. Voters in Epsom should decide whether they want to vote for National, or vote for John Banks and in doing so help to bring in other ACT MPs. We should not have parties trying to figure out whether to stand, and instructing their own supporters to vote for another party. That’s a circus.

I disagree. I like the fact that you can split your vote and give your party the party vote, but vote for the best local MP regardless of party.

People who despise democracy are planning a big campaign against MMP later this year. They want to return to the days when governments could break promises with impunity. They want to buy government instead of winning it by winning a battle of ideas.

Remember what I said in my last blog post on this topic? The attacking of motives rather than debating the issues?

Also I would contend that while MMP has had many benefits, one of its weaknesses is in fact that it is easier for parties to break promises under MMP. If you form a majority single party Government then there is no excuse for not implementing your manifesto. If however you have to do a deal with other parties to forrm a Government, then it is inevitable that you must compromise on your manifesto.

If I had confidence MMP would be truly reformed I would vote for it. I’m weighing the alternative. If it’s just worse versions of party lists, I’ll give the alternatives a miss. If MMP’s advocates are too opposed to reform, I’ll pick another system. What I won’t be picking is the status quo.

There are reforms you can make to MMP to make it better. But there are also some thing you can’t change about MMP without breaking it – such as having a higher proportion of electorate MPs.

The new CERA chief

May 12th, 2011 at 3:06 pm by David Farrar

I was going to blog on what a good appointment this is, but I can’t do better than what John Pagani has said:

Gerry Brownlee has made an outstanding appointment by getting Orion’s Roger Sutton to take over CERA.

 He’s a hero in Christchurch. Straight up guy.

Well done Gerry on the appointment and kudos to Mr Sutton for taking on such a crucial task.

Pagani on should Labour stand?

May 4th, 2011 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

John Pagani looks at whether Labour should stand in the by-election. One of his reasons againgst is:

Even if Labour wins, we just get a re-run of the unhelpful list issues that followed Darren Hughes’ resignation. Kelvin Davis would have to be the candidate. He is absolutely top drawer as a candidate and MP and he will walk all over Hone. He speaks directly to Maori aspiration for better opportunity for their kids. So Mana won;t be able to attack Kelvin. Instead, opponents will run a ‘vote Kelvin get Mahara, or Dave Hereora, or even Lesley Soper’ line. They’re all nice people, but they don’t have a constituency in Te Tai Tokerau. 

There is a simple solution to this issue – not fill the list vacancy if Kelvin Davis wins the by-election. Under s136 of the Electoral Act the House by 75% majority can resolve not to fill the list vacancy as it is within six months of the election. I doubt anyone would disagree that it would be silly to bring someone in on the list for less than 20 sitting days.

Another option would be that Kelvin Davis simply doesn’t resign as a List MP. He wouldn’t get two salaries or two votes, but it would mean no list vacancy is triggered.

Balanced against all that though is a pretty big consideration: Labour would probably win, and in doing so it would knock Mana out of politics.

Labour and the Greens can’t afford to bleed a lazy one or two per cent to Mana, and both have an interest in minimising endless attacks from the tiny, but voluble, left. Taking out Mana in the by-election fixes an irritant.

Second, campaigns lift  morale and therefore increase the total contributions the party can call on. 

Managed the right way, total campaign energy is not a limited resource to be carefully apportioned between campaigns; If you do well in one hard fought campaign, then you inspire more enthusiasm. More people turn out everywhere to help. Enthusiasm is not a given, but in well-run campaigns this always happens. After all, fighting election campaigns is what political parties do. 

 So if Labour backs itself to do a good organisational job, then the campaign could be  worthwhile despite the potential cost.

Despite that, though, I think they’ll decide it’s best to stick to the main game.
Kelvin Davis is one of Labour’s future stars, and as Pagani says could do very well in the by-election. And if they don’t knock Mana out, then they face having John Minto sitting as an MP on their side of the house.

Pagani on Labour

April 19th, 2011 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Vernon Small at Stuff reports:

A former adviser to Labour leader Phil Goff believes the party should endorse more of what the Government is doing rather than attack more savagely if it wants to improve its popularity.

John Pagani said in a blog yesterday that voters were not desperate for a leap to the Left. “They’re waiting for Labour to demonstrate it genuinely understands their needs – and that means endorsing more of what National is doing – the things the voting public approves of. Insisting the public is wrong is a recipe for even more disaster.”

John’s actual blog post is here. One extract:

It simply beggars belief to say that the right response to that situation is to start flying into the most popular things National is doing. 
Take those calls by Labour’s critics on the left that Labour should  tell thousands of people in Christchurch, who are using buckets for their ablutions – that politicking over the CERA law is more important than actually getting things fixed for them as fast as possible.
Insisting the public is wrong is a recipe for even more disaster. Attacking constructive things the government is doing is exactly the wrong option. 

He is not saying support the Government when they are wrong. I read it as saying support the Government when they are right.

Pagani clarifies in a later post:

 No, Labour should not endorse National Policy and promote no substantial policy of its own.

That is not what Labour should do, nor is it what they are doing.
What in practice are the examples Dimpost and his commenters give as examples of where Labour should oppose harder? CERA and the copyright laws. Yeah. Go to Christchurch and explain that logic to people who can’t go to the toilet in a proper flushing loo.
The real action is on the cost of living. On asset sales. On the butchery National is making of skills and pre-school education. On big and bold ideas to change our long term economic development, and create a more equal New Zealand.
Labour needs to go to the election with hugely different policies on all those areas. 
The problem for John is statements like this from Goff. NewstalkZB reports:

Labour leader Phil Goff says reinsurance is a massive problem following the Christchurch earthquakes, but he’s not sure what to do about it The insurance industry is warning local councils they won’t be able to get any reinsurance to cover natural disasters until the 30th June.

The Christchurch quake has sucked them dry.

That means the Government is being asked to provide cover.

Mr Goff is not sure the Government should step in with an open cheque book.

“Clearly having a two month period where you don’t have reinsurance for disaster is a huge risk and we’d need to see if that is in any way avoidable,” he says

This is why only 15% of people are saying Labour can not win. Why did he even comment if he had nothing to say?

Phil’s Propaganda Pagani

August 27th, 2009 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

The Dom Post reports:

Labour leader Phil Goff’s defeated choice for party general secretary has been parachuted into a top job in his parliamentary office.

John Pagani, a long-time adviser to Progressive leader Jim Anderton, will start work as one of four “directors” in Labour’s leadership team next week.

Mr Goff said he would be focusing on non-media communications. “John has skills that will be very useful for Labour in opposition and I am looking forward to having him in the office as communications director.”

Heh I always use to refer to the communications job as Director of Propaganda. They would never let me get business cards that said it though.

I suspect John’s role will go beyond communications, and he will have considerable input into both strategy and tactics. I expect to see Goff start to take a few more risks – some of which may pay off.

He will work with chief press secretary Gordon Jon Thompson, policy director Marcus Ganley and office director Murray Wansbrough.

Seeing I have profiled Pagani a bit, I should cover the other senior staffers. Policy Director Marcus Ganley is a lifetime Labour supporter. In his own words:

I have been a Labour support my whole life. I remember feeling devastated as a 6 year old when Bill Rowling’s Labour lost the 1981 election.

I wonder if his fellow six year olds were equally emotional about the 1981 election results?

Ganley worked for Michael Cullen up until the election and then was employed by Chen Palmer in December 2008. Not sure when he moved to Goff’s office. He has a strong background in political science and law – which is pretty sensible for a policy role.

Murray Wansbrough in 2004 worked for Infrastructure maintenance company, Transfield Services. It looks like he was private secretary to Goff as a Minister. Interestingly he was a leading figure in, and a Director of, the controversial Mike Moore Supporters Club in the early 1990s.

Gordon Jon Thompson was previously one of Helen Clark’s press secretaries. He also worked for David Parker before that.

He is a former Waikato Times and Dominion Post reporter and is the brother of Fairfax group executive editor Paul Thompson.

There doesn’t appear to be a chief of staff. This may prove to be a mistake. Having worked in an Opposition Leader’s Office with, and without, a Chief of Staff, my experience is that things work much better if there is one.

Flatt beats Pagani

August 22nd, 2009 at 2:07 pm by David Farrar

The Dom Post reports:

Labour has chosen unionist Chris Flatt as its new general secretary in a move seen as a win for the party and its union wing over the parliamentary leadership. …

The other front runner was Progressive leader Jim Anderton’s long-time adviser John Pagani, who it is understood was favoured by Labour leader Phil Goff.

WIth no disrespect to Chris Flatt, I’m somewhat relieved. Pagani is a cunning sod who could have been quite dangerous in the role.

The appointment also reflects the student association backgrounds of both the Labour President and General Secretary.

Andrew Little was VUWSA President and NZUSA President in the late 1980s and Chris Flatt was involved in Waikato Students Union in the late 1990s.

He was on the WSU Executive in 1995 and 1996 and stood for WSU President in 1997 on a pro compulsory membership platform, He lost to a Student Choice candidate. I think he was also a Labour Youth President in 1997.

Anyway congratulaions to Platt on gaining the job at the young age of 36.

Are the Progressives defunct?

May 31st, 2009 at 11:35 am by David Farrar

Whale Oil has called time of death on the Progressives. I think he is right. Why:

  1. Long-term Anderton/Progressive strategist John Pagani is Labour’s Mt Albert Campaign Manager, as confirmed on Q&A this morning
  2. Progressive Deputy Leader is pictured on Labour’s Mt Albert’s campaign website with a Labour rosette
  3. Anderton is effectively a Labour MP, as they have made him their Spokesperson on Agriculture.

Should Anderton still be treated as a party leader? His salary is set at $144,500 instead of $131,000 due to this status.

What other perks does Anderton get by being a party leader?

  1. Ability to have the taxpayer pay for his spouse to accompany him on overseas parliamentary travel
  2. An extra $100,000 of taxpayer funding ($164,320 instead of $64,320

One can argue that as the Progressive Party is not contesting the by-election, it is natural for them to support Labour. Having the Deputy Leader of one party wearing a rosette for anotehr is unprecedented.

Put it like this. If ACT did not contest a by-election, would you ever see the ACT Deputy Leader wearing a National rosette out campaigning for the National candidate? Of course not.