Dotcom issues

January 22nd, 2014 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Josie Pagani blogs at Pundit:

If the FBI case is weak, that begs the question, why are the New Zealand Police continuing to pursue it?

Because it is not their role to decide if a case is weak. If a valid extradition request is received, the NZ Police are obliged to act on it, just as we expect the FBI to respond to extradition requests from NZ.

Whether a request results in extradition will be effectively decided by a New Zealand Judge (and rubber stamped by the Minister of Justice). It is a legal decision, not a political decision.

The NZ Judge does not decide if someone is guilty or not, just that the charges laid are ones that would also be crimes in NZ, and that there is a prima facie case to answer.

So the fate of Dotcom in a legal sense is a decision for Judges, not politicians. First a NZ Judge has to decide if he can be extradited, and then a US Judge (and possibly jury) will decide if he is guilty of the offences he has been charged with.

As I have said in the past, he may have run Megaupload in such a way that it stayed within the law. Again that is a decision for a judge (or jury to make). The US is not Albania. It has a robust court system, with guaranteed rights under the Bill of Rights.

If a NZ Judge finds that he should not be extradited, then good on him. And if he is extradited, and is found not guilty, then also good on him.

The New Zealand government better hope that Dotcom doesn’t get extradited and then win his case, because the damages owed will be in the millions. It was our police who shut down a multi-million global business. It’ll be New Zealand tax payers who pay the reparation.

This is not correct. NZ Police did not shut it down. The FBI did. NZ taxpayers are not responsible for reparation. What NZ taxpayers may be responsible for is mistakes made by the Police in his arrest, and that is (as it should be) being heard in court.

Now we turn to the politics, and that should be separate to the legal issues, but they get mixed up. National has the misfortune to be in Government when the charges were laid and extradition requested. Hence Dotcom blames them. If Labour had been in power, I suspect exactly the same would have occurred to him, and he would now be railing against the evil Labour Government and Helen Clark.

Dotcom is obviously not keen to face trial in the United States. He is trying to turn a legal issue into a political one. I don’t blame him for that. If I was in his shoes and with his money, I’d try to do exactly the same.  If you are a political party leader, then that make extradition a political issue, not a legal issue. You extradite alleged criminals, not politicians.

So whenever Dotcom does something in the political sphere, I ask a simple question. Would he be doing this, if he wasn’t facing extradition to the United States on these criminal charges?

My preference is for Dotcom to have his day in court (first NZ and then if extradited, the US). If he wins at either of these, then I’d welcome all his plans to invest in a new cable, promote more fibre, have encrypted file sharing etc. But again, would he be throwing parties for 25,000 people if he wasn’t facing extradition?

I am no fan of the way the Hollywood entertainment industry have tried to cripple the Internet and some of the laws they have tried to get countries to enact. In fact I have fought against them. But in terms of applying the law, that is a decision for courts, not politicians.

In terms of the political impact of the proposed party, Liam Hehir writes in the Manawatu Standard:

Is Kim Dotcom’s new “Internet Party”:

a) A new party geared towards internet- conversant millennials;

b) Another Left-wing party entering an already crowded field; or

c) Some new force poised to tap into massive disillusionment with politics-as-usual?

No matter what the party’s founders intend, the voters will come to their own conclusions. The answer will determine what impact (if any) the new party has on the electoral landscape.

The first possibility would be a potential threat to the National Government. More than a few libertarian-ish millennials vote National by default. The “ish” suffix is appropriate because these voters are not particularly ideological. They can abide neither Labour’s slavish political correctness nor the Marxian economics of the Greens. They do not have any particular love for National.

They do care about issues an internet-oriented party could capitalise on.

Take, for instance, the matter of geo-blocking. This occurs when media rights holders prevent access to pay-services by New Zealand addresses. The most obvious example is the popular service Netflix, which streams television and movies over the web for a pretty reasonable cost. Like many such services, it is closed to New Zealanders.

Geo-blocking is one of my pet hates. It is not something that NZ can do anything about, but eventually I believe it will die, and we will have one global market for content.

On the other hand, if the Internet Party is seen as just another anti- John Key party – along with Labour, the Greens, Mana and New Zealand First, then I think any threat to the Government will be negligible. Its existence could even help National in a tight election year.

The Greens are sounding rather hostile to the party, and Labour less than enthused. If even 2% of their supporters vote for it, and the vote is wasted, that may be enough to keep National in power. Intentions and impacts are not the same thing.

The final possibility is that the Internet Party could become a true protest party – absorbing the votes of the disenfranchised and generating new voters from among the increasing numbers of those who would otherwise not turn out.

This is the hope of at least some of Mr Dotcom’s Left-wing boosters. In a gushing write-up by socialist commentator Chris Trotter, for instance, the Internet Party was heralded as a potential parallel to Italy’s Five Star Movement, an ‘anti- politics’ party which rode a wave of voter disgust to a stunning electoral performance in that country’s elections last year.

But New Zealand is not Italy. Going into its last election, the latter country had been forced into austerity by a sovereign debt crisis. Things were so bad that, at the time, Italy was actually being governed by an unelected proconsul of the European Union. By contrast, our leaders have generally steered a good path through the recession and the economic forecast is now fairly sunny.

One can understand why the Government’s antagonists might be frustrated at the apparent immovability of the polls. If they are counting on some groundswell of disenchantment with New Zealand politics to wash John Key away, however, I think they do so at their peril.

It will be interesting to see the impact, if they ever get around to an actual launch, policies and candidates. I’ll probably like some of their policies. But there are policies I like (to varying degrees) in most political parties (except Mana probably).

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The Syria options

August 29th, 2013 at 1:00 pm by David Farrar

It appears that the Assad regime was responsible for the use of chemical weapons against it own citizens, including many children. Other countries now have to decide how to respond to this, if at all. All the options range from bad to very bad – there are no good options, including do nothing.

Some have asked why is it that chemical and biological weapons represent what Obama called a red line. What is the difference between 200 killed by a mortar and 200 killed by saran gas? To the dead, there is no difference, but to the survivors there is a huge difference. Chemical and biological weapons can result in effects which carry on for years and decades – even affecting children yet to be born. That is why the use of them, especially against civilians and children, is seen as so horrifying.

In terms of responses, the preferred response would be for the UN Security Council to declare Assad a war criminal, and that he is arrested and put on trial. The problem is that Russia is blocking any meaningful action by the UN, and even if they did not veto the Security Council, it is not possible to arrest Assad if he wins the civil war – unless external military action occurs.

Now I don’t favour armed intervention in the Syrian civil war to determine the outcome. The rebels may be a cure worse than the disease, with many radical Islamists and links to terrorist organisations in their ranks.

However do you allow Assad to use chemical weapons with no consequences at all, just because Russia says so? The precedent that would set would not be a good one. If there are no consequences for a leader who uses chemical weapons, knowing the impact it will have, then the use of them will grow.

News.com.au reports:

BARACK Obama says the US has concluded that the Syrian government carried out a large-scale chemical weapons attack against civilians last week.

As the Syrian opposition claims Syrian government forces used napalm in an attack on Aleppo, killing at least 10 people, the US President says the US has examined evidence of last week’s nerve gas attack in Damascus which killed hundreds and doesn’t believe the opposition fighting the Syrian government possessed chemical weapons or the means to deliver them.

Mr Obama says he hasn’t made a decision about how the US will respond.

The White House says it’s planning a possible military response while seeking support from international partners. …

The administration says it will take action against the Syrian government even without the backing of allies or the United Nations because diplomatic paralysis must not prevent a response to the chemical weapons attack outside the Syrian capital last week

I guess this means a missile strike against some military targets. It won’t change things a lot, and could even destabilise things. However doing nothing is equally unattractive. What would be nice is if they can identify the persons responsible for using the chemical weapons and target them. That would provide a good incentive for others not to use them.

Josie Pagani makes the case for intervention at Pundit.

Meanwhile Phil Goff plays silly politics:

Labour has called on the Government to make public the United States briefings received overnight on Syria. …

Labour’s foreign affairs spokesman Phil Goff said Prime Minister John Key had an obligation to share details of the briefings with Parliament and the public.

Phil Goff has been Foreign Minister. He knows he is speaking a load of crap. It is not the role of the NZ Government to release details of confidential discussions with the US Government. It is the US Government that decides whether to release its briefings, not the NZ Government. For NZ to do so would mean they would never be consulted again.

Why can’t Goff for once just not play domestic politics on what is a very serious issue?

 

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A popular politician

February 5th, 2013 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Josie Pagani blogs at Pundit:

The most popular politician in France is Manuel Valls, the interior minister in Francois Hollande’s Socialist government.  While the President has an approval rating around 40 per cent, Monsieur Valls’ rating tops 75 per cent. Three quarters of the country loves him…and the other quarter are from his own party: Only 6% of his Socialist party like him. His own party call him a ‘Sarkozy of the left’ and a French Tony Blair. He could be the next Socialist president. The tangle has some resonance for left parties in every developed liberal democracy. The ideological cul de sac always results from asking working people for their vote but not their values. Monsieur Valls’ insight is that, when voters express concern about crime in the banlieue (suburbs), or support French military intervention against jihadist terrorists in Mali, they are actually motivated by left wing values – and the left should not abandon these topics to the right, as if only the right had a monopoly on what’s popular. He argues he is motivated by principle. Being tough on crime is consistent with left ideology. He once wrote in a book, ‘far from being illiberal, a hard stance on order and authority is the best guarantor of individual freedom.’ He’s not rejecting socialist principle, he is acting on it, he says.

And the lessons for NZ:

So consider left doctrine about crime, tax and welfare in New Zealand. Orthodoxy says the left should try to avoid these issues and stick to asking ‘but where are the jobs?’ To do otherwise, goes the doctrine, is to buy in to right wing ‘framing’ and ‘narrative’ as if potential left votes might be lured into a dreamworld of false consciousness from which the left’s only options are to persuade them they are wrong, or be less than frank about our real intentions.  Spotters of doctrinal error label any attempt to deviate from this line, ‘selling out’ and flirting with ‘Rogernomics’ or ‘Blairism’, as if opposing crime also implies you want to invade Iraq and hock off public assets.  The trouble with doctrine is it makes policy debate stale. It prevents the left from presenting the solutions of the future by locking it into the debates of the past.Fear of debate, and attempts to marginalise and demonise anyone who questions the doctrine, are actually revealing of a crisis of confidence in the left’s own principles

I don’t think we need to think hard about where those comments could be directed.

When the left is out of tune with voters on welfare or crime, or terrorism, it is policy and not the left’s values that are out of tune with the public. And that means having the courage to reform policy, make it practical and relevant, even when the choices are hard. What keeps parties in opposition is when absolutism gets confused with principle.  Ironically, US commentators have pointed out this same error is keeping the Republican Party in opposition. Speakers at a Republican conference recently were told not to talk about rape after the disasters during last year’s election when candidates like Todd Akin talked about ‘legitimate rape’. How can a conservatively moralising party get itself into a position where it can’t stand up and say clearly ‘we are against rape no matter who does it or how it occurs?’  It’s as absurd as the parties that invented welfare feeling unable to talk about reform and improvement of it.

Sensible food for thought for the left.

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Young on Josie Pagani

November 16th, 2012 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Audrey Young’s profile on Josie Pagani resulted in the expected torrent of wails from some on the left that she shouldn’t be a political commentator as she isn’t ideologically pure enough. The profile has some interesting stuff in it:

Political commentator Josie Pagani had a daunting entrance into politics. She fronted up to an interview panel of Jim Anderton, Jeanette Fitzsimons, Sandra Lee, John Wright and Mr Anderton’s chief press secretary, them on one side, her on the other.

It was for a job as an Alliance press secretary and all the party leaders had to have a say.

Mr Anderton knew Josie through her close friendship with his daughter Philippa, and suggested she apply for the job.

The only person on the panel who thought she wasn’t up to it was the chief press secretary, John Pagani, no relation then but now her husband.

“They all gave me the tick except for John who said, apparently, ‘I just don’t think she’s strong enough’.”

John never did have good judgement :-)

I knew Josie before she was a Pagani. I think she was Matt Robson’s press secretary. Like most in the Alliance, she wasn’t (and isn’t) a Blairite (which is the term some in Labour use for those who are impure).

Josie Pagani was raised in a political family and her roots are in Labour but not blue collar Labour. She remembers as a girl meeting her great uncle, Rewi Alley, on one of his returns from China. Her mother, author Elspeth Sandys, was very active in the British Labour Party and Josie joined as a teenager.

“I got very involved in the miners’ strike in England on the picket line. Being radical when I was in my 20s meant having ‘Coal not Dole’ stickers and standing on the picket line. Nowadays … you’re standing outside the mines with a ‘Keep the Coal in the Hole’ sticker.”

Alas I think it is hereditary. Their children can be spotted in no asset sales shirts :-)

She was a good friend of Sam Mendes who has just directed the latest James Bond movie. She dabbled herself in films but the furthest she got was second focus puller on The Piano.

… resist making joke around now …

Perhaps fittingly for her present career, she has a degree in “political theatre” or what her husband jokingly calls “basket weaving”.

You can get a degree in political theatre?

John Pagani was regarded suspiciously, especially by the unions, in the highly factionalised Labour Party as an adviser to Mr Anderton, then Labour leaders Phil Goff and David Shearer.

Josie Pagani is, by nature, more Pollyanna than Machiavelli.

Heh, we know who that implies is the Machiavelli.

She’s a Labour Party member in the unusual position of not only having a platform to criticise the Government but her own party’s leadership, the party itself, and sacred cows such as welfare reform.

I am also sometimes in the position where my view on National’s performance is not overly shared by those in Parliament, or with party activists. It does cause a degree of tension at times. But I’m relieved I’ve never had the torrent of abuse that Josie gets just because I might say something that the activists may not agree with (such as that agriculture should now enter the ETS). People tend to communicate their criticisms or concerns to me directly and politely (yet often firmly) – which is a far more productive way of doing things.

She happily debates right-wing opponents such as Matthew Hooton, Deborah Coddington, David Farrar and Cameron Slater. There is no personal invective; they are often complimentary about her.

She wonders jokingly if they are trying to destroy her career “by showing me so much love and support”.

Oh we are. We want Irish Bill to replace her on National Radio :-)

The most severe criticism is from the left of politics’ left, usually by anonymous bloggers who question her left-wing credentials at best and can be personally abusive. A “neo-liberal apologist” is one of the more constructive criticisms. “Useless” and “loathsome” are more typical.

What I love is how so many refer to her and John as a singular unit (The Paganis) and not only blame them for everything wrong with Labour and Shearer, but have no comprehension that Josie and John actually have quite different views on various issues. If right wing politicians carried on in such a way, they’d be denounced as sexist.

She may have empathy with Mr Tamihere because the unions fought his selection in 1999 – Helen Clark intervened – and the unions block-voted against Josie Pagani’s bid to become Labour’s candidate in the Mana byelection in 2010.

And they are about to get 20% of the vote for the next Leader.

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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!

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The intolerance of diversity

March 14th, 2012 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

I’m probably going to regret doing this – defending a Labour politician from her peers. The last time I did it was in the late 90s in 3.2 (Beehive Bar) as a number of Alliance supporters were weighing into the then President of Young Labour and basically abusing her and calling her names for not being pure enough. They said she was just the smiling softer face of capitalism etc and there was little difference between her and the Nats – she wasn’t a true revolutionary etc.

I started to intercede on her behalf, pointing out that Labour needs to have a broader appeal than the Alliance etc. I thought I was doing a good job , until she punched me in the arm and hissed in my ear that on what planet do I think having someone who works in the National PM’s Office defending her actually helps her with the left. She had a fair point, and I desisted my efforts to argue on her behalf.

The old saying is that National is a broad church, and it is. You have people who would happily sell every asset that moves, and you have people who think we should ban private land sales to foreigners. You have those who support gay marriage, and those who think it is the end of civilization.  On almost every issue there will be a fairly wide range of views – even within caucus. I’m someone who is generally in the minority on both economic and social issues in the party, but never have I been made to feel unwelcome due to my political views, that views like mine have no place in National.

But it has been my observation that Labour does not tolerate much diversity of opinion. Social conservatives in Labour are despised by most activists, and almost no longer exist. If you tried to debate the accuracy of climate change models, you’d be seen as in the pay of someone, and in recent years if you express any views that are not in line with union thinking, well let’s just say you struggle to get selected.

A great example of this has come up this week, with Josie Pagani. She stood for Rangitikei last election – a seat she had no chance of winning, and was in an unwinnable list place. Despite that, she would have spent hundreds of hours unpaid trying to increase the party vote for Labour.

Now Josie facebooked comments she made on radio, which were:

Talking about the ports. ‘Casualisation’ scares us because it sounds like short hand for bad hours, low pay and no annual leave. It sounds like life in the early industrial revolution pre-unions. In some jobs it is. The only reason we have a 40 hr week and weekends is because unions fought for us. But I’ve spent my political life as a working mum, calling for more flexibility. And flexibility has to work both ways. Sad that by the time MUNZ accepted this (why did it take them so long?), the Ports wouldn’t budge. They should have. Lesson from this – if casual labour is the future, we have to work out how to protect the advances made for working people, while accepting that future. Nurses union did it. So did the pilots in the USA.

So Josie said flexibility is not always bad, but has to work both ways. She said POAL should have accepted the eventual position of MUNZ, and says that one has to protect working people while accepting that the future is more flexiblity.

You can certainly agree or disagree with that position. But it is not a right wing or radical view. It is a moderate left view, explicitly pro-union.  A healthy party would say lets debate the proposition – they may not agree with it – some may say flexibility is not inevitable and should always be oppossed. But’s let see what happened:

Soraiya Daud – “With these kinds of sentiments the Labour rosette on your label means nothing.”

Jill Ovens – “Flexibility for them is just another form of exploitation. It is the ultimate ‘f’ word.”

Enzo Giordani – “Josie, this is a politician page that says you are a member of the Labour Party and in the profile picture you are wearing a Labour Party rosette. This is not the policy of the New Zealand Labour Party. You should either delete this or change those settings. Friendly warning before I start writing e-mails.”

Giordani is a union official. Note how he demands Pagani deletes her post, or remove any reference to her being Labour. Even worse, he threatens her that if she does not he will start writing e-mails – presumably to get her expelled, or disciplined.

Joel Walsham - You show that you are not Labour because being Labour is about standing with those, in complete solidarity, who are going without pay for them and their families in an effort to achieve better working conditions for them and all of their colleagues.

In all my years in National, I don’t think I have ever heard someone described as being “not National”. Well, maybe Winston.

But the pilloring of Josie also occurred on the Facebook page of her fellow candidate, Jordan Carter. Note Jordan himself did not comment significantly.

Joseph Randall - A hell of a lot more than Josie’s value add

Joe McCrory -  I assume Josie has resigned from the party?

The expectation that a different view on an issue is grounds for resignation. This is, in my opinion, one of the major challenges Labour has – to be an inclusive party with broad appeal, rather than one where different opinions are seen as heresy – especially when you are in opposition.

Now my blogging this has probably condemned Josie to an even worse fate within Labour. In some ways that is a good thing. I’ve seen her in action at campaign meetings in 2008. She was the only left wing candidate I’ve ever seen that actually won an elderly conservative audience over to her view in support of the anti-smacking law. She’s one of those who can actually appeal to people outside the traditional base, and they’re dangerous as they are the ones who can win votes for Labour.

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A near miss

February 3rd, 2012 at 3:18 pm by David Farrar

Was on Face Off this morning on Wellington ZB hosted by Sean Plunket. The other panelists were Josie Pagani and Greg O’Connor.

Josie and I got there early and went into the studio. Sean had the news break, so left the studio to have a nicotine break.

Josie and I started our normal chatter, which as you can imagine is not always as carefully phrased as when speaking in public. A short time into this, Josie then goes “Does that red light mean we are broadcasting?”.

Yes, Sean had forgotten to turn the microphone off. Very fortunate that Josie noticed the red light in time, as I suspect five minutes of our conversation accidentally broadcast would not have helped either of us!

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Herald endorses Josie Pagani on Labour

January 16th, 2012 at 7:58 am by David Farrar

Today’s Herald editorial:

The Labour Party could bounce back quickly from its heavy election defeat if it heeds the testimony of one of its candidates in a contributed column we published on Friday. Josie Pagani wrote: “We didn’t sound aspirational, we sounded miserable. We were turning up on people’s doorsteps telling them their lives were gloomy …

“The hardest week to door- knock,” she said, “was when we were telling people who had just come home from a day’s work earning the minimum wage, that it was a great idea to extend their Working for Families tax credit to beneficiaries.” She could see them thinking, ‘so what’s the point of working my guts out all week while someone sitting at home on the dole gets the same tax credit as me?’

In a long line of bad policies (and a few good ones), this one was arguably the worst.

Labour’s new leadership will be listening to the likes of Ms Pagani. It has some highly aspirational young candidates who could have expected to come into Parliament if the party had not polled so low in November.

And if their list ranking had not protected incumbents.

If Labour can go to the next election with well-developed ideas for helping people who aspire to work hard, make sound choices, raise happy and healthy children, maybe start a business and invest their savings, it will strike a strong chord. If it can tell people only that they are poor, deprived, under-valued, and obese, it will not give the Government a run for our money.

Wouldn’t it be amazing to have Labour go into an election not vowing to punish the well off and raise taxes on them?

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Pagani v Dim on economic growth

January 13th, 2012 at 2:30 pm by David Farrar

Josie Pagani (Labour candidate for Rangitikei) has an op ed in the Herald where she says:

We were seen as looking backwards, not forwards. We didn’t sound aspirational, we sounded miserable. We were turning up on people’s doorsteps telling them their lives were gloomy. And anyone who has ever been poor knows the last thing you want is someone telling you your life is crap.

The hardest week to door-knock was when we were telling people – who had just come home from a day’s work earning the minimum wage – that it was a great idea to extend their Working for Families tax credit to beneficiaries. “So what’s the point of working my guts out all week while someone sitting at home on the dole gets the same tax credit as me?”

Indeed. Their worst policy of 2011.

There’s a reason we’re called “Labour”: We have always represented people who work. If you work hard you should earn enough to pay the bills, save a bit and enjoy the holidays with your family. If you have a great idea to build a business and work really hard, a Labour government will back you to be world class. It’s not just about dividing the economic pie fairly, it’s about increasing the size of the pie so everyone can get their piece.

Pretty sensible stuff. But Danyl at Dim Post says:

Growing the pie. David Shearer used the same cliche in his first speech to Parliament. Here’s my question: why are Labour still using ACT Party rhetoric about the panacea of economic growth, when all our economic statistics, social indicators and lived experience over the past thirty years tell us that the benefits of ‘growing the pie’ now aggregate to a  small number of high-net worth individuals? The rest of us stay where we are, or go backwards. …

For a few years during the mid 2000s it felt like we were going forwards – but that was just a bubble fueled by overseas debt. During this time Helen Clark constantly resorted to the tired old Kennedy/Sorenson trope that ‘a rising tide lifts all boats’. But this just isn’t an accurate way to think about economic growth. It may, eventually lift general living standards over a long period of time, but it always involves an element of ‘creative destruction’.

Danyl joins the ranks of left wing bloggers giving David Shearer appalling advice.

We had a party in New Zealand that used to say what Danyl said. They said economic growth is not as good as people make it out to be. They said we should not grow the pie as this exploits limited resources. They were the Green Party and tended to get 5% to 6% of the vote.

Then in 2011 they dropped the socialist dogma, and started talking about green growth, and how a vote for the Greens is a vote to get richer (implying more growth). And they broke through 10% for the first time.

Danyl thinks arguing in favour of economic growth is National/ACT dogma. It also happens to be the dogma of basically every major centre-left party in the developed world, plus pretty much all of Asia except North Korea and maybe Burma.

So my advice to David Shearer is not to start campaigning against economic growth. Well not unless he wants to beat Phil Goff’s 85 year low in the vote for Labour.

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Four seeking Mana nomination

September 11th, 2010 at 11:18 pm by David Farrar

NZPA report:

The four Labour candidates competing for candidacy in the Mana by-election have been named and party president Andrew Little is predicting a close contest.

Press secretary and former television reporter Kris Faafoi, Vehicle Testing New Zealand business manager Michael Evans, criminal defence barrister Peter Foster and communications consultant Josie Pagani have been nominated.

A close contest? Personally I’d be putting money on the guy who already has his campaign website address registered, plus who has a replacement for his current job lined up.

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Phil Quinn on Mana and Faafoi

September 6th, 2010 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Phil Quinn is a former Labour staffer and Porirua City Councillor. He is worried about Labour selecting Kris Faafoi:

Mana is once again up for grabs and there are two serious candidates seeking the nod.  One of them, Kris Faafoi, is a press secretary to Phil Goff, Labour’s current leader (and, full disclosure, an old mate of mine — although we haven’t spoken in a while).  I am sure Faafoi is a tremendously capable guy, but his candidacy annoys me.  Here’s five reasons why:

1.  I have seen a letter he has sent to branch members.  The complacency and sense of entitlement reflected therein is reason enough to vote for anyone but him.  His candidacy, judging by his letter, is entirely about him, and the local party members are expected to fulfill the role of fawning pawns.

2.  He is neither fish nor fowl.  Faafoi is neither a local candidate with strong Party credentials nor a celebrity vote-magnet.  I am not someone who rejects outright the idea of parachuting in well-known identities to contest by-elections, and Faafoi , a former TV reporter,  has pretensions toward such a category — but he falls way short.  His fame is ankle-deep and is worth precisely no votes for Labour.

3. I gather from well-placed sources that Faafoi first considered becoming an MP two weeks ago.  Call me old-fashioned, but the Labour Party should not reward such fly-by-night ambitions with (nominally) safe seats.  If he has harboured no political ambitions for all but two weeks of his charmed life, then it begs the question: how much time has he dedicated to learning about public policy and preparing himself for Parliament?  None, I would venture to guess.

4.  The Porirua/Mana electorate has been treated like a prison-bitch by the Labour Party for too long.  Outsiders like Faafoi, Laban (the retiring member), Kelly and his predecessor, Wall, have represented the seat since its creation.  If Faafoi thinks that having family members in the electorate adds up to something, then he is more naive than I thought (and I thought he was quite naive to start with).

5.  The NZLP should stop looking at 20-year old census data:  Mana is not the overwhelmingly Islander-dominated seat they think it is.  Since the expansion of the electorate for MMP, it now encompasses large white, middle class suburbs of the kind Labour ought to be very nervous about (from the formerly marginal seats of Kapiti and Western Hutt).  The instinct to back Faafoi purely on ethnic grounds is patronising and simplistic — but it is also strategically misguided.

This should be wringing some warning bells, when it comes from someone with no interest in the outcome, yet knows the electorate well.

I have nothing against Kris, but it is obvious the fix has gone in for him to win, with his replacement as Chief Press Secretary already lined up.

If I was a Labour delegate in Mana, I would find it hard to go past Josie Pagani. Josie would appeal to all sections of the electorate, and would seriously help Labour’s rejuvenation.

I’m not saying this as some sort of cunning double plan, where I am trying to get some Tory mole in place, or some doofus. Josie will be a serious pain in the butt to National if she wins.

All I am saying to delegates is to keep an open mind, and decide on the performance of the two candidates – don’t let Head Office decide for you, who will be the MP for the next 20 years or so.

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Pagani for Mana?

August 11th, 2010 at 6:11 pm by David Farrar

My spies report that the front runner for Labour’s nomination is Josie Pagani. Josie was No 3 on the Progressives’ list in 2008 and stood for Otaki for them in 2008. It was well understood that she was likely to get a high lost place or a winnable seat, with the effective merger of the Progressives into Labour.

I hold Josie in high regard. She will be a strong candidate, and a good MP for Labour if they select her.

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Pagani on NZ Aid

April 28th, 2009 at 7:36 am by David Farrar

Josie Pagani, a former Comms Manager at NZ Aid, writes on aid politics:

Foreign Minister Murray McCully is close to announcing a u-turn in New Zealand’s aid. He wants to move our aid away from its goal of reducing extreme poverty, back towards a less defined goal of “economic development”.

I would hope the two goals are complementary, not in opposition to each other.

The difference between “poverty alleviation” and “economic development” in some of the poorest countries is not a bright line. How are you meant to set up your own business and trade your way out of poverty when you can’t read and write, and you have no clean water and no roof over your head?

I would advocate that aid which provides shelter, food and water is part of economic development as you can’t have people contributing towards an economy without these things.

This proposed change in our aid represents misguided politics. It has been pitched by Mr McCully as a struggle between the non-government organisations like Oxfam and World Vision, who want the focus to remain on poverty reduction; and those who support business, and economic development instead.

This is a false dichotomy.

It’s true, there is some silliness in the aid community. Some aid experts don’t believe in growth – that’s why you end up with incomprehensible policy areas called “pro-poor-growth”.

This is one of the things I like about Josie – she is willing to concede “silliness” rather than pretend everything is perfect with the status quo.

It took years of political effort to make poverty reduction the focus of aid. The goal holds rich countries accountable.

For example, it stops countries like Portugal or France using aid to protect the Portuguese or the French language in their former colonies. That might be a great idea, but it isn’t aid.

But Mr McCully couldn’t say that encouraging the French language in Cote d’Ivoire isn’t contributing to economic development. The focus on poverty also holds the governments of poor countries accountable for using aid to actually reduce poverty. Signing up to a goal of “poverty reduction” is more likely to prevent the kind of situation in Ethiopia a few years ago – then, Prime Minister Meles Zenawi used funds to set up a trucking business (“economic development”) to deliver food across the country.

The company was owned by his own family, and tended to deliver food only to Zenawi’s home region of Tigray, while other parts of Ethiopia went hungry.

I would hope that NZ Aid wil avoid giving money to corrupt politicians, regardless of its mission. Mind you, in the Pacific it is probably near impossible. I recall the Austrian DFAT briefing that described one Pacific Premier as having a nickname of Mr 10% as that was his cut on all government contracts.

We give aid because we are good global citizens, doing our part to make a difference for the most desperately poor in the world.

Mr McCully should keep the focus strongly on poverty reduction, and keep NZAID as a dedicated agency with an undiluted focus on doing our bit towards that very important goal.

I wonder if there is not some sort of compromise here, such as an aim of “poverty reduction through economic development” as that would cover the Minister’s worry that the cirrent goal is too wide, and also cove the concerns of Pagani and others than not all economic development alleviates poverty?

UPDATE: I should point out (as should have the Herald) that Josie was No 3 on the party list for the Progressive Party at last year’s election.

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Coalition Building

October 17th, 2008 at 2:58 pm by David Farrar

Is this photo of Rodney Hide, Josie Pagani and Charles Chauvel at Backbenches the start of the ACT-Progressive-Labour Coalition, or something else?

Enter your captions below. Just keep them clean.

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Further Kapiti interviews – Scott, McCaffrey, Collins and Pagani

October 7th, 2008 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Peter and Mike we did inside the blogmobile, with two cameras. Sadly this means you get to see a bit of me, as well as the candidates. Big kudos to Cameron for providing the gear and getting them trimmed and put onto You Tube.

A reminder the questions were:

1. What is the biggest issue for the voters of your electorate?
2. When did you first stand for election of any sort – was it at school?
3. McCain/Palin or Obama/Biden?
4. What will you do with the tax cuts you just got?
5. Goff or Cunliffe?

Peter McCaffrey was our first interview. He cited the economy as the biggest issue. For the question about whether he ever stood for election at school, I checked that Peter had in fact left school :-)

Peter went for McCain/Palin. He was doubtful about McCain until Palin came along, but agrees with her on economic issues. Peter is not working at the moment so sadly gets no tax cuts. And in the final question he goes for Goff.

Mike Collins was next up. He agrees that the economy is the biggest issue – even more than law and order. On the US bailout he says it is good in the short term but in the long term may lead to more risky behaviour if people think the Government will bail them out.

Mike stood for VUWSA President a few years ago, and says he was lucky to be the only person on his ticket not to get elected. He also plugs for McCain on the basis of his free trade policies and support for NZ getting a real free trade deal.

His tax cuts are good for a dozen beer he reckons and like Peter opts for Goff.

Third up is David Scott, NZ First candidate for Otaki. He says the biggest issue for Otaki voters is to keep Winston and NZ First in Parliament and not leave it to the two big parties.

On the US front he has problems with both candidates for supporting the bailout but finally says “Not McCain”. David’s tax cuts are less than a $1 so he said no big change to his lifestyle. And on Cunliffe vs Goff, he says stay with Helen.

The final interview from the trip is Josie Pagani from Jim Anderton’s Progressives. Josie explains she was happy to have Pagani as her surname as her maiden name of Harbutt saw her called “Hard Butt” all through school :-)

Josie picks transport as the biggest issue for Otaki voters, and also health. She says she has been unable to get a GP since returning from overseas. Josie also relates how she campaigned at university for a student exec position and finished with “Vote for me, I am more left wing than him” and it worked as she got elected. I suggested it could become the Progressive’s campaign slogan.

Josie surprised no one by going for Obama/Biden. Respects Sarah Palin as a working mum, but she does not have the experience to be VP. Her plans for her tax cuts involve a new pair of shoes, and she said not to tell her husband John. Whoops.

Big thanks to all the candidates for taking part. As you can see we’re not exactly doing hard news, but we do think it is nice to allow voters to see a bit more of their candidates, and give them some opportunities to talk issues. Most of it, we’re enjoying doing it. When you are not getting paid to do something, you only do it if it is fun.

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Kapiti Meet the Candidates

October 7th, 2008 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

The Blogmobile had its first official outing to the Kapiti Coast on Sunday. It does take a while to get use to the size and bulk of the vehicle. You do not want to have to slam the brakes on suddenly, so you drive quite cautiously. Mind you, still over took a couple of cars on the way, which surprised them!

I also found no problems working on the laptop while Cameron drove. The Vodafone data card kept a signal the entire trip. And the mat on the table stops the laptop moving about.

Mid afternoon we went to a Waikanae function for Nathan Guy – had 100 or so people there to hear Gerry Brownlee speak. We then had some refreshments at a VWRCNZ farm a few kms north of Waikanae before heading to the Meet the Candidates Meeting in Raumati.

Raumati is actually in Mana electorate, but close to the Otaki boundary so there were candidates there for both electorates. Seven of the candidates (two Nats, one Labour, two ACT, one NZ First and one Progressive) did our five question quiz for the video camera, and I’ll link to their videos later on.

The candidates speaking were:

  1. National – Nathan Guy (Otaki) and Hekia Parata (Mana)
  2. Labour – Winnie Laban (Mana) and Darren Hughes (Otaki)
  3. ACT – Mike Collins (Mana) and Peter McCaffrey (Otaki)
  4. NZ First – David Scott (Otaki)
  5. United Future – Robin Gunston (Mana)
  6. Greens – Michael Gilchrist (Mana)
  7. Progressive – Josie Pagani (Otaki)

Each party had eight minutes (they could split between them) to talk, and the topic was meant to be on making communities safer. After that there was an hour of questions from the floor.

All the candidates got a pretty good reception, but David Scott got heckled a fair bit when he spent too much time talking about how wonderful Winston was, and not enough on the actual topic. We got this a bit in the interview also when David said the most critical issue facing voters is getting Winston back into Parliament! I actually know David as he is the ex-husband of a former National MP!

Nathan and Hekia were both very good. Nathan is one of those MPs who speaks to you, not at you – never speaks down at all. And Hekia was wonderful as she gave some great examples from her own family about the challenges parents can have in having their kids safe. You could feel the connection with some in the audience.

Winnie and Darren both gave very polished performances also. Darren uses humour very well, and strikes an easy rapport with people. They were both very on message and avoided stuff which turns off people like blaming crime on a budget from 17 years ago.

Gunston and Gilchrist made no blunders and reflected their party stances as expected.

Likewise Peter and Mike from ACT pushed their party’s policies on law and order. They had one negative moment when Peter pushed Sir Roger Douglas and the generally elderly audience reacted as if he had tortured a cat. But during question time it seemed apparent they had some people agreeing with them on law and order policies.

But the real interesting candidate for me (and no not just because I know her) was Josie Pagani. In fact Josie scared me. She sounded like a Tory, while advocating socialist policies. Now this is really dangerous!! A definite wolf in sheep’s clothing!

She managed to defend the anti-smacking law while at the same time condemning the political correct environment that spawned it by talking about how her kids get reflection notes or some bullshit from school now, and what the hell do they mean. So she had all the audience nodding and agreeing with her, and then artfully adds to her story by saying that violence against kids is horrific though and if we need a better law to make it clear, then she is all for it.

One of the questions was on whether the drinking age should be lifted to 20. I resisted identifying myself as a co-ordinator for the Keep it 18 campaign :-). It was interesting how the candidates split.

In favour of 20 was the Greens, Progressive, NZ First United Future and one of the Labour candidates (Laban). Now it is a conscience issue but I found it interesting that you had Greens and Progressive agreeing with the more socially conservative parties.

In favour of 18 was both ACT candidates, both National candidates and Darren Hughes from Labour. Hekia Parata did make the point that she did not support lowering it to 18, but now it is 18 one can’t turn it back.

Afterwards we gave Peter and Mike a lift back to Wellington. They were impressed that we had on board a box of ACT’s 20 point plans – Rodney never misses an opportunity and got them for Cameron.

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