Labour thinks it can renegotiate TPP

July 27th, 2016 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Labour would welcome the chance to negotiate a Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact if it did not get United States approval this year, leader Andrew Little said on Tuesday.

In a major speech on international affairs in Wellington, Little underscored Labour’s continuing “engagement” and his rejection of “isolationism”, despite the party’s opposition to the TPP in its current form, saying it was proudly a free trade party.

It used to be. Actions count more than words and Labour has turned its back on 25 years of bipartisan support for trade agreements.

He said the 12 country trade agreement, which includes Japan and the US, offered a weak deal on dairy.

But he said the question could become moot. If the US does not ratify it, it would die – and both Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton were opposed to the TPP.

“It’s getting too late for President Obama to try to pass it before he leaves office. Congress already defeated him once on trade this year, and something big needs to change before he’ll risk being defeated again,” Little said.

“If TPP doesn’t progress this year, Labour would welcome the chance to be part of resumed negotiations leading to an agreement that does away with more tariffs, without curtailing the ability of countries to make laws in their own interests.”

Little is in fairy land. Trump and Clinton are against TPP because they say countries like NZ and Australia got too good a deal at the expense of the US. Their constituencies don’t want any tariff reductions at all.

If TPP does not pass in the lame duck session of Congress, it is dead as a door knob. It won’t be renegotiated.

So Labour and the Greens have merged it seems

July 16th, 2016 at 10:00 am by David Farrar


From Facebook. You wonder if Andrew and Metiria bother to read what they are signing!

In Labour land you can build 100,000 houses with $2 billion capital!

July 11th, 2016 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Little said KiwiBuild would be paid for with a $2 billion “capital injection”, which would be paid back at the end of the programme as houses were sold.

Little said the Government was out of touch, particularly when it came to housing, and was alone in refusing to believe there was a housing crisis.

“They might have given up, but I won’t. Not now, not ever,” he said.

Associate Finance Minister Steven Joyce described Labour’s policies as “underwhelming”, with many of them echoing work the Government was already doing.

“They have talked a very big game politically about this, that it was going to be a massive change, when in actual fact it’s not – it’s more or less an endorsement of what the Government’s already doing with a few tweaks.”

Joyce said the Government was already backing the urban development approach through projects like the Hobsonville Land Company, while the $2b of funding for the KiwiBuild programme would need to be recycled 25 times in 10 years if it was to build 100,000 houses.

If you reckon you can buy the land, build and sell 100,000 homes for $2 billion in just a decade you have magical powers – probably like the Wizard of Oz.

Prebble on Labour

July 10th, 2016 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

NBR reports:

As it celebrates its centenary, former Labour cabinet minister and ACT leader Richard Prebble believes the Labour Party is in such disarray that a National victory at the polls in 2017 is looking increasingly certain. …

First, there’s the fact “John Key is the best Labour prime minister the country has ever seen. We thought Helen Clark straddled the centre of the spectrum but he’s gone and taken it to a whole new level. Fundamentally he’s squeezed Labour out to the left and they don’t know how to respond.”

Then there’s Andrew Little, the product of allowing a “party membership that’s way to the left of Labour voters” to select the party’s leader, something he notes is also bedevilling Britain’s Labour Party.

Not only does Mr Prebble think Mr Little is a “very unattractive leader,” he also views his strategy of forming a “coalition, alliance, whatever you want to call it, with the Greens” is  “sheer lunacy.”

“He’s basically giving permission for people to vote Green, a strategy Helen Clark was adamantly opposed to and that Shorten in Australia is opposed to.”

It’s one, he says, that could result in the Greens could potentially usurp Labour as the primary progressive party in New Zealand.

The Greens do at least have a clear brand.

He believes the party is “looking out for talent, any sign of it, and they’re making sure they don’t select it.”

Instead, he says, “They’ve used the list system to basically provide jobs for second-rate trade union organisers.

To be fair their candidate selections for 2017 are looking better than in 2014.

Lester’s campaign being run from Parliament?

July 9th, 2016 at 8:19 am by David Farrar

Several weeks ago I heard from multiple people that Justin Lester’s campaign for Wellington Mayor was being run out of Parliament. This has been confirmed by this e-mail, leaked to the Taxpayers’ Union.


It was sent by a taxpayer funded Labour staffer, during work hours and clearly refers to “We have produced an awesome campaign video for Justin Lester”.

The Taxpayers’ Union comments:

The Taxpayers’ Union has been leaked an email from a senior Labour Party insider which appears to reveal that the Labour Party have used taxpayer money to produce a promotional video of Wellington’s controversial Deputy Mayor, and mayoral candidate, Justin Lester.

The email suggests that Labour’s Whip’s Office, which is funded via the Parliamentary Service, produced a promotional video for Mr Lester and his campaign.

It appears that the Labour Party is using taxpayer funded Parliamentary resources to further the political aspirations of one of their Party’s local body candidates. That money is meant for serving parliamentary constituents, not to be used as a local body political slush fund.

No doubt Labour will claim the staffer was a volunteer, did it all in his own time etc.

Herald rates Labour’s frontbench

July 8th, 2016 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald rates Labour’s frontbench:

  • Phil Twyford 9/10
  • Annette King 8/10
  • Chris Hipkins 8/10
  • Kelvin Davis 8/10
  • Jacinda Ardern 7/10
  • Grant Robertson 7/10
  • Andrew Little 7/10
  • Carmel Sepuloni 6/10

That’s better ratings than they’ve had for a while. Little has generally placed the strongest performers on the front bench, unlike previous leaders. Little’s challenge is his own rating – you normally expect the leader to be one of the strongest performers, not mid range.

Labour now sees getting to 30% as success!

July 7th, 2016 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

“I don’t think there’s any appetite in the party for another leadership change. I think we just have to be patient and Andrew Little, it may take another electoral cycle before he’s ready to become PM. I don’t know. Look how long it took Helen Clark before she became PM.”

Whether the MPs agree is another matter. If Labour scores in the mid- to high-30s, Little could well get that chance Clark had of contesting a second election in 2020.

If it is another sub-30 result, Little will be gone.

Little came in saying his aim is to get more votes than National and get over 40%. Now the expectations are so low, he keeps his job if he can get Labour to over 30%.


SST on Labour

July 3rd, 2016 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

The SST editorial:

At 100, like many centenarians, this country’s Labour Party is looking confused and befuddled. It appears to have forgotten what it stood for when it was young and vibrant.

Under Little, this party that once stood against unthinking imperialism has campaigned to keep the Union Jack on New Zealand’s flag – perhaps keen to safeguard that Royal telegram! This party that once stood for workers making new lives in a new land, now wishes to stop immigrants investing in property in New Zealand; this party that once stood for diversity now makes overseas investment policy by tallying up “Chinese-sounding names”. Little is busy battling defamation claims, rather than fighting for Labour principles.


Labour lies on health

June 9th, 2016 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Labour have been going on for months claiming that health funding has not grown to keep up with our population and inflation. They cite a figure of $1.7 billion of under funding on this basis.

I made the mistake of assuming their figure was correct, and not checking up on it previously. I just assumed someone else would have.

But as I had some spare time last weekend I went through the Vote Health expenditure for the last decade. I then got the CPI figures and the resident population figures. And put them into the table below.

Health Funding

So health funding has increased by 35% in nominal terms. In real terms it has gone up 20% since 2008 and even in real per capita terms it is up 8.3%.

That’s pretty good considering the GFC and the Christchurch earthquakes led to huge deficits, which the Government also had to close.

The MoU and the Art of War

June 8th, 2016 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Liam Hehir writes:

Labour and the Greens have signed a “Memorandum of Understanding” ostensibly committing both to cooperation in the service of changing the Government.

As the news buzzed around social media, you could be forgiven for thinking the Treaty of Waitangi had just been signed. That very night, Simon Dallow declaimed on the 6pm news that this “joint party power play is already changing the political landscape”. According to some cheerleaders of the Left, John Key’s fate is now all but sealed.

The thinking seems to be that Labour and the Greens are like Ross and Rachel, with the great voting public waiting eagerly for the resolution of the “will they or won’t they?” storyline. Now that Labour has finally committed to the nice guy Greens, a delighted electorate will finally be ready to make their own commitment to changing the Government.

Others think the agreement is a potentially serious blunder. In this narrative, the relationship upgrade with the Greens is an effective spurning by Labour of bad-boy Winston Peters. Because it’s generally considered that Labour won’t be able to govern without Peters’ support, the party’s decision to go with its heart and not its head may cost it dearly.

And in fact, Winston Peters does not seem particularly impressed with what Labour and the Greens have done, grumbling that his party doesn’t “like jack-ups or rigged arrangements behind the people’s back”.

As an aside, this argument is incoherent. By publicly announcing an intention to work together, Labour and the Greens are doing the opposite of going behind the people’s backs. What they are doing is arguably a lot more transparent than the standard New Zealand First method of refusing to state a preference until all the votes are cast and the backroom baubles auction is completed.

Hehir is right that Winston’s argument is incoherent.

So has Labour saved or doomed itself? Actually, the safer money is on the Memorandum of Understanding itself making zero to little difference one way or the other.

The One News Colmar Brunton poll shows that support for National and Labour went up and Greens and NZ First went down after the MoU was announced. But a one off poll change is not what matters – it is the long-term trend, and I doubt we’ll see much of an impact.

If the last half-decade or so has taught us anything, it’s that voters are about as indifferent to political minutiae as commentators are obsessed with it. As if to confirm this, the Greens themselves hailed the agreement as a “game changer” – a prediction that’s been wrongly affixed to any number of events and happenings since 2008 that were supposed to, but didn’t, bring about the end of the John Key era.

Issues that matter to voters are jobs, wages, schools, hospitals etc. MoUs far less so.

So which one is the village idiot?

June 6th, 2016 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Paul Little writes in the Herald:

On a brighter note, Labour and the Greens are hooking up. Analogies to a marriage were quickly drawn at this exciting news, and they couldn’t be more apt. It was like when you hear that your cousin who everyone had given up on ever seeing hooked has finally got engaged, and then you find out it’s to the village idiot.

So which party is the cousin everyone had given up on and which party is the village idiot?

My pick is the Greens are the dateless cousins, as they have never got into Government. and that makes Labour the village idiot by default?

O’Connor not keen on Greens alliance

June 3rd, 2016 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Labour’s West Coast-Tasman MP Damien O’Connor won’t say whether he supports the new agreement between Labour and the Greens.

The two parties signed a memorandum of understanding yesterday. They’ve agreed to work together to change the Government, to co-operate in Parliament and to investigate a joint policy and/or campaign.

Mr O’Connor would not answer “yes” or “no” today when asked – seven times – whether he supported the memorandum.

I think we can take that to mean a no.

Gower’s Labour-Greens-NZ First Cabinet

June 3rd, 2016 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Patrick Gower looks at what a Labour-Greens-NZ First Cabinet may look like.

  1. Andrew Little, PM
  2. Winston Peters, Deputy PM, Econ Dev, Immigration, Racing, Senior Cits
  3. Metiria Turei, Co-Vice-Deputy PM, Social Development, SIS, GCSB
  4. Annette King, Co-Vice-Deputy PM, Health
  5. James Shaw, Co-Vice-Deputy PM, Climate Change, Environment, Conservation
  6. Grant Robertson, Finance
  7. Phil Twyford, Housing
  8. Jacinda Ardern, Justice, Arts
  9. Shane Jones, Foreign Affairs, Trade, Fishing
  10. Chris Hipkins, Education
  11. Kevin Hague, ACC
  12. Kelvin Davis, Police, Corrections, Maori
  13. Ron Mark, Defence
  14. Carmel Sepuloni, OSH, Pacific
  15. David Clark, Tertiary Education, Science
  16. Fletcher Tabuteau, Primary Industries
  17. Julie-Anne Genter, Transport
  18. David Shearer, Tourism, Consumer Affairs, Commerce
  19. Tracey Martin, Local Government, Women
  20. Gareth Hughes, Energy, SOEs

So that is 10 Labour Ministers, five NZ First and five Greens.

Greens want Deputy PM

June 3rd, 2016 at 7:00 am by David Farrar


Stuff reports:

The Green Party has an eye for the role of deputy prime minister, if it finds itself in such a bargaining position, after the next election. 

And that would “almost certainly” fall to Metiria Turei, her co-leader James Shaw said.

Why not co-deputy PMs? You could have three of them – Grant, Metiria and James!

Speaking on Wednesday, Shaw said it was “entirely normal” the biggest party in a coalition would hold the roles of prime minister and finance minister. 

Not at all. There have only been two full coalitions – National/NZ First and Labour/Alliance. One of those had the finance role go to the junior party/

He denied speculation the move to confirm only Robertson’s portfolio in a potential Labour-Green government was to give the public an assurance the Greens would not be in charge of New Zealand’s finances.

Of course it is. The sad irony is that often Julie-Anne Genter makes much more sense than Grant Robertson on the economy. I’m not sure NZ businesses will be very reassured.

Based on current polling, however, any Labour-Green coalition Government would still likely need the support of Winston Peters and his NZ First party. 

Peters refused to say who he would back before the election. On Tuesday, he rubbished the agreement, calling it a “jack-up”. 

But he did reject the idea of playing “third fiddle” to Labour and the Greens. 

He does not sound keen.

On Tuesday, however, Labour leader Andrew Little was clear the party alliance was “not a monogamous relationship”. 

He would welcome any other party committed to changing the Government and advancing progressive policies.

But he refused to say whether he would leave the Greens out in the cold and form a government with NZ First if it had the numbers and Peters insisted.

Turei said the Greens worked well with NZ First and she had no concerns about being elbowed out.

These were different times, different parties and different leaderships than when Peters blocked the Greens from governing with Labour.

You keep repeating that long enough and you might start to believe it.


Are Labour including affiliate members in the 5,000?

June 2nd, 2016 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Chris Trotter writes:

HOW MANY MEMBERS does the Labour Party have in its centenary year? According to the veteran political journalist, Richard Harman, the answer is – not a lot.

Writing in his “Politik” blog on Monday, 23 May, Harman noted:

“Politik has learned that the party’s membership is now probably below that of the Greens, which would place it below 5000, possibly less than half that.”

If true, that is shocking news – and it’s only fair to point out that within 24 hours the Labour Party’s new General Secretary, Andrew Kirton, was assuring Harman that it was not true. “We are far, far higher than 5,000 and therefore well above the Greens.”

In spite of reassuring his readers that the contested information came from “a usually reliable source”, Harman was willing – as of Tuesday morning – to take Kirton at his word.

A more cynical person, upon being told by Labour’s General Secretary that the membership figure is “far, far higher than 5,000”, might offer, by way of response, the words of the infamous call-girl, Mandy Rice-Davies, who, when told that an Establishment big-wig had denied all knowledge of her, shot back the immortal line: “Well, he would say that, wouldn’t he?”

Certainly, it would be remarkable if a political party with fewer than 5,000 members entertained any serious hopes of becoming the Government.

I suspect the number of individual members is below 5,000. Labour often muddies the water by including affiliate members as members. But they are not the same thing.

An individual member of a political party is one who every year makes a decision to pay a membership fee to that party. It is a proactive ongoing decision.

Labour’s affiliate members are very different. How they work is like this. Let’s say Union X in 2002 voted to affiliate to Labour. And that 60% of the union members who bothered to vote voted in favour. That union may have 10,000 members yet just 500 may have voted on the decision to affiliate.

Anyway as 60% voted in favour, then 60% of the unions’s members are determined to always be an affiliate member of Labour. So if that union in 2016 has 13,000 then they are deemed to have 7,800 affiliate members. That is despite the fact not a single member of their union pays a sub to Labour (the union just does a block payment at a very low rate).

So if you ever see Labour claim to have X members, ask them how many individual members they have.

Trevett says deal may have handed National the next election

June 2nd, 2016 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Claire Trevett writes:

It may indeed be historic but the agreement between the Green Party and Labour today may also effectively have handed the 2017 election to National on a platter.

Labour’s leader Andrew Little was at pains to emphasise the new memorandum of understanding between the two parties was “not monogamous”.

The trouble is that the one man needed to form Little’s Big Love government is NZ First leader Winston Peters and Peters prefers monogamy. …

It is certain there was some resistance in Labour’s own crew to the development. Little has made claims of supporting ‘middle New Zealand’ in recent times and the perception Labour is aligning too closely to the Greens risks undermining that.

There was a grin on Peters’ face after the announcement for a reason. Labour’s support base includes a significant chunk of working class voters who identify more with Peters than the Green Party. Peters will be betting he can scoop up some of that support from Labour. He has already begun, accusing both Labour and the Greens of selling out their supporters.

It is no secret Peters – and some Labour MPs for that matter – think the Green Party is toxic for Labour’s chances of Government. Nor is it any secret that if a Government can be formed with him alone, that is exactly how he likes it.

The only person who will be most delighted by today’s turn of events is one John Key, Prime Minister, whose chances of retaining that title just increased without him having to lift a finger.

Peters has recently said that he has never supported putting the Greens into Government, and isn’t about to start now. The best the Greens can hope for is a Labour-NZ First Government that throws them a few policy crumbs.

Watkins on the Labour-Green “deal”

June 1st, 2016 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Tracy Watkins writes:

Is the Labour-Greens deal what they call the political equivalent of friends with benefits?  The agreement to join forces up to and including the next election campaign apparently comes with no strings attached. The deal foreshadows areas of joint cooperation and policy formation, and maybe even a joint campaign come the next election.

But once the votes are in, all bets are off. The Greens wore their heart on their sleeve at Tuesday’s announcement and talked up the certainty of a political marriage post-election. But with a resurgent Winston Peters lurking in the background, Labour leader Andrew Little was not prepared to commit.

The best reaction to the “deal” was from Steven Joyce:


On that basis, Tuesday’s announcement may make sense. Voters now know that Labour plus the Greens adds up to more than Labour plus none. Labour is hoping that will be the game changer.

Yes, a real game changer that the Greens support Labour over National. This is a shockingly new development, just like it was in 1999, 2002, 2005, 2008, 2011 and 2014.

But Labour and Green voters probably had that equation figured in their head anyway. The voters who didn’t are more likely swinging National and NZ First voters. Little may have given them a powerful reason not to tick Labour any more. 

It paints Labour as going further left.


A non agreement

May 31st, 2016 at 4:37 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Labour and the Greens have announced a memorandum of understanding, to work together to change the Government.

Labour leader Andrew Little said it was time for a change.

“Labour and the Greens have reached agreement, common ground,” he said.

Labour’s relationship with the Green Party was strong and had reached a level of maturity that allowed this step, Little said.

He confirmed he would speak at the Green’s annual conference next weekend.

Green co-leader Metiria Turei said change was on the way.

The Memorandum of Understanding [MOU] would provide crystal clear clarity that was lacking at the last two elections, she told a joint press conference.

A joint approach would change the Government, Turei said.

The MOU included an agreement to co-operate in Parliament and investigate a joint policy and/or campaign.

Little said Grant Robertson would be finance minister in a Labour-Green government but no other discussions had been held over any other roles.

This is a Claytons Agreement. It has nothing of substance, or that isn’t already happening. The key thing is what isn’t in there – any commitment to have Green Party MPs as Ministers. And that isn’t there because they know Winston would veto it, and it is most unlikely they can govern without him.

The MOU is here. Basically it just says they don’t like National. The six commitments are:

  1. waffle on good faith
  2. co-ordinate in Parliament – already happens
  3. investigate joint policy or campaign – meaningless, as no actual commitment to do so
  4. No surprises policy – should already be the norm
  5. co-operate for local body elections – has been happening for last decade anyway
  6. meet monthly – already happening

Again there is absolutely no commitment to there being any Green Ministers at all.


Garner on Labour

May 28th, 2016 at 10:00 am by David Farrar

Duncan Garner writes:

Would Jacinda Ardern and Phil Twyford be a better leadership team? Both are from Auckland. Both have performed well this year. Both know the issues. But sources tell me this won’t happen.

The caucus is resigned to heading into the election with Little at the helm. There is a growing acceptance within that Little won’t lead them to victory.

My sources also tell me Little has failed to raise any money and that’s crucial. Also, who can even tell what Labour really stands for any more.

Yes they claim they will sort out the housing woes, apparently, with a major scheme to build 100,000 homes across 10 years. Sounds great. Is it possible? Who knows.

Little’s claim to sort the housing crisis out within the first term doesn’t ring true.

No amount of wand- waving can sort Auckland’s housing issues within three years. It’s impossible.

Labour used to stand for a capital gains tax, then they dropped it. Yet this week they have talked once again about new taxes and targeting property investors and speculators. Does that mean a capital gains tax again? Possibly. But not for the 2017 election.

As far as I can tell their only solid policy is to spend an extra $1.2 billion a year (that’s 80% of the allowance for new spending) on subsidising 100% of tertiary fees for the most well off in society.

Labour commits to tax hikes

May 24th, 2016 at 9:56 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Tax is set to be a major battle line in the 2017 election after Labour’s Grant Robertson signalled his party would increase some taxes to pay for its policies – a stark contrast from National’s expected tax cut platform.

Mr Robertson addressed the issue of tax in a pre-Budget speech on today, saying before the election he would set out a tax policy including measures to ensure Labour could raise the revenue needed to pay for its promises in health, education and housing – a clear signal some taxes would be raised.

Labour MPs have already demanded or promised an additional $2.7 billion a year of annual spending. That alone (and this is before they even get into their election manifesto) would require everyone earning over $70,000 a year to pay 45% tax on income over that level. Or alternatively they’d need to increase GST to 17.5%.


Herald on Labour’s housing policy

May 23rd, 2016 at 4:35 pm by David Farrar

The Herald editorial:

The Labour Party surprised many people last week, and dismayed some of its own supporters, by advocating the complete abolition of boundaries on urban expansion.

Its housing spokesman, Phil Twyford, endorsed the Government’s view that boundaries imposed by the Auckland Council have been a major contributor to the escalation of house prices. His announcement was timed to get in ahead of an urban development directive to councils expected from the Government soon, possibly in the Budget on Thursday. But Labour’s proposal goes further than Mr Twyford believes the Government’s national policy statement is likely to go.

“What we are calling for is the abolition of the urban growth boundary, not softening it, not making it more flexible,” he says. “And not just doing what the Auckland Council advocates, which is periodically adding in more parcels of land zoned for development. All that does is feed the speculative land market.”

I hope the Auckland Council listens, but I fear they won’t. And Phil Goff is refusing to back the policy, which is a bad sign.

The main condition is that development on the urban fringe must pay the full cost of the additional infrastructure they need and the party has proposed an interesting method by which this could be financed. It wants the Auckland Council to be allowed to issue infrastructure bonds that would be repaid from rates levied on the newly developed properties.

Developers are already charged for the cost of connecting their subdivisions to a city’s services but Auckland planners have long opposed urban sprawl on the basis of its infrastructure costs, so clearly those costs have not been fully covered in developers’ contributions. Infrastructure bonds could fill the gap. In fact, they could permit more amenities to be built in these new communities than have usually been provided from development levies because bonds are effectively a loan to future residents whereas development levies are built into the upfront cost of houses. …

Infrastructure bonds would enable those savers to share the gains from housing the population boom without pushing up house prices. The bonds might also attract some housing investors, reducing their demand for houses and slowing the rise of prices. New Zealand offers few investments as safe as houses and has an unsatisfied demand for bonds as secure as these. Labour is thinking well.

I agree. I like their policy on bonds rather than developer contributions up front.

A revealing speech

May 23rd, 2016 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

The speech by Andrew Little this weekend was very revealing, but not in a good way. The Herald reports:

Mr Little said in the eight years under a National Government, the proportion of economic growth that went back to working New Zealanders in wages had dropped from 50 per cent to 37 per cent. Instead he accused National of favouring “those at the top” through policies such as allowing foreign trusts and tax on multinationals.

These are the same policies of course that existed under the last Labour Government, but lets ignore that for now.

Stuff further reports:

Little said just 37 per cent of economic growth had gone into the pay packets of working families since National came to power – down from over 50 per cent under the previous Labour government. 

That meant the average family had lost out on more than $13,000 under the Government, and would miss out on $50 a week this year.

The use of this statistic is rather revealing, as to both how desperate and also how ill informed Labour are. Three things I’d note:

  1. In all my years of politics I’ve never known a voter to talk about the proportion of economic growth that goes to wages. 99% of NZers don’t even know such a statistic exists lets alone give a flying f**k about it. I’m not sure I’ve even hear of it before. It reeks of desperation in trying to find an obscure economic statistic that they can campaign on. Voters care about jobs, wages, hospitals, schools and families – not the proportion of economic growth that goes to salaries. Wages have in fact risen twice as fast as inflation in the last seven years.
  2. Little seems to believe that the Government sits around the Cabinet table and determines what share of economic growth will go to wages. The Government does not create the economic growth and decide which sectors generate it and where. While policies have some small impact, the over whelming factor is decisions made by tens of thousands of businesses.
  3. Use of this statistic goes against Labour’s efforts to show they understand the modern economy. They are effectively railing against entrepreneurs and innovation. Why might a smaller share of economic growth by going to salaries. Well companies like Xero and Uber. They’re great for the economy (and customers) but according to Little they are robbing working NZers of $50 a week.

So Labour have managed to look desperate, ill informed and backwards in one speech. That’s quite an achievement.

Claire Trevett reports in the NZ Herald:

The centrepiece was a very convoluted piece of research about the proportion of economic growth returned to workers. Labour had concluded New Zealanders were getting $50 less a week than they would have been.

It was effectively meaningless beyond showing what clever clogs they were to have worked out such a thing.

Maybe their staff were so busy working on finding this obscure statistic, that they didn’t have time to do due diligence on the home they claimed had 17 people living in it!

It also opened Little to questioning on how Labour would get that back into the pockets of those workers.

Ban tech companies?

Labour selects Invercargill

May 23rd, 2016 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Labour’s Invercargill candidate for the 2017 general election says National’s policies are failing Southland and she wants discussions on state housing, health funding and digital infrastructure in the city.

Dr Liz Craig, a public health doctor, was named as the party’s candidate on Friday. …

Craig is best known for her child poverty advocacy work. She was also Labour’s Clutha-Southland candidate in 2014.

A mother of two, Craig is married to David Craig, and lives between Dunedin and a small farm in Romahapa.

She plans to spend most of her time in Invercargill after her nomination and has been house hunting for an old villa.

In her spare time Craig is re-planting and restoring native trees in Romahapa and also studies Te Reo Maori at the Southern Institute of Technology.

Co-chair of the Invercargill Labour Party, Sue McNeill, said Craig was a candidate of high calibre and determination.

Labour leader Andrew Little said Labour’s nominees in provincial seats were quality.  

“I am looking forward to Dr Liz Craig joining our caucus in 2017.”

Little looks silly when he says stuff like this. You can say they’d be a great MP etc, but stating as a certainty she will become an MP just looks deluded.

Here’s Labour’s record since 2005 in Invercargill:

  • 2005: PV 14,369, EV 13,518, lost by 2,052
  • 2008: PV 12,927, EV 12,750, lost by 6,664
  • 2011: PV 9,296, EV 11,012, lost by 6,263
  • 2014: PV 8,553, EV 10,044, lost by 7,482

Marlborough’s economy

May 20th, 2016 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Labour has selected its challenger to try and turn the safe National seat in Kaikoura red.

Former farmer, mediator and community advocate Janette Walker is the first confirmed Labour candidate in New Zealand for the 2017 general election. …

Walker was defeated by National’s Stuart Smith in the 2014 general election after Smith won with a final majority of more than 12,000 votes.

Walker said this time around she was better known but she would not be making any changes to her campaign style.

The campaign style was relentless negativity and gloom.

The result was Labour got a miniscule 17.1% of the party vote in Kaikoura.

The Marlborough economy was not booming, exemplified by 23 empty shops in the town centre, she said.

The electorate is more than Blenheim. Stats NZ reported in March:

For the year ended March 2015, Marlborough’s GDP increased 2.2 percent, which was influenced by volatility in agriculture, largely offsetting increases in other industries.

From 2010–15, Marlborough’s economy increased 28.0 percent. This was led by the manufacturing industry (food, beverage, and tobacco product) – Marlborough’s largest.

28% increase over five years is pretty damn good.

Labour will legalise medicinal cannabis

May 20th, 2016 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Labour will legislate for medicinal cannabis “pretty quickly” after taking office, leader Andrew Little has confirmed.

Little said cannabis products should be available to anyone suffering chronic pain or a terminal condition if their GP signed off on it.

Labour MP Damien O’Connor has drafted a bill for Parliament that would shift the onus of decision making on medicinal cannabis away from the minister to GPs and medical professionals.

In a wide ranging Facebook Live interview with Stuff on Wednesday, Little said Labour would pass O’Connor’s law “pretty quickly” after the next election, should it win.

But on the wider issue of decriminalising cannabis, he wanted to see more evidence.

“I don’t have a moral thing about recreational drugs…my own experience of dealing with it as an issue was when I was a union lawyer, when employers started to do drug and alcohol testing and I did a lot of work on that.

“The medical evidence that came back to me overwhelmingly was that a lot of the cannabis available in New Zealand had very high THC (mind altering substance tetrahydrocannabinol) levels. For brains that are still developing in their late teens and early 20s cannabis use even to a modest degree can still cause long term brain damage. So I’d want to know we are addressing that real risk to that issue.”

Both approaches seem sensible. I’d wait to see the results of legalisation in the three US states which have done so, and see if drug related harms have increased due to legalisation. If not, then we should follow cause.

After a trough in the polls, Little believed Labour was bouncing back and said that was shown by the response to him out and about New Zealand. People were stopping him in the street, shaking hands and taking “selfies”.

“There is a mood shift, there’s a changing expectation.”

I agree there is a mood shift about Labour, but not a good one for them!